I entered the sales and financial services business in 1979, and after a few years of struggling, I started to have some small success in my business. It was at this point that I heard something in a seminar that literally changed my life forever. I had an extremely difficult time early on in this business, but because I was desperate to succeed and was a sponge for knowledge, I went to every possible training or seminar that was available.
I remember at one particular seminar, the speaker, a tremendously successful producer/organizational builder/leader was speaking about hiring an assistant and said these words that changed my life, "A great assistant is worth their weight in gold!" In retrospect, I would bet that the message went over nearly everyone's head in this room with over a thousand sales people in it.
I don't really know why that the speaker's statement hit me so hard, but for whatever reason, I instinctively knew that this was absolutely critical for my future success. I was so broke at the time that I could barely pay attention, let alone pay for an assistant, but the nagging thought that a great assistant was integral kept persisting in my mind. After a year or so of opening my own office, as I began to do a little better, an opportunity presented itself that immediately changed everything. One of the agents I recruited had a wife with a couple of elementary school aged children, and she wanted to work a few hours and days a week for a little extra money while her kids were in school. This lady was a super-efficient and take charge type of person. I knew she would be a fast learner and an ideal assistant, but I had no idea how I was going to afford her part-time help.
Because I firmly believed in the idea of utilizing an assistant in my business, I decided to hire her regardless of how I could afford the expense. This is over 30 years ago, but I vaguely recall we agreed on $9 an hour and that she would work three days a week, three hours a day. That decision almost immediately led to an explosion of growth in my business. No longer was I thinking about paperwork, bank deposits, answering the phone and all the "administrivia" that can take up one's time. I now felt free to focus on my main job of recruiting and training agents in the field and producing business. It was like a massive weight was taken off my shoulders, and I finally felt like I really had a business. Those nine hours a week changed everything for me, and I began to develop a different perspective about doing business. I began to view my business as a real business, not just me as a sales producer, but a business that needed to be worked "on" and not just "in".
As the business began to grow in the years that followed with more success and hiring more personnel, l developed a business philosophy where there was the realization that a key to my success was in becoming a master delegator. HBW now has multiple companies and divisions with great people in leadership roles. One of the jokes at our company is that if someone else can do something, I hire them to do it. My role as a CEO has grown and developed to managing and supporting our division presidents and leaders, as well as supporting our Partners and associates in the field. This role is more fun and exciting than I could ever have imagined, and it all started as the result of learning that a great assistant was and is worth their weight in gold!
- Barney Hellenbrand
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