What is Your Exit Strategy?

Well, chronologically March 4th is the 4-year anniversary of this blog but since I have been persona non grata for close to a year it might be a stretch to think this post as an anniversary. However, it was interesting to go back and see what post numero uno (that’s Spanish if you want to look it up in Google translate) was about and what was on my mind at the time. If you are curious at all, here is that bad mofo (that’s French I think).

With writing like that the internet world must have suffered a significant setback when I left, huh?

What does any of this have to do with an exit strategy?

No kidding, right; looks like you are they guy who leaves through the back door without telling anyone goodbye.

The reality is, I am of the age that I should probably start putting some thought into this process instead of just walking out the door at work and expecting everything to just fall into place. Of course, that’s pretty much my MO, to just show up, so why should this be any different?

The truth is, my job is probably not different than most in that some days I am ready to walk out right now, no questions asked. Then there are other days where I feel I could easily do another 10. I am somewhere in between leaving right now and probably closer to 10, but then again I had a pretty kick ass start to this year so we will see how long that euphoria can carry me I suppose.

Part of the reason I am leaning more toward the 10 number is that my wife has already said I won’t be sitting around the house, and if she says it then it’s probably true and unless one of you want to take me in I better just keep showing up at the office.

Looking back

When I reminisce and reflect on my life the easy thing for me to do is to break it down in 10 year increments. 10 years is not a long time, but to put it in perspective I remember how much I enjoyed my 10 year old birthday party with my friends and only 10 years later I was celebrating my 20th with Uncle Sam in the woods at Ft Benning, Georgia.

During that 10 year stretch not only did we move away from the home town I grew up in, my parents divorced and I came of age I suppose.

As much as we take comfort in the routine at times, life is all about change, and a lot can happen in just 10 short years.

In the 4 years since I took the pledge and became active in the social arena there has been quite of bit of change. There have been some consistent Steady Eddie’s but then there have been more who just became tired and threw in the towel like me. It’s just online it’s more visible to all.

Every journey can be a learning process and would like to think I smelled the roses along this journey as much as I could. My circle of friends certainly expanded.

Looking forward

What does the future hold in store? Who the heck knows and when you listen to what is going on in the world around us it can be certainly scary at times. But I usually just compartmentalize it and put it on the back burner because it’s all out of my control anyway.

What I can do though, is to sit down and map out what I would like to see the next 10 years look like for me. Not only financially, but what in the heck I am going to be doing with myself to keep it interesting and fun (I’m still very big on fun).

Fortunately at work we have some tools at our disposal that will allow me to do just that. Things will always be fluid because life events dictate it, but at least I will have a road map to get me headed in the right direction on this journey.

Have you peaked?

Some people who were cool and popular peaked in high school. That wasn’t me fortunately because I was never as cool as I thought I was, and would like to think that peak is still out there somewhere.

Maturity allows for wisdom and most will say I am not mature at all but chronologically it allows me to be reflective and feel I have become more open-minded and less judgmental these days and happy and thankful for my lot in life.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well, enough rambling for now; I’m not making any promises but I’m sure I will at least remain in the somewhat invisible lurking mode for the immediate future. And you know what the man with the glass eye said when he removed it, “I’ve got my eye out for you,” so behave out there you kids and don’t forget to have some fun.

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3 absolutes mountain biking will teach you

The hand

Tru dat…

Even though I am a flatlander living in Central Florida, there are actually some pretty decent mountain biking trails pretty close to my crib. Most of these have been created from the remnants of the phosphate mining industry and the mountainous stacks of sand and dirt they left behind. I haven’t had the luxury of trekking on any true mountain biking trails and it might be like comparing snow skiing in North Carolina vs Colorado, but it gives me all I can handle.

Mountain biking/trail riding was something I always had an interest in and even tried it a few times with a tweener bike, but if you are going to do it proper you really need the right equipment and of course it takes somewhat of a financial commitment to get there.

After using a loaner for several months and knowing this was more than a passing fancy for me, I bit the bullet and bought the real deal. It was love at first site; even though my new girl friend can be quite contrary at times.

Even though I’m just a little over a year into this thing, there are some certain truisms I feel I can share at this juncture with some authority.

