Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Brian Hicks
Episode 8: Astound Yourself Today – Brian Hicks Interview
April 5, 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 episode number 8 of Success is Voluntary. My motivation for producing this podcast is to help you achieve the dreams you had when you first came into the voluntary benefit sales profession. I can’t think of a better person to help you do this than this week’s guest.
Brian Hicks is one of those special communicators who grabs your attention immediately and never lets go. His message “Astound Yourself Today” has become one of my daily mantras. I first met Brian almost 15 years ago when he spoke at a conference I attended. Since then, I have seen Brian speak four other times, including the two times I paid him to come in and work with my sales team and me.
Not only has Brian’s message resonated deep in my life, my team has benefitted greatly from his wisdom. If you haven’t heard Brian before, strap on your seatbelt and get ready to learn. I have no doubt that he will leave us laughing but at the same time challenge us to reach new heights. Without further ado, here is my good friend, Brian Hicks. Hey, welcome to the show, Brian. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Brian Hicks: Sure, man. Thank you. I appreciate you having me.
Tim: Man, when I thought about this podcast, there were a few people who I knew I had to get on, and you were right there…you, Joe Buzzello, a couple of other people. Man, we had Joe on last week. That was a phenomenal time, and I can’t wait to talk to you. Again, I’m humbled that you would take the time to come on and talk to our audience.
Brian: Oh, please, man. Listen, I’m honored that you would have me, and yes, I know that we’re following Buzzello, so I’m not even going to try and compete. That was an excellent episode. I will say this (because I know that he will hear this): I have a son. My oldest son is about to turn 17. In fact, by the time this airs, he will be 17, and I’m just saying, it sounds like I need to introduce him to Joe’s daughter. I’m not saying that they ought to date. I’m just saying she could rub off on him. That’s good stuff.
Tim: Yeah, that 4.10 grade point average, it’s pretty clear that Beth is a…
Brian: I’m just telling you, man.
Tim: Beth must be brilliant because Joe is a bright guy, but 4.10? Come on. Come on. We know better than that, so… Oh, no. I’m not editing any of that out, so there you go, so…
Brian: No, that’s good. Yeah, please don’t.
Tim: All right, well, Brian, I gave a little bit of a brief introduction of who you are and why you’re important to me, but tell our audience a little bit about yourself and how you came to be in the insurance industry and kind of your journey to where you’re at right now.
Brian: Sure. It’s funny. We were laughing about Joe’s deal at the beginning here because my story is, I guess, somewhat similar to his in that when I started, the first 20 years of my adult life, I was with Aflac, and so I started with an Aflac as an associate, a sales associate in the field at age 20. I was still in college, and I lived in Columbus, Georgia, which is the headquarters for Aflac. At that time, they called it the home office. Then it grew, and it became the worldwide headquarters.
It’s funny because I went to meet with… We were family friends with the state sales coordinator for Georgia, and so for those who may not know, the hierarchy, essentially, I met the guy who was in charge of the sales team in Georgia, and I had no idea, didn’t know anything about what they did. Again, I was a college kid. I had to work my way through school. At the time, I was working nights at a funeral home, and that got old kind of quickly, so after two years of that, I said, “All right, I have to do something else.”
These friends of ours had a couple of really nice vacation homes, and my dad, as it turns out, was their pastor, and so they would send us (usually a couple of times a year) to one of their vacation homes. They had one in the mountains, a couple at the beach, and whatever, and so they would send us to vacation in their places. He was just a really classy individual with a classy family, and they just really were neat about the way they went about that. It made a huge impression on me.
I just remember we were at one of their homes one year, and I said to my parents, “You know what? I’m tired of the funeral home deal, and I don’t know what they do at that American Family Company, but I have to go get a piece of this. This is kind of cool.” I went and met with him, and I thought I would maybe get a gig in the mailroom or something, you know, at nights or afternoons after class or something. Again, I knew nothing about what they did there. I knew it was insurance or something, but I really didn’t know.
I know some of your listeners will appreciate this. When I sat down with Mr. Beck (Donald Beck Sr. is his name), and I talked about, “You know, I would kind of like to come to work at American Family,” or whatever, and he said to me, “Brian, as it turns out, we are expanding our organization right here in Columbus, and we are looking for two good people.”
It wasn’t until about literally 10 years later, I came across this phrase in a recruiting seminar that said, “We’re expanding in your area. We’re looking for two good people.” Well, it was not until 10 years later that I realized he had run the line on me. I remember…
Tim: Yeah, you’re not the brightest Crayola. It took you 10 years? I’m just kidding. That is hilarious.
Brian: Yeah, really. I remember calling my dad and saying, “Hey, Dad…” He wanted to know how it went. I remember calling him and saying, “Hey, I had a great interview with Mr. Beck, and believe it or not, I was thinking the mailroom. He wants to put me in sales. He said they’re looking for two people, and you’re not going to believe this, but he thinks I’m one of them.” I just had no idea.
Anyway, I started as an associate right there at age 20, and I finished up college, got my degree in speech communication, and thought I was going to go into broadcasting. I interned and did the TV internship and all the stuff that was part of my degree. As I was interning, I would, obviously, talk to reporters and all that, and I found out that the starting salary for those folks was less than what I was making with Aflac in sales and…
Tim: Part time.
Brian: I wasn’t even working full time, you know?
Tim: Yeah, part time. Yeah.
Brian: Which tells you, by the way, that market is a very small market, so don’t think I was making more than folks in New York or LA, but still, I couldn’t believe that. I thought, “Well, wow. Okay, so maybe I don’t want to be the next Phil Donahue or whatever.” That will age me a little bit.
I said, “You know what? I think I’m on to something here, and let’s just run this out, see what happens,” and so, of course, here we sit 25 years later. I had a 20-year career at Aflac. By the time I finished, I was working as part of the leadership team for the Alabama-West Florida sales operation. My last 2 years there, we did almost $90 million in annualized premium.
Tim: New sales.
Brian: We were the number-one producing sales… That’s new sales, yes.
Tim: Yeah, new sales, $90 million in new sales.
Brian: Yep, yep, new sales.
Tim: That’s not renewals or in-force.
Tim: That’s $90 million…
Brian: Correct. Correct. Correct. Yep, that was new. That was added to. That was the last two years, and the last year, we were the number-one producing sales operation in the company at that time. I finished up in 2009. I like to say I retired at age 40, but obviously, you and I are talking on the phone right now. I’m not on a boat somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, so obviously retired… That just sounds good from the stage.
Tim: Sounds great.
Brian: I retired from that first career, as it were, at 40 years old, after 20 years, had a great run. My goodness, the life lessons I learned in my years in the voluntary business, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I left that and embarked on a writing and speaking career and have been doing that, now, for about five years, and really in the couple, we’ll talk about it later, I know, but have been involved in kind of a support company with a family member who supports the voluntary industry.
Really and truly, I thought when I left that I was going to get out of it, and when I say, “Get out of it,” I mean I thought my writing and speaking would take me outside of the voluntary industry. What I found is (of course, it’s obvious in hindsight) that when you spend 20 years in an industry, the people who want to hear from you are the people in that industry, so to think that you’re going to…
Tim: Right. Right. Why would somebody who sells medical equipment be that excited about you at first? The people who are really excited about you are the people who saw your success or understand your success and what $90 million means in two years.
