Being a good advisor is more than just making contacts; it’s also about opening yourself to new ideas and building up your self-esteem. A January 2021 webinar hosted by the U.S. and Canadian Community Leaders and moderated by Juli Y. McNeely, CFP, CLU, a 14-year MDRT member from Spencer, Wisconsin, USA, featured advice for advisors from Vanessa Y. Bucklin, MBA, CLU, an eight-year MDRT member from Conrad, Montana, USA; Alison Murdock, a nine-year MDRT member from San Diego, California, USA; and Regina Bedoya, CLU, ChFC, a 28-year MDRT member from Juno Beach, Florida, USA.
McNeely: Let’s talk about influencers, mentors in your life. We all can look back and say, “Oh my gosh, they just made such an impact,” and sometimes it takes us a while to realize the impact that someone made on our lives.
Bucklin: I have many mentors, both inside and outside the profession. It’d be a long list of people who I’d want to acknowledge, but I think back to the basketball coach John Wooden, who said, “You can never outperform your inner circle.” I think about that a lot when I’m asked about mentors, because MDRT is a perfect example for that. You are surrounding yourself with the best advisors in the world, and if you’re watching what they do, how they connect to clients, how they build trust, this is the best platform to have that connection and have those mentors right there with you.
Murdock: Being second generation, I had incredible mentors in my family and in the business whom I was able to learn and grow from. It’s funny when it’s family as well, you feel this need to define yourself. It was an interesting mentorship because not only was I able to learn, but it inspired me to go out and expand and provide my own element of value within the family business.
MDRT is a huge part of that mentorship for me as well. It’s not just formal and official things; it’s the little conversations that you get to have when you’re at an event and the willingness of people to answer questions and allow you to grow. There’s nothing quite like it, and I value every single time I’m able to have an interaction with anyone from MDRT.
Bedoya: In my case, my primary mentor, especially at the beginning of my career, was my general manager, the man who hired me. His name was Charlie Smith. He was one of my greatest mentors throughout the first five years of my career. He later retired to accept a position with Finseca, and my primary mentor became a colleague, Brian Kazinec. We did a lot of joint work together, and I learned the practical part of our business from him.
Over the last 27 years and as an MDRT member, I’ve been fortunate, just like all of us here, to be able to learn and grow from others. I love what Addie said about having just an informal conversation with someone at a break during a meeting. Those moments, those opportunities to learn and acquire knowledge and experience through others is our DNA within MDRT.
McNeely: What is something that took you awhile to learn when you first started?
Bedoya: We should not try to be all things to all people. We need to find what part of the business we really enjoy and that we are good at. We need to find prospects who can relate to us because we have something in common. It is easier to be trusted when there are common interests or experiences. Focus on those areas of the business, and do it better than anyone else.
Bucklin: In any industry, nothing replaces hard work. That’s a realization that we know upfront. Discipline, drive — all those things are free to anyone that wants to put in that effort and energy. You can do it, and it doesn’t cost you anything. There are no shortcuts in this business. You get out what you put in, and that’s back to hard work and dedication.
McNeely: I’d like to also talk a little bit about confidence. I have often said, and I’ve heard lots of other people say, that sometimes confidence is a difficult thing for women in particular to master. How did you find your confidence?
Murdock: Confidence is much like a marriage: It’s a work in progress. You don’t just get confident and then stay confident. You have to remind yourself to keep trying and to build it and hold onto it. There are certain things that I do to refine that craft. One is something that my kids tease me for, and that’s when I use this phrase, “Find the good.” Instead of a devil’s advocate, you play an angel’s advocate. You look at any circumstance, even the worst circumstance, and you try to come up with the positive. Find the good. Find the thing that was the good part of it.
The more you do that, the more you build confidence, the more you feel like, “Well, there was something positive out of that, and I had an impact on that.” As I’m brushing my teeth at night, I often think of, What did I do well today? As I get better at my job, that list grows, and I feel more confident. I go to sleep not worrying about all the weight of the world on my shoulders. I go to sleep thinking, Wow, I crushed it today. And I wake up feeling a lot better.
Bucklin: Confidence is just simply the belief in yourself, and you actually build that confidence through failure. You’re making mistakes, and you’re learning from them.
When I made mistakes and I had challenges, I tried to fall forward so that I learned from them, and I could continue that forward movement instead of having that failure crush me.
It’s also built with hard work, like I mentioned before. If in the business they say you should make 10 calls in a day, I would make 12 calls. And if they say, “Be here at 8 a.m.,” I’d be there at 7 a.m. It’s that momentum that you’re building, and that confidence that develops from that hard work and putting that practice in place.