The Importance of Staying Positive and Being Empathetic


Sometimes life throws us curveballs. We begin to wonder if things could get any worse. Even though, deep down, we know they won’t. In this episode of the Truest Fan podcast, I share an amazing exchange of insights about the importance of staying positive and being empathetic with James Mayer.

James is the Manager of Huffman Mayer Paolo Wealth Management Group. With over 22 years of experience, James has had the privilege of being a trusted advisor and retirement planner to many Northeast Ohio families and institutions.

James explains that no matter what kind of circumstances you’re in, there’s always a positive aspect to consider. However, it’s up to you to look at it as a challenge or an opportunity. These experiences present an amazing chance to stay positive and be more empathetic toward others if you learn to acknowledge them.

In a world where it’s easier to recognise the negatives, it can be a challenge to see the good and be more helpful to others. Tune in as James shares his ideas and personal experiences on why being grateful and compassionate across all situations will improve your relationships.

To listen, click the play button above. Or click the “Subscribe” button to go to your favorite podcast player.

Show Highlights

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Podcast Transcript

Rob 00:04

Do you need a bit of a pick-me-up? Maybe life or a part of your life has you down and you’re wondering, things get any worse? Well, you’ve got to listen to my conversation with James Mayer who talks about the importance of staying positive, and not in a false way, but in a way that brings calm and conviction to you and to the things that you’re involved with and doing. And he also talks about the importance of empathy and being willing to give and not expecting something else in return. This is an awesome podcast.

Rob 00:49

You’re listening to the truest fan podcast. And now here’s your host, Rob Brown. Okay, welcome, everybody back to the truest fan podcast. I am excited today to have on the call James Mayer, who is the manager of Huffman, Mayer, and Paolo and Ashtabula, Ohio. And, James, when I asked my first question about your favorite baseball team is going to have the same answer that I do. So let’s talk a little bit about James is, is most of the listeners know one of the reasons that I wrote to his fan comes from my love of Cleveland baseball, Cleveland Indians, and Cleveland guardians baseball, so I was asked, Who’s your favorite baseball team when we get started?

James Mayer 01:37

Well, I, you know, I’m learning to say that the Guardians I got this wonderful hat from charity that we support. And they put my last name on the back of it. So I officially have a guardians hat with my last name on it was a wonderful guy.

Rob 01:53

Awesome. Well, I love the Guardians. And it was a great season. And I could talk the whole podcast about baseball. But when you think about sports, I know you’re a big sports fan, you’re a golfer? What is it about sports that kind of helps you in life? Are there lessons that you learn or things that you bring from the games that you play and watch that you carry over into the way that you love your family or serve your clients or do things in your community? You just talked about supporting a charity there with the Guardians hat?

James Mayer 02:25

You know, I think it’s a childhood thing. Growing up in Northeast Ohio. You know, my father never gave me the option of rooting for teams that did better than, you know, Cleveland sports in the 80s. And you remember, municipal stadium, and you know, how challenging the 80s were for baseball in Northeast Ohio. And it was ingrained in my head early on that, well, this is where we’re from, you’re geographically connected. You can’t just root for the Oakland Athletics, or you can’t just root for the Cowboys, you root for the Indian, or at the time you wrote for the Indians, the browns, the Cavs the force, the whatever, these are your teams. And so yes, I’ve always loved that underdog mentality of Cleveland sports, because that’s what I grew up with. And, you know, I think it’s just something I identify with, right?

Rob 03:18

And you mentioned, I think, a real keyword. And one of the reasons that I use baseball in the truce fan book is that loyalty is so important. And that loyalty that maybe you and I would talk about having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, is we’re born with it, or you or you had no choice if your father would let you route for another team. But loyalty is something I think that we can gain from being a fan of different teams, and it’s something that I that I like to pull from does that resonate with you?

James Mayer 03:56

Oh, I think the loyalty, the perseverance, the, you know, you don’t give up and when things get tough, I would say, you know, my self-resilience, you know, my, you know, confidence. I’d say there’s a little Cleveland sport, you know, worked into framing that aspect of my personality. Yeah. And it’s no doubt

Rob 04:19

about just like a lot of those Yankee fans bring a lot of cockiness to their personalities, right.

James Mayer 04:25

What Yeah, and I think from a value standpoint, like how much I appreciate things, like when the Cavs won the NBA championship, you know, that was making up for 1997 You know, sitting in my apartment bawling my eyes out when naggy gives up the hit and the Indians lose in the bottom of the 11 and game seven. Yeah, I was too old to be crying at a sports game but no, I was lucky in the privacy of my own home at the time. But no, I think you get vested. If you’re into sports. I still get excited watching Cleveland sports. Yeah, yeah, my heart rate goes up, and the fourth quarter or the ninth inning. And, you know, it’s I think it’s it’s fun.

