The Power of Quitting: Elevate Your Agency by Letting Go


An interesting perspective that I've learned from some of the best agency leaders is that they don't ever look for more things to do. In fact, they turn their to-do list into a to-don't list. I'm going to talk about being a great agency leader by being a quitter. Yeah, you heard me right, a quitter, on today's Agent Leader podcast. Welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, and yes, you have found the right place. You are listening to the right podcast. If you're a regular listener, you know that I often talk whether it's a solo podcast or with a guest about growth and excellence and becoming your best version possible, and my intro today talked about being a quitter. That doesn't make sense, that doesn't jive well. Obviously, I'm going to put this in context for you today. As I've been traveling and training and teaching over the past several weeks, some great opportunities to meet a number of agencies and associations and private groups I've been part of.

One of the things that continues to hit me and I want to share on this podcast is that agency leaders are simply doing too many things. And you may go, "yep, darn right, Brent, I'm doing too many things." The problem is they may not be asking themselves the right questions or getting themselves on the right path to understand what things they need to stop doing. In fact, I think the solution for many agency leaders isn't this idea of what is the next thing I should do or more things that I need to do, but what are the things that I need to stop doing to empower my team, to free myself, to grow the agency? You name it, ultimately, to become truly that best version possible. As a reminder, the Best Version Possible book, I just, the last event I was at, I had over a hundred books that were able to give away, and I signed many of them.

The feedback is awesome, and I appreciate that. Roger Sitkins, co-author with me on Best Version Possible. The entire idea of the book is to provide your agency with more growth and impact, all with less effort. It truly is a blueprint. And if you want to learn about how we help agencies like your agency about how we can help your growth, how we can help your processes, how we can help your people to be that best version possible, go to sitkins.com to learn more. Or if you want to get a copy of the book, go to sitkins.com/bvp. All right, let's get to the podcast today about being a quitter. And again, this is going to be a mix of some thoughts and ideas for you to consider, as well as some questions that I really want you to take back after this podcast, and whether it's early in the morning or before you go to bed or over lunch that you take some time to consider, take some time to think about. I think one of the biggest challenges that often agency leaders have, and by the way, I know the audience of this podcast, I have some of you that you may lead a very small team.

Some of you lead a huge team, right? Regardless of the size and the scope of who you lead. Bottom line is that too often agency leaders are doing too much. In fact, as I was traveling and speaking, something I share with audiences often is the fact that many of you in this room probably started off selling insurance and now you're running an agency or running a department within an agency, and oftentimes I'll get head nods. I know that's not every single person in insurance agency leadership, but it's certainly true for most people. In fact, we talked to insurance agency producers, we run producer camps and we tell insurance producers, there's really only four things you should be doing every week, primarily four things, sales and sales conversations. You should be building relationships by making more deposits. You should be proactive in a continuation process and you should be doing pipeline development.

Those are the four things. In fact, we've talked about that on the podcast today. So the first challenge for producers is simply to be focused on those four things because what usually gets in the way is service issues and getting trapped in service and distractions and all these activities that come their way. Well, you think about the next level, and now all of a sudden you're in a leadership position, certainly for player coaches. I know many of you are player coaches, so you've got a book of business, and now you're also doing some leadership responsibilities as well. Well, now you've got other responsibilities to add to the producer responsibilities, which already in many cases are a challenge to stay focused on. You may have things like, I don't know, HR issues like hiring and firing people. You may have team meetings, you're leading, you may have carrier appointments and carrier meetings, obviously with HR as well.

You've got payrolls and taxes and coaching and mentoring and monitoring. You're probably a chief fire extinguisher, meaning that now that you're a leader, all these problems come up to you and you've got to put out these fires, which can take a lot of time and energy and capacity, and we can go on and on and on and on. In fact, oftentimes when I'm leading private coaching calls, whether it's a sales leader or an agency leader, we'll talk about some of these things. In fact, just make your list of all the things that you do, and maybe you've heard that before, maybe you haven't, but that is a really powerful first step. It's a step in awareness. Oftentimes, if you ask people, how are things going, what do they say? I'm busy. I'm so busy, I'm overwhelmed. I've got all these things going on, but they've never really defined them.

