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39 min read

Walking Together Through Life as a Servant Leader

By NAIFA on 12/1/23 9:27 AM

Topics: Podcast
Chris Carothers

Chris Carothers is an insurance professional and a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). As a second-generation veteran in the insurance industry, he has been serving and advocating for his community for 30 years. Chris works with over 300 licensed insurance agents to help Americans plan for their current and future insurance needs. He also partners with insurance carriers to develop and introduce new health products.


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

  • Chris Carothers talks about his involvement with NAIFA 
  • How Chris joined the insurance industry 
  • Success tips for young insurance agents 
  • The ideal recruitment process for insurance agents 
  • Building a financial services and insurance career in Las Vegas
  • Chris explains his impetus for becoming a multiline agent 
  • The importance of mentorship in the insurance industry 
  • Why should insurance agents join NAIFA?

In this episode…

Insurance advisors can be incredible mentors, managing people’s executive affairs and guiding their futures. This comes with significant responsibility and requires complete immersion in the industry. How can you develop a service-based approach to gain traction in this industry? 

Becoming a reputable insurance agent entails developing servant leadership skills. With a career dedicated to serving his community through flexible insurance options, Chris Carothers maintains that joining organizations of like-minded professionals in the insurance industry is essential. Mentorship groups are valuable for gaining access to resources, networking opportunities, industry insights, and cutting-edge strategies that can help agents sharpen their expertise. With proper education and training, you can establish trust with your clients and build a value-driven career. 

On this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with insurance professional Chris Carothers to discuss service-based leadership in the insurance industry. Chris explains how he entered the insurance industry, success tips for young insurance agents, the importance of mentorship in the industry, and the value of joining NAIFA as an agent.

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

everyone this is Chris Gandy, whatever co-host of Advisors Today's podcast with my wonderful co-host, Suzanne Carawan. Hi, Suzanne, how are you?

Suzanne Carawan 0:29 

I'm good, Chris, how are you?

Chris Gandy 0:31 

Wonderful, wonderful. Sorry to get a little chilly here in Chicago. So we're happy to be here today we have a wonderful guest. But before we get to our guests, Suzanne, who is our sponsor? Who's our sponsor for today?

Suzanne Carawan 0:45 

Yeah, today, I'm really excited that our sponsor is really our volunteer leadership piece of it. And we're really getting psyched in there were a few short weeks away from National Leadership Conference. And that's where all of our incoming presidents get together, our membership chairs get together, grassroots chairs, our IFAPAC chairs is a very special thing that's very specific to NAIFA. No other Association has this strong state presence and such great volunteer opportunities at the state and national levels. And we gather once a year to celebrate everyone, and then to also talk about all of our national award winners, and whatnot. So I just want to put a plug out for if you haven't thought about volunteering and 2024, we want to think about that, put that on your NAIFA member, you certainly want to put that as something that will really expand your work. And I think we can talk to Chris today our guest about that. So it's December third through fifth National Leadership Conference, Washington, DC, really looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Chris Gandy 1:47 

Be there or be square. Right. So with no further ado, Suzanne, would you introduce our guests so we can get to the conversation at hand?

Suzanne Carawan 1:56 

I absolutely will, so I'm excited to get to know Chris Carothers who is our guest of honor today as well. Chris is out of Las Vegas, and his name has bubbled up through multiple different channels, and about just what a diehard NAIFA fan he has in the great work he's doing. And he just share with us he's taken some really extra special time because it is open enrollment. So Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Carothers 2:20 

Thank you. Great to be here. I'm excited.

Chris Gandy 2:23 

So Chris we usually film this at a reasonable time our time, right 11 o'clock my time 10 o'clock. Suzanne's time, what time is it your time?

Chris Carothers 2:33 

Oh, that's not bad. It's only 9am

Chris Gandy 2:36 

9am. So we're getting you first thing in the morning. Fresh. So we look forward to some great nuggets that we can share with our members. So let's start with the basics. So share with us a little bit about your involvement in NAIFA and how you got involved.

Chris Carothers 2:56 

We're going to unpack this one. So I have a family history of being in the insurance business and being NAIFA members. My mother was a member, my father was a member. Ironically, my mother was state president in 1982 when she passed in the middle of her term, and so ironically, I came in the insurance business and 91. And the first thing I needed to do is I just go ahead and join NAIFA. And so I joined NAIFA did get a little bit involved at the time, and try to get involved here and there when it could, but it was just something I did from early on as become a member go through the LUTCF courses, get my designation there was valuable too. And so, it's just part of who you are in this business is that I've learned that the best of the best join NAIFA. And the reason why something you get from NAIFA helps you be the best. And I said this at a meeting and I said, how can I best say this and may not be perfect how it comes out. But I realized the best brokers agents producers are really clockmakers. See, anybody can be an agent. Anyone can sell a clock, but the best of the best know how to take it apart and put it back together and ask we do a products right. And anyone that I've ever known that's in NAIFA, they're so invested in what they do. We are the clockmaker, if you will of our industry. And so when we sell a clock or watch, we sell we understand how it's built, why it's built and why and how we're going to use it and how we add the features that are best for that purpose is why we offer to clients just like when we sell, and help offer the products to our clients we serve. We actually understand what we sell and why we sell and the purpose behind it. And I've seen that over and over again. And the people that have been in the industry, since the day I was born, they're always been bested into what they do, and they know what they're doing and why they're doing it. And I can't think of a better organization to be a part of for that reason.

