Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Bryan Yager
Episode 6: Strategic Planning – Bryan Yager Interview
March 22, 2014
Welcome to Success is Voluntary, a podcast devoted to helping you become the salesperson you were always meant to be, where it’s all about helping you learn the techniques and tools that will enable you to win in the increasingly competitive world of voluntary benefits. Welcome your host, a guy who has hired and trained over 2,000 voluntary benefit salespeople in his career, Tim Martin. Success is Voluntary, selling voluntary benefits.
Tim Martin: Yes, my name is Tim Martin, and you are listening to Success is Voluntary, episode number six. Today, I’m sitting down with a friend of mine from Boise, Idaho, who happens to be in town to do a little consulting and teaching and coaching. I’ve known Bryan for several years, and I have to tell you, you guys are in for a treat today. Bryan makes a living flying all over the country and talking to groups like… Well, I’ll let him explain it a little better. Good morning, Bryan. How are you?
Bryan Yager: Good morning, Tim. I’m great.
Tim: Good. Thanks for being here. We really appreciate you being here. It’s a good time to be in Arizona.
Bryan: It is indeed.
Tim: You bet. Hey, Bryan, I’d like you to go ahead and tell our audience just a little bit about yourself. I sometimes will do the introduction, but I think it’s much better when you do it, so go ahead, and tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of your background.
Bryan: Happy to do that, Tim. I’ve spent the better part of 30 years really helping leaders, managers, teams, and organizations get more done. For the most part of that, I was in the grocery retailing world, and I worked for the country’s second largest grocery retailer for most of that time, working under the HR umbrella of doing really primarily management training.
Today, I do executive coaching. I do seminars and workshops, as you said, all around the country. I’m doing more international work now. I do a little bit of keynote speaking and a little bit of consulting.
Tim: Nice, nice, so racking up a few frequent flyer miles, right?
Bryan: Yeah. I tell people when you’re on a first name basis with gate agents in multiple cities you travel too much.
Tim: You do travel too much. I remember a funny story. My uncle was flying with his wife, and one of the gate agents looked at his platinum status or whatever, and she said to him and to his wife, “You travel way too much. You need to go take care of your sweetie,” or something like that. Well, I know that you started in the grocery and drugstore business. How long were you doing that before you went independent?
Bryan: I turned in my resignation 2 weeks before 9/11, so August of 2011.
Tim: Oh, good timing. Yeah. You’re going independent, and now you can’t fly anywhere, and nobody is hiring and all those kinds of things, so you got off to a really quick start, I’m guessing.
Bryan: Yeah, not so quick. It was a tough time. I’ve never had a good sense of timing in my life, but people told me if I can survive that year, you can survive anything, and indeed I did.
Tim: Good. Good. Well, what kind of made you decide to make that change? Because I think that’s really interesting to a lot of the people listening to this. Most of them are independent, 1099 contractors for different carriers, and they made the same decision. One day, they woke up working for “the man,” and the next day, they had all the freedom and flexibility in the world, but no paycheck coming in. What would make somebody even think to do that?
Bryan: Well, I’ll tell you two parts to the story. It’s probably real complex, but one of the things that I have certainly learned in my life, and now that I’m nearing the last chapters of my professional life anyway, I’ve just realized that life is too short to do things that you don’t enjoy anymore.
I had gotten to the vice president level of a Fortune 50 company, and I did find myself “going to work” every day, and life is just too short to find yourself “going to work” every day. That’s chapter 1 of what I would share with you. The other thing, did you ever read Who Moved My Cheese?
Tim: Oh, that’s one of my favorite books. In fact, if you haven’t read it (if you’re listening to this, and you haven’t read it), I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. In fact, I’ll put a link to the Amazon.com webpage. All you have to do is look in the show notes. Click the link, and you can pick up that book. But yeah, I love that book.
