IT IS 5 A.M., and Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC, has gotten up for a distinctly non-glamorous opportunity: carrying someone else’s drums. The year is 1999, and the now-20-year MDRT member from Exeter, New Hampshire, has volunteered to serve as a roadie for the MDRT band — did you know there are MDRT bands? — at his first Annual Meeting. Considering everything Gagne has achieved since, the physical, thankless role is the epitome of “You have to start somewhere.”
In the past 20 years, Gagne, an 11-time Top of the Table qualifier who serves as the 2020 Top of the Table Advisory Board Chair and Global Council Member, has taken on so many volunteer roles that he can’t list them all. But he sure remembers a lot of them: serving on numerous MDRT committees, the MDRT Foundation Board and, most recently, acting as the Global Council Member of PGA and PDC for both the 2019 MDRT Annual Meeting and Global Conference.
In Gagne’s new role, he oversees the committees within Top of the Table, striving to implement a strategic plan focused on engaging the 3,000 members year-round, not just the 300 who attend the Top of the Table Annual Meeting.
This will be done through year-round content generation in digestible formats, establishing committees like the Benchmarking Committee and connecting with the “life cycle” of the Top of the Table member. That cycle charts the transition to being a business owner, growing as a business owner and establishing a succession plan for the business.
Perhaps you’re wondering how Gagne, who manages a staff of five and works with retirees and pre-retirees, could possibly have time for all of these commitments on top of his work as an advisor and time with his family. In 2009, Gagne was focused on that issue as well while worrying that client meetings and other work-related tasks were leaving his family with the leftovers.
So he reverse-engineered his schedule, first blocking out his calendar based on his three kids’ school- and sports-related events, then planning his vacation time, and then filling the remaining time with clients. The newfound balance, along with making a priority of volunteering, forced Gagne to be more efficient and revenue-focused in his practice. He also got to spend five weeks traveling around the U.S. with his wife and kids (at the time 13, 10 and 9) in their RV, a trip highlighted by taking a family picture in front of Mount Rushmore.
“I still remember the overwhelming feeling of being blessed to be able to do something like that with my family and how fortunate we are,” he said.
Of course, Gagne, who entered the financial services profession in 1992 but did not make it to MDRT until 1999 when he began specializing, feels grateful for countless unforgettable experiences. That includes being present for $1 million given to charities around the world through the MDRT Foundation and nurturing a new group of MDRT leaders, with the pride of seeing a member go from committee member to Main Platform Chair.
There was also the time a member he didn’t know sought him out to say how their life was changed by a Focus Session Gagne presented years before.
“That was one of the most humbling and gratifying moments I can think of in my tenure with MDRT,” he said. “I think sometimes we take for granted the knowledge we have and don’t want to share it because we think we all know it. The secret sauce is the sharing and giving of information. MDRT is the best study group on the planet.”
Gagne notes how his kids (now 22, 19 and 18) have embraced volunteering themselves, coming along with him to Make-a-Wish events and later supporting the organization on their own. And that he simply wants to continue supporting MDRT in any position for which he’s seen as being best suited, reflected in moving back and forth between leadership and support roles throughout his time volunteering.
“If you’ve ever thought of volunteering, get off the sidelines and get in the game. It will change you,” Gagne said. “Don’t be shy. All you have to do is ask.”