If you want things to change, you have to change.
If you want things to get better, you have to get better.
If you want to have more, you must become more.
– Jim Rohn
There are two constants in the life of Eric Bernstein, work and change. Change – either it happens to you, or you make it happen; in either case, it’s inevitable. Then there’s work, as Eric will tell you, work is the differentiator. The time you put in is in direct proportion to the results you get. And the goal is to keep it simple.
As simple as a trip to the nearest convenience store.
Eric is a Field Training Agent for USHEALTH Advisors, starting at the company in October of 2016. And it was his first real day on the job when he realized he had no one to call, no one to help. So Eric did what anyone, or maybe what everyone should do, he started walking, so he could start talking. “My sales leader told me it’s time to start setting appointments,” says Eric. “But I had no network to call, no leads, so I went across the street to the 7-11, I grabbed a phone book, came back to the office and started dialing.”
More than three-and-a-half million dollars in sales have happened because Eric says he keeps it as simple as A, B, C. “This is a sales career,” he says. “Setting or selling is A work; all else is B and C work. You’ve got to do the B and the C as well, but the A work always comes first, set and sell. It’s the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid. I’m a simple, routine guy.”
It’s a relentless work ethic that Eric, who now lives in Oklahoma, believes started because of what he says was a “tough situation” growing up back east in Fairfield, Connecticut. “I didn’t grow up in the best of circumstances,” says Eric. “My mom busted her hump; my dad was sick with the disease of alcoholism. When you don’t have money, it’s hard. My parents worked a lot. I had to get dropped off at 4 am at the YMCA and find a way to school and get dropped off back at the Y after school, then find my way back home, it was tough. It’s not the life a lot of people experience, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I work so hard now because I want it to be easier for my kids to have the stuff I didn’t and do the things I couldn’t do.”
Eric and his wife Shannon are the parents of two children, 6-year-old Jacobi, and 4-year-old Jeter. “Yes, you can tell I’m a huge Yankees fan,” says Eric. He says one of the benefits of growing up in Connecticut, is he could sneak into the city to play basketball and other sports, and he became a life-long Yankees fan, so much so that his youngest son’s name happened because of a single storied Yankees moment.
“My wife Shannon and I were there to see Derek Jeter’s final season,” says Eric. “Since we live in Oklahoma, we went down to Dallas to see him play against the Texas Rangers and when the crowd started chanting Jeter, the baby started kicking inside Shannon. So it made it easy, Jeter it was. He’s a handful too. He’s different; he loves hoverboard and 4-wheeling. Jacobi is my athlete; he plays t-ball, flag football, basketball, and indoor soccer, he’s got the athleticism.”
Athletics has been a considerable part of Eric’s life because he says it helped keep him straight. “I played a lot of sports growing up, and I’m glad I did because it kept me out of more trouble,” says Eric. “There was a time I thought I might be able to play competitive D-1 basketball, but in my sophomore year in high school, I hurt my ankle pretty bad, it never healed right and I never really played competitive basketball again.”
So Eric took to competing in some other of life’s sports, namely his school work, which brought about another significant change in his life. “I ended up getting a partial scholarship to Oklahoma State, and we moved out here,” says Eric. “It was a big change, going across the country to go to school and meeting new people, then getting out and getting a job in the car business.”
For many years Eric worked at Enterprise, the rental car company. “I was at Enterprise right out of college,” says Eric. “I started in the rental department, then on to car sales, and I was very successful, my name is still on the wall at the corporate office, and I broke every possible record in the country. But then I got shown the door… I never saw it coming. It was a left hook. They told me it was a corporate decision, but it rocked me to my core because after many years I had built a career at that place. I got let go without doing anything wrong. I’ve always believed in doing things the right way. It was probably tougher on my wife then it was on me. I met my wife Shannon at Enterprise, and she still works there as an accounting assistant. We worked in the same corporate office, and since E. Bernstein comes before S. Bernstein in the automated phone directory, she had to field so many calls the day I left. But it ended up being the best thing that ever happened.”
Another challenge, another change. When one door closes, another opens, usually one that’s better than the one you left behind, though it may not be readily apparent.
“The day I got fired from Enterprise, I had a job at a car dealership in the area because everyone knew me there,” says Eric. “I worked hard there, but it’s a lot of hours at a car dealership, and I quickly realized the dealership was unorganized and I was basically brought in to fix a lot of things. It wasn’t that much fun.”
But then Eric’s phone rang. “I had some woman call me; it ended up being my future Division Leaders’ mom, Cathy. She said, ‘we found your resume online, and you might be interested in an opportunity we have.’ “I said why not? I showed up early for what would have been the open pitch and started cutting it up with Jim Schmitt. Jim eventually said to me, ‘if you want this, you’re hired,’ “before he even did the presentation. He told me I’d have to get my license. I called Shannon on the way home and told her I don’t know a lot about this opportunity, but I think we can do really well here.”
Eric wasted no time. “I had to take this test to get my license,” he says. “I went home that Monday, I studied my ass off Tuesday and Wednesday, took the test on Friday and passed it. I called Jim, and he said, ‘so are you still thinking about the opportunity?’ “I said, ‘thinking about it? I already passed the health test!’ “I went in the office the next Monday, watched the videos they told me to watch in a single day, and that’s when I was told it was time to start setting appointments.”
It was the same day Eric went to the 7-11 and got the yellow pages. The rest is history and another chapter of change.
“It wasn’t easy,” says Eric. “I came from knowing everything in the car biz and had to learn the insurance biz. The greatest challenge you will ever face is changing and adapting to your new environment, and here I was again. Growing up where I did, it was tough in school and sports, then leaving my friends and coming clear across the country and meeting new people, then starting a career and having it ripped away from me – then changing careers and learning something completely new, you have to face and overcome the challenges and the changes.”
Despite the changes, what keeps Eric grounded is making sure he keeps it straightforward and simple.
“I get up at 5 am,” says Eric. “I take a shower, get dressed and help get my kids dressed and off to school. One is in daycare; the other is in first grade. I’m at the office no later than 8:15 and then on the phones all day long. It’s setting and selling appointments. It’s on the phones from the time I get in, until the time I leave. I don’t go home before 7 pm, really ever, many times I’m here later. I don’t take breaks; I really don’t do lunch. I set and sell. I do training, I help people and my agents around the office, and I’m always learning. People say, ‘Eric you’ve always got your headset on, we’re never sure if you are dialing or not,’ “but I always am, I’m either, setting, selling or following up with clients. The phone rings, I answer. And I love “B” leads. “A” leads suck because every Tom, Dick, and Harry has already called them. No one is calling the “B” leads now, and if I can relate to you and have a conversation with you, then it’s all good.”
When he’s not setting and selling Eric says he’s settling in with his family. “I’m always trying to spend time with my wife and my boys and be a better dad,” says Eric. “I want to be the dad my father couldn’t be to me. My two boys are the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s what it’s all about; it’s why I work so hard, for my family and my extended family at USHA. I don’t do it for the money. The money will come. Income is the outcome of doing it right.”
“I want to be known as the guy that had a relentless work ethic, a huge heart for his family and his team and I just want to win. It’s pretty simple, that’s really it. I want people to know my name, to be remembered as the guy that led by example, and did it the right way by working his ass off. All I’ve ever known is to work and to teach others how to work. I’m wired differently. I can’t turn it off; it drives my wife crazy. She says, ‘you just work.’ “But hard work works, and it’s all I’ve ever known.”
Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same, especially when it works.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.