Getting Personal: Jim Goss
Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, Jim Goss, a 52-year-old Republican from Mahomet, chats with The News-Gazette's Paul Wood. Goss, who was appointed to the Champaign County Board for District 1 in February, grew up on a hog farm, shot up like a weed during high school and now works in farm management and realty.
What interested you in public service? Have you been involved in politics before?
I have always been involved in community service through activity in the local Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau Foundation, Methodist church or service organizations like the Lions Club, but I have never dipped my toes into the political arena. I am sort of a political junkie but never took the risk to put my name in the ring. This is my first experience, and it has been a whirlwind. I am really enjoying myself so far.
What made you decide to seek office?
My dad was my inspiration. He served on producer boards, Farm Bureau committees and for 20 years on the local school board. He instilled that sense of community service in me.
What's something very few people know about you?
I am 6-foot-five, but in eighth grade, I was one of the shortest boys in my class. I grew 6 inches in the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school and another 2 inches as a freshman in college. It was extremely painful and embarrassing. I literally could not walk a step without tripping for a while back then.
You work as farm manager, director of farm real estate and a managing broker in the realty company. How do you balance wearing all those hats?
Lots of practice, I guess. Really, my jobs are all inter-related. I started in the financial side of the business 28 years ago by lending money to farmers and managing farms for landowners. A bank merger necessitated the switch to full-time farm management and that also brought the ability to get a real estate license. I enjoy being overly busy. I feel like I can get more accomplished when everything is running at a breakneck pace. I am not the most productive when times are not crazy.
Given your occupation, I'm guessing you grew up on a farm. Do you have any favorite stories from that time?
I did. I grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Knox County near Galesburg. So from a very early age, I spent weekends, after school/practice or summers doing chores for hogs and cattle and working on the farm. I never held another job until I went to college.
Working on the farm really taught me about work ethic. My parents taught me about rural values and what it means to give your word and what it means to serve your community.
My favorite stories in my youth always include my brother. We were holy terrors. I am sure that we drove our parents completely insane. We were always into something mischievous. The best thing about growing up in the country was that we went outside to play in the morning and only showed back up for lunch and/or dinner. We were always building something or destroying something else.
What interests you most right now besides the county board or your business dealings?
I enjoy playing golf with my buddies. With my daughters being out of the house, I actually have some time to do that. My wife and I actually hope to start traveling some more. We have lots of places to see in the future.
In golf, you have a favorite moment of all time?
My favorite moment involves my youngest daughter. I caddied for her a few times and got to carry her bag when she won the last Women's Twin City Championship. That was really special. Playing golf with my daughters (and now sons-in law) is always a great time. We just don't get to do it enough.
Tell us about your family. Is it an exciting time to have one of your daughters getting married?
My wife (Deb) and I are very blessed to have raised two wonderful daughters (26 and 22). Deb works in the Mahomet-Seymour School District as an aide. Abigail is married, lives west of Indy and works as a commercial real estate broker. Charlotte is finishing grad school, taking the CPA, getting married and looking for a job all at the same time. (Unfortunately I think my habit of being overly busy rubbed off on her.) Both graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Ky. We have loved visiting them down there. It is exciting. My daughters are 3 years apart but chose to get married just 18 months apart. I am not sure why, but I am not as nervous this time around. I assure you that giving the father of the bride toast will be really hard. I love them both so much.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
I typically get up around 5 a.m., flip on "Fox And Friends" for a bit and try to be working before 7 a.m.
What do you consider your greatest achievement or accomplishment?
My daughters without question. They make me proud each and every day.
What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?
Reading now "Killing the Rising Son" by Bill O'Reilly; loved "Killing Reagan" most recently.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
Oktoberfest in Munich. I just love German food and drink.
What's your favorite sports team?
Illini, of course.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
All the memories include my wife and daughters.
Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?
Ronald Reagan. He really opened my eyes to what is possible if you put yourself out there. He tried and failed many times and yet still became arguably one of the best presidents of all time.
What's your best piece of advice?
Can't never did anything. My dad used that on us all the time.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
Farming was my first job, but my first paid job was working in the ad services department at The Pantagraph in Bloomington. We were paid $3.85 per hour but got to drive those awful orange Ford cars around delivering ad proofs to businesses in Bloomington-Normal.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
I switched jobs from working at National City to working with The Atkins Group in the span of 36 hours. It was extremely challenging and uncomfortable in one sense, but exciting and new in another. I was really burned out by corporate America, and Clint offered me freedom and an opportunity to build a business. It was the best decision of my life, behind marrying my wife. I really didn't even have time to tell Deb before I made the switch; we didn't have access to cell phones back then. If we had phones, who knows how much we would have overanalyzed the decision.
Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?
Too many to list. I am my own worst critic. Didn't study hard enough in college is the biggest regret that still haunts me yet today. (But I traded it all off for the fun we had, so I guess it was all worth it.)