#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Learn More and Listen More with Steve Woodward

podcast Apr 29, 2022
 

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode and today, get your pens, your paper, whatever you can write on and write with, get them ready. We have a fantastic guest. He's part of our Elite 50 Sales Mastery program. Someone who I just love to talk to and get to know and had a chance finally, to meet this guy in person a few months ago, but always adds great value. So be ready today. He's a high level achiever and producer out in the West Coast. And I'll let him talk about that in a minute, but I always want to start off with the purpose of this podcast, which is to help you, the agency leader, to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your Best Version Possible, which happens to be the title of our brand new book.

Brent Kelly:

If you want to get a copy of our book, we'd love for you to go reach out and grab as many as you'd like and pass it to your friends. We're getting some great feedback on it. Just go to sitkins.com/bvp, BVP for Best Version Possible to get your copy of the book. Also, I want to mention we've got a great sponsor, Rough Notes. We're so glad to have the Rough Notes company as part of the podcast. They are the publishers of the insurance industry's leading magazine and technical insurance content. They profile successful agencies plus keen insights for them respected experts on a host of must know topics. Also they have Rough Notes Advantage Plus, which provides the tools to help your agency grow. Providing authoritative information on complex coverage issues. Go to roughnotes.com to learn more, get excited to be with the Rough Notes company.

Brent Kelly:

But with that, I believe my guest is ready. He's ready to share his wisdom, his expertise. If you're not watching on video, he's smiling. He's ready to go. Steve Woodward is the exec or is a Senior VP of Employee Benefits at HUB International, and Steve is also not only a great benefits producer, which I'm sure he is going to share some of his experience, whether in the business outside of the business, he's also part of, I mentioned our he's part of our Elite 50 Sales Mastery program, which is our best producers. And just to give you an idea of the class of people that Steve hangs out with in our Elite 50 Sales Mastery, the average commission revenue in that group is over a million dollars. And so these are high achievers and people that are committed to personal-professional growth. So Steve, without any further ado, welcome to The Agent Leader podcast.

Steve Woodward:

Good to be here with you, Brent. And I'm flattered to be part of your podcast. I listen to them all the time and now to actually be a guest on it, I'm certainly excited. So thank you very much for the invite.

Brent Kelly:

You're welcome. Now you get to see all the behind the scenes stuff, right? So to speak. There's not too much behind the scenes. We're pretty straightforward. I tell all of our guests, I said, "Hey, we're just having a cup of coffee and we're going to share ideas and information with the audience." And again, I know you as an audience listener as a podcast listener, get your pens and paper ready, because Steve's got some great stuff to share today.

Brent Kelly:

So Steve, if you would just from a very basic level, as deep as you want to go or as shallow as you want to go, I mentioned obviously you were the Senior VP Employee Benefits at HUB, but just tell the audience about your experience, what you do, whatever it is you'd like to share just to get us started today.

Steve Woodward:

Well I think like most of us who found our way to the insurance industry, it found us, unless you are a risk management major at the University of Georgia or any other higher education school, we had no understanding of this business nor did we even think we were going to get into it, but having been here now for 32 years and frankly, it's probably one of the most amazing careers as I've seen a lot just by virtue of the companies I insure, that I am so grateful for the people, the experience, the constant learning and challenges, helping employers, shall we say, bend that curve, yield better outcomes. It certainly has been something wonderful for me. And, and now I have introduced my son to the business. Well, it found him. So I have that next generation coming in behind me.

Steve Woodward:

So starting right out at college, I was on the carrier side. So in this case, the insurance company side for about 27, excuse me, 7 years and now 25 years on the retail side. And again, I have enjoyed every aspect of it. Started my career on the retail side as a benefits manager, complimenting a property and casualty agency. After 8 years, myself and the president of that agency broke off and started our own independent agency and we had an incredible run of 10 years. Like any good business, you tend to find that tipping point, doesn't it make sense to find another partner in this case go to another level of our business? And so we sold to HUB International. It'll be 6 years here in November. Since then I've continued to enjoy what I do and that's connecting with people, and in this case, finding where we could be a good fit.

