“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness” – Albert Einstein
If one thing was working, the other wasn’t. If one part of her life was up, the other was down. For Ashly Mistretta, it’s been the pursuit of happiness, wrapped up in balanced abundance.
She’s finally found it… and Ashly couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve been searching for this most of my life, and it’s funny, or crazy I’ve found it now, with everything going on. It’s been getting through all the trials and tribulations – moving through different careers and personal relationships and getting to the point that I finally figured it out.
Ashly says in her work life, the thing she was looking for is here and now, it’s USHEALTH Advisors.
This month, October, Ashly is celebrating five years as an agent and leader with USHA in the Matt Dailey Region in Louisiana. As a Field Training Agent, Ashly has led her teams to more than $9 million in production, while also personally producing more than $2 million on her own in individual sales.
Like so many who find success at USHEALTH Advisors, Ashly quickly realized this is a company of second chances, a chance to see what you’re really made of, a place to rewrite your life’s story. For Ashly, even as a young girl, writing itself has always been like a form of therapy.
“I liked to write,” says Ashly. “Writing was my outlet, it kept me sane, especially when I got grounded by my parents, which was a lot,” she laughs. “When I was disgruntled or upset with my life, writing helped me get it out and put it on the page. I actually got published in 5th or 6th grade, an article in a small newspaper called the Catholic Commentator. Growing up I saw myself in broadcast journalism and saw myself as Barbara Walters in New York. But once I got to be a junior or senior in college, I kind of just got stuck there and never pursued that career.”
Yet while in college, Ashly did get a taste of media life. She got an internship at a local tv and radio station, then in her early twenties, she worked as a production assistant, and became friendly with some associates who could open a few doors. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
“I got to know some of the on-air radio personalities at the rock station,” says Ashly. “I like rock music and ended up being the weekend DJ before that radio station got sold. Then I ended up doing the morning show for eight or nine months at another station. It was fun, but it was early! I was still bartending at the time, so some nights I would roll in there with little or no sleep at 5 am.”
“When Hurricane Katrina hit, while New Orleans was flooding, we were one of the only radio stations still broadcasting. We stayed on the air working off generators and all these people kept calling into the station, stranded on rooftops or missing loved ones. It was a crazy couple of days. We had lists of missing people we handed over to search parties. We were doing all we could. It was great to help people but sad at the same time.”
After the radio station got sold, Ashly decided she’d also enter the business world, and for the next decade, she worked in cosmetics as a makeup artist and trainer. The career got her to one place she always wanted to go to, New York, not to be like Barabara Walters, but instead to make some news, competing in a makeup artistry event. Who knew that making people’s lives more beautiful, would be a precursor of things to come for her career at USHA? But at the time, making others pretty wasn’t a pretty life for Ashly.
“Retail sales will give you a beating,” says Ashly. “I was getting tired of working weekends, holidays, and working 10-to-12 hour days. The last company I worked with changed management. Then they extended my territory, and cut my pay. The only position as a make-up artist trainer was in Chicago and I wasn’t wild about that, so I decided to see what else I could do. I felt like they were trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.”
There come those turning points in life when we all know we need to make a decision, to make a change – usually for one of two reasons – desire or disgust. For Ashly, it was the latter.
“After a meeting where all this was laid out for me by the company, I went home and posted my resume up everywhere. I didn’t even look at where it was going, I just knew we were already heading into the fall season and I wanted out of the retail industry before the holidays arrived.”
Ashly says the next morning she got a call, and it was a recruiter from USHEALTH Advisors. “I wasn’t even sure what it was about,” says Ashly. “But I agreed to go in the next day for a presentation. Matt Dailey, (Regional Sales Leader for USHA), did the pitch and then we had individual interviews. I knew it was about selling, and I knew I could sell. I went into it blindly and signed up for the licensing test. I took a two-week vacation from my job and studied to get the licensing exam finished and passed on the first try. The same morning I took the exam I also had to be in New Orleans for a big meeting with the cosmetic company. I got there late, went through the meeting, and then put in my two weeks’ notice. I was done.”
That was October of 2016 and Ashly says it wasn’t an easy beginning for her at USHA.
