I woke up Sunday morning to news that a friend had died Saturday night. At 44, Tom Billionis was a pillar of the Springfield, MO community. Tom and I lived in Tucson, AZ a number of years ago. Along with a group of five or six other guys, we met weekly to talk about life, family, and our hopes and dreams. We laughed, debated, read books, told jokes and drank (mostly coffee which was on of Tom’s passion).

Tom was a small business owner. Along with a partner, Tom created, The Coffee Ethic in downtown Springfield. He also opened a second cafe in Springfield. His passion for coffee was only surpassed by his passion for people. Tom believed in people. He believed in  connecting people to each other and their potential. His Facebook wall is inundated with messages from people who are changed because of his life, including mine.

I don’t know what hurts worse today, the fact that Tom is gone or that over the past few years I had not stayed in touch. I’ve never been good at looking back. My ambition keeps me looking forward. And today that exposes a glaring weakness that I must now both live with (in the case of Tom’s death) and change (in the case of others I have neglected).

So today’s nugget comes directly from the sting of my weakness:

  • Don’t lose touch with the people that matter to you.
  • Invest your life in people.
  • Be mindful of more of the moments of your days.
  • Be kind even when you have to be firm.
  • Use your ingenuity to make the world a bit better while you’re here and after you’re gone.


I will miss you Tom. You’re still making me better.