Don't Complain About What You Tolerate


Welcome to The Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode. It's my pleasure and honor to be with you on today's show. And today's show is going to be me having a conversation from my heart to your heart, on a subject that I think is extremely - I don't think - I know, is extremely important. And I would say it's certainly applicable at every agency, for every insurance professional that we see, that I see across the country.

Now, to go back, the purpose of The Agent Leader Podcast and every podcast that we do, our mission, our purpose for you, the agency leader, is to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and to make a commitment to become your best version possible. By the way, Best Version Possible, it may just be the title of a new book that's coming out here very soon. Should be the 4th quarter here of 2021. Myself, Roger Sitkins, have co-authored a book about helping your agency truly become that best version possible with strategies and philosophies and some action steps that you can take with you. So, more to come on that in the coming weeks and podcast episodes for sure.

Now over the past several episodes, I've had a number of fantastic guests. I had Kristen Schoeneberger who talked about how she got two BORs, big BORs before lunch, and some of the preparation and work and mindset that she had in that. I had Joe Vens who talked about his specialty focus, his niche focus and what that means. We talked about the power of having a niche. And I've had my regular guest, Roger Sitkins on. I'll have Roger on again, certainly more and more. But had Roger on talking about mindsets of top-level successful insurance professionals. And also, the one we recently did was about the value of an appointment.

So if you haven't listened to those episodes, go back and take a listen. They're powerful episodes, got a lot of great feedback and we've got more great guests to come here in the future. But today I just want to take a little bit of time. This will be a shorter podcast episode, at least that's my intention here. But just talk about something that has really been on my heart, and one of the great things about delivering programs... and we are in our running program season right now at Sitkins. In fact, we've got our leadership program, our sales leadership program, our producer program, and our account manager program. As I'm recording this week, we did all of those sessions this week.

We've got multiple sessions for each of those groups, but this week they've all collided. We also did a sales process on the risk concierge, which is for our private clients, this week. So like many of you, it's been a very packed schedule, but a powerful schedule. And this week in particular, of all the training programs ... and there were some different topics that we talked about. And obviously, with different groups, there's different topics and different conversations that we have. One central theme really seemed to jump out. In fact, today I'll be leading a sales leader discussion, later today after I get off this recording. And it's going to be around the subject of accountability.

And the phrase that I want to share with you, and I want you to think about this. This is the important part of this podcast. This is the phrase that I want to focus on, is this. This idea of, do not complain about that which you tolerate. Do not complain about that which you tolerate. Now, maybe you would say it a different way. Do not complain about those things that you allow, whatever the case may be. And that phrase has been out for a while in different arenas, but it's so important and so powerful in the insurance agency world. I also think it mirrors life. I think life mirrors business, business mirrors life. There's a lot of great lessons on both sides.

And I'm going to give specific examples of this accountability of what we're allowing in many cases, or we see that insurance professionals are allowing, that we continue to complain about, right? The things that we hear again and again. And this has been a frustration, and this has been a problem, and I can't seem to get through this. Yet we don't really do much to change it. Personal example, calling myself out here for a second. I think it's a great way to tell a story and say, listen, I'll go first, right? I'll be vulnerable here.

But I talked about that business mirrors life, life mirrors business. In my own family, there are many things that I've noticed, maybe not many. Well, several things that I've noticed that I will tend to go, oh my gosh, here we go again. Or, why are you still doing this? Or, why are you not getting ready on time? And all these different things that we have in the home life. And I've got again, if you don't know me, I've got 5 kids from the ages of 18 to 4. So they're all still at home. It's crazy, right? And so for me, as a parent, as a father, if I allow things to happen day after day or week after week or month after month in certain situations, and then I complain about it, well, I have to ask myself, tell myself, if you're going to allow it, shut up. Stop complaining about it.

Perfect example of this is, for a while, my son has been struggling with bedtimes. Now again, we've got different things, events that we go to, so not every night is the same. And my daughter's in volleyball and all that kind of stuff. But basically, been trying to find a routine to get him in bed in time. And so what usually happens is that we get lackadaisical some evenings or whatever the case may be, and the next thing I know, that it's later than when I want it to be. And then he gets in bed later than he wants, which means I get in bed later than I want. And I don't have the quality time with my wife that I want to have conversations, because it's always chaotic. And just get ready for bed and get enough sleep for myself because I like to get up really early to start my day with intention. And then I'm tired and he's frustrated, and everybody's frustrated, right?

