Where did you grow up? At risk of sounding like I am auditioning for “The Bachelor,” my name is James A Thom and I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. For those reading this, yes, I have caught a wall-eye bass and yes, on my third birthday I was given my first dirt bike. However, having lived in both Florida and Massachusetts for over the last 15 years, I like to think that on top of the country guy I am, I can also be classified as a Snowbird or Masshole.
What was your most interesting job before going into lending? When I moved to Florida about 15 years ago, I worked in the restaurant business and quickly moved my way up from bartender to bar manager to general manager. Having worked in various establishments in both Ohio, Florida and throughout New England and absorbing all the knowledge I could, I felt as though I wanted to challenge myself with a bolder, potentially more rewarding career. Though the mortgage business is a relatively new venture for me, I have nothing but confidence that the reward of this career will outweigh the risk of starting anew.
What do you do to relax when you’re stressed? Nothing makes me happier than friends, family, good music, and better food. I try to let the little things in life like barbecues, road trips, good movies and long nights take over the free time that I have.
If you could meet any well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why? If I could meet any well-known figure it would be a toss up between Mark Cuban and Marcus Lemonis. I’m a firm believer in the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. And to have an opportunity to spend a day with either of these two, would be an absolute gamechanger .”show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”
Where is Boston’s best-kept secret? Carrie Nation Cocktail Club, upstairs in the “speakeasy,” with 1920s-inspired cocktails, pool tables and intimate comfortable seating,
What do you love most about the industry? I grew up being called “the Politician.” And no, not because I spewed political sermons at Thanksgiving or praised Clinton’s economic surplus at Sunday dinners, but because I could converse with anyone at anytime; whether it was my long-distance-cousins-unwanted-plus-one or pungent uncle Bob that my siblings and I drew straws to not sit next to. I found that regardless of age, gender or political standpoint, I discovered at a young age I found common conversation amongst anybody I talked to. I believe that I have adopted enough life experience and knowledge to confidently make decisions that not only benefit me but also those around me.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job? Humbly, I have been told that I could sell water to a whale. That’s not because of how persuasive or deceptive I am, but because I’ve always been the type of person who 1: sets their mind to something and 2: achieves it. In that order. It’s important for my clients to know that I will not settle for less than satisfactory and will do so with integrity, wits, and determination. Failure has never been an option for me, and I do not intend on adopting new patterns now.
What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to lately? I can’t get enough of the TV show “Yellowstone!”
What’s your favorite meal in Boston? Ugh that is a tough one! I would have to say my favorite meal would come a variety of places in the North End. To start, Mama Maria’s antipasti salad, second course we’re headed to Trattoria Di Monica for their fresh raviolis and for the main course entrée, Bircco’s Veal Ossobuco, and finally Modern Pastry!
Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Boston? My favorite building in Boston is the Restoration Hardware building built in 1863 and once the location of the New England Museum of Natural History.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you on the job? Growing up my friends and I would pick a new hobby every summer. Whatever it was, it would be the focal point until the following year. One summer we decided to take up golf. Having grown up on a golf course, you would think I played all my life but that’s not the case here. My first time teeing off, I shot the club up and over the clubhouse as many onlookers stood in amazement.
Later that summer, our friend Jeff, who was a MUCH better golfer than us, suggested a wager stating, “Whoever can get closest to the green wins a hundred bucks.” Feeling good, we all pitched in 25 bucks and began teeing off. Clint sliced a hard right, Jeff only a few feet from the green and I’m up next. With my adrenaline pumping, while also feeling a strange sense of collective calmness, my club meets the ball. With our heads all raised with excitement we watched the ball meet the green and slowly rolled into the hole.
How in the world I managed that is still beyond my knowledge but it made for a great local news article and many future stories amongst friends.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? During the BP oil spill back in 2010, my friends and I were visiting Siesta Key Beach. Unbeknownst to us, the spill was causing many fish to migrate to places they typically would never be found.
While on the beach, I noticed a large dark shadow in the water approaching my friend’s sister as she laid on a pool float in the water. Concerned, I motioned to my friend who was native to the area that there was something beneath the water. He claimed it was only a stingray, and his confidence eased everyone on the beach.
A few moments later I needed a drink of water and curiosity was kind of getting to me.
As I walked in her direction, I noticed a wave break on what appeared to be a large fin. Panicked, I ran towards her and began shouting for her to get out of the water. Confused by the screaming she sat up, looked around and saw what I was seeing. You could see the fear set in on her face, she was panicked and completely frozen. Without hesitation (likely due to some liquid courage) and now in a full sprint I dove in the water. Before I knew it, I was pulling her raft back to shore. As we got to land, we watched as the rest of our group ran up and down the beach yelling at everyone else to get out of the water.
Later it was confirmed by mote marine that the shark spotting was not the typical nonaggressive sharks sometimes seen in the area but a Tiger Shark, considered one of the most dangerous sharks in the world and not native to gulf coast. It was a lucky day for everyone!
What’s your favorite vacation spot and why? My favorite vacation spot is Siesta Key beach in Sarasota Florida. Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach’s sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the Appalachian Mountains. The sand never gets hot, it’s as white as snow and as fine as flour. Absolutely stunning.
In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the lending industry? ——