Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Les Heinsen
Episode 21: Sales Leadership, Master Class with Les Heinsen
July 12, 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 21 of Success is Voluntary. When I first was considering starting this podcast, one of the first people I thought of who could add tremendous value to my listeners was today’s guest. For those of you who know me, you know I frequently quote John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, and Les Heinsen.
Les Heinsen is the state sales coordinator for Aflac in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Some of you already know Les Heinsen. For others, this podcast will give you a little insight into why I consider Les to be one of the best leaders I have ever met. When I recorded this interview, I was blown away. Les absolutely brought it and delivered in a big way. I hope you have your pen and paper ready to take notes because Les held a masters class in leadership with that day, and you get to listen in with me. Are you ready to learn? Let’s go.
Tim: Hey, Les. Thanks for joining us.
Les Heinsen: Hey, Tim. It’s a pleasure. Pleasure to get some time to chat with you today.
Tim: Man, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have you on the podcast. When I first thought of this podcast, there was about three or four people who I said if I could get them on here, that will make a big impact on my listeners, and you were one of those people for sure. You’ve been a huge influence in my life. I know dozens and dozens of other people who really look at you as somebody who really gets it, a great leader, who has done incredible things for people.
I always let the guests kind of introduce themselves, walk them through their own journey, and how they got here. Most of them, I kind of joke around and say, “I’m pretty sure you didn’t go to guidance counselor in high school and ask to be an insurance agent,” but I’m not sure with you because you started in this industry pretty early. How did you get started in this business?
Les: It’s funny you should say that. Yeah, it’s funny you should say that. Yeah, I was kind of one of those weirdoes who sought out the insurance industry, if you could say that. Not too many people do that, and then you know I’ve recruited a lot of people. Most people did something else, first, but at a young age, I realized that people plant seeds. Somebody planted a seed with me that I should be in sales, first of all, and that I was a people person, and so I sought out insurance companies and interviewed with a few and ended up interviewing a few times with a company called Combined Insurance.
Les: I was young and very inexperienced, obviously. I don’t think they wanted to hire me. I had to keep going back, but finally they did give me that opportunity, spent a year with them, and I actually did well with them, won some W. Clement Stone awards, but realized that’s not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
It was April, and I said, “Well, I’m probably going to go to school in the fall,” but somebody introduced me to Aflac. I knew I could sell insurance and their particular products at that time, and so I said, “Well, I’ll sell some Aflac insurance until the fall,” and here I am 35 years later. I did get my education, but not formally. I never did go to higher education, so that’s how I got started.
Tim: Yeah, well, that’s interesting, Combined Insurance, and you were in the rural, rural parts of the Dakotas, right? North Dakota or South Dakota?
Les: Yeah. Yeah.
Les: Started with Combined in North Dakota. That’s correct.
Tim: Yeah, so lots and lots of people, or no, lots of cows, but not a lot of people, so there you go.
Les: Yeah. I didn’t sell any of those but was tempted to a couple of times.
Tim: Well, let’s talk about that first year. You said you did well, but I’m pretty sure you probably didn’t come out of the gate just firing on all cylinders. What are some of the challenges you’ve kind of faced in your career as it comes to sales, and how did you kind of overcome those? What kind of drove you to early success, if you will?
Les: Well, I was good at sales, but I wasn’t very disciplined at that age. I had to learn about discipline, and so the thing about Combined is they had a very set selling system.
Les: It was pretty simple. It was, “Sell, renew, and sell more systematically.” It was just cold calling, but they had a unique way of… They put me on a path, and my experience there, I was pretty successful. I could have been more successful, I think, but the thing that I teach today is that confidence comes from competence, and they made us, literally stuck us in a classroom for two weeks, and made us memorize the process: the words, how to say them, when to say them, when to speed up, when to slow down, how to use your eyes, how to use your voice, and all that.
That came back to me years later, as you recall, Tim, even with Aflac, and we started some new scripts. I realized that, “Look, if I’m going to expect others to do those scripts that I needed them, as well.” That’s after I came back from being a territory director, and I was a state sales coordinator, and so I said, “All right. I’m going to learn this thing.”
