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“A LOVE FOR LANGUAGE”

There are things about me all over this site. Instead of telling you more, I’ll tell you a very short story of how language became (and remains) so important to me . I was the son of Austrian refugees, Eric and Hedy, both from Vienna. They met in New York, married in Florida and returned to the upper West side of Manhattan to make a life. It is also where I was born.

Intent on becoming full-fledged Americans, my parents decided that they’d no longer speak German. In fact, it was strictly verboten (or whatever word they used) in the apartment. Trouble was, neither Eric or Hedy had much of an aptitude for learning a new language. Nor was there the ubiquitous TV that would become a training ground for so many future refugees in search of English they could imitate.

As a result, there was very little of anything spoken in our lives. I didn’t learn enough German on the weekends when we got together with my parents refugee friends to converse with them.  Shy by nature, my parents made few English-speaking friends. And if the concept of play dates with genuine American kids even existed, no one had told Eric and Hedy — in any language.

So, when finally at five (by then we were living in the Bronx) I started school I came to language — to English in particular — with a hunger for words that I still feel today as well as the desire to be able to express myself using language to provoke interest and evoke feelings in others.

It was that desire in large part that led me to major in Communications at Stanford and pursue a graduate degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State. It also led to my co-founding of MediaWest — one of San Francisco’s first multimedia production companies — and spawned my career as a novelist, short story writer, freelance writer, creative director, writing coach and memoirist.


Books Authored and Co-authored by Tom Parker

Anna, Ann, Annie: A Novel

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Changing her name to fit the altered circumstances of her life, the eponymous protagonist of Parker’s intriguing new novel is in search of her identity even while she desperately seeks–but never finds–the sanctuary of a loving relationship. Born Anna Moser in pre-WW II Vienna, she grows up in an affluent, cultured household destined to be riven by two events: her eccentric parents’ separation and the Holocaust. A talented pianist, Anna chooses not to pursue a career and for a time works as a servant for a London family–renaming herself Ann–but she returns to Vienna where she is raped by Nazi soldiers before escaping to America via marriage to a man she does not love. Buoyed by the promise of a new life, she leaves her first husband to marry another man, but that union too is fated not to endure, and in her 30s she ends up with a violent, gun-toting lawyer who calls her Annie. With each new incarnation, her life spirals downward. Novelist ( Small Business ) and nonfiction writer ( CEO ) Parker, notes that this book grew out of a compulsion to memorialize his mother, who “disappeared” when he was 15. Writing in a clear, restrained yet forceful prose, he relates his heroine’s odyssey in episodic fashion, creating vivid moments frozen in time, like snapshots. He invests these scenes with colorful sensory images: prewar Vienna–when Anna is young and full of assurance that she has power over her future–glows in a pastel light, but the tints darken with Annie’s loss of innocence, and the hues in the last part of the book, as Annie’s existence becomes degraded and her environment more grim, are dark and somber. Because the heroine is emotionally frozen–traumatized by the Nazi rape and the knowledge that her parents never loved her–she remains a somewhat shadowy figure, passive and aloof. Nonetheless, readers will be haunted by her tragic story.


CEO: Building a $400 Million Company from the Ground Up

Kurtzig, the successful founder and retired CEO of the ASK Computer Systems group now tells her unique story, and offers entrepreneurial advice for business men and women at all levels. Starting with just $2,000 and working in a spare bedroom, the author created the fastest-growing software company in the United States.


Small Business: A Novel

Nothing is going right for poor Martin Fassler. His partner Ed Blair, the creative half of their San Francisco media production company, ups and leaves one day, announcing he is having an “emotional difficulty.” Soon all the other employees disappear also, following Ed to Italy to work on a special project. So Fassler must orchestrate entirely on his own a couple of big projects, including one that will bring in the largest fee his company has ever received. Other forces are working against Fassler, too: his girlfriend won’t marry him (and sometimes won’t even see him); his wicked stepmother keeps him from establishing a close rapport with his father; his new $485,000 home is declared uninhabitable; and he is kicked out of the only bakery where he can buy marzipan potatoes. Walking, as Ed puts it, “the fine line between madness and desperation,” Passler moves through this funny novel, winning the heart of the reader with his skewed perspective on life. Or is it everyone else who is off balance? Parker doesn’t let on.


Winfield: A Player’s Life

This chatty and candid autobiography by the Yankee star and coauthor Parker (Small Business, a novel) presents not only Winfield’s career as an athlete but also his views on owners, managers and players, his aid to needy children, the role of blacks in American life and especially in baseball. A brilliantly successful athlete at the University of Minnesota, Winfield began his diamond career with the San Diego Padres, where he ran up against the first owner with whom he had differences, Ray Kroc. Fed up with the Padres, although not with San Diego, he signed with the Yankees, wangling a multi-season, $23-million contract that has resulted in years of litigation with owner George Steinbrenner, about whom he is devastatingly critical. Winfield’s life story underscores the fact that blacks, even if celebrities, still struggle for acceptance in the America of the 1980s. Photos not seen by PW.


One Size Fits One: Building Relationships One Customer and One Employee at a Time

One Size Fits One: Building Relationships One Customer and One Employee at a Time received critical acclaim from the business press and the endorsement of top CEOs by laying out the ten rules for what customers want—in their own blunt words—and showing how your company can begin to develop the personalized relationships necessary to build loyalty. This updated Second Edition places a much stronger emphasis on distributed leadership throughout an organization, which is needed to build enduring customer relationships.


Leadership and the Customer Revolution: The Messy, Unpredictable, and Inescapably Human Challenge of Making the Rhetoric of Change a Reality

Praise from business leaders for Leadership and the Customer Revolution:

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“This book forcefully and in immensely practical ways teaches Einstein’s staggering point: ‘The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.’ Absolutely both cutting edge and real time, disturbing and confirming, inspiring and pragmatic! I recommend it highly. Worth reading again and again.” —Stephen R. Covey, Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Principle Centered Leadership; Chairman, Covey Leadership Center

“Gary Heil makes a good case about what lies ahead of us. The next revolution is that of Leadership—true Leadership based on managing the whole and not the parts. Those aspiring to be tomorrow’s Leaders are advised to take a few hours off and to read the book from cover to cover in one go. Enjoy the pleasure of rediscovering the New World of Customized Leadership.” —Jan Carlzon, Former CEO of SAS, Author of Moments of Truth

“Leadership and the Customer Revolution is a must read for business executives.” —Art Levitt, Chief Executive Officer, Hard Rock Cafe “This is a terrific book if you’re really serious about improving your company. It’s straightforward and no-nonsense, visionary and practical. It forces you to look at the way things are, not how you wish they were, and points out areas where significant change can take root.” —Sandra Kurtzig, Founder and Former Chairman, ASK Computer Systems

“Leadership, customer loyalty, front-line ownership, the authors rise above the rhetoric on these issues.” —Thomas J. Garvey, President, Chase Manhattan PFS “This book is a call to action. It tells us we have to stop talking about change and start making it happen. It’s tough and candid, and filled with provocative ideas and smart suggestions.” —Richard B. Thomas, EVP and Director, American Honda

“When it comes to customer service, many organizations still talk the walk. For those interested in really doing something about service, this book provides an excellent road map.” —Gordon Peters, President, The Institute for Management Studies

“Rick Tate and Gary Heil are two experts who have helped Johnson & Johnson discover how we can differentiate ourselves by serving our customers better than our competition. We look forward to their new book and new insights into this fascinating subject of Customer Service.” —Jerry Gilbert, Vice President, Consumer Sector Customer Relations, Johnson & Johnson

“When it comes to customer service, customer loyalty, and leadership, Leadership and the Customer Revolution is both instructional and inspirational. The authors’ fresh, often unorthodox perspective and unique ability to translate theory into action make this one of the best business books I have ever read.” —Jules Trump, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Automotive Corporation


Prize Stories 1971: The O.Henry Awards

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Finding himself in Viet Nam in 1968 and dogged by 1st Lt. Bauer, his nemesis from his prior post stateside, U.S. Army Specialist 4 Wetzel discovers a unique way to get Bauer off his back while bringing the rest of America’s fighting forces home in Tom Parker’s “Troop Withdrawal: The Initial Step.” Formerly published in Harper’s, the story was an O. Henry-prize winner and reprinted in “Prize Stories, 1971.”