Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to lose. From a deal at work to a round of golf, I am a competitive guy. Part of that is just who I am, but part of it comes from my high school days playing on a football team that went 0-30 during my last three years there. Despite that losing record, our team never gave up and always showed up—for our school and most, importantly each other. It would have been easy for any one of us to quit and walk away from the agony of defeat every Friday night. But as much as I dislike losing, I despise quitting even more.
Thirty-some years later, there are a few lessons that have stuck with me from my high school days. And many of those lessons I have put into practice during the past few years as we’ve faced economic and global challenges unlike any we ever thought we’d witness.
When you go three straight years not winning one football game, you learn the art of persistence. Our team just kept at it. Every practice, every work out and every game, we kept going and never gave up. We maintained a positive attitude through our long practices, and we were willing to put in the work, even when we didn’t win.
Having the tenacity to keep going when you feel like everything is against you is an important career characteristic, and one that I try to instill in our teams here at UMB. I remind them that even though you may not land every deal, you must keep going. Keep making the calls and following up. Keep practicing and putting in the work. One day that persistence will pay off.
This persistence has also paid off recently as we have dealt with a new virtual work environment and as we find new ways to meet folks and form new relationships. We have to keep pushing forward to maintain our current relationships and forge new ones. We also have to be persistent in how we tackle each day. Not knowing when we will return to the office or what the new world will look like after the pandemic, we must keep at it – one day, and one new challenge, at a time.
Be honest and confident
When I started in the banking and financial industry, I didn’t have instant success. I had to ask a lot of questions, work hard and truly learn how to connect with potential clients. It took a few years before I had a growing loan portfolio to manage. To get to that point, I had to sell what made me and UMB Bank different. I had to be confident and honest, and people had to trust me.
I made a lot of phone calls and I had many long conversations with clients about why they should work with me and UMB. The biggest selling point for me and the clients was that I wanted to establish a personal relationship with them and offer a holistic approach to their business—and I truly believed I was the best person to do this for them.
I still enjoy getting on the phone (or WebEx these days) and talking with customers about how UMB can best help them achieve their goals. Persistence, honesty and confidence. When used in good faith, these three traits will seldom steer you in the wrong direction.
I admire President Harry S. Truman. I went to high school in Independence, Missouri, which is home to his presidential museum. During his career and presidency, he was always humble. He consistently tried to do what was right for the country and lived with a strong sense of integrity. We’ve seen this need for integrity play out time and time again during this past year as we have strived to do what’s right for our customers, our associates and our community each and every day.
At UMB, I remind associates, it’s people first. If we take care of each other, we’ll be able to take care of our customers and our communities – it all goes hand in hand. We also have to stay humble while we work to build brand awareness in our markets and work to build relationships across a multitude of industries. As we continue to grow and expand, it is our attitude and work ethic that others will remember us by…and by which we should want to be remembered.
Read more about Jim’s background in this Kansas City Business Journal Newsmaker‡ profile and his recent articles on the UMB Blog.
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