Can,People-Person,Work,Online, DIY Can a People-Person Work Online?
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Are all online business owners huddled over a keyboard in anunfinished basement, with silent co-workers like a ping-pongtable and a dusty treadmill, like I was? Are they lonely, findingthemselves longing for a TV outlet in the room? Martha Stewartcould cook, I could listen, then I could leave this dreary holeand go cook myself, I would think. Work sputtered to a crawl thenfinally stopped.I went back to work in a cheerful office writing about people whoDO operate successfully online. And I'm fascinated by (andenvious of) the ones who make it working at home, especiallythose who are people-persons.Tom Marshall is a jolly fellow who has made a success of hisonline specialty foods Internet magazine. His culinary expertisewas impressive, plus he had been in the food brokerage businessfor years. And suddenly the entrepreneur in him drove him tostart all over again. "I had no clue, ZERO idea what I wasdoing," admitted Tom. "I had the words 'under construction' ALLOVER that first website. An expert in the field took a look at itfor me, and he said, "Tom, any website that's worth anything isalways under construction. Get rid of all that!"Tom's wife supported the two of them during the start-up. Tomswears he aged about 50 years trying to get the thing going. Whydid he do it?"It takes a vision and a lot of determination," he said.It doesn't hurt to have a sense of humor, either. Afterrepeatedly telling me 'we're doing this,' and 'we'll besetting up that next', he confessed that 'we' is his multiplepersonality. "It's comprised of "me, myself, and I," he laughed.A caller asked for the 'computer systems manager.' "He justhappens to be in!" Tom told him.So how did he give up the noisy, bustling excitement of finerestaurant kitchens, working as a team with co-workers andfriends? He says it in his mission: He wants to bringspecialty food as a culinary resource to a public that demandshealthy, imaginative and tasty food products as a part of theirdaily lives. The Internet can bring it to the whole world.Yet anyone can tell he's a people-person. He admits he loves mostof all getting to know the people behind the entrepreneurialbusinesses featured on his website. Does he chat on screen?Not entirely. He attends as many food shows as he can. Tomsamples world class everything, from truffles too pretty to eatto cheeses too tempting not to scarf. Everything is packagedbeautifully. Even the shows themselves have fancy names, like TheFiery Food Festival in Las Vegas. But what's just as important asfancy food is that the far-from-shy Tom meets interesting peopleto feature in his magazine. While at regional food shows he'lltravel to nearby food businesses, spending a good part of the daywith the folks who run it and taking his own photos for theonline magazine."I like to go to the heart of the business," he said, "because Iam absolutely infatuated with people."His site lists regional green markets and farmers markets. Tomvisits these himself, having a good time with other food loverswhile he picks up supplies for his newest service, InternetCooking School.The computer fumbler 4 years ago is getting pretty familiar withthe power of technology!Big color pictures show step-by-stepcooking instructions, and anyone is free to e-mail Tom aquestion, comment or suggestion about the recipe and he'll reply.There's a food AND a people lover for you!Tom now lives on 3 acres where he grows much of his own specialtyfood and is presently at work planning his herb garden patternedafter the Arboretum in Washington, DC. If you're a people-personworking online, say hello to Tom Marshall atSpecialtyFoodAmerica.com.