In September, 1978, I made the decision to end a 7 ½ year run as a Christian radio Programmer/Music Director for a Christian broadcasting network. I had worked markets in Birmingham, Houston and Nashville and they were offering me a promotion to move to Buffalo, NY. and create a new format there. I just couldn’t push myself to the north after living in the southern US all of my life. I couldn’t accept that offer.
A friend of mine who worked as a promoter with Christian music company, The Benson Company had earlier told me he was leaving that position to join a life and health insurance company, Business Men’s Assurance. He strongly suggested that I talk with the manager, Dick Roberts.
I had never sold much of anything! I was a customer service guy – working as a check-out clerk in a grocery store prior to radio in high school. I loved talking to people and never met a stranger. So MAYBE I should consider this insurance thing, but I KNEW the learning curve was steep! Dick Roberts knew that also when I met him, but he wasn’t at all bothered with my NO experience. He gave me a plan (actually many plans) and promised me, he would walk with me daily to help me break into this business. The rest – they say – is 40 years of history this week – to be exact.
Dick’s patience then and now is still unparalleled. If you only knew how MANY times I would ask the most mundane questions – sometimes the same question 2 or 3X and how Dick would just smile and help me and help me and help me! Because of his faith, he taught me in real life – ‘do unto others as you would want them to treat you’ and to this day, 40 years later, I practice that in this agency. My patience was exampled by Dick’s patience with life, with people and with the insurance industry. Dick became a mentor and always encouraged me to know that the sun will still come up tomorrow if I think it’s a terribly emotionally cloudy day today. He had techniques in sales that were simple for me to understand and that I could easily share with prospects. When I failed my first insurance exam, he said…”no big deal, study harder and let’s take it again in 30 days!” I did and passed it with flying colors.
Dick showed me work shouldn’t be all about work. He was a great example of how important family was to him and how work shouldn’t take away from that. That’s why, for example, when there were snow days, he would close our office, the staff would meet at his home for hot soup, light the fire and we would go out sledding during the day as a team/group. Dick’s son – who was 11 at the time – became a friend too and is to this day. Dick knew what he was doing! Create relationship with folks (one of his favorite words) and those relationships can last forever. Maybe that is why I have clients who have been with me almost all of my 40-year insurance career who trust our relationship above policy definitions to know they are covered. Dick taught it that way and I’m a student of that awesome teaching.
Every year, on my work anniversary (which is a highlight of my year), I ask Dick to lunch and we reminisce about those early days and share where we are in life today. We celebrated together this past Monday – the actual calendar day – October 1st when I began this career in 1978. Even now, as many might think I’m at retirement age, I have never had more energy and excitement about this business, the work that I get to do and the people, my clients, who I serve. But what do you know, Dick is 80 years of age and is working part-time at Publix as a Customer Check-Out person just so he can keep busy and share life with other folks! Are you kidding me!? He’s still setting examples of NOT QUITTING – KEEP GOING and treat others like you want to be treated. I STILL want to be like Dick! Publix – many years from now, I may apply!
Dick is a client of mine these days! I handle his personal insurance. I have the privilege of giving him the service he taught me to give to my clients so many years ago. He’s a happy customer and it’s my honor to be his insurance guy!
So in closing, if you are my client and you like what I and my staff do for you – a big thank you should go to Dick Roberts. If you aren’t real happy with what we are doing, I’m sorry for that and I want to fix it. Don’t call Dick on that – that one’s on me!
THANK YOU, Dick Roberts, for how you laid out the career plan that changed my life and has made my life so much better than I could have made it myself alone. And to my readers and clients – THANK YOU for letting me and my staff serve you these many years. You’re the reason we’re here and why we are growing at a faster rate than at any time in our history. We’re grateful for that and so much more. We’ll hopefully continue to treat you as we would want to be treated. It’s the only way we know how to serve around here.