They are all great days

Updating from September 2012

Life philosophies can adjust.  It’s tough to think that any day you wake up doesn’t have some element of great to it.  Although I really do not remember who I was referencing six years ago, I think I do and just the possibility of who it is makes me smile.

Ten or so years ago I started to realize I could work with anyone.  Then, this adapted a little to

  1. As long as they are nice to me and the people I work with
  2. Their money is green

This is still the philosophy.  Sometimes we say “neutral or better” since we humans are meant to be nice to each other but that doesn’t mean you’ll develop some amazing friendship with everyone.  But, it is rare when I am not able to learn from someone that I am working with.  Sometimes it is something they share directly, sometimes it is something I learn while working with them.

There are a lot of satisfying moments in what we insurance brokers do.  One of my favorites is when a person you have not heard from/thought of in a while reaches out.  Happens almost every week at this point.  This week LinkedIn helped it happened.  Fairly certain it is at least six, likely closer to ten years since I spoke with her.

There are several reasons we use LinkedIn yet I cannot seem to figure out why so many in insurance don’t understand the amazing tool that it is.

“I DO NOT SELL INSURANCE I HELP PEOPLE BUY IT  and along the way I am privileged to interact with some awesome people.” BIlly Van Jura

This, has not changed and I do not suspect it will.  I think I take it more seriously now which is likely part of why we are doing well.  Operating this way also creates a lot of confusion for me since most brokers are still to busy selling insurance to realize there is a better way to do things.

Thoughts circa 2005

Doing an audit/ clean up of my computer.  Lots of satisfaction in finding goal list and projects that were successful but forgotten.  Also, find lots of thoughts that I am thankful I had then and are still valid today.  Some from a goal list I had put together;

My mission is to continually provide my clients with the service that I would expect, the best possible.  Each relationship will be treated as though it is priceless.  My professionalism must always be visible and I cannot sway from my principals.  Purely on principle, I must always give the client everything possible all while being the person who I would want to deal with.  I must be a reliable source for information and provide those who I deal with the utmost of professionalism…….

It will never be about the money, it is the goal that will drive me and I cannot lose sight of the fact that the money can disappear and I have to appreciate the experience and wherever it may lead.  Since it is my clients who will fund my pursuits, they will be priceless to me and therefore I must be unflinching in my resolve to make their experience great enough to share.  Once this is shared I will be in the best position.  It is about the overall financial goal however my clients must know that they are people and not just numbers and I cannot lose sight of this, my production goals are merely the road map, it is the people and the relationships that must be my fuel.

It is simple I will give them the best to start and therefore cannot be questioned later one.  Accountability is extremely important and I will hold myself accountable for everything.

Why I took your customer?

Several times a month a new person hires me and I am shocked.  See I know I am “good” and I know how to do a lot of things.  But there is a recurring theme, there is really no reason why this opportunity should exist.  There is no reason why this person should have called.  But then again there are quite a few.

The one that set me over is something like this, husband and wife with the same agent for 20+ years.  Husband and wife fit perfectly into dozens of companies; married, great credit, college degrees, home owners, clean records.  He is also a business owner and the paths fairly regularly cross with the agent who should appreciate his business.  Sounds familiar?

  • You let me.  I didn’t take this person as much as you didn’t put any effort into keeping them.
  • You’ve had an agency for twenty years and you are acting that way.  STOP.  The year is 2014, time to get comfortable with it and start using the available tools.
  • Make your own rules.  Just because some book describes “typical coverage” doesn’t mean you need to do it.  Are you offering as much coverage as you have?
  • Grow with your customers.  Because if you don’t I will.  Seriously, loyalty goes to people first and maybe companies second.  Rates improve if you want them to.
  • You might disagree but the fact is you really don’t earn money off a rate increase.  You should be lean enough that the goal is to keep existing customers but you’re not.
  • Pay it back.  If you are doing it right you turn some amount of profit on that customer immediately.  So based on that you may  have been profitable on one person for twenty years.  Have you supported an event their a part of?  Donated to their charity?  Sent them some business?  Why not?
  • WAKE UP CALL.  We are in an old industry, think about the other things you are buying and compare the experience.  Seriously if studying Geico, Progressive or ay other online company does not wake you up look at Amazon, Zappos and about 10,000 other retailers.

This could go on for a while but I hope you get the point.  Thanks for letting me make some suggestions.



An underutilized sales tool


Seriously, people call you and you have 15-30 seconds to say something cool.  Credit to Jeffrey Gitomer who first put this thought in my head.  ” I am on my phone or away from my desk…”  Says nothing, shows nothing but it does waste the time of the person that called.  Help them smile, maybe even laugh.  Why not?

How about letting a call go to voicemail?  Absolutely!!  Stay on the phone with me, show me you are interested in just me.  Show me you are committed to speaking with me and getting something done.  Instead you click over or put me on hold.  You then need to try and reengage in the conversation.  We lost any flow we were in but hey you probably also just made another person feel unimportant as well.

Do you think you make anybody feel good when you tell them your are busy and will need to call back?

