Photo: Mark Wemple
Florida Trend's 'Icon' Series
Tom James is a 'Florida Icon'
Chairman, Raymond James Financial, St. Petersburg; age 69
» Back in ’74, when times were really tough and it looked like we were going broke, I had a written plan for how to shut the business down over a three-month period. Boy, we were close.
» How do I relax? Well, the answer is I don’t. I’m an activities-driven person. I fill up time. If I go on vacation, I have a schedule for every minute almost.
» I started playing in a rock band when I was in high school. I went and saw Elvis Presley when he came to St. Petersburg in the 1950s and got really taken with the music. I got a guitar and taught myself how to play.
» My father was one of the world’s nice people. He was a really good person, a moral person of high integrity. He’s the person who influenced me more than anyone else.
» I was vice president of the Harvard Young Republicans when I voted for John Kennedy. By the way, in today’s world, I’m not sure that Kennedy wouldn’t have been a Republican.
» My wife raised our kids when they were young. If she wasn’t there, I couldn’t have done what I did.
» I could write music when I was younger, but I never really worked hard at that, which is too bad, because I’m not sure I can do it anymore. You’ve got to have all these emotive juices flowing to write songs. It’s good when you’re young and thinking about women all the time.
» My art education has been in the real world, looking at a lot of art, talking to artists. The more I talked to artists about how they did it, what their modalities were, I just developed more and more taste for what I liked.
» It seems to me that most politicians are only interested in getting re-elected. That’s like No. 1 on the list, and it’s also No. 1 through 9. I don’t mean they’re dishonest or not competent to do things, but they don’t.
» I go to movies once every week or two because when I go to movies, I just totally lose myself in the movie. It doesn’t really matter what it is. I don’t think about business problems. But that’s the only time.
» I’m not afraid to make decisions.
» Well, I’m a failure at retirement. I turned over my CEO job three years ago, and I actually have a couple of major tasks to do that I haven’t even started. I work just as hard, but on less important things.
» I learned very quickly from my father that helping people achieve financial goals was a worthwhile thing, and I also learned from him that the people you associate with are very important.
» You want to save religiously. It’s most important that you develop the habit of putting aside so much money a year out of what you earn. People say 10%, 5%. You start with what you can do. It’s all about discipline.
» I’m paranoid that we would do anything to put the firm at risk. I do everything I can to eliminate what I call branches on the decision tree that have an end point of death.
» With building coming back — which was the thing that just killed us because we’re so real estate dependent — we’re in pretty good shape now. I’m actually pretty bullish about Florida doing better financially.
» In college, my band was the Maniacs. We did Chuck Berry, Little Richard, a lot of what we would call real southern rock.
» Giving back is a philosophy. I believe that it’s consistent with your obligations and your economic best interest to create an environment that is better. I don’t think that thinking about shareholders and maximizing profits is inconsistent with pledging part of your profits to charity.
» I was an early member of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), but the minute they had riots in California, I said, ‘No way. That’s not the way you get equal rights for people.’
» We have not made this a very business-friendly state contrasted to other states. We can do a lot better job. Gov. Scott, he may not be a great communicator, but basically he has done some right things and has had some right objectives.
» There are tradeoffs you make in life. I didn’t take a lot of weekends off, so my kids didn’t see me. Remember, I was going to law school at the same time I was starting off in business. So, for 10 years essentially I worked 80 or 100 hours a week.
» We still haven’t made the educational infrastructure in Florida as high quality as it is in a number of other states. That’s inexcusable.
» I wish Jeb Bush had been elected president instead of W., who I like, but he didn’t have the skill set to do the job like his little brother.
In case you missed it:
- Wilson Bradshaw is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Craig Fugate is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Michael Saunders is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Joey Cornblit is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Alex Sink is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Norman Braman is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Bello Nock is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Zev Buffman is a ‘Florida Icon'
- M.J. Soileau is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Susan Benton is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Terry Stiles is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Theresa Manuel is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Dan ‘Tater' Porter is a Florida Icon
- Joe Redner is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Nicole Johnson is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ron Magill is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Artis Gilmore is a ‘Florida Icon'
- An Interview with George Billiris
- Frank Morsani is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Alto ‘Bud' Adams Jr. is a ‘Florida Icon'
- Winston Scott is a 'Florida Icon'
- Florida Icon: Carlton Ward Jr.
