The foundation of life is health. The foundation of business is relationships. If you want to build a healthy business, then you must build more relationships—the ones that come from the heart.
But can you really build a business based on heart? You can if you are Alexandra Kontos.
Alex is building a heart-centered business one relationship at a time. In fact, she is so good, it is the only way she became one of the top producers at USHEALTH Advisors in 2018—issuing more than one million dollars in annual premiums. Alex did not take a single lead but instead used a single platform—the power of relationships—to live the company’s mission of HOPE: Helping Other People Everyday.
“I don’t get business or clients any other way,” says Alex. “I keep in touch with people and let them know what I’m doing. You have to. Almost all of my clients are my friends on Facebook and Instagram. I like to stay top-of-mind and stay in touch. When I’m on the phone with somebody, I get to know their whole family—they become like family. I don’t like transactional—I’m not a transactional person. I have a need that goes beyond the financial need to connect with someone. I take time with people, especially if they are not ready to buy. I want to add value first.”
It is the true power of the one-on-one, and Alex learned it by doing the exact opposite in sales—going door-to-door.
“During my junior year at Florida State, I fell in love with this guy during spring break,” laughs Alex. “He had this summer job—they sent you really far away, and I didn’t want to go back home. So, I followed him out west for this sales job, and we sold books door-to-door. We worked 80 hours a week in Arizona, knocking on doors all day long. It was so hot, I’d take naps in my car during the hottest part of the afternoon. We’d knock on doors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It was amazing—a life-changing opportunity—because it taught me habits and disciplines and the power of hard work. It gave me the ability to do what I do now, to have the self-discipline to get up and work all day.”
But Alex did not really get to know people, because there was not time to build rapport.
The door-to-door school of hard knocks led Alex to an opportunity with a sister company doing outside sales, selling magazines and chocolates to schools for fundraising programs in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
“I did really well,” says Alex. “I was the only woman with 13 other men in the entire region, but I remember I started getting these weird vibes from my boss. I had a boyfriend at the time and my boss kept asking when we were getting married, like the company didn’t want a single woman there. They wanted me to settle down. That didn’t work for me—I’m a free spirit.
“But what really prompted me to leave and want something else was they had me shadow one of the top producers in the company. She worked in Texas and they said she had a goal of making $100,000 a year by the time she was 30. I looked at that and thought, ‘Wait, I’m 23. You mean I’m going to work for the next seven years and only make $100,000? I’m out.’”
Alex’s parents did not love the sales work and said they wanted her to go in a different direction.
“It was my parents who convinced me to go to law school,” says Alex. “I always heard their voice in my ear, ‘You are selling stuff, but you are so much more than that. You should go get a real career.’ My parents are from Uruguay, and I’m a first-generation American. In South America, you went to school to be something, like a doctor or a lawyer. My dad was a doctor and my mom was pre-med but left the program early to marry my dad. They moved to America a year before I was born.”
Alex ended up attending law school and became pregnant with her first daughter in her final year.
“I passed the bar when I was 7-1/2 months pregnant,” says Alex. “I had my second daughter a few years later.”
But as she became a new mom and now a lawyer, the recession hit.
“The only jobs in law were in bankruptcy and foreclosures because there were a ton going on in Florida,” she says. “I got a job handling those, but it actually paid less than the sales job I had left! It wasn’t until after I started my own law firm that things changed. I grew the practice to about 40 employees and did it all through business development, which is where I developed all those relationships—the same way I do it now.”
Alex’s focus on relationships led to referrals and her dedication to business development inspired her to want to inspire others to do the same. The outcome was a series of seminars, workshops, and retreats she attended and hosted to empower others, especially women, to believe in themselves and to shake off the limiting beliefs holding them back from doing anything they set their mind to. It is the power of personal growth and development. Grow, so have the power to grow others and expand their vision.
Building up herself and her psyche was instrumental in powering through the toughest time in her life when the wheels came off the cart with her divorce in 2015. But it was the foundation of a strong mindset she had built and the relationships she fostered that kept Alex focused on moving forward no matter what.
“My greatest accomplishment and my greatest challenge are tied together,” says Alex. “My greatest challenge was getting divorced and closing my law firm and losing 75 percent of my income all in the same year. The road to rebuilding that was a really painful two years. I was really struggling because everything was on me. I was short on money and I missed my girls, being with them only half the time. I had been in a partnership with my firm, and it worked really well when I was part of a bigger team, but now it was just me. I was doing everything, trying to work, coach other women and lawyers, doing retreats and not making enough to sustain my own life.
“I eventually sold out and got a job working for someone else—a law firm—because I needed the benefits and I had to make a salary every month. They hated me at the law firm because I had been an entrepreneur and I had my own way of doing things and my own ideas. Turning this all around was hard because I had to give up my pride and ask for help. I borrowed money from friends who supported me. It was all very difficult.”
