5 Life Lessons from Tom Shane

Anyone who grew up near a Shane Co. store can easily recognize Tom Shane’s voice from radio commercials. Many people, however, never get to put a face to that iconic voice. As a Shane Co. intern, I was lucky enough to sit down with Tom Shane face-to-face over a long lunch. Tom told me about his college days, how he got started in the jewelry business, his travels and how he got to where he is today. I was fascinated by his stories and words of wisdom, and I took away great advice.

One of the main things we talked about is travel, because Tom is always traveling. He spends around half of his life in Thailand, where he buys all of the rubies and sapphires for Shane Co. I am planning a trip to Thailand (and other parts of the world) next summer, so I asked Tom for advice. One of the first things he mentioned, when I told him my tentative plan to visit as many countries as possible, was to slow down. He really emphasized that the key to a successful and meaningful trip is to think about the time spent in each place you visit and to spend less time traveling and more time experiencing. He said, “What is the point of visiting 30 countries if you don’t get to experience each one?” He also advised me to stay with locals and live like they do, saying, “The best way to get an authentic, memorable understanding of each culture is to immerse yourself completely wherever you are.” Tom also gave me advice on where to go and what to do all over the world, whether I end up in Thailand, Morocco or Bali.

Here are five other things I leaned from Tom that really stuck with me:

  1. If you don’t know something, admit you don’t know. Admitting you don’t know shows that you’re intelligent enough to know what you don’t know and it shows that you’re honest and willing to learn. You’ll get much farther in life this way.
  2. For the adventure of a lifetime, you should head to southeast Asia.
  3. Raising your hand might be hard at first, but in the end you’ll gain respect for asking the hard questions.
  4. Take classes at Harvard if you get the chance—you won’t regret it!
  5. Diamonds are always a great investment.

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