Tom Ingrassia On The Morning Routines and Habits Of Highly Successful People

An Interview With Sara Connell

Sara Connell
Authority Magazine
11 min readMar 20, 2022


One good way is to ask yourself on a regular basis, What am I doing that is working well — and that I can do more of to enhance my success? Focus on the things that are truly important to you — it rally is the best way to make certin that you are satisfied and productive in your life. And — perhaps MOST important — make time for yourself every day…without fail! Even if you can spare just 30 minutes from your hectic schedule, do it. When you practice self-care, you actually put yourself in a better position to not only achieve those things that you are passionate about, but alo to help those around you to be successful, too.

Beginnings are a Genesis. That means that not only are they a start, but they are also the origin of all that follows. This means that the way we start something, the way we start our day, for example, creates a trajectory for all that follows. How do highly successful leaders start their day in a way that creates a positive trajectory for a successful, effective, productive, and efficient day? How do you create habits that make these routines permanent? How do you get inspired to develop the discipline necessary for such a lifestyle? In this new series, called Morning Routines and Habits Of Highly Successful People, we are talking to successful leaders who can share the morning routines and habits that have helped them to achieve success.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Ingrasia.

Tom Ingrassia is a success coach, award winning author and radio personality. His first book — One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams — is currently being adapted as a documentary film, due out in early 2023. On Wednesday mornings, Tom morphs into “Motown Tom,” host of The Motown Jukebox on WCUW 91.3FM, in Worcester, MA (one of his childhood dreams come true).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Growing up in the 1960s, I fell in love with show business when I saw The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. I was 11 years old — and I told my mother, “I’m gonna meet them someday.” At the same time, I also fell in love with radio, listening to the legendary DJs on WABC radio in New York City. I dreamed of being just like Chuck Leonard, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow, Herb Oscar Anderson. At the time, these were just the pipe dreams of a little “white bread boy.” I followed a fairly traditional career path — college, graduate school, marriage, a house. However, my first dream came true when I met Mary Wilson — of The Supremes — in 1972, interviewing her for a project I was working on. Little did I know….

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

First and foremost, it was The Supremes and the music of Motown that inspired me. Even though I followed that traditional career path, I always knew there was “something else”out there, calling my name. When I met Mary Wilson, she saw something in me — potential. She mentored me, nurtured me, inspired me to live into my dreams — no matter how impossible they may have seemed. Then, in 2000, Mary Wilson offered me a job as her executive assistant and Creative Director of her budding merchandising company. It was the dream I dreamed in 1964, coming true beyond my wildest imagination. Then, in 2013, when I got the opportunity to host a radio show — and I had doubts about whether I was “good enough” — it was Mary Wilson who told me, “This is your dream. Go for it. Believe in yourself….”

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Certainly my parents supported and encouraged my career decisions — even when they didn’t understand what I was doing or why. My wife, Barbara, has always supported and encouraged me. When Mary Wilson offered me that job — and I had to decide whether or not to leave a secure, high paying job as the assistant dean of a university business school to go off into the unknown — it was Barbara who said to me, “I know this is your dream. I’ll do whatever I can to help you achieve it.” Without a doubt, though, I credit Mary Wilson as being THE most influential person in my life. Had I not met her 50 years ago, I likely would not have fully lived into my dreams. She opened the doors and inspired me to walk through them.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I am not sure this qualifies as a “mistake,” but it is a very funny story. In February, 2002 — not long after the 9/11 terrorist attack — I was going to accompany Mary Wilson on a cross-country tour, starting in California. She was already there. I was still in New York City. The day before I was to fly out, Mary called and asked if I could bring her several items that she needed. This, of course, was during a time when airport security was EXTREMELY tight. I arrived at JFK Airport, with 2 suitcases — one containing Mary’s items. In the security/check-in line, I was asked the usual questions — did you pack these bags yourself? Does everything in these bags belong to you? I answered “yes” to those questions. Did anyone else give you anything that is in your bags? “No.” And, you guessed it…I was pulled out for a full search! When the security officer opened the suitcase, he looked at me and aked again, “are these your items?’ “Yes” — what else could I say at that point? That suitcae contained 2 sequined gowns, 2 pairs of strappy, rhinstone pumps, a fur stole, makeup, false eyelashes….By the time I finally made it to my gate, I had to go through 2 more security checks…including one as I was boarding. I can laugh about it now — but at the time, I was scared to death!

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

First and foremost, being a dreamer is critical to my success. Those childhood dreams — being a radio DJ, working for The Supremes — provided a framework for everything I pursued. Second, being a risk taker. When Mary Wilson offered me that job 22 years ago, I knew that if I didn’t accept it on the spot, I would never have that opportunity again. I had to take the risk of giving up my secure university job in order to live into my dreams. Third, not being afraid to fail. When I was offered the radio job, at first I was certain that I would screw it up, break the equipment. How was I going to fill 4 hours of air time? Then I said to myself, “What’s the worst that can happen? If you make a mistake, you can correct it. And if not, at least you tried.” I used to go into the studio each week with my entire show scripted. Every word I said was written in advance. Now, while my playlist is scripted, my between song patter is completely unscripted. Do I get it right all the time? Abolutely not. And I think that is what my listeners like about my show. It is real.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

