Sunday, July 6, 2008

James Traylor

James Traylor

I met James during my tenure at the State University of New York at Geneseo. A few mutual friends of ours kept urging us to connect, but in the haste of our ambitious lives, we kept delaying. Until one afternoon we finally met over lunch at Miceli’s Deli on Main Street in Geneseo.

Since that point, James and I have developed a close personal and business relationship. His unique view of the world and desire to add value meshes considerably with my own. That correlation keeps us thinking bigger and motivating each other in our respective pursuits!

James recently made a difficult, but rewarding, decision to move his financial services practice from Northwestern Mutual Financial Network to the MassMutual Financial Group in Rochester, New York. There he will pursue his intense passion to better serve the disabled community by directing the company’s Special Care program. This same passion is what inspired me to make James my personal Financial Advisor.

James’ intelligence, work ethic, and sense of humor truly make him a pleasure to be around. He is well on his way towards making his mark on this world we live in! ~JWN

VIP: What is your definition of success?

James Traylor (JT): Success to me isn’t something you feel in the moment. In fact it usually takes a third party to point out my own successes. If you can look back at something with genuine awe; feel that it represents your best work and that you are ready to move on to bigger and better things…that’s success to me.

VIP: Who are some people that inspire you? Why?

JT: Much of my work of late has centered around the disabled community. There are children in Rochester living with cerebral palsy that have more courage and strength than anyone I know. To wake up every morning and struggle with daily tasks like putting on clothing or brushing your teeth –things we all take for granted—and then have the courage to face a society that looks down on you or feels sorry for you when in fact you are a perfectly normal person with just different abilities… that to me is inspiration.

VIP: What do you consider to be some of your strengths? Weaknesses?

JT: Learning has always come easy to me. As long as I can remember I have been obsessed with novels, textbooks, magazines, papers, radio programs… you name it. I did not have cable television until I was 14 (don’t have it at 23 either) which probably explains why I can’t recite any Saved by the Bell episodes but I can tell you about U.S. foreign policy since the 1900’s.

I consider myself a very confident and outgoing person. This has served me well in many different ways and actually is a bi-product of all my years of competitive swimming—or more specifically in a Speedo. From the time I was 12 I was heckled by all of my friends who played football, soccer, etc. for wearing Speedo bathing suits. Over the years I built up a pretty thick skin. I’ve since shed the tight suits for real suits but the skin still stuck.

As for weaknesses there are plenty. I get so focused on what I want to accomplish that sometimes I can lose sight of other people’s feelings. I lose patience with individuals who are lazy, ignorant and expect results without work. I have been working very hard on being more tolerant though! I get anxiety about many things and worry entirely too much about things that are out of my control. I’m also a food and wine snob!

VIP: Where do you want to be in 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 years from now?

JT: I am a very goal oriented person and have a vision board of all the things I want to accomplish. With that said my biggest goal professionally is to build the largest special needs planning organization in Western New York within the next five years. I am extremely excited about the progress I have made thus far (progress not success) and look forward to building something bigger than me as a person.

Personally, I want to continue to grow and mature in my relationship with my girlfriend Courtney. No target date for marriage, kids and all the other facets of the American dream. However, I will certainly be buying my first house in the next 12 months.

As for the more eccentric goals: I want to have a fully stocked 1,500 bottle wine cellar complete with a tasting room. This will be attached to my Gentleman’s Lounge where I will have a mahogany bar that properly pays tribute to my one true vice—single malt scotch.

VIP: If you could pass any bit of information on to the world, what would it be?

JT: Thinking you are too old or too young to accomplish something is foolish. Stop making excuses and go take on the world!

VIP: Now, I know you recently made a difficult decision in terms of your career. You switched from your financial services practice at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network to Mass Mutual. What is your new role at Mass Mutual and what are some of your career goals with this move?

JT: You are right in that it was an extremely difficult decision. I really struggle putting things in perspective sometimes but nevertheless, I left something great for something even greater. All in all it was the right decision.

I will be directing the Special Care program for MassMutual here in Rochester. Special Care is a program that serves to help families and individuals with special needs plan for the future. In Rochester we have a host of resources for the disabled community yet there is a tremendous gap when it comes to long term planning.

Families fail to realize that assets in excess of $2,000 can completely jeopardize an individual with disabilities from receiving the benefit of programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare & Medicaid.

Furthermore, no one takes the time to help a family figure out how they are going to pay for the cost of health care for their child with special needs down the road. Other key measures include; where he or she going to live and how they keep the benefits they already have for their child. And, they still need to plan for their own retirement! It can be overwhelming.

This program really is my baby so to speak. I am building our process, image, team, business and marketing plan – the works. While I have several financial planners who will be helping me with the casework and to get up and running--after that this is my show.

VIP: What is your personal motivation behind your work with the Special Care program at Mass Mutual?

JT: I think to really do a good job for families you have to demonstrate a certain level of understanding that can only come from personally seeing how challenging life with a disability can be. For me this understanding and empathy comes from my youngest sister Nathalie. Nathalie is a beautiful, outgoing 12 year old with various developmental disabilities. For example, she can play Mozart on the piano, recite entire Disney movies and yet can’t tie her shoes or count money. She just has different abilities.

VIP: Tell me a little bit about your family?

JT: My parents had me relatively young (age 23), my sister Emily 5 years later, and then Nathalie much later in life. We were the quintessential struggling American family growing up. Both my parents worked very long hours just to make ends meet. As a result, I found myself in the role of a “third parent” from an early age. For example if we wanted dinner at 6 it was up to me to get things cooking. Emily and I have the typical brother/sister relationship while Nathalie sees me as more of a caregiver. We have always been a very close family and I am very grateful how things have worked out.

VIP: If you could meet three people from any time period, who would they be?

JT: Sir Ernest Shackleton. I encourage anyone to read about the fate of his Antarctic exploration; quite possibly the most incredible demonstration of human will ever! The other two would be Sam Adams and Marco Polo.

VIP: What are some books, quotes, or audio sets you would recommend?

JT: I listen to a lot of personal stories of individuals that struggled in financial services and then went on to become great. I am in an extremely challenging industry and knowing others have struggled too is very valuable.

As for a book and move, I am a tremendous believer in Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.” Positive thinking is a powerful thing!

And, the audio version of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It is narrated by Matt Damon and as he would say, “It will really blow your skirt up.” (from Good Will Hunting)

VIP: Final thoughts?

Dream BIG!

Everything is negotiable.

Age means nothing.

All Americans should read more.

Obama in 2008.

James Traylor

MassMutual Financial Group


C: 518.598.4847