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7 Questions with Thom Van Dycke
7 Questions with Thom Van Dycke
Name: Thom Van Dycke
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Thom Van Dycke Marketing
Thom was a pastor for 19 years before leaving ministry to become an author and marketing consultant. He has been married for 20 years and has 8 children; some of which were born into his home, some which were adopted, and one that married in!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
I'm not just in a small enterprise, I'm a solopreneur. While there are advantages to working on my own, there are also challenges. For example, not having the benefit of a team to brainstorm with. Your network reach is also much smaller than when working on a team, so I have had to network very intentionally.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was laid off from my church of 14 years partly because of the pandemic, but more so because of complicated church politics. In the end, it has been very refreshing to be out of that context and working for myself. I have a friend who hired me to write and illustrate two children's books, and he also paid for me to get certified as a Story Brand Guide. It was a huge investment in my dream.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
We have a large family so my work days take family into account as much as work. Typically I get up with our kids at 7am, let them watch a bit of TV while I do some Bible reading and prayer for 30 or 45 minutes. After this I make breakfast for myself and the kids and then my wife takes over with remote learning. I try to kill my most important tasks in the morning (usually about 3-4 hours of illustrating my children's book), followed by admin, then work on projects and meetings in the afternoon. I often do more illustrating in the evenings after the kids are in bed at 8pm. We always eat supper together as a family when my son gets home from his construction job. In the late evening, I usually give our two babies a bottle at 11 and will be in bed by midnight.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
In reading "Business Made Simple" by Donald Miller I learned to see myself as an economic product. In other words, everything I do has a price tag attached. Whether illustrating, designing, writing, or answering these questions. Everything either moves me closer to my goals or away. I don't think there is neutral activity.
Incidentally, that means that I see value in responding to questions like this. Perhaps it will grow my network. Perhaps it will lead to leadership development. Perhaps it will just cause me to stop and pause to reflect on important and interesting questions.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
When I led at our large church I loved anything by Patrick Lencioni, but his books have more to do with team-based companies. This year I would say Donald Miller's latest book, "Business Made Simple" has had the biggest impact. The reason is that it is practical and I don't have "business" skills per se. I've led large teams, and communicated (preaching) to thousands of people, but I haven't had to actually run a business before. I appreciate the practicality and actionable steps he offers.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I'm networking with business coaches. I'm trying to get my feet under me so that I can more intentionally invest in bigger picture things such as long-term strategy as opposed to getting projects done. I look forward to having a bit more margin this spring to read more.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
I had significant imposter syndrome when I left my church and pursued writing and marketing. I went from being an expert in an "industry" to being completely over my head and endlessly hearing words and acronyms I had to google. (GMB, ROI, etc.) A key moment came for me when I realized that what I am doing is simply communicating. Communicating is something I know very well and, quite frankly, many people who know me as a teacher in a faith-context were willing to hire me because they saw the application in marketing. This was VERY significant.