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NAIFA Members Provide Financial Independence

Suzanne CarawanSuzanne Carawan is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the premier professional home for agents and advisors. She has more than a decade of experience working in fast-growth tech companies in social networking, events, CRM, and virtualization. She is passionate about establishing and growing technology companies globally and leverages her social and high-tech digital marketing background to provide insightful commentary to audiences worldwide. 

Suzanne holds an MBA in management of global information and high-tech marketing from the Kogod School of Business at American University and an MPH in international health economics and social marketing and research design from Tulane University. She also received her BA in philosophy with minors in biology and government and politics from the University of Maryland. 

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

  • Suzanne Carawan talks about her work with The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) to spearhead innovative content management systems
  • NAIFA’s evolution and how it has pivoted to promote professional development through digital technology
  • How NAIFA members learn how to use their brand’s personal message to resonate with their clients  
  • Suzanne shares how to utilize a membership to market your brand and position it for success
  • How can you present your brand as an authentic and trusted source?
  • Why is consistency the hallmark of professionalism?
  • Suzanne discusses how the NAIFA mentality creates a thriving community
  • The benefits of having an advisor to elevate your brand
  • What is Suzanne’s proudest NAIFA moment?

In this episode…

How can you create a brand presence that sets you apart from the competition? Are you looking for expert guidance to accurately represent your business? If you want to realize your brand’s potential, consider what joining a like-minded community of professionals can offer.

Building your brand can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. As a community-driven to give and do better, NAIFA members offer valuable mentorship to help you navigate your brand’s development and position it for success. According to Suzanne Carawan, being a NAIFA member can help take your brand to the next level so you can create an impact within your industry. Suzanne helps guide members to generate new ideas and to get laser-focused on goal achievement. If you’re ready to drive your brand forward, this episode is for you. 

In this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy is joined by Suzanne Carawan, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), to discuss cultivating your professional development and the benefits of NAIFA membership. Suzanne talks about attracting consumers to your brand through authentic connections, effectively setting your brand above the competition to attract clients, and the characteristics and core values that encompass NAIFA members. 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company, or insurance advisor.

Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources through its Life Happens Pro platform, and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month.

Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance companies and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.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, this is Chris Gandy here and I'm the co host of Advisor Today podcast, where we feature top leaders in the insurance and financial services industry. Today's episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA. The number one association for producers in financial services at NAIFA. We enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments. Today's guests Suzanne Carawan, that is a such a nice way of saying NAIFA members make more money, and they stay in the business a lot longer. And I'm pretty happy. Yeah, if you're already a member, you know how awesome and satisfying NAIFA is. And if you are in the financial services industry, and you're not a member, join today, here's how you join. If you're interested in becoming a member go to NAIFA.org that is in a i f a.org. To Learn more today. Again, I'll repeat it one more time that's in AI F a.org. Or you can email us at info@NAIFA.org. Today, I have a wonderful guest joining us and you probably have seen her if you've been around NAIFA If you haven't been around NAIFA. I'm joined by the wonderful, the wonderful Suzanne Carawan, who also is the co host of this wonderful podcast. Also, Suzanne is the VP of Marketing and Communications for NAIFA. Suzanna bid has been with NAIFA for over four years, and has spearheaded the new brand and overseeing the creation of multiple programs, events and initiatives. Suzanne is the brand architect and penned and now well known to the new membership promised to advocate educate and differentiate. Let's give a round of applause to Suzanne Carawan. So Suzanne, yes, Chris, I get a chance to interview, a wonderful person like you, who I know is just oozing with all this knowledge about marketing and how to be a wonderful advocate for NAIFA. And all these wonderful things. So let's get started. And again, we're gonna we're going to talk just let your hair down. And we're just going to have some fun. So let me ask a couple questions. How did you come about working with Dave? I mean, how did they find you?

