Never Get Complacent – Erica Blount

Rock and roll and tell it like it is. Her name is Erika Blount, but as she’ll tell you, it’s  pronounced, “blunt”, meaning say what you mean and mean what you say, like it or not.

Eriks is a straight shooter, with a purpose and a mission, to serve others, including her family, her two children, Hayden and Landon. When asked a question from one of her two boys, Erika is ready with the real answer.

“My 11-year-old had a conversation with me one time,” says Erika. “He said, ‘mom, I’ve got a question for you about your work.’ “I’ve talked to him a lot about the fact that there’s sacrifice sometimes for the bigger things in life that you want. And sometimes these kids have these big goals for what they think they want out of life, as far as a house, or a boat and things like that. And I’m like, well, you’ve got to work for it. So, one day while I’m driving down the road, he asked me just out of the blue, ‘mom, what kept you going when you were new in the business?’ “And for an 11-year-old to ask that I thought it was pretty significant. I said, well, part of it just creating a lifestyle where I can do the things I want to do and be able to give to you guys, give you something, so you have the unique ability to grow up and take vacations and things like that and not necessarily want or struggle for anything.”

As a single mom, Erika has learned what it takes to be a champion in all aspects of life, from her children to her career. She says it was her own mother who showed her what hard work looked like, and she’s absorbed that same work ethic in her own life to create self-made success.

“I was really raised by a single mom,” says Erika. “My dad was around, but he lived in Kansas through a good portion of my growing up. I saw him. He was available. But I mean, it was mostly my mom who was there for us. She was a teacher, and so she worked two jobs to provide for me and my sister. And so I saw that work ethic. I mean, that’s really the thing is I saw what my mom had to do to take care of us and always still made sure that we were put first. And so that work ethic I think carried me here at USHEALTH Advisors and I’m trying to prove to my kids that you can do it all. There’s a lot of sacrifice there. But I’m really proud of all of this.”

Pride is what Erika should feel, she serves as a Satellite Division Sales Leader at USHA and recently eclipsed the $6 million mark in her career as a personal producer.

“I look at my numbers and I feel like I’ve just been here for a bit,” says Erika. ” I don’t feel like I did anything special to have the success I have here with the company. I look at the leaderboard and I think I’m ranked like top 55 out of all agents. And I feel proud to be raising my kids and juggle the office and the financial success that’s come along with it and the things I’ve been able to create and provide for my family. I mean, it’s been life changing with this company. So whether it was my choice to go out on a limb, and trust that this process would work, I am proud of what I’ve created here.”

Erika says her pride also extends to her education, it wasn’t easy going after and getting what she desired, but just like her career here with USHA, she persevered, with a little tough love to help push her forward.

“Sometimes I think my greatest accomplishment was getting through college, it was just getting a degree,” says Erika. “Like I said I was primarily raised by my mom and I watched her work those multiple jobs to try to help provide for us. I moved to College Station, Texas and I worked 30-to-40 hours a week and went to school. So that was rough. I can remember calling my mom regularly, wanting to quit. She wouldn’t let me. And so I think sticking with it and finishing college and working and paying for the majority of it with very little in loans was pretty difficult. I’m proud of that accomplishment.”

Even before college, not knowing some years down the line she’d be in sales, Erika learned she could be creative with her selling ability, though she’s not sure she’s exactly proud of that accomplishment.

“I have friends that can remember from back in high school I would show up to the party with a cooler of beer and sit on it. It was beer that my uncle bought me, so it was free to me. And I would sit on the cooler in the middle of the party and sell the beer to the people there to try to make some money,” Erika laughs.

“I’ve always had that drive to figure things out and that entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve also got quite the sarcasm and sense of humor. I’m trying to think what I would try to sell those beers for, but it was anything I could do to try to upsell ’em from one to two…  it was like one for $3 or two for $5. And they would buy into it, which all probably carried over to my sales ability these days,” she laughs.

Erika says she did well in school, mostly because she embraced the one thing about her that has been her secret to success. Let’s face it, what would the world be like if we all truly embraced the most unique thing about our being?

“School was pretty easy because I’m a nerd. I’m definitely a nerd. People ask me where or how I found just different things like being successful here. I mean, they’re like, how did it happen with my 13 week milestone in personal production? I did 211,000 in annual volume in my first 13 weeks at the company. And I just tell ’em, I’m a nerd. Just tell me what to do. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. And so the same with school, it was pretty easy. I just did what I was told and I studied some, but for the most part, it really wasn’t that difficult.”

Coming out of school it seemed the next normal step for a self-proclaimed nerd to keep it all linear was to find the right job that fit her personality. Erika quickly found herself in the next “logical” place.

“Right out of college I worked for a logistics company here in the Houston area,” she says.  “My title was designated supervisor of Locomotive Engineers. They trained me, so I was a certified locomotive engineer. I drove trains in the rail yards of the company, which was pretty cool. But they didn’t pay very well, and I wanted more. I also wanted some flexibility. I was ready to have kids. So I actually got my alternative teacher certification over a couple of months, and I moved into teaching and I actually made more money teaching than I did with the logistics company, which is pretty crazy. I taught sixth grade math for six years, which is one of the most difficult, underpaid careers out there.”

“Once I was finished having kids, I spent my entire last year teaching, but also looking at businesses and franchise models. I was approved by a franchise out of Florida to purchase and build here in the Houston area, but I had to put together a business plan. I went to a dozen banks and every bank turned me down. They said, you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough assets. There’s nothing there for us to support a several hundred thousand dollar loan. And I said, fine. I quit teaching anyway, turned in my resignation and then I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“My boys were two and four years old, and my spouse at the time, we could afford financially for me to stay at home… but it wasn’t for me. I needed something. And so I stumbled across Mark Kahil’s USHEALTH Advisors LinkedIn post and just reached out to him. That was the summer of 2015. I came on board and now I’ll never go anywhere else. They’re stuck with me. Troy McQuagge, (the CEO of USHEALTH Advisors), has got to keep me forever,” she laughs.

The rest is history in terms of Erika’s very successful career at USHA, but even she will admit, it wasn’t love at first sight.

“I was leery,” says Erika. “I’d interviewed with State Farm. I walked out of Aflac. I could tell there was something unique with being in the insurance industry. And I’d looked at a few other companies, but it was an aunt who really recommend that I do this. She said, ‘Erika, if you get good at it, you could be really good at it.’ “And so it was sort of putting my trust in a distant aunt who was self-employed, the only one I knew who was self-employed in my family.”

“I just decided to believe in myself and that I was going to make it work. I didn’t want to be the stay-at-home mom. That’s got to be the hardest job out there. I wanted more things in my life that are just as fulfilling. Financially, I wanted that freedom and I believed eventually that it would be here. And coming on board, I worked with Mark Kahil and a few others and they just said, this is what you need to do. And I said, okay. And I went and did it. I didn’t really question anything. I just had faith. I mean, I just believed that it was going to work. Plus, I didn’t have another choice. I had no fallback option.”

Take the island and burn the boats, sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do to move forward when there’s no going back. Have faith, work hard and then maybe a little fortune will come your way.

For Erika, her fortune came in the form of a dessert.

“I had a fortune cookie,” says Erika,” with a little fortune inside that read, never get complacent. And so I kept that little bitty piece of paper that said never get complacent in my wallet for many years. It was a motivator. Every time I opened it, I would see that message and it reminded me to keep going. Those early working seven-day-weeks flew by like crazy, and you just don’t know what tomorrow holds. And so it was like, get everything that I can while I can because you don’t know what can happen. And at that point, I had no understanding of residual income. You don’t understand it until you see it and feel it personally.”

“So yeah, never get complacent was something I tried to focus on, but it was whatever the activities were. I mean for me it was phone calls. There were times where I’d get to the office in the morning and the door was still locked, or I didn’t have the code yet, and I sat on the ground in the hallway and started making phone calls. It was like, why not? I’m not just going to sit here and wait on somebody. I still have the internet. So there were no excuses. There were plenty of days where I was the last one at the office as well, or at home stirring the spaghetti and still trying to feed the kids and work at the same time. If there was anyone to blame, it was me, it’s nobody else’s fault but mine, good or bad.”

It’s obvious Erika believes in holding herself responsible for her success or failure. And she has some advice for others getting started at USHA.

Be a nerd.

“Do what your leaders tell you to do,” says Erika. “Just do it. I mean, it’s like the Nike motto, that’s what I tell ’em. Just do it. Don’t overthink it and just do it. We have this slide that we talk about every Friday, and it’s that the difference between a top producer and an average producer is that the top producers take action now. Just do it. Quit overthinking it and get out of your head. But it’s easy to tell someone. It’s difficult to implement. It takes discipline and consistency.”

Erika continues: “There’s also no balance. I can’t remember if I read this or someone told it to me, but it said, you’re never going to have balance in anything, you have to find harmony. Or to me, it was just find the peace, or the happiness amidst the chaos because it’s never going to go away. People ask me all the time, how the hell do you manage it all? And I’m like, I just know you don’t have a choice. I mean, I can dwell on problems or just find a way to focus on the positive and keep going. And so I have always had a nanny or a very consistent babysitter. My hours have fluctuated from year to year. But I mean, even when I was married, we always had somebody we could rely on for the kids. To me, it was like if I had to pay someone 10-bucks an hour, twice a week, to help with my kids, that gave me eight more hours at work, what could I generate in those eight hours?”

“And so I still have someone that helps me with that. But sometimes it’s multitasking with kids in the car. Sitting in the car, running appointments during a soccer game, or lacrosse and it’s leaning on people to help and then just juggling it all. I learned really early on I could outsource certain things. I could pay someone to do the grocery shopping, or mow the lawn. If it takes you two hours to do the lawn, can you work for two hours instead? What can you generate? How can you increase your business in those few hours if you could outsource certain things?”

Erika’s learned it’s all about efficiency and working hard. That’s how success is created, from the inside out and there are no shortcuts.

“I think the biggest thing is just to find the positive and then if there’s something that you want, you can have it. If there’s anything out there that you want for yourself, it’s a matter of you making the choice that you can come from anywhere and create anything if you have the right dedication to it. I don’t think a lot of people believe in themselves, but if you truly believe in yourself, you can have the things that you desire.”

“When it comes to newer agents here, it’s not only find the positive, but every day, what did you learn to get better? What did you learn today? Tell me something good from the day. I tell my kids all the time, they don’t come home and say, I had a bad day. You had a bad moment. Tell me what went wrong. That was a bad moment. Don’t let little things that go wrong ruin an entire day or a week.”

“You’ve just got to keep going. When I worked in a different office we had a picture of Dory from the movie, Finding Nemo. Dory says, just keep swimming. You’ve got to just keep swimming. You’ve got to keep moving forward. And so that is kind of the same thing. Just find the positive and keep going, and never get complacent.”

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Your Storyteller,
Mark Brodinsky

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