Tom Perrone on The Writers Hour - Creative Conversations with Janine Bolon

Tom Perrone – Building and Protecting Your Business Worth23 min read

Janine Bolon: Hi, this is Janine Bolon with The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. And today’s guest is none other than Tom Perrone and I always enjoy bringing Tom on because he has this amazing New England Consulting Group of Guilford, that he is a part of which he was the founder. He also is a massive business and personal planning to sort of dude. What does that mean? It means that he can help you with your personal finances, as well as your business, [breaths deeply] and the book that we are going to be talking about today is your businesses’ DNA. That is what we are going to be working on and talking about. He will talk to us more but he is it up in Connecticut. And, so thanks so much for being on the show today with this, Tom.

Tom Perrone: Only my pleasure and thank you for inviting me, Janine.

Janine: It is always a lot of fun. So you are a multi-dimensional human being like most of us. You have lived a life of lots of different aspects. So when somebody says to you, “Hey, dude, what is your specialty?”. What is kind of the thing that you say?.

Tom: Well, basically nowadays, and throughout my career. It is really been working with small business owners where I can take the chaos out of their life by helping them finish their financial plans and keeping them monitored. Because business owners are you know are notorious for always saying, “I do not have the money”, and “I do not have the time”, but they have both and they know it but they put it off and kick the can down the road because they always involve working in their business, but not necessarily on it. So I help them work on it.

Janine: [clicking tongue] And so this is a phrase that we have heard for decades upon decades, which is learning to work on your business, not in your business. So would you mind — I mean people are used to hearing me talk about my definition of that but I love to have your perspective on it. What is it mean, Tom? Help us out.

Tom: Yes. First of all, it means that you get your fingers away from machine number, one, and get your brain and you get out of your business office, and
you go and sit and have coffee alone and you think about four areas of your business. [pauses] The growth part of your business. What do you doing to grow your business? What is happening? How are you growing it? Are you getting it analyzed? The protection party your business. What happens if I get sued? What happens if I die? What happens if I get sick. The equity part, what am I doing with the money that I am making? Where is it going? Am I putting too much money into my business? So when I want to sell I cannot get it out or if my business fails, I have lost all this money and the last one is the transition, and whether you are thirty years away from retiring or not.

Tom: I always tell people, when you buy a business, think in terms of your exit strategy because you could be in an accident tonight and what is going to happen to your business tomorrow? You put a lot of time in. Now, I do not want to be cavalier and say you think of those four things and in ten minutes you come up. No, you need coaches and people to help you give you a pathway to all of those four sections, and my team is specialized in all those areas. And I am like the quarterback and I always tell the business owners, “Give me two hours a month. That is all I want. Two lunch breaks and I am so organized and systemize that in six to ten months, you will have everything fine-tuned and we will just fine-tune it every year”. That is all.

Janine: And you say it so simply, right now, ” That is all. It is easy. It is simple”, but that is only because you practice what you preach and then you have written this amazing little book. It is not really so little, I just say that, but it is like it is unlocking your business’ DNA and so it is based on your own personal situations, the tragedies that you have seen happen with others. And so if you, do not mind, talk to us a little bit about that book.

Tom: Yeah. It came to me last July. One of my friends called me and said, “Hey, why do not you write a book?” because they do my life and I said, “I never thought of it”. I wrote many white papers on different items about business and I like writing and writing about those things and I started to think about it and I said, “You know, I have been in practice, fifty years, and I would like to leave this knowledge that I have two people” because I have grown a lot of businesses. They have been very successful. My own life has been very successful by using the same strategies and you know, I live in an ideal business and personal life, and I said, “Why I should teach people to use some of these things? And it will help them in life and will have better family relationships”, and all that stuff. And then, when I started getting into it, I realized I had a lot of stuff. I never thought I really knew this much but I did.

Tom: So each chapter was really about a part of growing your business and protecting it and transition it, and you know, in order. But the funny thing was what brought me more clarity than ever before is when I started to write this book. I realized, why do I have such a pinch of passion for this? And it went back to 1970, Janine, when I had entered the insurance business and in late 1970. And in May of 1971, my father, fifty-one, died of a heart attack, but he owned a very successful business at that time, and within three years, that business was liquidated for pennies on the dollar. Now, when he died, I did not know enough how to help my family, but I saw what happened to my family in the destruction. Now, I am Italian and every Italian mother has plastic on their couch and it might be thirty years old [knocking], but that plastic. Well, my mother, loved to have the kids in the neighborhood come in and eat, and here is what I saw, Janine, through my eyes.

