Westmont Magazine The Benefits of Thinking Big
Jeff Crosby ’85 likes to think big. In business, he goes after the major accounts. He competes in triathlons in addition to exercising regularly. And when he coached basketball, he sought to make a lifelong impact.
Jeff grew up in Seattle, Wash., and played high school basketball. He admired the most valuable player in his league, and followed him to Westmont. Making the team as a walk-on, he got to play as a senior under former Coach Chet Kammerer. But Jeff always intended to go into business, and he majored in both economics and business and political science.
After graduating, he returned to Seattle and became an account manager for Xerox. He did well and made the company’s largest sale in 1989. He liked the work and had no thought of leaving.
Then Coach Kammerer called him one day and asked him to return as an assistant coach and fund-raiser. Jeff said, “No.” But Kammerer persisted, and Jeff finally flew down to meet with him.
“I really didn’t want the job,” Jeff recalls. “But I did want to give something back to Westmont, so I finally agreed to come for two years. I thought I was doing it just for the college, but I ended up being the one who benefited.”
His pay cut in half, he coached and raised money for athletic scholarships.
“Coaching is all-engrossing; it is always on your mind,” he notes. “It enriched my life tremendously. Not only did I meet my wife during that time, but I influenced the lives of some incredible athletes.”
Jeff knew how his faith had grown during his years at Westmont. “It was a life-changing experience for me, and I hoped it would be the same for my players.”
When Kammerer left to take a job with the Lakers, Jeff served as interim head coach for a year, and then moved back to Seattle. “I wanted to stay in coaching, but there just weren’t any opportunities. It was painful to change course.”
Jeff re-entered the corporate world, this time as a financial planner. “It’s a hard business to break into,” he notes.
But he started noticing similarities to coaching. “I do have an opportunity to influence clients’ lives,” he explains. “I can share my faith and encourage them to look at the whole picture: tax strategies, investments, giving, and college planning. I’m their financial coach.”
Thinking big as usual, Jeff negotiated a national contract as the financial adviser for Microsoft employees. He puts on 35 workshops a year for the corporation, and his staff of five people work almost exclusively with the account.
“I love what I do,” he adds. “It’s still challenging, and I’m still learning. I’m content. But I’m always open to new opportunities.”
With three small children, Jeff is doing some college planning of his own. His wife, Leann, stays home with them.
When he spoke to fellow Westmont alums recently, he challenged them to plan carefully and give now rather than waiting until death. “We can make a difference today if we’re willing to look at the big picture and give something back,” he notes.