Growing up, the book that had the most impact on my life was “The Diary Of Anne Frank.” If someone living through that horror could maintain such a positive outlook, then I had a road map for staying positive and focused, no matter the obstacles. And, funny as it may seem, my own book (co-written with Jared Chrudimsky) — “One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams” — continues to inspire me each time I read it. The stories of 16 people who overcame seemingly insurmounable obstacles to achieve their goals has changed my life in so many ways. And I know it has changed others’ lives, too.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am 69 year old, and I still dream new dreams. That is another lesson I learned from Mary Wilson. She told me, “Once you achieve your dream, I want you to dream again…and again…and again.” The most important project I am working on right now is adapting “One Door Closes” as a documentary film — “One Door Closes: Korey’s Courage.” It has been such a learning experience — and not without adversity. We had to shut down production for 18 months, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are only just now getting things back on track. Sadly, though, during the hutdown, we lost Mary Wilson — she died unexpectedly in February, 2021. Mary was going to provide the narration for the film. The film is one of healing and hope — messages that we SO need to hear right now and right here. I also am working on my third book…which is a secret right now…so don’t tell anyone! (My second book is “Reflections Of A Love Supreme: Motown Through The Eyes Of Fans, published in 2015.)

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain to our readers why it is important to have a consistent morning routine?

I have always been an early riser. Part of that is because I do not like to rush in the morning. I simply cannot jump out of bed, shower and shave, gulp down a cup of coffee, and race into my day. I like to take my time. To start on a leisurely pace. To enjoy the birds singing. On those mornings when I do have to rush, I am stressed and unfocused for the entire day. Having a consistent routine helps me to remain composed, helps me to focus on what I want to accomplish that day, and helps me to discern how to accomplish those things.

Can you please share your optimal morning routine that can create a positive trajectory for a successful, effective, productive, and efficient day. If you can, please share some stories or examples.

There are two key elements to my optimal morning routine. About 12 years ago (when I was 57 years old), I took up running. In fact, I ran my first Boston Marathon at age 60! And I run in the morning. Getting out in the crisp, fresh air, listening to the birds singing, watching the sun rise puts me in a peaceful place and erases any stress I may be feeling. I often run with my 2 closest friend — which gives me the opportunity to share my joys and concerns, what I am doing, etc. After I run — even before I shower — I spnd 20 to 30 minutes in quiet meditation. I use this time to focus on the upcoming day. I ask myself these questions: What are my goals and aspirations for today? And what steps can I take to move me closer to those goals? This helps me to gain clarity on what I want to accomplish, how I will accomplish it, and for whom. I can then dig deep into the powe I have within to do what I need to and want to do. I doubt I would have achieved as much as I have without this simple, yet effective, daily habit.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

One good way is to ask yourself on a regular basis, What am I doing that is working well — and that I can do more of to enhance my success? Focus on the things that are truly important to you — it rally is the best way to make certin that you are satisfied and productive in your life. And — perhaps MOST important — make time for yourself every day…without fail! Even if you can spare just 30 minutes from your hectic schedule, do it. When you practice self-care, you actually put yourself in a better position to not only achieve those things that you are passionate about, but alo to help those around you to be successful, too.

Conversely, also ask yourself this question: What am I doing that is not working — and how am I allowing this to happen? Take a really hard look at yourself. Be honest. And then put your entire energy and focus only on the things in your life that are working and that are producing the reults your desire.

Doing something consistently “day in and day out” can be hard. Where did you get your motivation from? What do you use to motivate you now?

It is hard to establish consistent daily habits — especially in the beginning. It becomes easier, however, as you begin to experience the results of what I call “concentrated awareness.” You find that, a you establish a “routine” and experience the benefits, things start to snowball. Small successes build upon themselves…and before you know it, you have reach your goal…maybe even exceeded it! When I reflect on the things I have achieved during the past 20 years, every “Big Idea” came either when I was running or meditating. THAT is what keep me motivated.

What other resources would you suggest to our readers?

In addition to taking time on a consistent and regular basis to discern what you are most passionate about, I also recommend that everyone spend time every day — again, without fail — doing something that brings them joy, peace, and that nourishes their inner being. Meditate…listen to music you enjoy (I listen to Motown EVERY day!)…read (NOT for work!)…get out in nature…work in your garden. Daydream! Daydreaming is a wonderful — and overlooked — way to get in touch with yourself.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I think we are living in a time when so many people — especially young people — have lost the ability to dream. I want people to dream again. To dream BIG dreams. And then to live into their dreams. Then, I want them to pass that on to another person…and another…and another. It is how we will change and heal our world. If I can help bring this to reality, then I will have fulfilled my purpose in life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I would absolutely love to break bread with both Jimmy Carter, and with Barack and Michelle Obama. They are inspirations to me. They are heroes to me. They have achieved impossible dreams. And they have lent helping hands to others with impossible dreams. And…the Obamas have a film production company…so maybe they would be interested in my documentary!!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can visit my website, Tom Ingrassia Productions, at I am on Facebook. And there is a Facebook page for the documentary —

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.



Sara Connell
Authority Magazine

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