My name is George B. Thomas
I love HubSpot. But I’ve also spent years hiding behind my passion because I didn’t want to tell my story – it was easier to be George the Happy, Helpful HubSpot Guy. Not anymore, though. Yes, I’m still your happy HubSpot helper (and always will be), but I stand before you today a different man.
My name is George B. Thomas, and I’m genuinely excited to share my journey with you.
Our journeys as humans matter
There’s a reason why I care so freakin’ deeply about the humans behind the HubSpot challenges I work with every day – understanding your unique stories and experiences is the key to unlocking greatness within you. And that’s why I want to share my story. Our mutual understanding will make it easier for us to go further and achieve "greater" together.
Business owner, father, family man, a man of faith
If you were to meet me today, this is how you’d know me – the HubSpot educator who transformed his passion into a business; the dedicated father and husband who smiles so damn big every day because of his family; the man of faith who sees purpose beyond himself and the good in everyone he meets.
I’m proud to say all of those things are true. But like you, who I am today is not how I started this journey – not even close. Where I am now is a direct result of every triumph, every failure, every bruise, every loss, and every heartbreak I’ve experienced and learned from.
HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT
“You will never amount to anything.”
For better or for worse, we all have moments in our lives that define us. I was 17 years old when a math teacher said that to me in the middle of class. “You’ll never amount to anything.” And I believed him. So, about six weeks later, I dropped out and joined the Navy.
For years, those words haunted me and dictated my direction in life. For years, given the chance, I would have gone back to that math teacher and told him off for the time he stole from me. However, today is a much different story.
I’m no longer angry; I’m grateful.
I wouldn't take 'em if a genie came to me right now and said he could give me those lost years back. If I saw that math teacher of mine, I would thank him. He tossed fuel on the fire that created the man – and the empowering educator – I am today.
IT WAS 2007
“I’ve given my life to God. Then where are my blessings?”
I stood there in Pastor Dave’s office, frustrated and tired, as I said that. I was a youth pastor in Ohio working at a Pizza Hut while I studied to become ordained myself. I had made so many changes in my life to do good and be better, and I wanted to see the blessings everyone had promised.
Two weeks later, we were on a mission trip to an Indian reservation in Montana. On Sunday morning, we gathered in a field under a big white tent, surrounded by mountains, for a service. The guest speaker that day was Prophetess Juanita, and there is no amount of money you could pay me to remember anything she said to the congregation.
But at the end of the service, as she walked down the aisle, she paused beside me. I hadn’t said anything to her, but she put her hand gently on my shoulder and then said:
“When are you gonna realize you’re the blessing?”
That moment changed everything.
I stopped looking for blessings and dedicated myself to being the blessing.
MY FIRST AGENCY EXPERIENCE
“See, I told you.”
Two years later, I was working at a water park, but I was ready for more. I had been teaching myself Adobe Photoshop and design, and then I stumbled across a Craigslist ad for an agency in Akron, Ohio, that needed design help.
I made the 45-minute drive and showed up on their doorstep wearing a blue windbreaker. I didn’t have a portfolio to show off my work or anything like that, so when I sat down at a table with four guys from their agency, I was nervous. They started asking me questions, and I answered them as best I could. I explained how I was self-taught, using websites like Lynda.com to teach myself HTML, CSS, and Photoshop.
At one point, they asked for a brief moment to confer with each other. Nervously, I watched them speak in hushed tones from across the room. Finally, they came back and asked: “Do you know how to use InDesign?”
“No,” I answered honestly. “But I can learn it.”
After some discussion, they extended a conditional offer with a 90-day probationary period. This was on a Thursday. I spent that weekend binging every educational online course and video about InDesign I could find. On Monday morning, I walked into the office of the creative director, Eric Jacobs, and put four pieces of paper on his desk.
“What are these?” he asked.
“They’re four certifications from Lynda.com for InDesign,” I said.
He looked at me. Then he looked at the three other guys he worked with and said: “See? I told you.”
It was Eric who brought me into the agency world. It was Eric who gave me a chance.
FLASH FORWARD TO 2012
HubSpot hosts the “world’s largest webinar.” What?
