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Lessons learned from Tom Hirons

In June, Hirons announced an endowed scholarship to support an internship for an IU Bloomington Media School student interested in advertising. Two months later, I am that intern.

I am starting my senior year at IUB studying public relations and advertising. I am also working three days a week at Hirons. In my first week in the office, I actually did as much learning as working.

As the inaugural Tom Hirons IU Media School intern, I dived right into the Tom Hirons experience on my first full day when I gave him a ride to a meeting. While Tom directed me around downtown Indy, he explained the meeting’s purpose and what he hoped to accomplish. He showed me his substantial folder of notes and talked about the importance of always coming prepared.

Lesson learned: Spend at least the same amount of time getting ready for a meeting as you will spend in the meeting. Being the most prepared person in the room means you might be able to direct its outcome.

Preparation has allowed Tom and his agency to “roll with the punches” for 40 years in a rapidly evolving industry. Hirons succeeded because it saw the early promise of technology and its potential to change the communications industry. Tom explained, “The punches that knock you out are the ones you didn’t see coming.”

To Tom, success comes from doing what you love, not what pays the most. He said it may have been naive, but he felt successful on day one when he had a blank piece of paper in front of him and was able to create. For him, success was, and still is, the opportunity to create something new each day.

Lesson learned: To be successful, be passionate about what you do.

Tom and I are at transition points in our careers: I am moving from student to professional life, and he’s exploring just how far preparation and passion can take him after a 40-year career. I bet education is in his future. He spent 18 years as an instructor at IU, and he continues to share his expertise with others, including co-workers and students like me.

I know being a Tom Hirons IU Media School intern will send me into the world with good habits. Chief among them is having the wisdom to take advantage of a learning moment when it presents itself, whether in a classroom, in a meeting or in the front seat of my car.

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