Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Heath Oakes
Episode 15: No Use For Reasonable – Heath Oakes Interview, Part 2
May 31, 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 15 of Success is Voluntary. Last week, we started this interview with Heath Oakes, and I’ve heard from several of you that it was an amazing interview. You haven’t heard anything yet. The second half is even stronger than the first half. Heath is so full of energy and enthusiasm. I am honored to know him, and I am sure you’re going to enjoy this second part, so here we go.
What did you guys do, first of all? I know you have a great assistant, and then you guys just went to freakin’ work. What all did you guys do?
Heath Oakes: Yeah, I mean we sat down, and we knew that nobody had opened a ton of accounts, and we had people in the business, said they were seven, eight years in the business doing $1 million and getting there. We wanted to do that in the first year. We wanted to recruit more people, and we wanted to develop more people than anybody else had ever done.
We sat down to write out our goals and what we were going to do, how to get to $1 million, and what was funny was at my first meeting at Colonial, they had a new manager up there. They had a manager up there who had been there a couple of years talking about their success. They had been talking about it, and this person had not done close to $1 million yet, but they were touting him.
I go back, and I tell Scott. I go, “Man, we may need to rethink our goals. This might be different in the individual world because they have people up there talking about how great they’ve done, and they have not done $1 million, and they’re 3 years in. This has to be different.”
Thank God Scott was not there at that meeting that day and got that like I did, because Scott goes, “Heath, look, we did the math. Numbers don’t lie. If we recruit this many people and develop this many people, then we’re going to open up X amount of accounts by running this amount of activity and cold calls and drops and teaching them how to do it and build their book of business for themselves.
If we do this (these numbers), that will equal $1 million.” I’m like, “You’re right. We have to do what we’ve always done, right?” In 2010, we contracted 78 agents, 138 cases, I think, and $1.3 million in premium in 2010, and I thank God every day Scott was not there to be told we just couldn’t do it, as I was.
Tim: Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that interesting? We put self-limiting beliefs, or we let other people steal our dream or talk us out of shooting for the stars.
Heath: Yeah, I was ignorant to this world, so I was assuming that something was different than the world I came from. I let that happen. I’m one of those who never lets anybody tell them, but I got sucked into that quickly, and it happens to all of us. It happens to the best of us.
Tim: Wow, that’s important. I think there’s some wisdom in setting attainable goals to a certain point. You go back to SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. I mean those are all important things, but attainable, I think you have to have a stretch goal.
I think you have to be shooting for something that makes you nervous. Otherwise, if you’re comfortable getting there, then you’re not stretching. You’re not growing. Let’s talk about… I heard you this morning on a conference call. Your recruiting quota, if you will, for a quarter is 35, is that right?
Heath: Yes, for the corporate.
Tim: For corporate, that’s your quota. Your goal is 55, and you’re not happy unless you get to that 55. Why do you set your goal so much higher than what is given to you?
Heath: Well, because my favorite quote is, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want,” by Zig Ziglar, and I know that the leaders who I’ve brought into this territory and sales manager who I need to be looking after to make them the best living possible, there’s no way that they can make the living that they need to make on 35, so the 55 will bring us the amount of new A-rep sales, the new people being successful, and bringing in a lot of people to a career opportunity like no other.
At 35, we’re not making an impact at all. We have to do 55 to make that impact and to help people get what they want. Because we set those low expectations, they hit those low expectations, and they don’t make any money. They don’t change their lives, and they don’t get the career opportunity, so I’m setting the proper expectations to help them achieve the things they want to achieve.
Tim: That’s great. I’m going to tell you something I learned in a college class, a leadership class, I just recently took, and you’re going to know this. You’re going to have guessed this already, but because I know who you are, and I know what you are all about.
If you help set people’s expectations (let’s say you have to set goals for them, expectations for them), if you give them no goal at all or if you give them an easy goal or you give them a hard goal, which one do you think gets the absolute worst results between no goal, easy goal, or hard goal? Which gets the worst result?
Heath: Easy goal.
Tim: Easy goal. Isn’t that interesting?
Heath: Oh, yeah, because you let them go shoot for hardly nothing, then they’re going to hit hardly nothing. Then they’re going to sit back and not do anything. At least with no goal, they may stumble upon and do more than the easy goal because they have no expectations.
Tim: That’s right. That’s right.
Heath: The easy goal, they’re going to hit it, and they’re going to stop.
Tim: Yep. Then the hard goal obviously gets the best results. Setting that stretch goal for them gets the best results. Even if they don’t hit it, they’re going to get better results than if they gave them no goal or an easy goal, so that’s interesting. I always think that’s fascinating.