The 3 truths mountain biking taught me

  1. You will wreck; not every time you hit the trail but trust me, you will crash and burn. And everybody I talk to has either crashed and burned or knows someone who has. I know people who have quit riding just because of the wrecks; hmmm, should that be a sign?

Skill level doesn’t matter either; in fact, the better the rider usually the more spectacular the crash.

The crashes can occur when you least expect it too, on areas you would think as non-hazardous. I don’t know if it’s lack of concentration or what, but my 3 nasty spills were on very nondescript areas you would normally have little to no trouble negotiating.

And maybe it is my age, but every big crash is just like a mini-car wreck; you definitely feel it for several days afterwards. And do you know how hard it is to get a tired ass adult body off the ground?

2.  Your fitness level will increase substantiallyIf it doesn’t kill you first. 

Since I have started I have dropped 10+ lbs; then again, some of that weight is from the skin I have lost skidding along the trail…:). Of course, the 100% Florida humidity and middle of the afternoon riding does its part to help too. Just make sure you bring plenty of water.

I am probably about 5-7 lbs from my ideal weight and all my vitals are in the better than average range, so for an old fart like myself, this should be worth something, right?

As long as I don’t have to look at you on the beach.

Beach? Well, between the cuts, scabs, scrapes and bruises I’m not exactly Mr Body Beautiful, but at least I am in shape. Maybe I will just plan on retiring the Speedo then if I’m asked to leave the beach.

3.  It will replace other hobbies you have.

My hobby du jour prior to mountain biking was golf; and it is not necessarily that I was looking to replace golf on my schedule, but now with two broken hands I have not been real eager to grab a club and swing it around for 18 holes. Fortunately I have just enough grip strength in both hands to still ride my bike.

That’s just crazy talk. 

How long can this last?

Who knows, I am still enjoying it and have come to realization it’s like a NASCAR race every time I go riding; sometimes you will finish the race and some times you will get tangled up and kiss the wall or flip upside down.

Personally, I feel my skill level has increased tremendously since I have started riding and truly did not expect to be picking myself up off the dirt like I have lately, but I think it’s an anomaly and not the norm. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Or either I am just too thick headed to know when to quit; which is a very distinct possibility.

In summary

I think it’s a great hobby and diversion from the normal ways to stay fit. Yes, you can be safe and remain on the flat beginner trails or you can venture out to the more difficult ones. At the end of the day I would recommend you try it at whatever level you are comfortable with, and if you buy a really expensive bike and decide afterwards it is not your cup of tea, just let me know as I might be in the market to take it off your hands.

Happy trails to you. 

Until we meet again.

My top 10 best comments of the week

Some bloggers think it is advantageous to re-purpose their older posts because these prior endeavors were obviously literary works of awesomeness, but for some reason maybe didn’t get the full play they deserved. Well, I looked back through mine and believe I got about as much run as I could so better let those sleeping dogs lie. However, I do have some gems from my comment section that found their way to that special folder and never saw the light of day, but obviously these people know me very well.

For your pleasure, here is the best of the best:

1 – Could you write about Physics so I can pass Science class? Obviously, this person recognized my brilliance right off the bat. 

2 – The genius store called, they’re running out of you. Once again, it ain’t bragging if you can back it up, right? 

3 – For the love of God, keep writing these articles. Now we are calling on a higher power so maybe I better stay in the game, huh? 

4 – Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask! And everybody chided me for having a free site; this will show ya. 

5 – Impressive brain power at work! Great answer! So obvious, will someone please tell my wife. 

6 – Clear, informative, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs? I’m a hugger, I guess e-hugs are good too. 

7 – Howdy my family representative! I want to state that this particular article rocks !, awesome composed you need to include approximately many considerable infos. I’m going to view additional discussions in this way . Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and all. Nevertheless think about if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!

Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this blog could undeniably be one of the greatest in its niche.

Amazing blog! I would include more pictures of me, but every time I try to take a good pic this old cat keeps showing up and ruining the shot; maybe one day I can beat him to the punch. 

8 – An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this matter here on your web page. See, I’m bringing some value; I’m feeding my followers now. 

9 – Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Thank you – My friend Carolyn would be impressed, they are asking me for ‘techincal’ advice; maybe they know me too well. 

