The Art of Bringing People Together

by Jacob Boston

Mike James, Executive Vice President & Chief Sales Officer, NFP

Mike James is a connector.

MJ, as he is known by colleagues and friends, is the Chief Sales Officer (CSO) for NFP, a leading property and casualty broker, benefits consultant, wealth manager and retirement plan advisor. And he is all about getting the right people in the room, at the right time, to solve problems for clients.

“We help our clients overcome their biggest risk, workforce, wealth management and retirement challenges. Nobody can do this alone,”said MJ.“That’s why I’m always connecting people and figuring out ways we can work together. It’s driven by a belief we’re going to do our best work when we get to know each other, understand our strengths and trust we’re aligned in our values.”

MJ has been honing this skill for decades. A Boston native, born and raised in the Roxbury neighborhood, MJ embraced a “give first” approach early in life. This meant raising his hand to get involved, looking out for his neighbors, taking on extra work to help a colleague complete a project, and, no matter what success came his way, never forgetting his community.

“I know what I’ve achieved in my career is because people took time to invest in me with time, advice and opportunities. I also know people gravitate to people who have a giving mindset. I realized pretty quickly that giving and success go together. It’s a lot easier to motivate people to work together, compromise for the good of the team, and let others have the spotlight when you set this example yourself. It’s really the ultimate win-win.”

MJ’s ability to bring people together, which he believes is more art than science, has produced impressive results.

In 2023, MJ’s first full year as CSO, NFP’s revenue reached an all- time high of $2.47 billion. Through his involvement in No Books No Ball, a community organization in Boston, he helps distribute more than 1,000 turkeys to families in need each Thanksgiving. MJ’s board service at Finseca, The American College of Financial Services, and LIMRA/LOMA, has helped unify the profession around a focus on enhancing financial security for individuals and families.

His impact can also be seen in his efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Following the murder of George Floyd, MJ took on the role of advising NFP’s board on race issues. He continues to facilitate learning while refining strategy in partnership with NFP’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Pamela Wheeler, which has helped NFP earn the Five-Star DEI Award from Insurance Business magazine for three consecutive years.

MJ remains a passionate advocate for engaging diverse professionals interested in a career in financial services. He was integral to the launch of Nationwide’s Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE), a coalition of financial services firms, historically black colleges and universities and industry partners. FARE’s efforts have increased racial diversity, driven greater equity and fostered inclusion across the financial services sector.

MJ’s knack for bringing people together extends to his family. He and his wife, Jessica, are the proud parents of three adult children, each of whom work in the industry. This closeknit family enjoys experiences together, whether it’s attending a Celtics game or rolling up their sleeves at a charity event.

“I’m a proud – and grateful – husband and father. They share my view there’s nothing better than working together to leave something better than you found it. The joy that comes with group achievement is special. Being able to say,‘we did this together,’ creates lasting bonds.”

While he has a lot going on, MJ is laser focused on advancing NFP’s sales culture and aligning it with the dynamic needs of today’s clients.

“Companies and individuals are facing a variety of challenges. Managing risks, attracting and retaining top talent, planning for the future – it’s a lot. Providing integrated solutions means helping clients navigate the complexity with a holistic view that fuels customization and informs decisions. When we do this well, we see it in our results.”

To borrow from the old Nike tagline, there is no finish line for Mike James.“I’m very proud of what we’ve done, but there is so much more to do.”In everything he does, there will be people coming together to share ideas, innovate and make a positive impact for a client, colleague or community member.

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