WRITTEN BY Taryn Wood
The following is an edited excerpt from Bruce Johnson’s book, Earn It, Own It.
Eighteen years ago, I was doing fairly well as a commercial producer with a large corporate insurance agency in Tampa, Florida. It was a quality agency with a good reputation and a great group of people.
While I was comfortable, it seemed like something was missing. I wasn’t excited about going to work every day and was even less excited about the mandatory weekly sales meeting. I was also playing it safe. While I probably could have sustained an average or above average career there, it wouldn’t have been the robust life I really wanted.
I’d been there about four years, hitting my meager sales goal each year, which was only about $50,000 in new revenue. One day my boss called me into his office — a large corner office in a downtown high-rise overlooking the Tampa skyline. While he’d always treated me fairly, the situation was still a little intimidating. You see, my boss was a super sharp and successful corporate CEO. He stood six-feet-seven, had silver hair, and wore a perfectly tailored suit every day.
I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous.
We sat down at a corner table and reviewed my latest numbers. Then, we mutually agreed there was no reason my new goal shouldn’t be $100,000 in new revenue. It really wasn’t a topic for debate. We both knew I had some potential, and I definitely received the message loud and clear.
I’d heard about IOA and had been pondering it in the back of my mind for some time prior to that meeting. So, when I realized I was going to have to ramp up to hit this new goal anyway, I thought, “Why not do it at IOA?
I could be making more than what I’m making now within about two years, I’d have equity in my book, and I’d have complete control over my time and my future.” I was tired of making money for others while I was simply making ends meet.
Too good to be true
One reason I’d been reluctant to join when I first heard about IOA was that it sounded too good to be true. I wasn’t sure the promises would stand the test of time. But they were opening new offices, and when they opened one in my home city of Tampa, it began to seem like a viable option.
Bill Massaro, a local producer I had known and respected for many years, had recently joined IOA and was put in charge of growing the Tampa office, so I contacted him and arranged a meeting.
Over lunch, he asked me a lot of questions and told me about his story and why he had joined IOA. He also explained how everything worked and answered all of my questions. By the end of that lunch, I had made my decision and was beyond fired up to make the move. All that was left was to get the blessing of the founder, John Ritenour, who approved everyone who came on board in those earlier days.
I nervously made the two-hour drive to Altamonte Springs to meet with John. You see, I’d already decided to burn my bridges and join IOA no matter what it took. I was all in and 100 percent committed to doing this. But, I didn’t know John. What if he rejected me? It would suck, and I’d have to come up with another plan.
John decided to give me a shot.
I’m not sure if he actually saw some potential or took pity on me. Either way, I didn’t care. I was officially in, and it was the best feeling in the world! Starting over at IOA meant starting completely from scratch; I would have to start building my book one account at a time.
This didn’t bother me too much because I wasn’t crushing it financially anyway. I had also recently divorced for the second time and was starting my personal life over again, so in a sense, it was pretty good timing. I looked at the entire transition as sort of a clean slate and wondered how I was going to script my life going forward.
I wondered about the kind of life I really wanted to have. One thing was clear: it was up to me.
So, rather than overthink it, I just put my head down and started grinding away, hardly ever looking up. I made a little more progress every day. I focused on hitting singles and doubles, simply trying to survive and build a solid base. After three short years, I was making more than my former income and enjoying my newly earned freedom.
A life-changing choice
It was eighteen years ago when I made that fateful decision to bet on myself and join IOA, and I’ve never looked back. Today, I’m making more than seven times what I was making in that prior job. In addition, I have equity in my book of business, which just surpassed my long-term goal of $1 million in revenue.
Lord knows, there are many people much smarter and way more successful than I will ever be. I’m just trying to illustrate what’s possible for a regular person who’s willing to put in some relentless hard work and take a shot.
I now have complete control of my time and money. I wake up every morning and pinch myself — feeling truly blessed that this is my life. I have no boss waiting for me at the office. I can play hooky or hit the beach if I want.
Instead, I usually wake around 5:00 a.m., eat a clean breakfast, and then enjoy some coffee while taking in the amazing water view from our balcony. Then I’ll organize my plan for the day, make calls, or send emails from my remote home office, check in with my awesome team at IOA to see if they need anything, and then I head out to work on my business.
In the past, I was never in this position nor had this opportunity. It’s an amazing feeling to help others and make a difference in someone’s life. When we take the focus off “me” and place it on others, it’s truly incredible the doors that God will open up.
You see, the motivation for me is different now. I hustle because I want to, because I choose to, and because I’ve been blessed to be part of this amazing company that allows me to.
To learn more about transforming the way you do business, read Bruce Johnson’s new book: Earn It, Own It.