It’s been tested, demonstrated and proven time and time again through incredibly successful endeavors, that group culture is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. A collection of committed individuals focused on a common cause, who feel safe and secure and have each other’s backs is an unstoppable force.
For nearly four years now Brandon Cornett has felt that power and he’s busy putting what he’s experienced to good use, as a Field Sales Leader for USHEALTH Advisors. Brandon just surpassed $4 million in personal production and has issued more than $11 million as a team leader. Results matter, and while the numbers are important, for Brandon it’s focusing on the human component, the culture code that gets him going, especially because he’s experienced the exact opposite.
“I was always scared of no salary, commission only,” says Brandon. “I had a job at this marketing company, I worked there for three or four years and did well, made pretty good money, just under $100,000 a year. I got to the highest level I could and knew I couldn’t go any higher. The culture was horrible, I hated it. I was a paper pusher. I came in at nine and watched the clock until six. Leadership was awful. But I had a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks so I sucked it up, but it sucked. If I could write a letter to my 25-year-old self, (Brandon is now 33), I’d say take the leap of faith, who knows where I’d be today if I had done this eight years ago. I’d say take that leap, it will all be worth it.”
In work as in life, it’s about change. Whether it’s taking that jump into the unknown, making change happen, or somehow surviving the change that has been thrust upon you. For Brandon, change came early and at a time he least expected.
“I grew up in Coral Springs, Florida and played football in high school,” says Brandon. “I was a linebacker and I was pretty good. I got sent to Division-1 football camp when I was a freshman. I was doing well, but I didn’t end up playing my senior year, it just wasn’t a priority for me.”
No longer a priority, because at the tender age of 15, suddenly life no longer felt like a game.
“My mom picked me up from football practice every day,” says Brandon. “And then one day, she didn’t show up. Instead, I got a ride home from a friend. I got to my house and the phone rang – it was my grandma, she asked, ‘Is your dad home?’ “I told her he wasn’t and she just hung up. My dad showed up about thirty minutes later and I knew from the look in his eyes something had happened to my mom… and then he started crying.”
Brandon’s mom worked as a detective for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Brandon says his mom had fought back and beaten lymphatic cancer but one day as she was leaving work she fainted, a stint puncturing the aorta in her heart – and she was gone.
Brandon was only 15, his brother only 10 when their mom passed and the loss took the heart out of Brandon’s desire to continue playing football much longer. “My grades went down too,” says Brandon. “My mom was the rock that kept me in check. My dad was very into sports as well and for him, it was sad too to see me stop playing. My younger brother continued to play, but I just didn’t care. In fact, with all of high school, I just didn’t care anymore. I graduated, but just barely.”
Brandon says he went to college for a short time, but that didn’t speak to him either, though it was in college that Brandon’s high school friend, Jaime Goldstein, introduced him to a kid named Garrett Laughlin.
After college, Garrett had joined the company where his own father was working, USHEALTH Advisors and he had started asking his friends to join him, including Brandon.
“Garrett had been asking me for years to come over and work for the company,” says Brandon. “But I was still afraid of working commission, without a salary. Then I got the job at the marketing company and worked there, unhappily for the most part, until I could see there was no room for growth. I quit my job on my birthday, called Garett and said I’m ready, let’s go. I contracted with the company and started the study course to get my health and life license.”
Brandon joined USHA in July 2016 and got lucky, he was trained right away by the man who is currently the number one personal producer in the history of USHEALTH Advisors, David Zalka.
“Because Garrett didn’t even have the office yet, Zalka came to my house to train me,” says Brandon. “He trained me for the month of August and Garrett got the office open in September. It was crazy how we all sat in the pit there and created a really cool culture. What we had during those early days was so awesome, because it was just us working hard and building. I want to create a culture like that again with my team in Boca. That’s what we’re trying to do now, is to mirror the early days of USHA when we only had about 20 people in our space and started to build this thing.
“I still remember being in the new office and after a few weeks I got my first big check, it was about $5,000 for the week. I had to sit down and stare at it and thought, ‘Oh my God, my life is about to change.’ It was a surreal feeling, especially realizing I had so much room to grow from there.”
Brandon says much of his inspiration, especially focusing on the culture, comes from the top, the CEO of USHEALTH Advisors, Troy McQuagge.
