Tom Dott, Class of 2001

IB is celebrating 20 years of the 40 Under 40 in 2020, and will be catching up with past recipients to see what they’ve been up to since they were honored. This week features Tom Dott, senior vice president–commercial banking, First Business Bank.
Watn Tom Dott Headshot

What have you accomplished in your professional life/career since your 40 Under 40 selection?

Since being included in the inaugural class of the In Business 40 Under 40, I count myself lucky to be involved as a founding member of the Rosenberry Society within United Way of Dane County. Playing a small part in creating this outstanding organization that raises over $800,000 every year is humbling, and watching our young leaders rise to the occasion is impressive. I’m grateful to have served as board president of the Henry Vilas Zoological Society, helping to build the animal health center and Artic Passage projects. I’m also currently serving on the board of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

I’ve been really fortunate, and these opportunities allowed me to give back and pay it forward how I can. I also am thankful to have achieved what I call “professional nirvana” after figuring out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. It wasn’t an easy process, but I am happy and feel valued for my capabilities.

What accomplishments, milestones, or endeavors have you attained in your personal life since your 40 Under 40 selection?

Let’s just say I’m never bored. I have a “ride it like you stole it” mentality when it comes to pursuing my personal passions, like cycling, and I’ve been competing for 15 years. This is especially true in my life since I survived a very scary brush with Lyme disease. Nothing is guaranteed and I really believe in not taking it for granted. I was able to return to a rural lifestyle and way of living a few years ago, and I really appreciate the sense of peace I get from it.

If you were to “do it all over again,” what (if anything) would you do differently throughout your career?

I know it would have benefited me to be open to continuous self-improvement at a younger age. Acknowledging that no matter how good you think you are, you can always be better takes humility, but once you realize that, you’re most of the way there already. Committing to self-improvement and seeking mentors — I could have achieved professional nirvana much sooner.

How did your 40 Under 40 selection help your career?

Apparently, I was stalking Corey Chambas, president and CEO of First Business Financial Services Inc., in pursuit of getting him to hire me way back in 2001. It’s funny now, but I didn’t realize we were in the same 40 Under 40 class, working for different banks. It’s such a small town some days. I see a lot of local leaders, many of whom have become great friends, when I page through the archive and realize how much all these leaders have contributed to our economy and our community as a whole. It’s impressive.

What is something that you have a new passion for since the time of your induction — either professionally or personally?

While I cycle mostly for exercise now, I’ve taken up fly fishing. I like visiting the stream right behind our place and fly fishing for a few hours. The commotion of the world melts away. Our place in rural Wisconsin includes a varied menagerie of spirited animal companions we get a kick out of, including three 1,400-pound Brown Swiss heifers, who are very much like oversized dogs.

Based on your experience, do you have any advice for today’s young professionals (under 40)?

For how much time you spend at work, be honest with yourself about what you like to do. You owe it to yourself. Genuinely scrutinize where you can add the most value for your employer and your clients. Recognize that you can define your own success, and don’t get caught up in titles and power. Be true to yourself.

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