Creating and Driving your Vision as a Professional Leader - Mr. Tom Swartout

Creating and Driving your Vision as a Professional Leader - Mr. Tom Swartout


Pine-Richland FBLA started this year’s Speaker Series strong on October 8, 2018, with Mr. Swartout, an accomplished business professional who shared his view on successful, professional leadership. Mr. Swartout grew up in Butler and attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied Economics and Accounting. According to him, these fields are the “language of business,” opening up many opportunities. He began his career at Northwestern Mutual just one month out of college and recently completed 25 years there, where he works with high-income clients focusing on creating solutions that can help make financial goals a reality. He is also a current and 10-time qualifying member of the Northwestern Mutual Forum, a member of the Million Dollar Round Table and, a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

Mr. Swartout works with a lot of successful people, and he explained that successful people have great visions and a solid community. He started by comparing his own professional journey with that of Christopher Columbus (as it was Columbus Day). He explained that Columbus, being curious and innovative, wanted to explore the unknown. Though he did not necessarily know where he was going, Christopher Columbus went on a journey, just like high school students. Mr. Swartout explained that we are starting to develop our own careers and that diverse jobs are a part of this community and we should use these resources, look on them, and build from them.

Mr. Swartout then went on to discuss people skills. In his words, “even if you don’t like people, you have to be around people.” Though the use of technology is on the rise, social skills are still extremely important in the professional world. He even urged students to take psychology classes and understand how people think. People trust leaders’ reputations and credibility, and once this is established, leaders can then explain their vision.

Mr. Swartout also talked about work ethic, explaining that Phil Jerkovic, the former quarterback for the Pine-Richland High School football team (who is now studying at Notre Dame) went the extra mile. Phil put in the work to become extremely successful. Mr. Swartout also explained that there are two kinds of leaders: people who lead by example and the people who are vocal leaders. Some people have both qualities, and the most successful people have a long-term game plan. Mr. Swartout urged students to “go out and get it” He explains that we must visualize our futures and try to improve this every day. We must be ahead of it, on top of what we are passionate about, and have healthy habits in order to be successful.

Mr. Swartout ended by citing a book called The Outlier, explaining how successful people stood out from the crowd. He used the analogy that as FBLA students, we are on the “5-yard line and we should not fumble.” He explained that reading and making your own decisions is crucial to being successful. Most importantly, Mr. Swartout urges us to keep working hard, saying that “the work you do in your 20’s will define your 40’s and 50’s.”


Thank you to Mr. Swartout for taking the time to come speak with Pine-Richland FBLA.


Mahika Sampat, Reporter