#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Expertise Brings Ease - Interview With Mark Carlson

leadership podcast Jun 02, 2022
Agency owner Mark Carlson

Brent:

Welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode. Glad to have you with me. And we have a fantastic, fantastic guest today, I've got to bring to your attention as the podcast listeners. Mark Carlson of T. Charles Wilson will be my guest today, and Mark is a long time client, long time friend, someone I enjoy talking with all the time, and Mark's got some great experience, and he will have very keen insight, certainly from a producer and an agency leader level. So if you want to learn about how to produce more business, and some of the challenges and successes that agency leaders go through, well, Mark, we're going to have a great conversation today.

Brent:

So before I get to you, Mark, I'm going to put you to the side just for a second, so I apologize, but I do always want to talk about the mission, the purpose of the Agent Leader podcast. It's to help you, the agency leader, to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your best version possible. And our book, Best Version Possible, came out this year. You certainly can get a copy for yourself. You go to sitkins.com/bvp. Also we are now available on Audible and Amazon, so we're getting big, Mark. We're really expanding ourself out there in the marketplace. So you can check us out, again, Best Version Possible.

Brent:

Also, I want to make sure I mention our great podcast advertiser Rough Notes. This is brought to you by the Rough Notes company. They are publishers of the insurance industry's leading magazine and technical insurance content. Rough Notes magazine profile successful agencies, plus keen insights from respected experts on a host of must-know topics. And also they have Rough Notes Advantage Plus, which provides tools to help your agency grow, providing authoritative information on complex coverage issues. And if you ever wonder if this podcast is truly live and not edited very much, well, here you go. I just screwed up that word. So thanks again for our friends at Rough Notes. You can go to roughnotes.com to learn more.

Brent:

With that, Mark... See what I try to do, Mark, is make a mistake on my words, so that way it makes you more comfortable. It's like on the golf course, you intentionally mess up a shot so that your person you're playing with feels better about themselves before they come up and hit the ball. Is that okay with you?

Mark:

You're just making me nervous. I don't know if I can put that many words together.

Brent:

Well, again, it's hard for me. Words can be hard. But we'll get them out there. So listen, I want to officially welcome Mark Carlson. Again, he is the president... Is that the right title, Mark? Are you president?

Mark:

I am president, yes.

Brent:

I believed that was correct.

Mark:

Hard to believe, but true.

Brent:

I talk to Mark quite a bit, and again, Mark's been a big part of our programs, whether it's our producer program, our Elite 50 program, he's one of our Sitkins Network members, so I get to talk to Mark regularly. But Mark Carlson, T. Charles Wilson president. Mark, welcome officially to the Agent Leader podcast.

Mark:

Thank you, Brent. Appreciate you letting me be here.

Brent:

Yeah. Well again, I told Mark as we were hopping on here, and Mark and I have a lot of just conversations, just like we talk about this podcast, over a cup of coffee. And I think we both have our cup of coffee. And Mark's just one of those people that he just brings energy to conversations and has a lot to share, and certainly Mark's been a very successful producer. And I'll let Mark share about your niche and your space in there, and also obviously as the owner of the agency. So Mark, if you could, for the audience, just share a little bit about your background, what you do, just about your business in general.

Mark:

You bet. I've been in insurance for almost 25 years now. It's a little bit scary. But started on the insurance carrier side for about 12 years, and then moved over to the agency side and purchased an agency in 2009. When I started, the agency owner asked me if I wanted to sell insurance to special districts, and like all good producers I said, "What in the world is a special district?" I had no clue what that was. And now we have a nice niche in public entities, specifically special districts. So we provide insurance to over 1,000 water providers, sewer providers, park and rec, fire districts, primarily in Colorado. And it's turned out to be a great niche. Public entity folks are wonderful to work with. There's nice stability in the business. They don't go out of business. They don't have huge ups and downs from a revenue or payroll or employee standpoint. And it turned out to be a great niche. And I think in Colorado we're the largest broker on public entities, or at least special districts.