Suzanne Carawan 5:32 

So I love that because as a clockmaker, you're also you're vetting the solution as you go. Like, it's not enough. You're just not taking somebody's word for it and just passing it on. And so the competence comes, right? If somebody asks you a question, or they challenge you, you really actually know the answer, because you've done the due diligence to understand all the aspects. That's a great differentiate. I don't think we've had anybody really say that I'd love the clockmaker analogy.

Chris Gandy 6:00 

I've never heard the clockmaker, right. I've never heard that analogy at all. We have said where the champions go where the champions row and the Hall of Fame. We have said that. But let's rewind the tape. So Chris, how long have you been in the business? You mentioned that you started in 1992 or 93?

Chris Carothers 6:22 

1991, so I've been a member. Yeah, I got member, I think I started earlier. But you know how memberships get disjunct a little bit sometimes I don't know what happened. But officially, it shows a 94 is when it shows active now, but I know I signed up earlier. But that's doesn't matter have been part of it since as long as I can remember.

Chris Gandy 6:46 

So go ahead, Suzanne.

Suzanne Carawan 6:48 

I was just gonna say so I mean, I love that your legacy, kind of you saw the business, but it didn't sound like you go into the business right away. Sounded like you did some other things. And then you decided, yes, you should. What made you decide to join the kind of the family legacy there and get into insurance.

Chris Carothers 7:06 

It was an opportunity that I really didn't seek, I was actually starting a career, going into the real estate business, and did very well at that. But my father came to me and said, I hate to just close this agency down someday Would you come into it and help me build it? And, and my wife and I were engaged at the time and honestly, she gave me the elbow steady paycheck. And I said, okay, but whatever I do, I'm fully committed, I don't ever turn around. And so that's what really launched me into the business. And honestly, I really didn't know much about the insurance other than the fact is, I embraced it. And ran with it, and thoroughly enjoyed it a lot. I know that real estate is completely as informed as sales, but it's different. And what I love about the insurance business is I'm working directly with the people that I want to serve. And there's that common relationship and trust that is established that is different than real estate. And I don't need to spend too much time on that. But the thing is, is I love to walk with people through life. And it's amazing how we are. It's truly a vocation being an insurance business. It really is, it's up in that I don't It's not meant to be taken lightly. There's a lot of responsibility, but the lives we serve and walk with for a life through a lifetime, we make a difference. We're the ones hearing those difficult stories, and we're walking through them through challenging times. And where they are sometimes more intimate with us and others because of the level of care that we have to help them how we serve them.

Chris Gandy 8:59 

So Chris, your dad came to you and said, hey, come into the insurance business helped me right? How old were you at the time?

Chris Carothers 9:12 

23, I have to get the calculator out.

Chris Gandy 9:14 

No worries. I figured you were fairly young. Right? At 23 years old, being in a position what I would call an adult job, right? A real big job of adults possible or being responsible of other people's finances being responsible and protecting people and the things they care about the most. That's a big job right big shoes to follow also about how did you do it? What were some of the tools and techniques that you used so that one you could follow in your day as footsteps and two, you were young in the industry with no experience. I mean, what techniques did you use? Or what advice could you give to our watchers that kind of could have maybe helped them and what they have going on in their lives today?

Chris Carothers 10:11 

Well, I train a lot of brokers even today, I'm what I used to do when I was younger. And that I took it, I always dissected everything. And so when I would take a brochure, about a product, and I knew I was gonna have to meet with someone or I had to approach it didn't matter if I was approaching a broker, and I was trying to recruit them to work with me, or I was working with a consumer. I would read everything ahead of time that I wanted to discuss, but didn't understand what the words meant. I looked them up, or I called someone at home office, or somebody talked to a mentor, and the business and say and got advice and what this meant, and why use it. So I understood why I was doing it. And so when I would share with someone I shared, I approach it from the standpoint where, how would this apply to me? If I was to bind? Who do I see the value in it? And how would apply to them? So it gave me the confidence when I would talk to so on because I was prepared based on my level of understanding. And so I would present the what the product the way I understood it, and how I valued it. And so I didn't even have all the answers. So if they came to me says, well, what about this? And if I didn't have the answer, obviously, we all know that, well, I don't have I don't know, but let me get the answer for you. But I always presented on that level. And always put the client first and it just was natural. So if I was trying to recruit a broker, and I didn't know anything, I'd send it to the best I could and go talk to them and I just went for it.