Brent Kelly:

That's fantastic. I shared a little bit in the beginning, just getting to know you a little bit, and obviously you've known Roger Sitkins for quite a while, a little newer with me, but it's always interesting. The success leaves clues. We say that all the time, Steve, and just, again, you're not going to say this about yourself, because I know you're a humble guy, but it's just the fact of that you're coachable, you're constantly looking for higher levels and things that how you can serve people. Right? And, and just what that looks like.

Brent Kelly:

I'm appreciative of what you do. And again, I know that, just from your background, your experience, and the things that you're looking to do, you're going to continue to add a ton of value to people. So I just want to appreciate you for doing that.

Brent Kelly:

I want to dive right in with challenges. I always do this with my guests and I know that as much as you've done really well and will continue to do well, Steve, there's no doubt in my mind, you also face challenges. So I'm just curious, what has been your number one challenge that you've dealt with, or maybe you're currently dealing with it, right? Depending on what it is. And what are you doing or what did you do to overcome it?

Steve Woodward:

Well, I mean, it's certainly mindset. That has been so profound and so important to me to where it's like anything, when you wake up, are you ready to play the game? Are you ready to engage? Because if you're not, you're not going to be able to succeed. And it doesn't matter what you're playing the game in, be it that it's sports, be it that it's in a relationship, be it that it's in anything. If your mindset isn't right, you're not really giving yourself that it, that added edge that you should.

Steve Woodward:

So, certainly being in that mindset... We're going to have those days where we're not ready, that's okay. Just acknowledge it and punch out for the day. But can you still be successful in something else for the rest of the day? But if you're not ready for it, if your mind isn't set, then it certainly is going to be a deterrent and as, as Roger would say, it's also head trash and barriers to where you're going to not get yourself into areas that you had hoped for.

Steve Woodward:

So mindset seriously was my number one challenge, Brent, that I had to overcome. Because when that mindset is there, it's amazing on all the good things that can click and happen.

Brent Kelly:

So why do you... Just a follow up question to that. Because I love that. I mean, you've experienced our programs at multiple levels and it's one thing people ask me like, "what's unique about your program," there's another sales program. And actually before we started recording, we talked about this a little bit. I'm like, "it's not just a sales program." It really is a personal development program in many, many different ways. And it starts, as you said with the mindset.

Brent Kelly:

So my question to you is this around that, what have you found or what of things that you do when you do have those difficult days, right? Because the easy thing to do is, well, I'll just pack it in. What are some ways that, when you run into those barriers, so to speak, what do you do for your mindset to push through some of those difficult times?

Steve Woodward:

Well, I mean, I've been fortunate to be around just incredibly high achievers. As you had said, having known Roger for gosh, close to 25 years, it certainly has been an advantage to me.

Steve Woodward:

And it's getting around the right people who care about you, who will lift those spirits up, because like it or not, this is an emotional sale. Everyone says, "Hey Steve, remove the emotions and get back into the pragmatic or the analytical side of it." Well, we're all trying to connect with people. And at times we just can't. It gets frustrating. So who else is on the bench? Who else is a good accountability buddy, or somebody like yourself, Roger, or others that you can reach out to and just simply say, "Hey Brent, you know what? I am not having a good day. I did everything that you guys said I should be doing, but I'm just feeling deflated." So find people who care enough about you, who will pump you up during those low times, because we've always said, it's not how well you do on the peak. It's how well you do in the valley. That's going to allow you to persevere, push through it. Because when we get on the peak, we can all celebrate. But it's when we're down in those lows where it's just not a good place to be.

Brent Kelly:

I'm so glad you said that hit me. I was on a training program earlier this week and I don't know where it even came up, but we're just talking about that. As you may know, Steve, I love sports analogies. Probably like a lot of people that speak. I love them maybe too much, but they're good. They're easy. But I just think about this... It's really easy or easier to go to a practice, for example, after a big win. You know what's tough? You get your tail kicked, you have a tough loss, right? And how are you going to show up the next day? I love that. A big part of that is who are the people that are in your corner, right? And what does that look like?

