“I just want to encourage others and tell them that you can accomplish anything, once you learn how to train yourself and love yourself. I can show people you can make a huge impact on other people’s lives and everything is ok.” – Michael Farhad
It’s all going to be ok. It always is one way or another, after all, you are a 100% survivor of everything that has come before. If not, you wouldn’t be here.
Michael Farhad knows this all too well. He’s not just surviving, he’s thriving. Seven years removed from the time he bottomed out, Michael is on top of the world. In only three years, he’s become one of the best at USHEALTH Advisors, a great personal producer, with more than $2 million in insurance business, and a great leader, leading his team to nearly $25 million in team production. But those are just the numbers, the black and white of it all. Results matter, but the colors come from being an inspiration for others.
And as Michael will tell you to get to that point, to inspire, you’ve got to do the hard stuff, to love yourself first.
Your story and your scars matter.
“I remember childhood, my earliest memories I have is honestly just being a kid in New York,” says Michael. We didn’t have much at all. I just remember my mother raising the two of us and my dad working three jobs to try to provide for us. We didn’t have central heating and air and we didn’t have a washing machine or dryer. We didn’t have much of anything, but I watched my father work his butt off to provide for the family, create a business, then sell it, and get us to move down here to Florida. I learned the good principles, watching my father work so hard. I didn’t apply it till later, but I watched him love our family and do whatever it took to provide for us.”
“I watched my mother sacrifice, raise us as kids, be a God-fearing woman and just love on us. That was my mom. Her destiny in life was to be a mother. We never went without. Even when it was us counting coins to get food on the table in New York, to whatever we needed. My mom was a teacher’s aide and helped us to get into school with her and just learn. My parents did the best that they could with us and they did a phenomenal job.”
Though we tend to believe otherwise, sometimes love’s not enough, at least from an external source. Michael had trouble with the most important part of love, loving himself.
“I was just, as a kid, someone that didn’t like what they saw in the mirror,” says Michael. “We moved from Long Island, New York down to Brandon, the outskirts of Tampa, Florida with my family in 1989, when I was about eight years old. I’m 41 now. But growing up, and I think that’s where this all kind of began… I was a bit overweight when I was younger. I guess I just looked at what other people looked like, and I looked different. My hair was different from my sisters. I was overweight. They weren’t. Growing up, I think that’s where everything started, just where the root of the whole issue was because I wasn’t happy with what I saw. Several kids would pick on me, my last name is Farhad, so it was different. I felt embarrassed. My skin tone was a little bit different. It all kind of got me to… when I was growing up, I just wanted to fit in and be accepted by people.”
“That’s where things started… nothing was off the table for me. I just tried to be a people pleaser and be accepted by people. Those choices and those things led one thing to the other, and I eventually was just consumed by drugs and things of that nature. But it was weird because my sisters weren’t like that. It was just something internal with me. I didn’t want to be made fun of or picked on, so I tried to just do what everybody was doing to fit in or be accepted and just have a good time to get people to like me.”
To douse the pain he was feeling in life, Michael turned to an external escape, one that took him to another place, one where he didn’t have to feel like less.
“I started smoking weed around age 14,” says Michael. “I eventually got into opioids, then heroin by age 24.”
Michael had struggled to find his place and worth in life. After high school, he tried to attend community college but said he couldn’t make it work. Eventually, Michael started working, selling home and auto insurance, and at the same time, he dove head first into something he did enjoy, wrestling, and was even looking at trying to turn pro like his wrestling hero, Triple H.
“I was working full time, trying to maintain a physique by working out four or five days a week and going to wrestling practice three days a week,” says Michael. “I was banged up, literally. If people think that stuff’s fake and you don’t end up getting hurt from it, they’re confused, because I was banged up all the time. I had gotten roughed up one time. My shoulder was hurt, and that’s when I first tried a pain pill. That started to spiral. It was another thing that was added to the mix on top of everything else I had previously tried that I was okay with. I was like, “Oh, here’s another new piece of candy. That was the first time I ever tried anything that took a hold of me.”
“I felt like with anything other drugs when I was messed up, I still felt like I controlled everything else – until opiates got into my system. It was scary because that’s when I felt like something else fully had control of me. I knew the day it started that it was going to be bad.”
And it was.
The opioids led to other drugs, including heroin, and before he knew it Michael had hit rock bottom, or so he thought, and he finally revealed what was going on to some of those he loved.
“I had gotten honest with the family and attempted recovery the first time. I went down to West Palm Beach and I was living in a halfway house. This was back in July 2014. I started to get tired, just physically drained and just worn out. I went down there, but all I did was put the drugs down for six months. I personally didn’t change. So when I came back, I relapsed.”
What brings us back from the brink is not what we do externally, but what we can do internally. Change, lasting change, always begins from within. Michael was about to learn this tough lesson first-hand.
“The turning point was that we returned from Atlanta, Georgia from a family member’s wedding. My son – and they told me to be careful with this – they said, “If you get honest with your son and tell him what’s really going on, he’s going to hold you accountable for that.” When we were in Atlanta, he could see track marks and things. He’s like, “What’s wrong with your hand?” I was like, “Nothing, nothing.”