Rob 05:15

Yeah, definitely an example of being a truest fan. But let’s change gears. So this is not a, a Cleveland sports podcast as much as I might like to turn it into one at times.

Rob 05:30

Well, if you’d CES, but now I think I think we might, we might, we might scare a few people that way. Because one thing I know for sure is that some teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox are bandwagon teams when they’re doing well, lots of people decide to follow them. Cleveland is not a band, wagon sort of town. You’re kind of born and bred with it. And we adopt some folks along the way. But it’s a little different mentality. But let’s change gears because you mentioned your dad already. And when we were kind of sharing some of the things we might talk about on this podcast, one of my favorite questions to ask is, you know, what’s that nugget of advice that you got from a family member or somebody that has mentored you over the that really sticks with you and kind of works, and helps guide you on a regular basis? And you mentioned something, a story about your dad, you want to share a little bit about that?

James Mayer 06:25

Oh, yes, I was in college, and I called my dad trying to get the pat on the back story. So I think I was a sophomore in college. And, you know, I don’t I don’t think anything horrible, horrible, horrible, but things weren’t. school wasn’t going the way I wanted, some personal issues were going on. And life was, like, I’d say, at 19 Life is at its most stressful point in time, and I called my father, with the expectation that you know, there was going to be some kind of pat on the back, things will get better, you know, sunshine and rainbows and unicorns, everything was going to work out very positive, you know, and my dad was very mattered of fact, and he’s like, you know, you know, where if you don’t, you should know, things can always be much worse than they are right now. And actually, I think like a year ago, I kind of was playing golf with him or something. And I said, you know, I remember that vividly. This kind of, I don’t even think he remembered the conversation, honestly. But it has been something that stuck with me, like whatever you’re worried about today, typically isn’t a big deal in six months. And we tend to blow things out of proportion. But things can always get worse. So you can always find a reason to see the glass is half full. And there’s a positive aspect to just anything, it’s either, you know, it’s a challenge or an opportunity. And it’s just up to you to frame it that way. So my dad was probably not as eloquent as I’m trying to make it sound. But it was a wonderful learning experience that has stuck with me. You know, every time there’s a moment of WoW, things can’t get worse. There’s a little giggle and James is like, yeah, don’t forget your dad said they can. And sometimes they do. So I would say that was one of my, like, something that has always stuck with me in my life. Right.

Rob 08:18

But it seems to me though, you also kind of turned it around a bit, because you mentioned that you were a stay-positive wristband. So that’s kind of the I don’t was that, like, propel you to a different way of thinking or reframing that, you know, because you could say that things could always be worse as can be taken as a negative, right? You could be like, this sucks and things could always

James Mayer 08:43

no, I think as I think of it as a very positive, like, you need to do a balance sheet of where you are. And while you know, the stock market’s going down, yeah, but my family is healthy, and we have money in the bank and the kids will still go to college and my parents are still alive. And, you know, I mean, you just, if you want to go looking for negativity, you’ll find and you know, with a client-centered business, that is so emotional, where, you know, yes, clients are much happier when the market goes up. When the market goes down, you’re dealing with a lot of emotions from a lot of people. And so I think we had a chat. You caught me on like, probably one of my worst days ever, just in a mood. And you did kind of tease me like yeah, cheer up, James relax. But this day positive wristband is a good friend of mine who was kind of having a challenge. And, you know, I we, we read this, you know, John Gordon books and he turned me on to him and I got on his website, I found these stay positive wristbands, I said, as long as you’re struggling, I want you to wear one of these wristbands or wear it and whenever you’re having that moment where you’re just not feeling it or you’re down. You know, just look at the wristband. Snap it. laugh a little and move forward. And I think framing things and finding the positive is such a more helpful way of doing things. And it’s just going to make your life better finding that, that opportunity to be happy, versus looking for, you know, the world is ending, and everything’s horrible. And every client hates me. And they don’t hate you. They’re scared, they’re nervous, they need you to be calm, and you can’t join the panic that is sticking with the sports themes. I saw this quote from Kobe Bryant, and it says, you know, if I panic, everybody else panics, too. And I think that’s a great, great thought is that you know, in our business, you know, if the clients panicking, and they call us and we’re panicking, oh my gosh, they’re going over the edge. So you, you’ve got to have that calmness, you’ve got to be able to be empathetic understanding, and confident that the plan you built for their retirement or college fund is on track. And these are the things we’re going to do. And these are the adjustments or the moves we’re gonna make. And you got to say it with conviction and confidence. And you got to be comfortable. They hear that they feel that they see that in you. So I’m sorry, I just rambling.

