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  • Attitude + Mentors + MDRT = Success!
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In 1993, I was a Sears TV salesman by day and a rock and roll drummer by night. The problem was I wasn't playing for Pearl Jam making millions, and the commissions at Sears were dropping like a rock. It was then my Aunt Barbara suggested that I look into the financial services business. I had zero experience and no idea if I could ever be the least bit successful. But I'm happy to say that, for the last several years, including this one, I've managed to qualify for top of the table. And now, I'm going to give you the secret to my success. Are you ready for the secret? Actually, it's not a secret. I can explain it in one word. Mentors. That's right, mentors. Face it, this is a tough business. But those who have been successful have something in common, they didn't do it on their own. They had help. When I first started, all I had was a manager who told me that if I sold X amount of policies per week, in no time at all I'd be filthy rich. 

You can keep those, by the way. In fact, please do, because I was told if you don't pick them up, I have to. That's what the maintenance crew said. At any rate, being rich was not my primary motive, but I did what the manager said and started smiling and dialing. I didn't know what I was doing, but fortunately there were a couple of reps at the agency who took pity on me and took me under their wing. I consider them to be my first mentors in this business. I learned a lot working with Andrew and Monty. They taught me things like the importance of being completely honest, even when delivering bad news. And other things like how to relate to people who were completely different from me, okay? 

Despite their help, though, I got to admit, after about six months or so, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I wasn't used to the kind of rejection I was getting. People would hang up on me, be rude, cancel appointments at the last minute, or worst of all, suffer buyer's remorse and cancel policies after I'd already been paid. Can you say, "Commission recapture?" Yeah. Well, my wife is a very sensitive woman. She took this stuff a lot harder than I did. I remember once she took my hand and looked at me. And with eyes full of compassion, she said, "Chris, I hate people." She didn't like people very much. But, then something changed. A new manager took over. He was friendly, inspiring, charismatic, and he listened. Rick's mentorship helped my career immensely. For one thing, he was the first person to tell me the truth about this career. He said, "For the first five years, you'll be grossly overworked and grossly underpaid. But then, it will become the exact opposite." He also helped me hire my first assistant, which was a great move. 

My second year in the business was still tough, but having that five-year goal really helped me deal with the inevitable ups and downs of this business. Although the downs, the downs could be rough. It didn't help that in my twenties I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That tends to make my emotional highs really high and the emotional lows really low. In fact, I remember early on driving to work and sometimes having to pull over to the side of the road because I had the dry heaves because of the massive stress I was feeling. 

Despite the stress though, some of my early appointments were actually kind of funny. I remember once, shortly after I had gotten my first cell phone, which back then was the size of a shoebox, I went to my prospect's home. I used to do house calls. Rang the doorbell, and was completely ignored. I had the right date, the right time, the right address. And what's more, I knew they were home because I could hear them in the house talking. I couldn't believe how rude they were being. But then, I had an idea. Wait a second, they have a phone, I have a phone. I pulled out my shoebox and I dialed them up. I could hear their phone ringing through the walls. Now, back in those days, you got to remember, we didn't have caller ID, so guess what? They answered. And I said, "Hi, this is Chris Kimball. I'm here for our appointment. And when I say here, what I mean is I'm standing on your front porch." 

Of course, now they had to let me in, right? I spent the next two hours droning on and on about the most boring aspects of life insurance I could possibly think of. Nothing like delving into actuary tables to make the time just fly by. Of course, they didn't buy anything, but I still left with that warm sense of satisfaction one gets after being particularly, how should I put it? Passive aggressive. Anyway, in 1995, I finally qualified for MDRT, and I'll never forget that first annual meeting. There were thousands of people at the welcome party, and I knew exactly nobody. Fortunately, I had a little green first timers badge on, and a couple guys saw it and came over and introduced themselves. Don Sinaco and his friend Kevin invited me to hang out with them, not just for the opening party, but for the entire meeting. I was no longer alone. At the next annual meeting, I auditioned for the MDRT rock and roll band. And that's the song I used to audition. If you're over 60, you might recognize it. 

They accepted me. I made all kinds of new friends and mentors. One guy shared a time in his career when he was so discouraged he almost gave up completely. He said the only reason he didn't throw in the towel was because of the support he got from his MDRT friends. It turned out that guy was Gene Mahn, the president of MDRT. That conversation had a huge impact on me. If he could go through that dark of a period and still end up president of the Million Dollar Round Table, then I could certainly overcome any challenges that I might face. Looking back, I'm sure those mentors had no idea of the influence they had on my career and my life. Were they perfect? Of course not. None of us are, but that's the point. No matter who you are, you have the ability to impact others in ways you can't even imagine. Thanks to the friends and mentors I met along the way, I went from selling TVs to top of the table. And I guess I shouldn't keep that success a secret. Thanks for listening. 

Nov 07 2022 / MDRT EDGE

Attitude + Mentors + MDRT = Success!

Chris Kimball shares how engaging with fellow MDRT members, mentors and keeping a positive attitude can help advisors navigate trying times, and ultimately reach their goals. He shares humorous anecdotes from how he went from a terrified new agent struggling in his early years to qualifying for Top of the Table.