IntentionalityFeb 28, 2023
Welcome to The Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly. I'm your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. Super excited to share with you something today that really involves every single thing that you do as an agency leader. Kind of hard to say something that big and broad, but it's true.
Here's my question right off the bat. I'm just going to jump in and ask you a question. How much of your time, energy, and effort, how much of your time, energy, and effort is lived with intention, intentionality versus accidental, or reactive? Now, listen, I know there are some things. I'm a father of five, I run a business, I know there are some things that happen that are reactive because they just happened. Things happen, life happens, so we're always going to have a portion of that that's going to be part of our existence.
But here's my challenge to you, my challenge to myself, challenge to our private client members we work with, challenge to the producers and agency leaders that we work with, how much of the things that we can control are we truly in control of? Because the most unfortunate thing that happens is that we do have aspects that we do have greater control, or we can be more intentional with that because we live reactively, because we live sporadically, because maybe we just let things happen, or hope things may happen, that time goes by, and we miss out.
The purpose of this podcast, and I've said this many times, is to help you, the agency leader, gain clarity, build consistency, and to make a commitment on becoming your best version possible. I love this topic and I want to share it with you because it really encompasses all those things, clarity, consistency, and of course, commitment. I'm going to talk about aspects of that with you today, but how you can be more intentional. I'm going to give you three specific examples, three areas. I know there's more than three, but three things that really jump out in our work with agency leaders we work with, with our private clients as part of the Sitkins Network that we have a chance to work very closely with, certainly in relation to this recent event that I went to, and organizations that we have the opportunity to have an impact with what that looks like and what that means.
Now, I do want to remind you if I haven't said this before, that if you're an agency leader, your agency is looking to get more intention and results. By the way, I'm going to share some results today that some of our agency partners have had. In fact, we did a case study over three years because there's a direct correlation between intentionality in certain areas and the results that individuals and agencies get and I want to share that with you. Yes, it is a testament to our agencies we work with, but it also a testament to what I'm going to talk about today, which is intentionality, okay, so I want to share that.
If you're interested in learning more about if your agency would be a fit, could be a fit, should be a fit, we don't work with every agency, but if you are a high-growth, high-achieving, you're looking for an agency growth partner to help direct you and guide you and be that partner with you to help your team do things that maybe you always want to do but you haven't yet, go to sitkins.com/experience to learn more.
Let's dive in to intentionality. Again, I mentioned I want to talk about three areas, and this was reinforced just recently as I'm recording this, this was a week ago, again, I was out in the West Coast. I was out in Los Angeles having a great conversation with a group of producers and their sales leaders. This is a high-achieving, high-growth organization. They're doing incredible things. I think a big part of this is leadership, this is The Agent Leader Podcast, and the leader of the organization out there, we were talking the night before I spoke, and he was talking about how many times he's mentioned the word "intention" or "intentionality," that we've got to be intentional with what we're doing. I loved it. I was going to be talking about that and I said, "I'll make sure I reinforce that even more tomorrow when I speak," and I certainly tried to do this.
But here's what I want to start with. I mean, think about this in general. I already mentioned there was going to be some things that are going to happen to you, but one of the things that you can make happen, and there's a difference, here's my thought. Do something with intention or don't do it. If you're going to do something, do it with intention, and if you don't do it with intention, then don't do it. Go do something else. Don't just walk through the motions of stuff. I mean, if you're going to go watch TV, watch TV with intention, meaning that, "I want to. I intentionally am going to watch TV." That's not a very good example, but the point of it is to do anything with intention. Do anything with intention.
I'm going to talk about three areas that I believe that agency leaders, producers, insurance professionals, myself, if I'm not cared for, we all deal with this, that we struggle with that I want to help maybe give you a level of awareness that you can take better action in these particular areas. Number one, and I've talked about this in different ways before, but be intentional with your calendar. This is where it all starts. Be intentional with your calendar. Now, I will tell you from my own personal experience, I love freedom and I love doing what I want and having flexibility. That's how my mindset is and just kind of my nature. That's just my personality. Some people are like that, some people are not. But I am like that, so to me, to be extremely structured in my calendar is not something that I'm natural to. But what I have realized in working with agency leaders and teams and producers is the fact that when you give yourself some of these structures starting with your calendar, it creates great freedom. It creates greater creativity when you do it in the right way.
Now, I may have mentioned this on this podcast before, and this is something that's been around for a while, but I had a mentor of mine years ago at an event that I was at a leadership event, and he said, "Brent, don't prioritize your schedule. Don't prioritize your schedule." I'm like, "What do you mean, don't prioritize? I need to know what's most important." He said, "No, no, no, no." He goes, "Schedule your priorities." That comes back from Stephen Covey as well as mentioned in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is to schedule your priorities.