Tim: That’s a phenomenal, phenomenal number.
Brian: Exactly. Yeah, no question about it. Anyway, so today, I write a column in Benefits Selling magazine, which I thoroughly enjoy and have a great time with that, have some fun with it. It’s more of a sales and inspirational-type column. You’re not going to read my piece to find out if you’re in Section 125 compliance, because I wouldn’t know that myself, but we have a good time with it and enjoy that.
Of course, I wrote my first inspirational novel in the meantime, and I’m really just passing on the lessons that I learned in my experience in this industry. I tell you what. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I used to tell our teams all the time, “Isn’t it great when you can earn your living at the service of others, not at the expense of others?”
Tim: Wow. That is so good.
Brian: Yeah, we used to say all the time… I know privacy and laws and things have changed, but you probably remember this in the old days. We were actually able to hand deliver claim checks to somebody at work (if they were still at work).
Brian: Of course, we would bring in the decision maker and sit them down. Boy, they were all proud about, “Yes, this was my idea to do this, after all. Look what I did for you.” I tell you what, I jokingly say (I forgot who the comedian was; I’ve kind of paraphrased his line), “The only difference between delivering one of those claim checks and heroin is that you can quit heroin.”
Tim: That’s right.
Brian: The idea is that it’s so addictive, that feeling that you get when you hand somebody a check for, gosh, $20,000 or $30,000 (or more) and you realize what that does for someone’s peace of mind. To me, it’s such a big deal that we can earn our living at the service others, not the expense of others. It’s a big deal to me.
Tim: That’s great. That is really good. Absolutely. You mentioned the book for just a second there, and I was going to cover it later, but I think it’s important to do it right now. It’s a phenomenal book. For those of you haven’t read it, I will link it in the show notes, as well.
The Tinderbox Tapes. How did that idea come to you? Because you have a great relationship with your father. Your father has been a huge influence on your life (I know he has) and on the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people in Columbus, Georgia, there through his church. He just retired, didn’t he?
Brian: Well, yeah, a couple of years back. Yep.
Brian: In fact, they moved here to Tennessee with us, and yeah, in fact, the whole family is here now.
Tim: That’s awesome.
Brian: I like to say I didn’t know I was such a natural-born leader until I moved to Nashville, and then they all followed me. Of course, then, all you have to do is look outside, and the temperature is nice and rolling hills and all that. I realized they really weren’t following me.
Tim: They just came out, saw how nice it was, and said, “Shoot, I should live here too.”
Brian: That’s exactly right. What are you going to do?
Tim: No, but I know you have a great relationship with your father and all.
Brian: I sure do.
Tim: Obviously, the plot of the book is this young man’s father has passed away, but before he did, he left him these tapes. So talk a little bit about that and kind of how that came together. Then we’ll talk a little bit about the journey to publish.
Brian: Yeah, which has been interesting, and I actually have some news on that, as well, as fortune would have it, I guess. Yeah, so the way that came about was I always felt like I kind of had a story or two in me in that vein. Some people call it self-help disguised as fiction. I don’t know if I necessarily like that. To me, it sort of cheapens it, but I do understand what they mean by that. People need labels, and I think that’s a good way to describe it. For someone who says, “Yeah, what is the deal with that?” that’s kind of a good way, I guess, to look at it.
I thought I wanted to do something like that because, again, I had learned these just tremendous life lessons. I tell you what, I was in my early 20s when I learned this: When you’re in 100 percent-commission sales, what you find out in a hurry is the habits and the principles that you have to learn and the philosophies that you have to adopt that make you a good commission salesperson are the exact same things that make you a good, successful individual. You know what I mean?
Brian: I know you do, but the things that you have to learn and the way you have to operate really goes beyond just this idea of I’m trying to sell more insurance. That’s the stuff that just makes you a better person, and so I had learned all these lessons, and the more I got around other people, and certainly maybe even outside the industry, I would say, “My gosh, that just seems so obvious to me. How can you not know that?”
Brian: Of course, I wouldn’t say it out loud, but I’m thinking to myself, “How do they not know that?” Then it occurs to you (Buzzello talked about it last week), the 80-20 principle.
Brian: You realize there is such a small portion of people who actually sort of get it, right?
Brian: I realized how fortunate I had been that I had been exposed to all of this stuff at such a young age, and I thought, “You know what? I just feel like I have a couple of stories in me that can help sort of pass along these lessons that I had learned,” and so I began the process of putting that together and what that might look like, coupled with this idea that, for years, I taught new salespeople. I would give away books, or I would say, “Hey, here is a book you ought to read.” I learned this trick, by the way. There was a guy named Frank Davies. I’ll call his name and give him credit.
Tim: You bet. He is great.
Brian: He was one of those Aflac legends.
Brian: Frank used to give people books, and he did it with me. He would give people books, and just somewhere in the middle, just this random page, there might be something highlighted, and he would write a little note in the margin, “When you get here, call me,” and he put his phone number. He said, “Brian, here’s what is amazing. Guess who calls, or guess how many people call.”
Tim: Not very many.
Brian: He was like, “Not very many. Like, nobody.” So I remember laughing over that with him. Then I’m thinking, “Wow, you know what? That’s actually not a bad little trick,” right? I did that, oftentimes, with people and, again, particularly with new folks. I would say, “Hey, here is a book. You ought to check it out.”
Then there would be something that was very poignant that had meant something to me, and I would highlight it. Sure enough, you rarely got a call. Here’s what I noticed: When I would give people books that the lessons were wrapped into a story, they would call me back. Not all the time, but the percentage went way up, right?
Brian: The reason is because people who don’t normally read, people who aren’t going to read a book that has seven habits in it or 21 laws or whatever, they will pick up a story sometimes and just see what that’s about, right?
Tim: Yeah, and if that story really engages them, if it engages them from the very start, then the chances of them getting to that point where you marked it are much better.
Brian: Right. Pretty good, right? I would give away those books. Guys like Andy Andrews and Og Mandino had some of those classics, right?
Tim: Yeah. The Richest Man in Babylon.
Brian: I began to give away those, and I would get responses back. I said, “Okay, so there is something to this.” So anyway, all of that, kind of together, made me think, “You know what? I need to write. I don’t need to do the nonfiction thing. I need to write a story that I want to incorporate some of these lessons in. What would be a good way to pass those on?”
Of course, they say you write what you know, and there is always a kernel of truth in everything work of fiction that you read. For me, you mentioned my dad, and we do have a wonderful relationship. We recently moved, in fact, and I have a box (a huge box) of cassette tapes, audio tapes, that are sermons. A lot of churches do this. They record the sermon, and they will send them out to people, homebound or whatever.
