Tom Bloch on Leaving H and R Block

Tom Bloch: The bottom line is that I was all-consumed by my previous job, which was CEO of H&R Block, a company that was founded by my father, Henry Bloch, and his brother Richard. And I enjoyed a 19-year career with the company, but it was about at the time that I achieved my ultimate goal, which was to succeed my dad as CEO, that I began to think that something was missing, and I had 2 young kids at that time and it was not uncommon for me to sit at the dinner table and my wife would kick me under the table and say, “Jason just asked you a question and you didn’t hear him.” So I was totally consumed by my job at H&R Block, so I finally decided that if I was going to truly be happy, I would need to pursue a different kind of personal fulfillment, one that was not financially related and one where the focus was not on me. And so my thoughts began to turn to urban education.

For several months, I debated back and forth. I think everybody I knew thought I had the world by the tail. I’m having a wonderful, lucrative position at a great company, wonderful people, and a company that was founded by my father. And so it was a very difficult decision to make, and having been there for 19 years and having never thought about any career outside of the tax preparation business for my entire life, it was agonizing. And I would often wake my wife at 2:00 in the morning, which she never appreciated, to talk about this, and finally, I made the decision to move on. And I thought about urban education for a couple of reasons. I thought then as I do today that urban education lies at the heart of our nation’s most urgent problem.

And I had two prior teaching experiences, neither of which was in urban education. But when I was in college, my French professor offered me the opportunity to teach French at the elementary school in Claremont, California, and he told me I wouldn’t be paid but I could receive course credit for it. And so I did that, and I really enjoyed the experience. Now, my students didn’t quite take me seriously. They saw me more as a 20-year-old college student than a real teacher, and I think that was particularly evident when they called me ‘Mr. Blockhead.’ But, and then about 30 years later, I taught taxes at H&R Block, and also a very satisfying experience, and none of my students then called me ‘Mr. Blockhead.’ But… so I thought teaching would be a wonderful pursuit.

 

Recorded on: October 13, 2008

 

Tom Bloch needed a break from the all-consuming nature of being a CEO.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less