Most of you don’t know this about Julie Poteat, but the woman can sing! An opera singer in college, a performance major, Poteat has pipes most people have never heard, an award-winning singer… and she was on a path to hit it big.
But then Julie says she found a man and for about ten years, the singing stopped.
“I fell in love, got married, and lived the life of a housewife,” says Julie. There was Julie’s husband and eventually a few children to raise, but a decade into this new life, the marriage crumbled, the music of her life hit some bad notes, and Julie says she faced her greatest challenge.
“Here I was living in South Carolina, where I had moved when I got married, away from my home in Clearwater, Florida. Suddenly I found myself alone, myself and my two children, with $11 to my name and I needed to go home and start my life over again.”
You get two options when the bottom drops out… you can crawl inside, or you can stand and deliver. Julie chose the latter, moving back to Clearwater to live with her parents – choosing to finish college and do what she had to do for her kids. The setback led to one of her greatest comebacks. “Me, graduating college, working full time, and raising two kids is one of my greatest accomplishments,” says Julie. “I graduated cum laude with honors so my daughter could see that a single mom can still make something of herself.”
Making something of herself has become Julie’s mission. She recently completed a huge milestone with USHEALTH Advisors, selling $1 million worth of health coverage and supplements in a single year.
That accomplishment earns her a place in an extraordinary group of the best of the best at USHA, where since 2017, she has served the mission of HOPE, helping other people everyday. Prior to that Julie had wowed a small engineering firm, where she worked during her second stint at college, first as administrator, then, deciding she wanted to master the craft, as a salesperson. So Julie went back to school, got a certificate in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and became the Director of Technical Sales for the same engineering firm. She even helped develop a complicated process for thermoforming, which was patented as well!
But it was in sales at the firm that Julie said she learned to shine. Even though she admits her initial sales calls needed some thermoforming of their own. There was much to learn.
“I blew my first sales call,” says Julie. “I told them, ‘I’m just gonna let myself out now… ‘, “but as I left I promised myself I would get it right by getting better.” So she studied up, on her own and in class, and then tried again. Failure is simply success deferred.
“So those people, who in the beginning I couldn’t close,” says Julie. “I went back to them and said, ‘Ask me again’, “and I closed every one with the knowledge I had gained. Selling is simply helping people, caring about them, being a good person, and being there when your client needs you. Be the expert for them, be ethical, don’t oversell or rip them off. Listen to what they are saying and don’t disappear after the sale. You help them when something happens, that’s what a good salesperson does. Then, follow through after the sale, help, and care.”
Julie says those standards are not specific to any one industry, they are universal, the same that apply to any agent working at USHEALTH Advisors. “It’s all about putting people in the best position,” she says.
These are tried and true principles that Julie says go back to her roots. “I learned a lot from my mom and my dad,” she says. “It was never a question of ethics in my family, I have a good family, my parents taught me – my sisters, and my brother – to always err on the side of being a good person. And to have a great sense of humor. My parents were always laughing a lot, I remember that.”
Then there was music, a thread of synchronicity that has been woven through their lives. The family that plays together, stays together.
“My dad plays jazz guitar and has a recording studio, he used to be a concert promoter,” says Julie. “I’m a singer and can play the piano. My brother plays acoustic guitar, my sister is a singer. My son plays the saxophone, my daughter is a performer, she can sing, plays bass guitar and piano, and even directed her high school musical. We’re a very musical family.”
“Whenever I’m around other people, I get scolded,” laughs Julie. “They say, ‘when are you going to get back out there and sing?’, “I will get back into it, but right now my kids come first.”
Julie says it was her children, Kole and January, who presented the biggest challenge in her path to USHEALTH Advisors. “As a single mom with two young children, they almost didn’t want to bring me on, they wanted to make me an assistant at first,” Julie says. “I said, no, people underestimate me, I can do this. I had my two children, then ages 9 and 11, and being a single mom meant I had to drop them off and pick them up from school, but I would bring them into work as well. I made it work, many times being the first one in and the last one to leave.”