Well, back in the day, they did them on cassette tape, and since that time, of course, it is CDs, or you can stream it now or whatever. I have a huge box full of cassette tapes, and to this day, I can’t part with them. At some point, I’ll get them transferred over, I guess, because, for me, I have this vision of my kids (or even their kids, right?) coming across the old box in the attic, the dusty box, and open it up. Here are these tapes and, “Oh, my gosh, that’s my granddaddy,” or my great-granddaddy or whatever, and they’re going to get to hear some great teaching from him that they wouldn’t otherwise get to hear, right?
Brian: I kind of took that idea of, “What if that was your mechanism,” or whatever, “what would that mean to you to be able to listen to that stuff?” Then of course, I have three sons myself. I mentioned my oldest is almost 17, and then I have 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, and some of us sometimes (you know how it is; you’re a parent), you think to yourself, “Boy, if I could only get a message or two across to my kids, what would that be?
Brian: Right? “What would be the main things I would want them to know?” I thought, in terms of life philosophy and how they go about their business, I mean, sure, you can very kind of flippantly say, “Don’t be a whiner,” but there’s more to it than that. What would you want them to know? That really is the thrust of the message of the book.
Tim: You bet. Well, thanks. Like I said, it’s a phenomenal book, and we’ll link to it. If you don’t do anything else with this podcast, audience, get on there. Buy that book. I don’t get a penny. Brian is not giving me a penny for sales of his books, but I would really tell you, especially if you’re a father, it was one of those things where, as I’m finishing it up, I thought I was reading inside, but I noticed that my face was wet. I don’t know where that came from, but it was a great book. Great book.
Brian: Right. Well, I appreciate that very much.
Tim: You bet. Hey, before I get on to your news on the book (you said you had some news), before I get on to that…
Brian: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Tim: I want to touch bases on one thing that you said. You didn’t say it, but it just struck me so hard right now. As you were talking about all the lessons you learned and all the things that you picked up over the years talking to people who were in commission sales, leading organizations, and all those life lessons and how important they are to you, I remember in my late 20s, early 30s, people saying (you’ve seen these little, trite expressions), “Success is about the journey, not the destination,” and all those things.
I used to think they were so trite and so stupid, and, you know, “Just give me the success now. It is a destination. It looks like this,” and I would have this picture in my mind. As I approach my 50s, it all of a sudden has dawned on me that they’re dead right. It is not about the destination. We can make money, lose money, have success, and not have success, but at the end of the day, it’s the people we become. Because we become those people, then we know that all those things are fleeting, but we really hang on to the things that are important.
Brian: No question about it. Yep, I could not agree more. It’s funny. You know, I remember, gosh, just thinking about when I started my career, and you do. I mean, all we do that. That’s the nature of the beast, and I’m a big proponent of dreaming and kind of…shoot…do a vision board, whatever you want to do, and just kind of, you know, “What is it that going to look like?” Try to picture that.
Two things I have learned as I have gotten older, as well, is that, first, it’s never going to look like you thought it would, and secondly, it’s never going to be enough. Right?
Brian: If you focus on the numbers, for example, I can remember at age 20… It’s funny we’re talking about it. I’m just thinking about who that person was back then I started, and I remember thinking, “Boy, when I hit $100,000 a year…”
Brian: “Man, $100,000, I can’t imagine ever needing a penny more. What in the world would I do with all that money.” Right?
Tim: I know. I know. Right. I remember.
Brian: Yeah, and you think, “Oh, my gosh,” but now all these years later, father of three, family of five, right?
Brian: You kind of go, “Okay, well, perhaps I was aiming a little low there,” but it’s true. I remember hitting the $100,000 mark and then saying, “Okay, well, $100,000 was cool.” It’s cool to get a 1099 with 100,000. Right?
Brian: That’s cool, but you know what? By then, I was thinking, “Oh, that’s not enough,” and I remember at one point thinking, “You know…” As you get close to $100,000, you think, “That’s good, but you know what I really need? I need $120,000 because I need $10,000 a month,” right?
Tim: Yeah. Yeah.
Brian: That’s a nice round number, right?
Tim: Get it evened out, yeah.
Brian: If you had $10,000 a month, what would you do with that? Oh, my goodness, and then you go, “Okay, well, $10,000, well, now, see, I had it messed up. I was thinking wrong because I was thinking gross. Well, see, gross isn’t good. No, no, so now I need to net it out. I need to net out $10,000. That’s it. If I could just net out $10,000, I can’t imagine spending that.”
Of course, then you do that, and then you… “Oh, my goodness, now it’s going to take at least $20,000 to do what I want to do.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, and again, I applaud that, and I encourage people to dream big all the time. You’ve heard me speak multiple times, and I’m a big fan of all of that.
However, it is so very important that we remember this is so much more about who we’re becoming in the process. One of my heroes in the business, in the inspirational speaking business, is the late Jim Rohn.
Tim: Oh, yeah.
Brian: I remember a guy, a friend of mine, when I said I was going to retire and go into speaking, he goes, “Why are you doing that?” I said, “Come on, man. You know me.” He goes, “No, no, I know that,” but he said, “Do you realize Jim Rohn has already said it all? There is nothing left to say.”
Brian: There is a lot of truth to that. Rohn, he’s a legend, but Rohn says that… He tells people all the time what his mentor told him when he was first starting out: “If someone gives you a $1 million, best you become a millionaire so you can keep it.”
Tim: Wow. Yeah.
Brian: It’s not about the number. It’s about the person it makes of you to earn $1 million, for example. What are you becoming in the process? You’re right. I know some people, right now, heard that and go, “Yeah, yeah, whatever, whatever, whatever.”
Tim: Yeah, “Give me the money. Give me the money. I’ll show you. Yeah, I’ll show you. I can handle it.”
Brian: Yeah, but, that’s one of those lessons that you wish you could just open somebody’s head and pour it in, and unfortunately, you can’t do that. It takes that life experience to be able to truly get that. You know?
Tim: You bet. Well, tell us a little bit… You said you had some news on the book. I know you self-published initially.
Brian: I did, yeah, and if you go to Amazon, that’s still there. That’s exactly how you’ll get it.
Brian: Interesting, through that process (and there is a good lesson here, I think, for everybody listening), an agent read it, called me, and said, “Hey, who is representing you?” I said, “Well, long story, but nobody right now.” He said, “Well, you know what, I think we need to find a traditional home for this, and so let’s see what we can do.” That was probably a year ago.
Literally, last week, I went and met with a publisher here in Nashville, and everything is a work in progress, but it looks like they have some plans for it, to maybe do some neat things. There will be some neat spinoff things that we will be able to do just because of the resources they bring, and so I’m kind of excited about…well, it’s one of those cautious optimism things…where that has the potential to go.
To me, the neat thing and the thing that’s cool for my kids to see is they know that Dad took…I don’t know…a little over a year to write that book. Then we waited for a year while people pitched it around, and the issue with that kind of book is nobody knows what shelf to put it on.
Brian: If you don’t know what shelf to put it on in a bookstore, that’s really sort of the kiss of death because they feel when somebody has to…
Brian: Okay, Stephen King, they know where to go to find that. Right?
Brian: What is yours? Is it nonfiction? Is it fiction? Is it business? You know, kind of where does it go? There is all that whole debate, and so went through all that, did it ourselves, and now here we are, potentially, with a distribution partner. It could get kind of fun, but the point is that my kids have seen the value of not waiting to get picked, okay?
