“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
You’ve probably heard the expression, some people march to the beat of their own drummer… well for Gary Miller, that’s easy, he’s been creating his own beat and living the way he wants to live for much of his 64 years on this earth.
“I started when I was about 8-years-old,” says Gary. “It was a big thing in my family. My dad was a semi-professional piano player, he played in a weekend jazz trio. So every night at my house was a jam session. My father on the piano, my brother on the guitar and me on the drums. My brother is very musical, but he’s 10-years younger than me, so it was a bit of a challenge because we were so far apart in age growing up, but he could still play and we are extremely close to this day.”
Fast forward to today, Gary currently plays drums in two services every Sunday morning at his church in Juniper, Florida. “I love playing drums in the worship band, it keeps a lot of people grounded,” he says. “The music we play is spiritual Christian and rock contemporary. It’s cool to see you can bring the Lord to someone through music. Music is a huge part of the church. It’s keeping and attracting young people to the church. So many churches don’t make it if the service is boring. We’ll even play some secular stuff as people are coming in… James Taylor, Steely Dan. People walking in will say, ‘is that Steely Dan you’re playing?‘, we’re like that’s right, enjoy!”
Dare to be different and always look to give. Those are hallmarks of Gary’s life and his career. When he’s not jamming, he’s serving, as a successful Regional Sales Leader for USHEALTH Advisors, offering affordable health coverage and benefits to the self-employed. But behind every great success, there’s always a story. Gary’s been rocking out in the insurance space for than a quarter-century. He and Cindy, his wife of 35 years, moved from New York to Florida back in 1992. The couple had been running a successful electronic computer distributor business, selling semiconductors. “But the biz went to hell,” says Gary. “And we couldn’t stand the weather and the taxes in New York. My family is there, but Cindy’s family is down in Florida. We figured we’d head down south and see what Florida would bring us.”
The couple and their 4-year-old daughter headed to the Sunshine State. Gary says Cindy saw an ad in the newspaper which said you could make $100,000-a-year at this company. “Cindy said why don’t you answer this ad, we could use $100,000,” says Gary. “When we left New York we were a hair away from bankruptcy, but I bonded with another New Yorker, named Howard Siegel. We started working together at the insurance company, we were very successful, on the same team. It was a lot easier being in the same situation financially coming out of New York. Before long, my association with this company, (at the time called UGA), gave me the opportunity to pay off debt, buy a new home and lead the kind of lifestyle we need.”
As a Regional Manager now with USHEALTH, Gary tells his other leaders and agents to focus on two words: persistency and gratitude. “You need to be persistent and have a good team around you,” he says. “I’ve been self-employed, most of my life so I know what it’s like to run your own business. You gotta wear all the hats, make sure they all fit and if it doesn’t fit, wear it anyway. Get up every day with an attitude of gratitude. The opportunity you are in will make you financially independent when you finally want to take it easy. But it’s truly that attitude of gratitude every day. I see so many people on the hamster wheel, struggling through life. Giving it away in terms of time, talent, or money is extremely important. Paying it forward is key in life.”
Not that long ago Gary had an experience which cemented his belief in the old-fashioned method of paying it forward in person… and a reminder that everyone you will ever meet in your entire life is going through something.
He remembers, “whenever I’d go down to Fort Lauderdale and visit the USHA office there, I made it a point to go to all the workstations, shake hands with the agents making calls and say hello. After I did that, one kid came up to me later and said, ‘it meant so much to have somebody come over and shake my hand and say hi.’ “The simple little task of saying hello, shaking a hand, offering a warm smile, so simple to let someone know that you care. When he said that to me it impacted me more than it did him, a simple gesture could mean the world to them.”
Gary says his world revolves around his family, one of the great priorities in his life. But his world is also about to shift a bit come September when he turns 65. But it’s only a shift, and it’s more about mindset than anything else.
“First of all turning 65 will save me a little money on health insurance,” jokes Gary. “But other than that I don’t know. I look around today and looking back at my grandparents in their 50’s and 60’s, and they looked older back then. Now looking at 65 I don’t consider it old. Now our generation takes better care of ourselves. I’m not concerned, 65 will be just another day. There’s no intention of me slowing down. People say, ‘you’re not going to retire?’ “I say retire, why would I retire?! I’m having too good of a time. What else would I do?”
Gary says he’s enamored with the culture at USHEALTH Advisors. “I see friends and relatives in corporate America and you don’t hear about the type of brotherhood and camaraderie you see here,” says Gary. “I’m not sure it exists anywhere else. Culture is the lifeblood of what gets me going in the morning.”
It all comes back to persistency. Gary reminds his agents, especially the new ones, “you are going to have to go through all the challenges and frustrations you are going to encounter in this business. There’s no way around it. Look at the top 100 producers, they have gone through the same exact challenges you are going through and they came out on the other side. They still have four limbs, and they came out stronger. You’ve gotta go through it. And don’t quit on the one-yard line. So you’ve got bills to pay, I had bills to pay too… I’m debt free now.”
Another thing Gary says he’s learned in his 64-years on this earth, “making it” means you had better make time to read.
“I tell my team all the time, even if I read one book a month it makes a difference. I don’t even hold the book, because by the time I get around to reading a physical book, I’m reading a page-and-a-half for the next week, because I fall asleep. But if I listen to a book, put my headset in and listen, it works wonders for me. Whether you are sharpening the ax, learning about sales, or getting motivated… whatever it is to move your goal post further. It’s amazing what you can accomplish reading books. I’m on my team every day about what book I just finished. I just read Conversion Code by Chris Smith. I always find two or three chapters that speak directly to our business. And Fanatical Prospecting, by Jeb Blount, that book really speaks to our sales force. It should be mandatory that our leaders read. You don’t realize how much you are growing when you read.”
It’s all part of the rhythm of life for this drummer and sales leader, making music and making a difference. Gary says he appreciates music and it’s place in his life. “Music is the score underlying life,” says Gary. “Even if I’m in the car, or listening to a book. In the office, music can enhance or create a mood. We have music in the office all the time. Just like with any movie, the score sets the tone, sets the mood. Change the musical score of the movie, or your life, and it can have a completely different effect.”
And what of his effect on this life and the people that surround him? Gary says life is simple, it’s about giving. “First God, second family. Family is the priority for everything else, all the things we do in our lives. If you are family-oriented then all the things you do in your life support that family value. Be the best I can be, husband and father, that to me is the key and it’s even more of a priority now. Because of this company I have the financial means to do things I couldn’t do before. Your focus is different as you grow and mature. USHA is my second family. If I didn’t have this there would be such a huge hole in my life. It’s not what I do anymore, it’s who I am. Once you get to that point here, that it’s who you are, everything falls into place.”