Tom Burtness has been an adventurer his entire life, relentlessly pursuing the optimum approach to conquering the challenging waves in his own life, family, and career. He is an entrepreneur to the core. Tom has founded over twenty successful businesses and organizations in the past thirty-five years in a wide diversity of fields, ranging from consulting engineering, construction, and real estate businesses, to a theatre production company and a church.

Tom is passionate about helping people find and realize the vision for their lives, families and businesses. Dubbed a “mentor of mentors,” Tom served as director for North and Central America for a distance-learning institute that provides masters-level business leadership training. In this role, Tom oversaw an international network of over two hundred mentors, and taught seminars, short courses and in-service training events in Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and throughout the Unites States.

His teaching and writing style blends both the why and the how-to. Tom possesses a rare ability to see both the philosophy behind a principle and the way to live it out; it has been said of Tom that he is a “bridge between the theoretical and the practical.” Tom finds it curiously ironic that his engineering specialization of illumination design parallels his passion to assist his students in achieving practical “illumination” to excel in their fields of endeavor.

Tom and his wife of thirty-five years, Emily, carry their passion for mentoring into their family life as well. They home educated their four children from grade school through graduation from high school. The three older children have all graduated from college with honors. Erick is a CFA, Kristiana is an editor and screenwriter, Michelle assists in the real-estate business, and Hannah is studying graphic design at the University of Illinois.

Tom extends his love for taking calculated risks into his leisure activities as well. He has enjoyed many years of the excitement involved in off-road motorcycling, scuba diving, downhill skiing, rock climbing and rappelling, and being a private pilot. Tom is a long distance runner and completed three half-marathon events last year. His personal motto is “Never stop adventuring!”

Tom currently co-owns and runs four businesses, including a real-estate investment business with his son-in-law, Zach Morrison; a real estate investment capital funding business; an investment advisor firm; and a green energy residential improvements business. Tom can be reached at [email protected]. He and Emily reside near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and are avid fans of the University of Illinois. Go Illini!