That’s when it popped back, way in my mind, all of a sudden, jumped back to that time and my very first week in the field with Combined. Normally, they would send you with a trainer. They didn’t for me, and you would think that that would’ve been a fearful time, and it wasn’t. That was a very memorable time for me. I’m sure I had some nervousness about doing that, but I did very well.
All these years later, I know exactly why: because I was prepared. Sure, I’m sure I was nervous, but I had confidence knowing exactly what to say. If someone said this, I’d say this, and here’s the system I was going to go on. That’s what I learned early on: Follow a system, and it will overcome a lot of other weaknesses, like lack of discipline. So confidence comes from competence.
Tim: Wow. I’ve been saying that for a long time. I didn’t realize I stole it from you, so that’s funny. I’m serious. I always say it this way (I’m not sure which comes first; it’s kind of like the chicken and the egg): If you have the competence, you have confidence, and usually your confidence is because you’re competent and vice versa. It’s really an interesting dichotomy there, which one really came first.
You’re right. You have to pay the price. You have to understand. You have to do the hard work and study the scripts: memorizing them, internalize them, and then make them your own. I think that’s the key. A lot of people hate the word script. They hate the word script, and they get all freaked out about it. I always say, “If you don’t like the word script, say it this way, ‘Phraseology that has been proven to work.'”
Les: Yeah. Yep. We were speaking of Tom Hopkins. I remember teaching Tom Hopkins, and people would say, “Oh, I can’t say that like Tom Hopkins.” I said, “No, you need to say it like you, but the only way you can say it like you is by putting it in. You have to put it in and internalize it, and then it can come out in your personality like you,” so yeah, that’s very important.
Tim: You bet. You bet. Well, how did you get involved in leadership? So you move over from Combined to Aflac, and you say, “I can sell that product,” and all that, and I’m guessing it wasn’t real long before you ended up in a leadership position. Also knowing you the way I do, I don’t think you probably necessarily sought that out, but it kind of came to you. Kind of talk about that journey into leadership.
Les: Yeah. Another interesting thing, so I started with Aflac then, and I spent a year as an associate, did well, and then got the opportunity to become a district sales coordinator. That’s the next leadership path. Here’s what I learned: I work harder when somebody else is depending upon me. Maybe not everybody is like that. I think a lot of leaders are, but my own work ethic was better and easier to perform when somebody else was dependent upon me from a leadership role. I just work better. I mean I just work better that way rather than, “Oh, I’m just going to be an agent.”
There are really two paths, probably, in any insurance company but particularly with Aflac. People can go down the path of developing and sustaining a really nice book of business and do really well, or you can down the path of developing people. That’s just the path that I chose because I was interested in that. Really, leadership is such a huge topic, and there’s so much to learn. Just like you, I’ve been studying it for years, and I still feel like the more I study, the more I feel like I don’t know. I’m my own biggest project when it comes to leadership.
Yeah, just early on, I knew that I wanted to because this business isn’t rocket science. You get that down, and you go, “All right. What’s next? I want to teach others how to do it,” and then really teaching leaders how to lead, as it moved from the district level on to the regional and state level.
Tim: You bet.
Tim: Well, I have a couple of stories I want to tell on you, and I hope you don’t mind (probably embarrass you a little bit). Early on in my career, I remember going to a meeting. All the district managers and regional managers, state managers for the territory were there, and I remember you coming out dressed as Patton. Do you remember that? You came out as George S. Patton with a riding crop and all that, and it was hilarious.
Les: Yes, I do.
Tim: Yep, absolutely. It was hilarious, but I’ll tell you what impressed me much more than your performance was you had bought everybody on your team a John Maxwell 21 Laws tape set. One of your people (I won’t tell you who it was because it will make you mad) left it behind on their seat and kind of pooh-poohed it. I was like, “Are you kidding me? Here is a leader who is willing to invest money into you, willing to help you grow as a leader…”
You’re leading leaders at this point. They just left it behind, and so I picked it up. For lack of a better word, I stole it, and it made a big difference on me. I mean I took it home, and I wore out those tapes. That’s the first story, which is kind of telling on myself there.
