MDRT has performed its magic again—this time at its Annual Meeting held earlier this week in Philadelphia. There, in the city of brotherly love, the association brought together more than 8,000 agents and advisors from 74 countries and showed them how to transform their practices from good to great.
From the association’s president, veteran producer, D. Scott Brennan, the attendees received some valuable lessons based on what Brennan’s many years in the business have taught him about the profession and about life.
Among these lessons:
- The work that agents do is love made visible.
- Reputation never goes out of style.
- As a middle-aged man, Brennan now judges himself on results and others on intentions.
- What is difficult is often what is meaningful.
Take the stairs… and do not procrastinate
The idea of not always taking the easy way out was reinforced by another speaker, Rory Vaden, MBA, author of the best-selling book, Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, and co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, a multimillion dollar international sales training company.
In his presentation, Vaden focused his attention on a subject that many advisors grapple with on a daily basis—procrastination. There are three types of procrastination most people have to contend with, he pointed out. The first is classic procrastination, which entails deciding what you know you should be doing, but are not doing. The second is “creative avoidance,” which is difficult to overcome because it is often practiced unconsciously. “We work hard at pushing paper, but we are just busy being busy,” he said. The third is what he called “priority dilution.” People who fall into this category are not lazy, he said. They are just shifting their attention to the most urgent task in front of them—the task that appears to need their attention right now.
The way to solve all procrastination problems is to be disciplined and do what needs to be done. “Most successful people do what they have to do even when they do not want to do it,” he said. “Remember,” he added, “enjoyment is not a requirement for doing a task. Most disciplined people do not enjoy doing everything they do. They have just learned to do the difficult things.” People who procrastinate must realize that problems that are “procrastinated” upon are only amplified. “Waiting only makes it worse,” he said.
Everyone deals with storms, he added. The only difference is how and when they respond to those storms. Procrastinators and those who “indulge” always end up with “creditors who charge interest,” he said.
While working as an intern many years ago, he had the task of selling books door to door in Montgomery, Alabama. As he carried out this task, many doors were slammed in his face. He hated his job and thought he was a failure. But then, something happened. At the next door he knocked on, the person behind it opened it, let him in, and actually bought a lot of books from him.
“My answer was behind the next door, but in life, we do not always go to the next door,” he said. “We do not take the stairs. We should always be disciplined and never stop being disciplined because of this axiom: Success is never owned—it is only rented, and rent is due every day. Life is not about big dreams, he said, but about the small choices we make every day.”
A world of possibilities
Another speaker who seemed to know a thing or two about taking the stairs to success is Emmanuel Kelly, who shared his story of triumph over adversity and captivated the audience with a powerful rendition of the song, Imagine.
Kelly was born into a war zone and found abandoned shortly after. While living in an orphanage, he was selected to receive life-changing surgery in Australia 12 years ago. He has always dreamed of becoming a professional recording artist and auditioned for the X Factor in Australia. His YouTube video has received over two million videos, and within a year, he has captured the hearts of over 30 million people.
Kelly spoke of the woman who adopted him and his brother, and taught them how to be independent and persistent. “My brother and I never gave up and always worked toward our goals,” he said. He also shared these words of wisdom with the attendees:
- All of us have the ability to achieve greatness.
- We are all the same regardless of our race or religion.
- Everyone should hope to achieve something every day.
- Success is determined not by money and position, but by the amount of joy and support that surrounds us each day.
How to become a master glassblower
Some of these lessons helped shape the lives of many speakers at the meeting, including MDRT’s first vice president, Michelle Hoesly, CLU, ChFC. Hoesly’s mother, she said, was a master glassblower and taught her to dream “in bold ways.”
But her early years in the business were not easy, partly because she was not really committed to it. She worked hard and made MDRT, but she wanted to move a step higher and make Top of the Table.
To do this, she was told to find her niche. She hesitated at the idea of taking this approach, but realized that she had to “step forward into growth or stay static in security.” So, she decided to specialize, and for her niche, she chose retirement planning and money management. Eighteen months later, she did qualify for TOT.
But master glassblowers do not work alone, she pointed out. They do so with the help of skilled hands. She found those “skilled hands” when she hired an expert assistant named Martha. “Find your Martha,” she implored the audience. “Finding mine was the foundation for my success.”
Something else that led to success for her was the hiring of her nephew seven years ago. “His fresh vision helped lift my practice,” she said, and led to the company’s decision to offer multigenerational planning. “Young people could be the catalyst for your practice,” she said.
MDRT is an association full of extraordinary people, she concluded. Her year as president will be a great one for her, and she is grateful and humble to serve as president. “I thank you immensely for that responsibility,” she said.
By Ayo Mseka