Playing by his rules

Nice guy Joe Waltermann won’t finish last

By Glenda Winders

“Someone once called me a social introvert,” says Joe Waltermann, the branch manager and a financial adviser at Lake City Bank in Greenwood. “And that’s probably exactly correct.”

He says his wife, Julie, started out as an introvert, too, and jokes that if they hadn’t met each other they would probably both still be single.

“We met on a blind date because I was too shy to ask a girl out,” he says.

But you’d never know it to meet this outgoing man today. In fact, when he took a Myers-Briggs personality test a while back, his score showed that he had become an extrovert.

The change began when he left his retail management job to go into banking and realized he needed to become more social and get to know people.

“You can’t be in banking and be an introvert,” he says.

Determined not to let his shyness get in the way of his career, Waltermann set out to defeat his shortcomings, beginning at the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, where he still serves as an ambassador.

“It was a good place to start,” he says. “I started networking and meeting people there.”

After changing banks, some new acquaintances got him interested in Leadership Johnson County, and since graduating from that program in 2007 he has served on the board in several capacities. Now he’s on the advisory board, and he remains a vocal proponent of the organization.

“They teach leadership, and you learn so much about Johnson County,” he says. “You’re taught that giving back and helping in the community is one of greatest things you can do. It helped me realize where this community is going and how we can help with those in need.”

Giving back

LJC inspired him to join the Johnson County Community Foundation, which raises and gives money to organizations in the community that award scholarships. He is also on the United Way Johnson County allocation committee and the board of Habitat for Humanity Johnson County.

“Joe’s leadership and passion to help in our community show through his willingness to sit on boards that enhance the quality of life in Johnson County,” says LeeAnn Wilbur, Habitat for Humanity Johnson County executive director. “Through his dedication to financial literacy we are seeing amazing results in our partner families’ lives. He has a great sense of humor, a caring heart, and I am truly blessed to have him in my life.”

Waltermann budgets his time because he has two positions at Lake City Bank and does financial advising for all five centers in Indianapolis, which requires quite a bit of travel.

Some of the inspiration to take part in public service came from his father and grandfather, both of whom were mayors of Richmond, where Waltermann lived until he graduated from Indiana University and moved to Greenwood.

“I learned my work ethic from my dad,” he says. “He was a hard worker, and he retired at 75. Whenever I encouraged him to retire and do what he wanted, he said he just wanted to work.”

Although Waltermann loves what he does at his job and in the community, his family is his highest priority. He and Julie, a dental hygienist, have three children — Tony, 24, Drew, 21, and Erin, 17 — and he says they do everything together whenever possible. The kids also take part in their parents’ service activities, and after a visit to Camp Atterbury during an LJC scavenger hunt, Drew did a school project about the prisoners of war who were housed there during World War II.

“We do not take vacations apart or go to events apart,” Waltermann says. “I’ve coached every sport, never missed a music event or tennis match or activity. I’ll always be there for my kids.”

The rules

Just after the children were born, Waltermann made his “Rule of 50”: “When I’m 50 will I look back and think, ‘Gee, I wish I’d spent more time with my kids’?”

When he turned 50 three years ago, he was able to say he had few regrets, so now he’s made a “Rule of 65”: to do lots of fun things before he retires. Recently he spent an evening throwing axes, and he faced his fear of heights when he and Julie went zip lining in Costa Rica. They stay in shape together with a personal trainer and try to surprise each other in creative ways. For her 50th birthday he surprised her with tickets to a concert at Red Rocks, Colorado. Earlier this year, when they were in Las Vegas for a concert by their favorite band, 311, she surprised him by arranging to have their wedding vows renewed to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

Waltermann says he is on a constant crusade to learn more and be a better person, and he says he’s grateful for the people along the way who have helped him in his quest.

“I’ve had both good and bad mentors,” he says. “You take what you like from the good ones, and you learn from what the bad ones do wrong and you just don’t follow suit.”

One of the most important lessons he has learned is that nice guys don’t have to finish last.

“You can be a kind, nice person and still succeed,” he says. “You never have to raise your voice or be mean. I’ve learned to respect people, and when you do that you don’t have arguments. Nobody is a number to me.”

Recently Waltermann had a reason to call his cable company with a complaint. At the end of his 45-minute chat with the customer service representative, he was surprised when she thanked him for being so nice to her.

“Why would I want to be mad about that?” he says. “How can I yell at people for not being perfect when I’m not perfect? You always have to be positive.”

To improve professionally he has obtained licenses in many areas of banking and investing that he’ll probably never use, but he wants to have the information so that he can better advise his clients and expand his relationship with them.

“I have such a passion to learn for myself as well as my clients,” he says.

Waltermann says that his and Julie’s being active in their community has opened them up to meeting many friends whose support and reliability have become important to them.

Don Strube, head of purchasing for Herff Jones and National Guard Pilot, met Joe Waltermann through their daughters’ school and tennis activities, as well as through professional connections.

“Joe has been tremendously involved in the community, both through the bank and above and beyond that,” Strube says. “He’s just really a giving person, always the first person to offer help. He’s a tremendous friend.”

Waltermann says he is delighted with where his path has led him.

“I love numbers, and I love talking to clients,” he says, “and with a holistic approach to my job, community and family, I can’t miss. Sometimes I look back and think I wish I’d done something different, but if everything didn’t happen as it did, I probably wouldn’t have this happy family 30 years later. I have a wonderful life.”

Photo by Stacy Able