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Tom is a cheesemaker, writer, and drummer. He writes about business, music, politics, and life. Tom and his wife Kristi also blog at

Musician. Writer. Cheesemaker. Environmentalist. Political junkie.

Photo courtesy of Tim DeFrisco

Thanks for visiting my profile! My name is Tom, and I am excited to be a part of the Medium community.

I am a writer, musician, cheesemaker, husband, and father. I have worked professionally as a writer a few times in my life— as business editor of a Gannett daily newspaper and as writer/editor of a university publication. The majority of my career has been focused on other endeavors.

I grew up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Fort Collins, Colorado. My youth was spent skiing, backpacking, and drumming in bands.


And why it’s often the hardest thing to do

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

The other day, I wrote a story about the time I auditioned to play drums with the BoDeans. On the surface, it seemed like a worthy writing topic. This was my brush with greatness, a chance to join a major label band that had just spent a year opening for U2 on their Joshua Tree tour.

The story remains unpublished. After writing it up, I shared it with someone close to me, and she conveyed that it lacked a certain authenticity.

“It sounds like you’re bragging,” my friend said. “You talk about all of these bands you’ve played with and…

Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Practice” will get you on the right path

Photo courtesy of Tyler Nix on Unsplash.

Developing a consistent writing habit is key to becoming a successful writer. Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Practice” is a powerful tool that will help you harness your creativity and develop habits that propel your writing career.

Several years ago, I went through a period during which I struggled to write. When I sat down at the computer, I would put down a paragraph, pause, and then work to perfect it before moving on. The habit stopped me in my tracks. Even shorter pieces became a grind to finish.


Completing the platform’s research survey inspired me to ask myself that question

Photo by Juan Rumimpunu on Unsplash

Like many Medium writers, I recently received an email requesting that I complete a Medium Curators Team survey in support of the platform’s ongoing creator research study.

The study is intended to help Medium evaluate their writers’ experiences on the platform and elsewhere. Survey organizers say they’ll use the data gathered to improve our writer experience. Here’s an excerpt from the email:

“Thinking about our goals for the year ahead, a big one for us is continuing to make Medium a better place for writers like you. And that starts with listening to your story and understanding your needs.


What’s changed, what’s working, and what needs improvement

Opening day at Big Sky Ski Resort, Big Sky, Montana. Photo by Tom Johnson.

As the holidays approach and the coronavirus pandemic enters a dangerous new phase, many skiers wonder whether it’s safe to return to the slopes.

Last week, my wife and I got a first hand look. If our experience is any indication, the industry could be in for a challenging season.

Thanksgiving Day marked the beginning of ski season at many resorts across the U.S. We spent the day skiing at Big Sky, Montana’s largest and best known ski resort.

Since September, we’ve lived at Big Sky Mountain Village, located at the base of the ski area. During our time here…

Taking aim at my struggles with long-form writing projects

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

I have struggled my entire adult life with finishing long-form writing projects. I’ve left in my wake a string of unfinished books: novels, memoirs, and even my senior thesis.

Armed with new tools and a more forgiving writing practice, I am optimistic that I can succeed where I have come up short in the past.

My developing understanding of the rules and structure of storytelling, coupled with an evolving habit of writing quickly and consistently — and with my internal editor held at arm’s length — has given me confidence that I can persevere on a novel I plan to…

Business failure and the durability of the stories we tell ourselves

Photo by Tom Johnson

Last year, a Gouda cheese I designed won a medal at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. I was initially thrilled. The competition is the country’s largest and most important technical judging event.

But my delayed response to the award caught me by surprise and taught me about the durability of the stories we tell ourselves as we muddle through our daily lives.

Designing award-winning cheeses is not new to me. Together my wife and I launched more than 20 cheeses, all award winners, under the Bingham Hill label. We won several medals at previous U.S. and World Championships, and in…

Acknowledging your employee’s efforts is powerful, motivational, and inexpensive.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema on Usplash

In the workplace, offering praise to employees is powerful, motivational, and inexpensive.

It’s also grossly underutilized.

Studies show that only around 25 percent of employees are fully engaged with their work. The rest are somewhat or fully disengaged.

Often the problem isn’t the employee; it’s leadership. Employees routinely feel under-appreciated or worse: invisible.

One of the most frequent complaints I hear from coworkers is a lack of recognition from their managers.

“It’s like she has no idea how hard I’m working or what I’m working on,” a coworker told me.

“I drafted the report he requested,” another said. “I stayed…

Facts and truths about life to learn and live by

Photo courtesy of bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

With apologies to Genius Turner, who wrote a fantastic story on the literary perils of writing “listicles,” I submit my own listicle here. This piece is a compendium of the hard-won, irrefutable truths I have come to understand during my five-plus decades on planet earth. I am sharing them as a gesture of gratitude to all of you who have taught me so much over the past year.

You may have additional truths that belong on the list. Feel free to add them as comments to this piece.

30 irrefutable truths I have learned so far

  1. Your decisions determine who you are. Decisions — real decisions — put…

And why finding common ground may be impossible

Photo curtesy of Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, America is grappling with an uncomfortable truth: we are a deeply divided nation, perhaps more so than at any time since the Civil War.

Like many Americans, this year’s campaigns and ensuing elections reinforced my belief that the two sides of our political spectrum have little in common other than the borders that contain us.

While it’s still too early to tell, it appears that former vice president Joe Biden will be the country’s next president.

But even if President Trump loses and steps down, his influence on the views, attitudes, and behavior…

Tom Johnson @rusticdrummer

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