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Laurie Adams

Laurie Adams is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), helping people create financial plans to achieve financial security through investment management, retirement, trust, and planning services. She spent 21 years as a professional education instructor creating and teaching courses to CFP professionals, bank trust officers, CPAs, and insurance license holders. Laurie is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF), Life and Annuity Certified Professional (LACP), and a long-time NAIFA member and top producer. 


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Laurie Adams talks about her career background in the financial services industry
  • How she differentiates herself from the competition as an advisor 
  • The value of continuous learning as a financial advisor and involvement with NAIFA
  • Laurie’s proudest moments in her career 
  • How to become a visionary leader and achieve financial grace
  • Laurie discusses the future of her involvement with NAIFA and her career 
  • The importance of having a succession plan as an advisor 

In this episode…

Are you struggling in the financial services industry as an advisor? What can you learn from an expert in the space to achieve your financial grace? 

According to Laurie Adams, success as an advisor is attainable with the right mindset and approach. One of her fundamental pieces of advice is to engage in continuous education. Even though there are many resources available, she recommends joining a community like NAIFA to help sharpen your skills. She now shares her journey to success in the financial services industry. 

On this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with Laurie Adams, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), to discuss how to achieve financial grace as an advisor. Laurie explains how she differentiated herself from the competition as an advisor, the value of continuous learning in the industry, the proudest moments in her career, and how she became a visionary leader and achieved financial grace.

Laurie is a Financial Advisor of COUNTRY Trust Bank®️

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA, the #1 association for producers in financial services.

At NAIFA, we enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments.

By joining NAIFA, you gain access to a partnership that elevates your performance while providing greater purpose to your professional work. NAIFA members are happier, make more money, and stay in the business longer.

Get in touch with NAIFA and learn more about how to join NAIFA by visiting NAIFA.org.

Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02 

Welcome to NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series, where we focus on how financial advisors work, live and give to their local communities and our greater financial services industry. Now, let's get started with the show.

Chris Gandy 0:20

Hi everyone out there this is Chris Gandy, one of your co-host of Advisors Today podcast where we focus on growth and development and all things, financial services for the betterment of the industry with our wonderful co-host Suzanne Carawan. Hi, Suzanne.

Suzanne Carawan 0:34 

Hi, Chris.

Chris Gandy 0:36 

Good to see you.

Suzanne Carawan 0:37 

You too.

Chris Gandy 0:38 

Oh, we see your son's doing fantastic thing. So we'll get a chance to talk about how wonderful he's doing. So it's great to see you. Before we get to our wonderful guest, Miss Laurie Adams can ask the question, who's our sponsor for today's program?

Suzanne Carawan 0:54 

Yeah, actually, it is Advisor Today. Advisor Today is actually the group that puts out the four under 40 awards. And I know we have that at the national level. And in many states have it's all under the advisory umbrella, which is part of this platform, which includes our print magazine, or digital magazine, or podcasts or webinar series. And of course, our four under 40 winners. And so applications and nominations are now open. Just two more weeks, though, you got to get them in before August, the end of August. And those four people will be crowned, if you will named and given all sorts of love and publicity at this year's national leadership conference happening December 3 through fifth in Washington, DC. So we're looking forward to that.

Chris Gandy 1:33 

So with no further ado, we get a chance to welcome a wonderful guest, some of you may know her by name, some of you may know her by face today we're going to get to know her. And some of the things she's done with the industry and some insight. So happy day, Miss Laurie Adams, how are you doing today?

Laurie Adams 1:50 

Hi, I’m well, Chris, thank you very much. I'm really excited to be with you and Suzanne.

Chris Gandy 1:56 

So today, we'll get a chance to kind of talk all things everything. So let's jump right into it. So tell us a little bit of those who don't know you, and who don't know you ski. Tell us a little bit about kind of yourself and what you've done specifically in the industry, as kind of through leadership as it deals with NAIFA. And you've kind of broken down some barriers.

Laurie Adams 2:26 

Well, thanks for that. And I've been able to break down some barriers largely because of my relationship with NAIFA. And that's something that I'm sure as we continue our conversation today, we'll get into a little more detail on that. But I've been doing this for a long time, it's really important to know that I started my career actually in 1982, in Davenport, Iowa, at the beginning of the worst recession, to get the Midwest since the Great Depression. And actually, it's still considered the worst recession in spite of the fact we call the financial service crisis, the great recession, the egg credit crisis recession is what was going on in 1982. And that's significant because in Davenport, Iowa was one of the Quad Cities and it's where all of the giant farm equipment companies lived. It's where they were made. And so it there was certainly caterpillar and John Deere. But there was J Case and Alcoa to make the material International Harvester was a company that was very large and the Quad Cities. And the day that I entered the business, April 1 of 1982 5000 people at International Harvester lost their jobs. And it was the beginning of essentially a decade where a lot of people left the area because there were no jobs. So I started this career, not knowing how difficult this career is. But I needed a job. And I had retail sales experience some hospitality experience, but I had just moved to town. I had no natural market. I was very young. And I was hired by a general agent that had just lost his entire Salesforce to evidently a mutiny and didn't know that at the time either.