All right, Heath, because you started young… A couple of weeks ago, I actually had a podcast where I claimed that insurance was sexy. We have five college interns working with me this summer, and we just completed their first week today. Boy, they’re having a good time, but let’s face it, a lot of people coming out of college, a lot of younger people, don’t think of insurance as a career. They don’t see it as sexy.
First of all, we’ve already heard some of the money that you made, and yeah, that’s pretty sexy, but what else do you think is exciting about a career for a young person? Then I’ll have a couple of follow-up questions beyond that. So first of all, why is a career in insurance exciting for somebody who’s young?
Heath: I think the number one, first thing that’s exciting for a person who is young in this business is nobody can tell you what you can and cannot achieve, and you do not have to sit around and wait for 10 years no matter how successful you are to move up in any direction you want, and I’m living proof of it. No matter who you are, how old, young, race, beliefs, you bust it, and you get results, and you do the right things; you can get whatever you want.
As a young person coming out of college, do you want to go to somewhere where you’ve been told you can make X amount of dollars, then you have to wait 10 years and for people to start dying so you can start moving up, or would you rather go in somewhere that it’s all based on the results you want, what you drive to happen, in which you can make it happen, and then your results speak for how quickly you want to get moved up and what you want to be doing? It’s a pretty easy answer.
Do you want to go somewhere that you can get what you want as quickly as you want if you want to work, or do you want to go somewhere where you have to sit around and no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you put in, you’re never going to move up until so-and-so is ready to retire or X, Y, Z? Yeah, and I think that’s one of the number-one things this business for a young person. You can get where you want to as quickly as you want to.
Tim: Boy, that’s great, and obviously, I’m sure there are some carriers that have some internal politics on that, but for the most part, what I’ve seen in the industry is exactly what you’re saying. If you’re doing the job… You can move anywhere in the country too. You can stay inside that carrier, and you have reps who if they said they wanted to move to Phoenix, I would welcome with open arms and vice versa. I have people on my team, if they wanted to come to Dallas, you would find a spot for them. You would figure out a way to get them on your team. Absolutely. That’s great.
So kind of a follow-up question: Maybe I’m 22 years old, just coming out of school, or maybe didn’t even go to college. I’m young, and I look young. You look younger than you are, even. What do you have to do to kind of be on a level playing field with a business owner who’s 55? How do you stay relevant to that guy?
Heath: You know, there are a couple of little things. I always wore a suit just because I felt older. I think that was just kind of the thing that made me feel better, but I don’t think that’s a must-have. I think the most important thing is when I was 19, 20 years old and friends were partying to death and wanting to do whatever, I worked all day, and I’d come home at night, and I studied, and I read, and I learned everything I could possibly learn, day in, day out, about the business because I needed to know more. I needed to know what it was, but I also had to be smart enough to admit when I didn’t know, okay?
I worked my tail off to learn more than everybody else quicker and faster, and I said no to the things that looked fun because I needed to learn more because I needed to be knowledgeable because I was so young, and I looked it. I was 19 years old trying to tell a senior citizen what they need to do with their Medicare and their long-term care with all my 19 years of wisdom, and they’re 65 years old.
That was not an easy feat to come up with, so let me tell you what ended up happening. First of all, I didn’t let it become a hindrance, but second of all, if you just be honest, admit, “Hey, I don’t know, but I’m going to go find out.” Because a lot of young people are so arrogant, they will try to come up with stuff, and that gets old. Just be truthful.
Then I’m going to tell you this: My age has never cost me a piece of business, but I would put anything I have on it that I have more business than most people because of my age, because the truth of the matter is our generation, for the most part, is labeled, deemed lazy, not wanting anything, and not getting anything else, right?
Heath: If you’re out of the norm of us young people in our generation and want something more than everybody else and you want to get it, the older generation appreciates that 10 times more. You’ll get business because you’re hustling. You may go out there and not know anything, but you go, “Look, I’m going to go back and work to find the answer for you as quick as I can,” they respect it because they don’t see many young people out there busting their hump.
My age is a negative, but 10 minutes later, I’m getting business because of my age because they’re like, “Son, I’m just shocked that you’re out there working it up.” Because the bad thing is about our generation is if you’re out working out hard, and you want something more, you’re not okay with laying around taking Mom and Daddy’s money, and you want to make something of yourself, they appreciate that because that doesn’t happen all the time.
Tim: Boy, that’s great advice, just hustling, and you said something that I think is really important. You paid the price in learning. When your friends were out partying and carrying on, you were actually studying. Again, that’s another Zig Ziglar quote, but he says, “If you do the things you ought to do when you ought to do them the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”
Tim: I think you’re at that point. I’ve seen pictures of your man cave. I don’t think you’re suffering now because of the hard work you put in up front.