Brian: Yeah, and that’s the other thing. You and I have talked about this before. I think that a lot of times what happens in our business, for example, is that people come in… It’s so common for a new person to come in the door, and of course, you and I are bad about looking at somebody and saying, “Oh, I guarantee you that guy is going to last at least a month. All right, that guy is a keeper.” He’ll be gone tomorrow.
The one that you think doesn’t have a prayer because, “Oh, my goodness, listen to how they talk. Look at how they dress. Are you kidding me?” Yet they’re here 10 years later, and they’re winning all the awards. You go, “What the heck is that?” Here’s what it is (I think): People come in the door, and they’re sort of waiting for someone to come along and pick them, right?
Brian: Somebody to come along and say, “Here, I’m going to take you and hold your hand, and I’m going to go and show you. Here’s the deal: I’m going to put some stuff in your lap.” Then there’s the person who says, “You know what? I don’t have time to wait around for somebody to come and take me by the hand because, first of all, what if that person never shows up?”
Brian: Okay? If I’m waiting, well, you know that’s not a good plan. I need to do what I can do, so I’m going to go and make the calls and make the presentations and make the effort and all the stuff that goes with it. Yes, I’m going to look like an idiot sometimes. I’m going to stub my toe sometimes, and I’m going to have really high, highs. As Brian Tracy says, there is no high like a salesperson’s high, and there’s no low like a salesperson’s low.
I’m going to experience all of that and everything in between, but at least I’m going and doing, and I’m not waiting for someone to come along. I think there’s a huge lesson there, and that’s what we’ve experienced with the book. Again, we’ll see what the future holds, but it was a huge lesson.
If I had written that thing and then it was still sitting in my drawer in my desk, as I’m sitting here in my home office today, if it was still sitting here in the drawer here next to me, I mean, you and I aren’t having this conversation. There is no publisher I’ve met with. I get emails, all the time, from people who have read that book. They’ve had these experiences, and they’re sharing these great things that happened. That’s why I wrote the book. I didn’t write the book to make money. By the way, you learn really fast: You don’t write books to make money. Nobody…
Tim: Wait. Wait. Wait. I’m working on a book. You mean I’m not going to get filthy rich just the day that I send it out to publishers?
Brian: No, sir.
Tim: They’re not just going to all be beating a path to my door? No?
Brian: No, sir. Not even close. I’m so sorry to disappoint you.
Tim: Dang, you just stole my dream, Brian. You just stole my dream.
Brian: I know. I can’t believe it. Yep.
Tim: I know. I know.
Brian: Sure you do. So at any rate, I think it’s important. Now, by the way, I have to be careful with that because when you say things like that, that’s what you have to get them to do. You have to be careful because some people will take that and use that as an excuse to say, “Aha! See, I have this person. With all this training, training, and training, if I just hand them a brochure and slap them on the back and say, ‘Good luck,’ that should be enough, right?”
Brian: “That’s right. You should just man up and go do it.” No, no, slow down. I’m also a firm believer that many times people feebly try because no one has ever given them a strong chance. Okay?
Tim: Hmm. Mm-hmm.
Brian: We have to always remember that. If you’re in a leadership position, you have to do your part. There is a reason you’re there, a reason you get paid an override, and all that stuff.
Tim: That’s a privilege.
Brian: You have to be there to…
Tim: It is privilege be there, yeah.
Brian: Do what now?
Tim: It’s a privilege to be there. I know that’s a huge…
Brian: Oh, of course it is.
Tim: It’s a huge part of your message. If you’re in leadership, that’s a privilege. It’s not a right. You don’t get that override because you’ve been in the business for 25 years or because you used to be a big producer. You keep that contract because you do the things that grow your people.
Brian: No question. I believe this very strongly: You cannot grow the organization without growing the people in it, okay?
Brian: Yeah. If you want to achieve all the bigger sales, then you have to have bigger people. Okay?
Brian: It is. You can have the best company with the best products and the best commission package and all that stuff, but to make all that work, you have to become a better person. You just can’t expect that because I have all of things around, things are just going to magically happen. You have to work hard.
I think, too, sometimes it’s high expectations. That’s a fascinating thing to me, and people… Again, we draw that picture. We say, “Oh, I’m going to make $100,000 my first year,” or whatever that number is and all the stuff. “Here’s what that’s going to look like,” and whatever… I got in trouble, by the way, one time because I was at a big sales meeting, and I said this. I said, “Look, particularly when you’re brand new, you have to understand this is going to suck, okay? Your goal needs to be, ‘Today, I want it to suck less than it did yesterday.’ That’s the goal.”
Tim: I’ve heard you say that.
Brian: People go, “I can’t believe…”
Tim: I’ve heard you say that for years, and I love it.
Tim: I’ve stolen that message. I give you credit for it all the time, so I guess I haven’t stolen it because I do give you credit, but I say, “My good friend and speaker out there, Brian Hicks, says it’s supposed to suck. It is going to suck. You’re trying to build something out of nothing.”
Brian: Thank you.
Tim: “It’s supposed to suck.”
Brian: It is. Again, and this is what I go back to, what I said at the very beginning. What makes you a successful commission salesperson is the same stuff that makes you successful in life, because what we’re talking about here, we know if you’re straight commission, you don’t sell; you don’t eat, okay?
Brian: The deal is you have to go out and create something from nothing, as you just said, and that process is supposed to not be easy. See, easy is taking a nap. You just lie down and close your eyes. That’s easy. Going out and creating something from nothing is a huge deal, and it’s supposed to be work, and, well, it’s supposed to suck, right?
My point is that we should expect that. We should welcome it because what that means is we’re out there. We’re not waiting to get picked. We’re out there in the fray, in the hunt. Is it the Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man who is in the arena, right?
Brian: With the scars and the…
Tim: Dust and the dirt. Yeah.
Brian: Yeah, we’re out there doing that, and of course, it’s supposed to not be as fun as taking a nap because it’s not as easy. To me, I get so frustrated sometimes because there are so many people who don’t get that. I think Joe touched on this, even, in his deal last week, where it’s deciding that you say, “I’m going to make that person successful if it kills me.”
Brian: You’ll nearly die.
Tim: Yeah, you will.
Brian: You can’t do it. There comes a point where either you get this stuff or you don’t, and when people get all bent out of shape and say, “I just don’t understand why it’s not any easier,” I say, “Oh, my gosh. A nap is easy, so let’s look at the scale here. We’re not taking a nap. We’re creating income from nothing. We start Monday at zero,” and I jokingly say, “And by Friday, we have enough for a Happy Meal.” That’s a win.
Tim: That is.
Brian: Something from nothing and sometimes I don’t understand how people don’t… You know? Again, that’s the 80-20.
Tim: Yeah, it is. That’s a great illustration of the 80-20 rule. You bet.
Brian: Yeah, it really is.
Tim: When I asked you to come on the show, I asked you to talk just a little bit about the Thomas Edison story and your trademark phrase “Astound Yourself Today.”
Tim: Why do you think that resonates so well with the audience?
