My best year ever; so far

2007; my best year on record. I knew it had the makings to be a great year when I made my first hole in one ever on January 2nd of ’07.

My day job is front line sales in commercial insurance. I’m responsible for identifying my prospects and coming up with a plan of action for not only getting an appointment, but be compelling enough my prospect is willing to fire the person they currently have representing them and hire me.

Needless to say, there is a lot of networking, prospecting, courting, etc involved to even have the opportunity to make these deals happen.

Touch ’em all baby, that ball is out of here

Based on groundwork I had done over a two year period, by March of ’07 I was successful on two new business accounts. Β If one was a home run, the other was a grand slam. Hands down, career year by March that immediately increased my income by 65%. I was the toast of the office, I was the man.

Wait, there is more

This was the year my oldest son was a senior in college and my youngest just started so they were able to be off at school at least one year together. It was also the year my oldest got accepted into the Law School of his choice without having to apply anywhere else.

I played in a prestigious golf tournament where they provided us with new Footjoys upon arriving and my team won our flight and 1st prize was a brand new Hooter’s golf bag. At the dinner afterwards, they drew my name for the 42″ flat screen TV.

Guess what, I wasn’t even registered to play; I didn’t pay a dime. I got a call at 11:30 am to see if I could fill in for someone who couldn’t make it and by 12:30 we were teeing off. Boy Scout motto – be prepared.

At another golf tournament during this year, I won a ball drop for $500. And finally, I was playing in a Ryder Cup style tournament my friend has put on for 12+ years and scored my second hole in one. To put it in perspective, I’m a 16-18 handicapper and almost everybody there was a better golfer than me.

In the 12 year history, nobody had scored a hole in one so it accorded me somewhat legendary status at the time. Well, it might have been the drinking afterwards but at least I was a legend in my own mind.

Why didn’t I buy a lottery ticket that year; I was en fuego.

But what have you done for me lately?

My business and my income is directly affected by the health of the businesses we insure. When the bottom started to drop out of the economy it turned ugly pretty quickly. Did I tell you how great my ’07 was……..

In sales you don’t have the luxury to celebrate your victories too long. Once you stop growing you become stagnant and start to lose ground. Whereas I was getting all the accolades in 2007, 2008 was a challenge and a harsh reality check.

I chose sales as a profession because I like interacting with people and freedom of time. Knowing I will only get paid on what I kill, there has to be results however. I am on 100% commission and have never had 2 paychecks the same in the 28+ years I have been at @LanierUpshaw. The good news is, it is sustainable income as long as you keep them as a customer; the bad news is, it is hard to budget your income at times.

Do you want to put it on cruise control?

After ’07 I had all these plans to start mentoring the new people we were bringing on and being able to get away from the constant pressure to produce. It’s very easy to drop in the service mode with insurance (I have a team that is paid to do that) and I have to remember my number one function is new business production and strengthening the relationship I have with existing customers.

Somebody definitely moved my cheese after ’07. The good news is, I am still drawing a paycheck and I still have as much opportunity in Β front of me as I ever did.

Do you think it would be nice to sit back at some time and say ‘whew, I think I made it’? Did you ever have that year you think it should be a ‘walk off’ home run, but find the next day you have to start all over?

It’s like that second hole in one I had. You would think that would be game, set, match right? All it did was won that hole and we ended up halving (tie) the match. If that don’t beat all, huh?

Is there really ever a walk off home run in life? Maybe an inheritance or a lottery but everything else you have to grind it out everyday. What about you, ever thought you had a walk off home run?


