Skis & Scars

Growing up in Michigan, Scott Adams rarely met a ski slope he didn’t like, or couldn’t conquer. It’s the challenge of handling the hills that helped him, in his words, “to live life out on the edge.”

“My brother and I were at the slopes all the time,” says Scott. “I started at five years old. I went to the hill every day when there was snow on the ground. We had a season pass. I don’t remember not skiing. It gave me so much and I tried everything.”

 

“If someone told me to try it, I would do it – jumps, flips, everything – you name it. In high school, it turned into a sport. I started racing and it became a discipline. I even went to the state championships. The main reason I quit is I had kids. Then their sports became more important than anything I did.”

The challenge of the downhill was the big thrill and it served Scott well in his business career, since he was pretty much what he refers to as “unemployable”.  “I got fired from really every job I ever had,” laughs Scott. “I don’t know the real reason, though now when I look at my kids I can see some of the reasons I probably got fired. It wasn’t a lack of hard work, it was because I always felt I was right and wanted to run the business my way.  I would ask myself, ‘why am I putting in all this work and making the effort – killing myself – and there is someone else above me doing a lot less than I was doing and making more money!’ But they didn’t believe my philosophy and as I learned, they were always right. I was always replaceable. There are a lot of people who can do it better than me.”

“About 16 years ago I got fired from the restaurant where I was working. At the time I had a mortgage, cars and five kids to feed. I called up my mom and said I just got fired, I don’t even know what I am going to do. I can’t seem to keep a job. My stepfather got on the phone and told me it was time to think about insurance. He was an Allstate agent and he introduced me to someone who started me in my career in health insurance.”

Scott’s insurance experience led him to a career as a captive agent, then he decided to leave that outfit, firing himself this time – and became a broker. The change was a challenge, ramping up a new business meant a big drop in income – the house was foreclosed on, cars were repossessed. Life was on the downhill slope. But just like his skiing skills taught Scott, you can defeat the mountain, if you really try.

scott downhill run

With a lot of hard work thing got better, and at one point, as a broker, Scott managed a team of 300 agents. Then in 2010 Obamacare got passed and the team hit the skids, dwindling from 300 down to only three. “The business imploded and we were struggling really badly,” says Scott. “But once Obamacare actually went into effect and open enrollment began, we were selling a lot and doing well again. It was a smaller group of people, but some were averaging three-to-four million-dollars-a-year in production.”

“Then late in 2015 the insurance companies started getting squeezed, (by the government), and so did we. No one was getting paid. In November of 2015 I had to shut my doors. I had been paying my agents on submit and the companies were paying me on issued business. Just three weeks before Christmas that year, I had to tell my agents I couldn’t make payroll.”

The situation was devastating to Scott, his agents, employees and his own family, a family which now consisted of seven children, at least three of them still under roof. Fortunately for Scott he had stayed in touch with Brian Clark, from USHEALTH Advisors. Scott had worked with Brian years back when Scott was a captive agent and Brian let Scott know there was still hope outside of Obamacare.

“I still go back to a Facebook message I sent Brian back in August of 2015,” says Scott. “At the time he asked me how things were going – my response was – ‘we’re killing it.’ Three months later, when the insurance companies stopped paying, I was out of business. There were 420 policies I couldn’t get paid on. It was crazy.”

“Brian reminded me if I came to work with USHEALTH,  I would again be a captive agent. My comment to Brian was, ‘if I can come to a company that cares as much about me as I do about them, I’m all in.’”

Much like his expertise on the slopes – Scott took his disciplines of practice and hard word and taught them to others in his Satellite Division. His team did $10 million in production his first year-and-a-half at USHEALTH and in 2017 his team is already at $10 million again, but this time only halfway through the year.

 

Now a Division Manager in Tennessee, many of Scott’s family members are working in the business as well. “My son Austin wrote $865,000 in insurance production last year,” says Scott.  “My daughter’s husband, Will Jones, wrote $1 million in production last year as well.  My father is on my team. My 25-year-old daughter Taylor dabbles in the business. My stepdaughter McKenna is in the business. My wife helps me recruit. My daughter Kiley is getting her license right now.”

Scott says being grounded is also what has helped and inspired Kiley. A few years back, at age 20, Kiley took the initiative to lose 65 pounds and earn her way into the Air Force. Out of more than 880 recruits she graduated first in her boot camp class, as the most physically fit woman. In fact she beat the most physically fit man in competition. About a month Scott says Kiley won $100,000 in a body transformation competition from bodybuilding.com.  Scott is beaming with pride –  “My kids have learned there is nothing they can’t do if they put their mind to it.”

kiley big check

Scott credits his wife of 20 years, Angela, as being the person who really holds the family together. “She babysits our four grandkids and helps with our younger kids,” says Scott. Her strength is when things get really, really bad, like houses being foreclosed on, or cars being repossessed, she doesn’t bat an eye. Her main job is to make sure everybody else in the family can keep it together and she’s very, very good at making that happen.”

Scott says his message for others is simple: “I don’t care if people know that much about me. I just want the message to be out there that you can never lose if you don’t quit. There is nothing more true than that. The only time you lose is when you say, ‘I’m done.’ “I’ve been down many times, but I never quit, mainly because of the support of my family.”

You will struggle opening and running a business. When you look back on it ,the struggle is never really as bad as when you were going through it. That’s what makes you who you are. My scars make me who I am.”

Until next time thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky