TWO Lessons I Learned from my 2nd Year with Aflac!

March 7th, 2020 marks two years in my journey with Aflac! When I started with Aflac in March of 2018, I constantly heard veteran agents say that it takes three years to grow a good sized book of business. Even though I wanted to fast forward my career to be a third-year agent, all I could do was take it one day, one week, one quarter, one year at a time.  After my first official year with Aflac I knew that I was fully committed to making Aflac my career. I was dedicated to making my second year better than my first and to set myself up for a great third year.

Looking back at my second year there are two lessons that I learned through the process. Two lessons that I will take with me as I dive headfirst into my third year with Aflac.

  1. Building Strong Business Relationships

I remember preparing my work goals for 2019 and saying that I want to build my Aflac business on relationships. I had spent a whole year building my business on cold calls and I didn’t want to rely on that again. A few days later I got a phone call about a networking group that was starting in Valdosta, GA called Business Network International. After I attended the interest meeting, I was a member!

The group was focused on making referrals but also taught a whole lot about building strong business relationships. Being a part of this group really helped me direct all my focus on what strong business relationships look like. This was able to help me pivot my business from selling insurance to strangers to being confident in asking for referrals. I was able turn to people who liked me, people who knew me and people who trusted me to ask them for introductions to people who could be my potential customers.

This new mindset of relationships not only helped me get new clients but also helped me elevate my level of customer service. I started taking my relationships with my clients very seriously. I would save their cell and policy numbers to my phone so when they called, I knew exactly who it was. I kept a strict calendar to make sure I checked in with each one of my accounts every quarter to see if there was anything they needed. I even took the time to send my new clients a thank you card to let them know how much I appreciated being their Aflac agent.

  1. Owning the role of an Aflac agent

For whatever reason, my first year and some months with Aflac I was kind of embarrassed to say that I sell insurance. It honestly took me a while to get in my groove and to believe in the ‘Aflac dream’. It wasn’t until:

  1. I was able to help a few people with their Aflac claims
  2. Understand what 40 hours in the insurance world looks like on a weekly basis, and
  3. Have consistent income coming in every month from work that was put in the year before

that I was really proud to be an Aflac agent!

Once I was able to see these three things happen was when I really understood what it means to be an Aflac agent. I look back and don’t understand why it took me so long to be proud of what I do every day, but I think it is all a part of the journey.

Now when people ask what I do I am so proud to say I am an Aflac agent. When they ask what that consist of, I get to say that I help people file their claim when they have a sickness or accident. I have answered phone calls when a client is in the face of cancer and they haven’t told their significant other, they called me, their Aflac agent first. I have sat through meetings with the death certificate in my hand of a policyholder who passed away from cancer, and I get to be the agent who files their last year of cancer claims. I get to be the agent who sees small business grow, watches employees get promotions and see families who struggle with infertility bring their miracle babies home.

I get to be a small part in all these stories because I AM an Aflac agent. And now, in my second year as an agent, am proud of myself and all the other hard-working agents.

Now that my second year with Aflac has passed, I am nothing but eager and excited for what my third year has to offer. It has already taken unexpected twist and turns but I trust in the process. I can hold my head higher due to the lessons I learned in my first year and the take away from my second year. It means so much to be with such a caring company and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Stay happy & healthy,

Colleen Howard

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How to Keep a Winning Aflac Attitude When You Always Seem to Miss the Mark

In sales, you get four quarters to prove yourself to your ‘uplines’. That is 12 months, divided into four quarters with the same or similar goals each month. The set goals aren’t easy. The ‘uplines’ who set the goals want you to work hard. Harder than the year before, quarter before, or even month before. These goals are there to encourage you, push you, and test you. Sometimes if you hit some of the goals you may win cash prizes or even free trips.

But what happens when you try your best and you are consistent…consistently missing the mark? Yeah, I know how it feels. To pour everything out. To get better and better each quarter by beating your previous self but missing the one laid out in front of you. No matter if you are a first-year agent, second year DSC, third year RSC or a MD. Missing the mark is never easy.

