Learning humility and perseverance from a former roofer

//July 16, 2012

Learning humility and perseverance from a former roofer

//July 16, 2012

From his vantage point, he regularly observed very well-dressed people walking in and out of the brick antebellum offices below. He could also see the parking lot, and he noticed that they drove pretty nice cars, too.

When he ascended and descended the ladder, he couldn’t help but noticing the beautiful offices on the other side of the panes. His curiosity piqued, he committed to finding out what these people did. He saw that one guy, in particular, arrived at the office a little earlier than others and stayed a little later. Lee decided this would be the guy he’d ask.

The next day, he arrived at the job site dressed a little better than usual. It didn’t take long before a familiar car turned into the lot. As the man exited his car and neared the office door, Lee approached him and introduced himself as the guy working on the building and asked the question that had been burning in his mind.

The man said he was the president and that the company sold health insurance plans to large employers. The former Marine took a liking to Lee immediately but was unprepared for his next question.

“Could I learn to do what you do?”

Lee had asked it with such earnestness and determination that it almost wasn’t a question. It was really more of a statement: “I CAN learn to do what you do.” The impact wasn’t lost on the man destined to become his employer.

A few weeks later, Lee parked his car in the lot. He wasn’t there to fix the building – he was there to start work.

In the interim, he had bought his first suit, read up on the industry and tried to study sales. The former Marine was a tough boss but fair. He had high standards and expectations.

They weren’t, however, higher than those Lee had for himself. This was his chance to change everything – and it showed.

Lee was a sponge. He read books on sales, attended seminars and interviewed top sales people in both his and other industries. In training classes, he listened, participated and applied every suggestion offered. Those who worked for him he kept and improved upon. He also became a repository of insurance expertise.

He boldly applied the same courage he demonstrated in approaching the CEO of the agency to cold calling business owners throughout his territory. In short order, Lee was a top producing sales representative.

His book of business swelled and became the envy of the agency. His customers – some of the most successful people and companies in the state – appreciated his humility, willingness to try to solve their problems, determination and expertise. They were thrilled to meet with him and provided multiple referrals to people like themselves.

Lee had gone from handyman to CEO adviser.

That’s not all that changed. His suits improved. His ride improved. He bought a home and a vacation retreat. He was able to make investments.

All this from a simple question: “Can I learn to do what you do?”

Can we learn what Lee does? It’s not insurance. It’s humility, drive, perseverance, a desire to learn, a willingness to serve, a willingness to change and an ambition to be excellent at what we do.

More than learning what Lee does – can we apply it?

Lee called last week just to “check in.”

He accepted the presidency of an agency just eight years after coming down from the roof.