A Solid, Successful Foundation In American Income Life Comes From Mentors
American Income Life Regional Director of Sales, Martin Groves, gives insight into creating a solid foundation for your Agency to thrive:
The foundation of a house is what it all stands upon. Regardless of what walls, insulation, electrical wires, rooms, furniture – the basis of it all is the foundation. In business, the foundation is what anchors us. If the foundation is faulty, then we are building something that will give way. There is no way that we can sustain when the foundation is not intact. But, we sometimes forget about the foundation when we are building. The foundation is us; the part that we sometimes forget. Nothing can start without us creating it and that creating sometimes takes on a mind of itself. How we embrace it is how we remain grounded and grow. When things go awry is also how we learn and we grow but only when we return back to the foundation. The ground is something we stand on every day. It is what is beneath us and keeps us standing. When we are embarking upon a something new, we do so with such passion, excitement and fervor that we forget one thing – the ground beneath us.
Having worked with experienced American Income Life SGA’s, start up SGA’s and SGA’s that are in a re-building mode, the one thing that has been consistent with getting positive results has been a solid foundation. Once you have a solid foundation, and in AIL’s case a solid Leadership Team, you can build with strength and also at speed. A broader level of leadership at the entry level has demonstrated that an American Income Life Agency can grow quickly because of the excitement created by wanting to be in Leadership and the unlimited opportunity for growth.
When the foundation is in place, you also have to be grounded. In business it is necessary to remain grounded as it keeps you focused. When we lose focus, we start to spiral and that spiraling is many times the beginning of the end. In running a business, there are many outside factors that we do not always expect that pop up that are not a part of the everyday operations. If the foundation is strong, your business has a much better chance to deal with the unexpected.
The Leadership Team members are the mentors of your business. Choose your mentors wisely. A mentor is an individual, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development. So what does it take to be a business mentor? It takes the same level of interest, commitment and confidence in your own abilities that it takes to mentor a fellow colleague. It also requires that you be sincerely interested in someone else’s growth and success. You may not directly win an award, but if the person you mentor does as part of being successful, you will have the satisfaction of having done an important job.
Who becomes a mentor? Why do they do it? The answers are as varied as the people involved. Some of us were lucky enough to have had a mentor and want to repay that. Others just want to help out, be a positive influence, or give something to their community. Whatever your reason for being a mentor, you will find it a special experience. Nothing can quite match the self satisfaction you get from sharing your experience to help other business colleagues.
Many parts of the foundation have to be built and continually inspected. The basics structures of recruiting, training, selling techniques, business practices and coaching, to name only a few, represent the key components to the foundation of your agency. All components need to be strong for your business or agency to thrive. If the mentors are not trained correctly then the agents delivering the products and services will have a reduced chance of success. If the mentors are as committed to the success of their own business’s as you are to yours, then the chances of retaining agents increases dramatically. Success breeds success.
I know many of us read motivation books, leadership books and listen to audio and DVD’s for inspiration and guidance. One book that has intrigued me recently has been David Schroeder’s book called “Business in The Trenches” David’s book combines compelling military history with insightful business analogies. It demonstrates clearly how companies grapple with the same problems as armies at war. Here is one specifically on Foundation Principles.
The Importance of Foundation Principles
Air Combat began in World War One. The popular image is of brightly colored, fabric covered biplanes flying around shooting at each other with machine guns. Every now and then an aircraft falls out of the sky burning and crashes into the ground. This picture is actually pretty accurate. What is not accurate is the idea that losses in these dogfights were pretty even. They weren’t.
The two sides were roughly the Germans versus the French and British. While the French and British had almost three times the number of aircraft as the Germans, the Germans managed to shoot down three times as many French and British as they lost themselves. It’s like a business making three times as much money as its competition, while having a third of the assets.
The questions are “Why?”, “How?”, and, most importantly, “How can I do something similar in my business?”
You might be tempted to think the German advantage was technology. After all, they make pretty good stuff. But in World War One, both sides had comparable aircraft. So that wasn’t the reason.
The most basic reason is that German pilots had a distinct advantage over their adversaries. They had a SOLID FOUNDATION.
Both sides taught selected candidates how to fly airplanes. Obviously this is kind of important if you’re going to be a fighter pilot. You have to know the mechanics of what to do and how to do it. The problem for the French and British is that this was the end of pilot training before they were shipped off to combat. Their pilots showed up at their squadrons barely able to take off and land. Most only lasted a week or so before they were dead. Those that survived learned what they needed to know through their own “on the job” experience.
Training for German pilots was a very different experience. They trained their pilots intensively before sending them anywhere near the front. Not just on the mechanics of how to fly. They were taught FOUNDATION PRINCIPLES on how to fly in combat. Their best ace developed principles to guide them in the environment they would be working in. Adherence to these principles would make them successful. Those that became successful learned these principles and applied them to deadly effect.
The German pilots had assigned mentors. The mentors would show the “newbies” how to apply the Foundation Principles in combat. They showed them the ropes, and how to use their knowledge and skills to become as effective as possible.
Just knowing the mechanics of how to do a new job is not enough. Look at what happened to most of the French and British pilots. Their lives were literally counted in hours.
What matters is that you have a grasp on Foundation Principles, and can apply them. These come from those who have experience and know how to keep you focused on what will make you the most successful. They will keep you from dissipating your efforts. Doing this will give you the greatest chance for success.
Note: The above is a short extract from the book “Business in the Trenches” by David Schroeder (pages 331-332).
Let’s win the WAR against a weak foundation and build a solid foundation for success in 2012.