Ask a client — The North Face’s Tom Herbst

As Global Vice President, Marketing for The North Face, Tom Herbst knows a little something about the adventurer’s lifestyle. Here, he answers five questions about life, work and the special space in between.


Let’s get to know you a little! Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago called Riverwood. There’s a river and the woods there. It’s a suburb that no one has heard of – the town next to the town next to the town that everyone knows.


What about your hometown do you carry with you?
It helped form my identity as an outsider because I was never from the place that was the right place to be from. I still see myself as a sort of underdog or outsider.


What are some misconceptions about your job?
That all we do is go skiing and mountain climbing.


What’s your brand’s superpower?
The North Face’s superpower is our ability to progress humanity through the power of exploration. We can make people better.


How specifically do you do this?
We believe that exploration is a mindset and that part of that mindset is being more curious, more empathetic, more open to new ideas, more willing to see the world from other people’s perspectives. And the more people embody that mindset, the better a place the world can become. It allows us to learn and grow as a species, it inspires us to protect our planet, and ultimately it makes us better people.


Rebooting is essential to thrive in the workspace. When do you feel most free?
When I’m creating: either playing music – I’m a terrible guitarist – or cooking or playing hockey. When I can lose myself in the moment.


What do you wish you had been told before starting your first job?
Everyone is making it up!


Last but not least, what are you currently reading?
I usually read three or four things at the same time. It’s weird because I don’t usually read that much non-fiction, but currently I’m reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming; Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s autobiography, Small Fry; Dare to Lead by Brené Brown – which has a great chapter on empathy – and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.