Bryan: I’ll just tell you just a short bit and probably under the TMI, too much information, category. My wife likes to read before she goes to bed. I don’t, but if she’s reading with the light on, I can. One night, we’re lying in bed, and I’m reading Who Moved My Cheese? and she’s reading what she is reading. As you know, the fictional characters in that story teach their lesson by writing little signposts on the wall.
Bryan: One of those signposts was, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
Tim: Oh, that’s a great question.
Bryan: I closed the book. I turned to my wife, and I said, “Can you get to a stopping point? When you’re done reading there, we need to talk.” Well, that’s unusual, so she closed her book and looked at me and said, “What is on your mind?” I said, “I want to quit my 30-year career,” and she said to me, “What are you reading? And stop reading it.”
Tim: “Stop reading it.”
Bryan: “…because we’re a single-income family.” But I knew in that minute.
Tim: Yeah, and not just a single-income family. You had young kids at the time.
Tim: How old were they?
Bryan: Oh, probably at that time, they were 7 and 10
Tim: Seven and ten. So you have braces coming up. You have…
Tim: …college. You have all those things. I love that: “What are you reading? And quit reading it.”
Bryan: “Quit reading it.”
Tim: That is awesome. That is awesome. That was a very transformational book in my life, as well. In fact, one of the things, if you’re listening to this and you are in still mourning over maybe the loss of a job (you might have had a career with a company, and they just downsized you or something like that), you cannot move on until you get through that mourning process.
I see people, all the time, come into this industry, and they still look back wistfully at their last career. If you’re still doing that, you need to get over that. You cannot move on and be successful at something else until you are done with the other, and that book can really help you do that, I think.
Bryan: You know, I couldn’t agree with that more, Tim, and one of the things that I’ve learned in my life (if indeed that happens to you) is in life, obviously, stuff happens to us that sometimes we plan. Most of the time, we don’t, but we always have a choice on how we respond. In those kinds of scenarios, the choice is bitter or better, and gosh, what an opportunity to do things better.
Tim: You bet, and if you’re in this industry, not only can you do things better for you and your family, but you’re making a huge impact on other people’s lives. It’s one of the things I love about this industry. It’s not very often we get an opportunity in life to really help other people. The more people we help, the more we help our own family, and that’s the way it should be. That really is.
I think if everybody (I don’t care if you’re a government employee), if you really approach your life that way, I think you’re in much better shape. It’s just that’s not the way they typically think, right?
Tim: Okay, so other than the fact you couldn’t fly anywhere and nobody had a budget for training anymore the day you started, what were some of the other bigger hurdles that you had to overcome after 30 years in the corporate world?
Bryan: Well, I think there’s probably a handful of lessons that I could boil down into a few, and one is to not get discouraged, because it’s easy to do. One of the things that I would offer is your self-talk becomes extremely important and monitoring that self-talk. I like to tell people that sometimes the conversation you have with yourself is the most important conversation you’ll have all day. It’s the attitude with which you got out of bed, the tone of your self-talk. Are you beating yourself up or saying, “Look. I can go forward. I can be positive”? That would be lesson one.
Lesson two, I would say, is to be focused. Even if you’re now self-employed and you’re dreaming about the time when you can be self-employed so you can go down to your desk in your skivvies, your sandals, or whatever it is, I encourage you to treat it like a business. Get up. Get dressed, maybe not necessarily put a tie on, but have an agenda for the day. Lesson three is, in life, we can never be done networking. In fact, what I tell people is the time to build a network is before you need one.
Tim: Oh, that’s that old, “Dig the well before you’re thirsty.”
Bryan: That’s indeed it, and so if I were to kind of summarize into two or three, those would probably be the top ones.
Tim: Wow, I think that’s great advice, Bryan. Absolutely. I see that all the time. I call it the “freedom god.” People wake up one day, and nobody is telling them when to go to work, how to go to work, what they have to do. They don’t get their to-do task list today. Nobody tells them when to take a coffee break, and I often say, in this industry, the best part about this industry is that you’re in complete control of your own schedule. You know what the worst part about this industry is?
Bryan: You’re in charge of your own schedule.
Tim: You’re in complete control of your own schedule, and not everybody can or should be able to handle that, unfortunately, and maybe you’re discovering that about yourself. I think that’s a great topic for another podcast: some tips of how to maintain that discipline, and so we’ll talk about that at a later date.
As we’ve been talking, Bryan’s been in town for a couple of days now, and I’ve heard a consistent message from him. I know several of you listening to this are just brand new in a leadership position in your career with your carrier, or maybe you’re thinking about taking that next position, or maybe it’s 10 years down the road, or 10 months down the road you might be thinking about it, but I think it’s an important lesson to understand that when you move into a leadership role, your priorities and everything you’re doing kind of needs to change. That’s a very uncomfortable transition for a lot of people, so could you talk on that for just a couple of minutes, Bryan?
Bryan: Yes, and certainly, life tends to play a trick on us. Oftentimes, our past success can be the biggest deterrent to future success.
Tim: Wait a minute. Repeat that one more time.
Bryan: Sometimes our past success can be our biggest deterrent to our future success.
Tim: That’s good.
Bryan: For instance, here, what we’re talking about and what Tim has referenced is one of the things that I see with almost all of my executive coaching clients is that we all start our careers being good problem solvers, being good doers, making things happen, getting things done.
Tim: Very tactical.
Bryan: Clearly those things are always important, but if you look around at the people you know, what you’ll see is, what you’ll tend to observe is, those people who solve problems, who make things happen, who get things done, get noticed and get recognized.
Tim: You bet.
Bryan: And often get promoted for that.
Bryan: What happens subconsciously in our heads is we realize that, “Gosh, there’s a connection between being a good doer, being a good problem solver, getting things done, and getting promoted or getting more sales,” or whatever it happens to be, and so we tend, then, to do more of what’s been reinforced in the past. Many times, then, when we’re going into a leadership role, those things are still important, but we also now have to be responsible for what I call on the business.
In the business is any time you’re doing what the business needs to done. It’s the closing of the sales. It’s the making of the widgets. Again, it’s doing what we need to do to pay the bills, and we have to pay the bills, or the business shuts down.
On the other side of that, the on the business, is looking at…What are our processes that we’re using? Where are those processes effective? Where can we make those processes better? Who needs more skills? What training needs to happen? If you’re listening to this podcast, it is maybe…What additional skills should you be learning? What books do you need to read? That’s a subtle transition that many people miss.
Tim: Well, it’s not so subtle. I think it’s sometimes pretty glaring when I look at leadership and the leaders that I’ve led over the years. I find they fall into one of two categories. They are the big, personal producer leader. Maybe they run a district or a regional office or whatever, but they’re still the number one producer on their team.
They’re a big personal producer, and everybody else around them doesn’t necessarily starve, but they certainly aren’t developing those people to their full potential, or they fall on the other side. They think that they have this new leadership role and they need to sit in their office and manage by dictate and memo. They don’t get out in the field, and they don’t develop people there either.
Tim: I’ll tell you what, that first level of leadership, for most insurance carriers, is absolutely the hardest one to get the balance right in. I see it over and over. Do you kind of see that with a lot of your corporate clients too?
Bryan: We see it everywhere we go. There is a man named Ram Charan, and he has done a lot of research on this. If you’re in management or have been in management, I might irritate you a little bit by sharing some of his research with you, but he suggests that 70 percent of managers, 70 percent of leaders, are overpaid 70 percent of the time.
Bryan: Yeah. Before you get defensive and want to turn the podcast off, here’s what he is saying: If we’re looking at the amount of work that you’re doing, the amount of hours that you’re working, my guess is everyone listening to this feels underpaid, and that, perhaps, is so. Step back. What he’s trying to say is managers, when they’re learning the skill of management, tend to live by the philosophy, “If you want it done right, you have to…”
Tim: Do it yourself.
Bryan: “…do it yourself.” What ends happening is they find themselves working 50, 60, and 70 hours, but doing more doing and not managing. Ram’s suggestion is if you’re not managing, then technically you’re working one level below where you should; hence, you’re overpaid for the skill level that you should be delivering.