Heath: Yeah, no, and it’s a great time. One thing I see with a lot of young people, and the word that I hate (I hate this word more than anything else), and for some reason it gets used a lot in our generation, but I hate the word realistic. Realistic, to me, is a loser’s vocabulary because realistic is just admitting you’re a loser right away because there’s no such thing as realistic.
It’s not realistic that you would be a state manager at 23 years old with no degree. It’s not realistic to make $90,000 in your first 9 months in the insurance business. It’s not realistic to never make less than $100,000 since you’ve been 19 years old with no degree, with not very much education. That’s not realistic, but that didn’t hold me back.
It’s not realistic to have four territory managers across the country. It’s not realistic to get out of the Marines and spend three and a half years and be a state manager covering two states, but nobody else ever told us that. I get so sick of hearing the word realistic. That’s just you giving up. There’s no such thing as realistic. Get after it. Whatever you want to achieve, you can achieve.
Tim: Man, I have goose bumps right now. I’m going to play that. I’m going to clip this out of this podcast, and I’m just going to put that on every morning. I’m telling you, man, that is so good. It is so good. Well, I almost should quit right now while we’re ahead because that is phenomenal. I have a couple of more questions, and we’ll be done for you.
Where do you go next, Heath? I mean you are killing it. You’re doing a great job here. I know you that you are somebody, though, who always looks down the road. Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now? What is your ultimate goal?
Heath: Man, I just don’t know. Whatever it is, it’s going to be continuing on the path of leadership and some sort of helping people achieve what they want to do. I learned that I stopped planning what I was going to do and making what it was.
I mean four and a half years ago if you would have told me that I would ever be a corporate employee, not ever leaving the state of Texas, I would have told you that wasn’t true. Well, I did both of them, so what I’ve learned is I go with the flow, and whatever it is, I want to be leading and helping others achieve their dreams in whatever capacity that may be and never close my mind to any opportunity and just keep an open mind and keep doing what drives my passion, and everything else works out.
Tim: Boy, that’s good advice too. We can get so caught up. I’ve done that in my career, where I thought I wanted that next position. I poured so much of my heart and energy into it, and if it didn’t happen on my timeline, then it was very disappointing, so I think there’s some…
Heath: If you focus on the activities, that’s something you control. You can never focus on outcome, and so I just keep focusing on activities and the passion that I love. I know that whatever happens, it’ll lead me in the right direction.
Tim: That’s great. All right, Heath, one last question. I know you’re a young guy, very young guy, but how do you want to be remembered? Ten out of ten people don’t make it out of this thing alive. Everybody dies sooner or later. How do you want to be remembered?
Heath: I want to be remembered as somebody who was far from perfect, far from perfect, but yet strove for perfection; failed, admitted he failed, but also did everything he could to help other people whenever he could, and they’d say, “You know, if I was stranded on the side of the road at the 3:00 in the morning, and I called Heath, Heath would be there to get me.”
I want to be known as that friend, as that person, no matter what, and be seen as a person who just helped a lot of people change their current situation, which, in return, changes the world, and just strive to do what was right all the time even though I wasn’t perfect, somebody you could trust, and somebody you know who would be there if you needed him.
Tim: There’s a lot of wisdom in that too. Well, Heath, I really appreciate you coming on. I wish all you the best success. I don’t think you need my wishes. You are a stud, and I’m honored to know you. Thanks again.
Heath: By the way, Tim, you know that I’m no longer 26. My birthday was this week. I just turned 27.
Tim: Wow, Happy birthday. Happy birthday.
Heath: Thank you. Thank you.
Tim: My father-in-law said that young men don’t become men until they’re 35, so you’re still a couple of years away, but you’re getting there.
Heath: Yeah, I’m not calling myself old yet.
Tim: Certainly not. Well, happy birthday.
Heath: Thank you.
Tim: Again, I appreciate you being on.
Heath: Yeah. Yes, sir. Tim, thank you for having me. I sure do appreciate it, and let me know if there’s anything else I can do, man.
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Tim: Did you enjoy that? Boy, I sure did. I learned a ton from Heath. It’s unbelievable learning from someone who is almost young enough to be your child. Heath, I appreciate you coming on. I appreciate everything you’re doing, and your team is very blessed to have you as their leader.
Hey, if you enjoyed today’s episode, would you jump on over to iTunes and rate it? It really helps us to stay in front of everybody; helps people who haven’t discovered the podcast yet discover it. You can find today’s show notes, of course, at www.successisvoluntary.com/015/, as in episode 15. I really appreciate you being a listener. We’ll see you next week.