What drew you to the funeral industry?
I fell into this industry by happenstance. After high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do so I took a year off and took a job working at a wood putty factory. I did that for a little over a year until my older brother Chris, who worked in the funeral side of the insurance business, approached me at a family get together.
Chris is 13 years older than I am and so we didn’t really grow up together, he was going into the Air Force when I was going into kindergarten – so we had quite the age gap between us. He approached me and told me that our dad had told him I wasn’t really happy in my current job and he asked me what my plan was to change that. I told him I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to college or look for something else, and that’s when he suggested I should sell insurance with him. I told him he was crazy, but after talking with him for a while, he convinced me to take a day off of work on a sort of ride along. We met 8 or 10 people that day and it turned out to be one of the most amazing days of my life, and I still remember it like it was yesterday even though that happened 24 years ago. At the end of that day, I knew I had found my new career and asked my brother to help me take the necessary steps to make that happen.
So at 19 years old, I started out by selling preneed funeral plans and final expense policies to help families provide a dignified funeral for their loved ones. I consider myself really lucky and fortunate to have found my passion so early in life and we continue that today at C&J Financial. Even though I am not out actively selling insurance policies anymore, what we do here at C&J still allows us to help families provide funerals for their loved ones and I get to continue to follow my passion 24 years later.
What makes C&J Financial unique?
What makes C&J stand out from other companies is our people. We have more than 100 staff members that range in age from 18 to 70 years old. It is their dedication and compassion to not only the funeral homes we work with – which is nearly 3000 across the United States – but more importantly than that the reason why we exist, is their dedication to the families that are being served by the funeral homes. We help eliminate the headache and hassle that cash flow delays and processing insurance death claims cause. Our greatest asset by far is our dedicated team and it is because of them that we have been able to become as successful as we have.
What is your favorite thing about working with C&J Financial?
I have two favorite things. The first is our team, which in my opinion is truly a dream team. The second, is our clients. I am very fortunate to know a great number of them and have developed some outstanding friendships and relationships. I have even been on trips around the world with some of our clients.
How do you set personal goals for yourself?
I like to set a big picture goal and then to achieve that, I outline some micro goals. That’s how I have always been in life. I always have my sights sets on a target and then put together a plan to reach that goal on a step by step basis. When setting goals, it’s good to set your sights high, but it’s most important to have a realistic plan of action that will get you to where you need to be.
What do you feel has been the most important factor in your personal success?
When I look at the success I have had personally and we as a company have had, I don’t see anything that was a single contributing factor but I see my success as a blessing from God. We are very humbled by what we have accomplished, and it has been an amazing experience to have worked with so many families and funeral homes throughout the United States. I attribute all of my success to the good Lord. The grace and blessings that He has given us and bestowed upon us have made all of this possible.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?
The change in the funeral industry. This industry is changing rapidly – more rapidly than I would have ever even imagined. For me that is exciting. I know for some people, it is a scary time when things change at the rapid rate they are, but for me I see these changes opening tremendous opportunities and possibilities. Things that we haven’t even thought of yet, opportunities that haven’t even been created yet are on the way and for me that makes the future so exciting. Changes mean endless opportunity and that is something to look forward to. As an industry, these changes are going to force us to do things differently than we have in the past and that will force some pretty cool changes I think. It’s going to be challenging, there is no doubt about that – but it is also going to be rewarding and those with the courage to work through these changes and shifts will come out on top. All this change and future opportunity keeps me going and motivates me.
Whether in personal life or career, what brings you the most pride?
The thing I am most proud of in my life is my family. I have been happily married for 19 wonderful years to an amazing woman. My wife Katie and I have 4 young boys, Noah 11, Jonah 9, Luke 8 and Levi who is 5. I could not be more proud to be their dad and to be married to their Mom. My family is by far my greatest accomplishment.
The Monday Motivation videos you started with your boys have really drawn a large following online, how did those get started?
That’s a funny story. My wife is the one that always used to drop our kids off at school because I was always in the office really early in the mornings before they needed to be there, but about a year ago she had something that took her out of town for an entire week. I had to rearrange my schedule to get the kids to school because it’s about a 20-minute drive, but I was excited to spend more time with the boys.
The second we pulled out of the driveway on that first day, the complaints about school came pouring out. All I heard out of the backseat was, “I hate school, I don’t wanna go to school, and school is boring.” They whined and fought each other all the way to school all the while I’m yelling at them to stop. Second day, same thing. By the third day, I had finally had enough and decided to try something I learned years ago when I first got started in the insurance business.
A sales manager that I used to know would start every sales meeting by making everybody stand up and shout, “I feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel terrific,” three times. I remembered how it literally changed the way that I felt, even if you didn’t want to say, by doing so you could change your mindset. I decided to try that with the boys every day before they got out of the truck for school. After our week together, I told my wife that I would love to keep dropping the boys off every day – and obviously she loved the idea.
After three weeks, as soon as we pulled out of the driveway, our third son Luke started shouting the chant without any prompting. I turned around and he had sheer joy on his face, and I decided to take a quick video because I thought it was so cool. That’s how the videos started with us driving down the road on the way to school, shouting, “I feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel terrific,” three times – then they evolved from there. Viewers were commenting on how great they thought the videos were, so I started using them to teach little valuable life lessons to the boys. Today the videos cover things that are important to me and my family, things like honesty, integrity, and compassion and we have thousands of viewers that tune in each week. The response has been amazing, and it has been fun to see comments coming in from all over the United States. FBA