Industry conferences are always full of inspiring moments intertwined with educational, networking and idea exchange opportunities. As a member of the industry media, I was invited to attend the MDRT Annual Meeting in Anaheim last week. Between conducting interviews with MDRT members for upcoming articles, there was ample time to attend many of the main platform and focus sessions. What follows are some quick takeways provided by a handful of the presenters at last Tuesday’s main platform. Enjoy, and revisit any thoughts you might have about skipping the next industry conference on the schedule. All images courtesy of MDRT.
Next: Jeff Wadsworth, M.B.A., CFP
Set goals, dream big
“I learned to set big goals and dream big dreams by listening to the speakers on this very stage,” said Jeff Wadsworth, M.B.A., CFP, during his main platform speech. Goals and dreams do come true, Wadsworth continued. At the first MDRT meeting he attended, he was taking notes, setting goals and dreaming dreams — which included someday being a speaker on the main platform at MDRT. He joyously achieved that goal on June 12.
Next: D. Scott Brennan
The $40 leather briefcase
During his June 12 main platform presentation, MDRT First Vice President D. Scott Brennan showcased his old, well-worn $40 leather briefcase, which has been at his side throughout a career that has seen more than 60 death claims.
“This briefcase has carried hundreds of checks for millions of dollars that kept families together and companies in business," Brennan said. "It always made sure a widow dressed as well as a wife.”
Next: Jeremy Gutsche
Innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche, founder of TrendHunter.com, talked about the effectiveness of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” slogan as — and I didn’t know its origins — a campaign to reduce roadside littering. With a goal of a 5% reduction, it netted a 72% reduction in roadside littering, and in the process, became synonymous with Texas. But it was another line from Gutsche’s main platform address that stuck with me: “Portray your product as average, and that is all it will ever be.” To illustrate this, he showed a Washington Post video of elite concert violinist Josh Bell — who plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius — playing for tips in a Washington, D.C., Metro station in 2007. Of the 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his 45-minute performance, he collected $32.17 from 27 passersby. He earned considerably more than that playing the same repertoire at a concert the night before, and Post columnist Gene Weingarten won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for writing about the experiment.
Next: Sally Hogshead
9 seconds to fascinate
Speaker Sally Hogshead told attendees that due to Americans’ ever-shrinking attention spans, when you first meet someone, you have a 9-second window of opportunity to make an impression.
“Stand out or don’t bother. The world doesn’t need another boring conversation," she said. "Your clients want to be fascinated. The world is changed by fascinating leaders.”
She added, “You don’t learn how to be fascinating. You unlearn how to be boring.” For more on how to fascinate in 9 seconds or less, visit http://sallyhogshead.com/
Next: Mike Rayburn
The world’s funniest guitar virtuoso
Mike Rayburn, who blends humor with his amazing skills as a guitarist, told MDRT attendees he used to get frustrated by people in the audience yelling song requests. “If the status quo is not working, get fed up,” he said. “It causes things to change.” He got fed up and decided to create change by asking, “What if?” in dealing with song requests. As in singing Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” as a country song. What if Bruce Springsteen sang the theme to Green Acres? Maybe there should be a Led Zeppelin version of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Bob Marley singing Garth Brooks’ “I Got Friends in Low Places.” A guitar version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Perhaps the funniest was Rayburn’s take on the Taylor Swift hit, “You Belong with Me” — from the perspective of a male nerd.
Rayburn also reminded attendees to take pride in their profession: “Don’t say, ‘I sell insurance.’ Say, ‘I take care of your family when you can’t.’”
More from MDRT 2012: