Monday, December 19, 2016

Service, No Matter What.

This story happened a little while ago but as I was reading through my ideas for blogs, it still rang a note of import to me. In my life and my business, I realize that others are necessary for anyone to succeed. Sometimes that may mean a paycheck and at other times it doesn't. It's at the times where it doesn't when you can really decide what matters to you and to others you watch. Here is the story:

I was part of a group benefits meeting. I was offering my usual bevy of voluntary and supplemental coverage as I was working with a colleague. The group wanted to take some moments for their employees to understand how their health insurance had changed, so they scheduled a group meeting for all of us to present what we had to offer and how the policies worked.

The main health carrier came out to do their part. Before the meeting even started, we noted that this representative did not want to be there. That was understandable as it was indeed early in the morning. To also understand this attitude, you have to know that this representative was getting paid a salary no matter what so he obviously felt his presence was more than enough (which shone through his attitude as well). Confiding in fellow insurance agents was one thing, but then he went on to speak to this group of blue collar, hard working, clock-punching men who just knew they had health insurance. As he spoke, it was obvious that he did not know the plan he was presenting. He hesitated and verbally stalled his way through a very rough 20 minutes of reading to a group of grown men. He even went so far as to state things that were not even true. It was a trainwreck.

My colleague and I were dumbfounded. We stated how we could have saved everyone this embarrassment and done the presentation ourselves. We were embarrassed for the rep and we were upset for the employees. The rep didn't care. He was getting paid. But the people he was speaking to needed him to be the expert. His company needed him to show some pride and knowledge. None of that happened because he showed he could have cared less.

So, as we serve others in whatever capacity we find ourselves, we can instill some ways of serving no matter what. Here are my top 3:

1 - Give without a return. When you do what you do or are asked for help, try and do whatever you can without expectation of the favor or help being returned. It's not easy to do. It never has been. Many people get into "agreements" where they will do one thing for another in return. Sometimes you need to scratch and back without a scratch in return. You need to be OK with that and you may be surprised how truly appreciative those you do this to will be.

2 - Give more than necessary. Giving is a nice thing to do. People may request your time or experience or whatever and you may give it freely. Next time, try and find a way to give just a little bit more than asked. I feel it's a matter of asking yourself, "What could I do to take this from being nice to being unexpected?" I often think, "This is great, but what could I do to make it better?" That's a concept of always bettering yourself and what you do. It's called growth.

3- Giving is a gift from you and to you. Do you ever notice how when you do something for others how good you feel afterward? Who gets more joy at Christmas...the gift giver or the receiver? Many times it's the gifts we give that make us feel the best. It should be that in every way we give. Whether we give our time or our talents or a listening ear, we get a ton from giving. Giving is like a boomerang. Get ready for it to come back simply by sending your gift out there.

While I certainly hope that insurance representative has found success doing something else, it will be a constant reminder to me to be glad I can get up each day and offer what I do to others and their families. Every client matters. Every company I serve in is a blessing filled with people who need what I do and I am grateful to give.

Look for ways to give...and give your best. You'll be better and so will the world around you.

The video below was a JCPenney initiative from a few years ago where random people got selected to give and were told to go find a stranger and give to them what they wanted for the holidays. Yes, it's a touching video and something that shows in a material way what I was saying above. Enjoy and have asuper holiday season:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Big Wheels Turned. I Rode Along. I Was Glad I Did.

The 2016 AAHU (Alabama Association of Health Underwriters) conference, entitled, "Big Wheels Keep on Turning" was a great success. Great speakers and vendors and supporters throughout. We could not have asked for a better day.

In the aftermath, I was struck with a few things. One major thing was I was personally sworn in as the Alabama State Vice President serving with our new President, Robert Goodman. I was honored when he asked me to be a part and then after I was hit with what that least to me. I am humbled, to say the least. During the conference I was struck with a few other things. The support we have from companies and people from all over the state of Alabama, the past of this organization and where we may be going, and where I can fit in and do my part.

We can't and don't do it alone. As you looked around the ballroom where we had our one day meeting, I was keenly aware of the vendors and people who agreed to support the cause of the conference and what AAHU means. Each table represented invested time and money to be a part of the event that led to meeting new brokers, their competition, and the people in their state who care about being a member of a great organization like AAHU and NAHU (National Association of Health Underwriters). I don't think everyone realizes that all of its members PAY to be a part of our group. We pay a monthly due and for those monthly meetings and this annual state conference, we also pay a fee. These vendors pay to have a space to set up and shake hands and make connections that may or may not build their business throughout the year. The key thing is we all see the value in what we are doing and who we are as a collective. While there may competitors right next to each other all over the ballroom, when this conference happens we are all one collective supporting what it means to be a professional in a profession that is as personal as any out there. Benefits are not just a quick decision process, and all this work we do together stresses that and for those moments we are all on the same page.

The past can and should be repeated and honored. We all want to talk about the future. We feel we have to change this or that or we are not growing. In many ways, this is more than a true statement. There is no greater harm to the future than a hum drum attitude and a process that gets stale and uneventful. However, in this industry. In my industry, I am keenly aware of what good business and good people are all about. That became crystal clear as we honored Bill Miller in 2016. Bill and I were not what you would call "buddies". I knew of Bill. I had seen him at various events and the annual conference each and every year. We were always cordial and polite as we shook hands when we saw each other. Bill was involved in an accident that confined him to a wheelchair back a bit ago. We would get updates on his progress and would take the time, as a group, to pray for him and his recovery and all the things you do for those who are hurting. Come to find out, Bill didn't let this situation mess him up for any longer than he had to to heal. His colleagues and family and friends say he couldn't wait to get back to his business and serving his clients. I was inspired by that. I learned this year that he was an integral part of the continuing education those in my industry in Alabama have to go through to stay current and properly licensed to do what we do for our clients. I was touched when AAHU honored Bill with an honorary lifetime membership into AAHU, even if his years of service had not quite been met. His example and influence is, and will be, felt throughout the state of Alabama and I am proud to know him even more than casual "hello friends". My point is that the past is important because some of those good old values are still the same and still very much needed. The attitude and drive of those who have paved a way for us should be honored and replicated for those coming after us. This industry doesn't end with me. It will go on and I hope I can leave a legacy that is anywhere close to what others have done in their lives and careers.

Who am I? As I was sworn in to be Vice President of AAHU, I can't describe what I felt other than a combination of responsibility, a little fear, a sense of expectation, and a drive to be the best VP I could be in the next two years. I've been honored in different positions before, but the sudden weight of the state brought me to a place of hope in myself that I could do the service to the level I expected of myself, regardless of what others thought or felt. I can't thank Robert Goodman enough for asking me to serve with him. It's one thing when your clients and your friends and family appreciate you. It's a totally different feeling when it's a colleague. It says they see something in you that they want to partner with and utilize to help them in their journey and I am all too happy to do just that. We are not even a week in to our new roles and Robert and I are working on a game plan for the rest of the year and into our two-year service in our planning. That is exciting. We are on the same page. We want to make a difference and we want to serve the state of Alabama and those in our industry to the best of our abilities and "leave it all on the field". That's an exciting feeling to be a part of. 

Only time will dictate where this road leads me, but I am certain the road will stay under my feet because it has been paved long ago and by many more people than me. My part will be to travel it and maybe pave some new places our day and time will allow us to do now. My wheels will keep on turning. I'm along for the ride and I can't wait to see what we see and do all we can.