Jul 19, 2022

J. Christian Piazza: Get to know your 2022 EPIC Toledo Chair

We are so excited to have J. Christian Piazza as our chair of EPIC Toledo this year!

Christian has been involved in EPIC Toledo since 2016 and has been a member of our advisory council since 2018. He is a financial advisory at Wilcox Financial | Wilcox Sports Management.

Get to know a bit more about Christian and his journey in EPIC Toledo through this interview highlight.

How did you get involved with EPIC Toledo?

In the Spring of 2016, I was wrapping up the final semester of my master’s program and exploring career opportunities. My BGSU football career had recently ended, but I was not ready to leave the sports world just yet.

I received a dream job offer from Wilcox Financial | Wilcox Sports Management, a nationally renowned financial planning firm. It was an unbelievable career opportunity, with one catch… I would need to relocate 25 miles north to Toledo, Ohio, home to our arch-nemesis, the Toledo Rockets.

That view flipped 180 degrees when James Bailey (2020 Chair) invited me to attend EPIC Toledo’s Annual “Birthday Bash” Party in 2016. Over 400 young professionals gathered at Fleetwood’s Tap Room — a brand new downtown Toledo event center and bar — dressed to the nines for a night of networking and celebration.

That night opened my eyes and changed my life forever. The energy was electric, and I knew something special was brewing in Toledo that I wanted to be a part of. The next day, I called our CEO Mike Wilcox to let him know I wanted to join his team, embark on a special career journey, and get engaged with the local community. I was all in!

What brought you to Toledo and what has kept you here?

I didn’t know many people when I moved here, so I sought out two organizations to get involved: EPIC Toledo and The Toledo Club. The people in those two groups welcomed me with open arms and to this day, are the friends and contacts I spend most of my time with. 

Thanks to fellow EPIC Advisory Board Member Nick Huckaby, and his wife Alicia, I met my wife Katie at The Toledo Club’s Annual Squash Tournament Spring Fling Party four years ago. Although very different than originally planned, we got married in our home with 40 of our closest family and friends last New Year’s Eve (thanks COVID!). This past September, Katie and I welcomed our beautiful daughter Emerson Ruth into the world. She threw us for a loop and came 10 weeks earlier than anticipated. After 7 long weeks in the NICU, she is thriving at home and continues to grow every day.

Life has changed a bit since first moving to town, but as fellow transplants, we are so proud to call Toledo home and are excited to raise our family here!

What leadership skills have you learned from being involved with EPIC?

Through my experience leading EPIC in various capacities, I have learned to effectively facilitate meetings. We are blessed with so many smart, driven, and dedicated volunteers that serve on our Advisory Council and Event Committees. To be respectful of their time, it is vital to prepare a meeting agenda that encourages participation and engagement to maximize the group’s collective intelligence and ideas. The “game before the game” is crucial for our success and has been fully transferable to other organizations and my day-to-day life as a financial advisor.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment in past 3 years?

In 2020, I became the first financial advisor under the age of thirty to qualify for Summit, the highest achievement level of our national brokerage organization. This could not have been accomplished without the trust of my clients and help from my Wilcox Financial team members.

What is your favorite advice or quote to live by?

“Run the experiment.”

~ Rich Sheridan, Menlo Innovations’ Co-Founder and keynote speaker at last year’s EPIC Toledo Leadership Summit Conference.

My subconscious is constantly telling me, “This won’t work” or “This idea isn’t worth a try” before ever giving it a chance. I try to keep Rich’s words at the forefront of my mind. You’d be surprised how frequently your subconscious gets proven wrong. “Run the experiment.”

What is your vision for EPIC in the upcoming year?

2022 will be a success when we are able to foster relationships with recent college graduates while building the foundation of leadership for our next generation. The world has changed so much in the past two years. I believe organizationally, it’s important we pause to see if there are any changes or improvements needed for our future programming. EPIC has been such an important part of my leadership development, and I am committed to ensuring we continue to play our role in showcasing our region’s value to young professionals.

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