“Looking back it was very tough and I didn’t know any better,” she says. “I would sit and watch this person, learn the script, the pitch, and start dialing. I did what I was told. Fortunately, while I was studying for the licensing exam I had talked to friends and family about my new career, so when I finally got licensed I had some people to help. My boyfriend also loves to talk and he spoke to his friends and family too, so I was able to reach the 13-week milestone of writing $100,0000 in annual volume, in fact, I did it in just nine weeks.”
But in the spring, when business slowed just a bit, Ashly started to worry. She had jumped in with both feet, but now she was wavering. Everyone has doubts from time to time, we’re human after all, but Ashly was allowing her doubts to speak louder than her determination to overcome them.
“Once you get contracted you start getting calls and messages from other insurance companies and I admit I got distracted,” says Ashly. “I wanted to make sure this was the best fit. Coming from a place of having a steady paycheck each week, I realized the opportunity at USHEALTH Advisors was more a mental game than anything else. For the rest of 2017, I was in and out of the office and looking into other things.”
“But as I looked around I saw no other opportunity like this one, from the leads, to the support from my leaders, to the ability to earn significant income, this was simply the best. In 2018, I went in with total focus, whole-hearted, and realized this is what it takes. You can’t do this part-time. That year went really well and in 2019 is where it really took off and I’ve never looked back.”
Now, Ashly has a completely different outlook and philosophy. It’s simple, but not easy to do – change your mind and you’ll change your life.
“How can you not love it?” says Ashly. “When they put Tommy Mattern in as a Satellite Division Sales Leader a few years ago, he and I and Patrick Bourgoyne had meetings about what we wanted our culture to look like, we went to work on it and before you knew it we looked around at each other in the office and said, ‘we’ve done this.’ “We see new agents come in and say it feels like family here. They tell you they have never felt so supported and they love coming to work!”
The five-year mark with any company can be a big milestone and Ashly knows she’s made it not only because of the support she’s received but also because of her upbringing, an innate desire to be the best.
“I have an older sister and younger brother,” says Ashly. “It’s exactly what they say, I have the middle-child syndrome. I was always vying for attention, probably why I got grounded a lot, but also because I felt like I needed to stand out and do better and make something of myself, to make my parents proud.”
“My dad is a Vietnam veteran, and I know I got much of my mental toughness from him. I’ve worked on it and developed it too because I had no other choice. My parents used to tell me I wasn’t even afraid of the devil. I’m pretty hard-headed.”
These days, however, Ashly is grounded in what’s right with her life: her career and her relationship with her fiance, Paul.
“I’ve never been married,” says Ashly. “I had a lot of relationships, but I could tell pretty quickly whether it was going to work or not. Also in retail, I didn’t have much time to date because of the weekend work and the traveling. But on one of the last trips, I was in a hotel restaurant and I met Paul. We talked and just hit it off. And I’ll be darned if he didn’t live right around my hometown, too! The relationship took off from there. Paul has been my biggest supporter and still is. When I was leaving retail and going into this venture with USHA, it was a big difference maker having that person behind you that says, ‘you can do this, you are doing awesome, keep at it.’”
Ashly says Paul has his own heroic mission as well. “Paul works for the Baton Rouge fire department. He’s been a firefighter all his life. He also has a daughter, Layne. She’s about to turn 11 and she’s just the sweetest girl. They both make me happy.”
For Ashly, life is good, and she says she appreciates these times of abundance and is grateful it’s all turned out this way.
“Life is pretty much everything I ever wanted,” says Ashly. “I know it’s crazy, they say to go out and make your dreams and your aspirations so big. But I’m so blessed with what I have and what we have now. I could dream up a bigger picture or idea, but I want to relish where we are now and being in the moment. I’m in a position to grow professionally and personally and I want to keep building the team and help make new agents successful.”
“I want everybody to be happy and find what makes them happy, it’s my whole goal in life. Whether it’s doing this career or something else, I like to think I help people on that path. I want people to know I support them and wish to bring them joy. Be happy and you’ll be better at whatever it is you are doing.”
Ashly says it’s about getting three things in perfect alignment. “The same three things I have been searching for that fulfill me,” she says. “It’s work, love, and life.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.