I have missed more marks than makes I have hit but the one thing that has kept me going is my attitude.  Below are some of the things I do to keep a winning attitude when I pour everything out in the work week but still somehow seem to miss the mark.

  • When I have officially ‘failed’ I take ONE full day to be sad.
    • One day to sulk. That is it. Not an hour here or there throughout the week. Not a bad mood every night when we are getting close to the end. Save it all, build it all up for one day. Take one day and feel it. Really let it set in that you did everything, but you still came short. It is okay to let your body feel sad. It is a normally feeling that we need to feel! Allowing yourself to sulk in sadness for one day will allow you to really enjoy what it feels like to hit your goals and be happy. One day of sadness. That is it! Let it all out so that you can get back on your feet and get ready to step up your game the next quarter or year.
  • Be OFF!
    • Take one day on the weekend and DON’T THINK ABOUT WORK! A sales job can consume you if you allow it. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn because I love working. But we mentally need one whole day each week, where we do not think about work! Pick that day and enjoy it. Live it up. Turn off all your electronic work devises and just reconnect with you who are and why you work so hard to hit your goals!
  • Reflect and Redirect
    • Each Sunday night or before the sun rises Monday morning, I reflect on my past week and if I did everything possible to take a step closer to hitting my goals. If my number are still on track or if they are a little low. I look at how my attitude was throughout the week and if I had a winning mindset. I use the previous week to be a baseboard to redirect my mindset and attitude for the upcoming week. Setting aside this time (which can be less than five minutes) helps me to focus on the current goals and to get me excited to be one week closer to the finish line.
  • Keep the main thing the main thing.
    • Once you have come across the finish line but have no fancy-free trip, no cash prize or a plaque to hang on your wall, I remind myself of why I do what I do. Even when I have missed the mark, I remember the best part of this job is #1. Being about to help people and #2. Flexibility!
    • I look back and think of the people I have been able to impact. At the amount of money, I was able to help people process for claims. Think of the times I was able to lead a listening ear or give words of wisdom. I think of the times I was able to be flexible and live life to the fullest and not be stuck clocked in at an 8-5 job. I take time to remember that, yeah, I might have missed the mark, but I was able to grow, learn and get better at my job while building who I am as a person.

These four steps have helped me redirect my attitude after missing the mark all too often. In a world where failing can get the very best of us and steal our winning attitude, we must fight to keep winning at the forefront of our mind. We must set our own personal goals to keep us moving as we strive to achieve goals other set before us. Most importantly we are not alone! Someone knows how you feel, they have been where you are and trust me, everyone wants to see you win! It starts with choosing to keep a winning mindset no matter what.

Love, Your Aflac sister who will NEVER settle for less than the best!

p.s. when you know this feeling I am talking about. When you know how deep it hurts because of how bad you wanted it, reach out to someone who missed the mark as well. Tell them at least one way that you saw them grow. Encourage them that they are not alone. Thank them for how they contributed to the team effort. Tell them that they can keep going and growing no matter what the current results say. Remind them that they are worth it, this career is worth it, and the policy holders we serve are worth it! We are all in this fight to keep a winning mind set together.

 

Accepted, Now What?

The biggest question we have been asked is “Since Adam has been accepted into medical school, now what?”

Great question! Glad you asked! Let me tell you!
Now we wait….

Haha, for real. It is that simple. Adam applied in early admission. Which means he was one of the first in the 2020 medical school application process to be accepted into Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). In the application process we were prepared to have Adam apply to close to 20 medical schools and not know an answer until summer of 2020 if he gets accepted and where we will move to. Finding out he has been accepted and knowing where we will be as of October 1st has given us so much more time back than we were prepared to wait!

The only definite plan we have is that we plan to move to the Savannah area by July 2020. Until then Adam will continue to work at Valdosta Orthopedic Associates (VOA), and I will continue to build my business with Aflac. We know for sure that I will transfer my job to the Savannah Aflac region by July 2020, but it could happen sooner rather than later. Change is always happening in the insurance world! All I can control is how hard I work and to take positions that will be best for Adam and my career. With that being said, we will continue to live and grow in Valdosta unless an opportunity opens for me to transfer my job before July 2020. Valdosta has grown to be our home! We have friends that turned to family and we don’t want to rush into our next season until getting the most out of where we are now.