Chris Gandy 11:52 

So just put your head down. Go work hard. Do your thing.

Chris Carothers 12:01 

I was scared. I was scared to death a time.

Suzanne Carawan 12:04 

Here we go. Here comes to truth.

Chris Gandy 12:07 

You were scared. Yeah. So let's talk about it, what were you scared of?

Chris Carothers 12:13 

I don't know. I guess I was scared. I didn't want to fail. I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect. So was my knees shaken? Heck, yeah, they were shaken. Was a trembling on the inside? Absolutely. But I had no other option. But to step forward. And that's what I've always done, it always had to step forward. It didn't matter, that sometimes it was ugly. Sometimes it was embarrassing. It wasn't perfect. But I did it. Because I had no choice but to move forward.

Suzanne Carawan 12:49 

Yeah, I love that. Yeah, listen, I feel the fear and push on through. And the best way to grow is when you leverage yourself to the point where you don't have a choice, you have to go forward, right? There's only one way, it's the all burn the boats, right, you got to go ahead and move forward.

Chris Carothers 13:08 

Maybe that's what's helped me through this whole thing, my whole life is just, I've never had no choice other than when to make a decision to have to move forward. And that is awkward as it is, or if I come across where I'm trembling, or if I'm nervous, I had to do it, because that's what I had to do. But the first time is usually a little clunky, so ugly, but the next time it's 80% easier, because you already know what the expectations are. And the expectations make is what drives that anxiety is that am I on the right track or, whatever the thoughts are is the next time you're wired into what to expect. Now it's not I already know what's gonna look like most of it and makes it easier. And I've had to do that pretty much my whole life.

Suzanne Carawan 13:52 

Yeah, but that that commitment, you're talking to that level of commitment is something Chris Gandy talks about all the time, it's committed, not convenient, but you really, that was a self-directed commitment that you made. I mean, you probably did have a choice. But you've said to yourself, there are no choices other than to learn this business, right, and to move forward. So how did you spend you're just like that about everything you're doing, you're just still, I'm just gonna put a stake in the ground. And that's it.

Chris Carothers 14:16 

I've always had to do that. My whole life, I've always operated that way. And if I didn't know, I would align myself and I think all of us can agree with that is that you find people so that'll lead to I could probably circle back around to connecting with Randy. And I'll probably should tell you show you my story about how I got involved in these again, too. We'll come back to that. Okay, yeah, I've always had to just always made a decision and move forward. And if I didn't know, I always seek people to go to so whether I had to call an underwriter and get inside their head in their world and understood why they were doing it, whether it called a client, and you know, always seeking the truth. And run on that level whether going to my dad for advice and been in the business a long time other producers that we've worked with us and have been around forever, and really learning how to learn about the products, learn what we were selling, why we were selling it and understand how the underwriting process worked, how they come to those conclusions and learn to overcome those questions concerns so you can align yourself with partners. And I guess even we have our own mentorship program we're starting and those are all great tools to get going. I know we're doing the LUTCF starting again, to which I'm looking forward to participate in that as well. But that's give it to me as well.

Suzanne Carawan 15:49 

So, when you're recruiting, maybe Chris, you're about to say this too, because I'm now fascinated. How are you kind of weeding out? What signs or signals are you looking for when you're looking to work with new agents or new advisors or new brokers or whomever or partners, that you're trying to say, hey, here's an indicator that they're going to be a like-minded person we're going to have share the same values,

Chris Carothers 16:11 

You could ask questions, to see what makes them what their values are, you can listen to them, I always say people are always telling the truth, whether the lips are moving or not. And I know it's kind of funny, but it's true if silence is still an answer, right?

Suzanne Carawan 16:27 

Yeah, yeah.

Chris Carothers 16:27 

But I have a couple things that I throw out that I basically say we're called to love and to serve. If you're doing those two things, everything takes care of itself. As one common I say another one, I'll say is that there's two reasons. How do I say this, this is off the cuff, because I'm not doing it off the cuff as it normally would. But basically, there's two ways to be in this business. You can make money your number one goal. And the problem is if you do that, the thirst of money is never satisfying. But if you make serving your number one goal, you'll be satisfied every time you serve someone. And oh, by the way, you still got the payday, right. And so you got to check people's motives and their heart and where their values are. Because that's where you get aligned with the right people is that there are people that they care all they want to say whatever they need to say, to make a sale, and they're out there, to the long run, they just made a quick sale, they got their payday and they're gone. And that's not a reason to be in this business, they need to lead the business. And I think that we need to educate our consumers. Because we do have many brokers and our producers that come and go. And the issue is if we don't properly educate our clients, when we offer them a product or sell them the product, that if we're not there that didn't how to take care of the product themselves, meaning the how to manage it. And I think that it's really important that we educate our clients to what they're purchasing. So whether we're in the picture or not in the picture that in the long run, they're able to take care of themselves with what they have. Not that we are turning our backs on them, but we don't know what life is gonna bring. I was 16 years old when I lost my mother. So I look at life differently. I'm always waiting, unfortunately, for the inevitable to happen because of those things that happen in life. But I continue loads of questions I can ramble on.