Brent:

Yeah. And obviously in our Elite 50 group and other agencies you work with and producers, the theme is again and again that specialties are powerful, when you have a specialty for a reason. And you really do, you and your agency really own that space, certainly in the Colorado area. And you're just outside of Denver, right? How's your spring going, Mark? Weather nice?

Mark:

Oh, it's beautiful. It's about to snow.

Brent:

Is it really?

Mark:

Yeah. It's really about to snow. We have 100% chance of getting snow either late today or early tomorrow. And yesterday we set our... We're close to our record high of 92. I think we got up to 90. And today we're attempting to break our record low of 30, although they're indicating we'll probably only get down to 32 here on May 20th.

Brent:

Well, I tell you what, I always have the Midwest had fluctuations, but you got me beat on that one. You go from 92 to snow. I don't know if we've done it in a day, but maybe in a couple days. So anyway, I'm sure people want to hear us talk about the weather. That's always... When I turn in a podcast, I'm like, "Could you tell me about your current weather, which is now weeks past?"

Mark:

But I laugh about your niche, your comment on niches, because one time we set out, we're like, "Okay, we're going to diversify, because we need to broaden our spectrum of what we write." And so we really focused and concentrated on diversifying, and we would start to chase different lines of business, say habitation or something. And while we would write some of that, what we noticed was that the natural flow of business in our niche was still greater than what we were producing outside of our niche. So even with the focus on something else, our niche grew faster than anything else.

Brent:

Yeah. I'll just go ahead and start with this. Well, first of all, if you could, Mark... Obviously I want to give some people an idea of success, and I know you're not a braggadocious guy, but you've done really well in that space, and obviously with the agency, but in your own personal book of business, obviously your book of business has been over $1,000,000 correct?

Mark:

Yeah. Correct.

Brent:

Yeah. So go ahead, Mark. If you want, you don't have to share, what's...

Mark:

Yeah, my current book today is about 1.1 million, but the agency continues to grow, and we kind of use your process. We use a lot of Sitkins tools, and I think the 80/20 rule, and as a producer trading down has been very helpful. I think what we try to do is, I'm trying to get to 40 accounts. I think I have 60 accounts right now, but continually trading down. And so I think the agency's book has grown faster than my book, because I keep trying to pair my book down and trade down accounts so that I can go after larger accounts, and my goal's not necessarily to get my book much bigger than 1,100,000, It's to get the client count down by 30% and still have the 1,100,000 book.

Brent:

Yeah. And I think part of this, and obviously in many conversations we've had, Mark is yes, there's an idea of first of all getting to 1,000,000. And we know this, if all you had to do is just grow your book, you could continue to expand that. But what you're trying to do is gain freedom, from the agency and your perspective at a very high level. And again, part of that is... Here's a question that I think I probably asked you before, Mark, and for the Agent Leader audience, it's just the fact that, do you want to go fast or do you want to go far? And there's a little bit of a difference. I mean, fast is good, but if you look at a sprinter, they only go so far and then they go, "I'm exhausted, I'm out of gas." And part of that is, how do you begin to unload some of that? So do you want to speak into that a little bit, Mark?

Mark:

Well, yeah. I guess obviously far is the right answer. We're not a huge fast growth agency. We're high single digits and now pushing into low double digits, and that's an area that we're comfortable with. And I guess on my trade down practice, I want freedom more than I want a bigger book of business. And so my goal is to help some of the other producers in our office prosper by helping them with referrals and anything that comes in that's outside of that size that I'm looking to write. And so my slow growth and my focus and trying to maintain that size of book of business helps the agency grow and helps foster others, while reaching my goal, which is not necessarily to get this massive book, but to maintain income and gain freedom of time. And so that's been really helpful to me. I don't know if I answered your question.

Brent:

No, perfect. Part of it's with the mindset, and it's the idea that the great thing about independent insurance agencies is you can truly create whatever model you want. It's, what do you want it to look like, and what does that mean? Obviously, Mark, a big part of what you're beginning to do is become a little more of the rainmaker and certainly developing people within your agency as you grow. I'm going to start off on the challenges, and I know we've talked just personally about some of the challenges. I don't know any agency leader or producer who doesn't have challenges, and I probably already had five myself today, but just for you, if you could think about right now, Mark, whether it's your agency or from a producer perspective, or maybe it's a combination of both, what right now do you believe is your number one challenge that you're facing, and what are you doing to overcome it?