“Troy said something at a meeting that stayed with me,” says Brandon. “He talked about creating a destination for your people. In this business, we see our co-workers more than our families. So it goes beyond the finances, it goes beyond how much money we can make. It feels like home. I’m a huge culture guy, especially from my football days, one team all fired up and ready to fight. But the great culture here begins at the top. You have to believe it from the CEO all the way down and everyone has to buy-in. My wife Gemma heard Troy speak a few times and she immediately said he is genuinely just an amazing human being. He cares about absolutely everybody who walks in the door, whether you’ve been here four days or four-thousand days, you just want to be a part of that. I know I do.”
To taste success you’ve got to have the right recipe, Brandon knows the number one ingredient is hard work. Then it’s getting the right people in the door, dialing out on the floor and recruiting some more.
Rinse and repeat.
“My typical day is I try to get up by 5 am and get to the gym,” says Brandon. “I’m successful about half the time,” he laughs. “But I’m in the office at 7:30 am, music turned on. We hold a lotto every week to win tickets and money – and by 8 am we’re on the floor and we’re dialing, we’re working. About 1 pm to 2 pm everyone takes a lunch break or goes to the gym. Then we do a training session in the afternoon or help Satellite Leader, David Zalka, with recruiting. At 4 pm we’re back on the phones. I try to stay until about 8 pm, so it’s 8-to-8 each day. The last thing I want to do is leave in the late afternoon with my agents still in the office working. You’ve got to be that role model and be there for your guys and gals. My wife, Gemma, helps me out with thank you notes and other activities like recruiting.”
Brandon refers to Gemma as one of his greatest gifts. “I married a woman I absolutely love, she’s so beautiful,” he says. “It’s just a huge success. I don’t know why she loves me so much,” he laughs. “We met briefly years ago when I was bartending but didn’t start dating until about five years after that when we came back into each other’s lives. That girl is my rock. She keeps me in check more than you can ever imagine. The long days at the office are for a reason and she knows that. And our lives will change again soon, now that we have a kid on the way!”
While bringing a new life into the world will be a big deal, Brandon and Gemma recently embarked on a mission to save lives. Gemma is from Freeport, Bahamas and last year after the Bahamas got hit hard by Hurricane Irma, the couple took two weeks, gathered supplies, food and donations and drove a boat over to the devastated island to help out the locals. Brandon describes it as one of the “proudest moments of my life.”
Life is about giving and serving and Brandon says he wants to make sure he can give as many people as possible the opportunity to live their dreams with the USHA opportunity.
“I want my friends and friends of friends to come in and make the change that will change their lives for the better,” he says. “I work with one of my friends, Geoffrey Weiser. He issues business every week and has a baby on the way as well. I have a childhood friend, a guy I knew since I was 10-years-old working five feet from me every day, working and growing with me. I mean the opportunity to earn a couple of hundred grand a year hear is a big deal, but the culture is a thousand times better.”
Building a great culture is like creating a family. Brandon can now look at his own family and realize while the loss of his mom was tough to take, the timing of it all left behind a small blessing. The family had been preparing to move to a new town, instead, they ended up staying right where they were – and in hindsight – it changed Brandon’s life.
“Before my mom’s sudden passing we were planning to move to Wellington, about an hour north of Coral Springs,” Brandon remembers. “We had bought a big house. My dad manages hospitals in Miami and he was going to switch to a hospital in Wellington. The house was still under construction when my mom died. My dad decided to kind of bite the bullet and not make the move. I wouldn’t have met the friends I have today, or have the career I have today had we moved away. It’s the butterfly effect, it’s crazy how the world turns, I wouldn’t have the life I have now if I hadn’t met these guys.”
Through the pain of loss, a new beginning. Something Brandon’s mom left behind, an open door that Brandon could walk through and see his life change, though in that time of darkness it was hard to see the light. Now Brandon’s mission is to use that light to change the lives of other people with a method,, that transmits, amplifies and celebrates the purpose of an entire group. In other words, a great culture.
“I want to create the destination that Troy has always talked about,” says Brandon. “I want the Boca office to become the home to 50, 60, 70 agents. I want them to remember like I always do, with gratitude for what we built. It’s attitude, positivity and so much more. There are a hundred things I can rattle off… the atmosphere, the hope, the legacy. I want to be remembered for my attitude toward everyone I meet, to treat an agent on his first day, the same way I was treated… to build a culture that never dies.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.