So one of the things that you could do, one of the first steps you could take, and here's action. Step one. I don't know if I actually have these listed as action steps, but here you go. Anyway, action step one is go through the course of your week or throughout your week. It's probably the easiest thing to do, just like if you're tracking food for example, but just track the things that you actually do during the week, because I bet many things you do, you're not even aware of or you forgot that you do or you take it for granted. But they do take time, they do take energy. They do take some capacity that you have. So just take some time to have an awareness tool, a diagnostic, and just go, what are all the things I actually do during the week? And this can include anything from a specific meeting that you're holding to a client conversation to you check in some social media for 10 or 15 minutes. I'm raising my hand. It happens to me as well. But just track everything that you do.

Now, the next part of this, of course, is after you have an awareness, is to identify what are the things that are worth your time. Now, by the way, none of us are perfect, and we talk to producers, going back to the producer example, and we tell producers to do these four things. We challenge them to do those four things 80% of their week. Can we get to 80%? I'm not going to ask anybody to get to a hundred percent because I don't think that's feasible. I don't think that's reasonable because there's this thing called, I don't know, life like things happen, but to get to 80% is pretty darn powerful. In fact, there's a great quote, and I don't want this perfectly relates.

One of my favorite books that I read this past year was called Buying Back Time or Buying Back Your Time. I don't know if I've got the title. It's by Dan Martel. And one of the things that he says is that 80% of something done by someone else is a hundred percent awesome. Now, he actually adds a word before, awesome that I'm not going to say on this podcast, but it says 80% of something done by somebody else is a hundred percent awesome. So we talk about these things. The first step is to take this awareness tool and write down all the things that you need to do. The next part is to begin to identify those things that you're currently doing that actually have significance or impact. And as I tell agency leaders, the idea here is that maybe you wrote down a list of 37 things.

I don't know. I mean, I did this, then I had to do this and I did this and I ordered supplies and I don't know, we could get down very minute things. And then you start to identify what are the things the next, again, you get to choose the time, but put time on the table. What are the things that I need to begin to quit and how when am I going to do those things, right? One month from now, I don't want to be doing these two things anymore. So maybe I just realized that it's not important for anybody and we just shouldn't do it, period. I've had those before. Well, who do I delegate this to? Nobody. How about we just don't do it because it doesn't add any impact or significance to our agency or our mission or our client experience, whatever.

So let's get rid of it. Secondly, you might go, gosh, there are people on my team who we pay to do much of these things who I'm taking that job from them. So maybe there are some things that you begin to delegate, which of course then the mind comes in and goes, well, I don't know if they could do it as good as I could do it, or I've been doing it, I've been doing this for seven years or 12 years or 23 years. So I mean, I'm the best at it, even though the significance of it isn't that big a deal. I'm the best at it, which of course, I'll go back to the Dan Martel quote, which said, 80% of something done by someone else is a hundred percent awesome. One of the things that I do see in conversations with agency leaders, and this is whether they're one-off conversations in a lobby during a speaking event or we're getting deeper into some of these things than a private coaching call with our members, is that it typically doesn't come from a place of malice.

This is not one of those things where I am the world's best and all this. It's just no, it's a bit of convenience and a bit of just the fact that we've always done it that way. So what I'm going to ask you to do is get out of your way by taking a step back and just take a look at stuff and be honest and be real. I know for myself as a leader, this happens all the time, and I am by no means perfect at this, but you start to analyze things that you're doing on a weekly basis. You're going, why am I doing that? Or why am I not empowering this person to do that? Because it's what they do, by the way, better than I do. So we have this just scatterbrain of all this stuff, and I heard this from John Maxwell.

I think this is so true. You've got to give up to go up. What are the things that I've got to give up to go up? This is the same concept we talk about with agencies and producers about trading down clients. Well, yeah, but I've had that client for 12 years or eight years or five years, and even though I don't really do anything for the client anymore, and in fact I don't even know if I remember their name, ha ha, I'm going to keep it. I wrote it and that's what I'm going to do. No, we've got to begin to give up to go up. So what I want to do here, the last part, I'm going to give you some substance. Hopefully there's already been substance, but some questions of substance that are going to help you as an agency leader quantify some of these things of what you need to actually quit.