Brian: Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up. It really does. I get such great response from that, and I think the reason is because everybody can relate to this idea of creating a new world. As you well know, but for your listeners, that “Astound Yourself Today” is based on this quote from Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we’re capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
I had that on a magnet stuck on a file cabinet next to my desk for years and years and years, and I carried it with me. I always loved it, you know, this idea that if you just tap into, “What are you capable of doing?” We always think to do what you’re capable of doing means this huge thing, so if it’s Thomas Edison, we think, “Oh, that’s the light bulb,” right?
Brian: It’s a little bit deeper than that, and so I tried doing some research on Edison. I learned about Edison. He wasn’t just the light bulb. Of course, he created the phonograph. For the folks who are younger in the audience, that’s like a record player, and if you don’t know what that is, that was before a CD. The point is you could…
Tim: What is a CD? They don’t even know what CDs are anymore.
Brian: You’re right. Now we just download it.
Tim: It was before Napster. It was what you used to get music from before you stole it online on Napster. Oh, Napster is out of business too.
Brian: Yeah, now it’s iTunes.
Tim: Yeah, iTunes.
Brian: The idea is that he wanted a way to record audio and to play it back, so he created this thing called a phonograph. Well, actually, before that, he was trying to invent the telephone at the same time that Alexander Graham Bell was. Bell actually beat him to the punch, but there was a piece, a mechanism, on Edison’s phone that actually worked better than Bell’s phone, and so I jokingly say (you’ve heard me say this before) that, “With Bell’s phone, they’ve been saying, ‘Can you hear me now?’ since 1876.”
Tim: That’s right.
Brian: It was Thomas Edison who created this thing called a carbon button transmitter, and you put it in the mouthpiece of the phone so when you spoke into it, it amplified the sound as it traveled through, and the person on the other end could hear you better, and so people actually, now, wanted to use the phone. He fixed the telephone, created the phonograph, invented the light bulb, and then later in his life, he helped invent the movies. This is Thomas Edison.
It’s been said of Edison that he dreamed of a new world, and then he created it, and so I say to people all the time, “Here’s why that’s important for you and me: we all dream of creating a new world too.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be on the scale of a Thomas Edison or a Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr., somebody like that, but every one of us dreams of creating a new world for ourselves and our families.
We want things for our kids to be a little better than they were for us. We want to live in a different kind of deal than we grew up in a lot of different ways. We won’t take the time to get into all that, but some of it is physical, some of it’s emotional, relational, whatever. We want things to be better for our kids than they were for us, and that’s what drives us, this idea of creating a new world. For too many, as we touched on a second ago, this 80-20 thing, oh, it’s easy to dream it. I dream it all day long. It’s another thing altogether to do it.
Tim: I have a friend in Las Vegas, a great brilliant guy, who says, “Get the bed off your back.”
Brian: That’s right. Very true.
Tim: Isn’t that great? I love that expression: “Get the bed off your back.” Get your butt up, and get moving.
Brian: That’s exactly right, and so for too many people, when we start moving from dreaming into doing, “Oh, no, I just… Oh, I don’t know. Where do I start? What am I supposed to do?” I say, “Look at what Thomas Edison said, the guy who literally created a new world.” As you’ve heard me say before, all of that Thomas Edison stuff we just talked about, the phone and the recording audio and video and the electricity, all that is on your phone today.
Tim: Yeah, you have it in your pocket right now.
Brian: That’s Thomas Edison. That’s creating a new world.
Brian: That is phenomenal. Now that guy didn’t say, “If we all invent the light bulb, we astound ourselves.” He didn’t say that. He said, “If we all did the things we’re capable of doing…” Now that changes the conversation. Okay, let’s talk about what capable means.
Tim: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Brian: Now you’ve heard me talk about this, and this is in my message when I speak places, and of course it’s a theme throughout the book. He didn’t say, “If we all did the stuff that was comfortable, we would astound.” He didn’t say that. He didn’t say, “If we all did the stuff that was convenient.” No. He didn’t say, “If we all did the stuff somebody came along and gave us.” Nope. He didn’t say, again, “If we all landed Walmart.”
Tim: Ooh, yeah.
Brian: Right? “If we all got Walmart, if we all got the benefits package for Walmart, oh, wouldn’t that be…?” He didn’t say any of that. What he said was if we all did the stuff we’re capable of doing, so now we have to ask ourselves…What am I capable of doing? You’ve heard me issue this challenge. It’s a very simple one. One of them is with respect to activity and results: Can you make five extra calls a day?
You’re out there doing your thing, and you have 20 on your list, let’s say, and let’s say you’re doing some things. You’ve developed some habits. Probably the most successful people who I ever coached in this business were people who, very early on, adopted the idea that the night before I’m supposed to go out to work, so Sunday night before I hit the streets on Monday, I make out a list of everywhere I plan to go tomorrow, and that list is written before my head hits the pillow Sunday night.
Tim: Thank you.
Tim: Yeah. Thank you. Absolutely.
Tim: So they don’t wake up unemployed, because if you wake up with no place to go and now you’re trying to figure it out, you’re unemployed.
Brian: Yes, and you’ll never do it because you’re going to wake up, and it’s going to be raining, or it’s going to be the first bright, sunny day you’ve had in the last three or four, or it’s going to be scorching hot, or it’s going to be a little chilly, or you have a little scratch in your throat. Who knows what it’s going to be?
Maybe, oh, my goodness, there’s something on Good Morning America. Maybe LIVE with Kelly and Michael has something going on you want to see. Before you know it, you’re sitting there in the afternoon watching General Hospital, and your day is shot. You’re never going to get out of the house.
If you have a list of places when you wake up in the morning, your mindset completely changes, and you get excited because you say, “Hey, I’m going to call on XYZ company today,” and you’re even telling that significant other, whoever that support person is at home, you’re saying, you know, we’ve been talking about, “Man, if I get this one, we’re all having a Merry Christmas. This is…oh, my goodness,” and you see the difference in your overall demeanor, your mindset, your excitement level.
If you wake up in the morning, “I have to go cold calling today, and it’s raining.” I had a lady I used to work with years ago, Tim, and one day she said to me, “Brian, I don’t go cold calling in the rain,” and I said, “Why not?” She said, “Because it makes you look desperate.” I said, “Yes, ma’am, but what if you are?” See? Because I knew what her deal was. She wasn’t making any money. I mean you can’t decide, “I’m not going to go today because it’s raining.” See today is going to suck; it’s raining, and I’m in and out of the car. “I don’t want to do this.”
Well, guess what. Edison didn’t say if we all did the stuff that was comfortable, but he did say if we all did the stuff were capable of doing. I’m not asking if you want to. Are you capable of making a list the night before? Answer: of course. Are you capable of going out and cold calling even when it’s raining? I didn’t ask if you want to. I asked, “Are you capable?” You go, “Well, of course I am. I mean, yeah, I could.”
Okay, so you see how it changes the conversation? Stop asking yourself if you want to. Nobody wants to, because it’s work. They call it work for a reason. No, you would rather be in a hammock in Tahiti sipping mint juleps or whatever. I get all that, but that’s not what this is because that’s not going to get you where you want to go. The question is not… Do you want to? Not… Is it easy? Not…Is it comfortable? Not…Does everybody else say it is okay? The question is…Are you capable of doing it?
