When did you stop being good?

What in the hell happened to you, didn’t you used to be somebody? 

But I thought I still was…

Signing your first big contract

Now I can put it on cruise control.

When you see athletes at the top of their game finally break through and sign the mega-deal only to have their performance dip afterwards, do you think it’s because they lost their edge?

Is a contract based on past performance more of a disincentive, or a justified reward for your previous results?

Is that how we should reward our leaders in business, for what they did or what they potentially are going to do? Potential…ha, now that’s a loaded word, right?

What is the right call? If it’s performance based only, what if you have a bad year, bad two years?

What I see in my industry

Yep, still insurance sales; two things I know all too well, me and/or my J O B…:).

Run for the hills if you must.

I have been doing this insurance gig for 30+ years. For the most part, nothing was given to me nor did I inherit anything so my survivability was solely based on somehow figuring this whole thing out. That is not to say I did not have mentors and/or help along the way, but at the end of the day I still had to make it happen.

Ooohhhh, aren’t you special….

My greatness is only surpassed by my humbleness.

In the beginning

I had the education (Risk Management/Insurance degree) and a fantastic mentor who helped create some opportunities for me.

And I was young, eager and hungry.

Over time and because insurance and the renewals that go along with it are sustainable income, I was able to build a book of business. Meaning, if I didn’t stink it up too bad some were actually going to hang around for several years and I would get paid every year they remained with me.

Also along the way, I was motivated enough to continue my education. I have several initials behind my name but the one I am most proud of is the CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) designation which is a masters level course that at the time was 10 parts and I did it all self-study.

And I never stopped learning; so my accumulated knowledge is still very relevant in today’s insurance environment so that should be worth something, right?

And then I cracked the code

When I first started out I was paid a minimal salary that was just enough to allow me so survive, but also keep me hungry. I knew the real money was after you validated and were paid directly on what you killed sold and brought in the door.

If I recall, I think it took me 3 years to validate and I haven’t looked back since.

Oh, there have been challenges as some years will be better than others and for some unknown reason people would fire me (even to this day) or sell out or just go out of business.

The nerve…who keeps moving my cheese?

So what’s the problem?

Over time it’s easy to get complacent and lose some of your focus; at some point you just want to build a fence around what you have and rise above the scrappers.

But as soon as you do that you start going backwards.

You can’t fire me, I am a CPCU…

Oh yes they can, and they will; especially if your price is too high.

What I am trying to say from the knowledge side I am as good as I ever was, if not better because now I have years upon years of accumulated wisdom; book smarts and street smarts. Some lessons learned were harder than others, but learn I did.

However, since I get paid on commission only and theoretically was able to sign my big deal, other than losing an account here or there and not having enough in your pipeline to replace it; how deep do you do you have to keep digging to stay sharp all the time?

Is this only applicable to a sales industry or is it prevalent across the board?

Why isn’t my phone ringing?

Energy and enthusiasm wins out

Maybe; is that why you see big corporations terminate highly paid upper management with all that accumulated wisdom and hire younger (and healthier) and cheaper replacements?

It was inevitable social commerce would grow with the way the social platforms were evolving, but how many of our compatriots have given this a try because they were forced to be an entrepreneur before they were ready?

The million dollar question is then, if energy and enthusiasm win out, how do you keep that light burning brightly so you remain the rainmaker you are capable of, always bringing above average value to the job; day in and day out regardless of the challenges you have to face?

If it was too easy I suppose everybody would be trying to do it, huh? At times, it seems like everybody is though.

What is your secret sauce?

If you are not independently wealthy and you kind of have to work because others are dependent on you; how do you keep it not only fun and interesting, but do it day after day, rain or shine?

I never stopped being good, but do you have to take the blue pill or the red pill to keep your game on so people remember your name?

Sounds a lot like the hamster wheel, huh?


18 thoughts on “When did you stop being good?

  1. Good points, Bill. I think that’s where the importance of truly enjoying your job comes in. If you’re just doing your job for the money, it will be hard to shine brightly as the years wear on you. But if you truly have a passion for what you do, then the fire will continue to be fueled.

    • If you take care of everything like you are supposed to in an insurance relationship the money will take care of itself. I always try to do what’s best for the customer and put myself in their shoes if I were ‘buying.’ However, our biggest challenge is the ‘public’ doesn’t really see how hard we work for them (at least in my world) and being able to quantify how much we improve their bottom line. All too often we are treated just like a vendor.

      My ‘passion’ is helping people and putting them in a better place after we have done business together; it’s just works better for some than others but I suppose if it were too easy everybody would be trying to do it, huh?

      It has been a good fit for me, I just have to find ways to stay sharp and one of the ways is always to be learning.

      Good to see you, hope all is well in the PA.

  2. Dude.
    As I said to The Jack above, my Dad is fond of saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” but I have changed how I respond to him as I myself have grown older (and hopefully a bit wiser). I used to say “NO!” just flat out- but now I see what he (and you) is actually talking about and understand it much better.

    Terry actually said that to me very recently again, “Familiarity breeds contempt” and I looked at him and told him that it was actually a CHOICE. (And Carolyn is absolutely right- you HAVE to love it to shine forever, no matter what.) We CHOOSE to allow ourselves to become complacent, lazy (not continuing our education, for example) or even resentful towards what we do. We choose to aim our contempt towards our “JOB” because it is so much easier than to take a good hard look in the mirror and face the truth.

    We CHOOSE to shine, Bill. We choose to shine or we choose to stop being that good.

    • Shine on; at this point in my career I think I bring a lot more value once I am in the relationship. The challenge is, still creating enough opportunities to be able to do that. Since we are treated only as vendors more times than not it can get frustrating at times, but this gig was a perfect fit for me and my personality.

      Hope all is well, good to see you.

      • I’m not afraid to ‘work hard’ as I feel I’ve done plenty of hard work to get where I am. Sometimes however, at this point in my career I wish the hard work was more commiserate with the value I bring in a relationship than having to go out and scrap with the masses to kill for my dinner.

        Boo hoo, huh? I can’t complain, insurance has been bery, bery good to me and my family.

  3. This is going to be a somewhat existentialist comment, but I think one of the realities is that it’s all a hamster wheel, even if you are making huge sums of money & people love you. When I get into rough periods I have to remind myself that a good moment where we accept each other and our world is basically the same blip on the timeline as our entire lives, geologically speaking. I guess that terrifies some people, but to me it’s a comfort.

    • I am very appreciative for what I have and try very hard not to compare myself to others because you never know what their life is really like. I still wake up each morning thankful for the opportunities that will potentially present themselves to me and knowing for the most part I’m the one that has to make it happen.

      At the end of the day, dead is dead so you might as well make the most of your time while you are on this side of the ground, right?

  4. Hi Bill, I think it’s about helping others that keeps you going. I’m in sales too (advertising) and it can be tough to constantly be told NO and continue on. But it’s the yes’s that help carry you on and the wonderful customers that appreciate you that make it all worth while. I sometimes make a “game” out of it on days when you get in a rut. How many no’s to a yes game.

    • The more you can make a ‘game’ of it and drop into low risk practicing when all seems lost certainly keeps it interesting. Yes, most people think we just want to ‘sell’ something, but what I really want to do is ‘help’ people and improve their operations. Some days they ‘get it’ and of course, some days they don’t.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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