Can a People-Person Work Online?

Are all online business owners huddled over a keyboard in an
unfinished basement, with silent co-workers like a ping-pong
table and a dusty treadmill, like I was? Are they lonely, finding
themselves longing for a TV outlet in the room? Martha Stewart
could cook, I could listen, then I could leave this dreary hole
and go cook myself, I would think. Work sputtered to a crawl then
finally stopped.

I went back to work in a cheerful office writing about people who
DO operate successfully online. And I’m fascinated by (and
envious of) the ones who make it working at home, especially
those who are people-persons.

Tom Marshall is a jolly fellow who has made a success of his
online specialty foods Internet magazine. His culinary expertise
was impressive, plus he had been in the food brokerage business
for years. And suddenly the entrepreneur in him drove him to
start all over again. “I had no clue, ZERO idea what I was
doing,” admitted Tom. “I had the words ‘under construction’ ALL
OVER that first website. An expert in the field took a look at it
for me, and he said, “Tom, any website that’s worth anything is
always under construction. Get rid of all that!”

Tom’s wife supported the two of them during the start-up. Tom
swears he aged about 50 years trying to get the thing going. Why
did 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. After
repeatedly telling me ‘we’re doing this,’ and ‘we’ll be
setting up that next’, he confessed that ‘we’ is his multiple
personality. “It’s comprised of “me, myself, and I,” he laughed.
A caller asked for the ‘computer systems manager.’ “He just
happens to be in!” Tom told him.

So how did he give up the noisy, bustling excitement of fine
restaurant kitchens, working as a team with co-workers and
friends? He says it in his mission: He wants to bring
specialty food as a culinary resource to a public that demands
healthy, imaginative and tasty food products as a part of their
daily lives. The Internet can bring it to the whole world.

Yet anyone can tell he’s a people-person. He admits he loves most
of all getting to know the people behind the entrepreneurial
businesses featured on his website. Does he chat on screen?

Not entirely. He attends as many food shows as he can. Tom
samples world class everything, from truffles too pretty to eat
to cheeses too tempting not to scarf. Everything is packaged
beautifully. Even the shows themselves have fancy names, like The
Fiery Food Festival in Las Vegas. But what’s just as important as
fancy food is that the far-from-shy Tom meets interesting people
to feature in his magazine. While at regional food shows he’ll
travel to nearby food businesses, spending a good part of the day
with the folks who run it and taking his own photos for the
online magazine.

“I like to go to the heart of the business,” he said, “because I
am absolutely infatuated with people.”

His site lists regional green markets and farmers markets. Tom
visits these himself, having a good time with other food lovers
while he picks up supplies for his newest service, Internet
Cooking School.

The computer fumbler 4 years ago is getting pretty familiar with
the power of technology!Big color pictures show step-by-step
cooking instructions, and anyone is free to e-mail Tom a
question, 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 specialty
food and is presently at work planning his herb garden patterned
after the Arboretum in Washington, DC. If you’re a people-person
working onlinePsychology Articles, say hello to Tom Marshall at