So here are three questions. Number one, ask yourself this question per your list. What on this list is actually required to be done by me? What I mean by that is that no one else can actually do it. It's requirement of me. There is nobody else on God's green earth or on my team. And again, by the way, there's third party people that can help. There's a reason why you outsource certain things like payroll and taxes and certain things, but there is nobody else in this world that can do this thing. Now, by the way, when you ask yourself that question, maybe the answer is maybe not today, but it certainly can be done in the future. So ask yourself, what's actually required for me to do? Number two, this is the question of impact. What is my greatest return? When you put time in as a leader, right?

And energy and effort and focus, right? When you're doing this thing, it gets you the greatest return back. It's leverage, it's impact. What are those things? Look at your list and go, when I do this, and I do this with focus and intensity and clarity, we get back that. Wow. So just have some time. Again, this goes back to the 80 20 principle. We're talking to producers with their clients. When I work with this client and I do this stuff, I get this impact back. When I do all this, I just do a bunch of stuff and I feel tired at the end of the day. So what are the things that give you true impact or leverage that you do? And the last part to me is the fun part, and hopefully these all collaborate, but the last question is, where do I get my greatest reward?

Where do I get my greatest reward, my fulfillment, my purpose, that when I do stuff, I'm lit up? The term that we talk about, which comes from Dan Sullivan in Strategic Coach, is really identifying your unique ability. Not only are you great at it, but it fills your cup. It's something that when you do the cliche concept, it doesn't even feel like work. It gives you energy. It's energy giving. I just give you an example of this, and again, I'm doing it right now when I speak, and even though this is into a camera and into a microphone for a podcast, I get energy. My creative juices flow. I get excited by the way, I also get feedback. I get impact back for the clients we work with. And by the way, no one else can really do it at this level, and that's not conceded.

It's a unique ability of mine. You know what? There's no one else that can get up and speak at some of these events that I do like I do. That's my unique ability. Number two, it gets me a great return when I do what. I get great feedback and we get more client interaction, and we get new people to talk to, and it gives me my greatest reward. I'm fulfilled. Some people, if they were speaking and they get done and they want to fall down in the corner and cry, right? I get that, for me. I get done. I go, wow, what a cool day. So I would ask the same questions for you, what's actually required? What's the only thing that you can really do as a leader? What is my greatest return? What's the impact? The leverage you get back? And number three is, where do you get your greatest reward?

And take some time to do this. Take some time to do this because this is something that oftentimes leaders take for granted. I had a conversation recently with someone. It was like, I do this and I do this, and I do this, and I do this, and I do this, and I do this, and I do this. On one hand, there was a sense of pride of accomplishment. I did all these things. And on the other hand it was, I am so worn out and tired, and there's no way I can keep this up. You've got to make a decision, right? You've got to make a decision. I'm not going to say that's easy, but you have to allow your ego to get out of the way of your excellence, right? Allow your ego to get out of the way of your excellence. And again, I don't think the ego is typically malicious ego. It's just there's this pride. I can do it, and I've always done it and challenged me, and I can prove you wrong, and I can do anything, and I can run through walls. At some point, you won't, right? At some point, you won't.

More importantly, you're not truly providing excellence to yourself and those that you serve. And what I mean by serve is obviously your clients and of course your teammates, your team that you serve. You never will serve 'em at the highest capacity, the highest ability, the highest level of excellence if you don't get out of your own way. So be a quitter. Be a quitter. Listen, I appreciate the feedback on this podcast. If there's a topic or a discussion you want me to talk about, I've got some great guests lined up. It's been a little while. I'm aware of that. I've got some great guests coming on. I'm going to share their stories, their perspective on things, provide some unique views on this. But again, the idea of the Agent Leader podcast is to help educate, empower, and equip you the agency leader to become that best version possible. Go check out sitkins.com, learn more about the things that we want to provide to help you do just that. And with that, I wish you all the best and 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.

Helping independent insurance agencies achieve their dreams for over 40 years.





5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd
Suite 107
Fort Myers, FL 33907
239.337.2555 | 877.SIT.KINS