Experience

Achieving My Dreams in Business by Transforming Myself

How Tom Friese achieved his dreams in business through forging his faith in the Mystic Law.

Photo: Bob Nardi


by Tom Friese
HAWTHORN WOODS, ILL.

I studied international business at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in the late 1960s, a tumultuous time in American history. Robert F. Kennedy, whose presidential campaign I had worked on, and Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, while the Vietnam War raged on.

I was on track for a successful future, but internally, like many youth at the time, I was lost and confused.

In 1972, when I was 25 years old, my girlfriend took me to an intro-to-Buddhism meeting. With 300 other youth there, explosive joy permeated the room. Whatever hope I held onto from that day would prove crucial two weeks later, when I suffered a mental breakdown induced by a hallucinogen. I felt completely broken by the experience, and I truly believe that the reason I didn’t kill myself was because I had been introduced to Buddhism.

SGI members began visiting me right away at my home to encourage me that through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I could overcome the effects of my breakdown. Shortly after, I received the Gohonzon.

Since then, I never stopped chanting. Through practicing wholeheartedly, I learned how to pray, how to set goals and see them through, and how to never give up and continue making tireless, unseen efforts based on my vow for kosen-rufu.

My mind, which had become cloudy and fearful after my mental breakdown, became clearer and stronger. I also started developing confidence deep within my life, so much so that a few years into my practice, I made a bold decision to fully pursue my dream of owning my own company and becoming a successful businessman through faith.

As a first step, I started working for the largest paper packaging company in the world. I saw great value in the industry, which is based on practicality and functionality, and finding solutions for other businesses rather than trying to control them.

As my life and career were growing, I began studying SGI President Ikeda’s guidance like it was chemistry, learning how I could apply it to the secular world. Sensei taught me to look at everything from the bigger picture while taking concrete, detailed steps to get there. Based on this insight, I presented my clients with solutions from a macro point of view with micro-level details.

To do this, I had to earnestly pray to the Gohonzon to make the impossible possible. My competitors and clients were the largest corporations in the world, and I was forced to develop a sharp and precise mind.

In 1978, I had a turning point in my career. Understanding that the Mystic Law is the fundamental and unfathomable Law of the universe without comparison or peer, I approached business with the determination to provide my clients with a fundamentally superior deal. As the sales manager, I went above and beyond what was expected out of a typical product packaging deal and outworked competitors, saving my clients money and reducing the environmental impact. That year, we serviced 95 percent of every major corporation in the eastern United States. Every lesson I learned from that time, I still employ today.

Basing my life on a pledge for kosen-rufu, my career blossomed. I continued to climb the corporate ladder, and each step of the way, I chanted abundantly to become more capable. The energy and vitality to win each day came from participating in SGI activities.

I decided to start my own company in 1995, fulfilling the dream I had held as a youth! It was then that I faced the biggest challenge in my career. I was on the verge of bankruptcy, but by basing my challenge on faith, I was able to purchase two large plants in Chicago and upstate New York.

Developing capable youth in America
for the sake of kosen-rufu is the greatest way
to express my appreciation to Sensei.

When I first arrived at the plant in New York, I was determined to create unity among the upper management and plant staff, who had been ill-treated. I invited representatives of the employees into my conference room and simply got to know each of them, seeing them as irreplaceable to the success of our company. I thoroughly listened to their needs and chanted for the wisdom to create the most value. As a result, I was able to provide them with further opportunities, which led to a win-win situation, lowering manufacturing costs and increasing wages.

After five years, I was able to sell my company and join a larger packaging solutions firm, which in the past 17 years has grown by $700 million in sales.

With many victories based on my efforts in faith, I thought I had transformed one area of my life that my immediate family members hadn’t— cancer. My father, mother, brother and twin sister had all passed away from lung cancer, and in January 2015, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At first, I was shocked and scared that I would assume the same fate, but with the support of fellow SGI members, I returned to the Gohonzon with the prayer to show the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to all the members.

For six weeks straight leading up to my surgery, I chanted throughout most of each day. The surgery was a total success, and a week later, the doctor informed me that he had never seen a better pathology report post-surgery. I saw the transformation of my family karma in that instant. Today, all my lab results return with perfect scores!

From my first SGI meeting in 1972, until today, I have achieved every dream based on the absolute power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the oneness of mentor and disciple. This is the message I want to convey to all the youth toward next year’s 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival.

I am determined to introduce 10 youth to the practice and send these lions to the historic gathering. Developing capable youth in America for the sake of kosen-rufu is the greatest way to express my appreciation to Sensei, and I’m confident that we will win no matter what!

 

(p. 5)