Mark:

Well, time is my number one challenge, I think. And so trying to empower people in the organization to do more and to take on more responsibility, specifically my senior account managers, because the more that they can do with the client, the more that it enables me to get out and do what I do best, which is be in front of clients. And it's been a slow process. I think every time it's two steps forward, one step back. You push forward with giving more responsibility, and then either you run into some pushback or you run into a hurdle or something, something got missed from a client standpoint or wasn't handled necessarily the way that you'd want to. So you slow down, retrain, and then move forward. And it seems like every time we make progress, we can look forward and see how much more progress there is to make.

Mark:

So I would say it's a constant, I don't want to say battle, but it's a constant process. But I think it's one that works out and pays off. And it's interesting, you do that process with the 80/20 process, and you start spending more time with the people and the clients that can drive revenue for you.

Brent:

Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up. And it goes back to the fast or far question. And we've talked about this, Mark, a little bit, but other agency leaders that I speak to and I'm sure those that are listening can maybe resonate with this, is that one of the challenges of empowering or developing others obviously is that it does take a little longer initially. There's time involved with that. Short term, it feels you're sacrificing it to gain long term freedoms and time eventually, but part of it is because... And even in your experience, Mark, you've done lots of different aspects of insurance stuff, with the agencies and carriers, you're good at a lot of stuff, which means you could just come in and just, "Well, I'll just do that and do that and do that." But long term, you can't do all that stuff. So speak into that a little bit.

Mark:

Yeah. No, absolutely. I think it's a great benefit and a great curse, because when you can do everything, then you have a tendency to do everything, especially when you're trying to train people, you're like, "Oh no, uh-oh, that's going to be a mistake, that's going to cost us," and you jump in, or people will come to you. I joked with Brent, sometimes I want to get a second office so that I can avoid the got-a-minute meetings that tend to eat up the whole day, because if I'm not in the office, then people tend to solve their got-a-minute questions on their own, but when I'm in the office, I tend to be the got-a-minute problem solver. And then I look back and there goes the whole day.

Brent:

Well, okay. So since you went there, Mark, and again in this audience there's different professionals, we have agency principals and sales leaders and producers and service professionals, but obviously we probably have more producers and agency leaders. The got-a-minute thing is interesting, because its "Hey, got a minute? You got a minute? You got a minute?" Which we know is never a minute. And number one, because the conversation, it usually isn't a minute. And here's the second part of this, and maybe you can address this, is that we always joke about the fact that people will come in and say something like this. "Mark, I have a problem," or, "We have a problem." And the problem really is your problem. Now what they've just done is walked in and they've just given you their monkey. "Here's something I'm dealing with, so now you deal with it." So how do you handle that? And we've had some conversations around this, but what do you do in those?

Mark:

Well the answer, Brent, is I handle that very poorly. I usually take their monkey and handle their monkey. But now I'm starting to try to be very conscious about asking them, "What do you think? What do you think should happen? How would you handle this?" And it takes a conscious effort on my part to sit back and ask those questions, because it's real easy to just come up with the answer, and then no-one learns, and then you're always the person that's coming up with the answer. So I think consciously making sure that, rather than answering the question, you're asking a question back and getting their opinion.

Mark:

I think too, Brent, I think one of the things that has helped is making sure that... I think sometimes it's not that they don't know the answer, it's that there's some fear in answering the question or putting themselves out there with the result, and I guess taking responsibility and everything that comes with that. And so I'm making sure that they're comfortable that that's... That you're comfortable with making a decision. And even comfortable that, if the decision or something goes wrong, that that's okay too.

