“The most important thing is this: To be able, at any moment, to sacrifice who you are for who you will become!” – Eric Thomas
For Jonas Occeus, it was the words of Eric Thomas, one of the world’s top motivational speakers, ringing in his ears as he sat in his law school class and analyzed his life.
“It was 2013, that day I sat in my criminal law class and heard the ET quote,” says Jonas. “I dropped out that year and it was a trying moment for me, but something I had to do. I was scared. It was fear of the unknown, but I didn’t see myself in law anymore. I wanted to get back into sales—to sacrifice who I was for who I could become.”
While life was not going exactly the way he wanted, Jonas knew something about sacrifice. A first-generation Haitian[CA1] -American, he had watched for most of his life as his mom worked multiple jobs just to keep Jonas and his sisters above water.
“We grew up in Immokalee, Florida, an agriculture town and one of the poorest towns in America,” says Jonas. “The majority of the residents there are migrant workers who work in the fields all day long. My mom worked in the field picking oranges and tomatoes in 90 to 100-degree weather, just to provide for us. My parents split when I was five. My dad worked in the fields too, but then went to school and got licenses to open up his own auto repair shop.”
At the age of five, it was hard for Jonas to know that the fruits of his own labor and “never say die” attitude would lead him to the doors of USHEALTH Advisors (USHA). Jonas serves as a Field Training Agent (FTA) and his team is currently leading the way as the number one FTA team in the country for USHA.
Jonas and his team are living the company’s mission of HOPE, Helping Other People Everyday. He says he is leading by the example of an old African-American proverb: Each one teach one. That proverb originated in America during slavery times. Slaves were seen as chattel and therefore denied an education, so when one slave learned to read or write, it became his duty to teach someone else.
“I look at that proverb now and I use it with this vehicle, with USHEALTH Advisors,” says Jonas. “As I have built my own success, it’s my duty to reach back and teach the others—to always leave the light on. It’s no longer about the money, it’s about truly helping change people’s lives for the better. It’s all about helping those who choose to follow you. Leaders can make others around them as great or greater than they are.”
But while Jonas is experiencing tremendous success with a team operating in the spirit of Eric Thomas’s #beastmode mentality and results, Jonas is quick to point out, it’s the story behind that beast mode and the #1 team—it’s the story behind the glory.
There is always a story.
It is a long way from where Jonas was raised, along that dirt road in a mobile home in Immokalee, to today.
“Looking back on it now, I realize we were poor, though not sure I knew it back then,” says Jonas. “My mom would leave at what I called dark-30 in the AM and work to dark-30 at night, hustling two jobs. It’s an emotional thing to think about now, but she was able to get to the point where we could upgrade a bit and lived in a habitat for humanity home. My mom was able to get approved for that, our first home, the first time I ever had my own bedroom, in a 3-bedroom, one-bath house.”
Jonas says his grades weren’t the best, and he barely graduated from high school. Part of that, he says, was because of the environment. There wasn’t much around him that spoke of success or motivated him to do more.
“With school, it was just me going through the motions,” says Jonas. “I had no aspirations of doing or becoming anything more than what I was. Living in that small town, there was nothing to aspire to. My mom said, ‘Just try to go to college and get a job.’ It wasn’t until I was brought into a mentorship opportunity with Dr. William Harris and his wife, Tari, that I realized there was more to life than my hometown, that I could live a better life. They brought me in and showed me more of the world. It was the first time I realized that someone who looked like me could be a doctor or an attorney. Before that time, I didn’t know of anyone of African-American descent who was like that. I thought you had to come from a certain family or look a certain way.”
The way for Jonas took a detour, however, when he was falsely accused and arrested in 2004, charges which an attorney who Jonas met by simply going up to and asking a question after court managed to argue and get dismissed. The attorney, Jeff Quinn, took Jonas under his wing, and the experience led Jonas to want to enter the field of law.
“I wouldn’t be here without Jeff,” says Jonas. “He was a blessing from God. He took my case, pro bono. I decided I wanted to use the law to change society for the better. What Jeff did for me, I wanted to do for others.”
With Jeff’s help, Jonas applied for and got accepted to college, attending Stetson University, then transferring to and graduating from the University of Central Florida. During his time studying at Stetson, Jonas also met a woman who would become an inspiration and pivotal part of his life, the woman he describes as “my lady”, Danene Charlton, now Dr. Danene Charlton.
“Danene would talk about things in college like how she was going to open a dental office. I would tell her she was crazy. I never thought about those kinds of things.”
Jonas says he had no idea Danene came from an affluent family in Jamaica and says she sparked his entrepreneurial desire.
“I always tell her she planted that seed by talking about what was possible,” he says.
After Jonas graduated from college, he pursued his desire to attend law school and got accepted to the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. But just before heading out west, Jonas met a man who would also become a mentor and change Jonas’s life by changing his mind: Tony Perez.
“I used to see Tony walking around in basketball shorts, but all the people he was hanging with were wearing suits,” says Jonas. “That fascinated me, and I finally approached him to have a talk. Tony took me to his place in the high-rise where we were living and showed me the concept of residual income. I was captivated. When I got to Chicago and got settled in, Tony and I spoke again about a unique network marketing opportunity and I ended up joining in.”
