In a business where language is currency, Tom Burket spends freely on ideas and holds the line on syllables. He talks fast and thinks fast, writing to fit and stretching the mind with short, staccato bursts of copy. He can talk to anyone, and probably will, unless someone drags him away immediately.
What do you do with a B.A. in English from Baylor University? You begin in the mailroom, of course. Tom got his start at a busy full-service advertising agency and soon found himself with a chance to amaze the creative powers with masterful writing. Or not, because his first job was a disaster – the client crossed out every word except for the 1-800 number. This experience taught Tom to re-examine his approach, and soon he was writing persuasive rapid-fire copy and heeding the advice of a creative director who once told him, “Tell your story as if you’re standing on the deck of a sinking ship on a stormy night.”
Tom draws on a lifetime of storytelling expertise to inspire his copy, listening to his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles hand down classic bits of family lore at the dinner table. Commonplace incidents and shared experiences became legendary tales, and more details emerged (or were imagined) after repeated recitations. The world was revealed to Tom through stories, and he learned to save the best parts for himself and his future clients.
Like so many hair metal bands and guitar thrashers, Tom had his “big in Japan” moment in the late 1980s when he worked abroad and taught conversational English. When his teenaged students asked why they had to learn English, Tom told them they needed to be able to talk with visiting English-speaking rock stars on the bullet train. Although he has never met Bono or Lady Gaga, at least now Tom’s ex-students will be able to say “hello” if the occasion arises.
When he’s not spinning yarns like a literary whirling dervish, Tom enjoys straddling the line between “geek chic” and technophobia – fluent in Mac-speak and Twitter as well as backcountry camping skills and old-time music traditions.