The second story, several years later (I mean it was a dozen years later maybe), I was very blessed. I had a great team, and we ended up winning an award as a team. We were in Banff, Canada. You probably don’t even remember this, but you led a little “expedition,” if you will, up to Banff Canada.
Les: Yep, I do recall.
Tim: We were having this banquet, and we’re all together. Your wife and you invited my wife and me (because we had such a great year) to sit with you at like the head table. The Bible says it’s better to be asked to the head table than to get there and be asked to go away, so that was awesome. We get asked to the head table, and we show up early because, my wife and I, we’re always early.
Sharon and you had beat us there, and you had staked out your seats. You had staked them out with your back to the stage because there was going to be some entertainment. There was going to be some people speaking, and you wanted everybody at your table to have a better view than you did. Man, I’m telling you that made such an impression on me as a young leader that you did it on purpose. It wasn’t by accident. You guys chose the seats with the worst view.
I’m telling you that was huge for me. I wish more leaders in every organization kind of had that attitude, so you made a huge impression on me that day. I know that probably embarrasses you, and you probably didn’t even think about it because it was just the right thing to do, but it’s one of those things that stick with you for a long time.
Les: Wow. I mean, yeah, it’s a lot of emotion with me, but one is, man, you have an awesome memory. Thank you for noticing. I don’t do it to be noticed.
Les: But it is intentional because the motivation, to me, is I think it’s a little self-serving to… You know, when you’re in a leadership position, we are empowered, and we have to be very careful how we use that power and that privilege in situations and opportunities. Certainly, in the role that I was in, I could have taken the opportunity to put myself in position, but we learn from Maxwell that leadership is influence and servanthood.
Les: Certainly, as leaders, we need to be servant leaders, and so that’s kind of where the basis of that comes from. It is a small thing, but people notice small things. Obviously, leaders and people who always want to grow and improve notice, and that’s obviously you, Tim. I don’t know what else I can say, man.
Tim: Man, I’m telling you, you don’t even know how many times I’ve told that story to my leaders, to people I know, because it did make a huge impression. It made a huge impression on a young leader like me, and I appreciate it.
You kind of already answered a little bit of this, but my next question is really…What do you kind of consider the difference between management and leadership? Maybe it’s not quite as much the forefront of the conversation today as it was five years ago, but I still think it’s an important topic. How do you kind of define the difference between leadership and management?
Les: Well, yeah, it’s talked about a lot. I don’t know who said it (I know I got it from somebody because I don’t think I came up with it on my own) but, “You manage things, and you lead people.” I think leadership without results is not lasting, and results without good leadership is not lasting either, and it’s hollow and not very rewarding.
Les: I think in order to get results sometimes, there are definitely things we have to manage, but it’s our time. It’s our numbers. It’s our information, and sometimes we have to manage people, but not first, not before you gain the right to do that. It usually comes from a position of permission and getting them to a place where they said they wanted to be, not where you have determined that they should be.
Yeah, with people, you can’t be efficient; you have to be effective, and sometimes that takes time and a lot more time than it does with things, right? With things, it’s like, “Boom, boom, boom, let’s get it done. Task. Task. Task. Task. Task.” With people, you can’t approach it that way. Even if you have tons of things backed up and you have to deal with a people situation, you just have to give it the time and be effective about it.
Tim: Repeat that one.
Les: So kind of overlapping some other topic there.
Tim: Yeah, repeat that one more time: “With people you can’t always be efficient; you have to be effective.” Is that what you said?
Les: That’s correct.
Les: I think I got that from Maxwell.
Tim: Man, I’m telling you if you didn’t…
Les: I read it somewhere. I might be paraphrasing it, but it stuck with me, and it’s something I’ve kind of always remembered.
Tim: I’m quoting you. It’s going to be Les Heinsen from now on. I’m going to put it on the blog. I’m telling you that is gold right there. If you’re tuning in to this podcast, this is the only thing you paid attention to, you just did well because that is huge. I mean huge. You can’t be efficient with people.