Tim: Wow. That is so good. I want to really hammer that home with this audience. If you’re brand new (brand, brand new), this might not apply to you. Okay? If you are making a little bit of money (and I’m not talking about ridiculous amounts of money; I’m just talking about you’re feeding your family, and maybe you’re able to take a vacation; you’re doing okay), my guess is that you are spending a lot of time in your business doing things that you could get somebody that gets paid $10 to $12 an hour to do for you.
For instance, if you’re doing a lot of paperwork, you’re spending a lot of time building spreadsheets or packets of product information to take to clients, or you’re helping with claims administration and all the paperwork that comes with that, you are giving up at least $150 an hour for every hour you’re doing that. Because if you could be in front of a client, you really need to think of…What is your factory capacity? If all you had to do all day long was meet with clients and ask them to buy, how much money would that put on your table?
I know there’s some prospecting involved in there. There’s networking, and you have other things that are going to deliver sales, as well, but I would guess, and it’s not really a guess because I’ve seen it over and over and over again, especially as people get more and more successful, they get more and more bogged with just busywork, all these other things.
Either they sacrifice their family because they’re doing it late into the evening… I had a district manager who, I tell you what, we could call him at 7:00 tonight, and I wouldn’t even try him on his cell phone. I could try him on his office phone because he’ll be there helping do some paperwork that he could pay somebody $10 an hour to do for him. So it’s one of those things. I’m not suggesting that day one you run out and hire a secretary or administrator full time. That’s not what I’m suggesting.
Oh, here’s another thing: You can work your way up into it. If you put an ad on craigslist that you’re willing to pay somebody $10 to $12 an hour for administrative work, and you maybe only want them for 4 hours a day, you will not believe the number of resumes you will get and the quality of resumes you’ll get. Now, maybe, you’re only talking about 20 hours a week that you’re paying somebody.
Who really likes this are moms who have kids in school. They love to be able to take their kids in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, but they don’t want to have to pay for daycare and all that. They can come in and maybe work for you for 20 hours a week, and they love that, and I’ve done that a couple of times as I’ve made transitions…hired people part time.
Okay, so, no, that’s great. I’m doing all the talking, and that’s good. Bryan, let’s talk a little bit about some of the common themes as you go around. I mean you don’t have to name names, but I think it doesn’t hurt. Do you have any confidentiality things if we name a couple of names of…?
Bryan: I don’t think. As long as I’m sharing the dirty laundry, I think we’re fine.
Tim: No, right, so I mean you work with all sorts of companies, and some of your past clients include… Who all have you worked with? I know a couple, but I don’t have the whole list in front of me.
Bryan: Well, I do a lot of work with a very professional training organization out of Salt Lake City named CMOE, Center for Management & Organizational Effectiveness, and in conjunction with them, I work with people like ESPN, CNN, Expedia, Kellogg’s, Arthur Andersen. The list is pretty extensive.
Tim: Wow, so little companies we’ve never heard of. Okay, that’s fair. No, absolutely, those are great, and again, we won’t get into specifics on any one company, but are there some common themes that you see as you work with these companies? Bryan speaks on everything from change management to executive coaching, like you said, effectiveness, all sort of different things. What are some of the kind of themes, common themes, you run into?
Bryan: Probably at the top of the list is leadership, and I don’t want to repeat what we’ve already done, but making that transition from being a tactical doer to more of a strategic person, do a lot of work with cultural transformation. I believe that culture does control behavior within organizations, so senior management needs to be paying attention to…What is the culture? What part of our culture is supporting what we want done and supporting the behaviors we’re looking for and what part gets against it?
Probably 50 percent of my business falls under the team-building genre. You know, I’ve never found an executive yet who hasn’t recognized that teamwork is a competitive advantage, but yet it’s not easy to do. I mean if it were, it would be easy to predict who would be the Super Bowl winner every year or would win the NBA championship, so it is not easy, and it takes continual nurturing to develop successful teams.