Rob 11:13

No, no, that was great. Because you dug into a lot of really important stuff. Because this when we’re recording this podcast, Thanksgiving has just passed and people who are listening to it may be listening to it, you know, well out into the, into the future. But you know, I mentioned Thanksgiving, because this is a time of year when gratitude gets a lot of platitudes. You know, it’s like, oh, we’re supposed to be grateful, right? And,

Rob 11:41

what I’m hearing you say is important is to be grateful. In all situations, you know?


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James Mayer 12:18

I think it’s natural to get sucked into that. Because things happen. You get in a car, I mean, bad things happen, you know, you have a plan for your day, and something screws it up. You know, I get stuck by the train, you know, and I’m like, I’m gonna be late. I’m mad. My wife always says, and it’s like, it almost annoys me. She’s always like, well, you stuck by that train that stopped you from getting in an accident. 10 miles down the road. You know, she has this very positive mindset about it. And it’s, you know, so if I’m getting stuck by the train, without even thinking, I hear my wife’s voice like that it’s saving you from getting in an accident or something else happening. But I think it’s natural to feel negativity. It’s the ability to kind of adjust and manage it. And so that being grateful all year round. I don’t know if I’m just in a quote mode. But one of my favorite quotes I ever found was something of the, you know, when you trade your expectations for appreciation, the world looks so much better. And that idea of I wish I had that. Versus Thank God, I have what I have. It’s so much more rewarding to appreciate where you are than wishing you had another house and another car, better seats in the game, whatever. Yeah,

Rob 13:35

it’s that comparison thing. And I use this quote a lot on the podcast, but that whole idea that compares the thief of joy, thief of joy, right, yeah, I mean, it just comes back over and over again. Because I think too often we do want to compare ourselves to other people whose situations we don’t even understand. But it’s a dig into something else I’m hearing you say well, I’m in a quote mode. But I think it’s interesting that you do have these quotes, these thoughts are things that aren’t just passing thoughts. You can recall them quickly because there’s something that resonates with you that sticks. And like even that, that phone call with your dad, you said he doesn’t even remember that conversation yet that five minutes that you spent with him when you were 19 years old is with you, you know, decades later.

James Mayer 14:29

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if maybe he remembered it. Maybe it definitely wasn’t as impactful to him as it was to me now. I think me sharing that. Oh, my gosh, 29 years later. That’s hard to say sometimes. I think that was impactful to him that that he said something to me 29 years ago, and then I’m still like, it’s in my brain, you know, monthly or every six months to this day. 29 years later. I think that that’s something to

Rob 14:58

Yeah, I’m absolutely sure are dead. And that’s, to me, that’s one part of being a true his fan is like, it’s making sure you not only look for true his fans of yourself, but that you make sure that other people know that you are there to his fans. And sometimes just taking the time to relay that story back to your dad is just a way of letting him know how much you love him and how much he’s meant to you as you’ve come along that that story from 29 years ago is still fresh with you or the way that you have the friend that you share the wristband with that you snap when you’re down because you’re trying to help him work through a difficult situation, just giving that, that love that that appreciation back to them is is a pretty amazing thing. And so I think it’s really important part of life.

James Mayer 15:47

Yeah, and the wristband thing turns out, that helped me more than maybe it helps him I have no idea how much it helps him. But certainly, you know, it gets smacked a couple times a day or well. Yeah, but it’s and it makes me laugh after I do. Right. Right. Like, you know, that’s not something that, you know, that’s something not to just get consumed with.

Rob 16:08

Right. And it also relates back to what you were talking about in terms of how you are had to speak with your clients with confidence and conviction when they might call in and are feeling a little troubled by what’s going on in the markets or the or the world around them. And they’re worried that their plan is not in place, it’s that simple. comment back to them says, hey, everything is okay, we’ve got this, and your plan is in place. We’ll get through this and not say that, because you have to but because you mean it in a way that they can leave that conversation, feeling like, hey, maybe I’m not 100% over it. But James and his team have my back.

James Mayer 16:49

I think just hearing my voice in a calm tone is step one, that, you know, if they hear me like, oh my gosh, it’s horrible. Like, you know, that’s just going to, that’s not going to help. And clients see, right through people that are not being truthful, I would suggest, you know, we do the plan, we plan for contingencies, you know, these scenarios, and then when they do happen, it’s not like it’s the first time you’ve seen it. I mean, I’ve been in the business 20 789 years, that I’ve seen enough bad that it’s not new to, you know, it’s not fun, but it’s not new, it’s not shocking, it’s not surprising, this time is not different, you know, it’s, you know, we got a plan, we’re conservative in our estimates, you’re gonna be okay, we’re gonna keep working our process.