As a leader, as you know, Les, you get inundated every day. I know you’re a very accessible leader, and sometimes probably too accessible, just like me. People come to you. They feel very comfortable coming to you. You hear so much information, and you want to just kind of rush them through, “Get to the bottom line. I want to make a decision already. Why are you giving me all your personality and all your issues and why your mama didn’t love you enough?” You just want to come to a conclusion. Right?
Tim: You can’t be that way with people. You can’t be efficient with people. Sometimes it is about sitting around the campfire and singing “Kumbaya.”
Les: Yeah. Yeah, sometimes it is. Yes, sir.
Tim: You betcha.All right. What are some of the things you’ve invested in or different favorite books or seminars or people you’ve tried to model your leadership after? What are some of the things you’ve done to grow yourself as a leader, Les?
Les: Well, I mentioned in the early years, I read a lot and studied Ziglar’s sales and self-improvement and See You at the Top and those types of materials, and then Jim Rohn had a big, big, big, big, big influence on me.
Tim: Well, he is a Dakota boy too, right? He is from the Dakotas, as well. Right?
Les: He is from Idaho.
Tim: Oh, okay.
Les: He is from Idaho, but it’s about the same, right?
Tim: About the same. You bet.
Les: There are some good people up there in those states.
Tim: You bet. Salt of the earth.
Les: Yes and then really started studying Maxwell and read those books and Stephen Covey. Some of these people aren’t with us, but they will always be with us in terms of their teachings, gone to many different seminars from these people. Really, Maxwell is the one who really talks about growth and personal growth and having a growth plan.
I kind of learned that late, later than I would like to have. I think I was driven, so I always wanted to do better, but I didn’t really have a good plan to grow me because I believe what Maxwell says, and that is all growth starts with personal growth. I think he calls it, “It’s an inside job,” and so that’s a lot of it now. I’ve read Reagan. Ronald Reagan, to me, was a tremendous, tremendous leader, and I read that and Lincoln on Leadership.
Tim: Oh, yeah.
Les: And some of the different people who have reached the pinnacle of their field and sometimes they are politicians or other public figures where somebody has taken and… What I’m reading right now is actually Washington. We just visited Mount Vernon. When I go to these places, I just try to learn about the person and what made the person great, and I picked up this book on George Washington and his leadership. God, there is so much to learn from these guys. There is not enough time to learn it all, but hopefully that gives you some insight.
Tim: Wow. Yeah, no, that’s awesome. I’m sure you’ve been to the Ronald Reagan Library.
Les: Have not been there yet, but it’s on my bucket list.
Tim: Oh my gosh. I’m telling you, my wife (you know the lovely Dizzy D), we went to the Reagan Library about two or three weeks ago, and it was my first presidential library I’ve ever been to (I’m not proud of that; I’m just saying it was), and it’s kind of appropriate because he is the first president I ever voted for back in 1984. It was his reelection. He didn’t need my vote because he won by a landslide.
Les: It all makes a difference.
Tim: It was incredible. I mean very seldom in my life have I really felt like I was walking on hallowed ground, and it really was that way. I don’t care what your political views are. You could be the most liberal person on the planet and hate “Reaganomics” and all that, but you can’t deny his genius as it came to leadership. He was able to reach across the aisle and bring people together.
I think it was Napoleon who said, “A leader is a dealer in hope,” and that was never demonstrated as strongly as Ronald Reagan. I mean at the time when the world was kind of falling apart and we were siphoning, or not siphoning, rationing gas. That’s what I’m trying to say…rationing gas.
Les: You were siphoning gas.
Tim: I was siphoning gas.
Les: Everyone else was rationing, and you were siphoning.
Tim: That’s right. Shhh. Shhh-shhh. Don’t tell them.
Les: Oh, that’s funny.
Tim: I think I’m past the statute of limitations there. At any rate, yeah, it was a crazy time in the world. He looked America in the eye, and he said, “America’s best days are yet to come.” It gives me goose bumps to this day because that’s what a leader does. A leader stands up and says, “Your life can be better. I believe in you.”
