The flame ignited…
At 24 years old I landed a job with Arkansas Best Freight company. This experience changed my life forever. It is an experience that I am very grateful for. I was hired to be the the night supervisor and I was offered a base salary of $42,000 per year. At the time, I thought I had just “made it.” I was newly married, had a college degree, a professional position, and the highest salary that I had ever seen. I really thought I was on my way to the top.
The job required me to dispatch trucks for local deliveries, supervise the loading dock, and process billing. It was actually a three person job, but as I quickly learned the LTL shipping industry is cut throat and every penny is accounted for. The terminal manager did not even allow me to turn on the air conditioning in the summer because he felt that it was an unnecessary expense. My shift started at three, which means I was required to be there at 2:30 and it was supposed to end before midnight, but we often worked well after 2 a.m. Several weeks we worked more than seventy hours. The union guys that I supervised did not seem to care because they were paid by the hour and making great money after fourty hours. Not me, no matter how hard or how long I worked, I was paid the same. That did not settle well with me. Thank God!
I noticed that the people that seemed to be in the best mood were the people in sales. They wore nice suits, drove nice cars, and rarely worked past five. I was floored to learn that one of the best sales reps we had played golf with clients three or four times per week. Sales reps made more money and worked less hours, so I instantly wanted to know how to land one of those jobs. I spoke to my terminal manager who was very supportive about the opportunity. He even arranged an interview with another terminal that was close by that had an opening. I was pumped and convinced that I was quickly going to improve my situation. Prior to the interview I was asked to take a personality exam. I was told to just be honest, there was no right or wrong answer. I took the exam and felt that it was pretty strange, but I just assumed it was part of the process. During the interview, the hiring manager went over the results of the personality exam. He
looked me right in the eye and said, “David, you seem like a nice young man, and a hard worker, but I am unable to offer you this position because the results of your personality exam does not match that of a successful sales person. “ I was floored and crushed. I thought would be stuck in that operations position forever. All I wanted to do was prove them wrong. Looking back now, that was the greatest gift I had ever received in my career. I needed that response to ignite the flame.
If at First You Don’t Succeed…
If there is one thing that defines me, it is the willingness to set seemingly impossible goals, goals that others would not even attempt, and have the ability to focus and accomplish those goals with laser like precision. My first opportunity to prove myself as a sales professional was with Country Financial, an insurance and investment services company based out of Illinois. I was very thankful for the opportunity and I promised myself that I would not screw it up. I was wrong, but I learned a valuable lesson along the way. Country Financial had a sales recognition contest each year. The qualifiers were referred to as All Americans. I was immediately drawn to this. I spend hours learning what it took to qualify and I would study the performance of past qualifiers and compare them to myself. At the time, the basic qualification to qualify was $40,000 of annualized life premium. An amount that seemed almost impossible to me, but I was determined to figure it out. My average premium per policy was barely more than $400 per year, so I knew that if I was going to qualify for All American, I would either need to sell large policies or sell 100 policies at my average premium. I opted for the latter. At that time, there was only one other rep in the company that was selling more than 100 life policies per year, so I knew it was not going to be easy, but I knew it was possible. In December of 2005, I created a detailed plan to accomplish this goal of selling 100 policies. The plan was calculated based on my current activity results. Everything was detailed. Most other reps I worked with thought I was nuts and thought I had no chance of selling that many policies in such a short period of time. This negative message only fueled my fire even more. Twelve months later, I accomplished that goal of selling 100 life policies and qualified for All American. It was a huge breaking point. I proved to myself that I was able to sell, that regardless of what anyone else believed, I was able to accomplish great results. I felt like a sales hero! I received not only the recognition of being an All American, I also received awards for selling the most life policies and several other awards. It was great. Then I made a huge mistake…. I took a phone call from a recruiter, who convinced me that there were much better commission opportunities elsewhere and that Country Financial was holding me back financially.
The grass is not always greener on the other side…
As a captive agent, my commission levels were around 50%, but what I soon learned was that other companies were offering much higher commission payouts, and advisors were making much more money doing the same job I was. It made perfectly good sense
to make the change, or so I thought.
I accepted the offer, made the change, moved offices, and thought I had really done
something smart. That first stop only lasted three or four months. It was nothing like I thought it was going to be. The advisors were not what I was used to and the office seemed more like a boiler room instead of a legitimate financial planning firm. I was not happy and my production tanked. I was telling my friend about my experience and he advised me to check out another local firm. He thought they were looking to grow and was supposed to have a good opportunity locally. I contacted a recruiter, discussed the opportunity, and a few short weeks later I switched again. This time lasting less than a year. More empty promises, this time probably
What I learned was that most companies would offer an incentive bonus to join their firm and they would make promises or at least paint a pretty good picture that the long term potential was so much better. The truth is that most of the firms were very similar. One company may have a slightly better product mix or a slightly different commission structure, but when it is all said and done, you are still getting paid to go out and find new clients and new transactions. The job is really not that different anywhere you go. The sales process is pretty much the same. You still have to make calls, meet prospects, complete fact finders, find opportunity, make a sale, ask for referrals, repeat, repeat, repeat. The more diligent you are and the more consistent you are, the better you are paid and the faster your clientele grows.
I allowed myself to go through this process for years. I would start somewhere, maybe have some slight success and then I would learn about a different opportunity or I would seek change because of something I did not like, etc. The worse part about it was my
family had to suffer financially each time I hopped around. It was a roller coaster ride. A thrill ride that never seemed to end. Looking back I am really sorry that I put them through it, especially my wife. She deserved so much better. There is always something good that comes out of every bad experience. Bad times can generate good lessons. Each time I would make a change, or feel like I failed at a certain firm, I would always learn something good. Learning from failures is part of growing.
The Turning Point…
In 2014 my wife and I had our fourth child and we were growing out of our current home. We desired to move closer to our family, so I began the job search once again. At this point I was doing pretty well financially and promised that I would only make a change if I could find something that was definitely a better situation. I searched for months and found nothing that I was willing to do. For the first time in my career I was being selective. One day out of the blue I get a call about taking over small book of business. Everything sounded fine and then it dawned on me how many times I had a made a change in the last ten years. I was disgusted with myself. I was 35 years old
and had very little to show for myself and I finally realized it was all my fault. It was not the fault of any firm that I worked with. It was not the recruiters fault for trying to offer me to join their firms. It was not my sales managers faults that I would have short term
success and then struggle. It was nobody’s fault but my own. This whole time I was blaming everything and everybody else but myself. I was 35 years old and the most money I had ever made in one year was $115,000. Not a bad income, but definitely not what I was capable of. I was sick. I felt like a complete failure. I hated myself. In 2015, I was determined to break personal records, to reach new levels, to shock the industry once again, and I did. Due to my transition I did start producing until March 1, but I had my best year ever and ended the year with enough production to qualify for the company’s President’s Council, and best of all I double my income. In nine months I made more money that any other full year before. It was all do to one thing, my desire to succeed again. My desire to reach new heights and prove to myself once again that I was successful and I could accomplish great things.
Coaching & Consulting
The decade of struggles, the decade of trials and errors, the decade of roller coaster ride commissions was stressful and at times unbearable, but out of that came something great. My burning desire to succeed caused me to master a skill set that many financial advisors want to learn or benefit from in some way. After a few years of successful production, I had several financial advisors asking me how I was able to reach those levels so quickly. Often times I would give a quick answer like work ethic or staying true to a simple system, but one time I actually took the time to discuss the process thoroughly. My close friend, Jon, called and asked if I minded sharing my processes and just wanted to compare practices. We agreed to hold each other accountable for a few months which turned into a few years. Jon and I have developed a close relationship, but I gained out of it was a realization of how much joy I had watching Jon succeed. Not that I taught Jon anything he did not already knew, but by offering advice, mentorship, and motivation, I felt somewhat responsible for some of his growth. Of course, Jon was the one that did all of the work and deserves all of the credit, but I found a new passion within myself. I realized that helping others succeed was much more joyful for me than doing it myself. So in the middle of my best year of
production, I decided to make one final change. I decided to give up my successful financial planning practice, give up the relationships I worked so hard to develop, and go full force into sharing what cost me almost fifteen years of my life to develop. The smartest thing i did while I was trying to find the “perfect” opportunity was invest in myself. I was constantly reading sales books, motivational books, or researching stories of other successful advisors. I would practice what I learned and over time I created a system of my own. A system that was fail proof, a system that I knew would work no matter if we were faced with a bear market or a bull market. I created a system
that was simple but powerful. Accordingly I began working on creating a course that a financial advisor could take online and learn how to grow their own successful financial planning practice in a relatively short period of time. There are many advisors out there that probably relate to parts of my story and would like to know how to reach levels of production without all of the trials and errors and without having to deal with the commission roller coaster ride that can paralyze progress.
Nothing gives me more joy, more happiness, than seeing other advisors transform themselves and change their careers for the better. People aren’t just “the way they are”. They’re built one piece at a time, and you can build yourself into whoever you want
to be. My clients have become my best friends, my family, and I love to celebrate their success at each stage of the journey. I am passionate about seeing others succeed. It is my calling. My current goal is to help 100 advisors become $1,000,000 producers. It is not
if, but when. This will happen. What began as a struggle, became an idea, which struck a nerve and became a movement. The Coaching Revolution is here, and I’d love for you join me!