Chris Gandy 18:40 

So Chris, share with us a little bit other than your wife having sharp elbows because that's, you did say that, and muscle and you end up paying, a couple questions. How did you end up in Vegas? Las Vegas is the city of the whites the city of fast, fast, go, go, go insurance is not the fastest all the time so I mean, how did you end up one in Vegas and two, from an economic standpoint and from a just cultural standpoint? How does insurance fit into a society as fast as Vegas because fastest happening lights everywhere, constant changes. I mean, how does that work from your perspective? One, how did you end up in Vegas, two, how do you weave financial services and insurance inside of the fast and glitzy world of something like Las Vegas?

Chris Carothers 19:36 

Well, it was easy for how I arrived in Vegas because my brother was born in Las Vegas. And so obviously I was born in Las Vegas. So I was born here. My dad was born in California then met my mother here. When she was in high school. And so it just became, just this is who I am. This is where I was born, raised, my wife was born and raised here, my children were born and raised, but then they went to college and every came home. And so I thought they're going to be third-generation Las Vegas. But when it comes to insurance and discussing it and the financial necessity of gambling on the issue is, is that insurance is a safe bet. So, it's clean, it's safe, as I sometimes will say, there's two types of people, there's the ones that like the ride on the hood of the car. And there's people that like to sit in the backseat in the middle, because that's the safest part of the car. You have to identify the person you're serving. And so they're all in, they're probably not going to want to work with me on the hood of the car, because they want it all and they want to risk it all. And that's not my, that's not my gig, I want to sell, I'm selling promises, I want to know that it's going to be there when the time happens, whatever the product is, I'm offering because I want to walk with them. And so it's really natural to find those type of people. And so, I run into clients that have other brokers where I've had to come and fix them where they brought a product that was not right for them. And so that was funny is that one I had a lady had bought, like four policies for her and her three sons. And she was angry because none of them are working correctly. And the money is we're not there where she was promised they were going to be there. And the broker was long gone. And so we started visiting. And I said, I don't want to be direct, but I'm going to be so as you brought the wrong product. And I said, you want to know why I know? She goes, why do you know? I says, well, you work for the county, right? Says yeah, I said, so you took a lower pay for a promise, right? Meaning that when you retire, you're going to be taken care of you don't have a pension, you're gonna have benefits all these things, right. So you're not a risk taker. Want to know, what you're going to pay for is what you're going to get, because that's why you're wire. So you need to choose products that are going to deliver exactly what you put into it so you can live with the promise, and the commitment that you live your life by. And she was like, that makes sense. And so obviously, we adjust the products accordingly. But so talking to people is very easy. And that's really just finding out what makes them who they are. Because each person's uniquely different. And being able to be that deliver that promise.

Chris Gandy 22:41 

That's an interesting perspective, because a lot of people would run away from those conversations and say, well, it's not my issue is that representative who's longer here. Right. And instead of dealing with the head-on and letting the client know, unfortunately, you bought the wrong product. And we need to fix this, right. And I think people want guidance, they want to be coached, they will also want to be led. And thank you for the service you're doing in that space. So understanding that you've made it work in Vegas, tell us a little bit about your agency. You mentioned multi-lines every day, you have numerous types of people listening to this podcast, or multi-line agents to pure financial services to life insurance, disability, I mean, you have some specialties out there, and you have people that kind of do a little bit of everything. So share with us a little bit about your practice and how you guys ended up. Also I want to talk a little bit about the importance of mentoring, training and development because as you said, you're doing some mentoring of other people. So let's start with your practice, tell us a little bit about your practice and, and why multi lives versus just choosing one product and just being the go-to for that one product.

