Unleashing The Power Of One

Over the years I have written about the Power of One and the incredible achievements that are made possible by simply doing one more_____. You fill in the blank. It can be as simple as making one additional dial, or making one additional contact, or better yet setting one more appointment in a phone session. It can be running one additional appointment per week or making one additional sale per week or month. The beauty associated with the Power of One is that it does not matter whether you are the newest producer or the most veteran President’s Club Leading Producer. When projected out over an entire year it can really add up. In terms of long term care insurance, an extra (placed) sale per week can be worth $200,000 in additional placed premium, which, at an 80 percent placement rate, can translate to $130,000 cold hard cash in your bank account. This can translate to college tuition, new car, vacation home, or anything else that currently has the spotlight in your life.

We have all heard about how monumental the difference one degree of temperature can make in water. At 211 degrees water is hot and will scald you. However, at 212 degrees, it boils. With boiling water comes steam, and steam can power a locomotive. Harnessing this power changed our country and fueled our historical Manifest Destiny as East and West were united.

What is required to achieve the Power of One or the extra degree of 212? Focus. Attention to detail. Diligence and repetition. Desire and vision. Sometimes it requires sacrifice. When I was in college, I dated a girl with whom I shared a passion for bowling. Many of our Friday and Saturday nights were spent at the lanes. I was what we would euphemistically refer to as a “streaky” shooter. I could rattle off five or six strikes in a row and then narrowly miss just as many spares. One night I was with my family and bowled three games: 109, 234, 109. Like I said, streaky.

One day while still in college I got off of work early and, with time to kill before picking up my girlfriend, I headed to the lanes. Because I was the only one in the place, the very bored counterman elected to keep score for me. I generally loved bowling by myself because if I was in a “groove” I really wanted to throw the balls down the alley just as quick as the pinsetter could reset the pins. I was hot that day, and by the 7th frame I was flirting with perfection. A few people had straggled in and were standing at the counter as they watched the score sheet projected up on the ceiling. While I was clearly in the zone, I was also aware of the soft buzz emanating from the counter. I threw my eighth ball for a strike, and my heart started racing, and the buzz grew a little louder. After the ninth set of pins all went down I could feel the blood coursing through my ears and I actually had to take some deep breaths to batten down some of the adrenalin that was really starting to cascade through my entire body.

The first ball of the tenth frame took all the pins down and I stomped the floor and pumped my arm as the crowd at the counter started hooting and howling. It was at this point that I allowed myself to first think about the personalized bowling ball and bag that had been promised me by my girlfriend if I ever bowled a perfect 300 game. I started to mentally pick out the color of the ball.

The second ball of the tenth frame was what I call a nervous strike. I had just missed the pocket and had to wait with bated breath while the five pin wobbled several times as it decided on whether it was going to go down and preserve the streak or disappoint the crowd. It fell, and I mentally chastised myself for nearly jinxing my success by thinking about the ball and bag.

At this point, the counterman is having to remind the crowd gathered at the counter and spread out behind me to be quiet because “he is one strike away from a 300 game.” Much like you don’t talk about a “no-no” when a major league baseball pitcher is flirting with either a perfect game or no-hitter, I physically winced when I heard his words.

I stood at the line, ball cradled in my hand, and began my approach, and as soon as I let go of the ball I knew that I had failed. The dream was gone. The result: the dreaded 7-10 split. Two pins on opposing sides of the lane. The disappointment expressed by the crowd was audible and when I rolled my final ball it went cleanly down the center of the lane missing both pins.

We didn’t bowl that night or many nights thereafter, and I did not share with my girlfriend how close I came to the elusive new ball and bag until the counterman blabbed about it some months later. That was some 43 years ago, and I still remember the feeling of that errant ball leaving my grip. It is the same feeling that I experience when my beloved Chicago Cubs narrowly miss out on an opportunity to win a single game or the division title over the course of a season.

The moral to that story is that I failed to achieve a desired outcome because I allowed myself to be distracted and to lose my focus. I have often wondered if I had remained alone without a crowd or had not gotten ahead of myself in assuming success, whether I might have enjoyed bragging rights all these years to a 300 game. Don’t miss out on qualifying for that leading producer conference, or MDRT qualification, because you take your eye off the ball. Put forth the extra effort that will get you over the top by employing the Power of One and achieving the power of 212 by attaining the extra power associated with that extra one degree. As we continue to age as a society, living longer and dying slower, the need associated with long term care has reached pandemic proportions. Our clients need to hear our words and to answer the call to action that you present to them. Remember that ninety percent of our business is belief, and the other half is activity.

There have been any number of books written that compare the disciplines of golf and big business. These books emphasize the necessity for consistency, preparation, and diligent practice. This is also what makes both disciplines often a winner-take-all scenario. Just as no one remembers who loses the Super Bowl or the World Series, much can be the same to all the professional golfers who have come in second to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods when each of them was dominant in the sport of golf.

