ode to Joe Ragsdale…

My father dropped out of college his freshman year when he and my mother got married. He started as an insurance sales man when he was 23 years old.

Within a year or so of learning how to sell Insurance, he became the number one sales person in the company he worked for ? for many years in a row he was either #1 or #2 in his company, out of a few hundred sales men.

When I was 4 years old, (he was 28) we moved to Nebraska where he opened his own agency for the insurance company he represented ? although he had absolutely no business experience ? within a couple years, his agency was number two in the country for the company.

When I was 19, I took 6 months off after my freshman year in college and sold insurance for him ? it is definitely the hardest job I ever had ? and those 6 months had a massive impact (a wake up call) on my life.

Selling insurance in America ? You have leads, basically an address and a person?s name (his company sells to only people 65 or older) and then you drive to their house ? knock on the door ? as soon as the door opens ? you push it open and you step in the house and introduce yourself ? the person you are going to pitch has no idea who you are or what you want ?but you do a quick intro and try and control the conversation ? get them to sit down at the table and then you ?pitch? them.

The object is to ?close them? ? have them sign a contract for a health insurance policy and get them to give you a check for several thousand dollars ?and then you leave the house ?and hope and pray that these people do not cancel their policy in the next 3 months ?and/or have a competitor sales person show up and get them to cancel you?

I remember the first lady I ever pitched ? sweet woman who at the end of my terrible pitch said ?thank you?we will be in touch?? stood up, went to the kitchen, and brought me a plate of cookies ? she did not buy from me, but at least I had made a new friend.

I was terrible ? because I was just a nice kid who made a lot of friends ? but rarely sold.

The job of an insurance sales man is 1,000 times harder than the job my sales men or women do.

Insurance sales men have NO basic salary (all naseba sales people have a basic salary) ? insurance sales men have no company health plan ? no office and fellow colleagues ? only their car and their leads?

About 12 years ago, my father got betrayed by 2 of his best sales men and his office manager.

These three people had worked for him for many many years and all three had come from nothing ? and my father had developed each into making a lot of money (my dad had a massive positive impact on these people?s lives).


So one day my father woke up and discovered that the office manager and his two top sales men stole his database of all his clients ? and set up a company doing the exact same thing.

My father had been out of the day to day selling for many years ? he was the General Agent of the 2nd biggest revenue generating office in the company?.and was not involved with sales anymore.

Betrayal is never fun ? but I can remember vividly my father saying to me on the phone: ?We are going to see how good they really are?? (he was talking about his 2 top sales agents whom he had developed and trained ? taken brilliant care of for many years only to be screwed by them) ?

These people had lied to all his other sales people and got them to quit ? essentially, they did not steal just his database of clients ? but they also stole 17 sales men from him.

At the time, my father was in his mid 50?s ? but immediately he got back in the car and started selling? and what seemed like ?instantly? he became the number one sales person in the company – again.

He went about ?crushing? those people that screwed him over by focusing on succeeding, selling and selling and selling?

These three people failed miserably ? and within two years, the 3 people who betrayed my father ?one went to the state prison for several years for stealing (he stole from several of his clients); the other top sales person cheated on his wife with the office manager?s daughter, thus his wife divorced him and then he had a massive heart attack; the office manager ?she went bankrupt (all three went bankrupt).

Six years ago ? my parents semi-retired from Nebraska to Florida.

Florida is the state in America that has the most people 65 years or older ? thus the insurance industry in Florida has many insurance sales people and therefore many competitors ? as well as strict regulations ? the client can cancel their policy when ever they want ?
I think being an insurance sales man in Florida is one of the hardest sales jobs there is.
From my experience ? many great sales men ? once they become a manager ? they have a hard time getting back on the phone again (back into sales again)?they essentially retire from sales ? most never become great again.

My father was once one of the top General Agent for his company ? he had his own agency with 20+ staff ? he was out of sales for years.

Although my Dad is now 63 years old, he works for his first boss. I do not know many people who could go from being a big boss back to a sales man working for their first boss, however, to ensure that he and my mom can maintain a great lifestyle and preparing for retirement ?every day he is selling insurance.

My wife and kids went to Florida for 2 weeks this summer ? during those 2 weeks, I do not remember my father missing a day of work ? and he is his own boss, he does not have to go out every day ? but every day he was up and out of the house by 8am.

I am amazed and very proud at how he swallowed his pride and has become, once again, one of the top sales people in his company.

My father is a big inspiration for me and what opportunities I have today are because of many sacrifices he and my mom made for me.


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