Living the Dream

“Some people laugh at this, but that’s because they’ve never lived it. This company has given me the kind of gifts you expect only friends and family give you. They’ve given me love and friendship and the ability to self-improve. If you can’t sell the love and support here, then you don’t belong in sales. You should either give it more thought or do something else.” – Jim Schmitt

For Jim Schmitt, Division Sales Leader with USHEALTH Advisors, it’s not about the money, it’s about the memories. It should be. There are plenty of memories to be had. Jim was one of the original 19 agents who were with the company in 2009, the year USHEALTH Advisors got going, and he has never stopped moving forward or believing from day one, even when it seemed like faith might be hard to find.

“I was really successful when I came here, but my family had a lot of overhead to try and keep up with from our previous opportunities, and it was tough in the beginning,” Jim says. “Plus, I’m brutally hard on myself. My greatest challenge is to try and live in the moment. Even when things are good, I’m on to the next thing.”

But this time, the next thing was not an option. Jim had to make it work at USHA, or else.

For a time—quite a long time, in fact—it was one thing after another for Jim. He went from opportunity to opportunity, never truly finding a “home” until he came to USHEALTH Advisors. Jim is currently in the Top 10 in the country as a Division Leader in 2019, and he’s Top 25 All-Time as a Sales Leader for USHA.

Despite Jim’s incredible success, as it is with anyone who finds themselves among the elite, it’s hard work and perseverance. You must battle back against all and any obstacles. After all, a winner is just a loser who tries and gets up one more time.

“I was born and raised in Oakland, California—talk about struggles,” Jim says. “I grew up with a single mom and my brothers, and we lived in the toughest part of Oakland. My dad left when I was six-years-old. Like a lot of people, you carry that chip moving forward, no matter what anyone says.”

But life has a way of balancing the bad with the good and when one door closes, as painful as it might be, another one opens. For Jim’s family, the man behind that door was Carl.

“My mom met Carl, who adopted us, and we all moved to Mount Claire, California, in the hills of Oakland,” says Jim. “To take in boys that weren’t even his was amazing. Carl was an ironworker and the most honest man I ever met. He didn’t talk much, but he preached one thing to us, ‘I don’t care how much money you have, your word is your bank. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything.’”

Jim took that to heart and when his honest heart found its true love, Jim never looked back.

“I’ve been with Jenny since 1986,” says Jim. “We married in 1991 and my marriage to my wife is most of the reason I never quit on myself in anything that I have achieved. Everyone has a team—my team is with Jenny.”

For Jim, it’s that team with one dream, and it always has been, even when that team faces challenges, as the Schmitt’s have for so much of their married life.

In 1996, Jenny was diagnosed with polymyositis, a rare disease. It’s a group of muscle diseases characterized by chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. Jim says, despite the disease, there’s no sign of weakness in Jenny’s drive or disposition.

“I think I’m tough, but I’m nothing compared to Jenny. I’ve seen her when she can barely get out of bed, and I’ve never seen her complain, not even once. She always sets an example. You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman of leadership in this company who is any stronger than Jenny. It’s just how she lives.”

That strength and determination has been crucial as the Schmitt’s have been together through a number of enterprises, all which led them to the doorstep of USHEALTH Advisors.

“In the early days, I followed the money,” says Jim. “I had to leave college early because a bad motorcycle wreck forced me to give up on the University of California with one semester left. At the time, I was working at AT&T, but my friends and I then decided to help launch the first Turkee Jerkee company. We developed that company and I designed the flavor profile. We were the largest packer of Turkee Jerkee in the country and even brought on Walmart International, eventually shipping packages as far away as Japan.

“By the end of my run, we were the largest private labeler and co-packer of that product. Back then, it was way ahead of its time—14 grams of protein in one ounce of Turkee Jerkee. Up until USHEALTH Advisors, I was never more excited about something. I learned everything about the company and had to do it all and look the part as I sold the opportunity. It was a great learning experience.”

But as with any great lesson or story, the drama ultimately unfolds and in this case as the company became more and more successful, the ties that bind started to unravel, in a big way.

“In the end, I lost the best man at my wedding, because of greed,” says Jim. “We were expanding and doing co-packing with companies like Snapple and Budweiser. Then everyone started fighting over the money. My friend told us he wanted to leave the company, to go back home and work as a fireman. He said he couldn’t take the hours and the workload. He said he’d give up his portion of the stock to go back and do his thing. We said go and do that, be happy, we’ll handle it.

“At the time, we were doing whatever it took to make things happen. When he left, Jenny and I had a brand-new baby. I mean, my daughter would be in her car carrier in the forklift in the middle of the night, because we had to put in the work and the crazy hours to succeed. And we started to get these big contracts. But when the money started to really roll in, my friend changed his mind and said I’m not giving up the stock. So, we said goodbye. My wife and I have a gift when they make it all about the money, we walk away.”