47 thoughts on “My best year ever; so far

  1. Two years ago the paramedics came upstairs to take my husband by ambulance to the hospital. He’d been brought home from work and barely made it to bed. I called 911 and they were there in minutes. Bad meds had almost cost him his life. He spent a week in ICU.
    I’m telling this little story because he used to golf (he was really good) and he chose sales as a profession, too. He was born to sell! When the bottom dropped out of his job in ’07 he scrambled to find a job but in desperation took a job that killed his spirit. He was emotionally tired and depressed. After the hospital incident he called an old friend and got back into a company he’d worked in for years, the one he’s with now. He said to me from his cellphone the day he made that call,” Guess what I did? I called Bob. I just can’t live with the mundane any more!” There’s something to be said for having something to wake up to every day that you know you’re good at and can make you enough money to provide for your family. We’re still rebuilding.There was a day he thought he wanted to retire. My 24 y/o daughter thinks he should. I think that would kill him. He’ll be 59 next month. He never wants to retire now. It’s too much fun to work! (Sorry so long) Happy Monday Bill!

    • And if you don’t have your health, you really don’t have much; everything else becomes secondary.

      I see too, too many people in ‘jobs’ and not careers that just wear them down. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find something you like to do and get paid doing it as well.

      In sales, I just have to use my mind and my personality; as long as I have my health and enjoy doing it, why would I want to retire? I already have as much freedom of time as I want. I too like having a sense of purpose when I wake up in the morning. I’m afraid I would be pretty lazy as a retired person……..:)

      Thanks for sharing the story and ok on the length of the response; this post was actually a little longer than I wanted as well.

  2. Wow, Bill, that was some year! How ironic that it was right before the bottom dropped out of the economy. Or perhaps it was because of it. Success breeds success and if you’re feeling good about yourself in one area of life, the other areas tend to fall in line as well.

    That being said, I honestly feel your best years are ahead of you. This blog has really taken off. And now that you’re no longer “invisible” anymore, the sky is the limit. Now I know this blog doesn’t get you a paycheck, but I still think it can and will lead to great things.

    I knew you had two holes in one, but not in one year. How does getting 100 comments feel? Pretty awesome? Not anywhere near a hole in one, I’m sure, but it still must feel great.

    Best wishes for much continued success in all of your endeavors. You richly deserve it.

    • I was golden that year; I don’t even think my breath ever smelled bad……….:).

      Similar to my 2nd hole in one story; I thought 100 comments was the end all, the walk off home run. Then I started looking at who was or wasn’t showing up and when it dropped to half on the next post was it poor writing, people on vacation, etc. I realized quickly, you still have to produce and grow and all that other stuff will take care of itself. But yes, the 100 comments are pretty cool to me………..but I’m shameless like that.

      I do think the best years are ahead of me and I’m am excited with the opportunities I still have. Fortunately in my line of sales there truly is no limit. We don’t have any arbitrary ceiling if you start making too much.

      The old traditional insurance sales model allowed for complacency when you reached a certain point. 2008 taught me there are no guarantees, but it also allowed me to continue growing in many ways; which is good.

      Good to see you and hope your Labor Day is going well; we are headed to Ft Myers to see our sons.

      • Hi Bill, I’m so glad you’re going to have a wonderful family day today. What a great way to spend the holiday.

        When I was reading your post and reply to my comment, I thought of movie stars. They are considered only as good as their last film. Bloggers are that way too, aren’t we, Bill? We are only as good as our last post. So the pressure is always there to grow, outperform and reach a wider audience.

        So we’re just like movie stars, right?

        Yes, 100 comments is certainly a home run, but that does mean you are spending quite a bit of time replying. Thank you very much for doing so and making all of your readers feel very connected to you.

        Well done, my friend! πŸ™‚

    • Movies stars, athletes, you have to perform; what have you done for me lately. In a way, bloggers are the same; if you couldn’t perform people would eventually go somewhere else, right?

      Enjoy the walk off home runs, because you have to get back after the very next day, huh?

  3. A walk off home run?! Not yet Bill! That’s a good explanation of it, though! I think I always thought it was possible, but not I’m not so sure I’d want it. I wonder how soon I’d get bored without any new challenges in my life.
    Like you, I’ve been self employed for all my adult life and my “paychecks” were never the same and never guaranteed. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade it in though – it’s all worked out – so far! πŸ˜‰
    But I would like to place my order for a walk off home run anyway – just to see what it’s like – just in case…

    Here on Labour Day too Bill!?!?
    What are we – workaholics or die-hard bloggers? It’s just too much fun, isn’t it!

