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A Self-Made Wildcat

Due to his hard work at Central Washington University, CWU alumni James Atterberry is now the CEO at Radius Educational Services. Atterberry graduated in 1994 as a student athlete with a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine. Atterberry’s father and brother also graduated from Central, making the Atterberry’s a legacy family.
Coach Mike Dunbar sold Atterberry on Central’s football program which ultimately led to Atterberry making Central his home for four years. Atterberry was a member of CWU's All-Century Football Team and was later inducted into CWU Hall of Fame, Class of 2012. He acknowledges that his overall experience of playing football at CWU is a huge part of his current work ethic and how he is as a business leader, father, and coach.

“I think the resources that have helped me most, not only with business but personally, would be all the great people I was surrounded by at CWU. From coaches to professors, the lessons they taught me included to work for everything, give 110%, and never give up.”

After graduating, Atterberry knew he wanted to be around athletics, whether that meant working with a professional team, the athletes, or coaching. He was soon offered a position with the Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Team working with athletes and running the events for their foundations. His position soon began to morph into advertising work and by 2002, he was working with an agency.

Atterberry then started his own agency in 2011 with two other partners, stepping into the managing partner/CEO role. He has served as the CEO of The ROI Firm for 17 years and counting.

Atterberry faced the challenge that anyone who starts their own business hopes to have: fast growth. With such fast growth, they had to hire a lot of people, and fast. They also had to put the right systems into place to sustain effectiveness for their clients and their rapid growth.

Atterberry feels that his greatest accomplishments have come while supporting a successful business, attracting great people as clients, winning their businesses, and receiving positive word of mouth referrals. He runs his company by making sure he is doing right by his employees and clients, and works hard to maintain positive relationships.

“My dad told me to never burn a bridge because you never know if you will meet or need the person down the road. I have run the company like I play football, 110% every play, every day. Also we did it with integrity, values, and morals, always working hard and doing right for all our employees, as well as our clients.
The key to success, according to Atterberry, is being a leader not a boss. To be a successful leader you need what he calls the Five D’s: drive, determination, discipline, dedication and desire. It’s not about the scoreboard or bank account, it’s about being the best you can be. 

“As I started my agency, got married, had kids, and began coaching youth sports my definition [of success] has dramatically changed. I call it the “Pillow Test”. If you can put your head on your pillow and sleep like a baby every night, that means you are successful and living your life the right way”.

Atterberry’s achievements include the business relationships he has formed, big accounts he has won with Fortune 500 companies, and being able to say he is still doing his own thing since 1996. His greatest personal accomplishments are being married to his wife, Rebecca, for 18 years and raising his two boys, Dylan and Ryan.


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