The same type of scenario resurfaced when the Schmitt’s started working with a window, heating, and roofing company. Jim offered to open up the state of Texas for the company, so he moved his family to Keller, Texas.

“We got big and ended up even having a miniature showcase house for the company at a Texas ballpark. We helped sponsor the Street of Dreams there and the team backed us, but then they stiffed us for $88,000. We couldn’t cover the loss, and so we had to close our doors.”

The end was at hand, but Jim, having learned the life lesson so many years before from Carl, stayed true to his word—that “bank” Carl preached about—and made good on his promise to pay all of his people.

“We were so broke, but I paid all of my installers and every person that worked for us,” says Jim. “I can tell you it got bad. By the time I came to USHEALTH Advisors, we were grabbing whatever food we could from my mom’s pantry to feed my family. I almost lost all of the homes we had built. We sold the boat and cars. We even sold our kids annuities and college funds. I had like one dollar in my wallet, and we were surviving on eggs and not much else. We didn’t want the kids to know how bad it was, so when it came to eating, we made games out of everything. It was a really dark time.”

It was Jim’s belief in the opportunity he saw with USHEALTH Advisors and the support from his wife, his family, and his leadership that led him out of the darkness.

“I would not have the blessings I have now without Jenny, my mom, and Jay and Teaira Still,” says Jim. “Jenny never gave up on me or us, she went out and got another job while I put in my time to make this career at USHA work. And my career here changed because of Jay Still. I think I would have been content to just do what I was doing, but Jay pushed me to places I didn’t think I could go. It was a blessing that Travis Yoder told me to go work with him. After a few years with Jay, I was never out of the top 10 in the company.”

Jim with Jay Still

Jim says he wants to reinforce that for him and his family—it’s never been about the money, it’s about the memories, especially when it comes to living every day as a gift with Jenny.

“My family, we are so close,” says Jim. “We are a foursome. The kids and I know Jenny is sick, but you would never know it by how she behaves. When she turned 50, we went on an inaugural cruise to seven countries in Europe. It’s because of this company, because of USHEALTH Advisors, that we can do things for her we never could have done. We threw a birthday party for her at the Gaylord Hotel in Texas, and I bet 90 percent of the people there were from USHA. It’s just been remarkable how these people have taken us in. This company is a family, and maybe that’s overused, but here you must believe it because you see it. You can talk forever about this company—something like this will never exist again, it can’t in so many ways. It really is that unicorn.”

Jim says the key to his success at USHEALTH Advisors is belief and the way he treats others.

“I’m a true believer, to the point of corny idealism,” says Jim. “When I believe in something you cannot stop me, and I have a unique ability to make others around me believe it too. I think that’s what makes me unique, I believe at such a deep level, I don’t question. I go with my heart, and I follow through. I always sold the dream here, even when I wasn’t living that dream myself. I always believed with every fiber of my being. I care for my people and I’m there for them. I am emotionally invested in them and they know it. I don’t see this as a business, it’s people. And when people are happy, it’s magic.

“I love changing lives. I still remember one of the first lives I helped to change was Nathan Scott. He was living with his lights off, no money to pay his electric bill, and trying to take care of his son. Nathan would make up stories about them pretending they were camping, so as not to have to explain to his son why they were literally living in the dark. Nathan struggled just to buy a pair of pants at Target, but he believed in me and I in him. He was the first life I know I helped here and got him on a different track. No multi-million dollar deal I signed with Walmart ever felt that good.”

Jim and Nathan

Despite Jim’s own challenges, which he admits are trying to live in the moment and not think about the next thing on the horizon, he tries to stay present, to bring good feelings to all of his agents, and tells his leaders to do the same.

“Taking care of people is the bottom line, especially with us as leaders,” says Jim. “You can change the whole climate, you have that power. You can’t measure our success just from the numbers, it’s the way I treat people. I tell my leaders, ‘Accept responsibility for a soul. The new agent paid their money, they took the licensing course, they chose us, and it is absolutely our responsibility to look out for them.’ It’s not luck here, it’s a series of daily choices. I go with my gut, I believe in people. I tell my people all the time, ‘You don’t ever stop believing or you shouldn’t be in leadership. You’re gonna get burned from time to time, but be equally generous to the next person. Everyone deserves the same gifts you gave to others, whether you got burned before or not.’ What’s missing in society today is giving people the benefit of the doubt, because you have no idea what they are carrying around inside of them.”

What’s inside of Jim is what keeps him going—his family, which are his focus, and the drive behind his ferocious desire to succeed.

“I wouldn’t have anything without Jenny,” says Jim. “It’s so great to be married to your best friend and to be so close as a family. I can never let my wife and my kids down. I might let myself down, but not them. They are my why.”

Jim & his son JC

The chance to change lives, including his own. For Jim Schmitt, that’s living the dream.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky

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