Suzanne Carawan 3:07

Yeah, it's kind of interesting. I've had quite the journey. They originally hired me, I was the Chief Marketing Officer of a digital agency. And the primary piece that they needed, they said, Hey, we really need to add on a digital component and get us moving in the right direction through digital advertising, etc, to start to recruit new members and get the brand out there of NAIFA. And so originally, I was their consultant for about a year or so, and work with them to be able to spearhead some of these initiatives. And then finally, they said, hey, they kept asking me to do more and more and more and then finally and said, You know what, maybe it just makes sense for you to come on board. And so for me, it kind of matched up to right, a couple of key things. One was, ironically, I had a I had moved from the Washington DC area, just a maybe 18, two years before and out to Columbus, Ohio. And I said, well, one of the reasons and one of the pieces is that I don't want to come back and have to move to back into the false church area where I literally, I literally used to live around the corner from NAIFA. As ironic as that is, and I said to as long as we can do this remote thing, that would be great. And I'm willing to take the position and come on and spearhead a lot of these initiatives. And they said yes, and this is again, just to remind everybody, pre COVID. So I'll just kind of leave that as a, as a as a big deal, because at the time we didn't have a lot of remote employees. And it's one of the pieces that they created a position for me and they were gracious enough to let me be able to work from my newfound home of Columbus, Ohio, and I came aboard and I actually started working within the membership department and it was a it's been like I said, it's been a journey. I think I've worked in almost every department is point trying to get into the right space for what's going to make the most sense to NAIFA. And so that's been a little bit my journey. So really, I guess in reality I've had five years in Asia in my life. And just as a fun fact, prior to coming to any of that, I've always been on the technology side. And the fact is that NAIFA's been my client, this is actually third time. So I had a time when I was working with NAIFA on their content management systems and whatnot, a time that I was putting in and working with NIF on their event management systems. And my third time around, came in and started working in the marketing automation side, and then joined the team full time. So that's been a little bit of my NAIFA. Journey.

Chris Gandy 5:31

So tell us a little bit about your early days. What was and kind of how we've advanced? Now, I mean, yeah, the old NAIFA, the new NAIFA. I mean, you, you've been around for some evolution, and you've kind of seen the evolvement that it takes to change a brand. So how have have have you impacted that as it deals with change?