10 – Your honesty is like a beacon. See, I told you what you see is what you get. Other than the fact I look much better in person, this is really who I am. 

Top 10 indeed

Well, there you have it. I made the mistake of letting my spam folder accumulate too many of these gems before I tried to clean it out. I think I’m going to start releasing them as regular comments to keep my popularity numbers up.

I was a little disappointed though; it seems back in the day I had some really spicy ones but those seem to have gone by the wayside. Oh well, my friends now joke we are at the age that not only do the girls not see us anymore when we are out, they can’t hear us either.

Say what? 

What are you gonna do; we’ll see who will be diggin’ on me when I win the lottery, won’t we?

Scoreboard.

How ‘manly man’ are you?

Sorry ladies, this is really a gender neutral post but I had to stick with the title because it was so clever…..:).

So then, do you mean hairy knuckles and the cro-magnon look?

Ok, maybe not that manly and typically not a good look on my lady friends, but then again if you wear it well I might not be too judgmental.

I guess the big question is, how far are you willing to push the envelope; how much of a risk taker are you?

You take the challenge

What got me thinking about this topic was from one of my mountain bike rides. The disclaimer is, everybody knows there are no mountains in Florida, but where I live there was extensive phosphate mining at one time and it left some really nice hills in its wake.

I normally ride in the afternoon, but during the summer when we get in the rainy season it can be hit or miss. Therefore, I have been sneaking out before work on Friday’s to take the weather out of play.

The biggest advantage to this is the temperature is much cooler (relatively speaking) so it is a very pleasant ride from that perspective.

Another advantage/disadvantage is I am usually the first one out there.

The advantage to that is I don’t have to worry about other people on the trails.

The disadvantage is I become the spider-web catcher and some of the critters are still on the trails (alligators, snakes, raccoon’s, and turtles).

Being a native Floridian and one who spends a lot of time outdoors, critters don’t bother me. I know how to respect their space and they typically do the same with mine.

So what’s the problem?

Because most of the trails are the remnants of old phosphate mines, you have bodies of semi-stagnant water called phosphate pits, and steep slippery slopes for the trails. This also happens to be an excellent breeding ground for some really big country-sized critters.

And most of the less elevated trails are right on the water. The elevated ones, it’s just a longer slide into the pit. More times than not, if you are going to take a spill you will get wet.

Knock on wood, I have not been wet yet, but went over the handle bars for the first time last weekend so I’m sure that wet day is waiting out there for me somewhere. One of my riding partners took his first plunge a couple of weeks ago.

Did I say it was stagnant water

Anyway, I feel my technical ability has increased tremendously since I started trail riding and I am now very comfortable on all the intermediate trails and starting to be bold enough to start trying most of the advanced trails.

Well, I was feeling pretty confident last Friday morning and as I had maneuvered through most of the course there are 3 advanced trails toward the end and these are called fingers. They jut out into the water and the entrance and exit to these trails from the road are essentially at the same place.

As I approached the entrance to the first finger I knew I needed momentum because it is on a steep incline and the second part of the incline has a narrow passage-way that you need neutral pedals to get through. Well, apparently I did not have enough mo and right as I got to the narrow entrance I could tell it was not enough to make it and just hit my back brake to put my foot down and walk myself through.

Well, that sounds pretty easy then. 

As soon as I put my foot down I heard this huge splash to my left on the exit trail and knew immediately it was either somebody getting rid of a dead body or a huge gator rolling off his (or her) perch. I softly chuckled to myself and thought ‘I don’t think so,’ and turned myself around and just went right back out the way I came.

You big sissy.

You damn right; even though the gator was getting off the perch and not likely to come back for awhile, I took that as a sign ‘not today pal.’ Have you ever heard of the saying “there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are never any old, bold pilots?”

I might be somewhat less risk averse in my golden years, but hopefully some of this wisdom I have accumulated can still be put to good use.

What risks are you willing to take?

My wife is not in favor of this mountain biking gig, at all. She thinks I am too old and it is way too dangerous.

There is certainly an element of danger too it, but age is just a number and I am a reasonably coordinated and athletic person, so I liken it to downhill snow skiing. The more I ride the better I get, which can be good and bad I suppose; it all depends on how far you push it.

