If you are reading this, you are participating in my maiden voyage into blogging. A few inside Kansas Association of School Boards currently blog. I often wondered, since I am in sales, and I have an over-enjoyment of talking – why am I not in the blogosphere? Well, you have your wish – or mine, to be determined I suppose.
Within my maiden voyage, why not date myself? I graduated college in 1994. To be honest, I was never much of a lover of school. My parents thought it was important for all of us kids to have our best opportunity for success from the jump, and our family rule was as follows: be good people, be useful, be a good student and they would support us through college. Our “skin in the game” was to have a job that paid for our fun, gas in our car, and car insurance. Mom and Dad were successful in getting all three of us kids – yes, even me – through college debt free. It was much later in life that I learned of the great sacrifice it took for them to accomplish this goal. That will be another blog I am certain.
Some years ago my “Pops” and I were talking, and he remarked “you know, I am actually surprised you graduated college, still shocked you made it”!? My response was as follows: “I did not know there was a choice?! If I did, that outcome may have been different!” That was true then and true now. I am not certain I would have made it without that assumed expectation. Setting clear and attainable expectations could be a future blog, boy this is easier than I thought!
Here I sit, early 1995 with a 4-year degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. (Full disclosure, I graduated in December 1994 but needed that extra semester.) With countless on campus interviews and resumes sent out, my interview suit was sadly not used much. In fact, I recall one on campus interview with a large retail chain to be unnamed. The interview was one question long: “what percentage of your college did you pay for?” I have a wonderful 22-year-old answer I am sure of it. Interview over, no offer was made for employment. This large employer had a formula that related college debt, student ownership and work ethic, I would guess.
I started a position in Dodge City Kansas selling air (radio advertising). A week or so into the position, I figured out that the massive salary they were paying me was only going to last nine months, then it was 100% commission – wait – WHAT? Out of fear, or should I say lack of cash, I bailed in the first month. My college degree and career path were off to a great start. I quickly landed a position selling cars and what a crash course in human interaction and poor leadership style that was. Worst job I ever had, thankfully it only lasted four months.
In the summer of 1995, I started my career in the financial services industry. Again, 100% commission. (Is there a theme here?) My Pops in his wisdom, was gracious in his confidence in me, but mom and dad were active in my success early on. (Another blog here, stay tuned) I never set out in life to be in the insurance business, I never set out to be in this industry. I had a goal for what I wanted to do, or so I thought. I had a dream job, this was not it. I was 6 months into my post college career path and now – 25 years later, I have a job and career path I never wanted.
I was not lucky enough to truly know what I wanted to do, to just know – I want to be a teacher, a firefighter, join the military, etc. I was part of the many that had no clear direction or mission, but I was one of the few that found a mission from my work, even though I did not set out on a mission FOR my work. In nearly 25 years in this industry here is what I know. People don’t typically set out in life to sell insurance, they get here in one of two ways: A career accident or they falsely chase the money that comes from career success here. I have seen many successful career accident insurance professionals, I have seen almost ZERO successful money chasers in this industry.
In 25 years, lessons learned are as evident today as they were early on in my career. If you got on this path chasing the “money” – you’ll flame out in 18-24 months. If you find a purpose for your work, if you set in service to others, the outcome could possibly be a 25-year run into a career path you never intended to take. Insurance is scary for most, in fact, maybe even irritating. That’s ok, I don’t take either personally. I found a passion for serving people, creating long lasting meaningful relationships along the way. I truly believe, at my core, everything -even insurance – has a purpose and a place.
I decided long ago, this is my path, this is my purpose. I am going to sit in service to others, bring understanding, compassion, grace and value every day, and let the chips fall where they may.
25 years later, I still have a purpose for my work. If you think about it, a simple rule that could work for pretty much life too? In whatever you do, if you have purpose, are always present and provide value, good things will typically happen.