This year, Gateway Bank President James Christensen will be sharing occasional reflections about life, business, and what’s on his mind. Read on for the June edition of Mindful Mondays with James, as he shares what his dad taught him about letting people know you love and support them. 

As usual, the content of this edition has changed numerous times and taken longer to complete than expected. I started by thinking about being present and enjoying the moment. This came after my oldest daughter gave me an early birthday present to see Teddy Swims in concert at the Crescent Ballroom. It gets more challenging to do a standing-only concert, but what a way to see a great musical artist and spend time with one of my favorite people on the planet. Being present that night and drinking in every moment: check. Memory that will last a lifetime: check.

As a few weeks went by and we started to hear more about a potential recession, my focus changed to a message of comfort.  I will come back to this later, but for now I want to spend some time talking about my dad, who passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago. His name was James E. Christensen. (His middle name was Edward and mine is Eric, so there is no “Jr.” — just in case you were wondering.)

My dad was a great banker and bank examiner. I could fill a newsletter with his accomplishments, but that was not what was most important to me. He was my dad, and he loved me and his family a great deal. We definitely had our differences, but I never questioned if my dad loved me or not. Those differences have all fallen away and seem so insignificant. My memories of him are of love, support, and hugs. I will miss those big hugs and I love you’s.

james edward christensenI have been going through some of the normal emotions when someone passes, but honestly I’ve been so busy with work, my daughter’s graduation, and settling my dad’s estate that I feel like there has not been a moment to grieve or to let it settle in.  I have started to call him several times in the last few weeks to check in and tell him about my day, before I remember that he is not here. I had a birthday at the end of May, and it was the first time I didn’t receive a call from my dad, which was harder than I thought it would be.

I have told many people over the years that part of my success was due to knowing that my parents had my back, and I would never have to go without food or a place to live. This provided a mental security blanket that allowed me to take some risks as I grew within my profession and more importantly as a husband and dad. Thankfully, the only time I needed to take them up on this offer was early in my marriage when my wife and I sold a home quickly and needed a place to live for a few months until our new home was complete.

I hope I can honor my dad and pay the comfort forward with my family, friends, and all of you, because I know how much it has meant to me. Even during trying times, my team and I are here to provide any support you need. Gateway has weathered the storms for almost 15 years, worked with some of the coolest companies and people you can imagine, and been by their side through every season.

In closing, I’ll leave you with two questions as food for thought:

  1. While I can’t guarantee that every one of our customers will be successful, I can guarantee that Gateway’s team will always have your back and that success will be far more likely with a partner like us by your side. (Our track record proves it.) What could you accomplish if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  2. My dad taught me that honesty and integrity never go out of fashion. He was always there to provide comfort, love, and support. I was also lucky enough to hear numerous times that he was proud of me. I wish I would have taped that, but I can definitely hear it in his voice when I think about it. Who is one person you could tell today that you love them and you’re proud of them?


NYTB James