I will also tell you I have a high level of self-preservation too. I’m looking to test my abilities and make myself feel alive at times, but I certainly want to see tomorrow because it’s still good to be Billy.

I like to let my hair down but most would consider me a pretty conservative person. I mean, if you stay in one job and marriage for 31+ years, how wild and crazy have you really been?

Where do you stand; are you more willing to push the envelope with your hobbies than you are your finances or your career?

What is the riskiest thing you have ever done or are doing? Any regrets?

10 reasons to include me on your bucket list

Without stating the obvious of actually getting to meet me in person and buying me drinks, there are actually 10 good reasons to visit Lakeland, Florida, where I live; on purpose.

Where?

10 reasons to visit Bill Dorman Lakeland, Florida

1. Duh, it’s in Florida… I have lived in the F.L.A. all of my life and I think there maybe was one day I couldn’t go outside because of the weather and it was like 32 degrees or something and I was afraid the roads might ice up.

Yes, it gets hot as balls during the summer but there are plenty of other places that get hot and humid in the summer too. Even though it’s the Sunshine State, where I live is almost semi-tropical and we have plenty of greenery and shade. I am very adept at Florida parking which is good as long as you don’t mind bird shit spots on your car.

2. Location – Lakeland is pretty much in the center of the state on the I-4 corridor which means you can travel to the big cities of Tampa and Orlando in less than a hour. We have the benefit of being able to enjoy the amenities the larger cities have to offer but able to come back home and still be able to drive in normal traffic.

3. World Famous Architecture – Lakeland is home of Florida Southern College which houses the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in the world . In 2011 and 2012, the Princeton Review designated Florida Southern College the most beautiful campus in the country.

Located on the shores of Lake Hollingsworth, it is truly a scenic setting. Lake Hollingsworth is located close to downtown with a 2.87 walking/riding path around its entire circumference and some of the nicest homes in Lakeland dot its shoreline.

4. Beaches – not in Lakeland, but because of its central location you can be in Daytona or Cocoa on the Atlantic or Tampa, St Petersburg/Clearwater or Sarasota on the Gulf in a little over an hour. The beaches on the Gulf are some of the finest in the world.

5. Theme parks – if you are into this kind of torture entertainment, we are once again in driving distance of less than a hour to pretty much every type of theme park known to man.

I gladly welcome tourist who spend their money and help our economy and it’s the biggest reason we.do.not.have a state income tax.

Within the confines of Polk County we have Legoland, Bok Tower and Fantasy of Flight.

6. Professional sports – We have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Orlando Magic within one hour. Depending on the time of year, one of the teams should be playing.

The Bucs have won a Super Bowl; the Lightning have won a Stanley Cup, the Rays have been in the World Series and the Magic have played in the NBA finals. Can your city/region say this?

7. Golf – Yes, because it’s Florida there are plenty of places to play golf; however, the Streamsong Resort is located within Polk County and its Red and Blue courses are already rated in the top courses of the world by Golf Digest.

Even if you don’t play golf there is plenty to do at the resort and it is world class indeed.

8. Bike trails – there are several rail to trails opportunities and over 100 miles of track available to enjoy. In addition to the rails to trails there are nature preserves and mountain biking available too.

Lakeland puts a big emphasis on making it a bike friendly town.

9. Lakes and orange trees – there are many lakes within the confines of Polk County and Winter Haven has the Chain of Lakes which has 10 connecting lakes on the northern chain and 16 connecting lakes on the southern chain.

Yes, there is probably an alligator or two along some of the banks and it is a rarity not to see one if you spend enough time around the water.

Orange trees and plenty of them. You are not really supposed to, but it’s very easy to park your car and just pick one or two ripe oranges from the tree. Some people even have them in their yard, but being a low maintenance guy I don’t need to be picking fruit from the tree or the ground.

10. The Polk Museum of Art – one of Lakeland’s and Polk County’s gems. The Polk Museum of Art is a nationally accredited art museum in Lakeland. It is a member of the Florida Association of Museums and is ranked among the top art museums in the state of Florida.

It is widely renowned and highly respected. There is world class talent on display at all times. If you are into this, you definitely need to put it on your list of must places to see.

