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Life Health > Running Your Business

From success to significance

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What motivates a successful advisor in his fifties? For Norm Carroll, the answer to that question has changed dramatically. I first met Norm Carroll in 2002, when I was launching our Practice Development Program, sponsored by Great West Life. Norm was one of 32 President?? 1/2 s Council qualifiers who signed up for the program. He is still in the program today.

During the last five years, the meaning Norm derives from his work has changed dramatically. In our initial interview, Norm explained that his primary motivation was to keep his production level in the top 10 of the President?? 1/2 s Council. Like most top advisors, Norm is very competitive. Maintaining a top 10 position was becoming more difficult, as Norm was the only producer in his office. The challenge of selling, managing staff and running his business was becoming overwhelming.

He is now in a totally different place in his work and his life. Norm learned how to work more effectively with his employees. This led to increased production that allowed him to hire another producer. By freeing himself up to do what he does best, the business just soared. As he learned to manage himself and his business better, he was freed up to focus on what was really important. A new and more powerful purpose has emerged in his work and business.

Three years ago, his son, Neil, came into the business. When his son joined, the focus became the sustainability of the business. Prior to Neil joining, Norm had restructured the practice. Initially, Norm had a specialist and two assistants. One of the assistants, Laurie, wanted to get into sales. Norm was supportive and Laurie?? 1/2 s transition was a tremendous success. She is an employee of the firm and an important contributor to the growth of the business. This gave Norm experience in managing a producer. The experience of working with Laurie helped Norm in managing Neil. Norm wanted Neil to succeed on his own merit. Neil started on commission and has contributed from day one to the profitability of the firm.

When a son or daughter enters the business, there is an overwhelming sense of pride. It validates your work and your life. Neil learned at the dining room table about the business. When Neil joined, it was a statement that he saw the value of what Norm was doing.

Norm is 57, Laurie is 44 and Neil is 27. There are three generations represented in the business. They support and challenge each other to grow. They feed off each other. It has breathed new life into the business. Neil is learning from both Norm and Laurie. Norm has a real sense of pride in the business. This combination has taken the business to new levels. It is allowing everyone in the business to visualize a much bigger future.

Norm has been very fortunate in his career. He has grown every year of his career, with dramatic growth in the last five years. He now understands some basic things about running a business that he did not pay attention to before. This has been the major lesson. Before, he was frustrated because he felt as if he was running after a goal. With coaching, he was able to develop his first five-year business plan, which allowed him to fine-tune what he was doing. Now, each of the team members has mini-plans to make the business better.

The concept of stopping the noise, becoming quiet and thinking about where he wanted to go has brought serenity and strength. He now regularly takes a month off and the production in the firm continues to go up. He has moved from success to significance.

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