But at the same time she was working as an employee at the law firm, she met a man named Eric Horstmeyer, who was working as an entrepreneur at USHEALTH Advisors. USHEALTH Advisors is a subsidiary of USHEALTH Group, providing affordable health coverage and supplemental benefits to individuals, families and the self-employed. Alex knew her true calling was being self-employed, making her way the way she had done it for so many years.
“The day I signed up to do the study modules to get my health and life license was the day the bosses at the firm where I was working restructured and offered me a lower-paying position,” says Alex. “I was making little money, had no savings and I had moved my daughters and myself into my mom’s two-bedroom apartment.”
The offer for lower pay was the last straw for Alex. She decided to “go all in with USHEALTH Advisors.”
“Eric was a big reason,” says Alex. “I was super impressed with him as a business person and he kept telling me, ‘You can do this. You have a huge network. You’ll be great at this.’ He was making like $10,000 a month and I was barely making half of that.”
Alex started with USHA in April of 2017 and by May, she had issued her first new business.
“They held an incentive contest for a cruise with my Region and I won it,” she says. “I had no fear. I really wanted to get out of my mom’s place and get out on my own again. Eric and my Division Leader, Ron Leonard, really inspired me. They are both the hardest-working people I know. Eric was a single dad and I was using the excuse that I was a single mom to hold me back from creating bigger goals or telling myself I couldn’t work hard enough. But I saw the way Eric did it.
“He didn’t make any excuses. He sat on the phone and made calls every night. It rubbed off on me. I didn’t have an excuse either. Getting into that environment and coming out of my situation was my greatest accomplishment. I made bigger goals and I doubled my income over what I made even when I owned my own law firm. Now, I get to do the things I want to do on my own time.”
Alex does what the most successful do, using her body to affect her mindset. She works out daily, has entered numerous physical challenge and racing events. The exercise fuels her body, which fuels her business and gives her the energy to develop those relationships, which are critical to her success.
“I don’t take a single lead,” says Alex. “It’s all through relationships and referrals. It’s important in this business to get momentum too. It makes sense the company has markers for you to shoot for when you begin. I hit my $100,000 of annual volume in issued business in my first eight weeks and I told myself I was never going back. When you see the results, success becomes your norm. And even when you think you are working hard, there is someone working harder than you, which is why we can’t buy into the limiting beliefs we put on ourselves.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I get to see Eric and Ron do what they do and see they are always taking it to the next level. I go to this workout thing, this boot camp, called Barry’s Bootcamp. If I do it every day, I’m on fire. Then, I talked to someone who said it was their second class, not second class overall but that day! Wow. Seeing others do things like that makes me want to expand my own capacity for growth.”
Doubling down on her relationship building is what Alex is focused on this year, which continues to allow her business to thrive. From constant social media posts and her involvement in important Facebook groups for women to the way she treats her prospective and current clients—with kindness and kid gloves—it all works because she does.
“I let my clients know in every conversation I have that I am here for them,” says Alex. “I let them know I appreciate their trust in allowing me to help them with the health coverage and this trusting relationship never ends. I have the policy myself and I’ve used it, so I know how it works. I know all the doctors in my area and I help my clients with that as well, in giving recommendations or referrals. I also have clients who have come here from Argentina or South America, and I help them even more with navigating the health coverage and getting the care they need.”
It’s her philosophy of giving and nurturing the human connections and continuing to work on herself that pushes Alex to do more.
“My grandma passed away last July,” says Alex, “She was a huge inspiration for me my whole life. She was the most selfless person I’ve ever met. She was the matriarch of my family. I think of her when I have to help people with customer service and more.”
“I would say going above and beyond for people is my purpose. It’s more than just saving them money—that doesn’t feel like it’s enough for me. I do know and help a lot of women entrepreneurs. Knowing your niche is important. For me, it’s women lawyers and moms. They always have bigger policies and are paying way too much for those marketplace plans. If I can help them get in a better situation, I will.”
“As far as my agents (Alex is now a Field Sales Leader with USHA) and those around me, I know so much of success comes down to mindset. It’s not easy to find people who can do this at a high level. It’s hard for me to understand the 80 percent who don’t or can’t work hard, because I’m not wired like that. It’s just a story they are telling themselves and they can change that story. I feel like what they need is to expand their mindset. If you expose them to personal growth, then the ones that embrace it and really get it will keep going. It builds energy and I try and bring that same energy to my office and it’s how I show up with other people.”
It’s the people part that Alex has mastered, which is why people want to be around her and work with her. It is the law of attraction. Whether it is clients, co-workers, friends or family, you build and work on those connections and you do it one relationship at a time. It’s not transactional—it’s consultative and collaborative.
For Alex, there is no more door-to-door. She’s learned the way you build a successful business is heart-to-heart.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.