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Ep #6: Tom Patterson

Tommy John

Tom Patterson is the founder of Tommy John, an underwear and undershirt company that started by addressing the chronic problem of men’s undershirts coming untucked. It has evolved into one that sells underwear and more for men and women. They are carried in over 1,000 points of retail and are a team of 85 people based in New York. Tom also has the privilege and pleasure of working with his wife! Tom used his skills as a cold calling salesman to get his early product into Neiman Marcus, which really helped cement the trajectory and future of the company. Several years ago, his team discovered actor and comedic superstar Kevin Hart was wearing their product, and it turned into an incredibly fruitful and productive relationship for both parties, one atypical for the endorsement world. I really loved hearing about Tommy John’s core values, which include “It’s not me, it’s we” and “GSD 2.0” (or get shit done 2.0) as an evolution reflecting their company’s growth from the original GSD attitude. We discussed the wave of entrepreneurship and how founders need to be able to be a quarterback at one point, an ice skater another time, and then learn how to be both left and right handed - founders really have to do it all. In case you’re curious, Tom doesn’t want Tommy John to be the next Ralph Lauren or Nike - he wants them to be the first Tommy John. Check them out at and on Instagram at @tommyjohnwear.

Show Notes:

  • 06:20 - After Tom’s wife built a site, he thought, “What is my idea going to be?” and he’d been watching “The Big Idea” hosted by Donny Deutsch -
  • 11:00 - How he got into Neiman Marcus (hint: this is a good idea and brought about significant results)
  • 13:30 - “Are you on EDI?” - you don’t know what you don’t know, but we’ll figure it out
  • 16:30 - 5 cultural values: Humble, It’s Not Me it’s We, Curious/Adaptable, GSD 2.0, Mindful
  • 19:30 - The unique story of Kevin Hart’s underwear & a new partnership
  • 23:18 - Kevin Hart’s videos
  • 27:12 - The beauty of starting during a recession
  • 28:56 - Our homemade Christmas gifts during the early years of starting Mizzen+Main
  • 34:05 - How critical routines are
  • 35:45 - The Sleep Diplomat - watch this
  • 38:15 - Big wave surfers
  • 40:40 - Speed of life and spending more time up front
  • 46:10 - Be the first Tommy John - not the next Ralph Lauren
  • 48:25 - "My gut doesn’t lie
  • 52:10 - Regrets and failures are priceless lessons on the journey
  • 53:45 - Life is too short to spend time with people who don’t bring you joy.
  • 54:40 - The worst photoshoot ever
  • 56:10 - #viewfromplanewindows
  • 1:01:50 - Books: The Purple Cow and Shoe Dog
  • 1:04:53 - The Men Who Built America