Each day you are gifted with a challenge, to be the very best version of yourself. It’s a challenge when met head-on changes not only you, the person rising to the occasion, but everyone you meet as well, because impact matters.
In turn, the business you can build is then a reflection of who you are – and your story is one that inspires others to do the same.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is Storytelling for Business.
Storytelling for Business: Positive Impact
“It’s been a total turnaround, I’m a completely different person than when I started here.” – Zach Lauer
One of the toughest things to do in life is to take a look in the mirror, to truly judge yourself and your abilities and then to realize you’re not doing enough. In fact, that you’re doing just enough to get by.
This was Zach Lauer’s life and he freely admits he took a good look inside and saw he needed to make a change – to transform his outside world into all that it could be.
“It was October of 2017,” says Zach. “I attended one of the USHEALTH Advisors Leaders Meetings and I looked around and saw all these people who were super successful. I asked myself, ‘are they better than me?’ “The answer was no, and it was at that moment, for the first time, I could really be super reflective and realize I was not doing enough. I wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunity. Even though I saw with my Dad, Murph, who had been so successful in the insurance world and with this company, but I never really saw it for myself. That meeting really changed my career. I did more business from October to the end of 2017 then I had done the entire year up to that point.”
We all have turning points, sometimes it’s that spark that ignites the flame of possibility. But Zach knew the road to success, to get to the life he desired would mean adding one ingredient, hard work. From a young age Zach realized maybe things had come too easy, or maybe, he had just been too easy on himself.
“I always had some natural talent and smarts,” says Zach. “I never really had to study super hard to get A’s in school. I really didn’t put in the work, or work as hard as I could of. I had been kind of lazy and rested on my God-given abilities, so growing up my whole idea of working hard was to find the way to do the least amount of work and make the most money. I honestly worked hard to try and figure out that system, but now I honestly work hard! It’s the hard work that makes the difference.”
“The first year at USHA I worked a 9-to-5 day, Monday to Friday, no weekends. I didn’t stay late, I figured I would just try and see what I wanted to do. This was a fall back for me and I didn’t come out of the gate strong and really get my butt to work.”
But in October of 2017, all of that changed and Zach understood purpose could be more important than profits.
“I needed to do more and that more looked like a lot more time,” says Zach. “The 9-to-5 wasn’t cutting it. I was pretty good on the phone, but not spending enough time doing it. And at the same time, I started eating healthier and working out – and started to build those disciplines that carried over to my disciplines in this career. I knew I had a lot more to give so I took an internal look at myself and decided to become a harder worker and to coach others.
‘My why went from – I don’t want to work hard and just make a lot of money – to the money is there, I want to impact other people and take their lives to places they never dreamed they could go.”
It was a big change from Zach’s earlier dream in life, which was to play ball. Yet life itself is a dream and a game – and that game can change in an instant.
“I played baseball almost my entire life,” says Zach. “I was an infielder, played travel baseball at 10-years-old, played through high school, mostly at 2nd base or shortstop and then had a decision to make about college, whether to attend a smaller school and play ball or say goodbye to that dream and attend a really challenging academic university. I followed my dream and went to the small school and played every game as a freshman! But they saw potential in me to play the outfield so I decided to spend the summer in North Carolina with my assistant coach and play summer ball. I made the tough choice to give up my summer and then the coach proceeded to sit me on the bench the whole time, I got zero playing time at that position. After that experience and an interaction I had with my coach and assistant coach, I lost all respect and ended up quitting college baseball. It was probably the first and only thing I ever quit in my life.”
But if we learn lessons from our experiences and our past, then when one door closes, another opens. For Zach, it was going from a focus on bats and balls to books and business.
“I turned to academics full-time,” says Zach. “I thought about transferring schools, but I realized if I hunkered down I could graduate a year early. So that’s what I did, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a business administration degree in finance and management, while still working full-time and taking eighteen credits a semester.”
Zach says he graduated college with an interest in the stock market and investing and so decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and take a position with a broker-dealer. Zach moved to St. Louis, got his securities licenses, immersed himself in training and then moved back home to Bloomington, Illinois, to take on a financial services position in his hometown, complete with his own branch office and an assistant. What Zach came to find out was he was the 45th financial advisor in seven years in that office. Forty-five people had come and gone. Zach became number forty-six.”
“I was not mentally prepared for that type of career at that time,” remembers Zach. “I wasn’t mentally tough enough. It was frustrating for me because I was always a high achiever. I was good at putting game plans together for people, many times a phenomenal portfolio. I did what I thought I was supposed to do but could not get that person to invest, or really invest in me. Having that happen over and over again made me check out. I didn’t know at the time how to take responsibility for myself. I was 22, too young. I thought I had the answers for everyone else, but I was not a point in my life mature enough to find the answers for myself.”
Looking for more answers, Zach entertained a stint in IT consulting, only to have it end at less than a year into the career. “I lasted eleven months at that job,” says Zach. “I hated every minute of it.”
In a search for something to love, Zach realized it was only a heartbeat away. He realized his father, Murph, had been doing something his dad loved for more than a decade, so maybe it was time to give it a shot. Murph Lauer had been working in the insurance industry and most recently as a Division Leader with USHEALTH Advisors.
“I always had in the back of my mind to try this,” says Zach. “So I secured my health and life license and moved out to Phoenix. I quit my job in July of 2015, then moved out here that same month. I then worked out of my apartment through the end of the year, which was just brutal. I had no structure, no accountability. I wasn’t committed when I started, this was a fall back for me and I didn’t come out of the gate and get my ass to work. My dad told me if I was serious about this I was going to have to move somewhere where there’s an office and go in and work. I really didn’t get going until January of 2016, so in my mind that’s when I really started what I would call, working!”
Zach says a lot has changed since he started putting in the effort, not only with him but with the people around him, including his girlfriend Chaila, who moved out to Phoenix with Zach and has been an integral part of his success.
“My balance in life is to work a lot and keep Chaila happy, with few complaints. We work at it and try and be the best version of ourselves with each other.”
There’s also been the change in the office, which Zach says keeps changing for the better.
“Five years ago this Phoenix office was really, really small, not the same energy and culture we have today. My Field Sales Leader Lisa O’Brien and Satellite Division Leader Dan Eddington are great. Lisa and I work so well together. I might miss some details, but Lisa never does!”
“And it’s the culture that has been the biggest change. Culture is the most important thing. If you have the right culture you can do the things you want to do, but without the right culture you can recruit a million people and they won’t be here after a month or two. Culture is what has clicked with me. The culture here is palpable. I’ve had other agents come here to visit and they let me know it’s just a completely different environment for them. People want to work 60-hours-a-week here, I’m not dragging people in and say you have to be here or else. The culture speaks for itself and if you are not putting in the work, you know it. The people who are not on board yet know it, you either embrace what we have going on here, or you won’t survive. We have a pretty good track record of getting people to hit their milestones and I don’t believe it’s the best training or the leads. I believe it’s a phenomenal culture and these people just buy-in.”
For Zach, life has become a very different game than the one he played on the diamond, yet he learned so much from that sport about discipline and failure. Now it’s about working through any failure with reflection, introspection and expectations about the future.
“I talk to every person on my team before they contract and let them know what the expectations are,” says Zach. “I let them know I will commit to them if they will commit to me. But I also let them know I’m not here to manage them. If someone tells me they are going to be here at 7 am and they’re not here, I’m not cracking the whip to make them come in. I’m here to train, motivate, inspire and to lead. If you want to come here at 10 am and leave at 3 pm, I’m not managing you. But you’ll soon see, it’s not gonna work. We’re not trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes here. I tell them, ‘this is what you told me you signed up for.’ “It’s always really weird to me when they don’t want to do what they signed up to do.”
We’re all 100% responsible for the quality of our lives and Zach says he’s here to help others accept that responsibility and help them build on it, by being the person that invests in others, a person they can rely on to be there when someone needs him.
“I think what really makes me tick – and I’ve narrowed down what I feel like my purpose in life is – is to make a positive impact in people’s lives. I want other people, whether they’ve just met me and known me for two minutes, two years or two decades, to think Zach made a positive impact on my life and changed my life for the better.”
It’s the very definition of success. For success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do with theirs.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
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