Tom Englert works for Discount Tire Company, the largest independent distributor of tires and wheels in the world, in Continual Strategic Improvement (CSI) and Risk Mitigation and Operational Quality (RMOQ). He started at Discount Tire Company in high school and has worked his way up into leadership positions over the last 24 years. Englert had completed other Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs and decided during the pandemic that it was the right time to take the Leading Mindfully program as a part of his path to earning the noncredit Certificate in Leadership & Management. Read more about why he chose the program and how it’s helped him to center himself, improving his life at work and at home.

Why did you choose Darden for your professional development?

Leading Mindfully was not the first program that I took at Darden. Given the nature of my role, I was heavily invested in 5S, Lean Six Sigma and process improvement. I started Googling and Darden Professor Elliott Weiss popped up. His content was interesting and I knew I needed more of what he was teaching in order to help my career progression, my team and my personal development. I decided to enroll in his Management Essentials for Developing Leaders program to help my team and my company think differently and move forward. After completing that program, I decided to pursue a Certificate in Leadership & Management.

I also chose Darden because I wanted to have different perspectives and I liked that Darden used the case method. It makes teachings relevant and timely – I knew I’d be able to take back what I was learning and use it immediately. Another bonus is that Charlottesville is a beautiful place that’s full of history.

More recently you completed our Leading Mindfully program. Why did you choose this program?

At the time, we were in the midst of the pandemic. We had to completely restructure and retool our business to meet the needs of the customer through a touchless experience. We were able to keep functioning because people have to be able to drive their vehicles and change their tires, but we had to restructure our business on the fly. Leading Mindfully was a program that could give me something that I needed at that time – to center myself – so I could add the most value possible to my team and those around me while there was a lot of craziness in the world. The program helps you get in contact with yourself, be more in control emotionally and make sure you’re doing the right things for your people, professionally and personally.

How did you like the live virtual format of the program? Do you feel it met your learning needs?

At the point that I took the program, we had been living on Zoom for about a year and a half, so I think it worked well. It was nice being in your own space where you felt comfortable. I didn’t feel like all eyes are on me. I was able to feel at home in my own space and that was a powerful thing. It took my workspace, which was typically chaotic, and made it more zen.

Did you feel like you were still able to connect with other participants in the program?

Yes, they structured the program in a way that allowed us to interact with other participants. We had breakout rooms, and you could tell that people really wanted to be there and were invested in bettering themselves, which enhanced the program experience. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve found out about Darden over time – people are there for the right reasons.

What skills or new perspectives did you gain from Leading Mindfully?

Every morning we started the program off by doing a 10-minute meditation exercise. I’ve continued to do that exercise with my wife since the program ended. Going through this program and other programs at Darden, you learn that it’s not just about business. It’s about how business impacts your whole world. During the program, I was in a place where I couldn’t leave business at work. Business was at home and the program helped me to keep my space free of chaos. I was able to start my day off in a very positive mental state and continue to carry it throughout the day.

To this day, I still use principles from the program when I’m dealing with conflict or people. The program taught me how to pull myself out of the situation, reassess, ask the right questions, read the room, understand how people are responding and act accordingly. For me as a leader, the program gave me the ability to tap into what people need and help them with where they’re at in their journey. It was a big deal for me to be able to do that better, especially when our team was online all the time and not at the office.

Is there anything from your program experience that was memorable?

I would say the connection that Lili and Jeremy made with us. You could feel that they were invested in us. Therefore, you felt like you could reciprocate – they’re giving you their time and effort, and you want to give that back. Even on Zoom, they were able to connect with us really well.

What would you say to a manager or leader who has not prioritized professional development because they feel like they can’t make the time for it?

I would say that they are doing themselves a disservice. Once you stop prioritizing growth and learning new things or think you have all the answers, that’s when life becomes a lot more challenging. Once you realize you don’t have all the answers, life becomes a lot more fun. Your perspective on the world just amplifies because you realize there’s so much out there to learn and room to grow.


Leading Mindfully is a program designed for leaders and managers to learn evidence-based practices to effectively lead under pressure and build your team’s resilience with compassion and communication. Learn more about upcoming program dates and enroll here.