Meet Tub Tor

July 5, 2021

I want to introduce you to someone.

Let me set some context first.

This holiday weekend I binge-watched the first five episodes of a new Apple+ TV show, Physical starring Rose Byrne as Sheila Rubin, a young mother in 1981 who hates herself (and the show follows her journey of learning to, if not love, at least not hate herself).

This show does in live-action what Pixar did with Inside Out: It reveals our internal voices.

We all have these culturally-created internal voices.

Some are louder or harsher than others. But we all have them.

Rubin’s internal critic is definitely harsh. And I loved watching it because I had never seen on TV an internal voice as harsh as mine.

What I also loved seeing is that, unlike 1981, we no longer have to pretend otherwise.

In the last 40 years, mental health has gone from being a forbidden subject to something openly talked about in television, movies, and memoirs.

Last month, one of my colleagues suggested I name my internal critic.

I liked the idea and knew right away the name of mine.

Now, please meet Tub Tor. 

This is the name my father coined for me when I was an overweight second grader who loved reading, especially Judy Blume books.

I read every single one of those books, including, of course, Blubber, a story centered on a girl named Linda who is “heavier” than most. 

My father, who read business reports but not novels, and certainly not girly novels, was frustrated by his overweight unmanly readerly son.

So he called me Tub Tor hoping to shame me into becoming tougher, slimmer, and more “active.” 

You might be wondering where the name came from.

The “tub” part is obvious. 

“Tor” connects to our last name Terry, which means “son of Tor” (or so my Dad said).

Tor is a mighty Norse God so you’d think that might be cool and macho, but you stick “tub” in front of Tor and you get an unkind cartoon caricature (but, perhaps, still a mighty god who wields books rather than hammers).

After the Saturday night binge, I woke up July 4 and did some difficult editing on my book. Soon I was tired and frustrated and decided to get out of the house and take a walk. 

Just as I got half-a-block from my home and was listening to “No Rain” by Blind Melon, Tub Tor came out. 

You are such a loser. Look at you walking all by yourself. No friends. No one likes you. Why would they like you? You’re a bad writer. You have bad taste in music. You’re a freak. You’re fat. You’re too feminine. And what about that orange hat for your bald head? Really? And, lastly, come on, you’ll never be fit. Turn around and go home you fat feminine freak with a bad fashion sense.

And I’m proud to say that I kept walking.

I’ve learned to just keep going and let in the voices of friends, colleagues, council members, and therapists. 

In other words, learning to NOT walk alone with Tub Tor.

In fact, I’ve discovered two seemingly contradictory things:

1. In some ways, I am Tub Tor and can embrace that
After all, I do love reading, I’ve never been macho and am more feminine than my birth gender might suggest (and I’m on a transgender journey – more on that soon). Plus, I sometimes do have bad fashion sense. I’ve also always struggled with being obsessed about my weight. 


2. I’m also so much more than the Tor
I’m a Harvard MBA who survived childhood abuse and alcoholism starting at age 12. I worked for the first company bought by Amazon and have founded my own company. I’m a successful investor and, yes, my reading includes financial reports and business news. In fact, I’m a recognized expert not only on customer experience, but on Warren Buffett and value investing. And I am becoming more active, but not because I hate myself, but because I enjoy being in my body and taking better care of it.

So, let me introduce you again. 

Meet Tub Tor plus oh so much more.


– Phil aka Phyl aka Tub Tor 


P.S. We had a wonderful and openly vulnerable session with venture capitalist Jonathan Ehrlich a few weeks back. Among other things, Ehrlich was the first investor in Clubhouse. While learning about Clubhouse was very helpful, what riveted everyone was not that, but what he shared about a very difficult life moment (and, yes, there were tears). 

The session was NOT recorded, in part because we wanted Jonathan to be able to speak openly, as he did. And we’ll be doing more sessions like these where real people talk in real ways but not recorded. More soon.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • Clubhouse and the Audio Revolution (not recorded)
    Jonathan Ehrlich, Partner, Foundation Capital
    Talk Type: In the Moment 
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     Two things to know about Jonathan Ehrlich:
    1) he co-led the seed round in Clubhouse and was thus the first venture capitalist to spot its potential;
    2) he’s a Councils alum with an interesting career arc.We held an informal conversation with Jonathan about Clubhouse, the future of audio, and Jonathan’s career journey from a mostly offline retailer in Canada to relocating to Silicon Valley and reinventing himself.—
    —Jonathan Ehrlich is a Partner at Foundation Capital who invests in early early-stage consumer, marketplace, commerce, and SaaS startups and technologies. He joined Foundation Capital in 2013 as a partner after spending nine months with the firm as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Before joining Foundation Capital, Jonathan spent 17 years as an operator during which he founded three companies, built a $100M+ revenue business, and ran marketing for Facebook. He is the first institutional investor in Clubhouse and currently sits on the board of Bulletin and Chord. His Foundation and personal investments include Shelf Engine, Mainstreet, Truepill, Hooked, WayUp, League, Front, and Flexport. When not working, he can be found on his bike or chasing his four kids around.
  • No Ego, Part 2 (not recorded)
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     We had a follow-up session with Cy last Friday that was amazing. We did NOT record it due to confidentiality. We will be planning more.