Brent Kelly:

So I just think that's a critical piece that you mentioned, the environment. And then I also have to get feedback... The emotion is so true and people are like, "oh I just take the emotion out." And I was like, "well let me ask. Is anybody in there that I'll be dealing with? Are they human? Well, yes. Well then we will not be able to take emotion out." Because any human has emotions, we have responses. So love that response. Steve, I appreciate you sharing that.

Brent Kelly:

Let's go to the winning side, so to speak. You've done some winning and I know you again, you're a humble guy. You're not wanting to brag about stuff, but you've had that. She built a really nice book of business, right? What has been, and you believe, and again, success is your definition, not mine, but what do you believe has been your greatest success and what are you doing or what have you done to replicate it Steve?

Steve Woodward:

What has been my greatest success? Gosh, and this is no plug, but believing in those who believe in me, and in this case, making an investment in my career to be the best I possibly can be. When I talked to Roger years ago, it's like a lot of us have a membership at a gym. Are we going every day? Are we getting that workout? Are we feeling good about it? Some of us will say we haven't been to the gym in three months. They're still taking your money. Why aren't you going? So in this case, when you invest in yourself, when you, when you try to surround yourself with the best, success is imminent, it's just going to happen. But it doesn't, it is not easy.

Steve Woodward:

You have to stay committed. You have to believe in yourself and you just have to use the tools that the agency has provided, and where, in this case you and Roger have given us to execute at that high level. A greatest success that I had, it wasn't until year 30, crazy as it seems. I was able to position myself in with one of the largest accounts that I thought was just not reachable, obtainable, and with a lot of help from my CSO here within Hub with frankly, reaching out to others like you and Roger and just wordsmithing and just being stealth. What it gave me was that understanding that you can get it done.

Steve Woodward:

You don't have to be at a certain level in the game to get to those big deals that you just thought were unobtainable. They can happen. There's no sales gimmick here at all. It can get done with the right people, with the right tools and executing at the level that you can do. With that comes again, that success. So it was to me, I just reflect back and say, "what could have I done differently?" Everything I did was correct, and where I'm seeing even success today, it's just replicating what I did in order to get that big deal.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. What a great story. I was around that account you wrote in different ways and saw some notifications and things and it's interesting too... As you, as you said that, obviously you prepared for that account and did a lot of the hard work and diligence and you had team members supporting you. And so there was the short period, but the other part, going back to what you said, Steve, you said at some point earlier in your time, you said "I'm going to make an investment, most important person I can in me."

Brent Kelly:

My guess is, in fact, I don't need to guess. I know that a big part of that account, you say, "well, it took 30 years." People say, "well, gosh, how long did it take you to work on that account?" Well, you could say it's 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, well, 30 years in some cases, right? With the consistency that you put through in your life. Now, it doesn't always have to take 30 years. That's not my point. My point of it is the things you do today could prepare you for something tomorrow, or it could be three years or 30 years down the road. You don't always know, right?

Steve Woodward:

Yeah, and this is really what I wanted to get across. It the doesn't take 30 years. If I'm new in the business today... You want to be that sponge. You want to absorb all of this. You want to be able to cut that career cycle in half and see success. Not in 10 years, in 5 years.

Steve Woodward:

It's just like anything you'd said the using sports as an analogy of sort, right? You want to be on that starting team. What are you doing to put in the extra reps, without the coaches being around you? Are you working out on your own? Are you doing things on your own? Because when you do go live and when you're ready for the game, you're better. You're better than the competition because you worked hard at it. So investing in yourself as we call it, you coined it, Me, Inc. Do it early. Don't wait.

Brent Kelly:

My favorite quote around that, Steve is... What we're talking about, Zig Ziglar. I love Jim Rohn and all the people. There's some great... Again, part of that is who you surround yourself with. There's there's people that are around you then there're just books and podcasts and things that you fill your mind with.

Brent Kelly:

One for me is Jim Rohn. When he said this, you work hard on your job. You'll make a nice living. You work hard on yourself. You can make a fortune. I heard that, I think Steve, for me, when I was, I don't know how old, at 24, 25. And I was like, "okay." I didn't really know what it meant, and then I started doing some of it and you're right. You don't know some things happen quicker. Some things happen later, but you're preparing yourself for those opportunities even when you don't know sometimes. So I love that response. I appreciate that.

