“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”– Thomas Edison.
To think Christian Medford was so close, close to saying goodbye to USHEALTH Advisors.
Success is not something that happens overnight, it is a process of hard work, perseverance, dedication, and heart. You don’t get lucky, you build the foundation, you put in the hours, you develop your skills and you are prepared for the opportunity when it arrives. Christian knew this, after all, one of his best business moments had been the product of a ton of hard work – the day he walked into the office of a CEO and sold his company and his business plan… and got “lucky.”
A few years ago Christian’s event company, his side hustle, was doing “ok”, but then he got the chance to take his idea into other markets with Leighton Broadcasting in Minnesota. “One of the proudest moments of my life was the day I was able to walk into Bob Leighton’s office and show him the ropes for what I could do for him. Before you knew it I went from a few events to many events, running craft beer festivals across Minnesota for Leighton’s radio stations. Event planning is not consistent, but I now had something consistent. What had started as a side job, I now had turned into a career.”
Christian had a dream, a vision and turned it into a reality. It’s the same process which would later propel him to success in another field – and in another town – way across the country.
Though making the trip from one extreme to another was something Christian already experienced. “I grew up in Georgia,” says Christian. “But my dad is a Southern Baptist minister, and for some reason, he decided to start a church in Fargo, North Dakota. So my freshman year in high school we moved from Georgia to North Dakota, going from a Southern Baptist town to the land of Lutherans and Catholics.”
Change is inevitable, just not easy.
“The move to Fargo was interesting,” says Christian. “My dad’s church was not well supported, and not all that successful, it was very small. I don’t know if I thought it was the best decision, but there we were. Changing schools was challenging too because I didn’t just change schools, I went up north with my deep southern accent as well.”
Christian says he eventually managed to drop the accent, something he found necessary to do while working as a waiter in Fargo. “I totally lost it while waiting tables in college,” he says. “I didn’t have time to explain it to all the people I served, because I needed to get the food out! It was just easier to let it go.”
After graduating from Minnesota State University with a degree in business management, Christian did the only thing he knew… went to work in a restaurant as a manager. “My wife Melissa and I had started a family as well and what I quickly realized was “family” was not a good fit for that industry. Restaurant managers can work about 100 hours a week, with no time off for family, and upper management just doesn’t care. So I went into banking and did that for about five years. It was internet banking, so I learned a lot about phone sales and how to talk to people on the phone. I didn’t love it… but what I didn’t know is how beneficial it would later become.”
In the fall of 2017, Christian and his wife Melissa and their growing family made the move from Minnesota to Florida. “The move to Florida was kind of a big decision,” says Christian. “We didn’t move because of work, we moved because my parents were now living there and my in-laws spent the winter in Florida. We just didn’t have that support system anywhere up north. So we made the move because with four young kids, and both parents working, it just made sense.”
Christian joined USHEALTH Advisors in October of 2017. USHA is a subsidiary of USHEALTH Group, offering affordable health coverage benefits and supplements to the self-employed, individuals and families.
It wasn’t easy at first, but what worthwhile goal in life ever is? You’ve got to embrace “the suck.” But that’s not easy once you’ve already tasted success, especially considering what Christian had managed to build with his event company up north.
“It was interesting at first with USHEALTH,” says Christian. “I really had to sell my wife on it. You see this listing online about making a great income and also see that it’s commission-only. My wife was working the same type of scenario in radio and she said she didn’t think we could make it on two commission jobs. I got started and I really wasn’t that good at first. I told her, ‘hold on give me more time, we’re gonna figure this out.’ “I could see a picture of what this opportunity could be by watching other people in my office… there was nothing special about them, but they hadn’t been there that long and they were doing well. I figured if they can do this, so can I. I could also see how the company really took care of their agents. I told Melissa with the way the commissions and the bonuses are set up, I will catch on and this will be great.”
But as the weeks went by and the calendar got close to the new year, Christian says Melissa was looking for a way out. “By early January she was really trying to get me to leave,” he says.