So whadda ya think, it would be better than a sharp poke in the eye; is that enough for you to give Lakeland a try and pay me a visit and buy some drinks?

Can you tell I’m thirsty?

C’mon down; I’ll leave a light on for you.

Sharing is caring, but does it really help

If you are involved in any type of athletics that require skill have you ever noticed the difference in style from the people who started playing/practicing early in life versus the ones who picked it up as adults? That is not to say those who don’t start playing a particular sport (golf, tennis) as an adult can’t be as good as the early starters but you can almost always tell who is who just by their style of play.

That is the way I feel about social at times.

When I say I am old school, I ain’t lying; social tends to give the impression we are all about the same age, but other than the fact I am still a kid at heart if you were to count my rings, I have a few.

I grew up playing outside. All day. Without the parents wondering where you were or what you were doing. You just knew when to show up if you wanted dinner.

Because of this, I think it is a big reason I still play outside quite a bit. Also because of this, when the gaming and computers started to become more popular with the kids my time had already passed.

Therefore, I see some in here who have totally embraced this realm and it is very obvious they look a lot better doing it than most of my efforts. Once again, not to say I could not achieve that same level of competence, but it will always look different.

What’s your point then?

Maybe I was destined to be the outsider looking in. It doesn’t intimidate me anymore and I can bounce around just enough to stay one step ahead of the invisible label.

But I am socially lazy.

If you want me to show up and eat your food and drink your good stuff; count me in. However, if you start moving furniture or something I might have to go get my hair did.

I belong to Triberr which is a blog sharing platform. It is very easy for me to go in every morning and share posts. Most of these are posts from people who I have had some connection with along the way.

Unfortunately, I read very few of them. Why? because I am socially lazy remember, and actually have a day job too.

So that begs the question, is this method helping my blogging friends at all? Because I have a somewhat limited network, does it even really matter one way or the other?

I also post through my LinkedIn network and have had people drop me because they think it clutters up their stream too much.

Margie Clayman thought there was very little benefit to her through Triberr just for the very reason too many people are doing the same thing I am doing.

I figure if you don’t lose an eye or something, how bad can it really be?

Because of Triberr I know my posts are shared a lot more than they normally would be but my guess is, it really isn’t driving up readership.

Did you know there are a lot of blogs out there? I’ll bet the number could be as high as one thousand. Crazy stuff, huh?

You take the test

Good or bad; am I just wasting my time? What is better, mass sharing or cut it down to 3-5 and actually read the posts before putting your name on it?

Did I tell you I was socially lazy? I have told you about my mountain biking? Did you know in Florida there are very, very few days you can’t go outside and play?

What’s a brother to do?

Life lessons – 31 years on the ‘job’

Office pic

Lesson one – if you show up every day and do what you are supposed to do, then at least that is a starting point to have some longevity. But that’s no guarantee these days because it is well documented in corporate America that lifetime jobs have become a rarity.

Then again, so have lifetime marriages but somehow, someway I have made it 31 years with that gig too. My wife definitely deserves a medal.

It is much more than just showing up though, it is also knowing if you don’t take control of your own destiny others will and then you pretty much have to accept what you get.

Regardless, both work and the marriage have taken some perseverance, compromise, patience and a little luck.

But is it necessarily a good thing (not the marriage dear, that has been fantastic…:)?

Lesson two – a lot of water has passed under the bridge during this time but it has cultivated a lifetime of stories. There have been a lot of people who have come through the doors at Lanier Upshaw, Inc and along with that comes the highlights and heartbreaks of life.

When I first started, people were allowed to smoke in the break room and there was a roster where each woman had a week’s worth of kitchen duty; walking around the office at the end of the day picking up the coffee cups and any other dishes off the desks.

We also had no women producers at that time.

We had Christmas parties out of town where drinking was expected and then letting people drive home afterwards.

Think that would fly today?

Ultimately you have to be adaptable to change and continue to learn; otherwise, you need to be put out to pasture.

Lesson three – there is no looking back; it’s ok to reflect and reminisce but most of your fork in the road choices have been made and it’s best to continue taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you that you can control.

Whereas it would be ludicrous to think I did it all on my own, ultimately it came down to me to make the decisions that controlled my destiny.

It hasn’t always been a bed of roses, but I always knew nothing was stopping me from making a change when things weren’t going particularly well. Just like a marriage, sometimes it is best just to wait it out.

To summarize There are two schools of thought about the value of longevity. If you are enthused, stay current and bring value to the bottom line then the institutional knowledge you acquire from being somewhere for any length of time can certainly be a positive and should be worth something.

However, I see some in this position who get stale and their value is marginalized and the easy thing to do would be to replace them by bringing in fresh ideas and energy to stir things up; reading between the lines that reads younger and cheaper.

There is some balance to be had in there somewhere and I am sure a middle ground approach can still be profitable for the business.

I have had a few opportunities to explore the other fork in the road but at the end of the day the desire to start over never outweighed the bird in the hand. 

Good or bad? The lifetime employee seems to have worked for me; I guess some souls are a lot more restless but I embody the adage that southerners take root because I have certainly done that.

Y’all come back now, ya heah…..

Partners

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?

No selling please, I’m just looking

Dorman office - Ryan

I’m just looking thank you, I don’t need want your help.

People like to buy, but they don’t want to be sold to.

Except for insurance and then they just want to run….away….fast….

Whoa, that could be bad news for me because that is how I put food on my table…

Bummer.

I would rather just buy it online

Yeah, at least online I can put the brakes on in case somebody tries to sell me something extra.

I get it, I am an insurance consumer too and sometimes it’s tough writing that check for a promise to pay for a future event that might or might not occur. However, I have been in this gig long enough where I see people trying to get by on the cheap or because of incomplete information, and when it’s needed they were highly disappointed in the outcome and of course blamed the insurance company and/or the agent.

But I am a gambler risk taker, nothing bad is going to happen to me; stuff like this happens only to other people.

Guess what; this is what the other guy is saying about you.

The government will take care of me then

There ain’t no free lunch and there is also something to be said for social responsibility as well. Unfortunately, too many people already have their hand out because insurance wasn’t in their budget.

It’s not perfect, and sometimes it is expensive, but it sure is nice when someone shows up with a check because you took the time to provide the appropriate information to ensure the proper amount of coverage was available; no more, no less.

I’m here to provide you with money when you need it most.

Stop it; insurance still sucks

If you put lipstick on a pig….

I am not trying to glamorize it, but if you are going to buy it (and yes, most of you will) then you might as well do it right; get what you think you are getting and make sure the expectations are established up front to minimize any chance of disappointment if and when the time comes you will need to use it.

My arena is the business world so there is less resistance here because most consider it the cost of doing business; still, most don’t relish stroking that check every month, or every year.

Well then, what good are you

Plenty good; if you want to treat us like a vendor and think the whole lot of us are interchangeable regardless of years of service or credentials or capabilities, then have at it but we probably won’t be doing business together.

I’m only interested in making your business more profitable and driving dollars to the bottom line, not having you pay the insurance company too much. We do this by helping you be as safe as possible, assist you in having sound hiring and training practices, and guiding you efficiently through the claims process if and when that calamity occurs; we make sure the risk management program you have is the program you need, not some off the shelf product that might or might not be a good fit.

My main objective is to make the business owner look good; the best of the best. This allows him/her to attract the best talent and always have a competitive advantage over the owner who thinks shopping each and every year serves them best and never takes into account the soft costs and dollars they are losing out the back door.

Why doesn’t everybody do this?

Beats the heck out of me; I guess that’s why one size doesn’t fit all and it behooves us to only work with customers who are savvy enough to understand this and walk away from those we won’t be able to help anyway.

As an industry, we have trained business owners to think shopping their insurance serves them best which ultimately turns us into only a vendor. But if your employee turnover is 2 1/2 times your competitor because your wages and training suck and you have to build at least 5 more widgets just to break even every time you have to replace an employee; if you don’t see that as a true cost then maybe you just need to keep shopping your insurance anyway.

Seriously, did you just do a whole post on insurance? 

Apparently so, huh?

Our biggest challenge is getting in front of enough people to tell our story and be able to show them why we are different. If we can get that first meeting, we establish quickly if it’s going to be a good fit or not. Sometimes however, if you are patient you can convert the shoppers and eventually turn the renewal into a continuation process and greatly reduce the stress, time and money surrounding just this event alone.

The second biggest challenge is getting the business owner to fire who they currently have so we can come in and work for them. Business owners have egos and most can talk a good game, but when it comes time to pick up the phone and tell somebody you have been working with a long time you have decided to go in a different direction; that can be a tough call to make.

Yep, there are a lot of us insurance guys and gals out there and some think this is an easy business because of all the fun that goes along with being in sales; it is what it is, probably no harder or no easier than most businesses, it just happened to be a good fit for me.

I will close by saying there is good and bad in any industry and like to think we are the good guys at Lanier Upshaw, Inc. We are not perfect and as shocking as this might sound, I too have taken that phone call where my services were no longer needed. But we are always trying to get better and we always want to do what’s best for our customer, not our pocket book; because when we do this, everything else will take care of itself.

So when can I see you; next Tuesday at 10:00 am or Thursday at 3:00 pm, I won’t waste your time…:)?

 

 

You can’t listen yourself out of a deal

Who likes to talk?

I do and when I get on a subject I am passionate about I get animated too. I’m in sales, insurance sales to be exact so you might think this would be a good trait to have. Not so much so…

It’s annoying when it is obvious someone is not listening and I know I am that guy at times; just ask my wife. So make it stop….

However, if you ask the right questions and take the time to listen, really listen you will be surprised how much you can learn about someone or what makes them tick. It makes the person you are talking to feel like what they have to say is important. Sometimes paying attention to the little things first have the biggest impact on a potential relationship.

Personally, it’s not always easy for me to laser focus in on a conversation and what makes it even worse, I try to be Mr Funny guy so my mind is always ready to pounce on the opportunity to take something serious and funny it up. Ask my wife how funny she thinks I am, “not very” would probably be her reply and I can’t seem to help myself; fortunately I don’t verbalize every funny thing I am thinking.

In other words, I am letting myself be distracted when I should be listening.

The annoying non-listener, don’t be one of these

There are always distractions to contend with, but these types take non-listening to a higher level:

1. The daydreamer – they pay very little attention to the conversation, usually drifting in and out and obviously distracted.

2. The aggressive – they wait (sometimes) for you to take a breath and then jump in with whatever they want to say. If you ask them a question, you will get an answer but it might not be the answer to your question.

3. The lack of eye contact – especially in a room full of people; their eyes are everywhere  but on you and they are constantly acknowledging others as they pass by.

4. The impatient – continually interrupts to ask a question, express an opinion, or interject something witty (hey, don’t look at me).

But you really aren’t that interesting

Yeah, and you aren’t that clever either…

First of all I will confess I am an ok listener at best; kind of like school, just an ok student. But that’s not to say we all can’t improve, right?

Just as there are classes for speaking, I do believe there are resources to make us better listeners as well. My north of the border friend Ralph Dopping referenced it in one of his posts and maybe now I will get the book. I tried to recall which post it was before I had to search for it, but I must not have been listening real well when he tried to tell me the first time.

The count of two…

Most salespeople get uncomfortable with dead air; going as far to ask the question but when the response isn’t immediately forthcoming, blabbering some more.

One of the methods I try to employ in these situations is to take two slow deep breaths, but you can basically use anything to squelch the urge to jump in before it’s time. It’s amazing what you can find out if keep your yap shut and give the other person the opportunity to talk.

But you still have to ask for the order

Somebody once shadowed me at a networking event. We probably met 7-10 new people while we were there. As we mingled throughout the room, we introduced ourselves and made light conversation. At the end of the evening, they remarked to me they thought I asked really good questions.

I had not really thought about it, because I don’t think I intentionally set out to do that, but to me that was one of the highest compliments someone could pay me.

If you are asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers, more times than not the deal will close itself. The only ask you have to make is for the opportunity to meet with them.

But you still aren’t that smart

But I am well read and that opens the door for me to ask those really good questions. You can certainly make yourself smarter just by hanging around the right people and asking those questions.

So, if you can connect the really good questions with superior listening skills you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams; or not, but it will give you a better opportunity because I truly believe you can’t listen yourself out of a deal.

Can you hear me now?