We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Bollard and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tom, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I believe, unfortunately, that the reason we spend so much time working on life balance now is because we have spent so little time thinking about it before. When I was raising a young family, I believed that my job was to bring home a paycheck, which I did and did well. I loved the increasing opportunities that my budding career afforded and blindly embraced the challenges. The busier I got, the more I believed I was successful and that is no surprise to anyone in my business…we love the work… the work. I simply lost touch with my family and with myself. I was exhausted, unhealthy and emotionally unavailable. It took some serious health and relationship setbacks to open my eyes. Now, in my “seasoned” years I’ve become a mentor TD, spending a good deal of time simply talking to the next generation of event professionals, offering advise when appropriate, but mostly listening. I am learning to prioritize my wife and family over everything, especially work. I know that this work has made me a better professional and a better partner and person. I wish I had seen it a lot earlier.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have had what I refer to as an “art for money” career and there’s very little I would change. My university degrees are in set design for the stage, which is pure art. When I realized that my art needed some help paying the bills, I started a company that built the sets I, and others, were designing. This really helped but I realized soon enough that I would need to branch out if I was going to make a go of it. I was hired to build the set for a Canada Dry business meeting that was being produced in a hotel ballroom and that experience changed my life. Fitting the set into the confines of the ballroom with lighting, audio and video equipment everywhere was, for me, like a miracle. The technical director was the master conductor and I knew immediately that this fusion of art and money was what I would do every day for the rest of my professional life. I believe that my design background has informed my technical direction at every level and, especially in the early days, moved my career along greatly. Beyond that I insist that the work be respected which has, I hope, led to my inclusion on many amazing production teams. Respect your team, learn from them and them give everything you’ve got and your career will inevitably turn out well. Remember that making the group feel good about including you means that you’ll always have work.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Its easy to get friends to visit San Diego and I love showing them around. Weather is king down here of course so we can do pretty much anything at any time. Our location means there is something for everyone. We are particularly proud of our military here and you could fill several days touring historical and current installations. Not to be missed is the biweekly graduation of our new Marines from boot camp at the parade grounds of MCRD. Another is touring the Midway, our floating WWII era aircraft carrier, where some of the docents are actual WWII veterans. The food scene here gets better every day and our proximity to Mexico has colored our choices in a profoundly beautiful way. Spend a day walking through Old Town or Barrio Logan for some of the best food you’ll ever experience. I always recommend a day visiting the coastal fishing towns of Northern Baja for fresh lobster when time permits. Some of San Diego’s best treasures are found in Balboa Park and no itinerary is complete without at least a full day spent wondering through the giant eucalyptus trees, visiting Rembrandt at the Timken Museum of Fine Art, and seeing a play at The Old Globe Theater. There are literally hundreds of things to do in our world-class park. I would be remiss not to mention that we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here, each with its own neighborhood bars and restaurants. There are several surfing schools for our out-of-town guests that want the quintessential Southern California activity. You can hike in the mountains, swim in the ocean, walk through the desert and/or visit another country all in one beautiful San Diego day.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had the good fortune to learn from truly brilliant mentors at every stage of my professional career. From my beloved university professors to producers, designers and engineers, I have learned everything that is worth knowing from them. As a set designer and technical director, I believe firmly that the intangible truths I’ve been exposed to far outweigh the ability to draw pictures and wedge shows into hotel ballrooms. I’d like to be remembered as a team builder and problem solver…all credit going to my mentors and peers. I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my best friend and key mentor, Ron Groomes, who’s example I’ve tried to follow throughout my life. Ron is a true gentleman with over four decades in entertainment, profoundly effecting countless artists. Yet despite his accomplishments and responsibilities, he always has time for me. Ron’s greatest lesson is that technical or artistic achievement does not define success…having people feel good about working with you does.

Facebook: Tom Bollard

Image Credits
I will send photos under separate cover. Thank you.

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