“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
Character isn’t something you are born with and can’t change, it’s something you take ownership of and develop. If you do that, the law of attraction takes over and the relationships you build then fuel your success.
In recent years, Derrick Berry feels like he’s been living fully in that concept, recognizing that if he gives back, and focuses on people before profits, he can leverage a lot – and in turn – a lot will be given. Derrick serves as a Satellite Division Leader for USHEALTH Advisors and says he’s living proof that what powers success here are the people. And Derrick has touched plenty of people, to the tune of more than $33 million in production since he became a team leader with USHA, putting him squarely in the top 100 leaders of all-time with the company.
“It’s life-changing,” says Derrick. “Anybody can talk about the great financial aspects of the company and the opportunity, that’s the obvious part. But to me what’s life-changing is the pride and confidence being part of this company have given me, and most importantly the friendships I have with the people I work with every day and who have helped me along the way. People like Nathan Scott, Jim Schmitt, Jamie Weeks, Randy Hildebrandt and Perry Lunsford, just to name a few. Even in tough times like these, (the COVID-19 days), we are all still staying in touch, talking and asking, ‘how is the family?’
“I love the money, don’t get me wrong, but the feeling of accomplishment I have here, the opportunity we all have and the relationships and friendships we create are so much more than a paycheck.”
But it’s also about reaching for and achieving big dreams. Derrick grew up in Midland, Texas with a brother and step-sister, full of dreams. He says childhood was good and he fell in love with baseball. A love that Derrick has passed onto his own boys, even coaching his stepson up until the time he started high school.
But even as an adult, there was another dream Derrick knew he had inside.
Derrick remembers the moment. “When Jim Schmitt, my division leader interviewed me for this career, he sat me down and said, ‘so what is your dream, what are you playing for?” If you had extra money, what would you get?’ “I told him it was a ranch, and after my first year at USHEALTH Advisors, I was able to get that ranch. It took me a few more years of working to build the house on that land. But what a gift it has been, because during this strange time with the coronavirus and staying at home, I’ve now been able to spend more time on the ranch with my wife and the kids. We just love it.”
If Derrick feels like his life is on fire right now then it’s all for good reasons. Yet it’s in stark contrast to a time some years ago, when in a twisted metaphor, his life really was on fire… because he was!
Derrick says one of the greatest challenges of his life was a horrific accident and then the doctors telling him he might never walk again.
He says he was using a gas can to fuel fire at a party, without the knowledge that embers had already been burning underneath a pile of wood. When the gas was poured in, the embers exploded and Derrick caught on fire, as did the house where the party was being held.
“A buddy tackled me and threw me into the pool,” says Derrick. “I thought everything would be ok, kind of like after a burn when you run the spot under cold water. But then I looked down and saw my skin was coming off and clogging up the drain in the pool, that’s when I realized it was more serious than I originally thought. My friends took me to the hospital in Denton, Texas, but once they started evaluating me there the staff told me they needed to fly me to the speciality burn center at Parkland Hospital. I asked them, ‘how much does that cost?’, they told me about $15,000. I had no insurance. So instead I got wrapped in towels, got in my buddy’s truck, and he made the 30-minute drive to DFW Hospital. At that point, I was on so many painkillers I don’t really remember the ride, but I do remember occasionally I would ask, “are we there yet?”
With burns over about 20% of his body, Derrick says he doesn’t recall a whole lot about the next two-to-three months. “It’s kind of blurry for me,” he says. “I do remember though after having some of my skin cut off at the burn center, they sent me home! The next morning when my roommate woke up he told me my calves were the size of small footballs and there was green stuff in the bed. They took me back to the hospital and no one could understand why I was released. During the rest of my stay, I was told they did a number of skin graphs and tried to fix the nerve damage, but the doctors said I might never walk again because of the damage to my legs and ankles. I remember very little, but I do remember how they cleaned my skin. Twice a day they would come and scrape me… with a foil brush. That part I will never forget.”
“I was there for about a month to a month-and-a-half, and then I asked when I could leave. They said you can when we can see you walk across the hallway. They had done graphs on my legs, chest and other places. My right lower leg was the worst. But I made the walk and so they let me out to go to therapy. But therapy was just walking up and down some steps. I said, ‘I can do this on my own’, so I left and did my therapy at home.”