Rob 17:44

Yeah, and that’s, that’s so important. You know, and I always love it when I talk to advisors when things are crazy, like they have been for big parts of this year, and they don’t get down negative. But they also don’t get overly positive, either. There’s that assured tone, it’s of that voice that I think brings that confidence out. It’s not trying to hype, you know, the fact that, you know, we’ve been through things like this before, and it’ll be okay. And you kind of don’t become too much of a cheerleader. But you also, it’s kind of the opposite. You think that’s true, too?

James Mayer 18:23

Well, I think you learn, you know, you learn each individual client, how they need to hear it, you know, somebody’s going to want a little more empathy, someone’s gonna need the bold, look, we talked about this, this is we knew this was going to happen at some point in time over the rest of your life. You know, but you get to know people and you know, their hotspots, you know, their triggers, you can be proactive with people, you need that. And I think that’s getting to know people better. You know, we went through this in 2020. market was down 35%. We got through that, you know, we went through this in 2008 and 2000, you got a longer period of time with people, I think they can still get emotional. But then you have no reference points to be like, we went through this already. And we got through it, and it worked out. And we’re going to do it again. And having that conviction, competence, and understanding of each individual client is ideal, I would suggest

Rob 19:27

Yeah. So it’s not just a blanket way of dealing with all of the clients. It is

James Mayer 19:33

Oh, nice, we’ll be at an 800 number. Right if you were doing

Rob 19:38

it’s that way, right? Yes. And that’s that personal relationship because if you really are in it, to help your clients achieve their personal goals, you can’t treat their personal goals like everybody else’s goals and so it’s it’s both the emotional side of it and, and the practical side of it’s the steps that you take to help them get through the process are never, you know, never exactly the same for Large numbers of clients.

James Mayer 20:03

Well, yeah, I definitely agree.

Rob 20:06

So let’s kind of let’s turn from that for a second, what really makes you smile? What makes you happy, happiest?

James Mayer 20:13

I mean, you know, this weekend, I would have been really happy if the Cavs won on Friday and Ohio State one on Saturday and the Browns one on Sunday and the Cavs one Sunday night. Now, you know, I went on, I’m not a big vacation person, I love my job. I spend a lot of time here. And I’m always thinking about my job. But this was probably one of the first times I took a vacation with my wife and kids. And I was pretty shut out. And we had, I’d say, the best family vacation. I mean, I mean, shut down from outside, you know, influence in this world, but the cell phone and email, and, you know, LinkedIn, social media, all this stuff we’re trying to accomplish, and we want to be there for all of our clients at any point in time. I don’t know why I’m getting older, or my kids are growing up so fast that it’s like you better get a present. And that was probably just the best thing out of this little trip we took. I was 24/7 President, and I don’t care what goofy thing you want to do. We’re here, let’s do it. And it was nice to make it all about what they wanted to do and spend that time with them. So yeah, that was something that, you know, it comes in smaller pieces. But to have a whole week of it was special really made me smile, you know and got me as refreshed and as positive as I’ve been in a long time. So I think that’s a good week to do it. The markets only open for three and a half week or three and a half days. And you never know what kind of weather you’re gonna get in Ohio. So know that that’s something I love spending time with my family. I like to play golf. I like when my Cleveland sports when I’m relatively simple on that front. Yeah,

Rob 21:55

well, those are but that’s I think he made to talking about your family in that time away really reminds me of a couple of really important things. When we talk about being a truce fan, one of the principles of being a truce fan is that your family deserves your very best. And when you are living in a way that you love what you do, sometimes you forget them in a way, you know, maybe maybe not every night, because I get this feeling that you’re very involved in your family’s life on a day-to-day basis. But making sure you take that time away. So important. I know a lot of advisors, and a lot of entrepreneurs don’t do that. They just, say I don’t have time for that. And, and so and then they get that time away. And they realize that family time is so valuable, important, and maybe even more fun than spending a couple of extra hours in the office. Plus, you get recharged because I think that’s a big part of it.