Suzanne Carawan 4:34 

Ignorant was left so in many a case is bliss, right?

Laurie Adams 4:38 

But I still remember that first appointment, I would drive anywhere if somebody would agree to speak to me because I had no natural market. I would drive two hours to do an orphan policy review. Anything I could do to be in front of people. And that was, believe it or not, that gas was actually more expensive on inflation-adjusted bases back then than it got to be last year here in the United States. So it was extremely expensive to make those trips. But I believed what I had been taught that it was a numbers game. And that the more people that I saw the more opportunity I would have to actually sell something on the old rule of call 10 people, you'll get three appointments and one person will buy. And that rule really still applies today. It's just that you find those people in different ways than you did 40 years ago. So that first appointment that I had, I'm sitting at a home in Rock Island, Illinois, at the kitchen table, I've got the baby on my lap, I've got pets at my feet. Mom's trying to finish up dinner, Dad's just gotten home from work at International Harvester. And I went through my presentation, and I watched him swallow hard and say, what you proposed looks really good. But I just lost my job today. And I had that conversation again and again and again, that first year. And so it wasn't just that I should have failed because I didn't have a natural market and was brand new to the business. I should have failed because of economic circumstances. And I firmly believe the reason I did not is because that general agent enrolled me in LUTC, I took the LUTC personal lines course, which was back then was a 26-week course. And I joined NALU, NAIFA's predecessor, the National Association of Life Underwriters, and I started to learn the business, I learned the business through LUTC, I learned the business by going to absolutely every single one of the meetings that I could attend so that I could learn more. And it really set me on a path of commitment for professional development. Because it was my lifeline. And it's one of the reasons why there's actually two reasons in this story that are important. It's one of the reasons that I remain committed to NAIFA to this day that I firmly believe it's more important now than ever, but because of the need for professional development, because there's so much more to learn than when I started in the business. But the other thing is that first appointment convinced me that there, people from all walks of life need good financial advice. So as my career progressed over the years, I actually, as a multi-line agent, because I became a multi-line agent after the first year, I went on to earn my certified financial planner certification so that I could be the best resource possible to my clients. But I still continued to not set minimums and continue to talk to people from all walks of life. And it's provided a great career for me.

Chris Gandy 8:00 

Well, let's rewind the tape. Let's go back to the beginning. And what would you say to those who are out there listening in what would you say were the two things you told yourself on a day-to-day basis? Or a couple of things you told yourself on day to day basis? Yes, to make it through? Because obviously, as you said, things were kind of stacked against you. It shouldn't economically make sense. But you're here, and you're still in the business. So any insights on that, I know, it's been some time, but that's what you were telling yourself and what you would share with other young people going through that same type of struggle?

Laurie Adams 8:49 

Well, it definitely helps that my personality, has that overachiever tendency. And so teach me something, and then I will take it as far as I can possibly take it. And as soon as it became obvious to me in taking the LUTC training, that knowledge could be put into action. That's the beauty of the LUTC curriculum is that you learn something and then you go practice it. And then you come back and you talk about it with a group of your peers. And then you learn something else and you go practice it and you just keep repeating that until you're building on that body of knowledge. And so I believed that I just had to see enough people to survive until I got smart enough to really be an invaluable resource to my clients and to my potential clients. And so I just kept telling myself that it was a process that as long as I kept seeing people, that the process would work out for me and as long as I could add some kind of value to our relationship that they couldn't get any play sells. So it took me a while to understand how to articulate that, because of course, when you're early in your career, you want to show people how much you know. And so I learned that that's not going to help, that it was about finding out what was important to them, so that we could establish a relationship. And then the best way to distinguish myself from the competition was by being a better resource. And so I and my involvement with NALU at the time and with LUTC set the expectation that what professionals do is they continue to get more educated. And so I would see these different people that were clearly very successful, that would take the time to share. And that's really one of the secrets of NAIFA is we really do stand on the backs of giants. It's just remarkable the people that are extremely successful, extremely busy, that continue to show up to serve and leadership at NAIFA. But also continue to come to the conferences continue to donate time to committees, so to make us better, and to make us a better resource so that our constituents can become better resources for their clients. So a NAIFA meeting pretty early in my career, I heard somebody say, and it's a phrase you've all heard, but you might not have heard the twist that this person put on it. And this clicked with me, because it seemed to be absolutely what I was trying to do, and who I was trying to become. And what he said was people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. But then they care a lot. And I was really good at showing people that I cared. But the idea that once they knew I cared that if they knew that they could come to me for any financial questions that I could set myself apart from the competition. So that is what I kept working on.

