#SitkinsIsTheSolution

10 Things That Require Zero Talent

agency leadership podcast sales Dec 02, 2021
 

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Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode. As always, the purpose of the Agent Leader Podcast is to help you, the independent insurance agency professional, to gain clarity, build consistency and to make a commitment to become your best version possible, which by the way, we've teased this a couple times on this podcast, we have a brand-new book coming out called Best Version Possible. It's a clear path through your agency of what is the best version possible for your agency? What does it look like, and of course, actionable steps of how to get there? And I'm welcomed today by a regular guest, also the co-author of Best Version Possible, our book coming out, Roger Sitkins. Roger, welcome back to the Agent Leader Podcast.

Roger Sitkins:

Right, as always, it's great to be here and share some ideas, strategies with agencies that do help them get towards that best version possible.

Brent Kelly:

Well, Roger's been a regular guest here, as many of you know, if you're an avid listener. And today we're going to be talking about a topic that comes from real life. I guess all topics come from real life, Roger, but this was an experience that you had recently with your grandson. I'll get to that in one minute. But I do also want to have a reminder to all the listeners that if you've been on the fence, or been curious, or interested to say, "Hey, listen, this best version possible, this process, this Sitkins Network that Brent has mentioned before, is it a fit from our agency?" Well, now is the time to truly take a look at it. We're recording this on December the first, it'll come out sometime early in December, and all of our core programs for 2022 begin in January of 2022. So don't wait any longer.

Brent Kelly:

If you're curious, again, what does this look like? What does this mean for my agency? How is it going to help organic growth? How is it going to help the culture of the agency? How is it going to help profitability? Which by the way, it will do all those things and more, this is your time to go to sitkins.com/aim, to learn more, schedule a call and see if it's a fit for your agency. We'd love to have you on board for 2022 and help your agency get the results that you've only dreamed of, and we're excited to share that with you. So without further ado, Rog, do you want to get into the topic for today?

Roger Sitkins:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

All right. Well, I'm going to set this up and I know that many of you listen just audio on the podcast, but we're also recording this on video. So I'm going to pull up on my background. So if you are a video watcher, I've just put on my back backdrop here of my screen, something that Roger sent me an early morning text. And Roger, one of the things that I love about you is that if you have an idea that's worth sharing, you will send me a text and say, "Hey, look at this." And this is one of those things that was sent to me. And I'm going to have you, Roger, tell the story of where you saw this, and we're going to go through these and talk about the impact of independent insurance agencies.

Brent Kelly:

But I didn't want to read through what it is, all 10 of the things that are on there succinctly and then Roger allow you to share your story, and we'll talk about these individually. So if you can see behind me, and some of you can, it says 10 things that take zero talent. So this is not a podcast necessarily about talent, although talent's important, but these are 10 things that take you zero talent. And it says being on time, work ethic, effort, body language, energy, attitude, passion, being coachable, doing extra and being prepared, and I love all of these. And so, Roger, I'm going to turn it over to you and maybe just share where you saw this, what it means to you, and then we'll hit each of these individually. So take it away.

Roger Sitkins:

I'm happy to share it. I'm just sitting here smiling because this was a quick picture I took on my cell phone at the Keystone Little League. One of my grandsons, Logan, who's going to be seven here actually within a few days, this was the last game of the Little League season. His first Little League season with coach pitching that T-ball, unless you couldn't hit it, then they finally put it up there. And my wife, Stephanie, and I went up and got a chance to see Logan play the game. And it's the first time we'd seen him in Little League. We knew he practiced all the time; he really loves it.

Roger Sitkins:

And as I was leaving, I looked over and I said, "Look at this, here are some lessons that they show for the kids in Little League, and do they apply with what we do?" And I looked at it and I just started smiling. I showed my wife, Steph, I said, "Steph, come and look at this." She said, "That's the stuff you talk about all the time." And I coached Little League both the hardball, regular baseball, excuse me, and the softball with my kids for, geez, 10, 12 years so it just really hit home with me. That's why I sent it to you. This requires zero talent to get these things going on. So let's jump into it, Brent, and just talk about each one and how they, in some cases, can certainly apply to an independent insurance agency.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. And again, when you sent it to me, I looked at like, "What is this?" And I'm zooming in on my phone and I'm like, "Oh, these are great." And I've seen similar things to this before, but it is fun. In my situation, as many of you know, I've got five kids all still at home at this point. And so life definitely mimics business and vice versa, and these lessons, they really don't change, whether you're five, 10, 50, or 80. I mean, in some of these things, it's just doing the right things.

