Get To Know Your Life Insurance Broker

The life insurance salesman must really be a Renaissance Man: part business owner, part financial professional, part spiritual guide. Here I share items of interest about myself, my sales company, and my life.

Do You Get Respect by Giving Respect?

caningAre some people in your life constantly correcting you?

Do they jump on you every time you mispronounce something, or use incorrect grammar?

Do they make debates personal, as opposed to sticking to the point?

These folks may be well-intentioned, but they do need to learn some respect, don’t they?

Good news! You can teach them.

Quick and Easy Tips

Marcus Aurelius has some solid lessons about this in his Meditations:

“From the literary critic, Alexander: Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some other contribution to the discussion – and insert the right expression, unobtrusively.” – Meditations, I.10

He shows us how to be respectful and considerate.

When you correct somebody about something – it could be about any topic – it is essential to preserve their dignity.

YOU could be in their shoes

What goes around, comes around.

Remember that next time, you could be on the receiving end of advice, not the giving end.

Then, you’ll see it’s not so easy to simply say to somebody, “Don’t say ‘No,’ say ‘Yes, and…'”

There’s a bit more to showing respect:

  • Nobody likes a know-it-all. The goal in life is not to be right, but to be righteous. This means you give everybody the respect they deserve.
  • People need to willingly accept your advice. If you give it the wrong way – in a way that brings them down – they will not be open to making changes. If you offer it in a way that builds them up – constructively – they will want to adopt it.
  • People aren’t always the issue. Stick to the topic. Don’t make it personal, and they will understand better what you mean.

Don’t Forget: There are Two Sides to Every Story

There is a financial know-it-all in every newspaper, magazine, and website.

Too often they think they are right, and that people who disagree with them are wrong.

Some of them sing the praises of term insurance and ignore the benefits of permanent insurance.

Some of them hawk permanent cash insurance as the investment of the century.

There is always another side to the story when it comes to financial planning

There is a Graceful Way to Advise People

If you care enough about somebody to advise them, it makes sense to want that advice to stick.

This applies to advice about life, love – and especially money.

After all: for whom is this advice, anyway?

If you want to just to toot your own horn, then why waste their time?

But if you want to make an impact, then treat them with respect.

What about you? Are your advisors treating you with the respect you deserve?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Why You Want to Be Grounded for Life

Every kid hates being grounded.

It means you did something really wrong.

But for adults, being grounded can mean you’re doing everything right!

As a matter of fact, remaining grounded should be one of your life objectives.

It’s all a question of keeping your feet on the ground.

Father Knows Best?

Marcus Aurelius praises the virtue of keeping your feet on the ground in his Meditations.

“From Sextus:
Kindness…
An example of fatherly authority in the home. What it means to live as nature requires…
Gravity without airs…
To show intuitive sympathy for friends, tolerance to amateurs and sloppy thinkers. His ability to get along with everyone: sharing his company was the highest of compliments, and the opportunity an honor for those around him…
To investigate and analyze, with understanding and logic, the principles we ought to live by…
Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love…
To praise without bombast; to display expertise without pretension.” – Meditations, I.9

There you have it:

All the various benefits of living with your feet on the ground in one fell swoop!

All You Need is Love

That’s exactly right:

Self-love is the key.

Loving yourself means you don’t have to go crazy proving to people how great and wonderful you are. You know you’re okay.

It makes it easier to keep your feet on the ground.

Having your feet on the ground enables you to treat people equally, and allows them to treat you the same way.

And there’s more:

  • Natural living requires us to be grounded. It is contrary to nature – including human nature – to put on airs and try to be other than who we are. Staying grounded allows us to connect with people, and thrive in this world of connections in which we live.
  • Showing sympathy and consideration of others must become second nature. People sense when others are being pretentious, and resent it. But, we have to work at making such demonstrations second nature, so that they eventually are expressed naturally.
  • Passions drive us, but love sustains us. Passions are good for short-term execution and engagement. Love is needed to serve as a foundation for our relationships.

This Definitely Applies to Financial Relationships

The sign of good financial advisors are their ability to connect with their clients.

They really should show authentic sympathy and understanding.

They should relate to your specific circumstances.

Their ability to solve your specific problems means they have a client-centered approach, and not a self-centered approach.