Brent Kelly:

All right. This is a little bit of self-serving but I have to ask because you've been around Sitkins and Roger for a long time, you've heard so many of our philosophies and strategies and applied so many things. What's been probably the biggest thing that you've taken personally, Steve, from some of the training and coaching that you've got from Sitkins over the years?

Steve Woodward:

Well, a lot of it has been personal. It's a reflection in who you are. I certainly am very proud to be working with an incredible organization, HUB that has a lot of the tools, the resources, the people, but really it's you. You wake up in the morning, you start your day, you finish the day. It's yourself. It's not the organization. So what Roger has given me, what you have provided to us, are those tools in addition to what the agency is giving us. It's the reflection of who you are with the tools that you use to be successful.

Steve Woodward:

A unique selling style. When I have shared with others, as people have asked me, what's different about you and what's different about your selling style? It's that disruptor. It's doing something different that no one else is doing, and the prospect even comments on it and says, no one's ever approached me that way in wanting to start a discussion. It's usually, "here's all of my information. Here's all of my rates now go out and quote it and good luck." When you're able to say, "no, I am not interested in that part of the game, because I've been playing it long enough. We'll get you the pricing product. What else is important to you?" It's the gift that you guys have given me to ask those questions, to learn more, to listen more and to be humble on that first appointment and sharing with them in this discussion.

Steve Woodward:

We'll see at the end of it, if we have enough to move forward or not, and it just disarms them. Because all too many times the salesperson is just like, "okay, here he comes, shields up." Well with the Sitkins approach, it's calmer. It's more calculated. It's more professional. And it gives us greater, in this case, it gives me greater excitement to go into a prospect and say, now it's almost reversed. "I'm not sure if you're a fit for me."

Steve Woodward:

So there is some arrogance to it, but yet there's still humility to it because you do feel much more confident. Yeah. And you feel a lot more at ease using the Sitkins approach, opposed to let's just get on the phone and dial, let's go a different way. Let's use tactics, let's be more stealth and let's be more strategic. So all of those certainly align to where you do see yourselves in the bigger win category versus the 20%, 30% closing ratio category.

Brent Kelly:

As you were saying this, because you started talking about, just the idea of leading yourself, right? Which is the hardest person to lead, and you got the great team around you, you still have to wake up and go to bed and look at that person in the mirror, but both those together... And then the external side of things with whether it's future ideal clients and then clients, it just placing that higher value on you and what you bring to the table. I love that. It's it really isn't, it's not an arrogance.

Brent Kelly:

I shared today in an earlier meeting, and I probably said this in trainings, you've been part of, but if you don't place a high value on yourself, rest assured the world's not going to raise the price and, what is that? What does that look like? And, and the other part of it too, is just this idea that if you really believe in your heart of hearts, not your head even, your heart, that when you work with a client they're better off, the right clients. They're better off after doing business with you. Well you owe them not arrogance, but just confidence in what you believe and what you do and why you do it. And I think you've exemplified that so well, Steve.

Brent Kelly:

So again, if you're listening in, take a note, what's the value you're placing on yourself and it's not an arrogance just because everyone else quotes doesn't mean you have to, right? What's the value of your time? So I appreciate that.

Brent Kelly:

All right, Steve, I have one final question. Are you ready?

Steve Woodward:

Okay, here we go.

Brent Kelly:

The question I ask every person I have interviewed on here. It's my favorite question to ask and I love the responses, so looking forward to yours. If you were having a conversation with the younger Steve, and we'll just say, I don't care the years, it's up to you to decide. Let's just say 20 years ago or something like this. And you see that younger Steve looking up at you today and they say, "older, more wise experience Steve, if you could give me one piece of advice, what would you tell me?" What would you tell your younger self?

Steve Woodward:

Learn more and listen more. Learn more and listen more. Oh yeah. The DNA for sales is certainly emotions, right? Easy to connect with. You do want to be... People like it when you're in the same room, but sometimes it could also be one of those, "I can't wait till he leaves the room." So looking back and reflecting back, just as all of us have gotten through any level of education, sometimes we want to hurry up and get out. Want to hurry up and get out of high school, want to hurry up and get out of college, because I can't wait for the journey that waits for me after all of these areas that I was supposedly educating myself. Reflecting back, learn more in this case, commit more to reading and we didn't have podcasts back a hundred years ago. Just absorbing being that sponge and then listening more, because all too many times, we're the ones that want to be talking when we're the ones that should be listening.

