Born to Run

It’s a late Thursday afternoon in Utah and Andrew Jones is cold, real cold. Running with his wife Tiffany, who Andrew refers to as a “crazy runner”, and under-dressed to run in the late fall weather,  Andrew believes hypothermia and calorie exhaustion are setting in as he tries to complete the training for an upcoming half-marathon.

“My wife signs me up for races,” says Andrew. “Half the time I don’t even know what she signs me up for!” But it really doesn’t matter. Andrew says he takes on the challenge, “because, it’s my way of making sure I can do it. I believe I can.”

For most of his 25 years on this planet Andrew has had reason to believe. In fact it pulses and permeates through his veins, especially when he’s huffing and puffing his way through his latest training. “I think life is a marathon and it’s how I treat everything,” says Andrew. I try and treat my career that way and my roles as a husband and a father and church member – I try and juggle all those things and balance my life and it makes me happy.’”

  

The latest stop on his marathon of life has brought him to the doorstep of USHEALTH Advisors, where Andrew is happily running a team as a Field Training Agent in Utah and right now running in 1st place in his Division as a personal producing agent. How did he get here? He literally ran away from the offers he was getting out in corporate America.

“I honestly interviewed with forty-to-fifty companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, Google and more and they all made me offers, pathetic offers. My highest offer was a salary of $42,000. $42,000 to help fund a life for my wife and my baby daughter Emma.  I needed a job so I ended up taking one with a company that helped educate people on setting up HSA plans, all while I tried to figure out my life. At the time I was earning $14 an hour.”

Figuring out life used to be easier for Andrew, especially when just a few years before all he needed to do was study and play sports, especially baseball.

    

“I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and baseball consumed my life,” says Andrew.  As I grew up in middle school and high school I played mostly shortstop and sometimes 2nd base. I played middle infield in college and I batted lead-off nearly every game. I played for Southern Virginia University and we actually ended up going to the small college world series. It was pretty cool.”

What Andrew learned in baseball, as any successful player does, is to find the silver lining among the massive failure inherent in the game and to stay aware of the opportunities when they present themselves.  For Andrew, his opportunity came in the form of a man named Stephen Koncurat. The man his mom called, Mr. Smiley.

“My parents live up the street from Steve’s house in Maryland and after approaching Steve at a pool party and asking what he did my mom called to tell me Steve does health insurance. At the time I’m living with my wife in my in-law’s basement in Utah, we can barely afford to live. I’ve gone through fifty interviews and I feel defeated. I tell my mom I’ll reach out to him. I don’t know him, but he has good values, he’s part of my church and he seems trustworthy.”

After a meeting at the kitchen table at Steve’s home, Andrew says Steve could tell I was still skeptical. He told me this was not a get-rich-quick scheme. You have to work at it. I didn’t tell Steve this, but after the interview I initially thought I would just get a real job.  Then my wife and I went to the beach for two weeks and I thought about it some more. I told my wife, I think I’m gonna do this.”

Risk vs reward. It should be adjusted to say risk equals reward. You reap 100% of the benefits of what you never tried, which is nothing. It wasn’t an easy decision for Andrew to come to USHEALTH, it went against the conservative beliefs of his father and grandfather: you grow up, get a full-time job, a salaried job and it pays you. That’s it. Andrew’s grandfather knew all about finance and security, serving as the financial advisor on Capitol Hill to Presidents Reagan and Bush (Sr).

But life changes. Business changes. Opportunities present themselves. When they do it’s when you learn the most about yourself. Believe it before you see it. Be the lion or the gazelle.

Andrew now realized he was ready to roar.

After a mission trip to Brazil just a few years before, Andrew had ended up attending Brigham Young in Utah where he met Tiffany, the woman who would become his wife. The couple had remained in Utah to build their life together, but now Andrew was ready to move to Maryland where his Regional manager Steve Koncurat is based. Except Steve had other ideas.

“I called Steve and told him I want to work with USHEALTH and I’m moving to Maryland,” says Andrew. “Steve said, ‘No, I want you in Utah. You’re gonna start Utah.’ No office, no team. Steve told me he would come to Utah, he has family there, at least to visit and rent an office and other agents will come. I started studying in my in-law’s basement. I passed the health and life exam and I ended up meeting guys like Jeff Christofferson, he started around the same time I did. We trained each other and created our culture here. Ever since I made my first 2-or-3 thousand dollars in a week I got confidence in the program and the products.

And what of those “big” salary offers Andrew got from all those companies in corporate America? Andrew now uses that example to tell his story to new recruits. “I tell the people who come into my office and interview about my experience,” he says. “I flew all over the country and interviewed with these companies, and the biggest offer I got was that $42,000-a-year job. I still remember Steve Koncurat told me if you work and you can’t make $42,000 in your first year here, you can quit. I earned $42,000 in advance commissions in my first six months with USHEALTH Advisors. I could tell my parents were very uneasy with my decision to do this – but now they are my biggest fans. It’s been momentous, knowing I did this. I got promoted in three months. I’ve been at this for a year now and seen awesome things happen and seen a ton of growth.” (http://www.ushacareers.com/)

Andrew’s seen the growth in his personal life as well. His wife Tiffany was all set to go to physical therapy school. “She had her future all planned out, but then I came along and ruined it,” laughs Andrew. “Tiffany was the head of the advanced anatomy lab at Brigham Young, the cadaver lab. I used to go kiss her at the lab in front of the cadavers. We got married, graduated together and ended up starting a family almost right away. We decided it best if she stayed home and raised our daughter. She sacrificed her plans to do this. I have a feeling there will be a few more kids as well.”

  

Andrew says he has also overcome the biggest challenge of his life… belief. “There is nothing harder in life than having the courage when no one believes in you but you. I’ve done that several times in my life and I’m very proud of that. The goal is to be humble and kind and I try and live that way. I’m competitive, but I bring myself down to earth and I’m much happier that way. When I grew up I was always wanting to fit in, but I never really created an authentic personality and so I tried to be one of the cool kids. They never really accepted me into their group. I didn’t go to all the parties, and by the end of high school I really didn’t care. I got good grades, and I played sports.

Run away from the herd. Be your own leader. Be different. Be the exception.

Andrew says growing up and watching baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies (and now LA Dodgers) 2nd baseman Chase Utley was his idol. When he made it to the show, Chase Utley’s first hit as a major leaguer was a grand slam. It’s that same impact Andrew wants to have as he goes deep in all the important areas of his life: work, home and in his church. Andrew looks at the marathon of his life and wakes up ready to run every single day. “I look at the growth in my journey and what I’ve become and where I’m going.”

  

And what about the real running?  In the not-too-distant future is the second half-marathon Andrew is taking part in and he says he’ll be ready to go.  “I was running/training with my wife and around the 11th or 12th mile I said, ‘I love running and sports so much. All you need to get by in life is to be mentally strong and have a lot of diligence with what you are doing.”

Maybe it’s just Andrew living by example – showing us that we can all be successful if we just put our minds to it – that we are all essentially, born to run.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky