Tom Burden was an F-16 mechanic in the Air Force, and every day, one of the most painful parts of the job was having his tools slide off the aircraft. Lucky for the Air Force and all of the mechanics who came after him, this mechanical engineer made a decision: to solve that problem, no matter what. And, with some inspiration from his mom’s dashboard mount for her phone, he developed the Grypmat.
Tom has become a frequent visitor to The PAST Foundation, and the kiddos just love hearing his story — because it’s awesome. We are constantly telling teachers, schools, and members of our community the same thing: tap into the thing that you’re passionate about. But, for many, it’s hard to take action on this admittedly esoteric advice. However, when they hear Tom’s story, it makes the esoteric concrete; it makes the idea of finding and leveraging your passions and talents feel doable, no matter what age you are.
So, we love that we’re now able to share his story on the podcast because we truly want everyone in the world to feel like they’re capable of finding their superpower and turning that into a career. Tom even has a great hack for finding something you’re passionate about if you have no idea where to start.
The Why behind creating Grypmat
A hack to help you find something that you’re passionate about
The problem with perfectionism in schools
How Tom bootstrapped manufacturing and sales early on
When sales started to snowball
Recognizing students as individual learners