Back then, during his college years, Derrick had no health coverage, and so now it’s easy for him to see that it’s a place he doesn’t want others to have to face. His career as an agent and leader at USHEALTH Advisors has allowed him to put people, both his clients and his agents, in a better situation. He says when he found the opportunity at USHA it changed his life.
“During my college career, I started working with a buddy who had a landscaping company,” Derrick says. “Then we started a construction and home remodelling company. But I had a wife and a kid on the way and I was doing construction work that was barely paying the bills, that’s when I found USHEALTH Advisors.”
“I started getting e-mails about this opportunity because my resume was out there,” says Derrick. “Eventually I went in and interviewed with Jim Schmitt. After I spoke with him, he told me to give it a few days and let him know. I took it one day past Jim’s deadline because that’s the control freak in me,” laughs Derrick. “But then I told Jim, ‘yes’, and it’s been a great ride ever since.”
“I prayed the opportunity was real because at the time I signed on I only had about $5,000 in the bank. Even my wife Kelsi didn’t know how bad it had gotten. And it took a long time to get licensed in Texas, but by that time I had people ready to go as soon as I got my license. When I got my first paycheck, my leader Nate Scott called me and told me to go take a look online at my pay statement. I told Nate to just tell me how much I earned, but Nate’s the kind of guy who wants you to figure it out on your own, so he made me look it up myself. That first check was $3,400. I instantly felt lighter and knew that this was real and now I could truly do something to help my family.”
That first paycheck was six years ago, and now Derrick has not only his immediate family, made up of his wife Kelsi, and their three boys, 3-year-old Harvey, 5-year-old Wyatt and 16-year-old Ty, but also his extended family, the people Derrick has met and embraced at USHA and who in turn, have embraced Derrick and his family.
“The thing I take out of this, and I hope others do too who work with me,” says Derrick, “is that the most important thing is the relationships we have built through all of this. It’s about friendships. I’m hard to work with, I push people hard, but we do a lot of extra things together and I hope they realize how much they mean to me. That relationship building is so important to me.”
Derrick and members of his team regularly go to Texas Rangers baseball games, Mavericks games, grab a beer or even hunt and fish together. It’s all about building the bonds that make business better.
What’s also important to Derrick is to make sure the new agents he brings on have the greatest chance for success. He says he likes to set them up to win.
“I do things a little differently,” says Derrick. “I’m not a mass recruiting guy, I don’t just bring in as many as I can and see what sticks. I don’t believe that’s fair. We normally bring in just enough people that I believe my FTA’s and FSL’s can handle and we build a little bit slower, with the focus on my guys writing more in annual volume and doing consistent activities at that level. We focus on engagement and everyone helping and serving as many as they can, so they get their paychecks. It’s all about pulling on the rope together. We have a lot of different people who like to do things in different ways. You have to respect those personalities, learn what that person enjoys doing and help them to do more of it.”
Derrick says even in writing his own personal business, he has never relied on the leads, instead, he has leaned on his relationships.
“I have always been more of a circle of influence guy,” says Derrick. “There was a guy I knew when I started, this guy in bodybuilding, a very religious man I who I helped get a new health policy. He had a huge social media following and about once a month he would post about me and how much money I saved him on health coverage – and every time he posted I would get about 15 appointments. Then I went to a buddy who did Ted talks, and so on. It’s how I’ve always done everything and try and teach my agents to do the same.”
“Our team was struggling last year and we made some changes which doubled our team production, changes that included me being even more approachable, not that I’m not, but if I’m working for ten hours straight, then I work ten hours straight and sometimes I forget to get up walk around and see how everyone is doing. Now it’s in my daily schedule, just to get up and say hello, to ask if anyone needs help, or maybe to take someone to lunch. The relationship building is so important to me and I hope my people realize it.”
Even outside of the office, it’s the relationships that drive success. Out on Derrick’s ranch, wifi is spotty. But Kelsi’s grandparents live nearby and Derrick goes there to work and use their internet service. He, in turn, especially during these unprecedented times, makes sure to go get their groceries, so Kelsi’s grandparents don’t have to go out to the store. It’s the little things in our shared humanity that can mean so much.
It’s the relationships that give our hearts a home.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.