    • Not here long, we are going to Ft Myers, Fl to visit my sons but we can’t get there too early because they sleep in on their days off………

      I jokingly tell people at the gym I can’t wait until I reach that optimum level of fitness so I can quit working out. Similar to life, work, etc you really don’t want to stop growing; it’s a journey and not a destination.

      Maybe the walk off home run is where you reach that station in life you truly have walk away power and you can be more selective in what you do, who you associate with, how you choose to work, etc.

      Good to see you today, and hope you have a great one. Summer is officially over now, right?

  4. Hi Bill,
    Great story! Yes, I felt that way and ironically enough…it was 2007 as well! That was the year I started my business and if you could have seen me then…I was slaying ’em. πŸ™‚ I was able to duplicate my income from the year before when I was actually employed by someone else. I thought I had it made.
    Fast forward a year and there seemed to be something amiss..where was everyone? Why were people balking at my prices? And my goodness….where did this new baby come from? πŸ™‚ Yep, that’s right, in the hey day of good business and good times, we got pregnant. Still in denial, I acted as if “that” was a small hiccup in a day in the life. That hiccup (glorious little love that she is) coincided with a major hiccup in the real estate market (my bread and butter clients) that landed us dangerously close to the bottom of the barrel.
    What it’s all taught me? That you can never feel too comfortable with your “status” or your “station” in life. That business really is hard work. That we’ll never see “those days” again. That opportunity is what we make of it. And, that if I really want to succeed, I’ve got to stay one step ahead of myself – all the time – and, continue to hustle each and every day.
    And that little hiccup…she’s a joy of the finest dimension and trying to tickle me now as I type. πŸ™‚
    Have a great Labor Day, Bill!

    • ‘We’ got pregnant sounds like something a husband would say………..:)

      You are right, we have to create our own opportunities and we will probably never see it as crazy as it was mid-2000. I did see something on TV last night that North Dakota was booming and they couldn’t find enough workers. Hmmmmm, sounds pretty cold to me though.

      Taking a page out of JK’s book, you do have to hustle every day and you shouldn’t get complacent. Always look for opportunities to grow and prosper.

      Unfortunately, a lot of those jobs lost over the last 3 years are not coming back regardless of what the government or private industry tries to do so we better be able to figure it out for ourselves, huh?

      Good to see you and hope you have a great Labor Day.

      • To keep it in a sports context, life is like a round of golf. You will always encounter some good, some bad, some challenges and it’s how you negotiate it all is how your round ends up. I’m still all for enjoying the journey, be happy with what you have and everything else will take care of itself.

  5. ’07 was a great year for me too!! Soooo many accomplishments. The one thing that i found about life is that right after great accomplishments come obstacles. Once I got over those obstacles, I’ve been able to duplicate the accomplishments of 2007. Thanks for the flashback πŸ™‚

  6. I can’t get past the 2 hole in ones. Wow and Dam. You lucky ……. Actually, no. Congratulations are in order for you. What a year that was.

    I think we all would like to hit that walkoff HR, Bill. Like you said, to be able to choose what we do, not necessarily to retire. I too, have been in sales most of my adult life, but as I have grown older, I have put more emphasis on doing something that I feel is more of a passion and my purpose. (The CARE Movement) Still waiting to monetize, but I know it is coming.

    Have fun in Ft. Myers. Played a lot of golf when my parents lived there. Take care brother.
    If we don’t get together at FSU – Oklahoma game, we have got to hook up and play some golf. Thank goodness for college football, huh ?

    Appreciate your crazy humor and writng skill. Thanks again for helping me out.


    • It was a crazy and incredible year; I would have loved to been able to build on it, but unfortunately the economy didn’t allow it. However, I still had a job and was still drawing a paycheck so it could have been a heck of a lot worse.