Suzanne Carawan 12:08 

What I hear also is I know you classified yourself as an overachiever, but a lot of overachievers, if there's not a lot else to them, they would have given up because they would have been like I'm not achieving. Does that make sense? But I think repeating you also, you're saying is that you're a problem solver, like I think you enjoy that problem-solving. So it's like combination, and what I see in the characteristics of people that do really well with our business is that they Yes, are an overachiever. They love to win. But they love to solve problems. Like they have the curiosity and they're just, they just are bottomless pits for wanting to self-improve, and figure stuff out. And that's why they're interested in people. They're like, well, what's your story, right? And then so I think you're saying that one of your gifts, is that you're probably making an implicit promise to that prospective client or that client, that you're saying, I might not have the knowledge right now. But I know that I can figure that out. And I will go seek that out, right, and leave no stone unturned to help serve you. And I think that's an important point. That's a really important point.

Laurie Adams 13:12 

Thank you, Suzanne, it's really insightful, I can tell you, it is completely accurate. And fact, one of my most favorite things to do is jigsaw puzzles, I love them so much, I won't have one in my house or my office. Because if it is there, I ran the dice here, I will not be able to walk by without touching it. And then it will be 30 minutes later. And so it is absolutely about problem-solving. And when clients figure out that you are that problem solver, they love it, they absolutely love it, and they value it. And that just becomes more and more important as much as messages get diffused today, it just becomes more and more important to distinguish yourself.

Suzanne Carawan 13:59 

I probably argue it's even more in demand nowadays, because there's so many people that are just like, I don't care. I don't know, you know what I mean and unfortunately, that complacency is everywhere.

Laurie Adams 14:15 

Yeah, I think that's true. I can tell you that in the early part of my career, so I started my career in the Quad Cities, as I mentioned, and then after almost 10 years in the business, we relocated, we moved from the Quad City area, we only moved a 90 miles away to the pure Illinois area. But when we did that I crossed a regional boundary with the company that I was contracted with. And they were going to make me start all over without any of my clients and with a different contract. And so it was a good time to look around. And I was already teaching professional ed classes on the side I was at adjunct faculty with St. Ambrose University, teaching professional ed classes. And a guy that was in the audience did manage to get testing for Country Financial, the company that I'm with today I've been with for the last 30 years. And he said, let me just send you a test. He goes, I know the person in the training department because I thought I didn't want to be an agent anymore. I thought I didn't want to be an advisor. And so he sent me the test, he forwarded to the trainer at Country, and they called me they said, wow, this is great, but we can't hire you, as the trainer, unless you've been a successful agent with us. It didn't matter if I'd been a successful agent someplace else. And frankly, that's what's going on in the industry. Because believe me, I was like, that's okay, thanks, I'll look someplace else got the same answer every place. And so I chose Country, because I thought that they shared similar values, about taking care of people from all walks of life, which was very important to me. And then I went on to build another business without any natural market, because we had just moved to town and I grew up in Nebraska originally, so I was going the wrong direction, to get in touch with my natural market. And they came out, they offered me a training job three times, and, and various degrees of training jobs. And I didn't want to do it anymore, because I was loving taking care of people in a way that was making a difference in their lives. And in about that same time, there was a real change in my business, because in the beginning, I was really focused on building the property and casualty side of my business. In 1997, I led the company in, in sales have both auto insurance policies and home insurance policies. But shortly after that, there was a really significant change in our industry. And it was one that I understood really well, because I was going to NAIFA meetings, where we got to discuss and learn this, and it was the Financial Services Modernization Act. And that completely changed the competition, it changed who we compete with, where people can get their financial services. That was the goal of that legislation, was one of the senators who sponsored it dreamed of financial supermarkets that consumers could go to, to get everything that they need. And it didn't exactly pan out that way. But all of a sudden, you're just competing with other insurance companies, you were competing with banks, and you were competing with stockbrokers with investment firms. And so it became that much more important to get that much smarter. And to also understand how to help people wade through all of these solicitations that they were receiving. And so I pivoted at that point. And it created an opportunity for me because I had not been able to work in the investment world because of the way that we were organized. And now the opportunity presented. So I went ahead, I was already a CLU, and I sat for my CFP Board Exam back in the day, you could actually challenge the board exam, if you were a CLU, a CPA or an attorney. And so as that window was closing, I took the test. I'm really proud that I did it. I passed it on the first try. But I believe it was because of the work I was already doing with clients and because of the coursework that I was teaching with the professional ed classes. And then I had to reinvent, really myself again, with my clients, because they were very used to just thinking about me as auto and home insurance. So I was able to redefine it for them to understand that it wasn't that I was their auto insurance agent or their home insurance agent. I was their risk manager. And that's the foundation of financial planning. And so helping clients understand that risk management is the relationship that we had, and now I can help them in other areas of their financial life, it was magical. I mean, this has been when I've presented at other state conventions, or I presented at national is largely been about this topic. And I know that we've got plenty of multi-line members who are always looking for ways to improve cross-selling. And I'm telling you right now it's the number one way that I can advise is to reposition yourself as a risk manager and then tie that directly to the choices that people make in their other financial decisions.

