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Tragedy to triumph: Overcoming adversity
Tragedy to triumph: Overcoming adversity

Sep 01 2023 / Annual Meeting

Tragedy to triumph: Overcoming adversity

In this session, Trusler describes how overcoming a tragic loss can be a strong motivational factor for striving to protect others.

By David Trusler, MBA

Topics Covered

Success in the financial services industry comes with a price, a price that so few are willing to pay. Just as we tell our clients, over time the return will be well worth the investment.

Success in our industry not only requires diligence and patience but also the ability to overcome negativity and rejection. We want to talk about something that nobody wants to talk about and sell them something intangible that nobody wants to buy.

In the beginning of our careers, this business can require long hours with often lackluster results. Just like anything else in life worth fighting for, success in the financial services industry requires tenacity, toughness and the willingness to keep going when all you hear is no, no, no.

However, if you are an MDRT qualifier, you have proven that you are able to overcome objections, negativity and the desire to quit when things get difficult, and to keep fighting because you know what you are doing is worth it.

Now that you have made it this far, how do you keep growing, improving and reaching new heights? Maybe you have a burning desire to reach Court of the Table or even Top of the Table. Maybe you want to become the top producer at your company. Perhaps you have a desire to be a household name in the life insurance industry for generations to come. Whatever your goals are, write them down, commit to them, and never quit.

When all is said and done, when your life insurance claim is filed, and when your friends, clients and colleagues gather and are reminiscing about your life, what will they say? How will they remember you? What impact did you have on the lives you touched?

A tragic event caused me to look at my life and the way I measure my success and happiness. Although I still enjoy all the money, trips and recognition, my overall vision has changed.

Today I believe that true happiness and prosperity are achieved by serving others with honesty and sincerity. I believe that true success is measured by the lives we impact and the communities we serve, not just by how many applications we sell or the amount of premium we collect in a year.

So what keeps you motivated? Is motivation even enough to keep you going when times get difficult? Oftentimes, motivation is like a flame that will continue to burn until blown out by adversity.

The real question is: What has to happen to cause you to catapult to the top and stay there?

I am sure you have heard that our business is just a numbers game, and logically that is true. Like many of you, I have spent countless hours reviewing my activity numbers and trying to discover ways to improve upon those numbers. Ultimately the numbers do not lie.

The truth is that if you focus on doing what’s right and realize the impact you can and will have on the lives of not only your clients but future generations, you can infuse your business with an intent that will drive your daily behavior accordingly.

Success does not come easily. Although you may get lucky occasionally, I was taught and believe that the harder you work, the luckier you get. Diligence is always rewarded.

Have a mentor

I recently had the pleasure to speak with a local insurance legend from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Louis was 85 years old when I first met him and he had proudly served the insurance industry for 63 years before deciding to give retirement a try; although a few weeks later he told his wife that retirement was for the birds.

Louis and I sat down and spoke for a few hours. He said to me, “Young man, let me give you a piece of advice. Agents are constantly trying to figure out how to improve the sales cycle. The truth is that you should spend less time trying to improve the sales cycle and more time trying to improve yourself. Study the industry, specialize in one area, and become an expert, and above all stay diligent. Diligence is always rewarded. You will make more money than you could ever imagine.”

He also asked me a question: “David, do you work on Saturdays?” I said, “Sometimes.” He said, “Do you know how many Saturdays there are in a year?” I responded, “Well, 52 I suppose.” Louis asked, “How many days are in a month?” I responded, “Thirty on average.” He said, “That means that if you work every Saturday, you will have a month and a half of production ahead of your competition. You have a much better chance of winning a race if you have a head start. So, if you want to be a leader in the company, work Saturdays.”

My point is, find a mentor, someone who has more experience and more success, and have a teachable attitude. There is always something to learn in this business.

Product of your environment

Show me your closest friends, and I will show you your future. Be careful whom you spend time with and choose positive people who are successful or diligently working toward success. Create a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a group of agents who share ideas, what is working and what they are struggling with. Try to give more than you take. The more you give to the group, the more you will get out of the group. Share referrals. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and do not be shy about partnering with others.

Keep the main thing the main thing

Stephen Covey’s message is to keep your focus and efforts on the most important goals. Successful agents can control their day instead of allowing their day to control them. Stay focused on the most important tasks of the day, and do not allow anything to get in your way. In today’s world, it is easy to allow emails, text messages and social media distract us. Block out time to read and respond to electronic messages. The two most important tasks successful agents focus their time and attention on is holding appointments and setting appointments. Everything else supports those two main tasks.


To this day my greatest challenge is staying consistent. I will have great months and mediocre months. My production oftentimes resembles a roller coaster, and unfortunately so does my income. The best tool I have found that helps me stay consistent is a point system. There are many to choose from, but I prefer the 20 Point System that I learned many years ago. I know that if I stay true to the 20 Point System, my production and income will be more consistent.

Go home tired

Try to go home tired. I am not saying that you should go home exhausted every night to the point where you are unable to engage with your family. What I am saying is that going home knowing that you gave it everything you had for one full day is a rewarding feeling. The best cure for anxiety is activity.