John (Jack) Hawk, LUTCF, FSS, LACP, learned the value of life insurance at an early age. When his mother was 3 months pregnant with him, his father was killed in a car accident. Hawk’s great-grandfather had passed three days earlier. As neither had life insurance, the family had to deal with financial uncertainty while grieving two devastating losses.
Hawk admits he got lucky—his mother remarried when he was a year old, and Jack and his siblings were raised in a middle-class household. “I was this close to that not happening,” he says. “We got this opportunity because of stepdad.”
At age 20, Hawk married his wife, Camille. He worked two jobs to support the family while Camille was attending college. However, when the couple became pregnant two months later, Hawk knew he needed to find a career that could provide for his growing family. He was recruited by a company known for selling to affluent clients. His persistence and determination paid off and he founded his independent agency in 1990. Since then, Hawk has held a number of roles with several companies, including agent and management recruiter, sales leader, and regional vice president. Now, he serves as General Manager of National Direct Sales at AAA Life Insurance.
The Keys to Success
Right away, Hawk found success. “When I was young, I didn't know I could fail," he says. He learned through trial and error and grew his business. Early in his career, he found that he thrived on having his income match his effort. He talks about his drive and motivation, saying, “I love having my income at risk every month and being able to get paid based on my performance and not having a cap.”
In his current role, Hawk recruits and trains new agents. There are several qualities he looks for when hiring new talent. They should be hardworking, accountable, and motivated by the ability to write their own paycheck. They should also be courageous, resilient, and persuasive. “We have to be pushy sometimes. We have to pursue people,” he begins. “We have to ask uncomfortable questions that we grew up our entire lives being told not to ask.”
The most important aspect of his career, Hawk says, is being able to change his clients’ lives for the better. When he sells a life insurance policy, he says, he helps provide peace of mind to his clients’ families. “What they have is a love letter in their safe that says, ‘Baby, it's going to be okay.’ I get to be part of it,” he says. “I get to help them write the love letter.”
The Value of NAIFA
Hawk is passionate about NAIFA’s advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. He points to the prospect of life insurance death benefits being taxed. “I know that's a risk,” he says. “I very much appreciate NAIFA uniting agents and professionals in our industry to stand up for us.”
Over the years, Hawk has made the most of NAIFA’s member benefits. Through NAIFA, he earned the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation and graduated from NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute (LILI). He compares LILI to other leadership programs and says there’s no competition. “My classmates, the moderator, the discussion that took place—combining them all together was life-changing,” he says.
He discusses one exercise during his LILI class when students were instructed to write their own eulogies. “I think that since then it's been more important than ever for my interactions with everybody—whether it’s family or friends—to be meaningful, important, and relevant.”
To those in the industry who aren’t yet NAIFA members, Hawk has a simple message: “You’re missing out.” If you want to be successful, he says, you need to associate with successful people. That’s why he strives to mentor and encourage newer agents. “At some point, it’s no longer about you and what you get,” he says. “I will always be a member of NAIFA because we need more people who are successful and have the courage to sell more life insurance.”
Outside of the Office
When he’s not working, Hawk enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife of nearly 33 years have four children. He’s a fan of theatre and live music and loves entertaining guests at his home. He also loves traveling, whether to Europe, the Caribbean, or anywhere that’s warm.
Hawk also gives back to his community. He is active in his church and works with United Way, the Salvation Army, and the National Association of Street Schools—a private, faith-based alternative high school in Omaha. He’s also served on his children’s school board and his local neighborhood association. He remembers what it was like to be a young father without many resources. Comparing his life now with his life then, he talks about the need to support others. “We’ve got to be able to support our fellow man,” he begins. “The easiest thing is to say ‘no’ when you can’t say ‘yes.’ It's so much more difficult to say ‘no’ when you can say ‘yes.’”
Thank you, Jack, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.