Below are some questions we have been getting asked that are just easier to answer in question format!

“When will we be moving to Savannah, GA?” -anytime between Jan-July 2020.

“What type of doctor does Adam what to be” – right now Adam is open to seing what is out there and finding the best fit for himself in medicine!

“Where will we live” – not sure yet, depends on where I (Colleen) get placed for work but somewhere in the Savannah region. We would ideally like to downsize to an apartment complex that has a pool and dishwasher!

“Is the next step kids” – haha nope! Check back later

“Do you know people in Savannah” – we have two college friends, one childhood friend family, one camp friend, and one of my best friends’ mom that are all in the Savannah area! So, we are not going to a town where we know NO-body, but we will feel like we are starting from scratch.

“How long will we be in Savannah” – four years

“Will we move back to Valdosta after his school?” – this is a hard question because we really don’t know. After our four years in Savannah, Adam will apply to residency programs. Residency programs last 3-5 years and will be his first paid position out of medical school. The programs he applies to can be anywhere in the country. He has mentioned that a great orthopedic residency is in Memphis, TN so that could be where we go next. But as for Valdosta, we wouldn’t mind moving back after school is all said and done, but that is just too far away to tell.

“How much student loans will we take on?” – as little as possible! Adam will be applying for a scholarship that will waive his medical school fees if he works four years in a rural community after medical school. We are praying and speaking into being that he will get this scholarship! If that is the case, we will do everything possible to live on my income alone and avoid taking on any debt. If he does not get awarded the scholarship, we are looking about $42,000 which is the average cost of Mercer medical school per year.

“Will we switch from Blazer fans to Bear (Mercers mascot) fans?” -not at all. Since Adam will be attending classes over 100 miles from the main campus, we will not be active in much school spirit at all. We will be proud mercer supporters for the education and opportunity it has given Adam to pursue his dreams, but go Blazers for life!

“What hospital will Adam be doing rounds at?” – Adam will be doing a lot of learning at Memorial Health University Medical Center

“Are we excited for what is to come?” – 100% yes. We know there will be a lot of work and transition we both will endure for Adam to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, but we both know it will be worth it when he gets to be a huge help in patients healing process.

If you have any other questions that have not been answered please let me know in the comments!

Love,

Your favorite millennial couple that are running after their dreams

  • Colleen & Adam Howard

 

The Call!

He did it! Or should I say, “God did it!” After Adam’s interview at Mercer University School of Medicine in Savannah, GA, we made our way back to Valdosta and waited. We knew that Adam felt very confident about the interview but now everything was out of his control and all we could do was trust that God had our steps planned for us. Adam told me that if he got accepted, he would get a phone call by October 1st, if he got deferred or declined, he would know by email. We woke up every day beyond excited and with overwhelming peace that he did the best he could.

Wednesday evening, September 25th around 6:15pm, I was on the phone with a co-working discussing work and Adam called. I hit decline so that I could finish the conversation. Well Adam called again about two minutes later. Since it is very odd for Adam to call back to back, I asked my co-worker to hold so I could make sure everything with Adam was okay. When I answered a little concerned due to the back to back phone call, but as soon as he said, “babe, guess what phone call I just got” I knew he got the acceptance phone call and I busted out crying tears of pure joy.

Adam was officially accepted into medical school!

Adam came home and celebrated while playing a round of disc golf while I was at hot yoga. I somehow made it through hot yoga literally crying the whole time because I was so happy. After both of our hobby outings we celebrated with good fast food and an episode of Scrubs. He had worked so hard the past two years getting closer to this step and it officially happened!

We can not thank you all enough for your prayers and support through this season of our life.

Love your favorite millennial couple, the Howards!

