10 Questions with Jonathan Goldston, Financial Planner at Skylight’s Cleveland office
March 2, 2016
In the third of our “Making It Personal” Q&A series, we catch up with Jonathan Goldston to discover lots of interesting snippets – covering everything from his career choices, his family, his dislike of cold weather (a recurrent theme!) to his stylish swing on the golf course.
Did you start out your career in the financial services industry?
No, prior to joining Skylight in 2002, I worked producing plant maintenance and engineering trade shows across the United States. I’ve always been in the services industry and the end game is the same – providing a first-rate service to clients. I really enjoyed the work and found it rewarding, but didn’t feel totally fulfilled.
What attracted you to move?
I was ready to take up an offer of Presidency of a Trade Show firm in South Carolina when a family friend, who was in the financial services industry and I again got talking about a career in his field. This gentleman knew of Jeff Gale, who at that point headed up Skylight, and he suggested I give him a call to learn more about their unique approach to helping people. I don’t really remember why, but I decided to call Jeff and drop in my friend’s name. Amazingly Jeff picked up himself and immediately asked to arrange a meeting in Skylight’s office. More unbelievable was the fact that within five minutes of speaking with Jeff and Paul (who’s now CEO), I knew this was the career I had been seeking my entire life.
It wasn’t the financial incentive that attracted me – in fact, initially I was having to take a cut. What I found most compelling was the idea that I could make a huge difference in people’s lives; that I could be one of the most important people in that individual or family’s future. I immediately took the offer I was extended and gave up any thoughts of escaping the Cleveland winter for the sunny climates of South Carolina. I honestly believe I couldn’t have been more fortunate. Yes, like anything worth doing there were struggles, and with three young children and a stay-at-home spouse, the first few years were difficult but it was in this industry I found the fulfillment I was looking for.
Where are you from and can you share a little with us about your home life and your family?
I’m from Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb, and except for college, have never ventured too far from the shores of Lake Erie. For eight months of the year I believe Cleveland is the best place in this country to live, but then winter arrives and I’m more of the mindset that snow is something you visit, not live in.
My family is hugely important to me. I’m very proud of my three kids who are now all teenagers. They are all good athletes and even better students. All of their activities keep my wife and me very busy – whether it’s traveling to hockey games, orchestra, golf, horse-back riding, or now taking our oldest back and forth to college. When I get some free time I spend it with my parents who still live in the same Shaker Heights home in which I was raised. It’s my Dad’s birthday next week, and he turns 89 years old! My Mom is 88, and they aren’t getting any younger, so I help look after them.
You mention that your older son plays golf – as an inter-collegiate golfer yourself it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Do you get to play much yourself these days?
Back in college, I was part of a very good team. It was a really big part of my life, and I briefly considered a career teaching the sport. After I graduated and as time brought more responsibilities, I didn’t have the time to keep pace with my desire to play. Fortunately, though, my oldest son has recently developed a passion for the game, I’ve now the perfect excuse to get back to more playing! People are still pretty complimentary about my game, which is nice, but unfortunately, the scorecard tells a different story at times.
You got to play with a pro at the PGA Tour Cleveland Indians Celebrity Pro-Am last summer. How did that feel?
Yeah, that was amazing. My foursome included Alistair Presnell an Australian pro, and Bob DiBiasio of the Cleveland Indians. We had a great game, came in second place for the Pro-Am, and I actually flew in an eagle on one of the par fours. Shades of yesteryear. Alistair, Bob and our fourth were great company and I’d jump at an opportunity to play another round together.
Skylight is now in Ohio City. What’s it like working in this neighborhood?
It was an excellent and visionary decision to move Skylight to Ohio City. Inevitably there were growing pains with converting a century-old building into a modern working space but what’s been created is wonderful, and from our penthouse, I think we have the best possible view of downtown Cleveland. I really enjoy Ohio City as there’s a vibe about the place with Westside market, the boutique shops, the arts, bars, and restaurants. It feels like a neighborhood that’s going places and leading the way for a transition of downtown Cleveland. I’ve lived in Cleveland all my life and it’s not what I associate with Cleveland – our city has been missing out on this until now.
Where does a financial planner like yourself, like to grab a bite to eat?
Decisions, decisions. Only more than 50 places from which to choose. It’s hard to pass Crop Bistro which is in our building, and then there’s the Town Hall, which is less formal but the food is excellent. Also, there’s Stone Mad on Battery Park, and Johnny’s on Fulton which never disappoints. Add in all of what nearby Tremont has to offer … this is going to be a very long list!
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited and why?
Again this is a tricky question. I’m lucky enough to have visited most of the states in our country, so this isn’t easy and it changes over time. I think Portland is a unique city with amazing public parks, an exciting music, and arts scene (oh, and the seafood isn’t too shabby either). I also have fallen in love with Aruba and Palm Springs (California) after numerous holidays there. But Austin, Texas probably comes out tops as it has everything I could want – amazing food, music, the arts, great weather and it’s steeped in history. The city always has an eclectic vibe (kind of like what I see Cleveland heading toward). There are lots of outdoor activities you can do – from kayaking to climbing in the foothills. Recently, Formula-1 racing returned to the USA, and Austin hosts that particular race. I’ve most definitely never gotten bored there.
What was your childhood ambition?
Like so many little boys, it was the naïve dream of becoming a race car driver. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, but I still love cars, racing and always will.
Any little-known fact about you?
A looong time ago I used to own a little Martini Bar called Jonny’s Spirits & Entertainment. It was sort of an homage to the early 1960’s with live music, and a look as if it came out of the “Rat Pack” era.
Jonathan Goldston is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680.