James Mayer 22:53

nail on the head. I mean, I don’t know any statistics, but it seems like as long as I’ve been in this industry, there seems to be a high divorce rate of advisors. And, you know, I, it’s a demanding job. And it’s a stressful job. And it’s extremely rewarding. And I think you balance things, I think most people are really good. If you focus on something, I want to be great at exercising, I want to eat really well or I want to play golf really well, I could get really good at golf, but it would cost me time from work, it would cost me time for my family. And that’s not gonna work, I need to be 10 handicap and I need to be decent at work. And I need to be decent at home. Decent at home. That’s the one I think most people need to spend more time on is, you know, if I was a B-plus advisor and an A-plus father, I would be right where I would be ecstatic. But, you know, you get pulled in so many directions. And the world has gotten more complicated and more demanding. You know, I think my dad’s like, he left for work. And he came home at five I was the end of it every day. That was his routine. And I don’t have days like that. It’s just it’s all it’s every day is different, you know,

Rob 24:11

right. Yeah. No, it’s it is different. And I think that’s something you said at the very beginning of this part of the conversation I think is important is that when you mentioned the divorce rate, I’m not sure if it’s any higher in this industry than it is in this crazy world we live in because it’s too high period. But one thing that I do see all the time is the personal failures that come despite the success that’s happening in advisors, businesses, most of the advisors that I work with are very, very successful at what they do. But with that success comes other things that pull them in different directions that may keep them from those things that are more important to them, but They don’t realize it. And it’s like the success can be blinding or that drive to do a better job and work and can keep you from taking that week-long vacation.

James Mayer 25:11

And I mean, I don’t I don’t believe that at this moment, I’m in danger of getting divorced or, and I love my wife, hopefully, she’ll listen to this. But I think that focus, there was a book and I don’t want to say the name of the book, but was about a guy who was overweight. He got in good shape. And then he joined the military, and he became Army Ranger, and now he runs 100-mile marathons and, and he made that his focus, he put so much effort on these goals. Well, if you read between the lines in the book, you know, I think he got divorced a couple of times, and things happened. Like, there’s a balance to this, you know, being the best at one thing means other things are suffering. So I think prioritizing, like, what, where should a majority of my energy go? Is that the family piece? You know, it seems like it gets the backseat sometimes. And, you know, I think getting to a place in my life where I don’t want that to be right. Not that I don’t love my job putting all that effort into that. But I think that’s, that should be your priority, you know,

Rob 26:21

for sure, for sure. And I think that’s just it’s really important to bring that out. Because I think that is, you know, being the truest fan of your family, making sure that they feel the love is really critical.

James Mayer 26:32

I figured it would be a better tagline for you. Yeah.

Rob 26:37

So we’re winding down to the end here, is there any kind of last-minute piece of advice you’d like to share with the audience something maybe that’s come to your mind, as we’ve been talking that you think is important for people who have been hearing your conversation around, you know, being grateful, staying positive, being appreciative, you know, being confident and speaking with conviction, I’m, you’ve used lots of good, she had lots of good ideas of how a highly successful leader of a financial advisory team should be thinking and operating to help clients to be there for family to be there for your team, to be involved in your community. I know you and your team are very active in your community, but anything else you want to, you want to share.

James Mayer 27:21

I think being empathetic towards other people, even if it’s not reciprocal, I think this is a big challenge in life is that, you know, trying to have only 5050 relationships where you’re putting in 50 the other person, you know, if you’re empathetic to anyone that comes across your path, I don’t know in the big picture that that’s going to hurt you. I think, you know, some of these relationships are going to skew, you’re putting more into it than others. But it is rewarding to help people and being able to listen and help and be empathetic, I think is a skill that is so lost in this world right now. That we’d all be a little better with a little more of that, right?

Rob 28:07

There seems to be a pervasive Well, there’s no reason I should help them because they’re not doing anything for me. And I don’t think that’s how the golden rule was written. I think the Golden Rule says how you would like to be treated and then you’re gonna get some bounce back, there’s gonna be a boomerang effect. But it may not be, you know, when you expect it and make even going back to the story about your dad. 29 years later, he got some bounce back from you, because you reminded him of a piece of advice that he gave that he gave you.

James Mayer 28:38

And keeping score in life. And relationships are the worst thing you could ever do. You know you give with a free hand. You don’t expect anything back from it. And, you know, things will, you will be rewarded. It’s just you can’t expect it. And it might not be from who you think. But it’s gonna make you have a better life. I’m convinced of that at 48 years old. Yeah. Well, being empathetic is being positive. Yeah,

Rob 29:09

that’s key. Yeah, being empathetic and being positive that I think are two great words to leave the podcast with. So, James, I want to thank you for being on the truest fan Podcast. I’m a true fan of you and your team and our guardians and other Cleveland sports, especially the garden. Oh, good. So great to talk to James. Well, thank

James Mayer 29:28

you. It’s been very fun to watch your progress with this podcast. I hope it’s very successful. Thanks much

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