Tim: Well, that’s very good. That’s very good, and so continual nurturing, continuing to build the team, those kinds of things. Any kind of teamwork challenges that are also common to teams? I mean is it siloing? What are some of the things that you see over and over again with teamwork? Because I’ll be honest, where I’m working at right now, we’re really trying to build teamwork and those kinds of things, so that’s really of interest to me.
Quite honestly, again, in our industry, I’ve had times where we’ve had incredible teamwork where I kind of had the “dream team,” where the district managers supported each other and said, “Hey, I noticed you’re coming up a little short on quota with two weeks left. Can I do anything to help you?” Even though, technically, they’re a competitor in the same marketplace, they’ve helped each other.
I’ve also worked with teams where it’s the polar opposite of that. They build a fence around it, around their business, and they don’t want anybody looking over the fence, peeking through the slats in the fence, let alone are they going to help another district. What are some of the common themes when it comes to team building that you see that are challenges?
Bryan: Well, actually, the one you just described is excellent and probably near the top of the list, and it’s recognizing where the competitor is. Is the competitor in the cubicle next to me, or is the competitor with the cash that’s out there in our marketplace?
Sometimes it is the leader’s ability to get the group, get the team to have a clarified vision of…What is it that we’re trying to accomplish? What are our values? What are our goals? Then have alignment around those so all people’s efforts are focused on the critical few. I mean, so we can take the trivial many, if you will, and focus on the critical few and work on those, so that would be one theme that I would offer.
The other thought that is really important is people really have to genuinely care about each other and care about the results. We have to hold each other accountable, so if I’m not holding up my end of the boat or my end of the shift, it has to be okay for my peers to say, “Hey, Bryan, what’s going on here? How can I help?” Those kind of things.
Tim: That’s good. How do you get there, though? What are some of the best practices you’ve seen that develop that kind of comradery among teams? I’m sure it’s not just going and doing ropes courses at an off-site event, although those can actually be pretty good, but what are some things that maybe young managers can do because they can’t afford to take their eight people (or their three people, even) out and do a ropes course? What can they do to develop that kind of comradery? What are some simple, maybe easy and inexpensive, things maybe they could do?
Bryan: Well, I don’t think it takes spending a lot of money. It does take time. Again, I’m going to go back to the in the business and on the business kind of thing. On the business is assessing where the team is and assessing what the needs are. Again, if we’re always busy in the business and we’re not stopping to take a time to look at that, that’s part of the problem, so figuring out, from your team, the nature of your business and the nature of what you’re trying to get done but to decide some time on a fairly regular basis.
In your business, that might mean once a week. It might mean once a month; it could even be once a quarter, but spending some time working on…What are our goals? Where are things working? Where are the processes broken? You know, Tim, I always think it’s interesting. Sometimes, as managers, we want to blame problems on bad people, and oftentimes…
Tim: “It’s their fault.”
Bryan: “It’s their fault.” Oftentimes, as managers, because we are responsible for the processes being used in the business, if we’re not looking at that, we take good people, and when you put good people in bad process, you get bad results.
Bryan: Then we want to blame it on bad people, where, actually, what we could maybe start with first is, “Okay, we hired these people. We must have thought they were good at one point, so where is the process failing these people?” Then we can look at our part of that game and our part of that involvement.
Tim: Oh, man. That is so good, Bryan. One of the things that I have really tried to develop over the years is a systematic approach to helping somebody be successful in this business, as Michael Gerber would say, “Being able to take the lowest common denominator and make them successful inside that system.”
So at McDonald’s, obviously (nothing against McDonald’s), you know that we’re not necessarily talking about the cream-of-the-crop workforce that works at McDonald’s. There are not a lot of electrical engineers and rocket scientists who are working there, right? They are able to take high school kids, who are oftentimes really bright high school kids, but no experience, take elderly, sometimes mentally challenged, handicapped people, the whole thing, and they know if they put in X number of Big Macs, Y number of dollars fall out in profit in the end, right?