Brent Kelly:

But I do want to go through these and just talk about what we see and how it applies specifically to independent insurance agencies because although there's similarities, there's a few nuances that so many things that we talk about and that we believe in that we know will make an impact to you as a listener. So let's go through. And I guess, Roger, what I'll do is maybe some of these I'll jump in and give my thoughts, and you can piggyback, and then sometimes if you have one you want to jump in, and then I'll piggyback or whatever. And some of these are going to be a little bit, there's similarities, but I think they're all very important. So we'll start with number one, being on time. And so, can I go first on this one, Roger?

Roger Sitkins:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

All right. Because I was thinking being on time, it's like well, duh. Well, one of the things that we talk about at Sitkins, and certainly when it comes to high performance teams is an acronym, A-R-T, ART. And I think when I saw being on time, it's like, well, listen, ART stands for appreciation, respect, and trust. And if you are not on time, you're showing a lack of appreciation, you're showing a lack of respect, and you're certainly not building trust. And so I think about that with independent insurance agencies, whether it's a producer or any person in the agency. If you're late for a meeting, certainly if you're late for an appointment, you have just devalued that other human being and it's just not okay. I mean, things happen, but it's just not okay. So that's my take on the first one. Roger, what do you think?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, I think one of the biggest ones is just the respect you're showing others. If you have a set appointment, whether it's internal or external, be on time. And I'm just a big fan of Vince Lombardi, and most of the listeners may not even know who that is, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, but they say he had Lombardi time. And he would start his team meetings normally five or 10 minutes ahead of time. And if you showed up on time, you were late, and that was the culture there, being on time. So it's one of the things that we push for our own selves, when we have a meeting, be on time. And so, when you have a meeting with anybody, show up on time, maybe even be a little bit early, but never be late, because the minute you're late for something, you're losing credibility and the people just don't trust you. So absolutely, be on time.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. As you said that, we've got our musical director in our school district, great guy, does a great job with the kids, but he says, because we have all these different practices and rehearsals, they said, "Being 10 minutes early is on time, being on time is late, and being late is unacceptable." And I always like that. So in the kids' minds, the culture is if we're going to be somewhere, plan on being there 10 minutes early, because things do happen. It's like, "Well, I run into traffic," or, "I got that call," or whatever. If you're at work, it's like, well, those things do happen, so plan accordingly, give yourself some buffer. All right, so that's number one. Number two, work ethic. Roger, what's say you on this one?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, one of the things that I see all too often is because in our business, you can do a half-fast, I said, fast, job and you can become semi-successful, we talk about this all the time. And what I see is some people just aren't willing to put in the extra effort, they're not willing to put in the extra time, effort is the next one, but just the fact that you're willing to work hard. And something we've talked about in some of our onlines the last few weeks is the whole concept of winning, that winning is better than not winning. And the question we ask people is are you willing to put in the work to win? Because you just don't show up and win in life, you've got to have the work ethic. So the person that I want is the one that says, "You know what, I'm going to roll up my sleeves, I'm going to jump been there, I'm going to do whatever it takes, I'm going to outwork everybody else."

Brent Kelly:

That way. And what I jotted down when I saw this and thought about was a book that I read, it's probably been 10, 15 years ago, called Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, fantastic book. It's like the 10 commandments of making money or whatever, had a really cool perspective. But one of those things that he talked about; he had talked about the lack of work ethic. And some of it is, what's the purpose for your work? Now, I think if you're just working only for yourself, some people have that self-discipline, but when you start to say, "Listen, I'm doing this for another human being or from a spiritual sense to God or a higher power," it makes it more meaningful.

Brent Kelly:

And so, to me, work ethic goes back to your purpose, your why, why do you do really what you do? I mean, you could use this for anything. It's like, well, if the purpose is, I don't know, flipping burgers, well, I just flip burgers. Well, no, what you do is you allow someone to eat something for that day, a great experience. So just taking a higher level of whatever it is, why do you really work? Why does it matter, and why does it matter to other people? And just have that sense of pride in your work ethic. So love that one. The next one, again, similar but take it to the next level, effort, effort. So Roger, what do you think about, from independent insurance agencies, you think of effort?

Roger Sitkins:

One of things we challenge leaders on, and producers, and account managers, everyone that we work with, is real simple, if you're going to put in the time anyway, why not be great at it? I mean, if you're going to put the time in anyway, why not be great at it? And so that as you're going through life, you realize that, "Wow, I'm really going to get some great results here because I'm putting in the time."

Roger Sitkins:

And everybody eventually leaves the business no matter what. And one of our favorite things... well, two favorite sayings, one is if your goal is regrets, stay the course, don't change anything you're doing, you'll have some regrets at the end of your career, but if you want re-greats then what do you have to do and how much additional effort? So if you're going to put into time, let's just be great at it. And every time we've said this, whether it's a virtual event or a live event, you see people go, "Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, why not? I'm here anyway." Brent.

Brent Kelly:

Well, I just think I 100% agree obviously with that and you're right, you're at a physical space and time at a certain point, so just be there. I think this is actually what hit me when I was thinking about this one is I think what happens with effort sometimes is distraction, we're not 100% percent of where we are, which is disrespectful, number one, but you never give it your full effort. You're conflicted in your mind, and of course, in your actions around that. So I like what you said, if you're going to put the time in any way, why not be great at it? So if you've got 10 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour of doing a project or something, do it all the way, and then move on to something else, and do that 100%, but quit 50% or 80%-ing everything because it just leads to more frustration at the end of the day.

Roger Sitkins:

Yes.

Brent Kelly:

All right. So number four, we got the first three, now we're at number four, I love this one, we live this one every day, Roger, but body language. This is something I know you share, and I share, this is based on a study that years ago now, and there's different philosophies may be around what the study really means, but what the study showed that when it comes to influence and communication, only 7%'s words, 38% is our tone of voice and 55% is body language.

Brent Kelly:

So not to short change just our audio podcast, but if you're just listening to my voice, I've got words and I've got my tone of voice, which are important. But also, if you are just listening, do you think I'm smiling right now? Am I animated? Are my hands moving? Am I slumping over? Am I frowning? All those things matter so much, Roger. Maybe you were going to say this anyway, but one of my favorite things that you can sometimes, I'll use the word catch, but you'll notice about other people when they're having a conversation and sometimes their body doesn't match their words, in fact, you've caught me doing that a few times. So what do you think of when you think of body language, Roger?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, it's not what you see, it's how you say it, we've all heard of that. And then with the body language, if it's right, you can say almost anything to anybody. And in our in-person events and even the virtual events, when we've done this, those of you that are listening can't see it obviously but what Brent was referring to is when someone says, and I'm shaking my head, no, side to side, people say, "Boy, I'm really committed." No, you're not, you just said you're not. "No, I'm really committed." But they're saying no. And I always watch TV commercials for that, it drives me nuts when I see it because it's not a congruency in communication.

Roger Sitkins:

And in the events, we'll walk up to somebody and just say, "Hey, how are you doing? Good to see you." And then we build on it and I say, "Brent, I just want to tell you what, thank you so much for being here. You're the dumbest person that's ever attended." And people go, "What?" And they don't catch it right away. And I just say, start watching yourself and your communication with others because if you're saying, "Oh yeah, I'm really committed," or, "I love you too," and your head's going, "No, I don't," it's just wrong. And so, so many people don't realize the power of this. 55% is your body language, what is your body language and your tonality saying? "Well, I'm really excited and so committed to be here, Brent, we might do a good job for you." Come on, you don't want to be fake, but at least use it, it's real.

Roger Sitkins:

And most people, I'm going to guess that 90% of the people listening or watching have heard about this, but do you track yourself? It's a great example when you're rehearsing your presentations or when you're filming a live Zoom event, I sure hope you do, is this something that you review afterwards to say, "Hey, how did I look? How did I sound? Was the message clear? Was there congruency or was there not congruency?" And so many times we found when you debrief people, they say, "I wonder why I lost that sale." And you watch it and you're like, "Here's exactly why you were not congruent in your communication." It's huge and most people ignore it.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, there's a huge disconnect, in many cases, Roger, certainly with insurance professionals and producers, in particular, we do sales discussions, from what they think they said and did or how they said it, and what they actually look like, and how they actually said things. And so, certainly, I mean, with video presentations and all these conversations we do and will continue to do, record yourself and watch. What did you like? What did you not like? If you were talking to yourself, would you be annoyed? Would you be excited? Would you be compelled? What would your emotional state be?

Brent Kelly:

And of course, doing the in-person things as we'll continue to do as well, when you're practicing those in-person things, record yourself. "I don't want to do that." Why? Because as you know Roger, we always get a chuckle out this, when I ask, specifically, on our ProducerFit program, how many like to listen to the sound of your voice when you record it? "Well, I don't like that." How many like to watch yourself, video yourself and then watch it afterwards, "I don't like that." And we all kind of get to chuckle out of it, but something I always say is, "Well, how do you think your prospect, or client, or whoever you're speaking with, how do you think they like it?" Oh, so just be aware of how important of, again, tone of voice, but of course, body language, 55%, such a huge thing. The next one kind of goes into that, but I think we can expand, Roger, a little bit. Number five is, takes zero talent to have energy. So when you think of energy, what jumps out at you?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, when you're doing the things you love to do, you have energy. Okay, so a big part of energy is just figuring out what are my unique talents? What are my God-given skills and abilities and how do I get myself in this situation, I'm doing things that generate energy. Dan Sullivan talks, who we talk about all the time, strategic coach program, but he talks about the fact that unique abilities areas, where you're competent, areas where you're incompetent. Well, the areas where you have unique abilities that you love to do, it's high energy. You could do it all day long and go, "Man, that was a great day." The areas where you're just competent, "Ah, take it or leave." It doesn't generate energy, but it doesn't necessarily suck it, just maintains it. And then the things where we just don't like doing them, it's not part of our factory-installed equipment, God-given skills and talents, it drains energy from us.

Roger Sitkins:

So understand it's not a perfect world, there are going to be things that drain energy. Don't do energy-draining things during prime selling time, that's one of the reasons we see in the perfect schedule. The no-pay stuff that for most of us will drain energy, don't take your energy from the middle of the day when you should be out there having an impact and do things that drain energy because once you drain it, now you got to spend the time to refill it, and it just kills you. And so, just get on top of what generates energy for you. A huge part of it is, do you have a great morning routine that sets you up for a great day with great energy?

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, there are so many things that come to my mind when I think of energy. Something for me, Roger, that I've tried to be more aware of and I've started to share in some of our programs and coaching is, just understand just the nature of you as a human being. We're all a little bit different and where you find that you've got higher levels of energy or productivity and be aware of that. And you kind of said that. I mean, typically we see is, yeah, it's 9:00 in the morning for example. For a lot of people, not everybody, but for most people, that's a pretty high energy time, and they're doing stuff that they shouldn't be doing. And so, it's just the opposite of what they should be focused on. Another thing too is, and this is just maybe from a body perspective of it's a struggle for me as well, but are you getting enough sleep? Are you putting good stuff in your body? That stuff matters.

Brent Kelly:

I think about it as, what are things... I mean I could go on a whole different side tangent here, because I'm certainly not perfect with it, but when you think of what you consume and how you move your body, is that helping you create more energy, or are you actually slowing yourself down? Are you putting good gas in the car? You wouldn't take a Lamborghini and put corroded gas or whatever it is, in it. You would put the best stuff in it. So think about that for yourself is, am I doing the things that are helping me generate energy. So it's my take on that, a little different direction, Roger, but similar.

Brent Kelly:

All right, number six, and this one's... everybody talks about it, so I'd love to get your perspective, Roger, what jumps out at you, but it takes zero talent to have a great attitude. So what do you think when you think of attitude?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, a great attitude is better than a really crappy attitude. And some people will drain energy from you because of their crappy attitude. An attitude of gratitude, being grateful for everything that you have, your family, your opportunities, your health, your relationships, it's crucial, but just coming and showing up with a great attitude. And if you don't feel great about it, then why not? Let's get ready to play the game and just say what are the things I should be grateful to? And certainly, as you and I attempt to travel and follow a similar morning routine, part of it is just journaling. And when you're journaling, just spend the time, if you just wrote down, what are the three things I'm most grateful for in my life right now? And by the way, when you're grateful for them, make sure you tell them whether your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your best clients, but if you're grateful for something, have that attitude of gratitude and then let people know what you're saying about unspoken gratitude, that's not how you-

Brent Kelly:

Silent gratitude is no gratitude at all.

Roger Sitkins:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

And I think, as you were saying that, Roger, not only is that certainly true for your spouse, or loved ones, or coworkers, or whatever, but it's true talking to yourself. And I think, as far as... Am I grateful for my health? I think that's such a good point and I think I heard it before and it's true, it's like, try to practice gratitude. In fact, when we get off this podcast, take a minute and just think about the things that you're truly grateful for and then try to be angry at the same time. It's impossible. I mean, it's impossible.

Brent Kelly:

And so, so often, it's just what we fill our mind and our body and our ahead of this stuff. And I think what only I'm going to add to this, and I tell this to my kids all the time and I try to live this out, I'm certainly not perfect with it is, we don't get to choose all the stuff that happens to us, we don't. I mean, we can control certain things, but some things just happen. But the only thing you can control is how you respond to it. And I think that's the biggest difference is that some people... I mean, think about it, Roger, I'm sure you've heard this before too, it's like, "Well, it's raining today, it's going to be a crappy day. I got this bad call I got to make in the morning, it's going to be a crappy day. I guess it's Monday, it's going to be a long week." Just how we speak around it, it says so much.

Brent Kelly:

And it doesn't mean you say, "Well, it's raining today, I can't wait to go get wet." But it's just the idea of, where is it going to be good? Because there are some good things with that as well, it's just how you focus. Did you want to add anything to that Roger or are you just nodding

Roger Sitkins:

Well, I was laughing when you said that because it reminded me of a lesson of a million years ago. But in my own agency in Michigan, we had one marketing rep that we would call in on us every couple of weeks and he would come in and go whatever his name was, Bob, I can't remember but I'd say, "Bob, how are you doing today?" Because I hopefully always have a positive attitude, at least the majority of the time. And if it was Monday, he'd go, "Well, pretty good for a Monday." If he showed up on Wednesday, he'd go, "Well for a Wednesday, I'm doing pretty good." It's like he knew how crappy each day was going to be. And by the way, I didn't look forward to his visits because all he did was, Who's that, Eeyore the donkey. He's kind of like that.

Roger Sitkins:

We'd kid around awhile about the Dunkin' Donuts commercial from several years ago where, well, it's time to go make the donuts. God, if that's your life, go get another job, go do something. Everybody says, "Well, life's way too short." Well, you know what, at the end of it, most people think that. Right now people say, "Well, it goes on forever." No, it doesn't.

Brent Kelly:

I mean, I've got so many thoughts as you said that, and a couple come to mind, but I'll just share one of these. And I think this is true in the world, again, back at what I tell my kids, but it's true with independent insurance agencies too, because I have certainly, personally seen these, I'm sure you have too Roger, whereas someone might be in a certain position. Let's give an example, they come to this agency, they don't have a lot of experience, maybe they're doing processing type of work. There's two ways you could say it, or just do it with full abundance and a great attitude.

Brent Kelly:

And what typically happens to those people, we need more people like you. Is there something else we could do? I mean, I tell my kids, if you're out and about doing something or you're working a job, that you're not going to be there forever, and someone else... you said, "You never know who's watching, you just never know who's watching." And all of a sudden it's like, "You know what, you were doing that, and you did that with joy. And you did that with-" The next word's passion, we're going to talk about it next. I want to talk to you more, I want to give you more opportunities. So just you choose, just choose wisely. So I just said the word, #7 - passion. It takes zero talent to be passionate. So Roger, what do you think of when I say passion?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, I think of this because this was at Logan's little league game, it was interesting because his brother, the twin is taller, again, they're not identical and he is turning out to be a really good swimmer. They've asked him to be on a competitive team already and he's at level nine or 10, whatever, I guess ten's the best you can be, I don't know. And Logan would try, he tried this sport, he tried that sport and finally, he loved baseball. And he said to his mom, my daughter, said, "Mom, I finally found something I love."

Roger Sitkins:

And now, when his dad comes home from work, he's waiting for him, "Come on, we're going to go hit the ball." They're at the end of a cul-de-sac and there's an empty lot there. And so, they've got the bucket of baseballs and he's got his glove ready and as soon as his dad, Paul, my son-in-law, gets home, he's like, "Come on, dad, let's go hit balls." And Logan's, I'll brag, when we were there, he went three for three in Little League and it's because he works hard at it, and it's just fun to see that he has a passion for it.

Roger Sitkins:

So anybody that has a passion, you can tell. I hope people can tell that we have passion to help agencies become their best version possible, it's real simple. That's what I have a passion about. If you ask me to sit down and process, I wouldn't have a passion, plus you'd have to fire me because I'd screw up so much. And so, I just love the fact that he's got that.

Roger Sitkins:

And Nolan, the other one, when you get into swimming, it's three, four days, maybe five days a week that he has practice now, but he loves doing it. And so, be the kid, have the passion that you had as a kid in your job. And if your current job, which you're doing within the agency, isn't right for you, find another job in the agency, stay at the agency business because it's a great business, but you better have passion for what you do, or you could just kind of float along and make the donuts, and at the end of your life, have a lot of regrets.

Brent Kelly:

Just getting through it, Roger, in about nine years, I'll be able to go to retirement. So if I can just get through the next nine years, oh my goodness. Oh, no. I was thinking as you were saying that, I've shared this quote before from John Maxwell, he always talks about leadership as influence. And I was just thinking about leadership as in influence, I believe that to be true as well. And I don't think there's anything that I can think of, and this is my opinion, that's more compelling in influence than passion. And it's like when you have a conversation with someone and you know they believe in what they do and they're excited about it and they truly want to help people, that really is what sales is, it's a transfer of influence, it's a transfer of ideas, it's a transfer of a compelling vision.