Chris Carothers 24:14 

I'll unpack a little bit. So my dad started the brokerage business with a carrier called CrownLife back in 1969. When he started the agency and CrownLife was known for having great products across all lines, so they had a group health product, they had annuity products, that disability products, they had life products. And they would happen when it was started as a general agency. And he was a pioneer in the business that way back then because back then it was pretty much agency models. But then hard times it because no one ever stays on top forever. And then they'd have to sell out the Group Health Block of business. So then we had to plug in Group Health carriers, then a disability market gets done and then to get out of that annuity, and then finally the life went away, and we had to go carriers. And so I think that's how brokerage is built for a lot of people that got it many years ago, as the market shifts, and you have to adapt. But for me, I remember seeing one of my friends mentors in the business of go and visit, who's also member of NAIFA, and his name's Paul. And I'd go in there, and he would tell me about his business. And I had asked him, so how did you build your business? And he told me, he would back then in the early 90s, I make well over 100,000 a year, much, that's really good. And he says, how do you do it? I just found that it's too hard to find clients. So I just take care of my clients that I have, and they'll just take care of whatever their needs are. And so that kind of stuck with me in my own head saying it is hard to find people and people that you can work with and trust. And so we need to take good care of them. And so I found that being in the brokerage business, I wanted to make sure my brokers didn't have to say no, to the clients they serve, that we have the ability to serve them, even if they don't sell it or not licensed to do it. We have to delay to help them to meet that need. And so it's just evolved. But also, I did it because it's in the market shifts Bardon, it's a times, I've been through the market where, you know, we went through Y2K, when the market was, when the clocks turned over, we thought the whole room was going to collapse, we all did our food storage, if you guys remember. And then it didn't collapse, per se, but it did, we had a carrier that really, really took us down whenever our carriers had a major problem. And all the agents got disconnected from all the policies they wrote. And they ceased to getting compensated on their entire block of business, including ours. And that's really took us down. And so I learned to pivot real quickly, and pick up by lines of business and go the same brokers and sell and then obviously, we had to repair what we had to repair to we got the carrier to make good on it. But it was so damaging in so many ways, because you got momentum, right? And I've always said to people, I said, you know, you got to keep that snowball rolling. And because of the snowball stops, you roll a big snowball, right? Once it's going, it's going, but once it stopped trying to get it moving again, it's really hard. So as long as there's even a little creep of a roll, it's okay, it's still rolling, because you can keep it moving. And that's the thing is that when you have disruption like that, I just always felt that I needed to be well diversified for the shifts in the market, and waiting for the next change to happen. And I obviously went to the ACA had to make those shifts, and whether it was group Association health plans that was very much involved with I mean, there's a lot of things. So I've been pretty much involved in all lines, and we obviously do the property casualty. But I'm more near and dear to more in the life and health side and have been very much involved in it from the state level and the working with the department insurances to legislatively to working with legislators to, been gone to have been to DC been asked to go to DC and talk to departments to help try to address some of these issues with health care over the years. And some very much entrenched because of being wanting to be a part of this business. I just didn't want to sell insurance, I want to be immerse myself in it. So I'm pretty much involved in an every lead that I can possibly involved in.

Suzanne Carawan 28:48 

So what are you seeing now in Las Vegas? I mean, you're talking about one of the hottest markets in the country of people moving there. Are people bringing their advisors with them, and they're just still staying in touch? Are you picking up business left and right, because everybody wants to do want to come and see you and actually be with you in person? And what's that look like for with the population changes that you're experiencing?

Chris Carothers 29:15 

I think that the market is good. And there's plenty of people to talk to. I think that people are capable with some of their advisors, which I'm happy that they are, but it really is, for me it's I'm really more or less supporting my brokers nowadays. Yes, I serve clients. And the referral base is not a problem for me having plenty of referrals. But now a lot of those people that call in actually get referred out to my brokers. Because there's only so many hours in a day, but the ones I do serve I continue to serve. Yeah.

Chris Gandy 29:54 

So let's fast forward to tape, so you've had success in your career, you're building a solid organization, it's rooted in good virtues? Why mentor teach others? Why is that important to you? You mentioned other advisors, you've laid the pathway for others, why is mentoring and mentoring others important to you? Not to the industry? It's super important to the industry, because we wouldn't be here without mentors. But why is it important to you? And then who would you say, as mentored you the most, over 10.

Chris Carothers 30:39 

So I used to wear when I was younger, the business I used to put the sole mindset on, I got to hurry up and get to everybody as quick as I can, because I want to make sure there's a lot of bad people out there, I want to make sure I hope that as many people as possible and do it the right way. It's not that I'm better than anybody, I just saw a lot of bad out there. And I hate to say this, but I'll say it anyway, Vegas was built on a take casinos, and a lot of people come here to take, not give. And so it's important for me to help set standards, because I learned if you have a low benchmark, or a standard, that's as low as it goes or high as it goes. And that's a low standard. But when you raise the benchmark and hold people to a higher standard, it forces the market to rise. And so I just, and it's not a forum, I'm not saying this on, it's not arrogance, it's just it's I love people, and I want to make a difference. And so it's not a better than anybody I'm not, it's just that it's always been in my heart to make sure people are treated well. And to the best of our ability. And I've seen a lot of bad. And I want to make sure things are better. I know that what people think of salespeople, and if we all have to establish trust, and I love to establish trust through education. And so I start off with every the clients, I educate everyone and I walk them through the process, I don't walk them through what I want to sell them, I start with education about the want to talk about life insurance. So these are the different types of life insurance, and see where that goes, we'll put a plan together to fit their style, whether it's health insurance is the types of insurance products, what makes you tick, what are you looking for. And so I've always built on through education. And so I love to do that with the brokers as well that I train that come to my classes, so that I can instill those values, but also how to properly serve people. Because I think that's where it should start. And so that's what I've always done. Was there another half of that question, or is kept?