Tim: When you’re talking about in the business, on the business, that is a concept from Michael Gerber that I just love. So here’s what I want you to do: If you’re a brand-new manager (or even a seasoned one or you’re even just a brand-new rep), I want you to look at your process. Look at the sales process you’re involved in, the training process you’re involved in, and really try to evaluate…Is it something that you can take the lowest common denominator of person you’re willing to hire or willing to work with?
Obviously, I would hope, in this industry, it’s a little higher than a McDonald’s, but if you’re too selective when you’re hiring in this business, you wouldn’t have hired me. I had no sales background. I didn’t have a college degree. I had very limited contacts in the community. I had just gone through a business bankruptcy. What part of that makes me sexy right now? Right? If you’re thinking about hiring people, I’m sure that’s not what you’re looking for in a resume. Right?
I will be forever thankful for my good friend, Eric, from church who took me to Starbucks, sat me down, and said, “Tim, I think you can do this business.” I’m not saying hire somebody who can’t spell insurance. That’s not what I’m saying, but I am saying there are times where we take chances on people. Is your system really built for that person? Because if it’s not, then you have a broken system.
I’ve always said let’s bring the person in, and let’s not put pressure on the people. I don’t want pressure on me. I don’t want pressure on them. Let’s put pressure on the system. If the system says you need to make 20 walk-in, drop-off visits to new businesses every single day, 100 a week, and you think you can you can cheat the system and do it in 42, that’s putting pressure on yourself.
Let’s put pressure on the system. If the system says I should do it 100 times a week, let’s not try and do 85 of them on Friday afternoon after 1:00. We want to spread them out, get them done, and prove to me that that doesn’t work. Prove to the system that the system is broken. Go out and do 100 drops every single week. Do it consistently for 30, 60, 90 days, and you prove to me that that doesn’t work, and I’ll change my system.
Until you run the system the way it’s designed, then the pressure is on you, or it’s on me, and I don’t want any of that pressure. I don’t need that pressure. You don’t need that pressure. Put the pressure on the system. I think that’s something you can take away from that, either if you’re a manager or as a rep in this. All right. What else, Bryan? What else do you see as far as challenges in team building (or techniques, I guess)?
Bryan: Well, if it’s okay, I’d like to go back to a comment that you just offered about the person who took you to Starbucks and said, “I think you can do this.” That comment, to me, I want to come back and just reinforce that. I mean, so here’s a person who invested time, and I don’t know what a Starbucks was and what year this was, but under $5…
Tim: Under $5, yep.
Bryan: …and invested in you and gave you the confidence to do something that you didn’t know you could do at the time. My own personal story involves an almost identical situation. For me, a belief that I have about leadership is the ability to take people beyond their own comfort zone, and when you can build confidence and when you can give people hope that the future can be better, they will follow you anywhere. I just thought that point merited a little touchback.
Tim: No, thank you. I agree. Like I said, I’ll be forever thankful, and I think last episode or maybe two, we talked just briefly about this, and I said as leaders, we oftentimes see more in that person than they see in themselves. I think that is so critical that we communicate that to them. We keep it front of them.
I also said we can’t want their success more for them than they do for themselves. In other words, I can’t make them go to work. I can’t get them out of bed, but I can show them I believe in them and those kinds of things, so as a leader, I’ll tell you you’re responsible to your people. You are not responsible for them.
Bryan: Oh, that’s excellent.
Tim: You are responsible to give them the training, the support, the help, the tools, the resources they need, but you can’t be responsible for their success. When you get that in your soul, you get that deep down, and you can put the pressure back on the system, if they make it or they don’t, I mean, you still are sad, you still feel bad for that person, but it doesn’t devastate you like it does other times because then you’re thinking, “Man, what could I have done differently? Here they are. They didn’t make it, and it’s my fault.” If you can avoid that, it will help your psyche immensely.