Chris Gandy 19:49 

Interesting you say that I have heard that every decision is a retirement decision. Or this is what it is right? You're going out to eat. It's decision whether you are or not making a choice is a decision. You mentioned a couple of I just want to highlight talked about that you follow the process is that you CEO, you saw yourself as an overachiever. And part of that is visualization, your ability to see yourself bigger than where you are today. Right? You're like I see myself here, I see myself here. So many times, it's hard to see people, we're in a space where it's hard for people to see, sometimes we have to hand them our rose-colored glasses, so they can see like, here's what it looks like on the other side. But talk to me a little bit about your proudest moment in the business. I mean, you've been in the business a period of time, you're now starting to have some success as an agent side, you're doing some teaching, but share with us your proudest moment in your career that you can look back say, so far, I've as so many things.

Laurie Adams 20:57 

That's a great question.

Chris Gandy 21:00 

That you are proud of.

Laurie Adams 21:02 

It's so interesting because there definitely are things that come to mind when you say that. And again, there, it's actually tied with NAIFA. And I think this is an important message for some of our listeners that that sometimes feel like NAIFA doesn't look like them. Because I can tell you in 1982 NAIFA, or NALU didn't look like me. That didn't look like me at all. Because there just weren't a lot of women in the business. When I took LUTC, I think we had 22 people in class. And there were two women. And the other woman was somebody who was married to an insurance agent manager. And so she was somebody who the business was already in their house before she entered the business. Doesn't mean she wasn't awesome, doesn't mean that she didn't really carve out her own place. But she at least could see the career she could see the success that could come with career. And I can guarantee you my family, when I first said I was going to become an insurance agent they would check me when I would come home on vacations and family visits to make sure I didn't have any bumps or bruises because they had no concept whatsoever, that this could be not just a good career, but a great career. And so I remember my first year as a member of NALU, going to one of the local meetings, and there were this vibrant group of people before the meeting started. And there was a young woman in the group. And it's like, who are those people? They just seem to have so much energy. And they seem to have a really great relationship. And I'm trying, again, problem-solving. Suzanne, you really hit the nail on the head with that. I'm trying to figure out in my brain what the deal is. Well, they were the board. They work the NAIFA board in Davenport, Iowa. And that young woman was somebody who had been, she was with a life-only company and she was on the board and was in charge of a certain committee. But all of us it was like, how do I get to be one of those people? There's that overachiever side, right? Yeah. How do we get to be one of those people? Well, I volunteered for a committee. I started showing up for events, I started to be more involved. And when we moved here to the Peoria area, of course, I'm changing my membership. And I joining a new local again, where I don't know anybody. But as I transferred my membership in one of the board members said, wow, we see that you're in LUTC grad. You know, tell us about your career. And what I did. They said, oh, well, how would you like to be the education chair? So they ordered, my NAIFA leadership career began, but I wanted to be right. I wanted to be because I had seen that vibrant colleagues that had this common goal to put on a great program for the rest of us. And so I started out on the local board, and eventually became the local president. And eventually, I'm very proud of this. And Chris probably knows this because I think it's been discussed with both of us being from Illinois. I was the first female president of NAIFA's, Illinois. I'm one of only two female presidents that NAIFA's Illinois has had. But for me that was huge. It was huge because back in the day, I just didn't think that was even possible. And I can tell you my first national convention that I went to when I was in local leadership. It was in Philadelphia is a great convention. And I went to the first-timers orientation. And it was a woman who did the orientation. She was a former trustee. And I went back and I told the state exec oh, I met her. And she goes, oh, gosh, she's a legend. And again, it was like, How do I get to be one of those people now? Well, that was your I don't want to be a trustee. I serve NAIFA national and other capacity that still back in the professional development side, I'm really proud of that. I'm really proud that I was one of the authors of the LACP curriculum, and one of the test writers, very proud of that, very proud to be chairing the committee that is reworking the LUTC curriculum to make it more modern, and working with some true legends in the business on that. So if you're doing this business, right, it's lonely. If you are actually really working your business as an advisor, as an insurance agent, the level of focus that it takes, it's on your shoulders, it is lonely. And that's what NAIFA has been for me is it has been a place where I can go, and I can see people now who do look like me. And I want a whole lot more people who don't look like me, because I want our arms to open as wide and embraces many, many people of all walks of life of all cultures. Because the more variety that we get, the more diverse we are, the richer the experience is for all of us.