Tom: I saw this woman who raised five kids in the middle class. Lost her husband at forty-nine years of age. He was fifty-one and her life changed. She had to sell our house and do consecutive rents throughout her life. She lived in ninety-seven, but the joy that she had the most joyous, raising the kids and having all the kids in the neighborhood in her house, so she could feed them. That was lost and that was a shame. And as I reached deep into that emotion, I realized you know, this is not about money. This is about family. About the quality of life and a lot more than just the money. So, as I read it I started to read it, I really got more passionate about really giving people a lot of information, because it makes a difference.

Janine: [breaths deeply] I know it did when I read it when I was reading through it. And you and I have actually had conversations on the side regarding the book and how we live our lives and how you and I are both very successful in our lives, but it was because it was scripted. A lot of people do not know that — Look, to have these successful lives, you really need to know what it is that you want. And so one of the neat things I liked about your book was the fact that you actually have systems in place for us to tweeze out and decipher how we want our life to live. So — Or how we want to lead our life. And so for writers that are writing their first novel, or they are writing their very first book, what are some tips that you can give them? Because this is the first time you — Like you said, “I wrote a lot of white papers, but I was actually sitting out on writing a book”. So I presume, I am making an assumption here that there were a few rewrites as you were like, “Okay, I need to tell more story. I need to tell more stories about this”.

Tom: Thank God, my wife who did all my proofreading, and she was in publishing, and she is very bright. Much smarter than I am and but yeah, you know, the first time I wrote something this long and I found that I had to find the passion because it is so easy to give up too soon. So if I were to give anybody who is writing or wants to write their first book or whatever, find something that you are very passionate about, because that will keep the ball game. If you do not have the passion, it is not going to last. And put a target date on it, but be generous to yourself. Give it a year. Give it a six or else, whatever it is. But stay within that work because you could always change it.

Tom: And then what I would do is I would structure [choppy sound] greatly out a long outline, and take your time on the outline. Get quickly. And as you write each chapter, you are allowed to change, the future of that book because you will get, you will grow with a lot more information than you ever thought you would not even have. So you have to allow yourself to grow in the book as you write. So the hardest thing is getting the first paragraph on the paper. And then the third thing, I would say or last one, I would say is go into a corner. Throw your phone somewhere, another room. Get rid of all the digital stuff other than your computer, and just focus on what you are doing and get away from technology. That is it.

Janine: [breaths deeply] Yeah, get away from technology. That is a challenging one. When I work with a nonprofit organization called NaNoWriMo, National novel writing month. Frequently, we have authors or people who do not even see themselves as authors or that kind of writer is how they perceive themselves. The very first thing we say is to look, this is what professional authors do and first-time authors, which is shut down all the notifications that you have on your computer. Get rid of your calendar. Pull up only your word processing aspect. Turn off the spell-check. Turn off — [chuckles] It is like literally you just want to — As we say, very unceremoniously. You just want to throw up on the [chuckles] page literally — [crosstalk]

Tom: That is it [crosstalk].

Janine: You just want to throw a data dump. I think it is the more appropriate, more politically correct word. So when you were doing your data dumping, you actually had somewhat of an outline beside you. Is that how you wrote?

Tom: Yeah, well, it depends on the chapter because I need help when I was doing a chapter I would say, “Oh this is a good idea”. And what happened was what was very interesting as you know in this book. I first — The book was supposed to be about strategies, and concepts, and things that I have used to help the business owner in the professional help, the business owner. But then I reach back and realize, this penchant, this passion I have, really is coming from my family’s tragedy. And I said I have to integrate this somehow because this is what is allowing me to write this book. To help other business owners. To avoid what happened to my family. So what I did was — And build more or sell more marketing who you know, Janine, gave me the idea. He says, “Tom, why do not you integrate the story at the end of every chapter”, and that is when I came up with the dream, and here is what it was. It was my dad who died at fifty-one. I was only seven months into my career. I did nothing. I was totally [stutters] — I could not help the state. I did not — But I saw the aftermath as I — So I said, “What would have happened if my father did not die?”.

