As River City Bank’s newest Commercial Banking Business Development Officer, Riley Gardner is tasked with developing new business within the greater Sacramento region and expanding the Bank’s presence into the Reno market. His focus is on providing commercial banking services to companies in all sectors, including commercial real estate, healthcare, food and agriculture, clean energy, construction, professional services firms, and nonprofit organizations.
We spoke with the Sacramento native and outdoor enthusiast about the importance of keeping one’s word, perseverance, and the valuable life lessons passed on from his grandfather.
Hometown: Sacramento. Believe it or not, I am a 7th generation Sacramentan. My fiancée and I both went to the same elementary school and now live within a mile of where we both grew up.
First Job: Various food service businesses for close to minimum wage. The experience gave me respect and empathy for people in those types of jobs.
First Car: I drove an old Acura Legend with a broken air conditioner. Sacramento summers were rough!
Favorite Quote(s): “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes
Favorite Movie: The Revenant.
Favorite Music: Classic rock. There’s nothing like a little Lynyrd Skynyrd to get fired up.
Favorite city to visit: This is a tough one, but let’s say Beijing. After college, I worked in China for five years and led a business development team for a Chinese tech company. My bank co-workers would be rolling their eyes at this response because I talk about China a lot. It was a great life experience and period of learning for me. I am still nostalgic about it.
Favorite place in Sacramento: I love the Sierras and the American River. Whether it is trail running, hunting, fly fishing, skiing, backpacking, or something else, I have a constant smile on my face when I am outdoors. I think my family has finally learned not to worry about me out there (I hope?).
First site or app you check in the morning: Bloomberg. I am somewhat addicted to market and financial news.
What are you reading right now? The Economist is a staple for me. Lately, I have also been reading books about mountain men of the old West.
Morning ritual: Ideally, I take our dog for a run by the river, then go get a coffee. On special days, I add cinnamon rolls from Ettore’s.
If you have an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? Cooking something on the barbecue or smoker. A beer after work with friends would be great too.
Radio or podcasts? Podcasts and audiobooks. For podcasts, I like Odd Lots (Finance and Economics), Planet Money (Economics), and MeatEater (Hunting).
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? Maybe that I run ultramarathons and actually enjoy it? 100 kilometers is the furthest race I have finished. I know… most people don’t like driving that far. I think doing hard things helps you become better at doing other hard things.
Which causes/nonprofits do you support? I am proud of the Kelly Foundation’s support of various nonprofits in the local community. I am involved in the Capital Region Family Business Center, and support the American River Parkway Foundation, California Waterfowl, and Ducks Unlimited.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Watching the sunrise from the top of a mountain or a duck blind, or a date night with my fiancée (that last one will keep me out of trouble).
What is your greatest fear? Quitting or not giving my best effort in something.
Which person do you most admire? My grandfather. He was a relentlessly driven, positive, and generous person who became very successful and had fun through every step of the journey. I am extremely grateful for the time and experiences he shared with me, and the qualities of character he reinforced in me. I tried to absorb as much of his wisdom and attitude as I could.
What is your greatest extravagance? Cinnamon rolls, fancy whisky or tequila, and time in the wilderness.
What is your current state of mind? Grateful. Positive. Hungry.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out? (Or a piece of advice you’re glad you ignored?) My grandfather used to say: “There is one thing you have that no one can ever take from you – your word. Always keep your word, and don’t give it away too easily.” He was also a strong advocate of having a ten-year plan and updating it every year. I still do this.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? It is not really a virtue, but I think fear is overrated. I think we grow the most by setting big goals, taking calculated risks, and fighting through the challenges as they come.
What is your biggest takeaway from Covid-19? It has been a challenging experience, but people are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.
What do you like best about working at River City Bank? We have a very smart and hardworking team of people that really care about our customers and improving the Bank. The combination of great people, outstanding customer service, and very competitive interest rates have enabled the Bank to thrive and achieve exceptional growth over the past decade. Steve Fleming has really done a great job developing such a successful and scalable business model.