    In the meantime, you can watch the spring keynote with Cy, which was a GREAT session. Members loved it. I collected live case studies from members, which I anonymously shared with Cy to get her reaction on what was to be done. You gotta watch to see her great answers.

    Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, global thought-leader, and New York Times best-selling author who is recognized for cultivating a counter-intuitive, reality-based approach to leadership. Backed by over 20 years of unparalleled experience, Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can shift their attention inward, sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and uncover their natural state of innovation simply by ditching the drama.

    Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace,” Wakeman has helped companies such as Google, Facebook, Viacom, Uber, NBC Universal, NASA, Pfizer, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Keurig Dr. Pepper, AMC Theatres, White Castle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and countless others learn to navigate our rapidly changing world using good mental processes to harness energy wasted in workplace drama and reinvest that effort into achieving profound business results.
  • Battle Buddies – A Way to Support Your Teams
    Craig Hopkins, CIO, City of San Antonio
    Talk Type: Leadership Development; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    We ran a short QnA-focused webinar with Craig to introduce an idea that has taken off in his org, the City of San Antonio, where he is the CIO.It’s called Battle Buddies. So, what is a Battle Buddy?Adapted from the US Army, a battle buddy is a partner assigned to an employee in an organization who is expected to assist his or her partner.Even though we are not in military combat, Craig says our corporate responsibilities can feel just as stressful and overwhelming at times.A battle buddy is not only intended for comradery and support, but also to help reduce stress, provide professional and leadership guidance, and at times, get into the trenches together to get things done. Since we will each be watching each other’s actions, we are all battle buddies to each other, as partners and as a leadership team, driven by our mission while adhering to our Core Values.Craig talked about how this has worked in his organization and how to set it up in yours.
  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO,
    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Jobs To Be Done has proven to be an effective methodology for building much better holistic end-to-end products and customer experiences.

    *But* CG Council member companies with large distributed environments are finding it difficult to apply JTBD in effective ways.

    Jay Haynes, CEO of thrv, and a global expert on JTBD will come and speak to the Councils community on this specific challenge of using the methodology in large, complex technology environments.
  • Groundwork: Get Better at Making Better Products
    Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin, co-Authors of Groundwork
    Talk Type: Product
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Product leaders are all too familiar with the one to two-year period it typically takes to train and coach PMs. Product leaders hire smart people and then work with them individually, guiding them through how to think about product management, and watching them develop. Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin wanted a much faster way to help cultivate efficient and effective product managers that consistently create products that delight customers, regardless of the industry, the environment, and the development methodology that the team employed. They took years of experience as product executives and working with hundreds of teams as product coaches to create a framework to Get Better at Making Better Products.

    The design philosophy and methodology behind Groundwork was created to help product leaders be confident that their teams were committed to solving the right customer problems, minimizing costly rework by using individualized needs, and leveraging actionable personas in big and small product decisions. Vidya and Heather want Groundwork to help product teams have a much higher chance of success in the market—and help every product manager shine.

    Join Vidya and Heather as they share the background, principles, and methodology behind the Groundwork to help you, and your team, get better at making better products. 
  • Making the Case for Empowering Your People
    Marty Cagan, Partner, Silicon Valley Product Group
    Talk Type: Product, Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    From Marty: “I have long been interested in the difference between how the best companies work, and the rest. Working with both types of organizations for so many years, there are many differences ranging from culture to process to staffing to roles to techniques. But at its core, strong product companies empower their people, and most of the rest do not. My focus over the past few years has been tackling this issue head-on, which means the product leadership. In this talk, we’ll discuss why this model consistently yields better results, and what’s necessary to transform to work like the best.”

    Marty’s Bio: Marty Cagan is the founding partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group, which he created to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising and coaching. Before starting SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.As part of his work with SVPG, Marty advises tech companies of all sizes and stages, stretching far beyond Silicon Valley. Marty is the author of the industry-leading book for product teams, INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and the upcoming book EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe.
  • See talks from the last month and beyond here.

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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