      Yes, we do need to catch up some way or another. I definitely have access to some nice courses we can take advantage of.

      Appreciate the compliments and support; it’s great to see you around. I hope you had a great Labor Day.

    • Sometimes it’s the singles and doubles that becomes the nucleus of your strong base and sustains you during the difficult times.

      Would I do it again; absolutely, even it was somewhat painful watching it go away so soon.

      Thanks for coming by and hope you had a great Labor Day.

  7. I had four stellar years in which anything I touched was golden and several that followed in which it felt like I had the opposite effect.

    Time and experience has taught me not to rest on my laurels because things change in a heartbeat. Keep moving or risk getting left behind. Inheritance and or lottery money would be great but I don’t see either happening for me so I guess that I have to keep working.

    • When I was in high school, I was a lackluster student at best. I found my way to the Army for 3 years. When my tour was up and I was able to go back to school, I literally thought I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t believe what a knucklehead I had been.

      Coming from 3 years of a very structured environment and w/ 3 years of ‘maturity’ on most of the kids, that truly ranked right up there as being one of my best years ever. However, I think ’07 topped that for a multitude of reasons.

      I will always be a working stiff, but I like what I do and look forward to coming to work so I think I will run with it for awhile longer.

      Thanks for stopping by my friend.

  8. Bill, I love this post and have a draft in the works on my own site on a similar article that touches on the “what have you done for me lately?” stance. I’ve been in sales for the better part of 15 years, and had a breakthrough year in ’08 after starting a new gig the year before. That was my year. Long story short, ’10 started a little down turn and ’11, for me, has been truly horrid. I love sales as you do, but the last 8-12 months has been a serious test of my resolve. I always plan on being the “comeback kid” if I’m down, but lately my interest has…waned.

    My draft has a baseball theme as well…ha ha walk-off indeed. Nicely done!!

    • And baseball as in life, it comes down to what have you done for me lately?….Unfortunately, huh? There is always another season, another at bat, another sale, etc. Sometimes you just have to keep your head down and keep on keepin’ on.

      Sales can be fickle (like social media) and you can go through hot and cold streaks as well.

      I haven’t been to your place in awhile so I’ll definitely get back over there and look forward to seeing the post.

      Maybe you can follow Mark Grace’s lead and you just need to find that slump buster to get you headed back in the right direction………….:)

      Good to see you sir.

  9. Hey Bill,

    As I told you, I know a few cats [that look like me] in the commercial insurance sales game so I know what those checks look like. And I also have an understanding of how much is involved in getting a deal to initiate…let-alone to close. So congrats on that!

    I’ve had some of those checks back in my commercial real estate lending days. When I got my first big check I thought I struck rich. I thought everything was downhill from there. I ended up chasing that high until the market crashed. It happened a few more times, but the market made things too shaky to stay put. You know what’s crazy…is that this all happened in 2007 for me as well.

    Things have been even better in the recent years. But any big accomplishments or homeruns that I achieve today require me to get right back in the line up.

    • And that’s probably the way it should be; I don’t think I’d do too well with too much time AND money on my hands. I would like to think I would keep my job even if I won the lottery. I could just be a lot more selective on who I choose to do business with, huh?
      I mean, you can only play so much golf and get your grass so green, right?

      Probably the most frustrating thing to me is you feel like you are building a book of business, picking up some momentum and then whack, all of a sudden you are back to late 80’s numbers. Oh well, I’m still working and still standing so that has to be a positive, right?

      Good to see you my friend, hope all is well. Enjoyed the series you did.

  10. Hey Bill,

    2007 was a bad, bad year for me… I began my masters though which was good, but then on wards it was plain bad for many reasons…

    But then yayyyy if 2007 was nice for you! But I am not talking about incomes yet… makes me feel out of place… especially pretty incomes 😦

    • Sorry to hear that wasn’t a good year for you. Maybe that was why it rockin’ for me; I took all your mojo………….