Brent:

Yeah. As you were saying that, and we've had some conversations, and there's a couple different things that I want to share, just because I think it's important for agency leaders of any type to hear this. And what you've spoken to, Mark, is that the culture of the agency, and if you're developing people, I really believe it has to be some conversations up front about the fact that my expectation is to help you develop, and to do that I'm going to challenge you with questions. Now, here's what I want you to know. An inaccurate or incomplete answer is better than no answer. And have that up front. Because I agree, people get, "Well, what if I say the wrong thing and Mark thinks I'm stupid? Or what if..." Whatever. And part of it is your role, Mark. And by the way, you need to give yourself more credit, because you've made progress in this area. I can speak into that. Is the fact that, if we're going to be a culture of growth and development, we have to allow our people to do that.

Brent:

And I've shared this with you. I probably have shared this on a podcast, maybe in a different episode, I don't remember. But one of the things that one of my main mentors, and you know him, Roger Sitkins, did with me certainly, and still does to this day, but certainly it rings a bell the first couple years in particular, if I ever had a question or problem, "Hey, I'm not sure how to do this, I don't know how to do this, what do you think I should do?" Those type of questions. He never gave me an answer, and I preface this, until I was able to give some form of my proposed solution. And many times I was wrong, but there were some times I was right on with my solution. I just doubted myself. But the point of it is, I had to think, and I had to challenge myself, and I had to grow. And that is so, so powerful. So I know you've done some of those things, Mark, even though you say, "I'm not very good at it," but have you seen examples of that in your agency?

Mark:

Yeah. And just to your point, I think one of the things that we talk about in our agency is, I'm okay with an of commission. If you try something and you think it's the right action and it turns out to be wrong, I'm 100% okay with that. I'm not okay with an act of omission, i.e. we didn't know what to do, so we just let this sit there for four weeks, and then the customer blows a gasket because we didn't respond to them. So I think that we try to reinforce that version a lot. And I think right now, one of the things, with the market hardening, we're running into more struggles just marketing accounts. And so a lot of time folks will be like, "Well Mark, who should I go to? How should I handle this? How should I..." And so I think that's where I'm giving them more pushback.

Mark:

And I'm happy to add some thoughts, but I don't want to take over the marketing process and give somebody a list, "Here's who you need to go to." So I'll be asking, "Who do you think you should go to? And why do you want to use A broker over B broker on this? And what do you think the benefits are? Do you think we should go to both? Who do you think we should give first shot at markets, and who do you think we should give second shot, and why?" And I would tell you, Brent, too, just on this specific topic, it's come from... I don't think I ever did this, but I think this is the feedback I got. "Well, Mark, you told me I had to use this broker, and you told me I had to go to them, and they didn't come through." And so now it's like, "No, we'll help you develop relationships with brokers, but marketing's your responsibility. And so think through this. Who do you want to go to? Where do you think there's holes in our carrier or broker relationships? And do we need to go establish new ones? But you guys have to give me this feedback, and I can help you find those, but that's not my role."

Mark:

And so we have a lot of dialogue around that and it's come, I guess I would say, fully from, "Mark, you tell me exactly who to go to and where to go to," to now, I'm happy to give you input and my thoughts, but you develop the marketing plan and then I'll help you refine it.

Brent:

Yeah. Love it. And it's empowering people and getting people to own things. And I can go on a complete side tangent here, and I won't, but I think a lot of that does... There's some of that just the culture, certainly in our education system. And again, I'm not... I love all the teachers and all that out there, but in general oftentimes, I've heard this before and I think it's true, is that we are taught from a very early age through schooling of what to think. We're rarely taught of how to think. And there's the difference. "Here's what you need to do. Here's what it is. Just follow this thing." And we get to sometimes adulthood, and we have to have creative solutions to problems or go a little deeper, it's like, "What do I do? What do I do?" Well, take a step back. Think about the big picture. How would you approach this? "I don't know, I've never had to think that way before." Well, I want to challenge you to. So just a little different nugget there.

Mark:

I agree. And I think one of the things I look back at education, I think if you're in school and you get 90% of the things wrong, you're a failure. Or 80, in my business, if you try 10 things and nine of them fail and one's successful, you're wildly successful.

Brent:

That's a great point.