At a very basic level, but an important level is that if you sit down, and this is something we work with agencies and particular producers in the Producer's Perfect Schedule, is to design and plan your week before it begins. This is my intention for the week. Now, by the way, does that mean if you planned every minute of your week, you will hit that? Of course not. That's not reality. That's not what I'm saying. But I am saying that you should have a pretty darn good idea before the week begins of what's most important in your schedule and that should be scheduled first and that you allow enough time for your energy and your effort in those particular endeavors because if you don't, you won't likely do it, or certainly not do it with an intensity, or you certainly won't do it with consistency, all those different words, so start with your calendar first.
Now, however you do this is up to you. We talk with producers about having a Sunday evening review. I don't care if you did this on Saturday or Sunday morning or late Friday, even, but again, it's this idea that I am going to be intentional with my week. Have you ever had a week where you got to a Wednesday and you're like, "I don't know what happened this week"? Now, again, that may just be a phrase that we use because we are going through things quickly, and every week is different, I understand that, but to start with intention to say, "Hey, for this week to be my best version impossible week, what must it look like? What must I be doing in the right areas? Where can I get the greatest impact from this week? Am I designing a schedule my week with intentionality, or do I have these blank spaces on my calendar that I hope I figure out when I get there?"
Now, again, I'm not telling you that you need to schedule every minute. For me, personally, I like to look at 60 or 90-minute time chunks of focus of certain areas. Maybe there's two or three things within that block that I'm doing, but there's a focus around that, and I've learned this from a lot of different mentors and my own experience, but it just allows some freedom and creativity within that. But this 90-minute block, for example, is focused on X, and because I know I'm doing that, 'cause I know the impact it's going to have, I'm going to make sure that's scheduled here, here, and here, whatever those things are. Are you doing those things?
I'm going to mess up this quote a little bit. I should have written it down, but I don't, but it was talking about this idea that when we see blank spaces in our calendar, maybe we don't say this verbally, but internally, sometimes you're like, "Whew, got an hour or two to just get some stuff done. I don't have anything scheduled." How great does that feel? As a father of five, there's a lot of things I have scheduled, but it's like, "Oh, I don't have any schedule. This is great." Then you get done with the hour, two hours, whatever it is, and you go, "Oh, I wasted that," or, "I didn't get as much done," or, "That's already over?" In these blank spaces, the quote, "I heard that the blank spaces look like freedom in our calendar, but truly it's jail that's disguised as liberty because you end up almost feeling regret because you didn't do the thing, you didn't maximize that time."
It's up to you how you want to do it, but I just want to challenge you as the listener. I would ask you as an agency leader to challenge your team, "Hey, listen, what does your perfect week look like? Look at your week in advance. How can we design that? What would you design your week? What would it look like?" This is a constant process. You may design a great week ahead of time and really screw it up. Guess what? That's what next week's for. But the challenge and the frustration that people run into is that, "Oh, well, whatever. It's not worth it, anyway." They don't do anything and then they go back and you just continue to live in this accidental environment, the reactive environment. "I'll see what I need to do when I get there," that's not a very good way to live your life.
Now, by the way, I do this with emails. Now, people can challenge me on this, and it does depend on your role to a degree, but when I first was challenged myself on this, I pushed back. The more that I realized that, I'm like, "This is silly. It's right." Here's the one example that people live reactive all the time in their calendar, they don't even know it. Email, or maybe you do know it, email. If you have 30 minutes, what should you do? Check emails. You got five minutes, go to your phone, check emails. Now, you may get sidetracked into Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Instagram, but ah, don't worry about that. Emails.
Years ago, I had someone challenge, this has probably been seven, eight, nine years ago now at this point, someone said, "I only check my emails once a day." I'm like, "Well, you don't understand because I have people that need me all the time and there's no way I could do it once a day," so I started doing it three times a day. I did it before my true proactive time started, not the first thing when I woke up, but I had a section later, early in the morning, but later 'cause I wake up early for me, that I had something early, then I did something around lunch, and then I did something at the end of the day. That was really hard, by the way, because anytime between there, I wanted to check it and check it and check it.
You know what I realized? Not one time in checking the email three times a day with intention, not reactive, but intention, "Hey, this is email time. This is time where I'm going to get back to stuff." I didn't have anybody going, "I can't believe you didn't reply back within two and a half hours." I didn't have that. When you send an email to someone that is important, and I have quotes here, if you're looking on the video, but someone that is a high-level professional, do you expect them, should they be sitting there waiting to return your email? Are they waiting for you? Are they living in your life? Or are they being proactive and intentional with the stuff they need to do? It's interesting how our mind works, isn't it?