 

Interview Day in Savannah, GA

I had the ability to go with Adam for his big Mercer University School of Medicine interview. We road tripped from Valdosta to Savannah Wednesday night. Luckily, we were able to visit with and stay with our good college friends Kyle and Caroline! Once we arrived and visited with them we got to bed quickly so Adam would be well rested for his big day.

We woke up and left for his 9am interview around 7:30 am. Traffic was rough getting into Savannah which is why we left so early! We pulled in around 8:15 am and found exactly where Adam needed to be. With just about 30 minutes left before he needed to be dropped off, we searched around for a quick breakfast. Just a few blocks away from the Mercer building was an old fashion bakery called Baker’s Pride. We both grabbed a bite and enjoyed observing the locals in their natural habitat.

After the breakfast, I dropped Adam off and watched and prayed as he walked into this state-of-the-art building for the biggest interview of his life. I had from 9am until 2pm to fill my day! Of course, I started my day off by doing my quiet time and prayer in the Savannah’s beautiful square called Kavanaugh Park! After that I headed down to River Street and treated myself to a great breakfast at the famous Two Cracked Eggs Café. There I got into a good conversation with the owner who told me he is opening his second location the very next day!

After breakfast I headed to a bridesmaid’s dress appointment, I had for an upcoming wedding. After taking about 12 minutes to pick out a dress, I walked over to Starbucks to spend the rest of my time until heading to pick Adam up! I was a nervous wreck. Luckily, I had some networking partners from BNI call to chat which helped take my mind off things for a few hours. Once 1pm hit, I wanted to get back to the campus to pick Adam up in case they got done early. This gave me a chance to go inside and look around the building.

I only had to wait about 20 minutes until I got to see the whole interview group walk out on what looked like a tour of the building. Then they sat and had a last chance to ask questions before they wrapped everything up and the interview was done! Now the fun part of exploring Savannah together.

Adam wanted to relax after the interview (who could blame him?). We headed back down to River Street and made our first stop at a cute French bakery for coffee and a chocolate croissant. Following that we walked in and out of the store fronts on the river. The weather was perfect, and it was just crowded enough to be busy but not packed. Once we walked a little, we worked up an appetite and found a restaurant with a top balcony. There we enjoyed a few drinks and a calamari appetizer.

Following the appetizer, we drove to Forsyth park and walked around. This was the first time Adam had been and he loved the relaxed, diverse and entertaining feel that it held. Once we walked a bit, we headed into a coffee shop right across the street to grab another cup and to take in the day. Once we got enough of the city feel, we headed back to Caroline and Kyle’s house. We caught them up on our day and then ordered pizza and wings for dinner.

The next morning, we had a good amount of time to play around with. Adam was mad that I went to Two Cracked Eggs by myself! I told him that I went to try it out and that I was perfectly okay with going again. Yet, we were able to go to the opening day of the second location of the Two Cracked Eggs and be the very first customers! We had no wait where the other location had a 45-minute wait, and we were told our cash will be hanging up on the wall. After our delicious meal, we snapped a picture with the owner and headed on our way.

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Our next stop was to Pooler, GA. There we got to explore their disc golf course and Adam was able to throw a few holes! It was such a beautiful park with so much to do. There were very diverse families hanging around and enjoying nature. While in Pooler we checked out the Tanger Outlet Mall. Of course, we could not get out of there without spending money! Luckily, the Asics store was doing a BOGO sale and we were both in need of new shoes. We were able to both walk out in bran new and super comfortable kicks.

On our last stop, we grabbed lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries then headed on our way to Ocilla, GA for Adam to take care of Clinch County football team. Adam’s team lost but endured a good game. Once Adam’s job was complete, we headed up to Conyers, GA to spend time with Adam’s family.

Our experience in Savannah was great. We could just feel in air that it was a town we would be okay with moving too. It was exciting, fast but calm and relaxing all at the same time! Somehow it felt like the most important day of our lives so far but also a relaxing get-away. We simply loved it! Now we look forward to spending four years in the Savannah area.

Thanks again for all of the prayers and support that you gave us on this trip to Savannah, GA!

Much love from your favorite millennial couple, The Howards!