Tom Tognoli has been one of the most influential leaders in Bay Area real estate for over 30 years. Born in San Mateo, he moved with his family to his hometown of Sunnyvale in 1965. Throughout his school years, sports were his priority. He excelled at track and football. Academically, he struggled as he dealt with not yet diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia. These challenges only further fueled his motivation to succeed later in life.
Tom attended DeAnza Community College and then Chico State University, where he flourished socially but did not manage to get the credits to obtain his bachelor’s degree. Years later, after building the most successful real estate company in the Bay Area from the ground up, Chico awarded him his degree in praise of his achievements. In 2017, he delivered the commencement speech to the graduating class of the College of Business and the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management.
After leaving Chico in 1987, Tom followed his mother’s footsteps and went into the real estate business. It was quickly apparent that in this field, his contagious personality, motivation to succeed and people skills would be able to overcome the academic challenges of his childhood. He pounded the pavement and built a name for himself in the market. He gained confidence in himself and built a powerful network of associates who would be with him throughout his career. He refused to give up on his ambition to succeed, continuing to be a top agent through both hot markets and slow downs.
In 1991, Tom married his high school sweetheart, Lynn. They have two children, Tommy (21) and Nick (19). In 1998, they moved into the house that would become their home in the Country Lane (now called Birdland) neighborhood of Sunnyvale. The same neighborhood where Tom grew up and where his parents still reside, and less than 3 miles from Lynn’s family who also live in Sunnyvale. Tom focused on his family and continued his success in his career.
In 2002, the Silicon Valley was plagued with the dot-com bust. The real estate market was a mess as money left the valley like air from a popped balloon. Tom and his partners saw the downturn as an opportunity, and made a bold move by starting their own real estate brokerage, a company they called Intero. Intero began to flourish and eat up market share, becoming a household name in Silicon Valley real estate. Everyone knew that Intero followed the values of Tom and his partners: It was progressive, it was personal, and it was local.
In 2007, the real estate bubble burst with the national economy. Hard times came for Intero. Agents left the business, brokerages and lenders folded, yet Intero perservered. Tom and his partners refused to give up, holding the company together with the equity of their own homes when necessary. They continued to innovate, offering leadership and confidence to their company in these times of crisis.
During the recession, Tom began publishing his Monday Morning Mojo, offering the secrets of his success and confidence to all who read it. Tom specifically spoke of his F5: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness and Finance, in that order. Monday Morning Mojo gave Tom a chance to lead by example, inspiring his team at work and everyone around him to succeed. Monday Morning Mojo grew to 20,000 subscribers and Intero made it through the recession. Tom’s true calling as a leader and motivator was born.
In 2014, Intero’s dominance in the Silicon Valley real estate market earned the attention of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Intero was acquired by HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Tom was tapped to be the CEO of Intero, and he continued to promote his F5 and lead by example through his exit from Intero in 2019.