- Florida Icon: Mel Tillis
- Robert M. 'Bob' Beall II is a Florida ‘Icon'
- Peter Meinke - A life in poetry
- Carl Hiaasen is a Florida ‘Icon'
- Nan-Yao Su is a Florida 'Icon'
- Roland Martin is a Florida ‘Icon'
- Florida Icon: Derrick Brooks
- An interview with Annika Sorenstam
- Iconic Florida developer H. Irwin Levy
- ‘Alligator' Ron Bergeron is a Florida Icon
- Howard Schnellenberger is a Florida 'Icon'
- Florida Icon: Barbara Mainster
- Florida Icon: Walter Lanier ‘Red' Barber
- Louise Gopher is a 'Florida Icon'
- H. Lee Moffitt is a 'Florida Icon'
- Kiran Patel is a 'Florida Icon'
- 'Florida Icon' Howard C. Tibbals shares life lessons
- Alex D. Brickler is a 'Florida Icon'
- Life lessons from hockey great Phil Esposito
- Lucy Morgan is a 'Florida Icon'
- Donald Goodman is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ed Droste is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ray Ferrero Jr. - Florida Icon
- W. George Allen is a 'Florida Icon'
- Patrick Smith is a 'Florida Icon'
- Jerry Uelsmann is a 'Florida Icon'
- John L. Parker is a 'Florida Icon'
- C.C. 'Doc' Dockery is a 'Florida Icon'
- Toni Jennings is a 'Florida Icon'
- Dave Barry is a 'Florida Icon'
- Shaquille O'Neal is a 'Florida Icon'
- Ruth Alexander is a Florida Icon
- Brian Johnson is a Florida Icon
- Florida Icon: Sam Gibbons
- Thomas 'Blue' Fulford
- Icon: Don 'Big Daddy' Garlits
- Icon: Charles E. 'Chuck' Cobb Jr.
- Icon: John DeGrove
- Icon: Charles Gray
- Icon: Harry Crews
- Icon: Burt Reynolds
- Icon: Tibor Hollo
- Icon: Gary Mormino
- Icon: Richard Gonzmart
- Icon: Bob Graham
- Icon: Ward Hall
- Icon: Eugenie Clark
- Icon: Warrick Dunn
- Icon: Arthur Rutenberg
- Icon: Chris Evert
- Icon: Preston Haskell
- Icon: Joseph Kittinger
- Icon: The Fanjul Brothers
- Icon: Romero Britto
- Icon: Steve Raymund
- Icon: Cesar L. Alvarez
- Icon: Juan 'Chi Chi' Rodriguez
- Icon: Gay Culverhouse
- Icon: Gene Leedy
- Icon: William R. Hough
- Icon: Peter Prichard
- Icon: Ed Price
- Icon: David L. Paul
- Icon: Jan Garavaglia
- Icon: Claude R. Kirk Jr.
- Icon: Don Zimmer
- Icon: Kenneth H. 'Buddy' MacKay
- Icon: Dick Vitale
- Icon: Michael Gannon
- Icon: Marcella Hazan
- Icon: Tony Little
- Icon: Wade L. Hopping
- Icon: Edgar Mitchell
- Icon: James Rosenquist
- Icon: Bob Martinez
- Icon: Arnold Palmer
- Icon: Don Shula
- Icon: Mike Peters
- Icon: Margaret D. Lowman
- Icon: Doug Williams
- Icon: Bob Butterworth
- Icon: Fred Schultz
- Icon: Eugene Patterson
- Icon: Harris Mullen
- Icon: Bill Haast
- Icon: Marion P. Hammer
- Icon: Albert Dunlap
- Icon: Joseph Woodrow Hatchett
- Icon video: Joseph Hatchett
- Icon: Talbot 'Sandy' D'Alemberte
- Icon: John Walsh
- Icon: James Robert Cade
- Icon: Nathaniel Pryor Reed
- Icon: Gus Stavros
- Icon: Betty Castor
- Icon: Mary Ann Carroll
- Icon: George Steinbrenner
- Icon: Ferdie Pacheco
- Icon: Vic Dunaway
- Icon: George Smathers
- Icon: Phyllis Apple
- Icon: Nick Bollettieri
- Icon: Harris Rosen
- Icon: Max Mayfield
- Icon: Carrie Meek
- Icon: Andres Duany
- Icon: T. Willard Fair
- Icon: Bobby Bowden
- Icon: Stetson Kennedy
- Icon: Don Francisco
- Icon: Janet Reno
- Icon: Reubin O'D. Askew
- Icon: Clyde Butcher
- Icon: Willie Gary
- Icon: Wayne Huizenga