Bryan: Yeah. I don’t know, here, Tim, if you’re getting ready to wrap up, but one of my favorite quotes on the topic that we’re just discussing is, “If people don’t believe that the future can be better, if they don’t believe that next week or next month or next quarter will be better, they give up power in the present. They give up on today.” The more we can do to build hope, build confidence, the better off they will be, and the better off we will be.
Tim: Yeah. There are two great quotes on that. One comes from the Bible: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” and that is so true in this business. Then the other quote is a Michael Hyatt quote. I really like it. He said, “People lose their way when they lose their why.” If you don’t have that vision of why you’re doing this and what the future can look like and those kinds of things, it’s really easy to get off track, so when you lose your why, you lose your way.
Bryan: Boy, that’s good.
Tim: So let’s talk just a little bit about you. So far, we’ve been talking about challenges in organizations. What are some of the challenges you face as you build your business? I’m not talking about economy or getting through the front door of places. I’m talking about battling you.
What do you have to overcome in Bryan Yager to get to work every day to do the things that are necessary to really make sure that your business is moving forward because, just like everybody listening to this, if you don’t work, you don’t eat, right? You don’t even have the luxury of renewals like some of our listeners do. Right?
Bryan: Yeah. No. That lesson I’m painfully aware of.
Tim: What are the “demons,” so to speak, that you might battle, and what do you do to overcome those?
Bryan: The first is probably related to time management, I guess, in a way. The truth is we all have the same amount of time. We all have, if my Iowa math is correct, 7 days a week, 24 hours in each of those days. Do some quick multiplication. You come up with 168 hours. The challenge really is…What do I do with those 168 hours? Originally (you perhaps overheard me telling this, this morning), my early education was I have a degree in photography. I am a commercial photographer.
Tim: Okay, which makes a lot of sense for a public speaker and consulting coach. You bet.
Bryan: Yeah, yeah, that really helps my background, but I do like to share a photographic example of that. That is, if I were to give you the assignment to go take a beautiful picture, go take a picture of scenery, and let’s say it’s a rainy day, well, you might think to yourself, “Well, where am I going to find a scenic, beautiful picture on a rainy day?”
Well, in life, we always have: What lens do I put on my camera? Is it a wide-angle lens? Is it a telephoto? And: Where do I aim that? Where do I aim that picture? Actually, this lesson came to me way back in photography school, and that’s exactly what happened. One of our professors sent us out on a rainy day and said, “Your assignment is to take a beauty picture.” We all kind of whined and moaned and…
Tim: Said, “There’s no light. There’s no…”
Bryan: Yeah, “The light is crummy. It’s flat. It’s raining. Everything is wet. It’s cold out.” On that day, I believe that we created three or four top-winning photographs in that year’s annual photo contest because it did focus to look in different places with a different lens.
I think all of this, tying it back together with time management, the biggest challenge that I fight is I get excited about a lot of different ideas. “I could do this, and I could do that.” You want to clearly keep those ideas alive and well, but if you try and do too much, then you don’t get anything done, so probably the…
Tim: Hmm. Wait, wait, wait. Now you’re just preaching to me. You talked to my wife before this show. That’s what happened. Go on. I’m sorry.
Bryan: Yeah, well, no, that’s okay, so you asked, “What are the battles that I have?” Probably the biggest one is being clear on what I need to get done, whether it’s this week or next month, so having goals, having them on paper, and staying focused and not getting easily distracted. You have to have allowances for those creative ideas because that’s where new and exciting stuff comes from, so we don’t want to completely shut those down, but we also can’t let them detract us from what we need to do in the business to pay the bills.
Tim: Oh, that’s good. How do you capture that? Just pen and paper? Do you have any electronic cheats for us?
Bryan: You know what, I’m lost in limbo right now because, for years, I was a devotee to FranklinCovey and the binder that they used to have, and I have now converted that over digitally. I primarily use Outlook for that.
Tim: Do you? I would suggest something for everybody on here, including you, Bryan. There is a great, great application, and it is incredibly powerful. Well, there’s actually two of them that I want to tell you about, two that I’m just really start to wrap my head around, and we’re having incredible success, even in the territory office here.