Chris Gandy 33:05 

No, I mean, I think the big thing is that you said it, at the beginning is that the location where you are was built on the take you were built on the give? I like that. So with that being said, talk to me a little bit about NAIFA, your affiliation with NAIFA. And given an ideal situation in NAIFA, what would you like to be able to say that you've accomplished in NAIFA, as we move through over the next three to five years?

Chris Carothers 33:44 

Well, I'm going to go one direction, then go forward. So my mother was state president in 1982, when she passed away in the middle of her term. And it's always been on my heart and mind to get involved with NAIFA and eventually to finish her term, the state president. And so last year, I approached some friends. And ironically, I'll go ahead and give you the story. I'll unpack a little bit more and that is, is that I was at a luncheon. I was talking to Frank Nullable, who I've known since I've been in the business and at the luncheon and I said so Frank, I said I'm just finishing up state Presidency of NAIFA's which is not a NAIFA of a native which was Nate who before and I need to get involved with NAIFA and I want to get involved on the board. So I'm gonna get on the board so I can run the chairs. And because I still want to finish my mom's term. And, and then I saw his eyes got watery. Frank's eyes go, what's wrong Frank? He goes, Chris, I was 23 years old when I had to finish your mom's term. I'm like, Frank, it's not wasn't that it was, but that it was Joe. He goes, no, Chris, it was I. I'm like oh Frank. And I said, I didn't realize. And so my mother was 36 years old when she passed. And so I said, well, so I got invited into the board. And ironically, the president chair was open, and they just offered it to me. But the thing that was really an interesting part of the story was that I said, guys, I can't be president yet. Because I'm still state president of Native. And that doesn't finish till June 30. So I can start July 1, which is in the middle of the term, which is ironic, I'm finishing half the term, right. And then I'll do another full term next year. So it's important to me to take advantage of this opportunity to do this for my mom's namesake, if you will. But also, a lot of the people that I've known over the years I've been in the business, since I was a child was still involved in NAIFA. And so that's important. My goal is, for NAIFA, is I want to make sure we touch more producers, licensed producers out there, I want to get our membership up. Not because data is trying to do the big push, I just realized that we need to get more people involved in our industry to not work alone, as our society has kind of changed, too. They know it's too easy to work at home alone, and who's going to help set those values and those standards, go into in a three-hour ethic class doesn't set it, it has to be something they hear over and over again to where it becomes intrinsically part of who their identity is. And I think NAIFA is a great organization to do that. And so I want to see membership growth. And I want to in Nevada, obviously, nationwide, nationally as well. But from my neighborhood, I want to see a membership, I want the rules part of our state to have a voice so they can have. So if there's something that needs to be addressed, that we can help address that either on a state or national level. And I want to be able to instill good values, as well as the educational tools that need for their success. And that's what the LUTCF program brings as well. They have a lot of fond memories when I went to that many years ago. And how it challenged me to step forward too, I mean, we had our professional growth classes where, okay, who's gonna go stand in front of a supermarket meet people who's going to make phone calls, who's going to do those other things? And then we would do weekly check-ins all did you do it, and how did it go. And so all those things tie together to help encourage success, because we can't look to other people for our success. I don't know what's happened in our society, but everyone thinks that just show up and then it just happens. Or to go buy leads, or someone's supposed to give me free leads or something that's not how it happens, is you got to put yourself out there and meet people and find out what's important to the consumer that you're serving, to help them become a client's and it's very natural, and it's very easy to do. And if you don't make it about you can make it about them. And that's what I want to see they continue to do and NAIFA's always done. And so I want to see NAIFA grow and continually be a cornerstone of our society of our insurance profession.

Chris Gandy 39:18 

Suzanne, you said you heard his name bubble up? Would you share with us where it's bubbling up at because obviously he's doing something to bubble up? And which means he's been active and proactive in some areas?

Suzanne Carawan 39:32 

Yeah, I've heard it come through the LUTCF channels and talking that he is a steward of that and a huge fan and champion of the LUTCF program. And as well as from the membership side of saying, it's no time like the present and a commitment to move forward. And that there's just too many people out there who are not part of NAIFA and that we need to change that we need to change the culture we need to get back to having that people are part of it and they understand how that is it's not a nice to have you don't push it off with somebody else in society, right? You're the professional, you're the one in the industry, you need to be a part of this and active. But I love what you're saying, which is really it's the company you keep, right? And that you need to set those standards high for yourself, and then surround yourself with others with the same standards so that you keep that level of accountability. And it's a societal good. And we don't talk about that enough. It's a very positive light that you're bringing, it sounds like Chris into the Vegas community. And then throughout NAIFA nation. So I think it's really connecting those people.