It was Julie’s commitment that caught the eye of Jason Greif, who is now a Regional Sales Leader at USHA, but at the time Julie started was running a Division in Tampa. Julie says it was one thing Jason did for her that made a huge difference in her early days at the company.
“From the beginning, I was all in,” says Julie. “But in the first week I was there as I was rushing to drop my kids off at school, I dropped my computer and it broke. I came into the office and Michael Santos was nice enough to allow me to use the extra office laptop. But I’m sitting there and Jason comes over to help me with an appointment with a client and when he’s done Jason says, ‘where are your tools?’. “I was so embarrassed, I told him I dropped my computer and asked if I could use this one until I got my first paycheck. Jason told me that was fine, he was very sweet about it. But about an hour later, he called me into his office. He says, ‘I can tell you are different, you have something,’ “and then he hands me a check and tells me to go get a computer so I can get back to work. At the bottom of the check he wrote, I BELIEVE IN YOU.”
“I started crying. Jason really didn’t know me, I had only been there about a week. I always remind him of that story. I don’t forget when someone does something kind for me that they don’t have to do. I promised him he wouldn’t regret giving me that money. I think so many of the leaders at USHA are amazing, they connect because they have heart and honor, I know Jason does.”
Now as a Field Training Agent for USHEALTH Advisors, Julie says she is paying it forward.
“I love doing this, working at USHA,” says Julie. “What I really love are my agents. My nickname is Mama Jooj, you’d have to be here to understand, it’s a whole thing, but I feel like I’m a stage mom. I’m genuinely happy when other people do well. I’m the one clapping the loudest for other people’s success. Life is hard. People start hating other people when they do well and that really bothers me. There is plenty for everyone. Why can’t we all do well and make money?”
Julie says she knows and respects all the effort it takes to become a successful agent at USHA and loves all the support she receives, including people like Krystal Roberts, who Julie says is one of her greatest friends. “You have no idea how much I love her. She’s the best.” Yet Julie also realizes at the end of the day the responsibility for and the quality of your life falls on your shoulders.
“No one is coming to save you,” says Julie. “It’s the person that keeps getting up, blow after blow after blow, that’s the champion mindset. You don’t think I didn’t cry in my car in the beginning? I would ask myself, what did I do? What did I do? How could I end up in a commission-based career?”
“I had all these devils chasing me and trying to pull me back down. There had been times in my life after my marriage ended when I had to decide if I would pay the power bill or feed my children. That is real pain, a lot of pain. Finishing up college and working full time and raising my kids and doing all the things that I did wasn’t easy. But it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.”
“Life can be hard for everybody. But you can never forget who helped you, and never think you are better than anyone else when you experience success. Everyone can be like Jason who gave me the check at a time when I needed it the most. He didn’t have to do that and I’m sure he’s done it other times and been burned in the process.”
It’s grace, giving, and gratitude. And it’s a lesson from her dad that Julie says she keeps front and center in her life.
“My dad always said that character is the only thing you can ever own in this world. You can always be replaced, so don’t get too cocky. When I went into business he reminded me, you can always be replaced, so don’t get too comfortable or too lazy, or someone can come along and replace you in a minute. You’ve got to work hard.”
The hard work has paid off in 2021, with Julie surpassing that $1 million in personal production for the year, more than $3 million for her career, and leading Team Beast Mode, to more than double that number since she has gone into leadership.
For Julie, it’s truly a labor of love.
“It makes me feel alive to do this,” she says. “I love doing it. Some people are scared to work and talk on the phone, not me because I really care about the person I’m talking with. It’s like they’re my friend. Don’t worry about the sale, just connect with someone. Even if you can’t assist them with what we have to offer, just warm up, speak to someone and help them. What I like is that I can be a good person, help a ton of people, make a lot of money and help my family. I get to do what I love, I get to be a good human.”
Human to human. Words to live by today and into the new year. You matter, we all do.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.