I was 28 and desperate for someone to include me in their business venture in a unique way. I had a few great opportunities that had taught me some great lessons, but I wanted something more. I wanted someone to fling the gates of their business open and teach me not just how to do a function, but how to direct the business...how to be them.
In July of 1998 I was at KLTY and producing Celebrate Freedom when I noticed something strange, the line for autograph seekers from an insurance agent was longer than the one for Amy Grant. I decided to investigate this Al Boenker person a little further.
Al's business was foreign to me. I knew absolutely nothing about insurance, but I could get around marketing fairly well. After pursuing a few meetings with Al, I pitched him the idea of me coming to work for him in marketing. Fortunately, he said yes. I started on September 8, 1998.
My first two weeks were strange. After ten years in radio I felt like a fish out of water, but it wasn't long and I found a groove. I was given access to a variety of tools and given a long rope of autonomy.
Al had big marketing plans long before I ever showed up, and I was there at the right moment in time for the growth of the various campaigns. The "Fastest Man in Insurance" theme was incredibly successful.
It wasn't long and I started to stick my nose into the insurance business. I got licensed and managed the sales department. Not long after that I was sticking my nose into the operations of the organization, and it wasn't long after that I was given opportunities to lead within the organization. Al was teaching me the whole way. I learned through words of wisdom, rejected ideas with explanation, and given the opportunity to try new things, without being bashed when they did not work.
Just a few years later and Al decided to start an insurance company (MGA), Empower. I was fortunate to watch and participate in the process of building a business from scratch. It was a great life lesson. I began on the MGA side of the business in much the same way, started in marketing and moved into the guts of the business. In time, I would have the opportunity to help lead within the organization with Al's guidance all the way.
Over the last 15 years I have learned more than I ever imagined and met more incredible people than I deserve to know. All of this, because someone was willing to invest in me.
Not only did Al and his family teach me, they included me in their lives, they forgave me when I made mistakes and they allowed me to get schooled from my failures. This type of opportunity is rare.
Over the last 15 years the Boenker family has changed my life, the life of my family, and in many ways the life of my friends. I have never received such grace, mercy and opportunity from any other family but my own.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I have no issue saying, "I serve a family." I am responsible for leading a large team of people, to design and guide projects, to sell insurance policies, to study and exam data and make tough decisions, to manage clients, to develop growth, to take responsibility when things don't work as planned and decide how to correct them. I am responsible for knowing when I am not capable and allowing others who are to rise to the top. I am also responsible for ensuring that the family's goals are accomplished, that they achieve the results they want, that they have the final say, and if needed I am responsible for walking their dogs, though as of yet they have never asked me to.
In serving families or corporations it is important to always remember that the company does not belong to you. You are a steward of their property, but it is not your property.
The goal is to be a good steward in the time you are allotted. This is the Christian life lived out in the work place. Dedicated labor is very honorable.
Over the years I have been made to feel less of an accomplished person by men who were entrepreneurs. I was pushed to start my own thing so I was not dependent on others and encouraged to become self insulated.
We are all dependent on others. Al taught me this.
No one should be ashamed, entrepreneur or employee. I have attempted in my life to be a "entrepreneurial employee".
I was directed by two Godly and engaged parents. My parents sent me to college and I graduated with no debt. My girlfriend at the time, Danae, found me my first radio job. Chuck Brinkman at TK communications let me do so many different jobs within the organization that I understood the business better than the general manager. Marcos Rodriguez let me spend his promotional budget and run the biggest concert events in the U.S., and Al Boenker, well, I'd have to write a book about what he has done for me.
15 years ago I came to serve a family that has made it possible for me to pursue my passions, learn and understand an industry, enjoy rewards for successes of the team and learn from my personal failures.
The office I'm in has my name in it. It's on a plastic strip that can be removed in less than a second. My time in that office, no matter how long it may be, remains temporary. I refer to my office for meetings as the "back office". I do this to encourage others to work for it, and to remind myself of my responsibilities and of timeliness.
When my time is up, and I hope that is no time soon, I will have nothing but gratitude for what has been done for me by so many others. I am so grateful for their investment in such a ragamuffin like me.
Thanks Danae for the past 15 years of encouragement and support and for keeping our home in perfect order and full of love and for the hard work and investment in Sarah and Beau.
Thanks Mom and Dad for consistent truth and faith.
Thanks Richard, Britt and David for guidance, mentoring, direction and counsel.
Thanks Darrin for countless hours of brainstorming, encouragement, guidance and friendship.
Thanks Mark for holding me to my words and challenging my thought, the things that real friends do.
Thanks Quad, Gloria and Ashley for the kindness you've shown me and for the opportunity to participate in what will be your continued legacies.
Thanks Al and Sue for more than I can say.
If you have the good fortune to meet someone willing to invest in you, then you must serve them in every way possible. If you have people serving you, then give them every opportunity possible without becoming jaded. When lived out in truth, both servant and master receive honor.