“We came back home and when we got back to Florida, my sister found the stuff I was using. It was a big, huge scene in the house. My son at that point told me he didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I got very, very depressed. I tried to attempt suicide. Then they called the police and the police came to the house, and this cop – this was my turning point- this cop brings me in the car and the officer had the Book of Judges, the book of the Bible on his screen. I knew what it was. I started listening to him and I said, “Why do you have that book on your screen instead of my information?” He’s like, “Well, I was preparing a Sunday school lesson.” I was like, “Hmm…”
“The cop drives me to this, what I would call a mental institution, in Tampa. He opens the door and he says, “Michael, I’m going to give you an option.” He says, “You can go in or you can go back down that street. You know where that street’s going to lead you, or you can walk inside that place.” And then he adds, “You have no idea where God’s going to take you in your life.” He never put me in handcuffs or anything like that. He just says, “You’re a good guy. You’ve had some tough stuff, but I believe God’s got a plan for you.”
“I feel like in that moment change began. Before, I was being so selfish and didn’t care who I was hurting or what happened. At that moment, I really felt bad and I wanted to change. I had to go in there to go to that place. I had to figure out a plan myself. My family was like, “This is on you. We tried this one time, and it cost us 40 grand and you didn’t change.”
“It was in there, I know God started speaking to me. I chose to put myself into a faith-based rehab in South Carolina and had to go live there for an eight-week program. I needed some extra credit, so I stayed for 16 weeks. From there, I chose to then live another year in a discipleship living program, in a house with other guys. It was hard. I chose to stay away from my family for 16 months, and coming back at 35-years-old, and then having to live back with my parents was very humbling. But that’s part of my story, I knew I had put myself in there and God took that craving and obsession away for me, and left me to work it out with myself, so I figured I’d fight tooth and nail to rebuild myself, and I did.”
Part of Michael rebuilding his life was also rebuilding his body. Getting back into shape, since they allowed him to get into the gym a few days a week while he was away. When he got back home, Michael started working out again and got a job at the gym, that’s where he met his wife, Jennifer. “It was the first gym membership I sold, which was awesome,” laughs Michael.
It’s proof that a sale can lead to unexpected pleasures. When you give, you get.
The gym was also where Michael met Chris Chamness, who was employed as a manager at a sister gym facility, but then Chris decided to move on to develop a new muscle, selling insurance as an agent for USHEALTH Advisors.
Chris eventually persuaded Michael to take a peek at USHA.
“One day I told Chris I was going to come over and check out the office. He’s like, “Yeah, come by.” I just walked into Jason Greif’s office, (Regional Leader with USHA), in our old building in Tampa, and I said, “Yeah, I’m supposed to meet some guy named Jason.” Chris had been sitting in Jason’s office and he just opens the door. I literally just walk in with my LA fitness polo, and I was up-front with Jason and told him there was some stuff I was concerned with on my criminal record, but it was misdemeanors and things. I was like, “I don’t want to make any changes or walk away from something guaranteed if I can’t get this opportunity here.”
Jason tried to give me a quick pitch and show me some checks. I was like, “I don’t want to see the big checks. I want to see a new guy’s check. I want to see this guy, Marc’s check that I know has been here for three months. I’m a numbers guy, so give me something realistic.” He showed me and I was like, that’s not bad. I didn’t realize at the moment that they were weekly checks. I thought those were bi-weekly checks like I was accustomed to. I was like, “Oh, that’s a week?!” I said, “I can live with that. Okay, if he’s doing that, yeah, let’s go.”
Michael went home to talk to Jen, since his first gym customer had now become his wife.
“I asked her, “What do you think about this?” Because we have a household, between her and I and the three kids, (Sage, Louie and Ellie), it’s a lot to provide for. Just me, I wanted to be at a point where I could offer financial security and provide for the household as a man. I wanted to do that. Back then Jen didn’t need my money at all, but I wanted to offer that. We talked and she said, “After everything you’ve been through, whatever you set your mind to, I know you can accomplish anything.” She said, “Let’s go with this.”
“Everybody told me not to come to USHA. “Don’t do it. It’s 100% commission. You have a family. You have a kid who will be wrapping up high school, and going to go to college. This is not a smart move.” We just prayed on it, talked about it, and made the jump. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Having recently celebrated his third year at USHA, Michael has his wife Jen helping in the business and he recently brought his son, Sage into the company as an agent. Now, as a leader, Michael gets to share his story, and his scars, to attract others to the opportunity. It’s not our strengths that draw people in, it’s our courage to be vulnerable about our story.
“I wanted to share this too. With my son, the bond is stronger than ever. He has the utmost respect for me. Our relationship is second-to-none. He’s seen it all. When I give my pitch and I tell my story and talk to people like this, he knows it. He’s seen it. He knows what this is, what it looks like to be on his side of the fence. It was tough for him, but he’s witnessed it all. He’s still, to this day, blown away at what our life looks like now, as real people working for this great company.”
For Michael, it’s been quite the journey from seeing his life bottom-out, to fighting his way back to prosperity and love. And now he’s sharing his message with anyone who cares to listen. And that’s one of the secrets to life, to talk about things that matter, with people that care.
“It comes down to faith,” says Michael. “This was my mindset training the other day. I said, “Faith without work is death.” I really believe my faith is what got me here to USHA and to where I’m at, and it takes a whole lot of work. You have to believe in something. I believe in God first, and that’s the most important thing to me. He showed me that I could do this, that I was worthy enough, that I do deserve it, and that I am loved. Once I accepted that and I truly started to put work into myself, I could overcome anything in life and conquer anything. That’s where our team name, “Team Konquer” comes from. It’s overcoming and conquering.”
“This is what I believe,” says Michael. “If you want a message I can give to people it’s simple, it’s that you can overcome and conquer anything in life with faith.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.