Tom Snyder

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Tom Snyder and I am the owner and founder of Five on Black.

What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?

I don’t believe in ever waiting on someone. If there is a moment where someone is late for a meeting, I am on hold, have idle time where I am waiting for something to get done, I make it productive moments. Even if that is just for a five minute period I will answer some emails, respond to messages, or look something up that is going to help me be more productive or answer a question for later in the day. When I am working it is always productive work. Life and family are more important than work so I make sure that all of the time I spend at work are worth while.

What is your morning routine and how does it help you get the most out of your day?

I spend the morning with my wife and two girls. I take the time to be with them and not be distracted by the work day to come. The night before as I’m falling asleep I organize following work day so I have a plan for what needs to be accomplished first and how the day should loosely be structured. This leaves my morning free to enjoy time with my girls. After I drop my daughter off at school I head in and am in a clear space to begin a productive day.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

I have made a lot of changes in my personal life in helping me turn off my job while I am at home, this has been so positive in feeling like work time is work time and home time is home time. This separation allows me to do a better job at both. On the work front I go on a trail run with my dog in the middle of the work day. It helps break it up and give me the energy to finish the day off strong and the mental break in-between.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

I tried not to answer this in the previous question but it has been going on a run. It is at the moment in the day where I am starting to get tired and unfocused that I head out and hit a trail. I am out for an hour or two and when I come back it is with more clarity and more efficient work. Sometimes it helps to let the things I was working on earlier in the day sit at rest and let my subconscious think about them as I just enjoy being outside and getting some energy out. I am almost always able to come back and make up the time I was gone because I am more efficient and productive.

What is one piece of software or a web service that you get immense value out of? How do you use it?

I use Gmail and Google Drive for everything we do at work. Between that and our online dashboard for our Point of Sale it is where a good majority of my work is done each day.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

I just read “Educated” by Tara Westover. This is not a business book at all but that is why it was so great. I listen to a lot of podcasts that have an entrepreneurial focus but for books I read things that I enjoy and let my mind rest and dive into a good story. As important as learning is to keeping you a good business owner, creativity is just as important. A good book allows your mind to be creative. I read a lot of science fiction, interesting memoirs, and fiction novels.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Hard work and being kind to those around you lead to more opportunities than anything else you can do. Life is about relationships and no matter what you are doing those relationships can lead to amazing things. Value them, encourage them, and create them.

Advice to ignore is a little harder. I think more so not all advice is good advice. Just because someone is older and more experience doesn’t mean they are right. It doesn’t mean they are wrong either but take what you hear and filter it through your own lenses. Trust in yourself and take it all in but not everything has to be taken at face value. There are always things to be gleamed in others advice but it doesn’t mean you have to take it all, you are allowed to take pieces.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

I don’t have a quote that I try and live by but more so a set of values that help guide me in the decisions I make.

My family is my priority and time spent with them and their comfort always comes first. Beyond that the people that work for me and with me are my priority and it has to benefit them and make their lives better. These priorities can’t come at the expense of me loosing my balance. While I love to work hard I need time to enjoy the things I love. All decisions have to be based on these three things aligning. If they do then I am going to love what I am doing and find passion and purpose within it. If I have this then it will be a representation of myself and something I am proud of and is worth doing.