Chris Gandy 26:52 

Miss Laurie, let me ask a couple questions. I want to go on this journey with you. You and I have talked. So cheating a little bit, but most people don't know that you're actually a thinker. I've had conversations with you. And I'm like, okay, no, she's like, it's not just you believe it, but you've thought about it before you have that dialogue. You're not just saying, oh, well, here's what I think here's what I think. Not only do you have facts and kind of intuition, but you've also got vision. So share with us a little bit about where that came from? Where did that come from? Because it's not something everybody's born with it. It came from somewhere. I don't know if it started when you were little? Or it's something you've kind of honed as you gone through communication and education or, but where does that come from? And how do you continue to sharpen that?

Laurie Adams 28:00 

Thank you very much. It's a lovely compliment, Chris. And I really do appreciate it, especially coming from someone like you who has tremendous vision. Part of it is who I was from the beginning, I always thought that there was something special that there was something that I was supposed to do. I always thought that there was more. I made the comment about the overachiever thing earlier, and I'm not somebody who chases trophies, I've been the national champion for my company. In fact, I tripled the previous record, it's the records still exists, the record will always exist because they changed the way they count things. And I've been the runner-up, I've been in the top 10 a number of times I am in a significant leader on the production side, and that isn't why I do what I do. I do what I do to take care of people and I honestly believe that this is the strangest business in the world to have a calling for but I really believe that this is what I was put on this earth to do. And the way that that is validated is when I'm able to watch the worry fall off of people's shoulders when I'm able to help them understand their financial situation better. I like to say that I help them negotiate a truce between what their financial reality is today and where they want to go. But when I can help someone that a lot of other people would overlook and help them achieve financial security, it's just is so rewarding to me and part If that is because, I grew up in a household, a skilled laborer or dad, mom didn't work outside the home, I'm the oldest of five kids born in six years, and there are no twins in there. My dad had diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 25. Before my fifth sibling was born, and my mom's a recovering alcoholic, it's one of those things where it would be so easy to point to things and go, oh, well, that's my excuse why I didn't do this. But instead, it always made me so grateful for the opportunities, the opportunities that, I'm somebody who can't stand watching somebody squander an opportunity, because opportunities are so precious, and the more people you meet, the more opportunities present. And when a client will. I'm the first. And I had this happen, and it's so heartbreaking, just last year, clients lost an adult son, they found out their adult son living in another city was found dead. And it's a Friday night, it's actually my husband's birthday, we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and I'm in Nebraska, and my phone rings. And it's this client, and they say so we didn't know who else to call. We don't know what to do, we didn't know who else to call. And there are people that I've worked with closely for a lot of years. I have somebody that was a newer client last year, that actually had a house account that he decided that maybe he really liked to have an advisor. And so it was transferred to me and we did some work together. And this is a very high powered self-employed person, very detail oriented, but he's somebody who grew up in a poor household, and is somebody who just even though he's fine financially, he just could not relax. And I worked with he and his wife. And got this lovely email a couple of days later, that explained to me that he'd never felt the way he felt right now. Because he just didn't think it was possible for he and his wife to enjoy their money. And so his wife's really glad that they met me. But the better. And I think part of that too comes, my husband was largely raised by single parents, his dad left when he was two. And she worked as an executive assistant in very small companies. So she ended up coming to live with us, she lived with us for 13 and a half years. And I was her primary caregiver, the last five years of her life on it a seven-year-old and a 75-year-old in the house at the same time that I was building this business that I'm in today. And I remember all of those things keenly. And recognize that there were opportunities that were presented in the midst of some really tough times that now have created this just extraordinary blessing for my family. And so I think that's the vision, Chris, I think it's having seen that the choices that we make, can have such profound effects down the road if we leave our hearts open. And we leave our minds open.

Suzanne Carawan 33:42 

That's beautiful, Laurie. Yeah, well, I was gonna say, You know what it reminds me, you say that, but I'm seeing like a symbiotic relationship because I think Laurie you're putting out what I would only deem as like financial grace. And so I think you're then getting it back from the client All right, because I mean, it sounds like it is I know it says what you're saying though, it's because you're coming from that grateful attitude, but I think also you're so open to it and you're not coming with any preconceived ideas of anything, but I would only call that financial grace you're probably able to actually give that to people which is more powerful I think than saying like psychological, or peace of mind we hear all the time. That's a little bit of a stepped-up version.

Laurie Adams 34:29 

I've never heard that term but I promise you I've just made that up again

Suzanne Carawan 34:33 

There's no reason I'll do a book on.

Laurie Adams 34:35 

That's what I try to do and I've been there I've never ever considered it that way and that is so I'm really I have chills right now because you have so perfectly, perfectly described what I've tried to live

Chris Gandy 34:51 

It's interesting city verse as a way of rewarding those who give the most to it so the universe is looking out for you. Let's shift gears about the future, shall we? So where do you see the future for involvement with NAIFA. And then what's in the future for you and your career? Let's listen to it.

