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Shift in thinking
Shift in thinking

Feb 22 2022 / Round the Table Magazine

READ 00:07:27

Shift in thinking

Working smarter by leveraging staff and finding balance leads to greater productivity.

Topics Covered

Reaching peak productivity often means relying on the help and expertise of others. In an episode of the MDRT Latinoamerica Podcast, three members shared their approaches for increasing their productivity through hiring and motivating qualified staff, and by incorporating much-needed balance in their lives.

Members participating:
Julio Enrique Pastor, a 15-year MDRT member from Panama City, Panama
Fernando Patiño Rivera Sr., a 6-year MDRT member from Puebla, Mexico
Adrián Fabricio Villarreal Alfaro, FSCP, CLI, a 7-year MDRT member from San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Patiño: A big change in my practice was hiring qualified, competent and professional staff. This allows me to work exclusively on sales while my staff does the administrative tasks. This is what enables a company or practice to grow. Being responsible for a payroll can be intimidating; however, it can also offer us more freedom. If someone asked me what is the one change I think an agent should make, I would recommend this. It’s necessary to hire specialized personnel so that we can all focus on our tasks.

There is a difference between hiring an employee who can only perform some administrative tasks if I provide instructions and hiring a fully qualified and independent person who can act according to what the practice needs. If I have an employee who needs me there all the time, telling them what to do, then I’m doing twice the work. In contrast, hiring someone capable of solving problems and managing the firm, administratively speaking, is a big change. It’s not the same to pay a small paycheck for someone who performs small tasks as to pay a competitive salary for professionalism and responsibility.

Villarreal: One of the biggest changes I’ve had to make — and I struggle with every day — is transitioning from being an executive in a company to being responsible for an office and being my own boss. I’ve hired people to work with me, and as Fernando says, what matters is hiring the right people we can delegate the right tasks to in a way that allows us to position ourselves as the heads of our business.

Pastor: My working system is a bit different from what is usually done in Mexico. I work within a business unit system. The insurance company assigns us a business unit and provides us with the space to hire people to sell insurance policies; we train these people and follow up on the sale. We have hired personnel within the business unit to help us with tasks such as collections, administration and operations follow-up. We’ve been growing — we now have six people working for us — and this has allowed us to open our own office within the insurance company.

Patiño: No human being can be successful without motivation. There must be a drive, a reason, a motivator; otherwise, you’ll stagnate in your comfort zone and be unable to move forward. At our practice, we organize a quarterly planning meeting where we focus on what motivates us. In this meeting, each member of the staff can ask for a gift, something they need, and we also deliver their bonuses. We ask each of our colleagues what they wish for as a Christmas gift for the end of the year. One woman asked for a purse; another woman asked for a bike to ride to the office. One person asked for extra money to cover her family’s expenses. I think it is important to be aware of our staff’s needs. We all work for economic compensation, but giving staff something specific can create the commitment to achieve better results.

Villarreal: Isn’t it true that motivating your staff is not possible if you are not motivated? If you can’t somehow convey that inner fire to your people, then no one else is going to give what they don’t have. I think about my main drivers — my family, beliefs, values and principles — then I try to show this to the people I work with. In my practice, whenever an employee needs to take a couple of days off because one of their children is getting married or because they want to go on vacation, I’m very flexible. I only ask them to leave everything in order and make sure there are no unresolved issues before their departure. Regarding motivation, you have to give before you receive anything.

Pastor: The motivation factor is important for our employees. We communicate directly with them to understand their needs, since sometimes work is not just about work. Sometimes we forget this and just think in terms of production, overlooking their emotional and personal needs and concerns. When we make an effort to understand them, we are a united team. We tell them that if the company is doing well, so will we. Each month, we celebrate birthdays and organize activities outside the office. At the end of the year, we donate toys, clothing, shoes and uniforms to children in need. When our employees do a good job, we also give their children a Christmas gift. We’re also very flexible. We have the right to take days off to solve a situation, and so do they. We’re always willing to give them what they want, and our company’s success is based on this.

Patiño: The person who offered me this career opportunity told me that being my own boss would mean having a lot of free time. During the first years, it wasn’t like that. I used to spend almost 16 hours a day building my client base. My results were good, my profits were high and I was able to hire personnel, but at some point, I stopped and said, I need to have time for myself and my son. That’s when I stopped trying to do everything myself and started looking for people who could help me with administrative activities. Over the course of 15 years, I’ve heard plenty of stories of people who have been highly successful, financially speaking, but they eventually pay the consequences when they lose their health, and then their money trying to recover their health. I told myself I didn’t want to grow old and face a decline. I try to change to first get the quality of life I want for myself and my family. Then, as a result of having a good level of activity, organization, methodology and building good habits, we can have free time to do what we love.

Villarreal: I was 50 when I started this career and since I have a wife and four children, I was in a hurry to start making money. I work very hard for my clients, but I reach a point, maybe every two months, when I collapse. It’s like I’m burned out, so I have to spend an entire day in bed watching television, and the next day I feel like new, full of energy. So, I’ve realized we must have balance. I’m so happy with my career that I sometimes get the chance to say: “I’m not coming back to the office this Friday afternoon.” Then, on purpose, I schedule no appointments for that day so that I can take my wife to the movies or for a walk, or I can spend the weekend out of the city. This is the kind of thing this wonderful career can offer. Being the manager of your time, like Fernando says, allows us to have a lot of free time. I try to enjoy life and live every day to the fullest.

Pastor: We have the most beautiful career in the world; we act like guardian angels when our clients and their beneficiaries need us the most. We’re there for them, and the best part is when you meet with the beneficiary and tell them their spouse thought about them. It’s the most wonderful experience, and this is what drives us to go forward. I always put my spiritual life first, and my family and my health are also an essential piece of this process. If I have neither a good relationship with my family nor good health, how can I try to sell something or move forward? These are essential pieces, and I always take care of them. My children are always first. Last week, when I was working, my daughter called my wife telling her she had left her wallet at home. I ran to my house to get her wallet and take her some food because she was going to be at college all day. This made me happy. This is the part that I enjoy the most about my career: I have time to enjoy my family. Other things like sales come along when you are fine with yourself, and you and your family live in peace. 


Julio Pastor julio.pastor@ljseguros.com
Fernando Patiño Rivera  fe_pari@hotmail.com
Adrián Villarreal adrianfvillarreal@gmail.com

Find this episode and others in the MDRT Latinoamerica Podcast at soundcloud.com/podcastmdrtlatinoamerica.