Prologue: (You didn’t know that a blog post could have a prologue, did you?) I almost didn’t write the following post because I was afraid it would come off as braggadocios. I promise you that I am aware that I can appear to struggle with humility from time to time. The reality is that I am a very blessed man who has achieved success greater than I could have imagined when I started in this industry. I fully acknowledge that my career has been a perfect storm of great mentors, hard work, and God’s grace. I love what John Maxwell says about success, “Without God I can not, and without me God will not.. So as you read on, please hear my heart.
An “Aha Moment” From the Opulent Lucite Mines of South Africa
The GREAT Brian Tracy says, “Success leaves a trail.” As I look around my office it is clear, if you work in the the Voluntary Benefits (VB) sales arena, success also leaves awards, plaques and trophies.
A year ago when I left my previous carrier (Aflac) after 15 years, I made a conscious decision to “thin out” some of my awards. The first awards to get boxed up were those that were for coming in 2nd place or lower. I did this because I am a disciple of the great American philosopher and spiritual leader, Ricky Bobby. And as I’m sure you know, Ricky Bobby says, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
The next to go were all of my awards for any individual accomplishments. There was only one exception. Of all my individual awards, there was only one that I kept. That one award is the subject of this post and we will return to it in just a bit. Why did I just keep my team awards? Well as those who have ever worked with me will attest, my heart and passion has always been centered around team building and developing the leaders on my team. Whenever anyone on my team won an award, I made sure that the rest of our team went crazy during the awards ceremony and made that person feel like a rock star. Because so many individuals on our team won individual awards, our team happened to also win many of the team awards. When this happened, I had the incredible honor of being the one to accept it on behalf of the team. I made sure that everyone in the room knew that the award wasn’t my award. As the leader of the team, it might have had my name on it, but we were being recognized as a team.
The last awards to go were those plaques that I felt were ugly. Not exactly a very scientific method, but I thought they looked bad and I didn’t want them hanging in my office.
When it was all said and done, I trashed several boxes and took several more and put them in storage. Maybe a less prideful man would have gotten rid of all of them. There probably will come a day when I can do that, but that day isn’t here yet.
So how many awards did I end up keeping? Well in preparation of this blog post I went through my office and counted. I don’t know if I’m embarrassed or proud to tell you that I have pared down my awards, trophies, plaques, etc. to “just” ……..76. (I told you that it was going to sound braggadocios.)
My One Individual Award
Earlier I told you that I got rid of all of my individual awards except one. If you walked into my office today you probably wouldn’t notice it except that it has a tie-dyed Beanie Baby sitting next to it. It certainly isn’t very impressive to look at, and as you probably have figured out, Lucite is not mined in South Africa. It didn’t cost much to make, and I can’t pawn it or even get cash at the recycling center. Why then is it my favorite? Why would I be devastated if I lost it to a fire? (I had typed, “Why would I be devastated if it was stolen.” But I had to erase that because I realized no one would ever steal it.) The reason this one award means more to me than the rest of them combined is simple. It represents the exact moment when I realized that the sale of Voluntary Benefits was a predictable business!!!
I started in the VB business in 1998. At the end of October, even though I had a great trainer/manager (David Stewart), and felt like I was working my butt off, I was getting pretty frustrated with my paltry results. Fortunately David sat me down and encouraged me to focus on an upcoming contest that the State Manager had just announced called “Power Club.” All I had to do was average $5,000 per week in new business, for three weeks in a row. In other words, produce $15,000 in three weeks. My first reaction was, “Oh!!! Is that all?” See, I wasn’t averaging $5,000 per month, let alone $5,000 per week. Even though I am naturally very optimistic, I had already given up before the contest had even begun. David was relentless though and made me break down exactly what it would take to produce a total of $15,000 during the contest period. The more we talked, the more I realized that it was not only possible, but with his support it was inevitable. It was definitely going to take some elbow grease, detailed planning, and ruthless execution, but if I did exactly what we planned out, my success was certain.
For the first time in my then short career:
- I made sure that I saved the prime hours for prospecting.
- I was strategic in who I was prospecting too. I needed small groups, that paid their people well and would close quickly.
- I became fearless in my closing.
- I woke up with a fire burning in my gut.
- I made sure that I was being effective, not just busy.
- I was waking up employed. (The subject of the upcoming podcast with Joe Clark that will air 4/15)
If you zoom in on the picture above you will see that we must have put together a fairly decent strategy that day. I was able to exceed the contest criteria by $549. (Remember to celebrate every victory! Over is over BABY!!!!) When I realized that I had hit the goal, I became very emotional. The reason I was emotional had nothing to do with me getting a $25 slab of Lucite. It wasn’t the money I had made. It wasn’t even the fact that I had accomplished my goal. The reason I became emotional was that I finally realized that I had the skill, drive, talent and opportunity to be successful in this industry. (I promise you that if I can do it, you can do it!) I also realized that if I could write $15,000 during those 3 weeks, what would prevent me from doing it every 3 weeks? The only potential obstacle to my success was me. If I could keep the same type of focus and activity level that I had just demonstrated, I should be able to have the exact same results. See, if my success is at the mercy and whim of someone else, I can’t sleep at night. But if what Jim Rhon, Brian Tracy, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins kept telling me on the tapes I was listening to was true, and if it really is true that, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” then I like my chances!
Conclusion: Thank you David for making me break down this business. More importantly, thank you for helping me to understand that it was predictable! Oh by the way, it still is!
Question: Do you know exactly how many doors you have to go through today to achieve the level of success you are striving for? Can you prove it? Do you believe it?
Comment below to find out why the Beanie Baby sits next to the award.