Suzanne Carawan 6:01

Yeah, it's a great question. And so when I look back in my career, I usually have I, there's a couple of times, when I show up one, I show up when it's a brand new enterprise, and you're going to build from the ground up. So I've had many opportunities in my career to be in startup mode, like I'm, you know, number 123, you know, number 10, that less than 10 people in the firm, and I'm there from the very getgo to grow the thing, etc. The second time that I usually show up is when we're doing a turnaround. So you come into a situation, and they're like, Listen, you know, we've gotten long in the tooth, we need to turn the whole enterprise around, what are the operations we need to do? What are the marketing we need to do you know, what are the new segments, we need to pick up? Pricing the whole, you know, rebrand it, what do we need to do to repackage and take an entity, take some sort of business and turn it around? So it's, again to be back on its feet, and whether it's profitable or just healthy or whatever, however you want to, however you want to measure that? How do we do that naipo is really a unique opportunity for me, because it was actually a two for one, it was not only a turnaround, it was a turnaround situation, and then also really very much had smacked of a brand new startup operation. So it was a real challenge for me and my career. And that's what became my interest in doing that. I say that because Neva when I joined was 128 years old. So at 128 years old, it had for 128 years stood in one particular model, which was a federation. So the way that the model was kind of structured is that there was this plethora of chapters all over the country, the chapters all had different boards that govern them, they had different operating budgets, they had different pricing structures, right? They had different branding, that was completely just a loosely federated model. And that really, the people came together for two important purposes, one for state legislative activities, and then two, when it came to the kind of on the federal side, to come together to have one voice at the congressional leader level. And so aside from that, everything was kind of uniquely its own. And again, at the time, there were 600, different legal and financial entities that constituted NAIFA. And so I had the privilege to kind of come in knowing that all of this was coming to a vote. And I started maybe three, four weeks before this historic vote. And it happened in May of 2018. And the membership voted themselves to dissolve the current bylaws and put in a new structure. So imagine taking your financial services entity and your whole corporation or take one of the carrier companies and just saying, Hey, we're just going to dissolve it and just like, restructure it. And so that's a big deal. So a really big deal. So historic vote took place in May of 2018. And so they the membership voted to restructure the association to be one strong home office, and then 50, strong state chapters, and roughly 35 local chapters. So again, went from 600 different legal and financial entities to really about 85. So just put that in context for just a second. So the vote happened in May of 2018. The new structure went into place on January 1 of 2019, in six months, all of that was restructured and went into a kind of top down model, right, that we now know is the new NAIFA. And so I was had the privilege of being there during that vote and seeing all of this discourse happen. And you know, how everybody working it out and how that would look. And then in doing that helping to be pivotal in building out that structure. Because what that did was that allowed us at home office where I would be considered being at home office to put into place completely new programs. And it affords us the opportunity to do things we never had the opportunity to do before. Namely we have one complete distribution system right so we have kind of top down, hey, we're all going to focus in on this particular program, and everybody adopts it, hey, we're all going to focus in on this particular program, and we're all going to adopt it. And so that includes the brand. So imagine, you know, we had all these different pieces, so part of it was putting in a new visual identity. And having again, all of these chapters adopted, part of it was putting in a new program, one, one of the ones that we put in was called NAIFA. Live, it's one way that all of our members can meet together on a monthly basis to share in professional development, regardless of where they're located. And we did that all through zoom. And mind you, we started that program, also pre COVID. So actually, NAIFA was really ahead of the curve in bringing in a lot of the technology and making a lot of things digital to break down those geographic boundaries. So we can more easily create networks, we can more easily create community, right, and we can build that kind of coast to coast membership. And so that's some of the programs we've been able to do. So that's kind of when I plugged in and a little bit the bag about the background about why it was so interesting as a brand. And really such an incredible challenge. Because you had all of these identities that were closely held by, you know, individuals, I mean, membership in association, especially NAIFA. Um, maybe I'll just talk about this one for a second, because this is where it's really difficult. It's been the most difficult brand I've ever worked on. It's because you have to understand that when it comes to NAIFA, this isn't on somebody else's dime, this is an individual member, really saying, Look, I'm going to take my money from my business, and I'm going to support this association, and I'm going to belong, I'm going to belong to my professional association, I'm going to participate in my professional association, I'm going to take my time, right, and I'm going to divert it maybe from making that client call or that prospect call, and want to make sure that I invested into my industry, my business to kind of do something that's above and beyond just my own personal gain, right, it's for the good of, at that point, you know, the clients that I serve at the community level, it's for the good of the state, right that I with, in which I work, it's for the good of the nation, which and I'm a I'm a citizen. So all of that together makes for a very personal personal approach to understanding NAIFA membership. And again, when you're talking about getting personal now, Neva, the brand of NASA is a little closer to it's what I came in, what I found was, we hadn't really connected the dots there. When it was before in our previous structure, it was very personal. Because I would physically go and meet like, Chris, you're in Chicagoland. So you would physically go and meet with, you know, X number of people at a monthly meeting and see them and be able to talk to them and shake hands with them and have lunch with them, etc. And that was a very personal, very intimate relationship. Well, that's how NAIFA had been for, again, 128 years, we had the challenge of how do you take that feeling? That intimate feeling of having a colleague, right of having a community that cares? And how do you make that on a national level where people still feel that right, and they feel that pulse, that pulse of belonging, regardless of where they're located, regardless of what age they are, from whence they came, how long they've been in the business? How do you capture that feeling? And make each person