And I'm sitting here week after week going, wait a second, man. You're the one that has allowed the bedtime routine to get away. You're the leader, right? You're the one that sets these things. I said, listen, we're going to start to do this earlier because we know what happens. It's like we do the same thing, it's the definition of insanity, do the same thing again and again and expect a different result. It's this idea of do not complain about that which you tolerate, hits me square in the eyes. There are certain things in my life and in business that we see that we allow this to happen.

So my question to you, my listener, the agent leader, whether you're running your agency or your sales team, or you're running your sales department or your own book of business, agency leaders from all over, all different perspectives. My question, have there been times, or are there times right now, that you find yourself complaining or frustrated by, or maybe muttering under your breath, right? Little things like that, that you've been allowing to happen for a period of time. Whether that would be weeks, months, in some cases, years, right? I mean, it's like, well, I've been doing this for years and it's still not working but I still do it.

So let me just share just a few examples. And again, this is really about you, the listener, thinking about this and just the awareness of are there areas that I'm allowing things to happen that I'm not willing to change, thus, I still complain about it? And if that's the question, just like I told myself, I would ask you if you're not going to do anything about it, whatever it may be, then stop talking about it. I don't want to hear that. You know, you've got the same problem again and again and again, but yet you're not willing to do things to change it. You're tolerating it. You're allowing it, whatever the case may be.

So let's just go through just 3 different areas of insurance professionals that we see. You may have your own story. I hope you do. But here's some things that I can tell you as a coach and as a trainer, as I'm on these calls with producers and sales leaders and agency leaders across the country. And we always talk about what's working, what's not working. How long has this been going on, right? And we all have challenges. It doesn't mean we're just going to immediately solve them. But these are the things that we typically hear for producers. One of the most common things we see with insurance producers is they say things like I'm covered up. I'm busy. I don't have time to do these different things.

Right, but then the question is, okay, what will you do next week to make it look different than this week? What will you do next month to make it look different than last month? What will you do next quarter to make it look different than what you've experienced this quarter? Because otherwise, you're just going to repeat the same stuff and you're going to be sitting here one week, one month, three months from today. And you're going to say, I'm still frustrated, I can't believe this is happening in my business. Why aren't things getting better? Well, because you tolerated them, right? That's the reality of the situation.

Now, quick aside here before I get into specific examples, are there some things that happen in our lives and business that truly are out of our control? Yes. There are things that happen. There are seasons in business. I can tell you right now, in talking to the producers in particular, certainly the benefits producers, but some of the P and C, if you've got a big one-one renewal date, you've got 90% of your business that renews on one-one, this is probably going to be a different season. The 4th quarter of this year, then you're going to have the 1st quarter of next season, right? Or whatever the case may be. So understand that I get that, right. There are always limited exceptions to it, but don't allow the exceptions to become your rule. And that happens oftentimes. So for producers, if I'm so busy, how am I going to get through this? Well, let me ask a couple questions. Are you still telling your clients that you can do anything at any time for them, for any reason, if you need anything, you call me, I'm your gal, I'm your guy, whatever the case may be.

And then we're frustrated that our clients only come to us for service issues when we know, as a producer, we're not the best person to do service, because always the most efficient. We oftentimes make mistakes. In fact, we don't love to do service work. That's not our unique abilities for most great producers, right? And we have this service team that's designed to do a great job. In fact, they love to do that. That's their unique abilities, but yet we allow ourselves to go through it day by day and week after week, still doing the the busy work, and we're not educating our clients. We're not empowering our service team.

And that's a big part of what we teach because we hear it all the time of how do we build a high performance team, or I would love to have a high performance team but I'm not willing to do some of the things that it requires to get there. So therefore, I continue to complain about that. I'm too busy. Or how about this? I would, I'm so busy or I'm so covered up because I just have so many clients. By the way, typically we hear this, that we have so many clients that pay us so little money that oftentimes we so don't love to work with. Not all of them, but a few of them, right? You have those, we've all had those.

This is called the too-too syndrome, too many clients paying you too little money. So what are you going to do about that? Because either you're going to continue to say, well, I'm going to ride every client or keep every client no matter what, because I guess I just have to, or you're going to say, is there a better model? Is there a better way? Could I begin to focus on the right clients for me? Maybe find ways to pass down a client to other producers or to a select account unit on my agency, if you happen to have one of those, right?