Brent Kelly:

And I'll say this too, whether it's a producer certainly, that we talked through the sales perspective, but also for the agency leaders. And I know it's a really difficult marketplace out there, there's no doubt. I mean, there are some huge challenges there, we talk about them all the time but I was just thinking about this, one of the differences we see with some of the agencies that are able to attract some of this talent is that they really believe in who they are, and what they do, and what they stand for, and what it means. And I would say people want to be part of something that matters, they don't just want to go do something. And that starts with passion.

Brent Kelly:

So always ask yourself, what are you really passionate about? And if you have a hard time answering that question, rethink it and go a little deeper, because it's really important, really important. Number eight, I didn't want to say this because I do this jokingly on our programs, but number eight is probably my favorite. I don't know if that's for you, Roger, but it's my favorite. Number eight is being coachable. So Roger, when you think about this, what does it mean to you?

Roger Sitkins:

Success leaves clues. When I look at the very best agency leaders we work with, when I look at the very best producers we work with, in our Elite 50 Sales Mastery, the ones that are at the top of the pyramid, the top of the results, are the ones that are asking the most questions, they're taking the most notes, they're practicing what they preach, all the things we talk about. And they come in, and they say, "What can I do just to get better? What can I do just to get better?" I think we talked about this in one of the previous podcasts, but at our last Elite 50 meeting, we had the largest producer in our group, 4 million of commission, that came from California to Southwest Florida for just one day, because he had to get it, this is a day and a half meeting. He stayed, he got in Wednesday, meeting Thursday, cocktails, dinner together Thursday night, Friday morning, 5:30 he left because he had to get to a wedding in San Diego that night.

Roger Sitkins:

And here's a guy, he's coachable, he's not done yet. I think it's maybe an overriding theme, the ones that get the best results, are the ones that say "I'm not done yet, are you?" And the ones that don't want to listen, "Oh, we already know it all." And we see it, we see people that show up for events, they think they know it all and they don't even know what they don't know yet.

Roger Sitkins:

So the best ones, whenever we look at them, my gosh, it's the ones that go, "What else can I learn?" They're the ones that, as Tony Robbins would say, Can-I, continual and never-ending improvement. And plus, for us, as coaches, it's so much fun because they're the ones that, not only are they going to do what they said, they're going to do, they're going to challenge us. They make us better because they challenge us to take them to the next level. So I always love the ones that are just absolutely coachable, so maybe it's my favorite now too, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

Well, as I was going through it and looking at this, and I even wrote down, I'm like, "I don't know if this is a skill, but it's a mindset." I think it's the number one thing we see and you already alluded to that. And I want to add one more to your Elite 50 story, we may have mentioned this before, I don't know, but I love it, at the end of that Elite 50, at the end of day two, the two youngest producers, you mentioned one of the older ones, came to you and I just sit there kind of watching this and they basically just said, "What else do I need to know? What do you see in me?" And they just had this hunger. They just spent a day and a half just being inundated with stuff and where a lot of people go, "Well done with that, move on." They're like, "What else? What am I missing?" And that was just so cool to see. And I told you, Roger, I said, "These two guys are going to be great."

Roger Sitkins:

Oh, yeah.

Brent Kelly:

They're going to be great. And, "Well, how do you know that?" "Because they're coachable." And I want to say something else too on this because it's my favorite so I want to. I'm still in the independent insurance agency, I was a producer at the time, but I was doing some speaking and different things and I got invited back to the first agency that I worked with. I remember going there, number one, I was as nervous as could be, because this was kind of my first time that someone was paying me to come and show up and speak and do things and in the crowd were several people that were my mentors that had large books of business and then there were a lot of people I didn't know, that were new or starting at the agency. And I was most nervous about those people, like, "Who am I to be able to come and say things to these people."

Brent Kelly:

And it was the first lesson I learned. I got done and the people that came to me and said things like, "You know what, Brent, that was really good. And there was this one thing I picked up or there was this little thing that really struck me." It was the people with the biggest books of business. Those that really weren't that great or weren't going to be great, "Ah." It's the idea of there's two mindsets of coachable, "Yeah, I already know that." versus asking yourself the question, how well am I doing that? And those are two fundamentally different ways of looking at things.

Brent Kelly:

And so often it's, and certainly, Roger, with our stuff, "I know that I need to build my pipeline." "Oh, how well are you doing effectively building your pipeline?" "Well, I know I need to have a true point of differentiation and be able to tell a compelling story." "Oh, let me hear it." "Well..." And so, it's just this idea of, the best always want to be coached. What's the next level, what's the next step? And by the way, being coached isn't always easy because sometimes you get to hear things you don't want to hear. And I know, Roger, with you, when you mentor me, I love it, but I don't love it. I love it because I know I'm getting better. I don't love it because sometimes I'm going, "Gosh, now he's going to point out that thing that I shouldn't have done or said. But thank you because now I can get better, so there's my coachable rant.