Chris Carothers 40:37 

So that add to that is that, as I mentioned earlier, how I surrounded myself with people that could help me walk with me, I've done the same thing with NAIFA. Because I didn't know so I just went to my old habits and started picking up the phone and calling people but really, there's a certain things just naturally happening just gravitates towards it, you start asking questions, and you start finding ways to do things and make things happen. And it's really natural for me to do that. And so working with membership, and has been fun, because I feel like I'm on the inside and not on the outside. And now that stemmed from GE when we went to our Day on the Hill, whatever we had to do a few months ago, and I went there was only one from Nevada, and I was never been so I'm just wandering around. And then I just started going to the NAIFA's tables and just started meeting the people that worked for the company. And I started poking around and see what I could do and establishing relationships just naturally and then when it came all my head people to call. And so then I started we just kept nurturing those relationships to where we're trying to accomplish the goal of growing membership.

Suzanne Carawan 42:02 

And it sounds to me, like maybe you are one of the few people that have inherently been given the gift of just naturally curiosity and reaching out to seek knowledge. But if there's one skill, that, that I think that all young professionals need to know, especially as they come out of schooling, schooling is very passive, actually, right, you show up, they give you the syllabus, you follow it, you regurgitate back, etc. But the difference when you come into an industry, or when you're really going into that next level of education is you have to become that seeker of knowledge and you got to go get it you got to aggressively constantly seek information and seek people out. And that's something that both of you gentlemen have in spades, but it's something that I've got a sophomore in college, and I've got a senior in high school, and I constantly tell them, you've got to develop the skill to go get it right, you got to go seek that out, no one is going to come and just tell you exactly how to work out life and all these opportunities. And I see it time and time with our young advisors. How do we teach the skill to go get it, go ask the questions, go seek the knowledge, go ask. And typically people are thrilled to be mentors, typically, people are thrilled to give you the information that you seek, especially with a NAIFA. So I think you uniquely already have that Chris, and then maybe also, you had extra independence with your mother's passing, you had no choice to do it. But I think that's a really important piece there.

Chris Carothers 43:25 

There's a couple things that I think of my days as a Cub Scout. And we had to go door to door and sell products to people. I hear cold calling, already. Yeah, cold calling in the day, all those little skills that we learned along the way they all add up, right. And even when I started off in real estate, same thing. I mean, I didn't have any money. So I just had free his free little fliers, to handouts, I went to 100 homes a day, scared to death. But I still had to do it because I had no other option because that's what I need to do for myself and I did the things that I chose that I wanted to do. So for example, I don't like cold calling people. Why? Because I don't like being cold-called. So I'm not gonna do something that I don't want. So I had to make a decision, what do I want to do? How do I want to approach it? And that's how I got in the business is that I just chose the things that were attractive to me. I chose the products that I believed in. And that's what I started off with a approach to that, well, you can't sell everything at once. But you got to come in with something that you believe in and that's where you start talking to people. And when you're passionate about it. They can see the passion right it's just that simple. And then based on that they're willing to listen and talk and then you'll never and see where it goes from there. And honestly one of the best months ever had an insurance was because LUTC. I learned Something new. And one of the live classes, I was so excited about this concept. I went and shared it with people. And then made three huge sales in one month, and it was like, wow, I can't believe I just did 250,000 in premium on these three sales because of this concept. So we got to believe in what you're doing. And then you got to be willing to share it.

Suzanne Carawan 45:26 

Well, Chris, probably time to start moving to our lightning round.

Chris Gandy 45:29 

Let's do it. Let's do it. Lightning in Las Vegas may mean something different, Suzanne. That's true. We'll see. I don't know if the lightning made I did, I do know, f1 is right around the corner. Because one of my friends is like one of the pit people or mayor of one of the marketing people. That's a part of that. So that's gonna be lots of fun this coming weekend, Chris. All right, Suzanne, let's go. So Chris, what makes a lightning round? The lightning round was designed by yours truly. But it was really just designed so people may know who you are. But they may not know the person behind the name. So want to give people a little bit of insight on your personality and good bad or indifferent. It's just kind of whatever is top of mind. Things I won't ask you. I won't ask you why you got to trouble in kindergarten for the back of the room. I want to ask you questions like that. Okay, we're not asking you things like that. But we'll ask you things that will let when people see you at NAIFA, they'll say, that's the guy that hey, you're right. people identify things that are common to themselves. So is that fair enough? It'd be easy questions. They won't be hard. Great. Okay, so cool. So Chris, let me ask you this your favorite sports team? Your favorite sports team?

Chris Carothers 47:01 

Don't have one.

Chris Gandy 47:03 

Wait, I'm gonna give you the Raiders. Because you're right there in Las Vegas.