Time, patience, and funds were running thin. But on the precipice of giving up and giving in, as so often happens, the tide turned. All of it “clicked” for Christian and success was now at his doorstep. “In January, I had a couple of good weeks,” he says. “Then a really big week, I earned like a $5,000 commission check and my wife was now getting on board. It wasn’t clicking at first, there’s a learning curve, selling health coverage is not easy. I had to understand it so I could explain it, I didn’t have enough stories to share yet with my clients, I hadn’t talked to enough people to develop the stories. But now I can tell people how these products have helped my clients. It started to flow much easier. The first few months were rough, but once I caught on, I started to soar. The other jobs my wife was trying to get me to look at were at about $40,000/year. One of my weekly checks last month beat her entire monthly commission at the radio station.”
He continues: “They love it in my office that my wife was trying to get me to quit,” laughs Christian. “I stuck it out and finished number one, in the entire region, in the third week of January. My Regional Leader Kevin Farrell, got me on the phone to speak to the entire group and I told them once my wife saw the check for that week, I no longer had to think about going anywhere else.”
It works, because hard work works and Christian has understood that since the time he became self-employed, but he says this opportunity takes it all to another level. “The biggest value for me isn’t the fact that I’m self-employed and can come and go as I please,” he says. “Because I actually work more when I have the opportunity to work. The biggest value is how much the company and the leadership want to help us. It’s incredible.
“So many companies don’t care about their salespeople. A lot of companies just turn and burn the agents on purpose, trying to steal the next list of friends and relatives that come along as prospects. All I’ve done here is watch this company improve the products to help people even more and to help us as well. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be with this company right now. Not just the structure I get to build, with the commissions, renewals and quarterly bonuses, but the mentality here. I’ve never met our CEO Troy McQuagge, but my Division Leader George Priovolos knows him well and talks about Troy all the time. I look at George and think, ‘man you’re awesome, so Troy must be too.’ “Our senior leadership wants to see us succeed. We all rise together, we are all invested in this.”
The timing for the publishing of this article is quite apropos since the story interview with Christian came just days after he completed his biggest week ever with USHEALTH Advisors. Christian says it was all because he was challenged by his Field Sales Leader, Jacquelyn Levine, (you can read her story here).
“Jackie is such a hard worker and a great example for me to follow,” says Christian. “This past week, I had about $70,000 in annual volume submitted, (of individual policies), and Jackie said if I could beat her best personal week of $99,000, she would buy my team lunch. I worked hard and barely beat it at $100,400 in annual volume, by the close of business, on Thursday night. It was all because she challenged me. You have these great people ahead of you. They lead by example. Jackie wanted me to succeed and have this record in our office. It’s just amazing.”
Christian says he can now see the light and wants to make sure it is shining brightly for the most important people in his life. “My biggest challenge in life is that I really want to provide for my family, to provide more than enough,” he says. I want to give them everything I can. Christian’s family now consists of his wife Melissa and their four children, three girls and one boy, ranging in ages one to ten.
Christian says the opportunity with USHEALTH Advisors fulfills his desire to build something special. “I always thought that whatever it is I’m going to do, I want to be able to grow something,” says Christian. “I’ve found something I can grow here and be scalable down the road. I want to build a long-term career. I’m glad I’m here and made this leap of faith. This is a fantastic company for the long-run.
And what about the future for Christian? He was promoted to a Field Training Agent in July, gaining a new opportunity to train and mentor other agents, which Christian says he really enjoys. Coming up in 2019, he’ll be promoted to Field Sales Leader with USHEALTH Advisors.
“I think the legacy is something to be talked about,” says Christian. “And who better to look at your legacy than your children? That’s my long-term focus. I want my kids to think of me as a great dad, a good person who always cared for and was there for them and their mother. That family focus transfers over to my business. If I want a true legacy, then I want other people to think of me that way as well, treat my clients like family and grow this deal.
And how do you build a legacy? The first step is usually the toughest – never give up.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.