Roger Sitkins:

And I think people that know you, know this, you're very coachable. You're easy to coach, you're a great person to have as a mentee, you've become a mentor, and now you've elevated and now you're the president of the company. It's because you're coachable. There's never one time I've seen where you went, No. You don't agree, God, if we agreed on everything, we'd be in trouble. But we challenge each other, and it's not bragging, it's just that, doggone it, we have to do what we said we're going to do too, we can't be people that don't do what they say and not people of high integrity. So you've got to be coachable, the best are always coachable, period. And if you're not, if you go, "No, I already know it all." You don't even know what you don't know.

Brent Kelly:

Oh, absolutely. And then, of course, the other part of this too is to just keep surrounding yourself with people that are going to raise your game. And that's why I love in our programs is because you get people on all different levels and they're going like, "Who's that person I need to talk to that's done some stuff that I haven't done before?" And the mindset of, I'm wanting to learn. So it's just critical, we should probably do a whole podcast just on that. But anyway, number nine, so we got two left. Number nine, it takes zero talent doing extra. And obviously, there's some overlap here, but Roger doing extra, what does that mean to you?

Roger Sitkins:

It's the person that takes additional effort. So if I can spend five minutes getting ready, that's okay, but what if I spent 10? Working out, what if I did a couple of extra reps here? What if I practiced again here? And it doesn't take a lot in our industry to be way better than everybody else, it just takes doing more. And as we've talked before and we challenge people all the time, the reality is, the bar is pretty low in our industry and you don't have to do much of what we talk about and you're going to be semi-famous term of semi-successful. You're going to be semi-successful.

Roger Sitkins:

But it's the ones who say, "Okay, I got here, but what got me here won't get me to where I really want to go. What's the extra effort I could do. What is the extra learning I could do? What can I do that's extra that will give me an unfair advantage." Because in every competitive situation, someone has an unfair advantage, and normally, it's the people that do the extra work. They never say good is good enough. We just see it all the time, "Oh, that's good enough." Oh, you're on the way to regrets, enjoy the journey.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, it's funny how this starts, and again, these all obviously go together, it comes back to attitude and energy and all these things. But it's just funny because you mentioned an extra rep and I had someone tell me, "I always got to do an extra rep." So now when I do a workout, it's like 15 reps, I'm like, "Well, I have to do 16." And here's the bigger point I guess I would share to this, to add on to it is, it's the extra effort. Here's the thing if you do one more rep or if you spend one more hour a week practicing or preparing, are you going to notice that week or that day? Well, not much, but what if you did that every week? That comes back to that 1% factor, it's like what if?

Brent Kelly:

I mean, we talk, Roger, with the producers, in particular, if you spent that, we call it a Sitkins hour, but you go back, and you look at your notes, and your fresh, and you practice, and you do these things, "Oh, it's just an hour." But if you did that for 50 weeks a year, you just spent 50 hours in true preparation. What if you did two, you'd get to 100.

Brent Kelly:

So it's just this idea of these little things add up, but are you willing to do a little extra? And then compound it and consistency, so it's a huge one. All right, here's a drum roll, number 10, being prepared, which I mean, I just talked about it a little bit there, but let's end on the higher note here, number 10, the thing that takes zero talent is being prepared. What does that mean to you, Roger?

Roger Sitkins:

Relentless preparation, never lose a game to somebody more prepared than you. And what we see all too often is agencies and producers lose on new business or they lose an account because they just were not relentlessly prepared. I'll never forget a time an agency principal from Arizona was in one of our events, great guy, had built a nice agency, he was one of the owners. They were probably eight or 9 million of revenue then and in the first session of the producer camp and he was one of, probably the oldest guy in the camp that day. And he stood up towards the end of it and he said, "You know what I just realized I want to share something with all of you youngsters," that's how he refers it. "I've been winging it for my whole career and I've really done well, but I've never been as prepared as what Roger's talked about here today, I wonder how good I could have been."

Roger Sitkins:

And so, that's when we started using the term, winging it, you can be successful winging it or at least, again, semi-successful, very successful by other standards, winging it. One of the biggest problems with winging it is that you can't replicate it. Because certain people are just good on their feet and certain people just because they've done it for 15, 20, 25 years, just those things they're good at it, and they have a passion, they believe it, technical knowledge, but as far as being relentlessly prepared for every event. We talked about this several times in the podcast that the young producer probably three, four years ago now, where we always go around the room, "What's the most important thing you got today?" And the guy said, "Well, coach, here's the most important thing I got today, I am no longer going to rehearse my presentation during the actual presentation."

