Friday, March 25, 2011

Houston Networking Guru Combines Business and Philanthropy

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

There are times when one may arrive at a perpetual fork in the road in life. The chosen path often unexpectedly shifts the direction of one’s life for the better. Small business owner Tony Gambone arrived at his own fork two years ago, and the subsequent detour has allowed him to impact numerous business owners and non-profit organizations. 

Born in Pennsylvania, the 13-year Houston resident and community volunteer hosts both his own blog radio show, Tough Talk with Tony Gambone, and networking events in conjunction with InHouston. Local charities are spotlighted during these programs, and all proceeds from the networking events are donated to the selected charity.

“I wish I could I say I was this really smart guy who had a dream one day about how this was all going to happen,” Gambone said. “I definitely didn’t plan this, but I’ve been fortunate.”

Prior to launching his blog radio show and becoming one of the most recognizable faces in Houston, Gambone’s career included managing a Las Vegas casino and operating a successful construction company with his wife Wendy. His segue into business networking and consulting began in 2009. It was that year Gambone said he was told he had eight blood clots in his lungs. “I was told I had a forty percent chance of getting out of the hospital,” he said.

Though he survived, Gambone was unable to continue working in the construction industry after completing treatment. He decided to take time off to determine his new career path. On a whim, he decided to launch his popular Tough Talk with Tony Blog Talk radio show to improve his public speaking skills. “My wife thought that would be a good name because of where I’m from,” he said.

Gambone recruited a friend to help him launch and promote the show on Facebook in early 2009. He interviewed entrepreneurs about their businesses in an effort to help them market their services. “I started doing the show once a week, then three times a week, and then ninety minutes a show,” he said. “Then people started asking me to sponsor my show and do commercials for them.”

Fast forward nearly two years later and Gambone said this initial hobby is now a business venture. Tough Talk features guests from all over the country three days per week. While Gambone’s larger-than-life personality has made him a recognizable face in the Houston community, he admits his notoriety came as an unexpected surprise. “I honestly didn’t even know why people liked me so much,” he chuckled. 

Through his volunteer efforts, he identified the Joe Joe Bear Foundation, an organization that provides new teddy bears to children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. He said the Foundation resonated with him due to his personal experience with managing Crohn’s disease, a chronic digestive illness, since he was a teenager. The Foundation was the first organization Gambone highlighted through his ventures, and he is a former Board member.

“What I’ve found was that doing things to help other people and organizations has caused other people to want to help me,” he said. Gambone has a penchant for connecting people with the resources and potential partners they need. “I encourage people to seek out new business partners,” he said. “It’s like developing a love affair.”

He also emphasizes the need to determine what one can give - just as he did - during challenging times. He aims to change the way small business owners leverage networking opportunities, and help his colleagues understand the benefits of focusing on helping others rather than selling.

While he understands the value of elevator speeches and business cards, Gambone said he often does not use either when navigating networking events.

“Take the time to learn about other people and how you can help them first,” he said advises. “Life really is that simple, but we often complicate it more than we need to.”

To support Gambone’s team for the upcoming Liver Foundation Walk, please visit the Tough Talk Team Fundraising Page. To learn more about his radio show, visit the Tough Talk with Tony Gambone website or connect on Facebook.


  1. I have the honor of knowing Tony and this article just scratches the surface of a remarkable human being. Tony demonstrates daily the power and impact one person can have on an entire community. We need more people like him.

  2. Anyone that has a chance to be at an event Tony is involved in will diffinetly feel the tremendous energy this man puts out to help others . He posses a great spirit and has helped renew my own faith in our fellow man just by the attentiveness to others as he shows on a daily basis through his ToughTalkswithTonyGambone radio show . Great guy great listener.