CHATHAM, NJ - After spending much of his life playing on the beaches in California, Michael Goodnight has made the transition to the suburban life of New Jersey rather quickly. Growing up out west, he moved here a little over a year ago, and has become immersed in the community ever since.
In August, he was appointed President of the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce. He is honored to be part of the organization and hopes to lead it in a positive direction.
“It was an opportunity to see inside the inner workings of the city,” Goodnight said.
Goodnight relocated to New Jersey in August 2011 and became the Assistant Vice President and Branch Sales Manager at Valley National Bank in Chatham in November. He has close to 20 years of banking experience and has worked for large banks including JPMorgan Chase and small ones as well.
Besides the weather, the San Francisco Bay Area and the suburbs of New Jersey really aren’t that different, he said. However, the property taxes here are much higher than in California, he said.
He moved four months before his wife and daughter, so he could get adjusted to his new surroundings, find a home to live in and enable his daughter to finish her first semester in 8th grade. The primary reason he moved was so his wife could be closer to her mom and siblings as she is originally from Queens, N.Y. Surprisingly, he said adjusting to life here has been quite easy for him, but a difficult transition for his wife due to her being away for over 25 years.
With most of her friends in California, it’s been a big change, but for Goodnight he is immersed in 60 hours of work each week and volunteering in the community, so he feels right at home, he said.
“I’m a happy camper,” he said. “On a personal note, it was to show that I could do it.”
His success from the west coast transferred easily to the east coast and impressed the management at Valley National Bank very much, he said. While he knew no one in New Jersey, his goals were to help the branch in Chatham succeed and become a fixture in the community, he said. Today, he has done all of that in a short time.
“The gratification you see by helping individuals is something I truly enjoy,” Goodnight said. “I like to help people.”
His community-driven spirit dates back to his days in California where he was involved in the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary and numerous other volunteer organizations. After attending a few Business Networking International meetings in Florham Park, many people were surprised at how social he was, but for him that’s just how he is, he explained.
He soon learned the Chamber of Commerce in Chatham, New Jersey is quite different from ones in the San Francisco Bay Area. The one in Chatham has had tough times in the past, especially with the economy, but they just needed that extra push that he hopes to provide, he said.
“Their hearts are absolutely golden and in the right place,” he said referring to the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce.
Looking into the future, he feels the chamber will improve and grow their membership. Because he believes the glass is always half full and one must overcome obstacles in order to succeed, they are headed in the right direction. He stressed the chamber needs more of a grassroots effort when reaching out to businesses.
Many business owners have been saying what’s in it for them, but they need to realize the greatest gift in life is giving, not receiving, Goodnight said. His goal is to get in touch with businesses, visit them, see how they are doing, get their perspective on the chamber, see how he can change their view and even get the mayor and other community leaders more involved with the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce.
“When you get constant negativity back at you it’s hard to be positive,” he said. “I need to find out what needs to be fixed without pointing any fingers.”