The first one is Nozbe. It can be found at nozbe.com. There is a free version of it. There is a paid version of it, a team version of it. I can’t even remember. For the four us in my territory office, I think we paid $60 for the year to use this tool, so it’s not very expensive. Really, it’s based upon the book by David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
I won’t put you on the spot to tell me if you’ve read that book or not. Who Moved My Cheese? was transformational for me, but that was a very transformational book for me. I’ve always struggled to keep it straight, especially in an electronic world. When he first wrote it, it was really more along the lines of paper files and those kinds of things.
I know he has updated it since, but Nozbe was built by a developer… I’ll put a link on the show notes for Nozbe, as well, but it was built by a developer who is also a David Allen devotee, and he is incredibly engaged in his business and it keeps getting updates. It just keeps getting better and better, and it’s a phenomenal, phenomenal thing. It allows you to… Oh, I won’t get too deep in the weeds. If you’ve never read the David Allen book, it wouldn’t make sense anyway, but read the David Allen book. Check out Nozbe. I’ll put links to both in the show notes.
The second thing that I just I can’t even imagine what I did before I discovered it is a little program called Evernote. I do use the paid version of that. Again, I’ll put a link for that in there. Evernote, oh, my gosh, it’s so cool. You can have different notebooks. You can take notes.
Automatically, if you see something online you can use the Evernote snipper and it will put it right in the notebook that you want so you don’t have to print stuff and put it in paper files. It’s completely searchable. You can take a picture of something with your cell phone. It links to your smartphone. You can take a picture.
For instance, I can never remember what time the Costco gas pumps close, so I took a picture of the Costco gas pumps, dropped it in Evernote. I didn’t even have to tag it as Costco or anything. Because in the picture, it said, “Costco,” it read the picture, found the text in the picture, indexed it, so I can go into Evernote, type in “Costco,” and it will bring up that picture, and it will show me…
Bryan: And you know the hours.
Tim: And I can see the hours for the gas pumps. I mean…
Bryan: Well, I’m glad you shared that one. I have it downloaded. I haven’t used it yet, so…
Tim: Yep, it’s phenomenal, and there is a little ebook on Amazon.com that I picked up that I’m kind of walking through because… It’s really not that hard to use, but there are so many powerful things that it does that I just kind of wanted a little bit of a tutorial because all the power of it is amazing. Like I said, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes.
Those are two tools I think might help you out, and I know they’ve helped me. All right. Well, any last words of advice, especially for that new agent, that new person who started to take that same journey you did?
Bryan: Tim, I think I’ll go back to my opening comments. The conversation you have with yourself tomorrow morning when you get out of bed will likely be the most important conversation you will have all day. You have to find a way to stay positive. The facts are clear. Optimistic politicians get elected more often. Optimistic salespeople sell more stuff. Optimistic schoolteachers graduate higher-graded students.
Optimism is important. We don’t just always naturally get out of bed in a good mood, so that pep talk that you give yourself in the morning when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to do, like that first year after 9/11 when I was a struggling consultant… What Tim said was correct. People weren’t hiring people; they weren’t hiring trainers, and you couldn’t fly anywhere. That was a tough year, and so when those tough times come, what they will is to be able to pull yourself up and put on a happy face and get out there and get it done.
Tim: Man, I can’t add anything to that, so I won’t. Bryan, thank you so much for being here. We look forward to this afternoon. He is meeting with our leadership team. I can’t wait to have you there, and I can’t wait to get you back on. We don’t have to do it in person. We can do this by Skype.
Bryan: All right.
Tim: Thank you so much, Bryan, and everybody listening, have a great week. We’ll see you next week.
Bryan: Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Tim.
Remember everything is voluntary, including success. Take it in your hands now. Head over to www.successisvoluntary.com/iTunes/, and stay up to date with all the latest tips, news, and techniques in the world of selling voluntary benefits.