Day by Day

The ability to focus and act on only what is in front of you is a superpower. Anita Carreno has that power—the power of now—she has it down to a science, even if voices in her head keep telling her otherwise.

“One of my greatest accomplishments in my life is overcoming myself,” says Anita. “I am constantly fighting myself. I’m my own worst enemy, telling myself I can’t do this thing, but then listening to the other voice telling me that I can.”

If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right on both counts. So far in her career with USHEATLH Advisors, and especially this current year, Anita is listening to the voice that tells her she can by living for today. Anita currently sits near the top in personal production for the company, with more than one million dollars in issued business. It’s not some special skill, it’s hard work and the one thing that separates the average from the elite, belief.

“I wanted to hit a million dollars in annual production for this year since I didn’t get there last year,” says Anita. “Last year, I let obstacles and my mind get in my way, but I told myself this year I can do this, and I already got it done. I’ve never done anything like this in my life. I’m hoping and believing I can finish in the top 10 for the entire year.”

As of this writing, Anita is sitting is firmly entrenched in the top 10 in the nation and is the only woman in that elite group. But Anita is no stranger to standing away from the herd, no stranger to hard work, and no stranger to hardship, since all of those are important components of building a successful business and successful life.

“I was born in Guerrero, Mexico—that’s where I grew up,” says Anita. “My childhood was full of challenges. I am part of a big family, with 14 children, seven boys, and seven girls. Half of us were born in Mexico, the other half were born in America since, when I was a little girl, that’s where my parents went to farm and make money.”

“We lacked a lot of stuff growing up, especially food.” she continues. “Many weekends, my brother and I would walk two hours to help out the people who sold vegetables, just so we could get some for ourselves to take back to our family and have them for the week to eat. We lived mainly on some vegetables, beans, eggs, and corn that we planted. If we ate meat, it was on a special occasion, like a holiday. My parents left us in Mexico with our grandparents, I was basically raised by my grandparents. My parents went to the United States to pick crops to make money, but they rarely sent us any because it cost so much to live in America. I think back on that time and see that’s why I am who I am today.”

Anita’s journey living in America began at age 10—she arrived in this country with her six brothers and sisters. The family was living in a very small town in North Carolina, helping her parents to pick crops all summer long, including weekends. Anita says her initial experience living in the states was not what she thought it might be and says, in her perspective, she’s not alone.

“We thought that the United States was our dream place until we got here,” says Anita. “A lot of people get the wrong impression of it because if you end up living on minimum wage, it’s not easy. That’s the reason you see so many Hispanics living in a three-bedroom, one bath home like we did, we all had to share. The best thing about coming to the states was school. I loved school because it got me away from the house. I really loved being at school, in the air conditioning, and out of the hot sun. I was always got A’s and B’s as a student and I kept those grades up. Unfortunately, my parents were not the kind of people who believed in education, especially my father, who said that school was a waste of time, and we had to work to survive. That was their mindset, so I only made it through the 10th grade before I had to drop out.”

Yet Anita refused to give up on her dreams of having more. As a teenager, Anita started working at a manufacturing plant and earned the money to buy her first car, a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, with an eagle on the hood, certainly fitting since Anita has always desired to fly alone and follow her own path.

But a major car accident and then her grandfather’s illness, had the family moving back to Mexico for a time. When she finally made it back to the states, the settlement from the car accident allowed Anita to purchase a mobile home, an acre of land and move out of the home she was living in with her family.

“I was over and done with living with my parents’ rules,” says Anita. “I got a job in another manufacturing plant, and then ended up getting married, and having two children. When things went bad with their father, I was then working about 16 hours a day at two jobs to make a living. I was only sleeping four to five hours a night, but I was very proud of myself because there was no way I was going to have the government save me or my children. I knew I was responsible, and I was going to work to feed them!”

A second marriage led Anita and her journey to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, two more children and a 10-year run as a stay-at-home mom, but it was never the life she envisioned. So, Anita took the next step to go back to school, earning her GED, eventually her Associate’s Degree in business administration, and a higher paying job as manager of a fast-food restaurant. But Anita quickly learned the fast-food game was not the right place for her. She wanted more, especially a desire to feel valued and appreciated for her work instead of working hard, with hardly any satisfaction.