I would just say it's one thing that hits me if I'm looking at my calendar, because this seems to be like the number one thing when talking especially to producers, is you get caught up in the email, "I always look at email, look at email, look at email." What it'll do is one email, even if it's not urgent, or even that important, can derail you for 30, 60, 90 minutes away from what's really most important that you scheduled intentionally in your calendar, so intentional with your calendar, number one.
Number two, intentional with your communication. Intentional with your communication. Listen, I know that you have a lot of conversations every day. Again, this is another example, "Well, you mean that every time I talk to someone, I should be intentional of what I'm going to say?" Not the passing-through conversations that we have. That's called life. But I do mean if you're going to make a phone call, and I would say intentional with your email, back to that, again, certainly intentional with appointments, whether it's a meeting with your team, meeting with a client, meeting with a center of influence, you should be prepared and intentional with what you want that outcome of that meeting, that conversation to be.
Mentor of mine, author John Maxwell, I always loved, he has stuff very simple. I like his bottom-shelf stuff. He said, "Before I have a conversation with anyone, I ask myself three questions, 'What do they need to know? How do I want them to feel? What do I want them to do?'" Even if I can't answer all those specifically, it gives me a process to prepare before every conversation, "Hey, what do I want them to know? How would I want them to feel? What do I want them to do?" You can have that before any conversation.
Well, if people, I mean, maybe you've done this, I've done this, where you just start randomly calling someone whatever, because you're supposed to, or it's on your list, or maybe it is on your calendar, and then they answer and you go, "Oh, hey, hey. I didn't prepare with what I was supposed to say. I forgot." 'Cause we're probably distracted, we're doing too many things, so being intentional with your communication.
I'll give you an example, too, here. Certainly, whether you lead producers or you are producer and you're listening to this, one of the things that we talk about oftentimes is a 30-second commercial. This is an example of intentional communication. If someone comes up and says, "Hey, tell me what you do," or, "Tell me about yourself," it's one of those kind of things, we should be prepared to have a pretty good answer for that question, or at least that conversation. Most times, we really don't know. I tell you, we know this because we work with producers for the first time. We start to challenge them on this. They don't have very good answers for it.
You think about this, and let's just talk about one example of proactive communication with a future client. You may call them a prospect. We call them future ideal clients at Sitkins. But this idea of, well, if someone says, "Tell me about yourself," or, "What do you do?," I think at a minimum, we should know our ideal client, what their key frustration is, what our unique differentiation or process is, and how our clients win by working with us. That should be like, "Hey, typically people come to us when they're frustrated with blank. We help them through a unique process called this and the result is blank, blank, and blank." That would be intentional. By the way, that part of it comes back to preparation, and I've done podcasts on that as well.
But just again, for you to understand, think about how many conversations that you have every day, whether it's Zoom, phone, in person, again, whether it's with a client, a future client, a center of influence, someone in your office, certainly anything that's scheduled, and sometimes you walk into that conversation and just hope you say the right thing. By the way, good news, bad news. If you've been doing this for a while or you're a pretty decent communicator, you're good on your feet, listen, I've done this. I'm very honest. I try to be as prepared as I can with everything that I can. But there are times you get lucky. That's just not the way you want to live. But here's the good news, the good news is you could have that happen and still be pretty good and no one know the difference. The bad news is there could be a huge opportunity, when you find out it's too late, or when you're not prepared, or intentional, it's too late, so just think about the intentionality of your communication.
I'm going to give one more here on this podcast today. Be intentional with your commitments. Be intentional with your commitments. It's really easy to float around, "I'm going to do this. We're going to do this. I'm going to accomplish this. This is what I'm going to do." We kind of throw them out. The reason why we can do that, A, is because sometimes we just want it to sound good for the person we're talking to, or whatever. But the other part of that, in my opinion, is the fact that we don't really have true accountability behind it, so if it goes away, so be it.
Easiest example, I've talked about this before, but the New Year's resolution. If you set a New Year's resolution, whether you like it or not, and you quit, and most people do, here's the good news, if you didn't make a commitment, no one knows except a couple of people who, they don't remember, anyway, so there's no real commitment to it, so whether you do it or not, eh. My challenge to you is be intentional with your commitments. If you're going to make a commitment to do something, do it. If you're going to make a commitment to prepare, prepare. If you're going to make a commitment to have this many appointments, then do it. If you're going to have a commitment for a goal of X, then anything in your power, live up to those standards.
It doesn't mean you'll be perfect. That's not what I'm saying in this, but I will say they just get thrown around, "Oh, yeah, I'm going to do this." Well, how are you going to do that? "Well, I don't know. I'm just going to do it." Well, who's going to hold you accountable? "Well, I don't know. I'll do it." No, you won't. How many commitments have you made or even micro-commitments that you make that really, there's no accountability or intentionality with what it is or the commitment behind it? Be intentional with your commitment.
Now, I mentioned this, and this is a bit of a brag, but I hope you see that it's more than that because it isn't about us. What I'm going to share with you right now is what happens when agencies make a commitment. We did a case study, three years, a value-impact study with the private client agencies we work with at Sitkins Group. We did this for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason we did this is the word in the study value impact. My word this year is "impact." Any work that we do with clients needs to be done with intention and purpose. It needs to be done with impact. Are they getting results? Of course, the agencies, the professionals within the agencies are doing the hard work to make this happen. We want to be a growth partner and an advocate, an educator, equip, empower, do things we can do to help that agency accelerate that faster.
Why I share this is that these agencies made a commitment. They made a commitment. Well, in what ways? Well, they made a commitment with their wallet. Certainly, they're investing in the partnership. They made a commitment to show up to the programs that we run. They made a commitment to show up to the coaching calls that we provide, at the in-person, or at the online sessions that we do, they made commitments to this. Why? Because they want to get better. This is the commitment they made.
Now, here's the outcome. This is a list of our private client. These are averages, so understand that. But in 2019, three years ago, prior to this study being done, the average agency we worked with was $10.3 million in revenue. 2022, so three years later, that has jumped to 13.7 million. That's a 33% growth rate, which is above average. Growth rates have been good the last three years, 33%, even better.
One thing that agencies will talk to us about, and you may very well be interested, in fact, I have a good indication that if you're an agency leader of any kind, you are interested in this, which is called agency valuation, the valuation of your agency. Whether you want to perpetuate soon, way off into the future, you don't know if you're ever going to external, internal, still, the agency value is really important. In 2019, now, this is based off a 10X multiple, and if you are talking to anybody that's looking at agency value right now, we know that certainly external 10X is way, way conservative, but let's just use it as a number, both three years ago and today. 10X in 2019, the valuation of the agencies we work with was at 16.8 million. In 2022, that has jumped to 30.3 million, an 80% growth rate.
Again, why is it working with us? We hope we're part of that. We certainly believe in that, but it's commitment, it's intentionality to this. Big part, of course, the agency evaluation is the profitability behind that. 2019, the agency profitability was 16.3. Now, it's up to 22.1 in 2022, which is a 36% growth rate. These are all part of intentionality and commitment.
Going back to this podcast in the very beginning, the question I ask you is, in what areas, how much of your areas of life and business are you being intentional with, and how much are you letting just float past you? You look back a year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and I'm raising my hand because I've done it. Every age I think is different. Again, whether you're 25, I'm now 45, when I'm 65, I think there's always different areas, but you do and go, "Gosh, what have I left slip by and why?"
The thing that we believe at Sitkins Group and working with agency partners is we want you to help you have re-greats, find the things you're great at that you can be intentional with, and do them again and again to spur results and the freedom that you really want versus regret, looking back saying, "Gosh, if only we would've done that. If only I would've taken that upon myself. If only I would've had that conversation. If only I would've prepared better." We're all going to have that, and I don't want anybody to dwell and live in the past because the famous quote, "When's the best time to plant a oak tree? 20 years ago. Maybe 30 years ago." When's the next best time? Right now. Right now.
I want to challenge you, I want to encourage you as a listener of this podcast, this isn't to beat you up so much, but to hopefully gain some awareness of where you've been too accidental, to begin a path of greater intentionality. Starting now, you're listening to my voice, where can you be more intentional as a leader, as a producer, as anybody that's in the professional world that's trying to get more out of each and every day and every week? Where can you be more intentional?
Listen, if we can be part of that intentionality, if you and your agency think you're a fit for the Sitkins network, our best version possible experience, our private client model, to help you have greater coaching, have greater programs and development, have you network with other people who think like high-level thinkers and share like high-level sharers, there's a great impact in that. We'd love a chance to talk with you. Go to sitkins.com/experience.
Listen, I love doing this podcast. Hopefully, you can tell this is from my heart. I had about, oh, I don't know, 18 words on a page. The rest just kind of comes out because I believe in what I do. I believe in what we do. I believe in you as an agency leader and what you can accomplish, not just today, but certainly down the road in the future. There's so much potential, and that word, by the way, can go two different directions. It can be unfulfilled or untapped potential, or it could be, "Wow, I can't believe how much they met and exceeded the potential we even thought." What's your future going to look like? Appreciate the opportunity. If this podcast is value to you, go ahead and give me a rating and review somewhere, wherever you're listening. We appreciate that we're trying to grow the podcast or give it a share. I wish you all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.
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