Laurie Adams 35:18 

Okay, that's great future for me with NAIFA's, we got to finish up LUTC, Brandon Burnett has been the boy talk about herding cats, he's been the guy trying to make sure that we get everything going in the right direction. And he's a great partner. And so, as I mentioned, some wonderful volunteers on the committee, we've got part one done, and we're fast forward, we expect to have everything, it's a beta testing now. And we expect to have everything rolling by the end of this year, that is our goal is that the people will be able to have access to all parts by the end of this year, and cannot wait cannot wait to reinvigorate the program and introduce it to a new generation, I think of advisors that don't know yet that they need it. Because I really do believe that it absolutely was the foundation for my success. And I know I'm not alone, by any stretch of the imagination. But as for me, I have no plans. after that. I've chaired the Governance Committee, I've served on governance for six years, I chaired member benefits, obviously I'm involved with this committee, so I've served a lot of different roles, and happy being a contributor, I don't need the title, I don't need to serve in a different capacity. Because I think I've added more value from what I can bring to the table, you know, doing the committee work that I do, but I'm actually serving back in state leadership, this is the busiest time in my career, I have more assets under care than anybody else in my company. So it is a very busy time in my career. But I'm still don't devoting the time not just to my national committee work, but also I've returned to state NAIFA work, and serving in a role that we used to call the National Committee person, and now that role is gone. But, but in Illinois, at least, the board likes the idea of having a senior counsel. So I'm the Senior Counsel, I'm the person that helps people that are newer to the leadership, understand how things work, and how to better accomplish things instead of just going you know, going straight at it with your horns down. And so it's probably a little more speaking, do a little more of that, as those opportunities present, I've got actually one scheduled for September, but for my career, I really think there's, I don't expect to retire anytime soon. I really expect to continue working, you know, for another 20 years, I that's the beauty of this career is, will look different and I'm self-employed, I'm affiliated with a company, but I'm self-employed. And that makes a difference. Because as you know Chris, you're the same, you choose when you work you choose with whom you work, you choose how many staff people you have, and I'm in a state of change right now with all of that, and honestly for the first time, and I'm going to be running my own shop with no other advisor sharing decisions. And I'm very excited about what the future holds. Because I really believe that people need us more than they've needed us for some time. There's too many information sources out there. There are too many people coming at them saying, you know what, this stuff's easy, you can figure it out on your own if you just buy my newsletter, or if you just join my club to do this or do that or whatever. And they can't possibly learn it enough unless they make it a full-time hobby job. But they also don't realize that most of the time people saying that oh, I can teach you how to do that are not looking out for them at all. They're just looking to sell them something else. And so I think people finding and that's why referral business is so important. It's why really setting ourselves up differently as those resources as those problem solvers creates amazing opportunities that back when I was teaching professional education classes, it never occurred to me that I had prospects in the audience because everybody had an insurance license. And some of my very best students in those years are clients now, because either they left the business or they really weren't ever in the business, they were just required to have a license for some other reason. So it is being known as a great resource makes a huge difference in, in what people tell other people about you. And I want to be here to honestly capitalize on that.

Chris Gandy 40:44 

So, what's really interesting is that you've gone through leadership, you've kind of visualized and put yourself in a position. And ultimately now you say, another 20 years, you got my business, if I'm still doing this in 20 years, I'm going to give it all I got.

Laurie Adams 41:04 

I won't remember that.

Chris Gandy 41:07 

Okay. When you start to look at because he will get to a place where you say, okay, I would like to succeed my practice my vision of what I built my seed of what I build, I'd like to visualize what that looks like, or the next group of people will take this over and continue to roll with it. What are the characteristics that those people need to embrace, to be a part of that ecosystem and that culture that you're going to be building independently, kind of interdependently within the group and the organization you're a part of?

Laurie Adams 41:49 

That's a great question. And it is something I think about, and it's important, because honestly, clients ask that question, you reach a certain age, and people are like, so you're not going to retire anytime soon. Are you? Or how much longer do you think you'll be wanting to do this, and I do have a succession plan. But it is a loose framework at this point, the commitment that I make to my clients is when I think that I want to slow down, when I think that I want to make some changes, I commit to for at least five years having hired an individual or individuals because it may take individuals that would have my same values and my same knowledge. And that those people, they would work right next to me with the clients so that when I did, hopefully, very gracefully fade away, that they don't miss a step. They don't notice a change in the experience. And so, I know my skill set. Same as yours, Chris, for sure. And other people that we know in this business but generally, people they have a tendency to kind of tilt toward the analytical side, or they tilt toward the relationship side. And I know every test that anybody ever gave me, they're always a little freaked out when they get my results because it's so evenly distributed for me. And so, finding that person, it will be hard. I actually gave birth to that person. But he's not thinking that a career in this business is what he's got in his future and we'll see if he changes his mind later on. But he's a communication director for a nonprofit in Tallahassee, Florida. And he's doing great work. It's called the Abel trust, and they promote inclusivity for disabled people in the workplace. And so, he's got a great mission of his own right now. But I have the benefit for almost 20 years, my hobby was coaching High School speech and debate. And my husband and I did it together in Illinois. We started when our son was in high school, and then I persuaded my husband to leave the hospitality industry and go back to college and he became a high school English teacher and speech and debate coach. And so we did that for a dozen years together. And super proud to say that we won the state championship six years after we took over the team and we're the only school outside of the Chicago suburbs to win the Illinois State Championship and speech since 1980. So it's something that you work with a lot of dynamic young people and some of them like to stay in touch with you and so it may be that some of those young people that we coached, as they work their way through their careers my might find there themselves heading this direction. So I think I'll actually be okay finding people that have the same set of values, if only because they spent a whole lot of time with me. And choose to continue to spend time with me, because we share those values. But it is important to have, it is important to be visualizing that you're absolutely right, and to be able to let clients know that you're not just going to disappear on them.