When you begin to ask the question, always ask yourselves…Am I capable? Stop saying, “I don’t really want to.” Well, guess what. That’s not the question. The question is…Are you capable? When you begin to ask it over and over and over and you make that a habit, you will find that you truly will astound yourself each and every day, which is the last piece of that phrase. The idea is to do it on a daily basis. Don’t say to yourself, “I’m going to make 1,200 extra calls this year,” okay?
Brian: “Are you kidding me…1,200? I have to keep up with that?” Forget it. You’ll lose sight of it in three days.
Brian: Instead, focus on today, right?
Brian: Say, “I’m going to make five extra today,” and just do your five. Now what if you don’t make your five extra? Oh, no. Is the world going to end? No. Guess what. The great thing is, tomorrow, you can wake up brand new, fresh. It didn’t say, “Astound yourself this week.” Astound yourself today.
Brian: Just do it today, because here’s what I know: 6 months, 12 months, 24 months from today, everything about your life and your career will be exactly the same as it is today unless you do something different today, right?
Brian: You say, “I’m not closing enough groups.” How about you make five extra calls today?
Brian: Just today. I don’t want you to talk to me about tomorrow or the next day. Just today. Let’s just do five extra. You had your list of 20, but for you, you ran through your 20. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon. Are you capable of making five more? Answer: of course.
Tim: Of course.
Brian: Now if I ask you, “Do you want to make five more?” well, I don’t know. See, you might have had a tough run. The last five you walked in, the receptionist’s nickname is “Bulldog,” and there’s a reason they call her “Bulldog.”
Tim: Or some other word that starts with B, but yeah.
Brian: Well, exactly.
Brian: You go, “Oh, no I don’t want to.” No, see, I didn’t ask you if you want to make five extra today. I asked you, “Are you capable of making of five extra?” I know it seems just so simple, and a PhD wouldn’t come up with that, but I’m telling you right now, it’s those mental games that we play. If you’ll begin to ask yourself, “Am I capable?” instead of “Am I comfortable doing it? Is it easy for me to do it? If I wait long enough, will somebody come along?”
No. Quit asking those questions. Ask yourself, “Am I capable?” I promise you if you’ll start asking it that way, your whole stinking world will change because there’s no reason for you, now, to lie in the bed because if you start asking, “Am I capable?” it just absolutely changes everything.
Tim: Yeah, it so much does…so much does. It’s really funny we’re talking about this. Yesterday, I had a coaching session with a veteran rep on my team. He has been with the company, I think, seven or nine years. He has been here a while, and quite honestly, he hasn’t had a ton of success, and I’m sure he will be listening because he tells me he listens to every podcast. I won’t give his name or anything, but he has done okay. He just hasn’t had a ton of success, and I broke it down for him.
First of all, he hadn’t done a lot of financial planning. I asked him what his ultimate goals were, what his why was. We started talking about financial goals and what he needs to do, and the bottom line is, at his age, to hit his financial goals, he needs to start putting away about $5,000 a month in some kind of an investment vehicle that is going to be there for him when he retires.
You know, $5,000 a month just to put into some kind of a mutual fund or his Roth or whatever retirement program he is going to use, that seems kind of daunting. I mean $5,000 extra a month that he is not putting away right now because he really doesn’t put away a lot anyway. When we finally broke it down to where his income needs are right now and what that really means for him (and we broke it down), it’s incredibly doable, but it’s so overwhelming.
When you said, “If I have to make 1,200 extra calls a year,” that seems like a lot, but 5 a day is easy. I can do five. I’m capable of doing five. It may not be easy. It may actually suck, all five of them, because I’m tired. I want to go home, and it is 139 degrees in Phoenix today or something.
Tim: Right? I’ll never forget the first time you came out to speak to my team, and I think we had you out at the end of June, and you walked out. Tell that story. You walked out of the hotel. That was a funny story.
Brian: You know what, I honestly don’t even remember.
Tim: Oh, you don’t remember?
Brian: I remember it was hot as blazes there. Good Lord, it was hot.
Tim: You were walking out. We put you up in a hotel near the conference center. You walked out, and you said, “Oh, my Lord.” Some lady was loading her car and thought you were talking to her, and was startled. You’re like, “Oh, I said that out loud, I guess,” so…
Brian: Oh, that’s right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I sure did. Yeah. I was like, “Sorry. I’m just a Southerner talking to himself,” but, oh, my gosh, it was just brutally hot. I remember it because the night before, at like 10:00, it was still like 100 degrees.
Tim: Yeah, we had gone out to dinner. It was like 102 when I took you back to your hotel room that night.
Brian: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tim: That’s the thing. I mean I didn’t start my voluntary benefits career here in Phoenix. I’ve been out cold calling… Well, it’s not called cold calling when it’s 110, but I’ve been out calling with reps here in town, but I didn’t have to do tons and tons of it like I did when I first started. I talk to guys who do it, and they carry an extra shirt in their car. I mean that’s something you’re capable of. Are you capable of carrying another shirt in your car so that when you pit out the first one you can keep going?
Brian: Exactly. See, and again, that’s the difference between the people who succeed and the people who don’t. There’s a certain segment of the population who will say that when you recruit people, again, you can’t look at somebody and tell, but you find out, certainly rather quickly, that there are some people who go, “Well, that sucks. I ain’t going to do that. I’m not going to take another shirt.”
Then there’s the guy who goes, “Are you kidding? Like, that’s a no-brainer. If I have a choice between just taking another shirt or being stuck in a cubicle all day…” All, by the way, for the tremendous privilege of being 50 or 55 and getting laid off. Are you kidding me? Give me another shirt, right?
Brian: It’s all, again, the way you ask the question, so the guy who is asking, “Am I capable?” says, “Of course. Are you kidding? There’s nothing to that. That takes two seconds to swap out a shirt.” Somebody else is going, “Well, that’s not very convenient. I have to remember to have another shirt there. I have to take another one. What if I forget?” Oh, dear Lord. You know?
Tim: Right. Right.
Brian: The mental games play. You know?
Tim: You bet. Well, Brian, tell us about what you’re doing with this Piedmont thing. When you told me you were doing it, I was intrigued instantly, and apparently so is the rest of the world, then, because from what I understand, you guys are just blowing up.
Brian: Yes, we are. I appreciate you asking. We are very much drinking from a fire hose these days, and I think these last two weeks somebody has ratcheted that up, too, which is great. The deal is everybody who is in the payroll business knows that it’s cool, man. It’s great when someone says, “Sure, we’ll payroll deduct it. Not a problem. I understand the employees are going to pay for it 100 percent themselves through payroll deduction, and we can pretax it or whatever. Woo-hoo! That’s great.” Then off you go. You get your authorization signed, and you’re good to go.
The challenge is what happens when that guy says, “I ain’t going to deduct it”? You go, “Well, you know…” and he’s like, “I don’t care. I’m not saying I have a problem with your company or your products. Sounds great. I’m happy for them to have them, but I’m not going to take on another bill.”