feel like they're connected to this kind of other this association? Right? That's kind of this out there entity? So for me, it was a real challenge in trying to find out what are the commonalities about NAIFA members, like what makes a NAIFA member tick, like what makes a NAIFA member a member. And I got to the point, what I did my first year is I basically went into the field, and I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on the phone and going to meetings and talk and luckily, it was pre COVID. So we could still do that meeting with NAIFA members and trying to figure them out. And NAIFA members are really interesting, because they are you know, we say that NAIFA serves Main Street. So think about most main streets and most main streets are this whole combination of, of different organizations, different businesses, different people, you've got different signs, you've got different styles of buildings, you've got, you've got historic buildings, you got brand new buildings, right? It's this whole mix. And what I found was when I went into the NAIFA membership, we had exactly that. So whether it was the mix of people, and different they're coming from different backgrounds, or they're different practice areas, or they're serving different populations of you know, different groups of people, whatever the case might be this idea of the mix, right that this was like really the mix of, of NAIFA How to that Hannah has a pulse to it, right? So if you're gonna get a really good one And if you're going to brand yourself, if you're going to brand someone else, you have to get something, you got to be able to get to the essence of what really resonates with somebody, right? Like you got, you got to say it and somebody goes, Oh, that's it like that is it, that's the brand. So to me, if there's a pulse, there's like a pulse and a cadence that a brand has. And when you hit it, you know it, because everybody goes, that's it. So, literally, I was working on the brand working on the brand. And I was like, you know, there's gotta be like, three things we do. Because we're that we're, you know, NAIFA, our logos, a triangle, it's a pyramid, but it's a triangle for the, for the most part, when you look at it just in kind of 2d. So I'm like, What are these three points? Or that pyramid? Like, what's the cadence? What's that? Beat that NAIFA has like, what makes NAIFA really work. And that's what I kind of came up with back of the envelope truly back of the envelope, still have it still have the envelope, and the date, and I dated it, because I just knew it. And I said to the first thing we do our basis, our foundation is advocacy, right? That's what we do. Like, if we didn't, if we dropped everything else, we'd still do advocacy. So we advocate, the next thing that NAIFA members do, and they don't even they can't even help themselves. They are the biggest educators of each other. In the world, they are the biggest sharing people, they're like, they don't have the whole mindset of a good knife a person is the glass is is half full mentality. They're always growth mindset. And they're like, constantly, like you know, who you need to meet, you know, what book you need to read, you know, I watch, you know, the coach I use, they're always helping and paying it forward. Right. So they don't have a culture of kind of, of scarcity, they have a big culture of abundance. So that educate piece was so in the middle, because it kind of got that cultural piece of it. And the third part was that differentiate, because what NAIFA members do that get it, that become the top members is they understand how to use the belonging to their professional association, they understand how to use the pieces that are their own personal brand, and be able to relay it to their clients to attract more clients and get more people covered in the business. Right, they can actually utilize that they're very good at coming up with that personal formula that they can then relate to people. So that the right people kind of come to them that fit their practice fit their fit the mold, etc. So they can do the most good. And so for me being able to study that and seeing those commonalities of NAIFA members is how I was able to kind of come up with the brand. And really to me once I once I had that eureka moment, it became the easiest brand in the world because I went you know what, here's some basics of this brand. We're never going to use stock photos. Donate them. We have the most diverse group out there. We've got right, we've got people that love what they do. So you can see it come forward, you know, when you take photos of them, they love to be photographed, right? I've never had an eighth member say no, no, no, don't market me Suzanne never happened yet. Right? So we've got these very personable people. The we said, you know, hey, listen, we the gold is in the membership, we don't need to go out and find some other case study or find research to to talk about why Neff is great, it's really in the membership, all we had to do is really start really talking to members and then giving it a platform and getting out there in the world. And so what I've been attempting to the last couple of years is really build platforms, right make NAIFA into a platform for every adviser to be able to really utilize to get their own personal message out there. But united under kind of the flag of goodwill for the industry, if you will, to say that, you know, like I am, what it means to be a NAIFA member like I'm part of this organization that I've taken, I've ascribe to a code of ethics, right? It means that I care about my clients community country, it means that I'm out there doing the right thing, right for the right people, all of that becomes that mark of what it is to be a NAIFA member. And it's just been a really a joy to be able to do that. Because it's all storytelling, right? And RNA for members are the best storytellers on Earth. So it's really a matching up of just being able to get enough of enough places where we can really give the mic over to a knife a member and say, go for it, let it rip. Right. I mean, they know they're, they know what they're trying to do. They're just trying to get their story out to more Americans say wait, I should talk to this person, like I to deserve an advisor and I should work with a NAIFA advisor. And so that piece of just getting the message out there has probably been the last quarter mile for the brand of really saying how do we how do we do that effectively, right? How do we get more NAIFA members exposure that in my opinion, they they so justly deserved? And so that's kind of probably a very long winded way of saying that you know, NAIFA members are as I like to say all the time, they're marketing gold, I mean, the only thing that's more marketable than a knife, a member is a knife, a member holding a puppy, right? It just doesn't get better than having really good people who are really trying to do good work in the community. And, you know, they happen to also a real hallmark of an ephah member is that there are also these multitalented kind of Renaissance people who have these very interesting backgrounds and careers and hobbies. And there's just a lot of layers to them. So our people have a lot of depth, they're very salt of the earth, right, it's Mainstreet like they've got a lot to say. And so I'm delighted I've just been able to give, you know, a platform and more places for NAIFA members to be able to speak and write and get the word out about what they're doing.

