Meet the Ascedian: Tom Johnston

tom johnston ascedia president

What makes Ascedia special? Our people! Every week, we'll introduce you to a member of our team so you can get to know us a little better.

NAME AND TITLE

Tom Johnston – President

MY TYPICAL WORKDAY

A fair amount of talking to people throughout our organization (as well as clients), looking at areas of improvement and finding ways to drive growth -- be it personal, professional or organizational. I also spend a good amount of time crunching numbers and using data to help guide my and others' business decisions.

HOW I CHOSE MY CAREER PATH

As you will see in my next answer, I have a strong affinity to the people around me. While I started my career focusing on marketing, research and strategy, in the end I started focusing on the people around me and how to help them grow. Over time, that has led me to focus on leading Ascedia and empowering our employees to do great things.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING AT ASCEDIA

I had worked in a number of more corporate environments prior to coming to Ascedia. I was continually turned off by the degree to which coworkers and individuals were viewed as simply a means to an end rather than living, breathing people with hopes and desires and concerns and feelings. Once I landed at Ascedia, it was refreshing to see that people were actually respected as people and taken care of. It drives me to continue building that as President of Ascedia and to make sure the culture here is positive and encouraging.

EDUCATION

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics with a focus on Japanese; Certificate of Asian Studies

HIGH SCHOOL MASCOT

Sun

FIRST JOB

Cousins Subs Sandwich Maker

BEST PIECE OF CAREER/PROFESSIONAL ADVICE I'VE RECEIVED

There are two, really:

"You absolutely cannot grow a business, get promoted, or be a cool parent -- and you absolutely will go gray before your time -- if you try and do every single little thing yourself."

I have a tendency to try to take responsibility for everything and not let myself off the hook. One day I came into my office and found one of those tear-away sheets from the "You Are a Badass" calendar on my desk, with that quote on it. It's tough to keep up with but I have kept it as a reminder.

"Stop Talking"

I was in a client meeting once and we were working on a number of various strategies for growing engagement within an organization. The meeting went well, and at the end of it our client hands me what I thought was her business card. It read "Stop Talking." She laughed because she thought it was funny... it was just meant to be a joke, but I've kept the card as a reminder to periodically stop talking and remember to listen to those around you. Listening is equally as important as being able to say the right thing.

PERSONAL HERO

Can a fictional character be your hero?  If so, I’m going to have to go with Special Agent Dale Cooper.

FAVORITE MILWAUKEE HANGOUT

This is where someone says "How do I pick just one?" or "There's so many to choose from," but rules are rules and if I have to pick, I'd say Story Hill BKC for weekend brunch. There's something about their avocado toast (or if I'm feeling really gluttonous, all three of their toast options).

LAST BOOK READ

Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

PERSON I'D MOST LIKE TO MEET (LIVING OR DEAD)

David Bowie (but I’d fear it would end up going a little like this...)

FAMILY

A beautiful and silly daughter named Isabel

WHAT I DO IN MY SPARE TIME

If it's nice outside, I like to go for a walk in nature, like a heavy forest or somewhere like that. If it's not, I am still a kid at heart and I love losing a few hours in video games here and there.

SECRET TALENT

Is it secret if it’s listed on your LinkedIn profile? I can read micro expressions, like Tim Roth in that show Lie to Me. It’s a real thing!

MOST MEANINGFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT

I’m not sure what my most meaningful accomplishment is. "But what about that 'beautiful and silly daughter' you mentioned above?" I know most parents point to their children as their greatest accomplishment, but I’m not done helping her grow into a compassionate, creative, confident, successful and silly adult. Check back in 20-some years and I’ll let you know how I did.