So these are just some of the things that we think about, again I'm just giving a couple examples. We go in-depth in our programs and high performance teams and the power of the 80/20 and priority principles and all those kinds of things. But these ideas that we hear, we hear it's all the time from producers. Or I just, I don't know what to do. It's terrible. I'm always covered up and people always calling me and I just can't get ahead, and I can't do that, and I can't do that. You may have a different story. You may have different issues. But my question to you again is what's going to change now, today, this week, next month, next quarter, so that you don't talk about it again.

What about sales leaders? I know we've got some sales leaders that listen and watch, I'm on video here as well, listen and watch this podcast. What are you allowing or tolerating that you're still complaining about? And don't get me wrong but being a sales leader is a really tough job, right? It's it is a lot. I always joke with leaders in general that leadership would be really easy if it wasn't for the darn people, right? People laugh, but it's true, right? Because people are people and they've got different opinions and emotions and all these kinds of things that go into it. But as a sales leader, if I'm allowing, in this case, producers to not have accountability, to not have agreements, to not have design specified behaviors and actions and results that are expected, well, why would anything change?

And we hear sales leaders... Gosh, I'm so frustrated because the producers just don't do the things that I want them to do, they don't do the things they said they were going to do. Well, what did they say they were going to do? Well, they said lots of stuff, but what specifically? Well, I don't remember, but stuff. They've got to sell more well. Okay, but how are they going to do that? What are the agreed upon actions? Well, they just need to do what I used to do, or they just need to go do the stuff they know they need to go do. What is that? Well I don't know, right? And we talk in these wandering generalities and then we're frustrated with our production team. Now don't get me wrong. The producers have ownership in that, right? They have accountability.

But you, as a sales leader, my question is have you truly defined results, behaviors, actions? And when you, as a sales leader, are going to have these discussions with the producers, you've got to design something together. You're the leader, but we got to design that. Secondly, is there anything documented on what those things may be, right? And are you as a sales leader helping to improve the performance of your sales team or are you just micromanaging numbers and be being frustrated?

And by the way, are you as a sales leader... if there is a difficult conversation to have, and by the way, those aren't easy, that's why they're called difficult conversations... are you willing to have them? Are you having them or are you going, eh, I don't really want to ruffle feathers this week. You know, this person's been around for a while and I know if I say something, they're going to get mad or whatever it may be, and then I got to deal with that and whatever the case is. So I'll just let it go. I'll just let it go and maybe it'll work itself out next week, next month.

Well, of course we know that never, never happens. Do not complain about that which you tolerate. So just a few things, we teach in our program and we give examples of a producer's performance agreement. It's an agreement. An agreement means we agreed upon this. Now again, you as a sales leader need to lead this, but isn't it funny the best producers want to be accountable. They want to know. I mean the best producers they listen. I know I'm going to do some things great anyway because that's my mindset. But I want you as my sales leader to help me, keep me on course for the right behaviors and actions to get the results I want so I can go do the things I wanted to do, whatever that may be.

So I'll be accountable to you, you be accountable to me, but we've got to have those conversations upfront. If we haven't defined it, if we haven't documented, we're not having ongoing conversations to make the improvements necessary to have these discussions as needed, then we're going to continue to complain about that which we tolerate. What about agency leadership overall? Again, you may be all 3 of these. You may be the producer, the sales leader and the agency leader, but you may just be the agency leader, the principle. I think one of the biggest things we see with agency leaders that is missing is casting compelling vision.

And here's why I think this is important. I've talked about this in different podcasts. This is one example. It could be something else for you as an agency leader. But I really believe that today people want to be part of something that matters versus just being somewhere, just working somewhere. And you may not like that and go, oh gosh, the new generation. I mean, whatever you millennials, the next generation after that, I mean millennials are well-grown up at this point, we all know, right? But gosh, in my day, you just said to work and you worked. True, but don't you want to do more than that, right? Don't you want to compel, inspire people to do something that truly makes a difference for your agency, for your community, for your clients, for your team.

Cast that compelling vision of the future of what it's going to look like. And this is not an easy thing to do, but here's what happens. Oftentimes I hear with agency leaders, I don't know why my team just isn't rallying and doing the things that they said they were going to do. Whether it's sales, service, operations, whatever the case may be, I just don't know. I don't understand why they're not fired up like I am. Now listen, first of all as an agency leader, there's a reason why you're agency leader or the agency owner, right? You've got more skin in the game in many cases. So not everyone's going to think and act like you, but you can as an agency leader share vision that's compelling. Really understand the heartbeat of the agency, your mission.