I talked to somebody, in fact, yesterday. She said, “Brian, I have a prospect. He said to me, ‘Look, I completely understand what you’re talking about here because specifically, as it relates to the cancer coverage, my wife is going through treatment right now, so I 100 percent understand what you’re talking. I totally see the value, and my people need to have it, but here’s my challenge: My wife, who just started her cancer treatment, is my payroll person. I can’t put another bill on her right now. Can’t do it.'”
Brian: Wow. Here’s a guy who is totally sold, not going to do it because… Are you kidding me? It makes sense.
Brian: If you have an employer who cannot or will not payroll deduct… Oh, what am I going to do? In the past, that would kind of end the conversation. Yes, you can put them on a direct, a bank draft, whatever. We all know what that looks like, though, the once-a-month premium. If it’s due on the 15th and the alternator on the car goes out on the 14th, you’re never going to get your money. They’re going to fix their car and drop that coverage, and that’s that.
Brian: We all know that, so along about the time I was retiring from Aflac, from that first career, and starting my writing and speaking, I didn’t realize that my cousin was getting involved with a small company. My cousin has a bill pay company he started himself, about the time I started with Aflac as a matter of fact. About 25 years ago, he started this company. It was just him. He had a very niche market. He’s the only guy on the planet who does what he does. Today he has about 110 employees in Georgia, and his company is worth about $1 billion…with a B.
Tim: With a B.
Brian: I like to think I had a pretty good run at Aflac and wouldn’t trade that, but I sometimes look at him and laugh and think, “Wow, one of us was way smarter than the other” because I don’t have a company worth $1 billion today.
Tim: Yeah, I know it is taboo in the rest of the country, but you are from the South. He doesn’t have a daughter your son can date. Sorry. Sorry.
Brian: That’s great. I appreciate that.
Tim: Oh, you never lived in Alabama. You just worked in Alabama.
Brian: That’s right.
Tim: That’s right. I forgot.
Brian: I just worked in Alabama. I never lived there. Come on, man.
Tim: I’m just kidding.
Brian: Hey, and look it, I’m in Nashville, Tennessee, so we like to think we’re a better class of loser than the rest of Tennessee.
Tim: Oh, that’s funny.
Brian: If I was talking to you from Knoxville or Pigeon Forge right now, that would be a whole different story, but I’m in Nashville. We’re classier losers here, so…
Tim: No, you’re in Franklin. You’re in the Scottsdale of Nashville, the Scottsdale, Arizona of Nashville.
Brian: Oh, there you go. That’s right.
Tim: Yeah, you’re in Franklin, man.
Brian: Yeah, that’s it, man. You get it. Yeah, man, we’re loving it. Yeah, so here, see, you have to be at least a third cousin for us to date you.
Tim: Oh, okay.
Brian: We don’t date first cousins.
Tim: Okay. Sorry.
Brian: Anyway, he called me and said, “Hey, I partner with this company. This guy has a neat little idea. He has been working with Colonial, with Aflac, and some of the big players in voluntary,” and a little bit of major medical at that time. He said, “He has this process where they make it feel like payroll deduction for the employee, but it’s not for the employer,” so the employee pays on a payday basis. It’s a payroll group in the eyes of the carrier, payroll products at payroll rates, and the employer…
Tim: Been approved by many, many carriers. Aflac, Colonial, several different carriers have already approved it. You bet.
Brian: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Allstate, Aetna, Humana, VSP, one of the… It might be Teladoc, but it’s one of the Teladoc companies that I can’t think off the top of my head right now and Blue Cross and Blue Shield (of course, they’re different in every state, but we have several of those already), so anyway… Oh, LifeLock even, so multiple carriers. Again, they’re listed on the site, I think, as well. There is a ton of them, but the idea is that the employer doesn’t actually payroll deduct. Now you can do it as a bank draft, but even if you bank draft it, it’s done on payday.
Brian: Or you can do it as a split of the person’s pay that runs through the payroll system. What’s nice about the split-pay deal is that if they want to, if they can give you a deduction slot… Because sometimes they tell you they don’t have a slot and really they do; sometimes they tell you they don’t have one, and they really don’t have one.
Brian: If they can give you one, and we have a way we can combine multiple carriers into one slot, by the way, and it doesn’t cost anymore, and so if they can give you a slot, they can even pretax it. Here’s the beauty of this: No matter how they choose to pay for it through Piedmont, they never get a bill. They don’t hold funds in-house. They don’t have to worry about getting a bill…
Tim: There’s no trust fund they have to put together anything? It’s just all…
Brian: No, no, no. No, no, what basically happens is we establish escrow accounts for each employee, and every time payroll runs, that money is direct deposited into those accounts for those employees. Again, it can be done on a pretax basis. If we’re doing it on the bank draft model, then, of course, we’ll draft them from their personal debit card, credit card, checking account, whatever, but we’ll do it on payday.
Whatever method, the funds go into that escrow account at Piedmont. We use that fund, then (or the funds in those accounts) to pay the bills. If we get a bill from Colonial, we get a bill from Humana, and we get a bill from VSP, or whatever, then when the money comes in for that person, we’ll split them up, and we’ll pay those invoices when they come in.
Now in some cases, if you’re working through an exchange, the carrier may be doing a bank draft for those individuals, so we actually can set that up, as well, so that what happens is we’ll collect on a payday basis and put the money in the Piedmont account. The carrier, then, drafts from the Piedmont account on a once-a-month basis, so we can do that.
Tim: Right, so the carrier likes it because they don’t have to keep track of it. All they have to do is the single bill like they’re normally doing, and that’s always been the challenge with the model of going on a bank draft model. It never lines up with payday. It’s always a challenge, and they drop it quickly.
Brian: Yep. Yeah, no doubt. The first time there is car trouble or some kind of family emergency, usually, that coverage is the first thing to go, sadly. Again, even though I’m in Tennessee, the company itself is based in Georgia, and I tell our team down there all the time, “Guys, I know you just kind of think, ‘Well, I’m just logging in and paying bills,'” because that’s all we do, by the way, Tim.
We don’t split commissions with anybody. That’s your money. We don’t touch your commissions. We have a simple fee that is charged. Typically, although sometimes the employer pays it, 99 out of 100 times the employees are paying that. It breaks down to $1.16 a week, and it’s…
Tim: Wow, $1.16 a week.
Brian: Per person regardless of how many policies, how many carriers, it doesn’t matter. It’s just $1.16. It’s not a big deal for anybody, and that’s all we do, then, is just take those funds and pay those carriers, pay those bills. That is all we do, and so you know me. I’m always giving pep talks to our team in Georgia.
I’m always reminding them that, “I know you feel like you’re just logging into the computer and paying bills all day, every day. I’m just paying a bill. Gotta make the donuts. But I want you to understand that in every single case that Piedmont is involved in, these are situations where the employer could not or would not payroll deduct, which means that, in today’s world, those individual employees would never have had access to the coverage because even if they bought it on their own, they would have paid, you know, whatever, 40 percent more for it or whatever. They would have probably dropped it.”