Tom: And as he was growing his business which was already successful and I was growing my practice every chapter was, “Dad”. It was like a conversation I had with my dad that month. You got to do this to grow your business. So it was like an ongoing story between the dream which was my father who was now living in the dream, and I got him all the way to eighty-five with my mother. Going to Cape Coral, Florida to retire and you know, and of course, that did not happen in real life, but that was my dream. But he was my character at the end of the chapter, and it was really nothing more than saying to Mr. Businessman, “Hey, I just taught you about this element that works”. Now you have to put action to it. So the action was the discussion I had with my father. So he was my character and it was really a lot of fun but reaching down emotionally, I got to tell you, I had some emotional feelings as I was doing it. Yeah.

Janine: [breaths deeply]

Tom: It was good though.

Janine: Yeah [crosstalk].

Tom: Yeah.

Janine: Yeah. We have a little badge that you can earn on the national novel writers month and that badge is just a little tear. It is tissue and it is because you move with your own writing to a point that you actually have an emotional outbreak or release, and you know, if you make yourself cry while you are writing, [changing voice] that is good stuff. You know that is what people [chuckles] as well authors say, so I am glad that you did because then that lets you know, you are going to be very authentic to your reader. Your readers going to pick up those emotions, going to pick up on the authenticity of that emotion. And even though it is a character, it is essential. So, many authors talk about self-development. That is required as you are writing your novel, or your non-fiction book just based on your life experiences that you have gone through. [breaths deeply] So you talk — [crosstalk]

Tom: Whatever you talk — [crosstalk]

Janine: Go ahead.

Tom: Yeah. No, this last thing I have to tell you a very true story. When [choppy sound] I finished that book at the moment I put my last typing in, and I looked at it and it was just before the last proofread, but I knew I had finished it right there. It was such an emotional — I mean I have pretty much — maybe I tear, I do not know. [breaths deeply] But I wrote build a door, this long letter about how I felt right at that moment and he responded but I saw all that emotion. I did not expect that, Janine. So [stutters] my experience is I am glad I wrote this book. Will I write another one? I do not know. But there are many dimensions why I am glad that this book was written.

Janine: [background noise] Yes, not only for you as a person and as an author, but also for the numbers of people that you will be able to assist, you know, long after you are gone. You are still this — The thing that I love about your book is that it does not matter at what stage of life you are in and it also does not matter what stage your business is in. It is totally applicable whether you are making a diamond or not. And for many authors and this is why I brought Tom on for the listeners who may be like, “Why does she have this guy on?”. It is not just [stutters] he is an author and has a book. It is also because many authors have no idea how to run the business of being an author.

Janine: And Tom will definitely help you move along that process because as many people will tell you, you do not make a bucket load of money off the actual books. It was lucky if we get anywhere from twenty-five cents to a dollar twenty-five per book as authors. However, where we make our money is in our speaking abilities. In our ability to teach people what we know. [breaths deeply] To be able to have readers that will subscribe to our fifteen dollars a month, you know, subscription plans, you know, whatever it is we are building. But the book is basically the voice that gets people interested in what we have to offer, and then we build our business on the back of that. So that is why I brought Tom on. Okay, so I could hear people kind of going, “Why is this guy on?”. This is why [laughter].

Tom: So — [crosstalk]

Janine: So any — [crosstalk] Go ahead.

Tom: No, I am just going to say when I do my podcast, my guest will send an email out to some of their business owners saying, “Here is a gift from me that Tom made available”. I get a lot of emails and a lot of responses from those people about how much they liked the book. I do not make any money because all the profits go to Wounded Warriors, and I am fine with that. It was — I did not write the book for that reason. But I am seeing now, since July, the byproduct of people reading the book, or even picking up and reading a couple of chapters because you could start anywhere in the book and you will get something out of it.

Janine: And that is true. So tell us a little bit about Wounded Warriors and you picked this organization to receive whatever profits you make from the book. So tell us a little bit about that.

Tom: Well, you know, years ago, I read a book. First of all, my father was in the Pacific, and my father-in-law was on Omaha Beach and as I looked and read about World War Two, I just pictured all these young seventeen-year-old people. Not bitching about anything, just doing what they had to do to get the job done and not complaining. And I think of all the young people that really have sacrificed for this country and I just said, “You know, what if I can make them a couple of bucks, you know, I do not make any money on the book. I actually give a lot more money out of my pocket just to say I feel good about doing it”. But I feel there are people in this country that have sacrificed themselves to represent our country and protect us and I feel very strongly about that. I am very pro-military in the sense of what they are doing for us. So it was just one of these things I just if I could help them a little bit, that is where I am going to go.