Chris Gandy 20:43

So Suzanne, you obviously are busy. If I unpack some of what you said, I'm gonna ask specifics, because one of the things that I think we would like to do with this podcast is for people to walk away not only inspired, but people that walk away with things that they could use on a day to day basis, right? Yeah, yep. And so with that being said, what is the difference between kinda I guess, why is a brand important? What Why is why is it important, versus just this nebulous kind of thing? You know, we're good people, and we do good things, right? That's always a feel good, right? We do good things. But why is branding, not only branding yourself, but branding yourself alongside an organization? That stands for something like NAIFA? Can you can you add some color to that? Yeah,

Suzanne Carawan 21:49

it's a really important and I by the way, the hardest thing to do is to brand yourself, right, because you really do need somebody else to help you. It can come off as a little, you know, oftentimes, it doesn't work, if you don't have kind of a team around you, helping you to brand yourself and come off as well, you can come off as a little bit cheesy, is probably the best way to put that. But the reason that you want to undertake branding to begin with is because it saves you time and money. And that's the bottom line, if you have a strong enough brand, if I'm walking in, you know, when I pass by, you know, something, if I let's say that I'm on travel, and I'm going across the country, and I'm in a brand new area, and I don't know anything about this area, but I see a well known brand, I see a Taco Bell, I see a McDonald's, I see, you know, Starbucks, right, any of these things that I see, I see Cheesecake Factory, and I've been to any of these places, I already know that if I go there, I already have an expectation of what I'm going to get, right. And I can make decisions with my money based on my understanding of this kind of pre made promise between the brand and myself. So I don't have to I don't have to have extra thought pattern to research it to understand it to say, Do I trust it or not, you know, is this worth my time, et cetera. It's already vetted, right? It's already approved, et cetera. And so I can go ahead and lower down really the amount of time and effort that I'm spending in making decisions. And if you're a creative person, and you're trying to do things like spend energy in making relationships with people, if you're trying to spend energy and creating new ideas, you have got to get rid of extraneous decision making and research to get laser focused in on what you're trying to do to really move the needle forward. So what you start doing with high performing people is you start stripping away or outsourcing, anything that you can get rid of. So you can stay laser focused on what you're trying to do to advance the ball. And so when it comes to a brand, that's one of the best reasons to do it, you get as a visual identity and branding has different components, right? A visual identity, like I said, it has a tone to it, it has a pace to it, right? People, you write the same way about it, you talk the same way about it. So it's a lot more than a logo. When you have that whole gestalt, you have that whole feeling of the brand. And then it's out there and people know it and rely on it. Right? Then people can say, Okay, you're already skipping a couple of steps. You don't have to sit there and say, Hey, I'm Chris Gandy. No, I really am a trusted advisor. Now, this is what this is, etc. You're already jumping that piece of it. And you're saying, Look, I'm a known quantity, that I'm already vetted people trust me, I'm already doing the work and you're already setting yourself apart from the competition. So membership in NAIFA. So that's you telling people right you got to convince them, but what's what is actually more effective than you trying to convince someone that you are an authentic source that should be trusted. Well, what's more effective than that is having somebody gives you the peer review, right and saying no, we actually have other Um, you know pure approval, right to say that there is some sort of peace there to say you know who you need, you need Christianity and if I'm already trusted resource to you and I tell you you need Christianity, well then that kind of social proof is much higher. And I'm just going to already go to the point of saying you know who I should call my friends at Chris Gandy, I should call Chris Gannett, you know who Chris Gandy works with, well, maybe I should call Chris Kenny. So we're trying to accelerate that referral process as well. So being part of, of NAIFA means that you're part of an neutral 132 year old institution and organization that has stood the test of time to say, these are our members, and we stand behind them, we in order to be a member, you have to be this type of, you know, person ascribed to the code of ethics, you know, all these things. And so when you do that, it gives you that extra level, that extra kind of a sheen, if you will, that extra coat, and layer of authenticity, that really can help an advisor, again, accelerate the trust factor the rapport building, and get into what the actual problems are. So you can really help your clients. And so that's, that's a big piece of brand, it's really it's a time and efficiency thing. And again, the last kind of piece of besides for timing, consistency, I mean, the time and efficiency is consistency, consistency is the hallmark of a professional, true professionals right are consistent, it is the hardest part to get to is getting to a consistency, repeated repeatable over and over and over again. And being part of that brand, having that piece to it allows you to really develop that. And again, to be able to say that this is going to be the same thing each and every time. And those are some of the factors of one makeup brand to make it make a lot of sense for you to pair your personal brand, with the brand of a, again, a neutral third party organization like NAIFA, that just kind of cute and teased elevate you up another notch, another notch another notch.

Chris Gandy 27:03

Suzanne, you know, made for members aren't just walking around on the street with T shirts on saying, hey, I want to be an eighth member? Or you know, I mean, how do you find these people? I mean, how do you know a NAIFA member versus a non EU man? At the end of the day? I mean, you know, we don't walk around and identify individuals as they form member. So what are some of the true kind of guiding principles? Would you say that you can identify? You can say, you know, that's an that's, that's a that's a NAIFA member? Like what would you say some of those some of those things are? How do you know a person should be a member