Mark:

I mean, if I could do 20%, i.e. find one more niche, I can't imagine where I'd be. Just duplicate my current niche and find another one. I'm only 20%, I'm still less than a good baseball player, and I'd be killing it. And I think that those fears that do come from that in school, and where you're not allowed to be wrong because you get lower grades or punished, and yet when you get into business, I think moving forward and making a mistake and adjusting is the process that works, and the more mistakes you make, the more successful you are. Heck, if you're a producer, if you get 90 rejections, you're probably in better shape than the guy who only got 40 rejections, because you talked to probably twice as many people and got twice as many yeses too.

Brent:

If you're in the game, you're right on. Yeah. It is interesting, just talking to you, I think at some point we lose some of that creativity as we get older, and there could be a lot of it because we just got the snot beat out of us for a number of years, or, "You can't do that," or, "You shouldn't do that," or, "You're wrong," or whatever. And you're like, "Okay, fine. I'll just stay in my little box here and just make it through." But you're right, nine average correct answers may not be as good as one great answer, that one solution to that. So that's very valuable. Thank you for sharing that.

Brent:

I want to get at, and maybe we've talked about this a little bit already, but what would you say, Mark, has been one of, if not your top success that you've experienced, where you've had great success from an agency side, and what are you doing to replicate it?

Mark:

Well, I think when we started to take that real hard look at the 80/20 rule, and focus on the clients that fit our service platform, and I think what we really realized was that for a proactive service platform the client actually has to be of decent size. And so we have a $5,000 minimum revenue account. I'm not saying we never go below that, but our success on those is a lot greater than our success on say a $2,000 account, because the services we're offering are far less meaningful. And so a really consciously getting... Sold off our personal lines, moved out of small commercial and really focused on those larger accounts, and then we'd sit down, and part of our practice with all of our accounts is, at the end of it, is to sit down with a list of accounts that are like them that we'd like to get into, and just simply asking them, "Do you know these folks? Would you be willing to introduce us?"

Mark:

And I know this sounds really stupid. That's pretty simple stuff. But that's probably been the most powerful thing that we did, is start to refocus on what we were doing and truly earning the hourly wage that we... I guess that's probably not a great sound that work for wages, but earning the hourly wage that we probably deserve.

Brent:

Well, no, Mark, I think it's spot on. I mean, obviously I'm going to nod my head because you know we teach it all the time, we talk about and teach and work with agencies on, it's really simple. But it doesn't mean it's easy. That's the thing, is people don't stay disciplined long enough. It's like, "Well what did you do?" "Well, I finally really identified who are the clients we truly want, and we got proactive on it." Or, "I came up with just a few things that we would do consistently every single week that became non optional," or, "We actually created some accountability of responsibilities, and who owns what, and we lived up to those. And if we didn't, we talked about it." It doesn't have to be that complicated. It's just doing the right things.

Brent:

And Mark, I've said this to you before, and maybe you can comment on this, but an agency leader, and this is true for producers too, you don't need more things to do. What you need to do is understand what's the important things to do, and just do those more often. And there's a big difference in that.

Mark:

I would agree with that. Kind of laughing because I need more time, I need more time. So somebody starts the wonderful job of freeing up my time, and now all of a sudden I'm busier than I've ever been. Busy, again, not being a great word, but... So we're doing proactive things. We're trying to get in front of clients on a quarterly basis, doing work comp claims reviews, budget predictions, that type of thing. And whatever we take out there is not that meaningful. I don't want to say, it ends up not being the most meaningful piece of the dialogue, because we sit out there and we learn about the customer. What are their future plans? What are they going through? What changes are coming up. Start to have those dialogues. And so while we're doing this great service for the clients and increasing retention, we're also out there in front of them providing great services, and there're more opportunities to get referrals.

Mark:

And so as we've done the right thing, it's... I guess as we've become more busy doing the right thing, it's created more opportunities for us to sell more business. And so where I was trying to free up time, I think I look back and I have less time than I did before, but I'm obviously spending it doing the right things.

Brent:

Yeah. Well, there's a difference. It's always a constant process and evolution. And none of us is going to get this all perfectly figured out.

Mark:

I was looking for the part where I got to sit on the beach and everything was easy.