Tim: “Your life can be better.” That’s really what I’ve appreciated about you, Les. I mean that you’ve done that great. You’ve made a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives. So let’s talk about one thing, maybe, you wish you could do over again. You can’t, and we can’t beat ourselves up. This is not asking you to do that, but one leadership gaffe you made and big mistake you wish you could take back. You can’t. I don’t mean to get too personal on this, but if you had to do it over again (we all have a lot of those), what is that one thing?
Les: Yeah. Well, there are probably a lot. Too many to talk about. One thing about me, when it comes to those things, I have a pretty short memory. Even when it comes to things that I need to learn and remember, I don’t do it as well. I have a great memory when it comes to some things. I really admire you in that you remember these principles.
There are definitely leadership mistakes. I’ll give you a generality. They usually revolve around what I excused away as passion, passion for my beliefs or passion for a result or a goal, and really not stepping back and overpowering people and losing my temper. Not a good leadership thing for me.
I mean not for anybody, but of the things that I cringe about and I think back and go, “God, I would like to pull those words back,” or when I’ve had to make apologies, they usually revolve around me not checking my own emotions. It’s something that I have to work on, that my thoughts and emotions are coming from a good place when it comes to people, even if they’re wrong, and I’m completely right.
Tim: Oh, sure.
Les: Without me boring you with specifics, that’s probably the regrets that I have the most of, career regrets and decision regrets about my career. Gosh, and you can get into the personal side and think about not just the people we lead, but our children are the first people we lead, and I think back, “Oh my gosh, I could’ve done that so differently and been provided such a better example.”
Hey, we work on those things and always strive to get better, so I don’t know if that helps you or not, Tim, but it certainly gives you a little glimpse into me. I appreciate your holding me up in regard to leadership. Believe me, listen to what I say, but don’t watch me too closely, my friend.
Tim: Well, I think that’s true for a lot of leaders, Les, is that we espouse everything, and we try really hard, but oftentimes, at least my greatest foibles, my greatest mistakes, are when I put myself first. I said I wasn’t going to, but god darn it, I’m under pressure, or somebody is yelling at me for a number. I don’t react well to it or those kinds of things.
Tim: You go, “Oh my gosh, how could I have done that?” You have to learn from it. That’s all you can do.
I think one of the things I’ve seen about you, again, I don’t want to sound like too much of a fan boy or anything, but when you do make a mistake, I think you are one of the first people to stand up and say, “You know what, I’m sorry. I screwed up. I’ll try to do better,” and it’s really interesting, when you do that, you gain a lot of credibility in the eyes of your followers.
Tim: You know?
Les: Well, typically, they already know their weaknesses.
Tim: Yeah. No kidding. Yeah.
Les: It’s kind of like The Emperor Has No Clothes. They already know you screwed up, and you continue to screw it up in the same way. Until you stand up and say, “Look, I realize I have a problem here. I’m going to fix it. In fact, I need your help fixing it,” they will respect that so much more because, otherwise, it’s kind of like, “Well, he doesn’t even know.” It’s hard to do. We have to be vulnerable, and it’s okay to be vulnerable as a leader. That took me a long time to learn that.
Tim: Yeah, a lot of times, leaders want to be the ones with the answers and have everything figured out. You lose credibility actually versus saying, sometimes, “You know what, I don’t know. I struggle with that too.”
Tim: “We’ll figure it out together.” That’s good. You have a quote, and again, I don’t know if you came up with that. I always attribute it to you, but when you’re in a leadership position, people come to you all the time with dirty laundry. They want to gossip. They want to get you involved in their drama. You taught me a long time ago, you said, “I can either help you, or I can keep it confidential. I can’t do both.” Let’s talk about that a little bit. How did you learn that lesson, and why do you think that really kind of diffuses the situation? Because it really does. It really diffuses the situation.
Les: Well, it’s probably founded in something I read, but it really was born out of necessity because a lot of times, people want to just gain validation of their own beliefs.
Les: They want to find a fan, and they want to find somebody who will get into their pity party with them (or whatever). Sometimes that’s necessary, but let me clarify, first of all, that confidentiality, when it comes to something personal, then, of course, you know, someone wants to share in confidence with me because they just need someone to listen to. I don’t even remember what our situation was, but I know it would’ve been around business.