Now I understand sometimes things happen.  I do make exceptions for my wife, but not all the time.  She knows she can text or  email as well.  But if a child is sick or one of us is traveling, yes, in my world, this may constitute a good time to interrupt some business.  Beyond that, I am not rue of any reasons

Heck not answering the phone while on the phone or engaged in a task that already has your focus is more polite than interrupting someone.  On some level it also shows you are in demand

P.S. Please respond to all your messages and make some effort into leaving good voice mails as well.  Honestly, if a text or e-mail will work it is more important that you thoughtfully respond.

Just some thoughts, use as you see fit.

Never end the referral loop

Here is what referrals would look like if they were a “symbol”;

Thanks Charles Petzold

Pretty simple, where the intersection takes place is the referral/sharing moment.  The idea being that the referral takes place and the Referrer and the Referee continue on the path and eventual pass and receive another  referral.  Reality is in perfection it is more like this;

thanks Etsy person.

A continually growing chain of infinity symbols that interlock with one another therefore allowing a continual stream of referrals and sharing to take place.  If at some point you choose to cut the loop you hinder the ability to give and  subsequently receive referrals in the future.  Why would you want to do that?  No idea.

Keep the chain going.  Keep sharing.


When does 1(nice introduction) +0(sad reply) = 3

The moment you decide to ask a friend for an introduction that is when.  See the key is that you, in this case I, was willing to strengthen a relationship by asking for some help.  See there is something to be said for being willing to go out on a limb and ask for some help.

Sometimes you win just by asking.

Now what about the other side, the brush off or lack of interest from the other party.  I give it a big aw well and move on.  See part of being willing to ask is being willing to get turned down.  Remember just because most of the world does not have the senses to see, hear or feel an opportunity doesn’t mean one does not exist.

You need to be open to opportunities for them to find you.

Just another day.  Keep moving forward.

Unemployment insurance is earned not bought

How many people who collect “unemployment” are legitimately unemployed?

How many of those same people did NOTHING or close to it to remain employed?

**Disclaimer; I have  no idea what the payments are for unemployment.  I have no idea what you need to do to “qualify” for it.  I have never nor will never be unemployed…maybe unemployable but never unemployed**

FACT: There are jobs everywhere.  Thing is many of them are not advertised and do not need to be.

FACT: That is not a statement about the “old boys club” that is a true statement as it pertains to the world we live in.

Take this statement via Harvery McKay; ” Dig your well before your thirsty…”  Pretty simple concept that is often overlooked. Why?  It takes some effort, well truthfully a lot of effort.  But incorporating somethings into  a lifestyle concept pretty much makes it easy.

Maybe as a condition for receiving the monetary benefit you do not teach them a skill instead you make them look in the mirror and assess their “network.”  Maybe instead of looking at their skill set first lets look at who they are as a person.  Lets look at who they know.  Lets look at why they are in the position they are in and why they are there.

Unemployment is not the problem.  The problem is whatever caused them to become unemployed.

So how do we address it? Some thoughts;

1. What have they done to keep up with the world? I do not mean updating the resume I mean have they continually added to a skill set?  Have they added another skill set?  Have they developed any sales skills (don’t kid yourself, we are all in sales)?

2. What is their on-line presence like?  Do they have all their contacts in one place?  do they even have contacts?

3. Assuming they have contacts, do their people know what it is they actually do?  More importantly, do they know what they want to do?

4. How have they stayed in touch?  Have they brought any value to them?  Is there any reason for their network to help?

By the way, so far everything above is free or basically no cost since all you are doing is keeping in touch with friends.  And since you are already paying for internet and phone service you are all set.

Reality and likely the fact is that if you are open to new opportunities and you are keeping up with your friends you can likely avoid the fate of millions of others.  You do not need a job fair, you do not need the want ads or job boards or whatever other tools supposedly can help.  As long as you are making an effort to be a good human being, remain in touch with as many of your friends as possible and are bringing some value to the world you can avoid the unforeseen.  Better of looking at yourself as an independent contractor responsible for his or her fate than letting the world determine it.



What do you look for in a college?

I was at a light behind a car with a big sticker announcing that they were an Alum of New York University.  Pretty regular, unremarkable thing to see.  But I am wondering, what does and what should someone be looking for when you look at a college?

My initial thought is check in with the alumni office first with the career/guidance office a close second or even in a tie for first.   Even if you do not know what you want to study the reality is these two places could be the best tools any college has to offer.  I appreciate the fact that the name on some pieces of paper carriers more prestige than others but the reality is it is a piece of paper.  You can read all the books you want but if you do not do anything with the information it isn’t really knowledge.

If you do have a major it probably makes a ton of sense to then check in on the professors in whatever department you are looking at.  Do they actually have experience beyond the campus or are they just teaching courses?  Have they had a career and now are teaching or did they just keep going to school without actually applying any of the “knowledge” they gained.

**Disclosure, I did drop out of an MBA program when I realized what was being taught was not how the information/concept was actually used.**

I am sure that there are some highly specialized curriculum programs for pretty specific majors throughout the college landscape.  I am also sure there are lots of people with highly specialized degrees who are either unemployed or working in a different field that would not have required a degree.  No sense in being that person.