      Corporately, because our income is tied directly to how well the businesses we insure are doing; Aug/Sept of that year was the ‘official’ turning point. It was only because we had such a great beginning of the year that allowed us to have a decent year in total.

      I think we are finally past the dips and it seems much more predictable now; this will allow us to grow back to where we were.

      It could have been much worse so I’m grateful we are hanging in there and will only get better from here. I’ll give you a hint, I think next year is going to be kickin’ it for me as well…………:).

  11. Hey Bill,

    I have played golf twice in my life, that’s it. The first time gave my friends a good laugh and the 2nd was more of a bachelor party, so a different kind of spectacle altogether πŸ™‚ But I can certainly appreciate a hole in one, but two. En fuego, indeed!

    I’ve been self-employed since 1995, so my main concern is the amount of billable hours I can squeeze in each week. Add to that, my business is feast or famine, so I’m always preparing for the lean times or that cash flow yo-yo. And marketing budgets are usually the first to go, so between 2007 (really 2008) and now, I’ve been committing to the hustle mentality for sure. That is, pound the pavement or there’s no food on the table. I’m salesman, designer, project manager, and janitor, but wouldn’t have it any other way, really.

    2007 certainly wasn’t my best year, but things are looking up at the moment and I have quite a bit planned. We’ll see what happens. Not sure if I want to say I had a walk-off home run, but I do want to be able to look back sometime in the future and have zero regrets. Hey, it’s all an adventure and I’m just getting started.

    Glad ’07 was a great one for you and seeing how things are going on this blog, the next few years just might be something special for you. I’m not sure exactly how you would define success in the blogosphere, as there are so many ways to go, but it looks like it’s onward and upward for you, Mr. Invisible No More!

    • Yeah, I’m not quite sure how success is defined in this crazy social media world. I guess if I’m enjoying the journey, meeting some great new people and providing entertainment along the way then I consider it has been successful indeed.

      When it’s all up to you, you know what hard work looks like and you are certainly not afraid to do it to make sure the family is taken care of. Every once in awhile I’ll get that little panicked feeling know it’s all up to me, but then it usually passes and I know if I do what I’m supposed to be doing it will all work out.

      I’ve said it several times, but life is a journey and let’s just make sure we enjoy it as we all find our way.

      Good to see you buddy; sounds like we might be getting close to B-Day, huh?

      • Yes, putting it that way you are already a success, Bill.

        Very familiar with the panic, but with that comes the drive. I just want a bit more fun (and drive) and a bit less panic πŸ™‚

        Yes, the big day is coming. Next Monday, if not before.

  12. Here’s to 2007 and the magic of asset bubbles! πŸ™‚ No doubt 2007 was a great year for many, and 2008… well, enough said. I think your experience was very typical, but fortunately the snap back did not destroy you. Sadly, a lot of people can’t say that, and I feel for them.

    Do walk-off home runs exist? Of course, but they are outliers and not really worthy of serious discussion. What you mention is at the heart of it. The ups and downs, the regular grind, the ongoing hustle. The good news is if you love what you do, then most days it is not a grind, just hard work.

    I have to tell you: I have immense respect for 100% commission folks like yourself. Along with small business, there are few enterprises that require more self-starting than that! That you’ve been doing it as long as you have is a true testament to your ability and your determination.

    Great stuff Bill! Now, let’s see what this blog can do now that people can see it! πŸ™‚

    • Unfortunately I’ve seen the 100% commission run some good people off. Until your book is established it can truly be feast or famine and most times it it famine. Some people just can’t survive long enough to get there, which keeps some good people away.

      I got into it not even knowing if I could sell. Fortunately I was able to figure most of it out. You are right though, the buck stops with me and I have to make it happen or it doesn’t happen at all.

      I do like the people part of it so I think that’s what makes me excited to come to work every day. It can actually be fun most of the time………

      Thanks for your comments and support Adam, much appreciated my friend.