Suzanne Carawan 27:43

for sure that it's the it's the mentality of pay it forward? That is, in every day, if a member you'll find the mentality of pay it forward, the then look, NAIFA members are ambitious, they want to they want to excel, they want to be in that top 1%. Right, they're on their way there. They're continuous improvement junkies always looking to get better. But the big difference is not at someone else's expense. And that's a big, that might be a nuance, but that's a big difference. So there's what's in it for me, but it's the what's in it for me. So I can actually do better for out there in the community. Right. And that is small, but a big one. So NAIFA  members are givers flat bottom line. So you you know, a lot of times I come up to a NAIFA member, a prospective member, and I'm listening to them talk and it's the questions they ask, right? It's not all one sided. They're very good listeners. They're really interested in people very curious, very interested in finding out like what, you know, what's your, what's your deal? What's your story? Where do you come from? And without judgment, just really interested to know. And then they really want to understand things like, Okay, well, how do I plug into that? Like, where do we what, like, what's different about us? Or what's the same? And, like, that's interesting, and they're just kind of a little bit, you know, very gregarious Of course, etc. But they've also always taken on leadership roles. And it's, you find a NAIFA member, like, tell me, I mean, it, it starts from the very getgo it's like, so let me let me guess, in kindergarten, you're the one that was like the Helping you help the teacher you were a patrol, right? So you were like, did patrol duty you were in Student Council, you were the team captain, you were, you know, one of the starting people in your sports team, you were in church or synagogue, or temple or whatever. And you did all these things. Like, if you just see it over and over again. And typically they're the same people and they've grown up and they're still doing the same things they're looking for, you know, it's in them to say, they're the people that say, like, Can anybody help and their hands already going up? Right? They're just the they're just have it kind of in the DNA to help and want to be part of a community and help everybody rise. And I think that's the that's how I know it's an eighth a member, you know, then I'll ask questions like, you know, well, you know, what do I get like for every $5 I spend, what do I get? Like, that's just not a NAIFA member kind of example, I think they don't they just don't think that way. They're like, okay, hold on. So give me the value proposition, give me the piece of like, so I can understand it. How do I utilize this? And like, what's the bigger picture? Right? What's the bigger meaning of this? And I also think, by the way, it's the reason why NAIFA members stay in the business longer, they do better. And they bring a lot of people along the way, it's because they are kind of oriented that way. And they want to help people, right. So they, they end up being they don't, they don't, they don't kind of flush out of the business, because they're really good at one asking for help and to taking help, right, they're good at being mentored, and they would then therefore want to mentor others. And so it becomes a real community of kind of do gooders, like self helpers, but also help each other people. Right. And that resonates in the brand, you know, so we, that's why we call it it's a community that cares. I mean, one of the things I tell all new members is that, you know, anytime you join a new team, or organization, or, you know, you just got a new job, you're trying to understand the ins and outs and the protocols and the, you know, what's what's really going on, like, what's really the culture? So I fast track that for new members. And I said, Listen, NAIFA  members love new members, all you have to do is walk in and say, Hey, I'm new. So you can pick up the phone and call any NAIFA member in the country and say, Hi, I'm a new NAIFA member, I'd like to get to know you. And they say, great, you know, I can either talk right now or Let's book a time. But that's the nature of how NAIFA is it's you're already walking into a society of over 20,000 people who are ready to help, right. And it's the same thing, we have so many stories with people saying this business is hard. And I would acquit. If I didn't have a knife a member like, you know, somebody would say, You call me up, if you think you're going to quit, you call me up, and we're gonna figure something out for you. And that's kind of the nature I think of the people that make up NAIFA. And it has, again, it's in the heart, it's who the people are, it's the DNA, I find NIFA members who have a very similar DNA, regardless of any of the other, you know, demographics are psychographics, or any of that, it's, they're the same people, they're the same type of people who want to do that. And again, no surprise that they, their businesses abound, because they, they want to help and support, and they love to see people thrive, they love it, right, they want to see other people do well, too. And that's kind of probably one of the coolest things I think about NAIFA members is that, like I said, it's not a, if you win, I lose. There, it's not a zero sum game, like, literally people are thrilled to find out that you've done really well and they celebrate you, and who doesn't want to be part of a group that, you know, celebrates you, when most adults don't have enough. It's a nice, it's a nice thing to plug into,

Chris Gandy 32:48

you know, I would I would if I could wrap my arms around the people that I spent the time with during my journey and NAIFA I would say the words that would describe them would be passionate, I would say unique. Right? And I would say purpose driven, I would say those would be the three descriptors, the description words for for individuals that I've I've come in to touch with, throughout the industry throughout the throughout the country as being a part of NAIFA and really give her so so so you're exactly right. When you when you say that, you know, NAIFA members, what do they do, though? I mean, do they just come together? And kinda just really tell, tell, tell tell each other how wonderful they are? I mean, we do isn't? Yeah.