Chris Gandy 45:26 

Now, my clients have all said the same thing, okay. So when there's more so like the winds that happening, right? When something happens to you illegal and do it the right way. It's a truly selfless opportunity, because you then start to talk about what you created, and go to anyone because the plan supersedes the person is, this is bigger. This is bigger than me, right? This is take this plan, take it off the shelf and take it to anybody and tell them execute exactly the game he told me to do. And it'll work right. And so I want a lot of the thought of the same things. Suzanne, I just heard the fact that we have a person here who can actually help with our mission of communicating the message, formulate a message to our constituents and to our audience that we haven't utilized her resources and her capability, Speech and Debate.

Laurie Adams 46:26 

Yeah, you know what's funny is I think, and Suzanne, you correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that you and I were actually almost worked together in this capacity. Almost two decades ago, that when NAIFA first formed the communication committee, and I think that you were one of the people that was considering going to work for NAIFA's at that time and chose a different opportunity. And then came along afterwards.

Suzanne Carawan 46:53 

Oh, my God, I think you're right. Yeah. Well, NAIFA's said was, like three times before I ever. So, like, there.

Laurie Adams 47:01 

That's funny. Yeah, that's another one of those things I forgot to say I was proud of I was the first communication chair for NAIFA National. So it makes sense. Chris, you're right. It's definitely a love. It's how my husband and I met we met in college debate. So talk about library discussions about our household, right. But it is, we have a lot of really talented people in this organization. It's really something the way and that's what's neat. It's neat especially when you work on the national committees, in your meeting people from other areas, you get to know, as you said, Suzanne, what makes that person tick, and the different qualities that everybody brings to the table?

Suzanne Carawan 47:52 

Oh, for sure. We're like America's Got Talent. We're like medicines, people. Everybody's got like multiple skills and talents. It's amazing.

Chris Gandy 48:01 

Laurie, I think you say something, though, that's so important, is we have to have the ability to identify that next 10 to 20 years of leadership now and start the fundamentals of the communication of what was what it is and embracing what that skill set there, which most people don't have, I still work on constantly is the ability to communicate and articulate a message to words, right and in our ability to do that, with facts behind it right. And so really, super important. Because it gets overlooked. It's one of the fundamentals in sales and in the business, that we're in our ability to articulate who we are, what we do, and the value we bring.

Laurie Adams 48:52 

It is so critical. And I think that ties into you know, your questions about vision, though, too, is I think, especially when we have this wonderful collection of Renaissance people, that we can tap into and to create the value proposition, the value proposition that is NAIFA, and not your father's NAIFA, or not your mother's NAIFA or whomever, but that it actually is an organization with vision that is, is working fast and furiously to become as relevant if not more relevant than they've ever been. Because there's no training departments anymore at companies, people will get hired and they get put in front of a computer to do modules. And so the ability to interact with people that have been there before you and can share their stories and can give you a tip and you can read something 1000 times and then meet somebody who says the same thing and you're like, oh my gosh, that's what it was talking about. And so the more we can connect our members and where we can connect people in this industry again, the better it becomes for all of us. And the next big thing will be oh, we're going to be eliminated in by artificial intelligence? I don't think so. Because it's the heart. It's what drives us that makes the difference in what we deliver. Because people are bored by facts. There's actually communication research being done right now, that indicates that people, and Suzanne said this, that, whatever, don't care that they're checking out, because they're just so overwhelmed by facts, facts, facts everywhere, and they don't know how to discern which ones matter to their lives. We've got the opportunity to be the discernment, both with our clients and with our colleagues.

Chris Gandy 50:57 

Lauri, we got to have you back. Suzanne, we have to make sure we are on the clock. And so do you have any final words before I sent her to the speed round? And then she has a words for us before the offer has some lightning in the bottle?

Suzanne Carawan 51:11 

I would just say thank you. It's been a great time to spend with you as always, Laurie, for the lightning round.

Laurie Adams 51:17 

Thank you. And I'm forever grateful, forever grateful for your very kind observation that really helps me that will definitely help me articulate what I tried to do.

