Preparing Boys for Life

Tom Farrell presents at annual Cox Leadership Symposium

Tom Farrell, CEO and Executive Producer of The Workshop content studios, presented at the annual Joseph T. Cox Servant Leadership Symposium on Monday, Feb. 10. He spoke about his career in television production, and how media content can serve others by bringing their stories to life. 

“We have the power to serve others with our cameras by making shows that will make a difference,” Farrell said. “We want to make content worth watching and stories worth telling.” 

Farrell focused on two of The Workshop’s projects in particular during the symposium. First, he presented clips and stories from the show Basketball or Nothing, currently streaming on Netflix, which focuses on high school basketball players on a Navajo reservation in Chinle, Ariz. He showed the ending of the series, when one player, Josiah, receives the Obama Scholarship to cover his tuition and expenses at his first-choice college, Arizona State University. 

“We had no idea when we embarked on the mission that that was going to be the end of our series,” Farrell said. “But we did know we wanted to serve this community and we wanted to create a first-class show. What we’re in the business to do is to tell stories that are accurate and authentic, and that’s what we focus on.” 

Farrell also discussed The Workshop’s latest project, a new streaming network for the deaf community, which will feature programming in sign language with a supplemental audio track. 

“Streaming is a major part of our business. It’s the way of the future, and we decided we wanted to make an impact on a larger community that was underserved,” he said. 

At the end of his speech, Farrell challenged Upper School students to focus on engaging in conversation and striving to be the nicest person instead of the most popular. 

“It has been proven that one nice gesture can change the course of someone’s life, whether it’s a text, a kind word, or just a simple act of kindness. My guiding philosophy is: it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice,” he said.

Tom Farrell has presided over the strategic planning and day to day operations of The Workshop Content Studios since 2007. He has over 28 years of TV production experience, having spent the past 14 years in executive management. Farrell has spearheaded projects such as Novak for Amazon Prime, Trading Spaces for TLC, The Haney Project for Golf Channel, True North for PBS & Amazon Prime, and Netflix’s documentary series, Basketball or Nothing. A graduate of Villanova University, Tom is on the Endowment Board for his community church and also on the board that oversees the CYO sports program. Tom is a coach in youth athletics and he and his wife, Denise, live in Philadelphia with their four children.

The Joseph T. Cox Servant Leadership Symposium was established in 2010 by a generous lead gift from Bobbie and Scott Addis ’74. Honoring eighth Headmaster Joe Cox’s strong and visionary leadership of the School, the annual symposium features a presentation from a transformational leader who shares his or her experience and wisdom with The Haverford School community. The event exposes boys to various models of effective leadership from different areas of professional life, and reinforces the value of leading a life as a thoughtful and engaged citizen of the world.