The things that make you happy help you to become a better version of yourself and to energize you. And becoming a better version of yourself is the best thing you can do for your marriage, your kids, your clients, your business and your community.”
On that note, certified “dream manager” and motivational speaker Matthew Kelly closed out Tuesday’s main platform sessions of the Million Dollar Round Table’s annual meeting, held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center June 5-8.
In all, the nearly 6,000 conference attendees were treated to speakers from more than 80 sessions, the workshops covering such diverse topics as protection, retirement, practice management, sales, marketing, and the “whole person”–MDRT’s unique curriculum on how to thrive both personally and professionally.
“There is a hunger and thirst for what we provide in terms of helping our members to become more productive,” said Julian Good, MDRT’s outgoing president and an advisor with MetLife/Creative Financial Solutions, Metaire, La. “And we are continuing to improve on our professional development content.”
Among the new and recently debuted initiatives highlighted at the Atlanta convention–MDRT’s 84th since the inaugural meeting in 1927–is the MDRT Growth Summit 2011: a gathering for insurance and financial service professionals, ages 45 and older, who are earning more than $150,000 in commissions or fees and are not currently members of MDRT.
Co-located with the annual meeting, the two-day event (June 5-6) included sessions on helping attendees to develop a brand, as well as to learn management skills needed to hire, train, and motivate employees. Participants also learned how to expand into other business lines, diversify income streams, generate leads, leverage practice management technologies, and how to evaluate and acquire blocks of business from professionals who are looking to retire or work less.
“This program is specifically designed to give non-members a taste of the annual meeting,” said Jennifer Borislow, MDRT’s president-elect and a founder/principal of Borislow Insurance, Methuen Mass. “They get to spend the first full day of the annual meeting with our members.”
The pilot initiative, she added, aims to appeal to an estimated 30,000 producers who meet enrollment requirements. For the inaugural gathering, some 100 non-members will be in attendance.
During the annual meeting, attendees also got a sneak preview of an online tool to go live by end of year: the MDRT Network. The web site feature will allow members to connect with one another by entering keywords based on specialty, geography and other searchable criteria.
MDRT is additionally expanding its whole person concept, an approach to living the organization debuted in 1961 that encompasses multiple components: life and health, relationships, spiritual practice, education, financial management, service and career.
“It’s important that we balance these elements of our lives so that we may reach our full human potential,” said Good. “It is about balancing work, life and success. We’re integrating the whole person philosophy throughout our organization.
“The whole person content on our web site will include more content and interviews with members,” Good added, “At next year’s annual meeting in Anaheim, MDRT will also present the first annual whole person award to a member or members who embrace and epitomize the whole person philosophy.”
MDRT additionally showcased a revamped mentoring program. Available for free to members via an online enrollment form, the program entails no monthly production quota and provides mentors and aspiring members with a resource kit. “Aspirants” who earn 50% of the member production requirement get to attend the annual meeting; those seeking to attend a second meeting must earn 80% of the member quota.
“We’ve designed the program so that mentors and aspirants can work together formally or informally,” said Good. “It’s not anything structured. You–mentor and aspirant–decide which tools in the toolbox you want to use.”
Since the MDRT rolled out the program in January, the number of mentor-aspirant teams has grown to 1000-plus from 100 [under the old program], Good adds. “We expect the program to continue to grow dramatically–and not just here in the U.S. The demand is global.”
That heightened interest, say MDRT executives, is helping to fuel a rebound in MDRT’s membership at a time when many other industry associations are struggling to stop a hemorrhaging of their own ranks. After dipping 11% to about 31,000 in 2009, MDRT’s rolls increased last year to nearly 36,000, a 16% rise.
(Of the total, about about 10,200 are U.S. members. 2011 is the first year in the last six, Good noted, in which the U.S. contingent has not declined.)
Borislow and Good credited the overall increase in part to an economic recovery from the recession of 2007-2009. They noted also that MDRT is delivering more value to members by enhancing the “relevancy” of the Roundtable’s professional development content to international members. To that end, said Good, MDRT has integrated more international members into its volunteer committee structure.