Suzanne Carawan 47:06 

I know, he's got the knights and they're going.

Chris Carothers 47:10 

I've been very passionate about work. I've actually I've had some personal hobbies. But unfortunately, it's funny is that the Raiders moved here, right. And obviously we have our hockey team to the Golden Knights and I'm pretty proud of all them. But I really have never defaulted to going to those events. I think I've been to one hockey game or two hockey games, but I haven't been to a Raiders game and honestly, I'm very busy. And so I'm not prone. I know how to work and I usually disappear on the weekend. So I go to other places.

Chris Gandy 47:48 

All right, so Chris, that was an easy one. Okay, let's get out. That was an easy one. Okay, let's do one a little easier. Chris, what's your favorite food?

Chris Carothers 48:06 

I'd probably say pizza right now.

Chris Gandy 48:08 

Okay, we got Suzanne we got it. All right, so, Chris, your favorite movie?

Chris Carothers 48:27 

Wow, I'm gonna have to go into cobwebs. Holly, go with my wife's was it a wonderful life?

Chris Gandy 48:35 

Wonderful life. Wonderful. All right. Chris, let's say what advice would you give to young NAIFA members that just started in the business today.

Chris Carothers 48:55 

Never give up. It's just part of the process. Don't quit. Just hang in there. There's room for you. Even though you're different than everyone else, don't compare yourself to anybody else. You're a gift. And to all of us, just persevere. And you'll find your place.

Chris Gandy 49:20 

Chris, next question. If you could come back as an animal, reincarnated as an animal what kind of animal would you be? And why?

Chris Carothers 49:36 

I'm going to say dog. Why? Because of being best friends with people that becomes their family. Your best friend is a lot of times your dog. I know I don't have a dog right now. But I know how it is with my children and their pets and how they become family. And they're very loyal. Love that. They never say the wrong thing. They don't have a mouth to say is the wrong thing, right?

Suzanne Carawan 50:02 

Yeah. And they're less expensive than children. Yes.

Chris Gandy 50:08 

Chris, your proudest moment in the industry so far, we have a lot of work to do. But your proudest moment in the industry so far?

Chris Carothers 50:20 

I don't know. I'm gonna it's gonna I think just, I'll just take the proudest moment honestly is serving the people that I served, I humbly love people. And I love walking with them. And I've done some amazing things with people. Not that I got paid just the conversations and have how I've walked with people. I love that part. But now from the industry standpoint, I guess, the honor of being able to serve to fulfill my mom's legacy.

Chris Gandy 50:57 

Yeah. So last question. I think I already know the answer to this, Chris. But we'll see what you say. If you can go back and have dinner with anyone, whether they're here today, or they passed away, I think I know the answer to this, Suzanne. But who would it be? And why?

Chris Carothers 51:17 

At this moment, it would be my mom, obviously. I honestly, Chris, I would have never said that before. It's just once been pulled out in our conversation today. I've never had a chance to really look back, but always look forward. And so because of the conversation today, yeah, that would be an interesting thing, that would be interesting to have that moment. Yeah.

Chris Gandy 51:47 

Wonderful. Well, thank you, Chris. We appreciate all you do. We appreciate your volunteership. We appreciate the selfless nature in which to go in doing the work. And collectively, we do have the secret out there. We have the secret sauce of how to bill and how to really make advisors more powerful in the marketplace today. And we have the ability to bring them together collectively. And so you're doing great work and we appreciate you. We appreciate you being on our podcast and sharing with NAIFA your journey and I look forward to seeing your journey as it continues. Is there any other words you have for NAIFA nation, Chris, before we turn it over? Suzanne and then back to me for the wrap-up?

Chris Carothers 52:36 

No, I just I hope that I have hope I get a chance to meet anyone that watches this video, please stop by and say hi, I love to get to know you. And develop a relationship with you and a friendship and hopefully I can we can encourage each other to whatever it is we need to work through. I look for that opportunity. I look forward to that.

Chris Gandy 52:58 

Alright, Suzanne.

Suzanne Carawan 53:01 

Well, I would say Chris, I look forward to meeting you in person and thank you for being such a shining light on behalf of all boy mothers out there. I'm sure your mother's incredibly proud of you. Thank you.

Chris Gandy 53:12 

And Chris, I look forward to getting us some raiders tickets so we can go to game, break them out some news about first, you we get to go together so I see it's a little crazy out there. So on TV I'm sure it's even worse out there. But thanks, everyone for tuning into Advisor Today podcast. Thanks Chris for tuning in all the way from Las Vegas to the shiny lights. We'll see you guys in Washington DC. And thanks for we get a chance to come together collectively to uplift the advisors of today and tomorrow here on Advisors Today podcast. Thank you all we'll see you next week. See you in Washington, DC Have a great day.

Chris Carothers 53:48 

Take care. Thank you guys.

Outro 53:53 

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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