Brent:

Right. That's what we should start talking about. What we do is, we just want people to sit on the beach for hours, weeks, months, and you never do anything. And part of, though, Mark, what you're doing, though, I will say this, all joking aside, is that I think you said it really well. It's like, you can be busy doing a bunch of silly things, and now you're getting busier least focused on the right clients, that... It's one thing to be overflowing with more opportunities than time with the right people and businesses, and in your case districts to talk to, but then it's, what's going to be the next step? How can you begin to do that? What's the next level for you? And maybe at some point it will be a little more beach time, right, Mark? Hopefully.

Mark:

Yeah. I wish. But I think, Brent, it plateaus. You work really hard to do all these things, and they get you going the right direction, and then you grow and it's like, "Uh-oh, now I need to create more time so that I can continue to do the right things." And I think what ends up happening is, the right things are just the more valuable things. And then as you start doing those, you realize that there's a ton of value in that, and then that takes... People value it, it takes more time. I don't know. I think it's a continual process. I don't think the beach is in the horizon until you've just put your foot down and said, "All right, I'm going to the beach." But I do think as you progress through these little plateaus, there's just greater and greater growth, and more client satisfaction, more referrals, and typically bigger and... I don't want to say better, but your clients start to fit what you're doing for them.

Brent:

Yeah. Well listen, I've talked about this before, I talk about this in our Best Version Possible movie, that you look at... Let me say the word freedom. I mean, to me obviously time is a huge one, but you mentioned relationships. Part of it's, am I working with the right types of clients? Because you could be busy working with the right type of clients, and it's at least a more fulfilling type of thing that you're doing than just, it's anybody and everybody and I'm overwhelmed. And then of course there's the money part, so you can get more and more profitable, and gives you more opportunities to do some of these things. And then just the purpose, to do what you love to do, and have meaning. Because I would just say this, and maybe you probably disagree right now with what's probably going on in your schedule and things, but I can see, Mark, after a while on the beach that you would be running around looking for other things to do. You're not much of a sit down, sit still for too long type of person. Is that fair?

Mark:

No, that's fair. But I remember going down to... When I had one of my producers in your class, and I went and sat at the beach on Fort Myers, I'm like, "Oh, this is awesome. I'm so relaxed. I can make more cold calls here than I can from the office, because it's so much more relaxing."

Brent:

Right. Right. I remember that. You came up to me and you were just like, "This is great. I was out in the beach today, and man, I made a bunch of calls." I'm like, "Mark, just chill for a day." "Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was great. It was great. No-one interrupted me." So again, your mind's not going to slow down too quickly. I get that. All right. Here's my last question. Oh, do you have something to add? Go ahead. Go ahead.

Mark:

No, I was just going to say, I don't know if its valuable, but what I've realized too through the process is that, to your point, the right clients, is that we find clients that really value what we do, and they reach out to us and want us involved in transactions. And I had two clients that are merging, from the fire district side, I know the attorney on the, not my client's attorney, the other district's attorney, and this thing wasn't going really well. And so I said, "Let me call the attorney." And I got the attorney for the other district, and she's like, "Oh my god, I'm so glad that you're involved. I don't need all this documentation. I know you, you'll do the right thing. This takes one checklist off my desk. You can tell your client that we don't need all of this paperwork and contracts and stuff." And so you start to build this expertise in an area and then your job almost just gets easier. And we're working with people that are great to work with.

Mark:

And back to the point when we were working with smaller clients, when we had personal lines, man, our phone would ring off the hook. No-one would leave a message. They'd all be circulating around. They needed an answer immediately. And they usually were for small things. And now our clients, they know we'll get back to them, they know they'll get good advice, and they'll leave a message and they'll wait for us to return the phone call, and we have great conversations. And it's actually slowed the process down to just a more manageable rate, too, through that change in client.

Brent:

Wow. It's fantastic to hear that, and you've worked really hard to get there, too, and you'll continue to. The basic Sitkins 101 philosophy, there's several of them, but one of them is, you've got to continue to pivot from quotes and transactions to risk, advice, and relationships. And easy to say, hard to do, but truly there's so many quotes and transactions and this, and you're right, you get to the point where you're now positioned, where people talk to you, there's already a level of professionalism built in because you've earned it. So you're already communicating from a much different place than where you would've been, if we're just everything for anybody, for any reason. All right, Mark, I know you've got a cutoff here with the next appointment, so I want to be cognizant of your time. Do I have time to ask one more question?

