Noted local speaker/author wants to reframe the ethic of Boomers: “Rezooming the Boomers”

Cathcart2By Daniel Gelman

It’s the fundamental transformation of Ventura County’s own Jim Cathcart, world-renowned business motivational speaker, bestselling author, and Renaissance man with a Southern twang.

When his rock band fires on all cylinders, 67 year old Cathcart morphs into the boyish Arkansas troubadour. His group ReZoom the Boom plays at venues like Bogie’s nightclub in Westlake Village.

Jim strums the guitar and sings while his wife Paula, grown son, and friends accompany him. Back in the 60’s he played cover songs at clubs in Little Rock  and has been featured at venues like the Sherwood Country Club and Thousand Oaks Arts Festival for the past four years. High points include meeting his Arkansas music hero Glenn Campbell in Thousand Oaks and joining bikers in the local mountains for an impromptu jam session. But now it’s about much more than just the music.

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“The whole idea is to have a name that identifies what I’m trying to do. I want people to embrace the mentality that leads to abundance,” he said during a recent interview at Stonehaus, the new coffee shop and wine bar, which like Bogies, is part of the world class Westlake Inn complex.

“I am the prototype for the Baby Boom. Whatever happens in my life is coming for 78 million others.” That’s because he was born in 1946, the first year of the explosion of productivity forged by the no-nonsense conservative values of returning veterans.

Cathcart lives in Newbury Park and travels the world as a keynote motivational speaker on sales, marketing, and personal development. He’s won virtually every award a person in that field can win and is a member of the speakers’ Hall of Fame. He is also the author of The Acorn Principle and Relationship Selling.

According to his website, cathcart.com, the main challenge of leadership is not about skills, but motivation. “Getting people to want to do what needs to be done. That is the main job of a leader.”  To see examples of how, watch this video:

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Many of those who reached Jim’s level of success started out as popular “alpha-dog” achievers in high school. His path took a circuitous route that had little to do with genes, money or luck, and everything to do with focus and determination..

A self-proclaimed Conservative, one of his first jobs was as a bill collector for GMAC (General Motors financing). Sent out to repossess logging trucks in the hills of Northern Arkansas he  learned to value clients, negotiating with them from a position of respect. In his speeches he uses colorful stories about his debtors to demonstrate the power of relationships in obtaining payments.

As an Assistant Loan Specialist with the housing authority, helping approve low interest loans for people in the poorest neighborhoods of Little Rock, he soon perceived the futility of much of the work. “Only about 10% of the people we helped became self-reliant,” he recalled. At the same time Cathcart became intrigued by the works of pioneer motivational speaker Earl Nightingale.

Nightingale, a veteran speaker, encouraged people to devote an extra hour to the study of their respective field over a five year period, guaranteeing they would become an expert. Jim decided to  follow in Nightingale’s footsteps at the onset of the The Human Potential Movement.

Cathcart devoured every piece of information he could find on the topic of personal development. Concurrently he volunteered for the Jaycees, the Junior Chamber of Commerce.  As a national civic organization they encourage business development and leadership training through community service.

Cathcart soon became National Program Manager in charge of leadership training for the Jaycees. Mobilizing teams of youth in the pursuit of charitable projects, he said, “I was a community organizer for self-reliance. It was the diametric opposite of what Obama did.”

Their goal was, “getting young adults involved and trained to be self-reliant and generous toward others,” and training them to graduate to service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis. Jim gave speeches all over the country for the Jaycees.

At the pinnacle of his success with the Jaycees, Cathcart decided to fly solo as a public speaker. His first two major clients were Mass Mutual, the financial services corporation, and the Oklahoma Bankers Association. After years in public service, including the military, he transferred his skills to corporate sales and leadership training, while promoting his personal entrepreneurial brand.

The more he spoke, the more people wanted him to speak. The offers kept coming. Eventually he took a partner  and operated the Cathcart Institute from La Jolla, California. When his son and grandkids moved north, Jim followed.

The qualities that most distinguish Jim Cathcart as a speaker and a man are his “regular guy” persona and his sincerity. In an industry where affectation or self-importance can easily dominate and corrupt, he remains the cheerful kid from Little Rock.

Despite the bountiful optimism, he is worried about his country and admits to devastation after the last presidential election. “I was feeding on the news every day. I was totally invested in the need to change the direction of the country.” Then there was an election night watch party. “Everyone got quiet. We were so crushed.”

Cathcart has based his entire career on the ideas of self-reliance, positive thinking, and self-improvement. So it’s particularly painful when he sees the current administration pursuing the opposite goals. “We’ve given dignity to dependency.

There is abundant abuse of the system. It’s close to too late.”

He encourages immigrants to assimilate. “If you don’t learn the language and embrace the values, then clearly you are trying to create a hybrid of the place you left.”  Regarding the threat of radical Islam he said, “It concerns me deeply. I think our nation is at risk.”

Ultimately he is a believer in the American people’s burgeoning potential for renewal. They can learn from his parents’ generation as well as early “boomer” idealists. He regrets the lack of communication in the strong, silent period of the “Greatest Generation.” Cathcart’s ideal is to combine the openness and communicative license of his generation, with the discipline and core values of the previous one.

“They lived a life of self-reliance and universal accountability, but they did not put a premium on teaching the human skills. So the Baby Boomers overcompensated and became enablers. Weakness was celebrated. I would like to see western society re-embrace the values of self-reliance and making a difference, and run away from the enabler pattern. ”

Cathcart’s advice to Boomers is: “Ask yourself every day, ‘How would the person I’d like to be do the things I’m about to do?’  That keeps you aspiring to grow and become.”

“Clearly my views are Conservative, but that’s not because I want a Conservative world. I just want a world that works,” he explained. Meanwhile, he intends to enlighten as many people as he can through his speeches and his music. Like the lyrics to his Rezoom the Boom theme song say, “I swear I’ll never grow old again, I’ll Rock ‘n Roll ‘til the very end.”


Daniel Gelman has been a freelance Reporter/Writer for several years, specializing in News, Business, Feature, and Op-Ed.

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