Janine: [breaths deeply] And I only bring that up because many authors realize they are not going to get a multimillion-dollar contract or anything like that based on their writing. And so, this allows them to bring to the forefront organizations, non-profit organizations, that they really care about. Give him a low exposure. So that is just an idea for some of you who are writing your book and it is something that you can slip as Tom did. Slip into the back to say, thank you very much. I appreciate you buying this book and the proceeds are going XYZ. So that is just another idea. Are there any other ideas that were suggested to you, Tom, or that you implemented on ways to go about helping others through your book?

Tom: Yeah, quite a bit. You like — I had the podcast and I do that and I bring on people that own businesses and also professionals and you know, through my career, fifty years, one thing I have always noticed is that a lot of people are in business, but they do not study business. They make and wedge it really well and you know, they make stuff really good, but they do not know how to run a business, and consequently, they really have a tough time growing their business and I felt in this book the thing I always wanted to get through to them is that you have two dimensions of a business owner. You need to respect people that are on your team. I like the team approach. You might have read that I am a big believer in bringing in all the people to get rid of your egos at the door, and let us help this person runs the business and not worry about how we are going to get paid or not get paid? Who is the leader?

Tom: So this is all about giving to the business owner. But what the book has done is it has allowed people on there in their own way, and on their own terms to read something without any noise, and come up with the idea that “You know what, this guy makes some sense and I am struggling and I do not want to struggle. I deserve a good business and personal life and I am putting the effort in”. So I am hoping and I have seen it now that the book is really saying, “I am showing you how to do it. I will show you how to find the time. I will show you how” — Look at it. I ran a multimillion-dollar planning practice and for forty of my fifty years. I only worked eighty days a year. So I did something right, I guess. I do not know, you know, but it is in the book. But then — [crosstalk]

Janine: [laughter] It is in the book. And so for those of you who listen to this show because you are an author and whether it is fiction or nonfiction, it does not matter to me. The whole purpose of why I run my business, the reason why Tom runs his business is yes, we are all about making money. If you are not making money, you are not in business. But at the same time, is why do we want to make money? We want to make money so that we can go on creating. Whether it is the next book, the next program, and Tom’s case, the next podcast because as much as people do not like to talk about it, there is a cost to running a podcast program.

Janine: There are things that have to be done and people have to be [stutters] employed to assist you with that. So for no formula reason, really take your authorship seriously, and start looking at it as a business, even if you name the business after yourself, such as Tom Perrone LLC. You know, just because it is a business and when you start treating it that way, then people like Tom, can really assist you to build it up to a point where you two can work eighty days a year. I mean that sounds really good to me. I do not know about anybody else [laughter].

Tom: Yeah. Well — [crosstalk]

Janine: Anything else you want to share?

Tom: Yeah. No, I think that is about it. And the exposure you give to people like us is amazing and I think it is great because you know, we do not get a chance to talk to so many people about this and you know, the way you do it you need to is that I can give throughout my Italian passion of how I feel about — Because you know, I do love people and I want them to always succeed and if they did not know me and they did not hear me, they would not realize how important [choppy sound] it is for me that people are helping them. And they get — And life is better. You know life is always good. So, you know, I thank you for making this available to the public and of course all your good courses.

Janine: Yeah. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Would you let people know the name of your podcast so they can look you up?

Tom: Yes. It is on all the platforms and it is called, Building and Protecting Your Business Worth and it is about small business. We bring on business owners to talk about what they are doing in strategies that help them, and what not to do? And we bring in professionals that help give us hints on what we do and what we should do, and I also have a blog called, that has a lot of white papers and blog posts on there about business and the certainly visited, and Janine, they could reach me at [email protected]. If they have any questions, and that is pretty much it.

Janine: So thank you very much for your time today, Tom. And this is Janine Bolon, with The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. And with today’s guests, and the tips that Tom has to offer, I highly recommend that you not only start following him on the podcasting software, or app of your choice. But you also buy his book because for people like myself who are in finances for a very long time, it is solid information, and it is not going to lead you astray. So have a great day and do not forget to keep reaching for the stars.