Tom Weinberg

I arrived at Pomona College without any idea of what I wanted to do with my life. And nothing during the next four years provided further insight. I even stumbled a bit with majors. Sociology seemed like a good bet, but Dr. Scaff convinced me it wasn’t what I really wanted. Perhaps because it was housed in the same building, I tried Economics next. There was a good chance I’d wind up in some kind of business, and Economics certainly couldn’t hurt. But it did. That left only one other department in Carnegie: Government. (The fact that it was called Government and not Political Science was encouraging. I had already demonstrated that anything too scientific was beyond my intellect.) It was a outstanding decision, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted a career in government.

Graduate school seemed like a good idea. Besides, I really had no interest in going to Vietnam (then), so keeping an educational draft deferment was a bonus. At Johns Hopkins University and UCLA, I finally decided on a career: public policy. I didn’t want to be a bureaucrat; I wanted to influence policy at The White House or on Capitol Hill. Two of my professors, Kennedy and Johnson administration advisors, were well connected and said they could open doors for me.

And so I went into advertising. (It would take too long to explain.)

Apart from a short detour to the public affairs department of a defense contractor, I’ve been selling stuff through the media (and now also on the Web), since 1966. I’ve enjoyed the challenges and relished the successes, but with a few exceptions, I haven’t come home at night and said to myself, “I made the world a better place today.” In 1998, the sale of my company to one of those behemoth worldwide advertising machines gave me an opportunity to retire comfortably, but instead I just went on to another job. I was surprised that even at my advanced age, I was in demand. I was no longer Darren Stevens; I had become Larry Tate.

My real passion is travel, and it has resulted in most of my most memorable experiences. I set a goal to set foot on every continent by the time I was 50 and I thought I had achieved it. (There were no geography classes at Pomona, so I never learned that Antarctica was a continent.) The photo above was taken right around my 60th birthday in Southern Africa (my third trip to that continent) and the feline on my lap is a lion cub.

Rewinding 40 years, what seems most important today about my Pomona experience are the wonderful friendships, many of which continue. That is not to minimize the education, the extracurricular activities or the extraordinary professors with whom I interacted. Those I remember most fondly are Lee McDonald, whose remarkable sense of humor never failed to make classes captivating and enjoyable; Hugh Flournoy, who brought contemporary relevance to everything he taught; Ed Phillips, who was the only teacher who made science understandable to me (and who provided the only final exam question I still remember) and Fred Mulhauser, who told me my use of “effluvia” in a short story stunk.

As for the future, I will be perfectly content if the next 10 years replicate the past 10, although I’d like to work less and play more. Or maybe a job at The White House or on Capitol Hill.