Suzanne Carawan 33:41

Well, I mean, I think, you know, there's the, I think what what NAIFA members find so rewarding about participating in NIFA is that one, a lot of times maybe, you know, their, their partner is maybe not the business partner if they have one, but I mean, their their life partner, etc. They don't really get what they maybe talk about, etc. And they need some new ideas for it. So it kind of gives a place where they can kind of go and talk shop, right? And so they're able to have that kind of camaraderie and networking and say, Listen, I got a case and here's a situation right, guys 57 He owns an electrical, you know, business, he's got he's running seven vans, he just got divorced from his wife, they have three kids, whatever the case might be, and they can talk through it with other colleagues and peers. So that I think that's one whole piece of it, they can do that people understand them. They can kind of get into the the nuts and bolts of of the case of the work that they're actually doing. The second piece though, is what NAIFA members really do is, is there's that piece and then there's the actually advocacy piece, and that's probably the least understood by people who aren't members, which is that NAIFA members will actually go and meet their state and congressional leaders in person to talk about laws and what their clients are doing. Weighing in what's going to happen, like, like how Inflation affects them, and what would happen if like, all of a sudden, we started taxing life insurance benefits and things like that death benefits, and really give that face to face. They're the voice of the clients that they serve. And those legislators, these elected officials, oftentimes, this is not their, you know, this is not their wheelhouse. They don't know this subject. They really listen because the nape members know their clients, and these clients are the people that are in there, the neighbors and friends, and they're the ones who vote. So it's a very, it's a different kind of a stewardship, right to go in and say, Well, yeah, I've got my business all day, I'm trying to develop clients, keep my clients represent my business. Now I'm doing it at the next level. So I'm now talking about representing not just my business, my clients, I'm now representing my industry. And that's a whole different level. So when you really get the NAIFA members who are what I would consider, like kicking it all cylinders, and they get it right away, they're like, I'm out there making a difference in the industry. And that's a whole different level. That's, you know, that's a that's much higher than my clients, right? What's happening community. Now we're at that state and national level. And that's a powerful thing when you combine all that you come home from the end of a long week as a financial advisor, and you say, what do I get done this week? Yeah, that feels pretty good. So that's, that's a lot of what then and you know, again, what does it look like in brass tacks? brass tacks, it means like, somebody named a staff person has helped you set up a meeting, and you go, and you sit down, and you've got some talking points, and people debrief you, and you have the conversation. So you're just making sure that you now are really being an ambassador, on behalf of NAIFA out talking to elected officials, whether they're a regulator or a legislator, making sure that they understand just saying, Hey, I'm here to be a resource, right? So I'm here to help out and make sure that we do the right things for the country. And we've got, you know, a healthy economy. I think sometimes we forget. So NAIFA , members as a whole, you put that together, you're looking at them supporting 90 million American families. Right. And not to mention all the small businesses out there. That's the backbone of the American economy. That's a big that's a big thing. Right? That's, that feels really good to be a part of that. So I think those are the pieces that NAIFA members. Do.

Chris Gandy 37:20

You know, Suzanne, that's a swanky mic you have over there. Yeah. Hopefully. Hopefully, I can get a swanky mic like that. If I'm a NAIFA members that does that story, swanky mic. Members, like, you know, you get more members. I mean, how do we get more members in this? I mean, it sounds like being a part of NAIFA is like this cool badge I can I can be a part of this cool group I can I can hang out with cool people and get to know people. And, you know, at the end of the day, though, how do we get more people to join this association to be a part of this? Call it grassroots efforts to to impact others? How do we get more people involved?

Suzanne Carawan 37:58

It's, you know, I think it's what everybody would love it to just be like a wave the magic wand and it just happens. But really, it's it's taking this organization and it's it's giving a voice to all the members who currently are members under this passion, all things you said passion and purpose driven, and saying go forth and tell other people, right, and then using platforms like this and our podcast and new media to be able to get the word out. So for so many years, knave has always been there. 133 years we've been there, but somewhere along the line, we just stopped telling people like we just people, you know, it's you see those with brands, right? All of a sudden, a brand kind of goes into a little bit like people think it's gone into oblivion, and all of a sudden it's back. You know, I'm a sports junkie. So when I don't know if anybody out there is thinking about sports brands, but one that's kind of gone to the wayside and come back is things like Lacoste, Izod, like that kind of went by the wayside or like champion is back right as a brand for clothing and athletic gear. So it's not a typical that brands could kind of go into almost a hibernation status and then kind of reemerged as kind of this new cool thing. Think about a couple years ago, that was like, if you haven't, you know, Buick kind of kind of remade itself and came back, you know, if you haven't seen it, like, this is not your father's Oldsmobile, right, that whole concept is where we are with NASA. And now it's really getting the word out to, you know, to to a whole new group of advisors out there, who maybe have maybe never even heard of NASA, right, or really then also getting the word back out to people who have been in the industry for 3040 years. And they have a concept of NAIFA That's really just purely outdated and archaic. So it's utilizing every channel we have possible to be able to inform people like this is your professional association, and this is why you should do it. And the big difference it's difficult is it used to be that you know, the stories of you talk to our people that are been here 2030 Here's a look, yeah, my manager said, I have to do it right. Or my company said I had to do it. Well, this is those days are gone. For the most part, we'd love them to come back. We'd love managers to say, You know what you need Guinea NAIFA. But in the meantime, we're going direct to advisors and saying, Listen, this is This is between you and you, right? This is an investment. And so are you are you worth it. And if you're worth it, you're going to invest in the tools and techniques and resources and part of that as people to make sure that you are that successful piece. And if you really want to do it, you're going to spend more time and volunteer and spend more people more time with people, like a Chris Ghandi, so we can learn from them, et cetera, and be inspired by them, and be able to really grow my business and stay there. And it's a commitment, you know, people that are new to the business, I mean, and a couple of years in etcetera. You know, the nice thing about being a financial advisor is you're building your own business. So this is like, what are the tools and resources to invest in your business? And Chris, I'd probably throw that back on you and say, when do you make that switch between saying, you know, I'm working for a paycheck versus saying, I'm actually building a business. And this business needs to be fed and nurtured. And in order to do that, here are the things I need to do as its owner. And I think that's the, that's the piece that we're trying to get the message out on. Because nobody's been, nobody's been repping NAIFA in a consistent way, you know, in many years. And so since we've had this kind of new change since 2019, we're beating the drum as loud as we can on all the things that are NAIFA. And trying to get that word out.