Tim: If they could even get it, because a lot of carriers won’t even give it to them on a direct basis.
Brian: Right…on a direct basis. “So they may not even be able to get it. If they did, they’re going to pay more for it. Then the first time something comes up, they’re probably going to drop it, and it’s not going to be there when they need it, but because we’re doing what we do, it’s giving access to more people.” I’ll put that system up against the Affordable Care Act and the stinkin’ HealthCare.gov website. We’re talking about giving access to people. I’ll put our system up against that any day.
Brian: Because we really are truly giving people access who wouldn’t otherwise have it, and you know (we talked about this before) I am so sold on the value of voluntary benefits and what those mean for people. It’s interesting. I was talking to a broker the other day, and his wife is going through some cancer treatment.
He’s a major medical guy and all of that and always kind of saw the voluntary stuff as a, you know, just throw it in there. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even refer to it as the value-added piece, which I always thought was funny because they were still getting paid for it, but they would just sort of take the money, right? “Hey, why not?”
Now his wife is going through cancer treatment, and obviously, that gets really expensive. It was interesting to hear him say, “You know, years ago, I didn’t see the value in this kind of coverage, but in today’s world, I can certainly see that there is tremendous value in what these policies provide,” and I was thrilled to hear him say that. Of course, I’m thinking the whole time, “Yeah, you know what, 25 years ago when I started, there was tremendous value, and 25 years from now…” I’ll go ahead and stake a claim. “…there will be tremendous value.”
I don’t care what company you represent. Everything about what these policies represent is a positive for individuals out there who, especially now, are going to be faced with higher deductibles, higher copays many of whom are signing up for coverage through the exchanges. They don’t even know what they’re getting.
Tim: I know.
Brian: They’re looking at a price…
Tim: I know.
Brian: They’re saying, “Oh, I’ll get the cheap one.” Then one day they’re going to find, “What do you mean? Whoa, what do you mean I have to come up with $5,000? What? Where did that come from?”
“Oh, it’s right there. See the little bitty print? It’s right there.”
“Whoa, whoa, I didn’t see that. I was just getting the cheap one. I didn’t know.”
Wow, so the value of what we do in this business is just, I think, growing exponentially every day, and it’s just an exciting time to be a part of it. I’m happy to be a part of what we’re doing at Piedmont because it is giving access to people. I will tell you this too: I firmly believe our direct deposit process… It’s unique. It’s patented. There’s a certain process we use with respect to setting up those accounts and whatnot. The guys who started it, they’re all bankers by trade, and I’m just a mouthpiece because I know the industry. They’re all bankers.
I really believe that that process or processes (I know others will come that are similar to us), that’s going to be the way that people are going to pay for benefits going forward at work because more and more people are going to get out of payroll deduction. As they do, people who are listening to this, for example, say, “Well, how am I going to make a living?” Oh, please. You’re going to make a living like you always have. It’s just the way the money flows is going to look a little different under the radar.
To the individual employee, they’re going to go, “Yeah, it comes out of my check,” and the payroll person is going to go, “No, it doesn’t. I split your pay.” The employee is going to go, “Dude, that’s what I said,” and the payroll person goes, “No, you didn’t. It’s a very different process.” The guy goes, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. I don’t care. All I know is that when I get paid…”
Tim: “All I know is when I get paid, Piedmont gets paid. Everybody is paid. My life is good.” They don’t care. They don’t care.
Brian: That’s it. Yeah, so it’s good times, man. It’s all good, and I started out by saying that I thought I was going to get out of this industry when I started the speaking, the writing, and all that because the message is so universal. While I do get feedback from other people I’ve had a chance to speak for, honestly, some really big companies that have nothing do with benefits (name brand companies), I’m so thrilled to still be a part of what we’re doing in the voluntary space, to still be writing for Benefits Selling, and to contribute in that space, as well.
The future is so bright for us. I truly, in my gut, believe that. I look back on that, five years ago, when I thought, “Oh, man, I’ll be out of that just in time because this Obamacare stuff, and I don’t know what that’s going to mean. Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to fool with that anymore.” Now I’m so glad that (it was divine intervention or whatever) I didn’t get out. I stayed in it. I’m probably, in many ways, in it deeper than I ever have been, and it’s just a good time to be a part of what we’re doing. I’m convinced there’s no better time to be here than now.
Tim: Yeah. You heard me last week. I think these are the good old days of the voluntary benefits. I think when the history of voluntary benefits is written, they’re going to say from 2015 to 2025, these next 10 years, were the good old days. I really believe that. I think that that’s the way that we’re headed.
Brian: Yeah, me too.
Tim: Hey, Brian, we’re going to have to wrap up here pretty quick. I appreciate you being on and all that. I have two things before we wrap up, though. First, how do people get ahold of you? The website is www.piedmontpays.com. I know that.
Tim: Where are you at on Twitter? Where else can people interact with you?
Brian: Yeah, to interact with me personally, you can find me on Twitter at @BrianSaid.
Brian: And of course, www.piedmontpays.com, as you said, and then my personal website is www.brian-hicks.com. I would love for people to…
Tim: I’ll have those up on the show notes too, but sometimes people are driving around. They don’t remember to go on the website and look it up, so I’ll put those things on the website, as well. Last question, you know it is coming, because you listened to Joe’s: How do you want to be remembered, Brian?
Brian: That’s a great question. I really do want to be remembered as a guy who cared about people, who wanted to make an investment in people, and honest to goodness, as I stated at the beginning (we used to coach our team), I want to be known as the guy who made a living at the service of others, not at the expense of others.
I’m a firm believer, and you know I always mention my dad is a preacher, and so I have a pretty deep spiritual background, and I am a believer. I don’t think everybody has to believe what I believe, but I am a believer, and I do believe what Jesus himself said. “If you want to be the greatest, you have to be the least.” I’m a firm believer, so hopefully by my kids and by my wife and everybody else, I hope that’s how I’ll be remembered, that I was the guy who put others first and then myself.
Tim: Yeah, you know we’re both big John Maxwell fans. He says the people who know you the best respect you the most, and I think that’s what you’re saying right there. When your kids and your wife and all those people know your real, true heart, and that’s what is the most important.
Tim: Well, Brian, again, I can’t thank you enough for coming on. I look forward to talking to you again, and I wish you all the luck in the world with the Piedmont Pays thing. Keep me informed on what is going on with your book deal. As you know, first of all, I’m a big fan of yours, and I want to know. Second of all, I’m interested in the journey myself as I continue to write this book and slave away into the wee hours of the morning.
Brian: I hear you, man. Yeah, for sure. I’ll do that, and you keep me posted on what is going on with yours too because I’m curious.
Tim: All right, brother.
Brian: Hey, listen. I enjoy the podcast. I wish you all the best with these and look forward to future ones, as well.
Tim: All right. Thanks so much, Brian. You have a great day.
Brian: Thanks, man. You too.
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.
Tim: Hey, thanks for sticking around. Was that good or what? Could I ask you to do me a huge favor? Could you please go onto iTunes and rate the Success is Voluntary podcast? By rating the podcast, it helps it become more visible to people who have discovered it yet.
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