How to Stay Grounded

Find things to love about yourself. Hold on to them. Build upon them.

You’ll stay rooted in reality, and in a good way.

Being grounded will help you deal well with everything and everybody.

Especially money.

What do you think? What ways do you use to stay grounded?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How to Walk the Walk

Are some people just better than other people?

Do people act “good” naturally?

Isn’t it enough to just talk about doing the right thing?

No, No, and No!

You know that talking the talk is easy.

So how do we learn to walk the walk?

A Prescription for Living

These days, “prescription” mean drugs.

A quick fix.

Treat the symptoms.

Not so among the ancients… “Prescription” back then meant a way to live.

To quote Marcus Aurelius:

“From Rusticus: The recognition that I needed to train and discipline my character. Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric. Not to write treatises on abstract questions, or deliver moralizing little sermons, or compose imaginary descriptions of The Simple Life or The Man Who Lives Only for Others. To steer clear of oratory, poetry, and ‘belles lettres.’ Not to dress up just to stroll around the house, or things like that. To write straightforward letters (like the one he sent my mother from Sinuessa). And to behave in a conciliatory way when people who have angered or annoyed us want to make up. To read attentively – not to be satisfied with ‘just getting the gist of it.’ And not to fall for every smooth talker. And for introducing me to Epictetus’s lectures – and loaning me his own copy.” – Meditations, I.7

Integrity is a big deal.

And guess what?

People who act with integrity are admired, respected, and have extremely positive interactions with people.

On Your Honor

Of course, anybody can tell you that “If you want to succeed, you need to be disciplined.”

Not so fast.

There is more to the story- if you really do want to walk the walk.

  • Developing a strong moral character takes work. It is not as if people are born good. They certainly can be inclined towards good things, but they need to work hard to cultivate a good personality. You have to practice being good.
  • The saying that “people who cannot do, teach (or preach)” is sometimes true. People often take their personal failings too seriously. They give up on themselves and take the easy way out, which is to try to influence people with words.
    They forget that actions speak louder than words.
  • It takes two to tango. If other people are acting petty or cheap, your interaction with them will not be bad unless you stoop to that level. But if you choose top be the Big Person, you can encourage them to rise up to your level. Needless hostility can be avoided.

This is Certainly True in the World of Money

There are many financial gurus out there.

There are teachers, mentors, advisors, and bloggers.

Many people can talk the talk.

But who walks the walk?

Who actually is successful?

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it?

People need to back up what they say.

This is true whether they are talking about politics, finance, arts, or science.

Do you know people who walk the walk as well as talk the talk? How are they able to do it?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Are You a Wise Guy?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-grandfather-portrait-park-image6945903Wise guys are too smart for their own good, right?

They know too much. They cop a certain attitude that makes them obnoxious.

In fact…you probably know too many people like this.

Where do they get off being such smart-alecks?

The funny thing is, a lot of what they say is true…

It’s just that the way they say it turns people off so much, that nobody treats them seriously.

And that’s too bad, because we could probably benefit from their “wisdom.”

Grandpa knows best

In his Meditations (I.1), Marcus Aurelius says this:

My grandfather, Verus: Character and self-control.

My interpretation is that Aurelius is crediting his grandfather with having helped him build the character needed to gain self-control.

What can we learn from this?

That having strong relationships with grandparents, parents, and other older relatives and family friends can help you gain wisdom.

But you know what is neat here?

It’s not just what you learn, but how you learn it, that makes you wise.

Learning at the knees of your elders makes you more respectful.

You feel truly “privileged.” Not in the sense of  entitlement but in the sense of appreciating that you have been given something special to hold dear.

Test of time

Too often people think they know something because they intellectually understand it.

…but that is only the tip if the iceberg.

You really know something if its truth has passed the test of time.

If your parent of grandparent shares their knowledge with you, then that knowledge has passed the test of their lifetime.

It is already being delivered to you with a certain amount of truth.

Of course, people are different. What was true for your mother or grandmother may not be true for you, completely.

But a grain of it still probably applies to you. With the right relationship, the two of you can sort it out together.

The relationship you have with your elder, with your wise person, is the key to benefiting from their wisdom.