Chris Gandy 41:38

So Suzanne, as we kind of bring up put our hearts, I mean, branding, and marketing is such a big nebulous thing, right? I think we try as advisors to, we're interdependent, right. So we use companies and we use resources, things that have been around a long period of time, I think as a new advisor, one of the easiest thing to do is to plug into an association or an organization that represents the similar type of platform. So as we kind of wrap our arms around branding and marketing, we have access to you if you're a NAIFA member, if you're not a NAIFA member become a data member today at NAIFA.org. But Suzanne, as we wrap up today, your proudest day for a moment is

Suzanne Carawan 42:23

oh, gosh, there's so many give me one, I really think it's it's seeing how just one is hard to say I love seeing our award winners, being able to select our award winners, and then being able to make those calls and say, you know, you're the diversity champion of the year, right and being present for that saying, You're the national, you're one of the national for under 40 winners, and being able to put them out there and to be able to do that is just something that's fantastic. Here's another one because I have a lot. For many years, the magazine went was just a digital edition. I was lucky and fortunate enough to be able to bring it back in print. And that first edition that that thing came off the press and I said wow, we've got a magazine again and being able to put people on the cover and tell their stories. That's probably one of my top proudest moments.

Chris Gandy 43:17

We have our we have, every month we have it, it's in our office, and it's on our credenza when you walk in so it's a really cool publication. Again, congratulations on bringing that back to life. And as we kind of have a little bit of fun with our, our podcast, our collective. Alright. I like to kind of end with kind of a shotgun approach of kind of ask you a question. First thing comes to mind, I need an answer from you. And this is this is kind of fun. So sit back, relax, and it's got to see where we go. You ready?

Suzanne Carawan 43:52

I'm ready. All right.

Chris Gandy 43:54

I've been sourced some questions now Suzanne gave me some questions but I got some questions on my own. Because that wouldn't be speed if you knew the questions right so first question is favorite breakfast cereal? Oh, rice checks brand new hope never comes back

Suzanne Carawan 44:16

son in law I think son is still a brand but the hair product was terrible. Yeah.

Chris Gandy 44:22

Brand new bolt comes back in bigger than it was before.

Suzanne Carawan 44:27

Oh, dating myself but as your hair smells terrific. Love that brand. Everybody loves that brand.

Chris Gandy 44:32

I'm your favorite speaker

Suzanne Carawan 44:36

Chris Gandy or someone else? Is there someone else?

Chris Gandy 44:39

Did you talk to me on a regular? I don't count. All right. Last class last one.

Suzanne Carawan 44:47

On that one. Honestly, I would say I'd probably say Oprah I still I'm still a die hard opera fan to this day. I just love love hearing her and all the work that she's doing, by the way is my dream job. Oh, it'd be like be Oprah and then like Be able to open a school like she did I think that's like the coolest thing ever.

Chris Gandy 45:03

Awesome. And last but not least, the best advice you ever got from a mentor

Suzanne Carawan 45:11

it's one of my favorite phrases actually. And I believe Eleanor Roosevelt is the the ascribe it to her, but it's that most people tiptoe softly through life to arrive safely at death. So go for it. Like you know, we only live once like what are you waiting for? Take the risk, you know and go for it. And I think that's been a great piece of advice. I love that phrase.

Chris Gandy 45:34

Suzanne, you've you've said at all. And thank you so much for for standing on the other side of that of the conversation today. Typically it's you and I sitting on the same side of the conversation interviewing someone else but I get a chance to interview you today. You are wonderful and you are awesome. You are awesome at what you do. If you don't know Suzanne, send her an email connect with her on LinkedIn. She is a great resources, anything and everything you want to know about marketing for Deva touch base with Suzanne. With that being said with that being said, we're gonna say goodbye to Suzanne and thank you for tuning in to advisor today podcast where we Educate we empower we come together collectively to uplift everyone to make this career a wonderful career together. Thank you, Suzanne, we appreciate it. Have a great day everyone and we'll see you soon on our next podcast.

Outro 46:29

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



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