Then as leaders, when someone who we lead comes to us and wants to tell us something, and then they say, “Well, can I share something with you in confidence?” I’ll just clarify, “If it’s about you and it doesn’t affect business and people who you’re expecting me to do something about, of course I will. If you’re telling me this expecting me to help you to fix it or to do something about it and it’s really about business, and it’s about someone who you lead or someone who is leading you or somebody who is on the team, then I can’t keep it confidential if you want me to do something about it.”
It’s just that simple because, otherwise, you’re just complaining. If you really want to fix it, then you have to be open to exposing what it is that your grievance is. Usually, I will also ask, “Does this person know?”
Les: It’s kind of funny: “So you’re telling me this about this person or this grievance or this situation or what they did and how it has affected you or how it made you feel. Have you let that person know?” “Well, not in so many words,” and I go, “Well, you better do it in so many words. They can’t fix something they don’t know.” It’s an interesting position to be put it in.
I don’t know if that answers your question, Tim. It’s something that I really truly want to help people. It came from a place…because I made the mistake. Someone says, “Can you hold this in confidence?” I’ll go, “Yeah, of course. Of course. Yeah, I’m someone you can trust.” Well, then they would dump this information on you, and I go, “Holy crap! This is something that really needs to be fixed for their good and somebody else’s good, and here I am. Now I can’t do anything about it.” I’m not going to violate that.
Tim: Yeah, because if you keep it in confidence, that person’s going to know anyway. Yeah, no, it’s impossible. Right? Yeah, that’s interesting.
Tim: Oh, one of the things that I teach my leaders is when they come to me, or anybody on their team (I teach it to the whole team, actually), I say, “Hey, if you come to me with a problem, my answer and your answer as a leader should be, ‘Boy, it sounds like you have a problem. Let’s go talk to Mary about that.'” If Bob has a problem with Mary, that’s what I go say, “Let’s go talk to Mary about that.”
What I find happens is, very quickly, people don’t come to me with those problems because what they’re hoping is that I’m just going to take their side and listen to them and validate them and make them feel good, but when you don’t do that, and you say, “It sounds like you have a problem. Let’s go fix it,” they don’t want to fix it. Oh gosh, no.
Tim: No, they don’t want to fix it, but they just want to complain to you. Very quickly, they determine that you’re not a good person to dump on anymore, and so they move on. No, again, I think I learned that from you.
Let’s pull out the Heinsen crystal ball. I know you got it sitting there right on your desk. I’ve been to your office. It’s a big crystal ball, bigger than the one they have at Disneyland in the Haunted House. Where do you think voluntary benefits are heading in the next few years, next three to five years?
Les: Well, a lot of what I read and see validates what I’ve always felt and believed, and that is, even prior to the recent changes in the marketplace and health care reform, I’ve felt that the voluntary benefits and the products that are out there to pay benefits directly to the individual to help them in a serious accident, serious illness, to keep from going bankrupt. I always thought that was a noble thing. I get rewarded from that. Now it’s just bigger, more prevalent than ever before. I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m sorry to burst your bubble on that.
Tim: Oh, man.
Les: I definitely believe that as long as there isn’t some stroke-of-a-pen collateral damage that gets done that harms what we’re trying to do in helping people, the upside in this thing is huge. You and I, we’ve seen some tremendous growth and have been involved in teams that have achieved tremendous, tremendous growth. I think those stages of growth pale in comparison to what we see ahead of us in this space, assuming that forces outside of our control don’t…like I said, through a stroke of a pen, legislation of some sort, which can happen.
Tim: Could, yeah.
Les: Yes, I believe that voluntary benefits have a tremendous upside in the years to come.
Tim: You bet. You bet. What I’ve been telling people for about the last year (and it sounds like you would agree with me) is that when the history of voluntary benefits gets written, they’re going to talk about 2013-2014 to 2024, kind of that 10-year period, as “the good ole days” of voluntary benefits.