I don't mean some just long-winded statement that you put on a wall and no one reads, but why do you really do what you do? What's the purpose for your existence? Why should people show up every day to work and be excited? Doesn't mean it's going to be perfect, but why should they? You got to lead them. I believe this, I heard this from John Maxwell, leaders see more and they see before. Leaders see more, you as a leader see more because you're thinking about these things, and you see before. You understand ahead of time what it may look like. You've got to tell that story.

Now for you, it may be something else. But again, the thing that I hear from leaders is why can't I get my team on the same page? Gosh, I can't, I don't know why they're not on the same page. Why aren't they being consistent? Why aren't they doing the things they said they were going to do? All these kind of things? Well, a big part of that is you, as a leader, can't just allow sporadic behaviors. You can't just allow, I'll show up and see what happens. One of my favorite things that we teach on in our program and give resource to and help agencies walk through is to have a one-page business plan.

Sounds too simple, right? Well, it works because it's simple. People can get it, but on one page, right? The idea of the one-page business plan is this, to get your team on one page, shouldn't your plan be on one page. Now this isn't your entire plan but this is the summary. This talks about why you do what you do, where the agency is going, what are the critical things that we must do otherwise known as non-optional. This is who we are. Share some of the key performance indicators that are important to your agency and have a focus message. This is what we're about, right? Just take that one page and go.

This is who we are, why we do what we do, where we're going, and some stats. Some KPIs to track that we're doing the right things. So we all know the score, right? Because don't you want to know the score? I would, I'm playing a game. I want to know the score. Whether I'm on the bench or I'm in the game or I'm the starter or I come in later or whatever my role, I want to know the score. I'm part of the team. The same is true with your agency, right? So my purpose of what you could get from this podcast today is pretty simple. I want you, whether again, whatever your specific role is in the agency, to understand that if you're complaining about something right now... and by the way, that's human, I do it too... but my stance to myself and my challenge to you is if I'm going to complain about something today, I better be doing something to make sure I'm not complaining about it tomorrow.

Otherwise, I need to be quiet and just say hey, if I'm not going to do anything about it, then I ain't going to talk about it because all it is a waste of energy and breath. So I would say here's my call to action to you, identify just one area right now, whatever your agency role is, one thing that you've been complaining about too long that you're finally going to say enough is enough. No more. And by the way, that doesn't mean that suddenly the next day, everything is rosy and perfect, but you are taking the next step. You don't have to take all the steps. Take the first step. Take the next step to make sure that in the future, this becomes certainly much less of an issue or a problem for you and the agency.

My conversation from my heart to your heart. Thank you so much for being a listener. If you can't tell, we have passion. I have passion for agency success. I just want to help agencies get results. And I'm in a very fortunate position to be able to work with hundreds of agencies, hundreds of insurance professionals, to hear their stories, to take 40 years of the Sitkins philosophies and tie these together and say, listen, let us help your team get on one page. Let us help you, give you and your entire team a consistent process. Let us help you, connect you with other agencies, coaches, and peers that can share stories and ideas to make sure that you're compressing time, right? Life's too short. Let's accelerate your success.

And right now, you can get on our waiting list. I mentioned earlier that we are running all of our programs right now. We're in the middle of the majority of our programs here as record this in October of 2021. However, all of our next-level programs, our monthly sales meetings, we're adding deep dives for our agency all online that agencies have access to. We are adding more and more important content for your entire agency team to get results. We're doing live interactive sessions. We're hosting masterminds. If you want to be part of this movement, of this community, of the Sitkins network, we would love to get you on our waiting list. And what that means is we'll make sure, when the time is right, sometime in November, that we start getting your team ready and you understand the things you need to get ready for the January sessions at the start.

So don't wait. You go to, that's You can go to that page and you'll see again, you can't register, but you can get on the waiting list. Go ahead and add your name. You'll get a notification that you've been added to the waiting list. We can give you more information and when the time is right, get your agency to kickstart 2022 like you've always wanted to do. Just like the message today, do not complain about that which you allow. If you're tired of allowing average or complacency, or you know there's more in you, that you know there's the best version, now is the time to get on our waiting list. We would love to be part of your agency's transformation and success story. From me to you, all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.


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