For the financial advisor/insurance producer, success can sometimes be measured in terms as simple as either you get the deal, or you don’t; you write the case, or you don’t. But what if just a few small improvements, subtle changes, a tweak here or there, a focus on the Power of One or achieving that extra one degree to reach boiling temperature was enough to change your business and allow you to dominate your piece of the vineyard? Would you embrace these changes and be willing to perpetuate them if it meant sustainable growth and dominant success? Of course you would!

In 2011, Phil “Lefty” Mickelson was the second highest paid athlete with earnings in excess of $62M (with some $53M from endorsement contracts). In 2015, Lefty earned $51 million between PGA tour prize money as well as the numerous endorsement contracts that he has inked courtesy of a very diligent agent. His 18 hole per round stroke average was 70.5 for the 2015 campaign. That was good enough to usually keep him competitively at the top of the leaderboard in each tournament. His consistency contributed significantly to the degree of success he enjoyed despite the psoriatic arthritis with which he is afflicted.

I was curious to see how his earnings compared for the players who made up the lower tier of qualifiers on the PGA Tour. That same year, one such player was a man by the name of Roger Sloan. I had never heard of him and attributed it to the fact that I simply do not follow golf that closely. So, what kind of money did Roger earn during that same time period? About $133,000. Not too shabby for hitting a little ball around the course. He enjoyed no endorsement relationships back then and his per round stroke average was 72.5, or just about two strokes per round more than Mickelson. That is one extra swing on the front nine and one extra on the back nine. That is how competitive the tour remains to this day. Shoot, I would be thrilled to save one or two strokes each hole! For these guys however, one miscalculation or errant swing can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The two swings that Lefty kept in his bag was a differential of only 2.8 percent and yet was all the difference he needed to be a multi-millionaire.

In 2019, Sloan eclipsed the $1M in earnings, bringing his ten year career total to $1.845M. This year he has made the cut 17 of 27 times, finished in the top 25 7 times, top 10 three times, and has one second place finish. His current round score is now 71.034. That is the difference one stroke can make on the tour.

Getting back to 2015: Mickelson $51M v. Sloan $133K. By my calculations that is a differential of 383 times more money. Two fewer swings per round netted Mickelsen an extra $50M that year. Like the PGA golfer, small mistakes and miscues, a lapse of concentration, a bad decision, or failure to execute according to plan can be worth millions to you and your business.

So, what would a consistent 2.8 percent improvement on your placement rate, closing rate, lead conversion, referrals, submitted premium, placed premium mean to your business? Over the years I have seen producers just “miss the cut” in terms of qualifying for some incredible company-sponsored leading producer trips falling just short of either placed premium or an anemic placement rate. To this end, I remember an instance while I was employed as a Divisional Vice President, that I had been placed on alert by the Chief Sales Officer to be prepared to inform the number one producer in the company that she might not be eligible to attend the leading producers conference because of her 59 percent placement rate. The cut off was 60 percent, set in stone, and not influenced by the $600,000 of placed premium ($200,000 was the qualifying threshold) that she had achieved. Fortunately, a surge in the final two weeks of the year got her to 60.2 percent and I never had to have that ugly conversation. But imagine her reaction—anger, frustration, disappointment—that would have been directed at me when it was her failure to achieve the requisite standards. That was one ugly bullet I was very grateful to dodge.

Whether it is a diminished total of placed premium or a lack-luster placement rate, the absence of that extra one degree or effort to achieve the Power of One can be the difference between failure and success. Make the commitment to yourself, your clients, and your business that you will strive for the green jacket and put forth the extra effort that will make you a winner.

Don Levin, JD, MPA, CLF, CSA, LTCP, CLTC, is chairman of the board of the National Long Term Care Network and the managing general agent of PNW Insurance Services, a national brokerage which offers long term care insurance, short term recovery care, life insurance and annuities to the general public across the country. The long term care planning specialists and staff of PNWIS are proud to offer comprehensive individualized planning solutions to their clients while also working through a strategic alliance of financial planners, estate planning and elder law attorneys, CPAs, and other businesses and organizations.

Levin has been in the long term care industry since 1999, during which time he has been an award-winning agent, district manager, regional sales manager, marketing director, associate general agent, general agent, and divisional vice president. Levin is also a former practicing Attorney-at-Law, court-appointed arbitrator and is a retired U.S. Army officer.

In addition to his various law and life and health insurance licenses, and the above designations, Levin has also earned Green Belt certification through GE’s Six Sigma program, and is a graduate of GAMA International’s Essentials of Leadership and Management. He has also taught Managing Goal Achievement®, Integrity Selling® and The Way to Wealth® to hundreds of leaders and salespeople over the past fifteen years. He previously possessed FINRA Series 7, 24, and 66 licenses.

Levin earned his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, his MPA, from the University of Oklahoma, and his BA from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Defense Strategy Course, U.S. Army War College.

He is a published author of nine books in a wide range of genre.

Levin may be reached via telephone at (509) 348-0206. Email: dlevin@pnwis.com.