  13. Well, Bill, I’m a total believer that the work conspires to deliver us opportunities based on what we’re putting forth ourselves. So, lottery, inheritance, retirement, or whatever the reason for the change of focus, I think we put ourselves into a potentially dangerous place when we give into that. When we stop pushing, challenging, striving, learning, pursuing and we start to give in and allow things to happen around us, we loose the tension in the rope that’s holding steady for us to walk on. Sometimes we have to accept certain circumstances and work with them (like the economy), but on the other side, we have to take control of what we can and be in charge – really own it! Find the small ways to make a consistent difference in your own work and in the work of those around you.

    Your year sounded fantastically & magically fun! Keep that mojo rolling and push it on ahead!

  14. Hi Bill, I have been terribly rude. You asked me a question and I did not answer it. I responded, but that didn’t answer your question.

    Honestly, I haven’t had a best year. Supreme joys have always been accompanied by challenges for me. I realized this a few years ago and wondered why I haven’t had just pure good things happen to me. Then I realized that I grow more from the challenges than I do from the joys. A year of unbridled joy? I wouldn’t know what to do with that.

    So I sincerely congratulate you for your successes in 2007. I also wonder when you look back on this time, if you will be more proud of how you managed through these lean times than of your 2007 successes. But then again, I’ve never had a hole in one, much less two holes in one.

    • You rude? Never…………..

      Fortunately, my business lends itself to the opportunity to have those great years. For whatever reason, maybe the stars were aligned or something, I could do know wrong that year. There were other things I didn’t even mention.

      I am proud we were able to get the kids out of school and we’re still standing. But challenging, it feels almost like when I was starting out.

      I do try to keep an even keel because as joyous as that March was there are times when you lose accounts you just want to go hide somewhere.

      Life is still certainly good and I don’t want for much so it’s still rock ‘n’ roll to me…..:)

  15. Glad to hear you had a killer year in 07! Wow, two hole in ones. My Dad would have loved that! I know he’s had one in his life. He always talked about the time he got to play Pebble Beach though! That course blew him away.

    I’ve never had one of those years, not really. Of course, I’m not in sales and my salary was always negotiated when I took the jobs. Oh sure, it kept climbing through the years because of my work performance so I guess when I hit a certain amount I was doing a pretty darn big happy dance. You know, all those people who told me I’d never be able to make that much. I just had more confidence in my abilities and knew I was very good at what I did. So for the me the thrill of reaching a certain level I guess I can say that year was 2005. I don’t regret walking away from all that though because like Betsy’s experience and the health scare with her husband, my life and my health were so much more important.

    • Pebble Beach I have not done but I did get to go to St Andrews AND somebody else paid for it; that was pretty sweet.

      If you are not in sales and don’t work for yourself it’s hard to have a blow-out year like I did. The flip side is, when the bottom dropped out and my pay was cut in half, none of our salaried people took a pay cut. Even though it can be fickle (like social media) I’m suited for sales and the up and down paychecks. I’m always optimistic it will all work out; the sun will rise in the morning.

      Your health is worth more than anything, so it is important to keep your priorities in order, right?

      Good to see you here and at Nancy’s; I do appreciate you. Hopefully those Texas wild fires are not near you. Everybody else seems to be having rain east of you.

  16. Fantabulous story sharing here Bill! First, I want to relive 2007 with you! πŸ˜‰ Next, boy, can I relate to this post my friend! Whew! Now, I sure thought my “walk off home run” was late 2008; that was a non-stop exciting year! But … I think a recent post explained that a bit. Alas, I never tire though and remain hopeful. I’ll get that home run, it’s just a matter of time. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for sharing this post Bill, it makes me think and makes me think it’s going all be ok too!

    Much kindness, πŸ™‚


    • There were other crazy positive things going on that year I didn’t even mention; it was definitely a memorable year. I guess the old dog needs someone to throw him a bone every once in awhile, huh?

      It was a fun year and thank goodness I squeezed everything I could out of it because it has been challenging since then. Certainly doable, but still challenging nonetheless.

      So good to see you twice in one day; always a pleasure.

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