I was a website designer and developer at a small agency in Massillon, Ohio. There were only five of us, but day in and day out, we hustled. We grinded. And then, one day, our social media guy tells us “some company called HubSpot” is putting on the “world’s largest webinar,” and we knew we had to tune in. (That may not seem like a big deal in 2022, but ten years ago … it was a big deal.)
During the webinar, they said they would give away free tickets to an event called INBOUND to the attendees who tweeted the most about the webinar. Immediately, our social media guy starts tweeting up a storm – and we won two tickets!
I had no idea how my life was about to change.
I WAS HUNGRY FOR HUBSPOT
“Don’t call me a customer. I’m a human being.”
The moment I landed in Boston and entered my first HubSpot INBOUND event, something fundamentally changed in my brain. The humanity-focused message of HubSpot spoke to my soul and my purpose. Then I saw Gary Vee on stage, tearing it up, being about as human and as real as you can possibly get. That’s when I knew:
“I want to be a marketer when I grow up.” Which is a hilarious thing, because I had never even thought that before in my entire life. In fact, I’m not sure anyone has ever said that. (Can you even imagine a five-year-old saying, “I don’t wanna be a fireman anymore, I wanna be a growth marketer when I grow up!”) But that happened to me.
When I got back to Ohio, I was hungry for more.
I fired up HubSpot Academy and devoured every certification they had. And I’ve been unstoppable in that department ever since. I started with one HubSpot certification. One became two. Two became six. Six became 21. Currently, I have more than 40.
I’ve also spoken at HubSpot’s INBOUND event every single year since 2015.
MARCUS SHERIDAN AND THE SALES LION
“I honestly feel like I just won the marketing lottery.”
That’s what I told my wife after I got off the phone with Marcus Sheridan, author of They Ask, You Answer. At the time, he owned his own agency, The Sales Lion – and he had offered me a job.
I will always be eternally grateful for how Marcus challenged me.
“Hey, I think we should start a podcast,” he said.
“You must be out of your mind. I hate my voice. Absolutely not,” I replied.
Marcus persisted, and I went on to record 271 episodes of the Hubcast.
“You should start with the fact that you’re a high school dropout,” he told me ahead of my first-ever keynote over dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
“There is absolutely no way I’m going to do that,” I told him.
“Until you embrace being vulnerable,” he said, “you’re going to miss out on the magic in life.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Marcus was right. So I did it. I opened my first keynote by sharing that I was a high school dropout and the story of what my math teacher had said to me. Afterward, a woman came up to me and said my story resonated with her. I thought she was being polite at first, but then she said:
“I don’t think you understand; for me, you were talking about my mother.”
Then we sat for about half an hour talking about life and forgiveness. And that’s when I realized this was what I was meant to do with my life. I’m supposed to tell my story to help heal people who connect with who I am and why I do what I do.
BY 2017, IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE
I was looking for other humans like me
It was an exciting time for The Sales Lion in 2017. We joined forces with IMPACT, another HubSpot agency based in Connecticut. The humans were absolutely incredible, but it didn’t take me long to realize my path would lead me elsewhere. I wasn’t ready to go from a small, close-knit team to a larger setting. So, I checked in on Remington and Rachel Begg of Impulse Creative.
It all clicked. For five years, we worked together, along with rockstars like Dan Moyle and others, to change the way people think about HubSpot. I also built the Sprocket Talk community and created countless educational videos.
It was a meaningful chapter that I’ll never forget and brought me to where we are today:
Business owner, father, family man, man of faith.
LOOK DOWN THE MOUNTAIN
“You’ve come a long way since 2013.”
There is one thing we humans are really bad at, and that’s taking a moment to pause during our ascent. We’re always moving, always climbing. We rarely rest. We rarely stop – even for a second – to turn around and look at how far we’ve come. I’m guilty of that, too, which is why I have that written on the whiteboard in my office:
“You’ve come a long way since 2013.”
My guess is you have, too. So as we come to the end of my story (for now), I encourage you to take a moment for yourself. Turn around, look down the mountain, and see how far you’ve come. Honor your strength and hard work that brought you to where you are now.
Embrace your story.
Then get back to climbing. There’s more life out there waiting for you.