Anita decided to make a move, not just away from her position, but to a new home, a new state, a new beginning. She convinced her family to relocate and they decided on San Antonio, Texas, since that’s where Anita’s husband heard the best paying jobs were located.

“I didn’t even know the town, just took the leap of faith and made the move,” says Anita. “But I’m a country person at heart and once I got to a bigger city, I thought, ‘What did I just do?’ I was suffocating, people were on top of each other, I wasn’t used to any of this. I spent the first two weeks hibernating, except for trips to the Dollar store. I thought, ‘What did I do? What did I do?’”

Eventually, she settled in and Anita’s job search took her to Primera insurance and tax service, where she was helping customers with car insurance. The job didn’t pay that much, but for Anita, it was the best opportunity she had found, because she found her calling: Helping people.

“I was only making minimum wage there and I left the job after only three months,” Anita says. “But I found something there I hadn’t found before—satisfaction, the satisfaction of helping someone. It wasn’t the company for me, but the experience was exactly what I was looking for. I knew I needed to find something where I was helping people. I actually signed all the paperwork to go work at Farmers Insurance but the next day, Kelly Morgan’s recruiter called me to come in for an interview with USHEALTH Advisors.”

“When I went into the interview, something told me that this was the right place for me. I got scared at first hearing about the commission-only position, but that was the point where I fought the voices inside of me. One was telling me, ‘OK, you’ve never been in sales, what if you’re not good at it? What if you suck and because of your accent no one will talk to you on the calls?’ The other voice said, ‘OK, I don’t care about making the calls, I’m not afraid. I had already made collection calls for the other company and I don’t think it will be that hard for people to talk to me.’ I kept saying, yes and no and yes and no, and finally, I said I will commit 100 percent and see what happens, and look at me today!”

To look at Anita is to see the results, having already eclipsed $1 million in production and with nearly four months still to go in the year! She says she makes the calls, she gets the referrals, and early on she practiced her scripts to know exactly how to speak to people and to use her accent to her advantage.

“I have a happy accent,” says Anita. “I am as friendly and bubbly as I can be in the first 30 seconds when I’m speaking with someone. If we get to talking, I tell them my own story to open the door and have a real conversation. I knew my accent might be an obstacle for me, but I’m honest with my clients. I tell them I didn’t conquer Spanish or English since I’ve lived in more than one place, I have a ‘southern Mexican accent’ and we laugh about it. I love to make my clients laugh. And if they don’t understand something, I ask the question back to them, they re-explain it back to me, and I re-explain it back to them until we understand. I really do care about my clients and do everything in my power to put them in a better situation.”

Anita’s success with USHEALTH Advisors is in direct correlation to the hard work and the experiences she’s had working for other companies.

“I’m kind of a workaholic. I work every day,” says Anita. “I’m always thinking about how I can bring more business in. I also work at least parts of Saturday and Sunday. Work is always in my head, and I think that’s the reason I have conquered so much because I’m always thinking about what I can do next.”

Anita says it is as much about the satisfaction of living the USHEALTH Advisors mission of HOPE, Helping Other People Everyday, as it is about anything else.

“You have to keep pushing to find what will satisfy you,” Anita says. “You have to overcome the challenges in your life. I have, even if I still struggle with the ‘two people’ inside of me. You need to find your why. My why is my kids, and it’s why I’m so motivated. I don’t look back and I always keep pushing forward. I can’t see myself going backward. I always take that next step to move ahead, because in life you have to learn from your mistakes. Everybody falls down, but you have to be able to get up and do it all over again. You must master what it is you are trying to do. Do it again and again and again and never give up. In my family, in my home, we don’t quit. That’s not a privilege in my home. We don’t quit.”

Like her parents, Anita says she is focused on the now, but she wants more—with an eye toward creating a great future for her and her family.

“I just concentrate on what I need to do,” says Anita. “I concentrate on today, fixing today, and not worrying about tomorrow. I’m just living day by day.”

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky