As an actor, producer, singer, pianist, and business owner, Phil Thompson, '07 BSB, is a multi-faceted virtuoso in the entertainment business. His distinctive musical talents along with his Carlson School entrepreneurship education have helped him launch onto a global stage, having performed at such locales as the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in New York, Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and at the Royal Imperial Palace in Vienna, Austria.
However, one of his biggest accomplishments of note occurred last December right here in Minneapolis, and he is bringing it back again this holiday season. Thompson is the brainchild behind "Home for the Holidays: A Minnesota Christmas," a benefit album and concert featuring Thompson and 14 other top Twin Cities musicians.
Local artists performing on the album and at the concert include GB Leighton, Rockie Lynne, Tim Mahoney, Mick Sterling, Patty & Paul Peterson, Robert Robinson, Cate Fierro, Wild Colonial Bhoys, Mandy Maietta, and Connie Kunkle.
Proceeds from the album, "Home for the Holidays: A Minnesota Christmas Vol. 2," and December 12 concert will benefit IBEW Holiday Lights in the Park, a Minnesota 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Giving back is something that Thompson has also extended to his alma mater. As an entrepreneurship graduate, he stays active with the entrepreneurship club by speaking to students about his method of running an entertainment business. He says the exchange with the students often helps him open his mind to new ideas on how to refine his business.
"I have done a number of presentations with the entrepreneurship programs where oftentimes the support comes from students offering ideas, so that's been pretty great," says Thompson. "Really, I'm just passionate about coming back because I've seen how much Carlson has done for me."
Thompson is also getting business assistance from a Carlson School student through the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship internship program. "It's a great program where juniors and seniors get aligned to work with start-ups, small companies like myself, that are really starting to grow and need more support."
That hands-on approach is what endeared Thompson to the entrepreneurship program when he was a student. "What made my education useful and exciting was that it wasn't about just learning from books," he says. "It's was all about running a business."
Most useful for Thompson, he says, was the entrepreneurship in action class where students do everything from creating and presenting ideas, attracting investors, to implementing and running the business idea.
"It's like playing the piano, yet in a lot more structured way," relates Thompson to the experience.
The entertainer continues to learn, but these days it's weekly voice and piano lessons along with ardently growing his business. "You can never be the best if you don't keep learning, keep pushing yourself to expand," he states. "It's important to always be learning more."
An MBA degree is a long-term goal for Thompson, who says his experience in the MBA-level Vienna seminar while as an undergrad student really gave him a clearer picture of the power of the degree. "I saw what a different level those people with MBAs were at just in terms of their experience and what they were doing," he says. "I first wanted to find what I wanted to do for a career, and I think I've found that, so at some point I'd like to go back to school. I love it."
His focus right now, of course, is on his entertainment business and promoting the Home for the Holidays: A Minnesota Christmas album and upcoming concert. He also has an array of appearances in the coming months, and has already been invited back to perform at the 2011 U.S. Open.
And who knows, someday you might see Thompson give a musical performance at the Olympics or receive a Grammy nomination. If his recent success is a precursor for what's to come, those two goals he has set for himself are definitely within reach.