Chris Gandy 51:29 

So the lightning round, we came up with this and again, well, I wish we had sound effect one day we're gonna have sound next.

Suzanne Carawan 51:35 

One day. Yeah, exactly.

Chris Gandy 51:40 

The goal of this is that, you know, this is a fast round. So the goal of this is whatever comes top of mind, just say it and no right or wrong answer about things I'm not going to ask you about. I'm not going to ask you about politics. But you did. ask you did you really pass? That's I'm not gonna ask you those things. Simple stuff. Right. Have you ready to go? Okay. Let's start out with something simple. Ready? Your favorite food?

Laurie Adams 52:10 

Oh my goodness that that's actually hard. Pasta. I'll say pasta.

Chris Gandy 52:17 

Pasta. Okay. And your maiden name?

Laurie Adams 52:21 

Tefft.

Chris Gandy 52:22 

See how easy that was, that's unusual. Yeah. But let's go. What advice would you give to the 40 Under 40 group of people?

Laurie Adams 52:33 

Oh, my gosh, you've only just begun.

Chris Gandy 52:37 

You've only just begun. From the top, you are the NAIFA President. Right as in a NAIFA's, Illinois President. And what would you tell someone who has the seat of the president or a state?

Laurie Adams 52:52 

Listen. Don't just hear, listen. The more that we listen to what people are trying to tell us, the better decisions you make.

Chris Gandy 53:05 

Your favorite quote, this is coming from the debate, your favorite quote?

Laurie Adams 53:09 

My favorite quote is a communication quotation. It's from a diplomat from the 1960s. Can't tell you his name. And it is, I know you think you heard what I said, but I think that what you heard is not what I meant to say. And it's something that it's great for relationships, it's great for clients. It's why we always have to be testing to make sure that your message is getting across. But it definitely came from my debate, dealing with my debate husband that we're two relatively smart people, we shouldn't have that much trouble, coming to simple decisions. And it's because what I think you heard is not what I meant to say.

Chris Gandy 53:58 

Right? Think we asked that to our clients, what did you hear me say? And they say something like, whoa, okay, last couple questions here. Okay, so they get a little bit harder. Okay. If you could go back in time and have dinner with anybody and this always gets such an interesting question. You go back and have dinner with anyone in history, whether they're they passed away, they've left us or they're still here, who would it be and why?

Laurie Adams 54:28 

It would be Joan of Arc. Because she definitely was a trailblazer who was compelled. She was compelled by something bigger than herself. And made the ultimate sacrifice for it. But I actually one of my best gifts. My husband got me a locket that has Joan of Arc on the front and on the back, it says I am not afraid I was born to do this.

Chris Gandy 54:59 

And last one is, how would you define success?

Laurie Adams 55:08 

Success is being able to see that people live a more comfortable life because they've met me. And that includes my family. And I know you want a short answer, but I got to tell you this really quick, my husband, I told you it was the child of a single parent who never had a corporate job with a lot of benefits. And until my husband was in his 30s, he had the same nightmare whenever he would get a fever. And it was basically the monopoly man holding out his hand saying, Give me more, give me more, give me more. And it was because he was so afraid of financial impoverishment, because they were always on the brink of it. And this career, as I became successful in this career, my husband stopped having that dream. And to be able to give a gift like that to anybody, because I do think that I've got I know, because I've got some other clients who feel that way. And to be able to give that gift to somebody is the best thing in the world.

Chris Gandy 56:24 

Okay. I love it. I love it. All right. So Suzanne, yep. We can finish in a better way. Suzanne, do you have anything else for us?

Suzanne Carawan 56:39 

While Laurie just keep inspiring others and if you're out there, and you know somebody who's under 40 or 40 and under, please nominate yourself or get other people involved. And please also consider getting into leadership and following in the footsteps of the greats because we need you.

Laurie Adams 56:54 

Oh, I appreciate that so much, Suzanne. I really do. It's really been lovely to be with the two of you. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Chris Gandy 57:03 

Thank you, Miss Laurie. Thank you. Thank you Suzanne. You guys are always wonderful. And so I'll close this out if we're okay. Yes. Yeah. Wonderful. So thanks, everyone, for tuning into Advisor Today podcast. I promised that I'm gonna ask Laurie one more round. Laurie, we'd love to have you come back in part to the surface just scratched the surface of what her greatness and grace is. And so with that being said, thanks for tuning in. And we appreciate everyone where we come together for the betterment of the good and uplift the opportunity for us to be better for us and our clients and for us collectively together. Thank you for tuning in to Advisor Today's podcast. We'll see you next week. Thank you.

Laurie Adams 57:46 

Thank you. Thanks so much.

Outro 57:51 

Thanks for joining us for NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series. Make sure to subscribe to get future episodes. And if you're interested in coming on the show, let us know.

 

 Laurie Adams is a Financial Advisor of COUNTRY Trust Bank®️

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