While in law school, Jonas worked at the network marketing company and had great success, becoming a National Director and recruiting in many of his classmates as a way for them to make good money while attending law school. It was at the same time Jonas heard those words from motivational speaker Eric Thomas, “to sacrifice who you are, for who you will become.”
“It was what I knew would be possible if I went all-in with my network marketing business, no longer doing it part-time,” says Jonas. “It was also the weight I had accepted of being in a leadership position with the company, working in the service of others. I needed to be all-in.”
But Jonas says as he jumped in with both feet and worked his way to the point where he expected there would be long-term residual income, it never materialized. There was no gold at the end of the rainbow, it was pennies on the dollar.
“Part of the reason was the team became massive, and there were leadership flaws. We became full of ourselves. We thought we didn’t need a coach or mentoring, we would just do it our way. We didn’t know we needed to duplicate leadership. It’s the most expensive mistake I ever made.”
Expensive, costly, leading to financial disaster.
“In 2014, I hit rock bottom,” says Jonas. “No money, nothing at all, basically homeless.”
That’s when Jonas called his sister, Kerllanne.
“She booked me a ticket to get back from Chicago to Florida. Once I flew back, Tony Perez picked me up from the airport and drove me to Savannah, Georgia. My sister took me in, and I lived on her couch for six months. I was a college graduate, went to law school, and I had had financial success, but now I had nothing, and I was close to giving up. I never listened to motivational speeches or personal development, but I remember listening and then reading books. Les Brown was one of the people that turned my mind around. I remembered writing down, ‘I’m going to make $100,000.’”
Our ability to handle life’s challenges is a measure of our strength of character. – Les Brown
Jonas kept that message in front of him, writing it again and again. He focused and found a new avenue. He eventually hooked up with another multi-level marketing company but this time, it was different. This time, Jonas listened and learned about leadership, personal development, and how to build a team. Although he never built it to be the same level of success as his former MLM, Jonas says what he learned there was priceless and became part of his comeback story.
Eventually, a property-casualty insurance company contacted Jonas. He says he asked the manager there if people were making $100,000 a year and was told there were people earning that much and more, so Jonas accepted the opportunity, telling his manager he would be one of the top salespeople in the call center. His first year in, Jonas earned $105,000. Mission accomplished. See it in your mind, hold it in your hands.
Jonas says he stayed at the property-casualty company for several years until things changed, and he was introduced to USHEALTH Advisors.
“The company where I was working did what most corporate companies do, they made cuts in the interest of the business, not in the interest of the people. You could do more, and still for less pay. So, I decided there had to be something else out there. I knew a former employee, Josh Cohen, had started working at USHA. I told him, ‘I heard you are doing well, but I want to see proof.’ For me, documentation beats conversation.”
Joshua brought Jonas in and showed him the substantial monthly checks he was getting at USHEALTH Advisors, as well as the residual income he was building.
“I told Joshua, ‘This is what I am looking for,’” says Jonas. “To me, sales is the idea that if you put in the time to build your business, you can buy back your time. You go from trading time for dollars to residual income. I said to him, ‘OK, I’m in.’ I didn’t even do research on the company. I ran on it based on his word. Now, I thank him so much for introducing me to USHA. It’s a life-changing opportunity.”
And now, just about a year and a half later, it’s all about changing other lives.
“I’m getting to the point now, especially in a leadership role, that it’s all about the investment in other people, developing them and helping them get to the next level. I want to be the vehicle that drives them to success, how do I help make them successful? I have a great coach and mentor at this company, my Satellite Division Leader, Chris George. I can’t say enough about him. Chris is my coach. Every successful athlete has a great coach and business is no different. What it all boils down to is launching. When an agent comes on board, we have the DMO, Daily Method of Operation, in place. Everything revolves around that, their ‘why’. People might give up their money or other things, but this gets them to their reason why.”
For Jonas, his why extends beyond business as well, and it returns it to his roots, his family. By seizing the opportunity at USHEALTH Advisors, Jonas put himself in a position to help out his parents. This company that has helped change Jonas’s life has allowed him to pay it forward and change his parents’ lives as well.
And it happened without them knowing it was coming.
“I recently took my parents on a surprise trip to St. Martin and used the funds from my USHA bonus check to make it happen,” says Jonas. “They are both older now, in their 60’s, and I wanted to do this for them. Neither of them knew where they were going, or that they were going together until they got to the airport. Until that day, they had rarely spoken at all. And once they were there at the airport, they had no choice. We went and stayed at a really nice hotel in St. Martin with them, three of my sisters, and my lady, Danene. My parents had a blast and now they are talking again. My mother keeps saying she can’t thank me enough. My father says he never thought I could do anything like this.”
It’s not what you get, it’s what you give. Jonas says he is learning every day that his biggest accomplishment and his biggest challenge are one in the same—a never-ending quest for success for himself and for the people around him, those he serves.
“No matter what I accomplish, I don’t think it’s enough,” says Jonas. “I know that it could be even better. It’s always making the investment in myself or in someone else, never settling. You can fail. It’s only in your mind, though, and you just overcome it. Every time I failed, I came back, I had more success, I made more money. I just failed my way to success. It’s that belief to see the invisible, then do the impossible. My goal is just to pass it on. Reach back and teach others. Each one teach one.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.