For example:

  • We all know the importance of controlling our emotions and behaviors. How do we do it? Our elder parents can teach us. How did they succeed? How did they fail? We can learn from their mistakes as much as from their accomplishments.
  • What worked for our parents and grandparents may not necessarily work for us. However, since they know us and care about us, they can help us apply what they know in ways that work for us. They have our best interest at heart. We should be able to rely on them to give us the “perspective from outside ourselves” that we need to find areas for improvement.
  • To benefit from the wisdom of our elders, we need to have relationships with them. We must actively seek to interact with them and build a solid communication. We need to just talk. It’s this “shmoozing” factor that builds the trust and affection that is key to “getting it.”

Financial wisdom

You know what?

It’s the same with learning from your financial advisor.

Many of us are here to teach you. But we need a strong relationship with you in order to advise what is best for you.

Even something as “mundane” as choosing between term and permanent insurance requires wisdom.

If you and I can communicate well enough, then I can help you feel how special and important that decision is.

As it was for me.

Do you feel privileged to know what you know about life insurance, and your finances in general?

 

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Keeping It Fun For Clients

bransonHave you ever bought something and felt that the salesman wasn’t really interested in you?

When was the last time you bought something and actually had fun making the purchase?

Believe it or not, giving the client a most satisfying buying experience is done all the time.

As a matter of fact, some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs make it a priority.

Secrets of the billionaires

Author Steven Kotler shares this wisdom and many other secrets of these billionaires in his article for Entrepreneur.com.

I really was knocked over by Richard Branson’s approach to his customers:

5. Emphasize a customer-centric approach. Branson’s fiery devotion to fun is relayed to his dedicated clientele and fervent fans. The net effect is a business strategy based on experimental customer-centrism. If Branson thinks a particular service might be beneficial to his customers (and fun), he tries it out. This is why Virgin Atlantic offers free seat-back TVs, onboard massages, a glass-bottomed plane and stand-up comedians. “…It’s about getting every little detail right. It is running your airline like you would an upscale restaurant — the kind where the owner is there every day,” he added.

Is it any wonder that people go out of their way to fly Virgin Atlantic?!

Those of us in business for ourselves should strive to have people flock to our doors, don’t you think?

Quite clearly the key is making the experience of doing business with us fun, entertaining, and something to remember.

Red carpet treatment

You know what I think?

The life insurance business is long overdue for a “fun makeover.”

Sure, those clients who spend big money on our policies get the red carpet treatment…

They are wined and dined and driven to exams in limousines…

But in my brokerage, people who don’t spend megabucks on their coverage still get optimum service.

They are given quotes at which we are confident they will be approved.

Their applications are promptly expedited.

They are continuously updated with our progress.

I personally try to make them feel like a “welcome guest in my (life insurance) home.”

How can life insurance be made more fun?

But is everybody having fun?

How can people have fun answering all the nosy questions about medical condition and lifestyle and finances?

Who wants to get their blood drawn and provide a urine sample?

What about all those cumbersome forms to complete?

I’ll be honest with you…this article was a bit of a revelation.

I want to give my business a huge infusion of fun.

…And I don’t mind saying that I am open to suggestions!

My team and I are going to rack our brains for ways to keep a smile on our clients’ faces all throughout the life insurance purchasing process — and we welcome your input.

What would have made the experience more fun for you when you bought your life insurance policy?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How To Trust Total Strangers

images (1)Do you trust me?

It is hard to feel safe in this world. On the one hand, you can develop a certain feeling of security when you grow up with the same people and have good experiences with them.

However, nobody lives in a bubble. On a daily basis we encounter people we don’t know. How do we get to trust strangers?

The Internet can make that remarkably easy. John Stossel reports about this on reason.com. He writes about all the businesses that have started websites through which people can trade information and experiences about different service providers and potential associates.

In particular, he praises the rating system that sets objective benchmarks to evaluate potential candidates:

But why would you trust total strangers to enter your home? Task Rabbit says its “rabbits” are screened for professional qualifications, but so what? I wouldn’t trust any company’s promise. What I do trust is the reciprocal rating system that the Internet allows. Rabbits who are trustworthy get good ratings. Offices listed at Breather that are safe and pleasant get good ratings. Friendly customers who pay bills get good ratings. It’s wonderful. Internet ratings give us more reason than ever before to interact with new people.

The Internet becomes a hugely potent “branding mechanism” for the businessman. And we all know that there is nothing more dear to someone in business than his reputation. As John Says:

Even the greediest businessman knows he needs a good reputation. And now, thanks to the Internet, his reputation is easier to find than ever.

I think the life insurance industry would greatly benefit from entrepreneurs setting up these types of sites for us. Certainly, we have traditional industry rating companies such as AM Best and Standard and Poors who rate insurance carriers according to sophisticated financial criteria. Unfortunately, many consumers who are not financial analysts find these assessments meaningless. Wouldn’t you like to see consumer reviews about service and claims for the insurance companies with whom you have your policies? Those firms who work hard to maintain a good reputation would have a competitive edge.

This would certainly hold true for brokers. Those of us who engage in unethical or illegal practices do get reported to state insurance departments, and these filings become public record. But these brokers are on the fringe. How do you know that the broker who is offering you a quote is really a basically good guy who can get the job done? Has he worked hard to keep his reputation golden?

Wouldn’t you like to know that?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Fight for Your Dream

“Stop watching your dreams go down the drain!”

…so commands Eunice, a fiery 5th grader in Kibera, Kenya.

Eunice is no stranger to struggle, living in a city where jobs and money are scarce.

But she dreams of one day serving her community as a doctor and “will not waiver” from her dream.

For an eleven-year-old, Eunice packs a powerful punch with her spoken-word poem, “My Dream.”

Watch her recite it in this trailer for the upcoming PBS special based on the book “A Path Appears”:

This young champion-to-be is as good a motivational speaker as anyone I’ve seen – and I have been learning from human potential teachers for a long time.

Dreaming of People

Personally speaking, I spend a good portion of my days dreaming.

My dreams deal with people with whom I am involved, and how I relate to with them, and what I wish for them. I am a moment-to-moment kind of guy and like to visualize my next encounter with people.

Have I done anything wrong for which I need to make amends?

Can I be sure to be on my best behavior?

Am I focused on what I need to accomplish?

In a lot of ways, I think the life we have today is the manifestation of the dream we had yesterday.

Part of Their Dreams

One important note:

When we become involved with people, we become part of their dreams.

This is certainly true of family members, but it applies to people in our businesses as well. Just as they become key characters in our dreams, we become key characters in their dreams. Their “show” must “go on,” even when we must take our final bow.

That is why we buy life insurance for their benefit.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

A Soft-Hearted, Hard-Minded Foreign Policy

fsi_basicheatmap_2013_wideHave you ever noticed how much of life is a balancing act?

In order to grow, we need to be gentle with ourselves, yet we must also follow a spiritual discipline;

Our children need us to show them unconditional love, yet at the same time they need us to set defined limits;

In business we must be as accommodating as possible to our clients, vendors, and employees, but not to the point where we erode our bottom line.

This kind of balance is especially needed in our foreign policy. [Read more…]

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

You’ll Be Okay, Charlie Brown

cbxmasDid you know that the CBS executives who first aired “A Charlie Brown Christmas” expected it to flop?

Instead, the prime time holiday special based on George Schulz’s popular comic strip was a huge hit. It’s shown every year since it first aired in 1965 and has become a favorite across generations.

Many people think that the show is about the commercialization of Christmas and the holiday season in general. That definitely is a running theme.

However, Paul John Scott, writing at the Star Tribune, has another take on what “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is all about: [Read more…]

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Ferguson, Fairness, and Justice

fergusonsignsAs you probably have heard by now, yesterday a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, did not find probable cause to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.

While a grand jury is not the same as a trial – different rules, different results – political pundits and residents of Ferguson alike reacted to the decision as if a verdict had been reached on Wilson’s guilt.

Neither you nor I know for sure what really happened that sad day in Missouri. Alongside the public outcry over the tragedy, many points have been raised in Wilson’s defense.

It’s worth wondering: if the grand jury had indicted Wilson, does that automatically mean that he would have been convicted?

Scott Shackford, writing on Reason.com‘s Hit & Run Blog, asks that and the following important questions:

Should we be upset at the amount of deference and effort made to find reasons not to indict Wilson in this case or should we be upset that the same doesn’t happen to the rest of us? Is the outrage that a grand jury didn’t indict Wilson or is the outrage that the grand jury indicts just about everybody else?

For me this case places front and center the relationship we should have with the police.

As a child, I was taught to find a policeman if I was ever in trouble. I would still do that. As a matter of fact, I have graduated my town’s Citizens Police Academy, and helped form my local block watch. I encourage my neighbors to call a cop even when they are not sure they really need one.

At the same time, I know personally victims of police brutality.

I know all about the “blue wall of silence” that surrounds bad cops. And personally, I would not hesitate to go after a rogue if people I know are being victimized.

Professionally, I go out of my way to try to get life insurance for police officers and other law enforcement officials. They put their lives on the line for the public welfare and that sacrifice deserves my full commitment to the protection of their families.

How do you think we can prevent police brutality and improve our relationship with officers of the law? Leave your comment below.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Can Philosophy Bring Wisdom?

PhilosophyBookMost people respect wise people – but never figure out how they became wise. While not every philosopher is truly wise, the practice of philosophy is very important to developing wisdom in life.

Patrick Allan from Lifehacker shares five ways in which philosophy brings you closer to wisdom.

Here is my favorite:

We sometimes lose perspective: So many things in our world are much bigger than we are. We spend our days concerned with what we have and what we want, but philosophy helps us gain perspective and see the big picture.

Which is your favorite way in which philosophy brings you closer to wisdom?

By the Way…

We life insurance sales people must take a philosophic approach to life to effectively serve our clients.

After all, the men and women who buy life insurance from us must confront their own mortality in order to make the purchase meaningful. It’s our job to coach them so they feel comfortable addressing issues which by nature are distressing and discomforting.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Do You Take Out the Garbage?

We live in a world in which too many people want immediate gratification and to get rich quick. But we all know that in reality, the world doesn’t work that way. True success comes to people who will work for it. It takes the right combination of working hard, working smart, and working from the heart. You have to be willing to start at the bottom of the ladder.

Media executive Michael Casio put it this way in his recent essay in the New York Times:

Before I was an E.V.P., S.V.P. or V.P., I worked as a janitor. For two summers I cleaned toilets, mopped floors and smelled like garbage. It had nothing to do with my chosen profession. And yet nothing was better for preparing me for work and life as an adult.

People have to earn their keep. When I was a kid, if I wanted to buy something, I had to earn the money to spend. Even before my teens I was stuffing envelopes for my father’s life insurance general agency. I remember getting my pay and then taking a long walk to the local bookstore to buy a new Hardy Boys book.

Experiences like this keep you rooted. They keep you from feeling entitled to the rewards that come your way. They help you understand that it is your assiduous effort that yields either feast and famine.

Do your children understand this? Do your employees? Do your financial representatives take this attitude when servicing your account? Or do they take your business for granted?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Is America Still Beautiful?

In Mecca, under the autocratic rule of wealthy despots, some of the worst byproducts of modernity – social fragmentation, the destruction of historical treasures, and the commercialization of religion – coincide with the rise of a fundamentalist brand of violent extremism. Ziauddin Sarder talked about this recently in the New York Times. Mr. Sarder is the editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim and the author of “Mecca: The Sacred City.” He bemoans the cultural devastation of this once-holy city:

The cultural devastation of Mecca has radically transformed the city. Unlike Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, Mecca was never a great intellectual and cultural center of Islam. But it was always a pluralistic city where debate among different Muslim sects and schools of thought was not unusual. Now it has been reduced to a monolithic religious entity where only one, ahistoric, literal interpretation of Islam is permitted, and where all other sects, outside of the Salafist brand of Saudi Islam, are regarded as false. Indeed, zealots frequently threaten pilgrims of different sects. Last year, a group of Shiite pilgrims from Michigan were attacked with knives by extremists, and in August, a coalition of American Muslim groups wrote to the State Department asking for protection during this year’s hajj.

Mr. Sarder shows how the spiritual degradation of Mecca is reflected in the Muslim world at large:

Mecca is a microcosm of the Muslim world. What happens to and in the city has a profound effect on Muslims everywhere. The spiritual heart of Islam is an ultramodern, monolithic enclave, where difference is not tolerated, history has no meaning, and consumerism is paramount. It is hardly surprising then that literalism, and the murderous interpretations of Islam associated with it, have become so dominant in Muslim lands.

Such an incisive critique gives cause to reflect on our situation here in America.

Fragmented, Disengaged, and Alienated

I think our country has become very fragmented in recent years. I think that the current administration has caused a lot of damage with its inflammatory rhetoric about class, race, and gender.

We have also become disengaged from the land that has been our historical treasure. Many of our citizens do not realize that our country has been called “America the Beautiful” because they have very little to do with the natural environment.

And, we have become alienated from the “Judeo-Christian” heritage of our forefathers. It is not so much that our religions have become commercialized. It is more that the importance of philosophy and values has been underplayed, while economic success has been over-stressed.

Literalism vs Realism

I do believe that many consumers take a dogmatic approach to making financial decisions. An example is the idea of “buy term and invest the rest”. Many advisors preach that like the Gospel. They pay no attention to the potential benefits of permanent life insurance, and of policies that build cash value.

The fact is that no one approach is right for everyone. Depending on your circumstances, needs and goals, term may be appropriate; then again permanent, might be appropriate. And this can change over time.

The willingness to look at yourself realistically, the courage to do what is right for yourself regardless of what others say, and an openness to different viewpoints, can together yield a truly good decision about life insurance and your finances.

Hajj and Life Insurance

It may very well be that this year such a trip would be considered a higher risk factor. Travel to locations in which street violence, insurrection, and other dangers are possible can result in a higher rate. It may even result in a declination. An underwriter would have to be made fully aware of all the precautions for safety that would be taken, in order to get a comfort level with the risk.

 

 

 

 

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Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

9/11 Thought: What Rules Do You Follow?

The anniversary of the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda on America brings to mind a few sad facts about life: people will hate you just because of who you are. They will think they are better than you. And they will try to rule over you.

In my opinion, these people do not live by any rules applicable to life on this planet.

By what rules should the rest of us normal people live?  Many wise people throughout the ages have talked about this.  I have found many common themes. I have attempted to distill this wisdom into practical use in both my business and my personal life.

My career selling life insurance has been based on two axioms. The first is that your race, religion, gender, ethnic origin, and political persuasion do not matter to me.  Certainly, specific factors affect underwriting.  For example, women pay lower rates than men; religious missionaries who travel to dangerous third-world locales pay more than those who travel domestically.  But when it comes to treating you as a person, these differences do not matter.  You deserve treatment as my equal simply because you are a fellow human being.

The second axiom is that the purchase of life insurance is your decision alone to make. In the final analysis, the financial security of your family, your company, and your estate is your business.  I am here to make it possible for you to take care of them in one of the most effective ways possible.  But it is up to you to buy the product; I don’t sell it to you.  I must support your right to say no.  You are, after all, running your own life.  I cannot run it for you.

I have found these axioms to apply not just in business, but in my life in general.  I think this is because respecting the individuality of a person is really a universal ethic.  It applies to every person in every place in every time.  Both the littlest baby and the oldest elder have a right to their own time and space.  We have to let people be themselves, then work with that.

And when people refuse to give us our own time and space, we have a right to get them to back off.  We could and should do whatever it takes to get them to realize that this is how the game is played.  It is not only our right, but our duty to enforce the rules that apply to everybody.  They are good for us, and they are good for them.

What do you think?  Do you think that there is a universal ethic for living on this planet?  If so, is it different than mine?

 

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What Makes Americans Prosperous?

As a life insurance salesman, I like to pay attention to what popular media says about my profession. It’s often not too flattering. In the movies and TV shows I’ve seen, my compatriots are typically portrayed as sleazy shysters or bumbling failures. Gangsters are often cast in a better light.

Never mind the fact that millions of Americans have found the life insurance business the way to make a good living. Let’s discount the fact that trillions of dollars have been funneled into the pockets of needy Americans in the form of life insurance benefits. I guess the Hollywood moguls see no reason to glamorize the successes of the American system.

This should be a source of concern to us all. The generation that will soon assume command of our country is not getting the best of messages about the country they will lead. Too many pop stars, big time movie producers, and college teachers are down on America.

Commentator John Hawkins bemoans this sad situation in his recent post. But he also shares with us the real reason why this country is still the envy of the world. Here is an excerpt:

We’re successful because a lot of steady, responsible people do boring jobs that have to be done. It’s the man who works 40 hours in his first job and another 20 hours a week at a part-time job so he can pay the bills for his wife and kids. It’s the stay-at-home mom with spit-up on her blouse who has been on her feet for hours cleaning and taking care of the kids. It’s the small businessman who worked 70 hours a week for peanuts over the last decade to get his business to the point where he can have people complain that he’s not paying enough in taxes. It’s the single mother who gives up partying every night to make sure her child is taken care of like he should be. It’s the pastor who says something from the pulpit that will be controversial, but that his flock needs to hear. It’s the cop who sweats through a half dozen encounters with drunk, drugged, and potentially violent creeps each night because he cares about keeping a neighborhood safe. It’s a soldier sleeping in a tent far from home because he’s doing his part to keep the peace. It’s the couple who feels like they’ve achieved the American dream because they got married, bought a house, had two kids, and are putting enough money in their 401k to retire someday.

It is the “steady, responsible people” who reap the benefits we would all like to have. That is true for my business, as well as for every other occupation in life. Don’t you think so?

 

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Why Should the Government Limit Political Donations?

As a life insurance salesman, I compete for my business with hundreds of thousands of other sales people. These competitors include other licensed independent brokers; captive agents; property and casualty brokers; benefits consultants; bankers; accountants; investment advisors; financial planners; and wealth managers. When you consider the internet presence of many of these people, I basically have a competitor everywhere I look.

Not only that, but the life insurance industry does not allow for much innovation or exclusivity among us salespeople. We all can represent the same carriers. We all sell the same products. We all charge the same price for our products (given the same company and underwriting class). And, of course, we all want to land the big fish and sell a huge policy to a very rich person.

Given such a level playing field, success in this business really boils down to this: may the best marketer win. That is what it takes. You build yourself up into the person with the best brand, and the best way of reaching the right people, and you get what you want. If you succeed in attracting the business of Mr. and Mrs. Billionaire, then more power to you.

As far as I am concerned, this is the American way to success. It applies to business, and it applies to every other sector of our public life. That includes politics. For this reason, I have always wondered at the obsession people have with the government controlling political donations. We only have two major political parties in this country. Are they not big enough and organized enough to go out and get all the money they need? Does the USA have such a shortage of millionaires and billionaires that there is not enough big money to satisfy just two parties? Are these parties lacking in manpower so that they can’t solicit even modest donations from zillions of supporters? Are they having trouble attracting the best and brightest media consultants and marketing experts?

You know the answer to these questions as well as I do. Here is an article from the Washington Post that talks about the new latitude that has been given for political donations. My personal wish is that the latitude keeps stretching until the government removes all its controls entirely. The people who want to run our country should not need the government to constrain their competition.

May the best marketer win.

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

How Can I Prevent Date Rape?

Sexual assault is all too common in our society. Women have to be wary in many social situations, especially at bars and parties. This is sad, but true.

From a life insurance underwriting point of you, the trauma of rape can pose enormous challenges. Conditions ranging from PTSD to depression to job dysfunction may have to be addressed. Coverage is often possible, but the broker needs to be extremely sensitive and knowledgeable when working for potential applicants with this history.

Fortunately, American inventiveness is making it easier to prevent one prevalent form of attack: date rape. Four enterprising (male!) students at North Carolina State University have created a nail polish that can detect common date rape drugs. When wearing the polish, all a woman needs to do is stir a drink with her finger to make sure it has not been contaminated.

Read about their marvelous invention here. Hats off to their social conscience and ingenuity!

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Should I Pray When I Buy Life Insurance?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-youth-muslim-prayer-image25833391Would praying help you buy life insurance?

Would it help you to make any other financial purchase?

I think so.

Self-development expert Joe Vitale talks about how prayer works in this recent post.

He stresses the importance of a spirit of gratitude.

The wisdom of requesting, rather than begging.

The need to act on your insights, inspiration, and intuition.

Here is what he says about acting:

We co-create results. The Higher Power (God, Divine, Universe, etc) works through you, not for you. When you see an opportunity, seize it. When you receive an inspiration, act on it. You are the missing ingredient in most results from prayer. The famous joke about the man who prayed to win the lottery but was reminded to buy a ticket, is good to remember.

How does this apply to the purchase of life insurance? Well, let’s suppose you sat down in a quiet place and said the following to yourself:

“May my family members live long and prosperous lives.

May my business reach new heights of success.

May all the charities and good causes that I support flourish.

May they all have everything they need for financial security and financial growth.

In this spirit, I buy this life insurance policy to help make sure this all will happen”.

It seems to me that buying life insurance with this mindset could be a very blessed event.

What do you think?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Does the Robin Williams Tragedy Make You Think About Suicide?

The death of the great comedian Robin Williams sheds light on a very delicate topic: suicide. I have firsthand professional experience with this.

A number of years ago a client committed suicide. She was also a personal friend, and that made her loss much more difficult to deal with. Her husband was a friend as well, and I literally held his hand through the claim process. It was very hard on both of us.

There was no doubt she had been suffering from depression, or another severe disorder. It was apparently a very extreme situation: she went from feeling blue, to feeling very dark, very quickly. She gave absolutely no indication that things were this bad until she pulled the trigger.

The life insurance benefit was paid without a hitch. The event took place well after the suicide clause would have applied. But getting the money was the easy part, of course; the tough part was the challenge facing a young widower and his young children. They are, thankfully, doing well.

What can we learn from tragedies like this? A lot. Psychologist Bill Knaus, Ed.D. gives us some pointers in his Psychology Today article. Here is one that makes sense to me:

Suicide is a highly preventable cause of death. For example, effectively addressing hopeless and helplessness thinking is a promising path to suicide prevention.

Read Bill’s article. Does it help you understand Robin a bit more?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.

Will There Be War When We Have Peace?

This is not as crazy a question as it sounds. It forces us to talk about what peace really means. Should we strive for a time when there is no war at all? Should we settle for wars that are “contained,” and not catastrophic with severe loss of life and property? If this is not possible, should we just hope that only the bad guys fight and kill each other off?

When I finally have peace in my corner of the globe, what should I do with it? Should I just try to sell as much life insurance as is humanly possible? Would that “insure” the peace and make sure it lasts? These kinds of questions make you think about how what you do – and how you do it – affect the world at large.

Some people say that to bring peace into the world, you have to find “inner peace.” That is certainly true: if people act with hostility and aggression, they will receive it in return. If they offer peace and gentleness, they will get such back. But is that all we need: for each person to simply get his or her act together, so peace will naturally fall into place?

I do not think so. It seems to me that what we do matters as much as how we do it. Many murderers, serial killers, and thugs are cool, calm, and collected as they do their dastardly deeds. It is what they do that makes the world a worse place. How they do it can make matters worse, but is not the cause of the problem.

By the same token, it is the good deeds we do that make the world a better place. Making a wholesome living in an honorable occupation… devoting oneself to a worthwhile cause, such as eradicating cancer… and even performing a single act of kindness, such as walking a little old lady across the street… all make a positive difference.

The good things we do can even involve bad things. Defending yourself against a violent mugger is good, even if it means hurting your attacker. Ordinarily, we would not want to hurt anybody; but it is sometimes necessary to do so to save ourselves. The same principle applies to a nation protecting itself from an invader. It would not want to incur any civilian casualties, but that is sometimes necessary to save itself.

But is life really that simple? Does the world become a better place simply by doing good things, even though bad stuff happens in the process? This is where “how we do what we do” can make a difference. Fighting off a mugger in a way that simply ends the fight and does not prolong the confrontation, can make the fight a single event. But getting into it for the sake of fighting can make violence between people a habit. Similarly, a nation fighting off an invader in way that simply ends the war and does not prolong the confrontation, can make the war a single event. But getting into it for the sake of fighting can make war between nations a habit. In both cases, the world becomes a worse place because people did the right thing (self defense) in the wrong way (with unpeaceful intent).

So what does this say about the possibility of a world without war? It says that wars can still be good if nations conduct them in the right way – with peaceful intent. And if people try to always have a peaceful intent, why would they start a war in the first place?

Make sense to you?

 

Want to learn more?
Read my free guide, How To Get Great Life Insurance Rates and learn how you can get life insurance companies to compete for your business, at no risk or extra cost.