Roger Sitkins:

And then when you look at this and you say... In fact, I would just challenge all of the listeners, or watchers, viewers here, what percent of the presentations that you went on in 2021, live or virtual, were you relentlessly prepared for? Did you lose any business because someone was more prepared than you? Did you not network at the level you could have when you finally got to a live event because you weren't prepared to know who was there and who you wanted to meet? So much of what we talk about, and we mentioned before, we get criticized, "Oh, it's that simple stuff." And I say, "You know what, you're exactly right, it is the simple stuff, mastering the basic activities, earning your MBA." It's simple, it's just not easy.

Roger Sitkins:

And so people think, well, that's just simple, but then they're not taking the time to be prepared because that takes the extra effort, takes the passion, takes the attitude, all the things we've talked about here rather than just saying doggone it. As an individual, producer, leader, whatever it may be, or as an agency owner, I would just say this, "We will never ever be unprepared. We may lose but it's not because of a lack of preparation." So, yeah, I have passion around that one, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

No, I can't sense that at all, Roger.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, a little bit.

Brent Kelly:

I mean, I do too and I know I overuse sports analogies, I say that, but I remember I heard something and then I kind of showed it with my own kids through sports, but for example, if we're sitting here in a basketball season and someone says, "Well, it's November 30th and we lost that game." No, you didn't lose the game November 30th, you lost it in July, or August, or September because that's the time that you could have prepared, some of those things that you were dealing with, you weren't ready."

Brent Kelly:

And we certainly see that with producers and agencies. It's like, "Well, I screwed up that appointment." You screwed it up last week or earlier this week because you weren't prepared, that's when you lost. And we see with agencies. I mean, it's like here we are at the end of this year, it's like, "Well, we're trying to catch up or close the end of the year strong." It's because you didn't open the year strong. What did you do in January, in February, and March to make October, and November, and December, and the end of that year your best year ever? Were you truly prepared? Were you doing the things that you needed to do?

Brent Kelly:

And again, I will take a minute just to say this, because we believe in it, it's about passion and energy. If you're an agency, that you say, "Hey you know what, maybe 2021 was a decent year, maybe it was a good year, maybe it was a very good year, but do you want it to be your best version possible year, start now?" And if we're a part of that, we would love to be part of it if you're a fit, again, our programs kick off in January of 2022, our core programs, then we have a process that follow up with Deep Dives, we go deeper in certain areas, we have ongoing community with masterminds and sales meetings to keep you involved and engaged throughout the year, but it starts at the beginning of the year.

Brent Kelly:

And so, again, we have a passion for helping insurance agencies, that's what we do, and that's why we do it because we believe in the results and what happens after it. So go to sitkins.com/aim if you want to learn, if it's a fit for you and your agency, sitkins.com/aim. So with that, Roger, any final thoughts from you as we wrap up this podcast?

Roger Sitkins:

Yeah. As I was sitting here, just looking at this again, this is Little League, it's Little League. So my question, are you playing Little League or Major League as an organization? And as a leader, if leaders want these young people to say, "Hey, here are 10 things that will help you, in effect, transform your life." Now the kids are going, "Well, what is this I don't know?" But what lessons should we be teaching and reinforcing to everybody that's important to us? And these certainly are 10 of them that I would challenge all of us. I mean, as we went through these in our preparation, before we started recording and I'm thinking of, "There's a bunch of stuff on here, I've got to get back focused on myself." If we don't have that continual never-ending improvement, then we're going to start just kind of floating along. And the minute you stagnate, the great saying, you can only coast in one direction, once you start coasting, you're really on the way out. So make a commitment that 2022 will be the best year you've ever had because you're going to be the best version possible.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Thank you, Roger. And it comes back, I love this, you said it to awareness, and sometimes you just forget about some of the things. And I even know, last thing I'll share is, for example, our ProducerFit program, which is part of one of our core programs, that first session, it all starts internally. I mean, we go into specific strategies and processes, but it starts to say, "Am I willing to do some of the things that I can control?" And this is not about talent. It's about being on time, and work ethic, and effort, and energy, and attitude, and passion, I'm going to be coachable, and just a mindset. And when you can get people to understand that and own that, anything's possible. That's a question you ask all the time, what's possible, but you've got to make the commitment.

Brent Kelly:

So thanks for being our listener. Again, if you have any questions for us, we're always looking for podcast reviews and shares, we're trying to reach more independent insurance agencies, to add value to their lives, and their community, and their teams, please do so. And with that, wish you all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.

 

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