Sep 01 2023 / Round the Table Magazine
Seeds of growth
By Matt Pais
“If I was at a cocktail party and someone asked me what the most important part of my career was,” said Andrew C. Lord, CLU, ChFC, “I would say it’s this.”
That might sound like hyperbole for the new President of the MDRT Foundation within a discussion about his involvement with the organization. But it’s easy to understand why the 35-year MDRT member from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, would be so effusive. The MDRT Foundation was a catalyst for several breakthroughs professionally and personally.
The Foundation motivated him to become personally involved in the spirit of volunteerism, which he first observed growing up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, USA, population 3,000. There, his parents (dad a seventh grade English teacher, mom a school nurse) founded the community hospice and supported both a youth group and a group for people with Parkinson’s disease. “They had a deeply held belief in what they were doing and a deep commitment to making my small town better,” he said.
His participation also sparked the interest in Lord’s son, Hunter Charles Thomas Lord, CFP, to join the financial services profession. Now a three-year MDRT member, when he was just 15 years old, he accompanied his dad to Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, a few weeks before the 2009 MDRT Annual Meeting. There the father and son volunteered on a Foundation project to build a playground and paint and mend fences at a camp for children with disabilities. “My wife, Nancy, and I always tried to get my kids involved with experiences, and being able to roll up their sleeves and volunteer was an easy decision,” Lord said.
Finally, his Foundation involvement exposed him to the remarkable generosity of other MDRT members, some who dedicate as many as 25 hours a week to volunteering and helping others. Serving on the grants committee showed Lord that many people within MDRT are driven to support causes around the world. “It’s one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in my entire life,” he said. “I’m in awe of our members’ charitable urges and giving.”
If you think Lord’s path to volunteerism was deliberate, you’d be wrong. He entered the financial services profession the day after college ended at the time when belonging to a professional association was expected. Lord joined MDRT and immediately was impressed with the Foundation during his first MDRT Annual Meeting in 1988.
“My favorite parts of the Annual Meeting have always been the Foundation spots,” Lord said. “I just loved the idea of a group of people getting together, collecting their energy and throwing a couple bucks into a hat for great common causes.”
Lord started with a modest contribution at the MDRT Foundation booth. Later during the phonathon, he began increasing the amount and frequency of his contributions. Even though the education Lord received from the MDRT community helped increase his productivity tenfold, he now recognizes that he was working way too much at the expense of his personal relationships. The MDRT Whole Person concept and the priorities of the MDRT Foundation helped him find balance. “The personal growth and development gained from MDRT were priceless to me,” he said. “I credit those with saving my life.”
Reaping what you sow
Fittingly, the MDRT Foundation has provided a way to give back even more than he got. Lord received an MDRT Foundation grant for Seeds of Peace, an organization he and his family supported that brings people from Israel and Palestine to a summer camp in New England. There these campers from different communities engage in activities and conversations that foster understanding, effectively “planting seeds” that they can bring back to their communities.
The grant led to Seeds of Peace becoming the charity partner for the 2004 MDRT Annual Meeting.
“I kind of planted a little seed with my giving,” Lord said. “It started with someone saying I should ask for a grant. Things snowballed and really made a difference for them.”
Lord’s Foundation volunteerism began in 2013, serving on the Grants Committee where he gained an increased appreciation for not just the Foundation’s values but the vetting process for organizations and the causes they support. He also served on the Finance and Corporate Giving committees before joining the MDRT Foundation Board in 2018.
The increased involvement, he says, stemmed from morning visualizations in which he asked for volunteerism to become a bigger piece of his life. So, it was an easy yes when asked to devote more time.
As President, he aims to continue the MDRT Foundation’s work to globalize the organization (grants were given in 35 countries in 2022) and match the diverse worldwide membership of MDRT, with particular focus on major membership markets, including many throughout Asia. This can happen, Lord says, by continuing to leverage technology — such as the recent retirement of the MDRT Foundation Phonathon in favor of more social media-driven initiatives like MDRT Gives Day — and logical advancements like translating grant applications into all appropriate languages.
“It’s keeping up with the times, whether it’s QR codes, social media or otherwise,” Lord said. “We’re using our amazing network to continue to reach down on a grassroots level to spread the word.”
Lord also wants to apply his organizational skills to help refine the successful handoffs among Foundation committees from year to year. “A better volunteer experience can exist where people feel at the end that they’ve completed the task,” he said. “We want to keep those people engaged and have them continue to stay active.”
Accordingly, Lord is sure to indicate that the end of his presidential year won’t bring an end to his involvement.
“One of the great things about the Foundation is we’re happy to have any level of commitment, and I’m looking forward to being active well beyond my term,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do, from cleaning up after an event to making phone calls to connections. It’s great because you don’t have to stop.”