What Has Been My Biggest Success – Wait For It …

Tom McCarter
MDI Contributor

Getting sober 33 years ago gave me a foundation to be in the world and create a life for myself. Up until then, I wasn’t interested.

I was born with a mild case of hydrocephalus, which put additional pressure on my brain and caused me to be a very emotional child. This wasn’t diagnosed until I was 30.

My mother took me to several doctors over the years to find out what was “wrong” with me with no conclusion. I was put on special diets and drugs. My siblings were told there was something wrong with me. I grew up in this environment. I got into drugs and alcohol at 16 and ran on that for 20 years. For six years, I stayed sober but had no life direction. Then I did the Men’s Weekend.

After that three day span, I came home with my depression cleared and knowing who I was could make a difference in the world. I had no idea what that would look like. I joined Headhunters Men’s Division. At the first Division meeting I attended, we all had to volunteer for the upcoming community service project. I was Food Manager 2nd. I got enough food donated to feed 2,000 volunteers over the course of the weekend and helped manage the kitchen. That was a big win for me.

Now I knew I could make a difference. I still had the same demons convincing me that I couldn’t be successful in the world, though. After college, I had joined a collective bakery and lived in a commune. I never pursued a job related to my degree. I took a series of low paying jobs: making donuts, window washing, retail sales, etc. I took the est training and other “transformational” workshops, but my life didn’t transform.

This continued after my Men’s Weekend.

My team even challenged me to find a job that paid me a minimum of $30,000. It was hard to imagine, but I got a commission job selling signs that held some promise. It was there that I got a call from the event planner from Intel wanting to buy a sign. I did not know there was a job with that title. I had never seen it in the “help wanted” section.

People had asked me for 20 years what did I really wanted to do. I couldn’t think of anything, but now I knew what I wanted: to be an event planner. I had organized events since I was 10 and put together a kids’ talent show in our backyard, I put on dances in high school and college, as well as large parties. I had put on events and benefits for nonprofits after college and a large reunion of old friends from college. But always as a volunteer. I got laid off from the sign job.

My DC ran a pizza parlor and had me come drive for him. Neither of us thought i would be there for four years, but during that time, I also took a series of small assignments with a variety of events companies, building up a resume. In the meantime, I was really successful in the men’s division, taking on a series of positions: Division S1, Regional S1, Regional Office Manager, Sponsorship Manager. I also got to do Production and other team activities to support the Weekends.

Every year I volunteered for manager position in our sister community service organization, culminating in being Project Manager for what turned out to be one of the final projects. Among many other projects, we replaced 14,000 square feet of asphalt with a field of grass for a kids’ field. It’s hard to walk away from a success like that and tell yourself you won’t amount to anything.

But that was not my biggest success.

That success gave me the impetus to actively pursue a career in event management. I got a part-time job with an event planner and helped her put on events.

While looking for some side work, I got a job at the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofits that do good work around the world. They told me they needed someone to fill in for their other two planners for a month or two until they found the right people. I was thrilled to be working for a company that supported the work I believed in, and I got to do the work I felt I was born to do. I was doing the work of two people by myself for two months. It was just like doing production on the Weekend, and I applied the lessons I had learned there:

  • Do each job completely
  • Do whatever it takes
  • Have fun.

As a result, they hired me. My men’s team convinced me to purchase a house, which I did, Two years later, I got married. We just celebrated 14 years of marital bliss.

But that was not my biggest success.

I continued my work in MDI, as well. The Membership Manager position was created, but it was vague: make sure the men get the full value of their participation. I went from Division Membership Manager to Regional Membership Manager to International Membership Manager. After I got into the International position, The Regional Coordinators wanted to know what to expect from the program. I got them to agree on the results they wanted, and then created a program with the regional Membership Managers that would produce those results. The RCs who followed through on their commitment saw their regions grow, The RCs who didn’t fully commit, did not.

But that was not my biggest success.

While I was doing that, I was also active in Meeting Professionals International, volunteering for committees and eventually leading the Outreach Committee, which created an annual benefit for Project Open Hand, which provided meals to people with AIDS and terminal diseases.

But that was not my biggest success.

While I was doing that, I also became President of the newly formed local chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council, which was dedicated to converting the industry to meet with sustainable practices, During my term, membership tripled.

But that was not my biggest success.

While I was doing that, the President of MDI, Howard Spierer, came up with the idea of holding a men’s convention in Las Vegas where men could teach each other skills to be successful in the world. He needed an event planner. I figured I was the right man for the job. Six months later, we had a very successful convention.

But that was not my biggest success.

I ran for Regional Coordinator and lost to Jason Campos-Keck. I became his XO, We built on Kurt Thorne’s vision of a region of one and successfully brought the Family of Women to align with MDI and participate in events and community work with us.

But that was not my biggest success.

I went on to be a point man and serve on the Board of Directors. Meanwhile, at work, I was managing over 400 internal meetings a year and I was the staff. I set up the meetings and broke them down. I ordered the menus and kept them within budget, while at the same time ensuring that all the participant’s ever increasing dietary challenges were met. Some days would have eight meetings and I made it work. I served on different committees within work designed to improve communication, diversity, and work environment. I recently retired. It was then I found out how much people at work appreciated me.

I was just doing my job. One of the things I did was organize farewell parties. They were special events. The one my boss and my coworkers put together for me was over the top. Entire departments did special presentations. The president thanked me. Members of the Board came on to express their gratitude. A week later I got an e-card signed by 50 people with their personal note. A week later I received a DVD of several employees expressing their appreciation. I know from experience no one else got this kind of acknowledgement.

So with all this backstory, what is my biggest success?

My big success has been discovering and dissolving the barriers between me and manifesting my power to become the man I always wanted to be.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

6 thoughts on “What Has Been My Biggest Success – Wait For It …”

    1. Arnold, Stephen

      I really enjoyed reading your story McCarter. Your distinctive, gravelly voice narrated every word of it in my head, and I know you a little better now.

      When they say a man grows best when he chooses friends on higher levels, you are that model friend.


  1. Hey Tom
    I have watched you all the way
    and often had too much fun with you
    I guess you represent what the Mens Weekend is all about
    Well Done SIR !!!
    BS o’ the Clan Leslie in Oh Canada

  2. you have lived an amazing lifetime and accomplished so much. You are so well respected by the man and the community I am proud of you and honored to be your friend. What’s next? That convertible Porsche?

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