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Tom Henske: "Courage is about making tough decisions and standing by them, especially when the path is challenging and uncertain."

July 1, 2024
He can show you in 30 minutes how 12 dinnertime conversations will change your child's financial future.
"Teaching your kids about money is not a 'nice to do'... it's a 'gotta do.'"
His name is Tom Henske, and through a synchronicity, we met him last year while dining at a nice restaurant in downtown Westport.
Since then, whenever we travel to the U.S.A., we meet Tom for coffee and share nuggets of wisdom and life lessons.
With his willingness to help people, Tom immediately said yes when I asked him about an interview. Here is what he shared with me.


What are three important moments in your life that would make you stop and tell us who you are?

Three important moments in my life that truly define who I am are the 1991 NCAA National Final in men’s soccer, my involvement with Shootout Cancer, and selling my wealth management company to take on the crusade of financial literacy.

The first pivotal moment was the 1991 NCAA National Final in men’s soccer. Being part of the championship team was an incredible experience that taught me the value of teamwork, dedication, and perseverance. It was a defining moment that instilled in me the drive to work hard and strive for excellence in everything I do.

The second moment was donating my national championship ring to the American Cancer Society through an initiative called Shootout Cancer.

This decision sparked one of the largest student-run fundraisers in the history of the University of Virginia. It was a humbling experience that underscored the importance of giving back and using my achievements to make a positive impact on others. This act of generosity and the resulting community effort highlighted my commitment to honesty, integrity, and the power of collective action.

The third significant moment was when I decided to sell my wealth management company to fully dedicate myself to the mission of financial literacy through Total Cents.

This was a bold decision, driven by my passion for empowering families and young individuals with the knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions. It was a leap of faith that combined my professional expertise with a deep-seated desire to make a difference in the world.

These moments collectively define who I am: a dedicated team player, a compassionate individual committed to giving back, and a visionary driven by the goal of financial literacy for all.

What brought you to where you are today?

What brought me to where I am today is a combination of hard work, honesty, and integrity.

Throughout my life, I've always believed in putting in the effort and dedication required to achieve my goals. Hard work has been a cornerstone of my journey, driving me to continuously learn, grow, and overcome challenges.

Equally important has been my commitment to honesty and integrity. I've always strived to conduct myself with transparency and authenticity, both in my personal and professional life. By staying true to my values and maintaining a high standard of ethics, I've built trust and strong relationships with those around me.

Together, these principles have guided me, helping me create and grow initiatives like Total Cents, which aim to make a positive impact on families and young individuals through financial education. It’s this blend of perseverance and moral grounding that has truly shaped my path and brought me to where I am today.

If you were to meet yourself at the age of five, what advice would you give yourself for a harmonious journey through life?

If I were to meet my five-year-old self, I would offer three key pieces of advice to ensure a harmonious journey through life.

First, I would emphasize the importance of open and honest communication. Always speak from the heart, especially during difficult conversations. Learning to listen actively and express yourself clearly can build stronger relationships and resolve conflicts more effectively.

Second, I would encourage a mindset focused on long-term growth and purpose rather than short-term wins. Life isn’t about winning or losing in a finite game. It’s about continuously evolving and contributing positively to the world. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and keep striving for improvement and impact.

Lastly, I’d advise my younger self to cultivate small, consistent habits that lead to significant, lasting change. The little things you do every day shape who you become. Focus on building positive routines, celebrating small wins, and understanding that incremental progress can lead to remarkable transformations over time.

By combining these principles—effective communication, a long-term perspective, and the power of small habits—you can navigate life’s journey with harmony, resilience, and a sense of fulfillment.

How would you define courage?

I define courage as the ability to do what is right, even when it is not easy. It's about making tough decisions and standing by them, especially when the path is challenging and uncertain.

Courage means continuing forward when you hit times where it feels like everything is going against you, refusing to give up despite the obstacles. It's about having the resilience to push through adversity, maintaining your integrity, and staying true to your values, no matter the difficulty. Courage is the unwavering commitment to pursue your goals and make a positive impact, regardless of the setbacks you might face along the way.

When was the last time you listened to your intuition? How did you feel doing that?

The last time I listened to my intuition was when I decided to sell my equity in the company I spent my life building to launch a new financial education initiative, Total Cents, aimed specifically at helping parents teach their kids about money. I had a wealth of data and research at my disposal, but there was also an instinctive feeling that this was the right move, aligned with my mission to empower young individuals with financial literacy.

I realized that my gut feeling was a product of years of experience and knowledge, allowing me to make a quick, informed decision. I trusted that this subconscious processing of information was steering me in the right direction.

Making this decision felt empowering. I felt confident and aligned with my core values and mission. Trusting my intuition, validated by my expertise and experience, resulted in a sense of fulfillment and excitement about the positive impact this initiative would have on young individuals' financial futures.

Which is your greatest personal gift? When was the last time you manifested it?

My greatest personal gifts are visionary thinking and public speaking, and I believe they complement each other well.

My visionary thinking was instrumental in the launch of Total Cents. I saw a need for a comprehensive, user-friendly resource that parents could use to teach their kids about money. This vision involved creating innovative and interactive tools that make financial education fun and accessible for families. By combining my ability to see the big picture with my dedication to this mission, I was able to bring Total Cents to life, making a positive impact on countless families.

I also manifest my gift for public speaking through the numerous speeches I give annually across the country. Each year, I have the privilege of speaking to thousands of parents, educators, and financial professionals about the importance of financial literacy for kids. By effectively communicating complex financial concepts in an engaging and relatable manner, I help inspire and educate my audiences, empowering them to take proactive steps in teaching their children about money.

If you look at life as a journey, what stage of that journey do you see yourself in now?

I see myself at the most opportune time in my life where I have a great  blend of energy, passion, and experience. I'm still at a young enough age that my enthusiasm and drive are as strong as ever, but I also have the benefit of years of accumulated knowledge and a robust network of contacts. This combination allows me to not only dream big but also to effectively turn those dreams into reality. It's an exciting stage where I can leverage all I've learned and the relationships I've built to make a significant impact, especially in the realm of financial education for families and young individuals.


Tom, thank you for taking this journey with me through the moments that have shaped your life.
Dear reader, I hope that Tom's story inspires you to reflect on your own pivotal moments and recognize the unique path that has brought you to where you are today.
So, what are the moments in your life that define who you are?
Share your story, embrace your journey, and remember that every experience—whether big or small—contributes to the person you are becoming. Here's to celebrating our past, living fully in the present, and looking forward to the future with courage and determination.
Keep striving, keep giving, and most importantly, keep believing in the power of your own journey.
Thank you!
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