Les: Yeah, I would agree. I think that we’re on the beginning stages of where… You know. Anybody listening to this probably understands this, but insurance, in general, is now a kitchen-table conversation, or at least was in the latter part of last year and the first part of this year as people were trying to figure out how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact them and decisions that they have to make. That’s going to start up here again in just a couple of months, by the way.
Tim: I know.
Les: It’s still going on with employers. If there’s anything good that can be said about Affordable Care Act is that it’s consumer-directed. The consumer is becoming much more involved in this process and understanding it and making decisions around it, which just puts us in a great place because those of us in this business, we’re communicators, and we’re here as consultants. People need help with this, and so we’re in a good place, I would say, to have many good years ahead of us of helping people. That’s really what this is about, getting people involved, as Tom Hopkins would say, “Getting people involved in our fine products.”
Tim: That’s right. That’s right. That’s what he would say. For those of you who are just joining us, Tom Hopkins has agreed to come on the podcast in a couple of weeks. Les, you’re the last B-list guy I’m ever going to… No, just kidding. You’re not a B list. You are my A list, buddy.
Les: Holy smokes, you just moved me a couple of notches.
Tim: The B.
Les: I thought I was D or C. I’ll take it.
Tim: No. No, that’s not true at all.
Les: I’ll take the B.
Tim: That’s not true at all. You are an A-list guy in my opinion, so absolutely. It’s funny… One of the things I’ve been saying (and you just said it, the same thing, just a little differently), I say it this way: The true need for need for our product hasn’t really changed that much in the last 17 years I’ve been doing this, but I think because of the Affordable Care Act and everything that’s going on, the perceived need of it has gone up. People think they need it more than they needed it 15 years ago. That’s not necessarily true, but they think they need it more, which is good for us.
Les: Yeah. The awareness of the need is more, and in some ways, they probably do need it more because there are bigger deductibles and copayments.
Tim: Yep. Yep. Yep.
Les: In some ways, that could be true.
Tim: You bet. Les, I’ve known you a long time. I’ve stayed at your little shack there in Truckee, California. I know you’ve made a lot of money in this industry, and I’m not trying to put you on the spot and make you out to be Bill Gates kind of money, but you made a lot of money. You’re financially secure. What keeps you motivated? Why are you still doing this? Because I mean you could easily be back to the Amway dream-building thing. You could be sitting on the beaches of the world drinking rum drinks, drinks with umbrellas, and enjoying life. Your kids are all out of college, the whole bit. Why do you keep doing this, man?
Les: Well, man, there are some days I ask myself that question. No, Aflac has been very good to me and has afforded me so much and such great security and some that will impact my kids and my kids’ kids and beyond. I’m not putting myself in the same category as Dan Amos or anybody else, but you could ask the same question of Dan Amos who is still an active CEO. Bill Gates, I think, has retired. Well, he doesn’t need to work, so you don’t do it for the money. I tell people when I say that, “I’m not doing this for the money,” it’s kind of like I cringe because it’s such a worn-out statement. I don’t need the money, but I’ll take it.
Tim: You keep the checks, in other words. You’re going to keep the checks. Absolutely.
Les: Yeah, exactly. It’s not what drives me. It’s a way of keeping score. Success is measured in a lot of ways, and I think Jim Rohn said that it’s one way of measuring success. There are lots of ways to measure success. There are a lot people who maybe don’t have a lot of money who are very successful and bring great value to community and to the world, and he also said we don’t get paid for the time that we put in. We get paid for the value that we bring to society. So I believe that I’m being rewarded for value that I’m bringing, and I don’t apologize for the money, but it’s a way of keeping score.
Les: That’s really what it is at this point. It’s the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s not like I need it, but it’s really about the people in the other room today, sitting here in my training room. We had a bunch of people in here, training them. The day before that, we had a bunch of people, new associates, brand new coming into this business. That excites me. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
That’s what makes my feet hit the floor at 5:00 every because I have goals to achieve. I have things I want to accomplish that have to do with getting this team to a certain level, not getting my bank account to a certain level. That’s what drives me, and I suppose anybody who is still working. I think Tom Hopkins said, “Work is anything you’re doing when you would rather be doing something else.” I really wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. It’s not work when you enjoy it, and you’re passionate about it. Now there are days, of course.
