Remembering a Great Leader
This week, we had to say goodbye to our founder and president, Tom Albers. Tom’s sudden death, at the age of only 48, has left a hole in the hearts of everyone who knew him, including his family and friends; his clients and peers, and us, his team.
Tom always talked about our unique work-at-home environment and, by and large, it was one of the things that attracted us to working for Albers in the first place. Many of us have children, and we appreciate the work-life integration that working from home makes possible. But Tom did so much more than create a successful virtual office model. He built a culture, one founded on his abiding belief in the power of relationships.
Tom knew that to be in any kind of relationship with someone, you have to authentically care about the things they care about. For our clients, this meant becoming a total partner in their business: developing a complete understanding of their own culture, their goals, and their target audience and using that knowledge to best position them in the media and the marketplace. Tom never referred to clients as “they;” it was always “we.”
For those of us on his team, Tom built relationships by encouraging us to develop our professional ambitions. If one of us had a skill or background that he thought would serve our clients, he made a point to bring us into the project. He was always quick with a company-wide email shout-out or a snail mail handwritten note if he felt we had done something exceptionally well.
Tom also took an interest in our families – cheering on milestones from our kids’ first steps to their first professional jobs; being there when one of our loved ones passed away; making a real effort to get to know our spouses. Because relationships are a two-way street, he inspired us to care deeply about what he cared about: providing outstanding service to our clients, making Albers Communications an industry leader and giving back to the Omaha community.
He was a born optimist who always thought that he had the power to make the glass even fuller. This must be why he was drawn to clients and non-profits that were committed to serving others – when he saw a person or organization doing something great, he wanted to help them do even better.
Tom was all about abundance. It came through in his generosity, his willingness to invest in anything that would enhance our company or our service, his tireless (and, as anyone who ever got an 11 p.m. email from him on a Sunday night knows, I do mean tireless) devotion to our clients, and the joy that he took in sharing his love and vast knowledge of PR with everyone he knew.
Although Tom’s life was cut short, he accomplished so much that his influence will be felt for many years to come. Albers Communications Group will go on with our work, and we will continue to strive to fulfill Tom’s legacy. We may no longer hear his legendary laugh, but we will always hear his voice in our ear, asking, “What can we do to make it better?”