Mark:

You can ask me one more question.

Brent:

All right. Here's my last question.

Mark:

As long as it's a yes or no question.

Brent:

It's not, but I'll try to be quick. So a question I always ask to any guest on my show is that, if you had to give advice to your younger self, and again, you can go back to when you maybe started your career, you mentioned 25 years ago, and that young Mark, younger Mark, because you're young now, but the younger Mark was looking up at you today and said, "Listen, if you could give me one piece of advice, what would it be?"

Mark:

I think I would have told myself, "You'll be successful, just focus and do it." I think fear and being nervous about making mistakes and moving forward was probably my biggest issue when I was younger. And if I knew what I knew now, I would have the confidence to work with those... Focus on the larger accounts, focus on the accounts that fit our niche, believe in the value add that we're capable of bringing, and take that to the right people. Because I actually look back and I think we had a wonderful platform of over-serving small clients. None of them wanted to leave. We would give them hours and hours of service for their $100 in commission. And we were doing them a great service, but I think that if I look back and I had focused more on clients that really valued those services, and those larger clients, and just believed in the value add, and had confidence in myself, I think that would've been the one thing that would've probably driven the process forward a lot faster.

Brent:

Love it. Love it. Well, I try to summarize, is don't let fear and the head trash hold you back from what you really want.

Mark:

That's 100% true, Brent, that's 100% true. I used to even be nervous to tell people that I had fear and head trash, because I thought I was the only person who had the fear and the head trash, and then we get into the Sitkins 50, and I think Jeff Jones is the only person who never has experienced fear or head trash.

Brent:

By the way... So I have to say something. I was talking to another gentleman who I've interviewed on this podcast before, and he's been part of our Elite 50 group, Matt Fairbanks. And we were both talking about that too. So I have to make sure that I mention this to Jeff, because I'm interviewing him on an upcoming podcast, so I'm going to have him on very soon. So I'll mention that Mark mentioned that you're the only person, Jeff, that's never had head trash. You tell me how you've accomplished that.

Mark:

You ask him how. You tell him I said that too. Matt Fairbanks, he even has head trash. That guy's one of the best guys... I'm going to have to go back and listen to the Matt Fairbanks podcast, because he's definitely a special producer.

Brent:

Listen, I don't care... Again, I get a really cool opportunity to talk to all kinds of people at different walks of life and different stages, and I applaud and appreciate everybody where they're at. But whether it's a producer who's just starting, or one like you or Matt or Jeff that's got $1,000,000, $2,000,000, $3,000,000 books of business, and everyone from the outside goes, "Well, that guy or gal has it all figured out. They never have any fear or doubt." Bull. We all do. And so we all have those little mental struggles that we're going through. It's just how we're going to approach them. So Mark, thank you for being a guest. I know you got to go and run on your next thing. Appreciate you being a part of our network, and just a great guy to talk to and learn from. So any last words you want to share before we depart here?

Mark:

No, I appreciate you too. I think that you've been instrumental in my growth over the last... I mean, Brent, I was going to say five years, but it's probably been longer than that. And the Sitkins 50 has been awesome, because it's just a bunch of different personalities, all successful and willing to share and joke and have fun and put ideas on the paper and hold each other accountable. So Matt Fairbanks and Jeff Jones and the whole rest of the group have been instrumental in my success too, and so I want to thank you for all of that.

Brent:

Well, appreciate that. Our next session is coming up soon, and just so you know, I know you may have some conflicts, but we're going to be talking about thinking bigger and where the fear monster comes and gets us.

Mark:

Oh, really?

Brent:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's good to be good. So, anyway...

Mark:

You're not just giving me a personal invite. The other people have to deal with the fear monster too.

Brent:

Yeah. So we'll have some great conversation. So thanks again, Mark. Thank you, the Agent Leader podcast listeners for being here. Appreciate you. And again, all the best in your success. We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks.

Mark:

All right. Thanks Brent.

 

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