Jim Brush is the president and chief executive officer of Summit State Bank in Santa Rosa. He was born in San Francisco and spent his childhood summers at the family cabin, along the Russian River in Summer Home Park. Brush graduated from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, in 1979 with a degree in accounting and earned his certified public accountant designation the same year. In 1982, he moved to Healdsburg and opened a tax practice there, where he worked for 21 years before selling the business in 2003. Today, he and his wife, Nancy, live in Healdsburg where they raised their three children, and share a passion for wanderlust.
Where’s your perfect dream vacation spot? Nancy and I have always travelled a lot, even when the kids were young. We’ve enjoyed touring Italy and France many times. Eventually, I’d like to visit most every nation in the world and spend enough time in them to get a good idea of their national differences. We love living right here in Healdsburg, Sonoma County and consider it a dream home.
What got you interested in the bank business? I was on the board of Summit State Bank since 2009. I became President/CEO in April 2016. Interestingly enough, I had never worked in a bank or even a corporation before in my life.
What was your first job? How much did you get paid? My first job was at the Sea Ranch as a maintenance worker during the summer before my senior year at high school. I lived alone in a little shack in the woods and was paid 70 cents per hour to do general maintenance, build fences, and more. It was a good life-learning experience.
If you won $1 million in the lottery, how would you spend it? I don't need much money to live on. I deferred some of my salary at the bank to those who make less to be more in the middle of the employee pay ranks. I would most likely give most of any money away that was won in the lottery and maybe buy a Tesla for Nancy with the rest.
What spells adventure for you? We like to travel places without a set itinerary so that we can stay in some places longer and hopefully find out of the way lodging and food. We like to drive and hike when we travel and stop at random spots, sometimes a long hike in the forest. We tend to be adventurous when we travel.
What’s one of your greatest achievements? I would never have guessed my life would turn out so well. Raising three wonderful children who are all now out of college and have a good work-life balance would be at the top of my list. Getting involved in real estate development and having a successful investment portfolio has certainly made life better. Staying healthy, and being active in my community has been a great reward.
What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage? Nancy and I don’t have to be together all the time. We take separate time off and not all of our friends are the same. It’s okay if we don't agree on everything. The core of a happy marriage is mutual respect and common interests.
What’s the best approach for resolving conflict? Listen and understand what is causing a conflict, be flexible in determining how to resolve it, and let time heal any wounds. There are usually far less differences and problems than people usually think when conflicts arise, the root cause is often misunderstandings.
What’s your all-time favorite meal, and how often do you enjoy it? Pasta with Zinfandel, as often as possible.
If you could possess it, what superhero’s super power would you want to have and why? I would want to be the invisible man and really see what people are doing when they think they are not being watched.
Is there such a thing as destiny? Why or why not? Yes, destiny belongs to those who allow it to happen. Being a teenager in San Francisco during the ’60s were exciting times, and I was right in the middle of it. I enjoyed those years of freedom and wild expression, but I eventually slowed down a little and attended junior college. I was working in construction when I was finishing my last class at Canada Junior College and happened to sit down next to someone who was a college recruiter from Golden Gate University. He had one full-ride scholarship left for an accounting degree that started the following Monday. I seized the opportunity and eventually graduated magna cum laude. Then after a few years at a Big 8 CPA firm, I got off the elevator one day and decided to leave the Big City life. I went home and told Nancy I would like to move to Healdsburg (where we’d eaten breakfast one day) and start a tax practice. She was not enthusiastic about it, but the rest is history.
Describe one of your happiest life moments. I’ve had a wonderful life and I'm a positive person, but one of my happiest moments was when we learned that our daughter, Addison, was in full remission following a diagnosis of Stage 4 melanoma, after only two immunotherapy sessions. She also had a successful brain tumor operation.
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