Les: But overall and by and large, it’s rewarding. As long as it’s rewarding and you’re bringing value, I’m going to keep doing it.
Tim: Well, you said a couple of things there that are so important I want to reiterate. The biggest one, though, is you said you can measure success in a lot of ways. It’s not always about the bank account. Again, because I didn’t live in your house, and I didn’t grow up with your kids, so I’m sure it’s not quite utopian as I see it, but I look at your kids. I look at the relationship you’ve had with your wife. I look at what you’ve done and how you maintain a balance there.
It’s one of those things that it’s been impressive to me because you’ve been at the highest level of achievement in a big, big corporation, and yet you’ve managed to maintain great relationships with your kids, great relationship with your wife. I’m not, for a second, saying it is ideal because I’m sure there are mistakes you’ve made just like I have with my kids, but…
Les: Yeah, of course.
Tim: …you’re one of those people who I’ve just been impressed who really understands that, at the end of the day, it’s, as Maxwell would say… We’ve quoted John Maxwell a lot. I’m going to have to link to a couple of his books in the show notes here, but his definition of success is when the people who are closest to you and know you best still respect you and love you. That’s what I see in your life, man. That’s really what has impressed me about you.
I’m going to put you on the spot. One last question and I’ll thank you for your time, and that is, you know, we all get just a short, brief time on this rock, third rock from the sun. Your time is going to be done sooner than you even think. My kids are growing so fast. Your kids are too. When it’s all over and done, how do you want to be remembered?
Les: I want to be remembered as somebody who gave it his best, who was honest, treated people fairly, and did it right and made an impact, so yeah, just gave his best. Honesty, probably, is at the top. I just put a high value in that, integrity, and don’t always make the right decisions but just doing the right thing. I want to be thought of as somebody who maybe didn’t always didn’t do the right thing but always tried his best to do the right thing.
Tim: It doesn’t get any better than that. Hey, Les, I appreciate you being on. You have made a huge impact in my life. I said that a couple of times. I hope our listeners are really paying attention, taking notes. How can we get a hold of you? I know you’re on LinkedIn. I know you tweet. What is your Twitter handle?
Les: Pardon me. What was that question, Tim? I’m sorry.
Tim: What is your Twitter handle?
Les: What is my handle?
Tim: Yeah. Isn’t it @LWHeinsen?
Les: @LWHeinsen, yep.
Tim: Yep. Yeah, absolutely.
Les: That’s correct.
Tim: If you want to follow Les on Twitter, it’s @LWHeinsen. I’ll also put his LinkedIn link on there, so if people want to get a hold of you and follow you, they can do it there. Man, I can’t tell you how honored I am you would come on. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this with world, and you’ve made a big difference in my life, and you’re making a big difference in your world. Thanks so much.
Les: Thank you, Tim. I appreciate the time. I’m honored to be on your podcast.
Tim: All right. Thanks.
Les: Talk to you soon.
Tim: Mm-hmm. Bye-bye.
[End of audio]
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: Wow, how awesome was that? I hope you learned as much as I did. If you enjoyed today’s episode, could you do me a huge favor? Could you please go to the show notes at www.successisvoluntary.com/021/, as in episode 21, then share it on Facebook, tweet out a link to it, or just send an email to somebody about it? It will help others discover the podcast. It might even change their life.
Also, make sure you tune in for the next two weeks, as I have a couple of great podcasts coming up. Next week, the podcast will be based upon a speech I just gave to my friend Todd Mason’s organization in California. The speech was titled “Turning Pro.” In it, I explored eight things that the true sales professionals do differently than those who, you know, kind of play around at this thing. Based upon the feedback I got from Todd’s team, you won’t want to miss it.
Then in two weeks, I will have the sales training legend, Tom Hopkins, on the podcast. In fact, I need your help. Could you please email at me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment to the show notes for this podcast the question you think I should ask Tom? Honestly, I’m a little nervous to interview him and would love to get your input as to what to ask.
Hey, that’s it for this week. Thanks again for listening to the podcast. Remember, everything you do in life is voluntary, including success.