Steve Woodward:

But how do you go to listening mode? Asking the right questions. Asking the right questions to get them to talk. When they start talking, it's amazing how different the approach is, where the outcome is going to favor you. If you're stuck in your lane of sharing with somebody all too much about you, how good you can be, how good your agency is, they're almost sitting there going well, "when am I going to have my turn?"

Steve Woodward:

But again, I would say Brent, that's the younger self. I was lucky enough to catch Roger 20 plus years ago, but I also lost him for about 10 years. And that was, that was a 10 year lull, frankly, in my career. And I honest to God say that in my heart, that was a 10 year lull because I didn't have the coach. I didn't have the new tools. I didn't have the constant Brent and Roger-isms that continue to remind us the advice that I just gave my younger self. Learn more, listen more, better outcomes.

Brent Kelly:

Fantastic. Roger just said the other day in one of our programs and it's true. You learn more to earn more and that has been around forever, but you know, and I will say this, your past history with Roger and in the current experience and with the Sitkins Group, and again, we appreciate you and what you bring to the table.

Brent Kelly:

I know the listeners are better for hearing some things that you've shared today, but it just fascinates me, but it won't surprise you. But to have... Roger's a huge mentor of mine as well. Here's someone who doesn't really need to do more stuff at this point, but he asks more questions after 40 years than anybody I know. And always look at, "hey, what's, what's one more where we can get better at this?" What's one other thing we could do? What didn't we do? And always challenging ourselves. The question he asked and I think Steve, you hit it is, are you done yet? Like, are you done? And there are so many people that whether they verbally say it or their actions say, "yeah, I'm good." And I love that.

Brent Kelly:

Learn more and then listen more. Which boy, that's a big one. I mean, even as you say that it hits me, it's like, "how do I continue to be a better listener?" And here's what I wrote down, and I don't know if you agree with this or not, but I put down, "ask questions with true curiosity and listen with true care." If we just did more of that... I mean, just think about the world we live in today and everyone's going to tell you their opinions, but when people feel heard, wow, they feel valued. So good stuff.

Brent Kelly:

Anything else Steve you want to add before I take you off the hot seat here? Again, I appreciate your time today.

Steve Woodward:

No, this has been fun, and I hope there's some, some little nuggets in there of this podcast that others might be listening into. It's just to me, I wish I had all these tools back then, but it's not over. I reinvested and that's why I'm in the Elite 50. It's not so much of we're at a point where, "where can we continue to build our net worth? Where can we continue to have fun? Who's got some different tools in the trade?"

Steve Woodward:

I've always said, this is a chess game, not a checker game. What's the difference between the two? Chess is more strategic, right? I'm waiting for your move. You're waiting for my move. Well, that's the prospect versus sales. Checkers? Okay. I'm sliding. We're going back and forth. You get your king and we're done, while in the chess game, it's, "this has always been fun about the business." It's the challenge. How do you overcome the challenge? How do you find those wins? How do you replicate them, but then what's coming up that's new? Are you ready for it? Are you ready for it? And if you are, this is where the challenge of what we do and all of us in the insurance space, we love that challenge. We certainly want to embrace it.

Steve Woodward:

And, thank you, Brent. I say that, because you said you met me personally a couple months ago. It was the same. I certainly appreciate all you do and these constant reminders that keeps us on our toes. So I appreciate you. I appreciate Roger, and certainly this business. It's been very rewarding and I am not done yet.

Brent Kelly:

Awesome. Love it. So thank you again, Steve. Thanks to the listeners. If you've enjoyed this podcast or other podcasts, I always would appreciate a review or share to someone else. Always looking to grow the audience and have guests like Steve share their insight, right? Their experience with other people out there looking to grow and become that best version possible.

Brent Kelly:

So Steve, thank you again, and everyone else, all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.

 

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Transform Your Agency Into the Best Version Possible

Watch Now