Does my college have a solid alumni network? See there events calendar, LinkedIn, Facebook groups.

Does the career office regularly bring in outsiders to talk?

Do they regularly do job fairs where not only do you get to meet prospective employers but you also see a wide spectrum of companies?

Have you met other Alumni who can give a testimonial about the school and programs beyond things like “it’s a great place to go to school,” and ” You’ll have a lot of fun….”

Either way, just a thought.

Overseed the lawn let it grow then weed it..

I suggest always starting from a genuine position.  Preferably a position that makes you want to help others and be a solid resource for everyone you know.

So over the last several years I have taught myself a lot about LinkedIn.  It started about four years ago as a way to make sure I am keeping in touch with people.  It has grown into a very useful tool for not only keeping a rolodex somewhat organized but also has allowed me to become more valuable for the people I value.  The following is a little experiment I had done once before and just did again.  It worked well the first time, I learned some lessons and here you go;

12/28/13 about 6 a.m. I invited everyone I could to “LinkIn” with me.  Now on the surface some people would think this is spam but if you look beneath you realize on some level, some deeper than others, I have had contact with all the people I invited.  Many were people I knew on some level we just never “Linked”

Now the starting point was 804 connections.  Within  24 hours I was at 923 .  This is a 14%+ increase in contacts and is almost a 6% return on the invitations sent.  Really solid numbers.  BUT remember this really just makes me more potentially valuable to the people that hire me, choose to work with me and see me as a resource.  41 of these new 119 actually looked at my profile, not sure where the value is in that  stat.

Now is is a full 5 days later.  5 weird days on the calendar considering a weekend between Christmas and New Years, New Years eve and New Years Day and that much of the world is semi hibernating.  Now the number is 1020.  A solid 10% return on invitations and 25% increase in contacts.

But where is the value in this?

  • In theory I am more valuable to my contacts because I have more contacts.
  • I have shown up in 216 new feeds which have potentially been seen by 26,000+ people.
  • LinkedIn’s software now presents new opportunities based on who is in my network.
  • Anytime I put something out the odds are higher that my “buyer” will see it, better yet a new buyer.
  • Etc.

Well now what? Here are some tips I share when the opportunity arises.  Reality is if you make the people around you better you’ll become better.

1. make your profile as complete as possible.  Be human.  Keywords help, especially colleges and location.  Also, somewhere in your profile simply write your last name as it is commonly misspelled.
2. I love the LinkedIn phone app.  Fun experiment was letting it invite all my phone contacts.  I liken this to over seeding a lawn.  You’ll get some goofy grass but you can always…
3. Weed the garden.  I know everyone I am connected to.  Some better than others but I do not connect with everyone I meet.  Why?  I want to be able to refer/introduce these people to others.  BUT for the sake of the above experiment I went a little beyond my usual.  No worries though, I had many great things happen when a month or so after “seeding” I go back and start weeding the garden.
4. 10 minutes a day; Linkedin tells you who has updates and who has anniversaries.  Likeing a status is quick and puts your face in front of that persons  contacts.  When taking the congratulations route.  Write a full sentence.  So easy to personalize and stand out.  Scroll through your updates and pick one or two to comment on.  It is quick and really effective. ** Please read the first two sentences of this post again**
5. PHOTOS  Get a solid head shot.   Personally prefer a basic head shot.  What an awesome missed opportunity for most people.
Thanks for considering.

Fear is a sales tactic for amateurs

Not to far removed from election season and now with other elections and votes pending soon I cannot help but think about how amateurish campaigns can be.  Reality is it is pretty sad.   Everyone operates from a reactive position and goes right for the “jugular” with something like public safety.  Rarely with any facts in hand.  Even rarer with actually actionable steps to fix the base of the problem from the past.  Instead they take the easy road, strike up some fear, attack an opponent and just like that you have some politics.

How about doing things a bit differently.  How about you live a life full of integrity and service.  Make lots of friends along the way, bring value when you do not need to and when you need to really bring it.  How about you connect your friends and community so you have and almost unbreakable web of support around you. How about you reach out to people when you are not in need of votes.  How about you present actual measurable, checkable facts rather than speculating and putting words in bold.

Mailing does work if done correctly.  There are quite a few professional resources that can show you how to do it if you do not know already.  You can actually mail less and get a big return because you are mailing to the most likely people to embrace your message.  Besides with voter turn out so low you are actually disrupting a landscape with your silly sign more than you are attracting votes.

Oh and for those wondering, here is an excerpt from the US Postal service manual;

The USPS Domestic Mail Manual; “no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle.”

Then there is this thing called Facebook.  If you have a core group of supporters there reach will likely be to people like them who in theory vote like them as well.  Put some resources there.

Bottom line, way better to be proactive then reactive.  Take on the mindset of a true sales professional and actually lay out a campaign.  The world is full of people disguising facts and using other agendas to mask underlying problems.  Please do not be one of them.

Just some thoughts.