For Michael Laughlin there’s plenty of reason to smile, he’s living full-out in the fourth of his five 20’s.
Five 20’s? It will all make sense in a moment.
“I had an aunt who lived to 103 and on her 90th birthday she told me 100 years goes pretty fast,” says Mike. “She said 100 years, that’s only five 20’s and the last set of those 20’s you might not remember, so you better live four good ones!”
Mike has taken that sage advice to heart and at age 70, he’s smack-dab in the middle of his fourth set of those 20’s, living large and loving life, with family, friends and the work he adores as a Regional Sales Leader for USHEALTH Advisors. It’s a destination which has taken him on a 30-year journey, and even farther back in time when he literally would sell you the shirt off his back.
“I spent the first part of my professional career in the apparel business. It was a career which began in New York, though I lived in Pittsburgh, (where he grew up), and I worked as a rep for Cluett Peabody & Company.” Mike sold all type of apparel, even the Joe Namath line of Arrow shirts, but when the independent clothing business started to change because of the move to department store selling, Mike knew it was time to button up his talents and hit the road.
“I loved the clothing business, absolutely loved it,” says Mike. “But it changed and change is the only constant in life, so when stores like Macy’s took over and you couldn’t be as successful as you wanted to be, it was time to go.”
Getting wind about an organization serving the self-employed marketplace, Mike decided he’d try a new career. “I ended up moving from Pennsylvania to Florida. I thought it would be interesting instead of dealing with CEO’s, to deal with the self-employed. I thought it would be refreshing and it was. They speak their minds and you get to step away from the corporate political stuff.”
That began Mike’s next 30-year journey and as he took his first steps, he utilized plenty of lessons he learned about sales and people. “I think it’s connection,” says Mike. “Everybody communicates, but it’s connection and concepts that make the difference. You can take these skills and apply them to anything, especially in a position of leadership. It’s how you deal with people, coach them up, and make them feel better about their day and themselves that matters.”
It also pays to be positive. Your attitude is the one thing that’s never hereditary, it’s a choice, you get to decide and since he was a little boy, Mike’s decision has been to smile big, keep his problems small and take life head-on.
“I had a great childhood,” says Mike. “I grew up in Pittsburgh with two brothers and two sisters. All the neighborhood doors were always open and you walked to school every day. All the parents were like your parents. I had great aunts and uncles. I played the big three sports of that 60’s era: baseball, football, and basketball. Everybody got along there, it was a great way to grow up.”
A good childhood and a solid foundation to build on.
“People ask me all the time why I’m always smiling,” says Mike. “Well, what do I have to be unhappy about? I just believe a positive attitude is what gets you through all the ups-and-downs of life. You are never as good as you think you are on your best day and never as bad as think you are on your worst day.” It’s about consistency and Mike knows a big grin and a positive outlook keeps life on an even keel.
Another reason to smile? Mike says it’s one of his greatest accomplishments…helping to nurture and raise his family.
“We had four children within 6 years. I still remember when they were little kids, we’d all sit at the dinner table, gather around that big pasta dish, and I’d ask them what the lessons of the day were. We still talk about those times. I recall those days well, it always seemed to be centered around food, that’s how you build good relationships,” laughs Mike.
The kids, all in their 30’s now, have followed in their father’s footsteps, entering into the insurance business. Ashley is a Field Sales Leaders for USHEALTH Advisors, Garrett and Kiley are Division Sales Leaders for the company and the younger Michael runs his own broker agency. “It’s very personal to see my children grow and succeed in the business world,” says Mike. Plus now there is the pleasure of not only watching his children flourish as young adults but the added blessings of Mike’s grandchildren as well.
Still living in Florida, Mike says he’s watched as his children and so many other agents and leaders in the company ride the wave of revolutionary change in the business. “We’ve made the transition from the Sears-Roebuck, brick, and mortar method, to the virtual platform of selling,” says Mike. “It’s certainly opened up a lot of doors and allowed so many to maximize their time better. At this company, everyone has the opportunity to succeed. I don’t believe people fail, they are either successful or maybe less successful. But one of my greatest challenges is to see someone not succeed here, it’s that heartbreak. We always sit back and say, ‘did we do all we could, did we get it right?’ We’ve got to coach them up. If you are coached-up you can help more people and make as much money here as any athlete, because you have the ability to stretch out your income. An athlete might make all their money in a few years. But here you can elongate the process and the money-making opportunity. It’s the best profession you can be in – you help people, have fun and earn good money.”
Mike continues, “today it’s even bigger and better than it ever was. You can help so many more people in one day than you could driving around, you can visit with a lot more people online. It’s better for time management too and making sales all week, including Sundays. Ten-percent of our weekly business comes from Sunday selling. It’s sweet where technology has taken us. Virtual is here to stay. And now you can create client rapport with sites like Join Me, it’s like a live pitch book.”
Mike’s own pitch in life is his philosophy on how to live and to serve: “Be humble. Never take life too seriously, continue to help people and leave them in a better place than you found them. Making them feel better, you, in turn, will feel better about yourself. Life can be fun. People overlook that. It shouldn’t be a grind, we’re not put here to just labor and not have a good time. I’m here to mentor. Even our CEO Troy McQuagge has asked me how I can be so positive all the time. I can sum it up in one word, fun. Enjoy what you do, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends. Teach others, coach them up and help them to be successful and know that they will.”
A simple philosophy – live life like Mike and you’ll always have a reason to smile.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.