Podcast Transcript: Jon Sabes Interviews Jeffrey McGregor

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Jon: Today with me, I am pleased and honored to have Jeffrey McGregor. Welcome Jeff.

Jeff: Welcome Jon. Good to see you.

Jon: Good to see you. Good to be seen. Jeffrey has been working in the life insurance industry for a lot of years. He has held some major positions in the insurance industry, primarily in the sales and distribution realm. But he has had a major impact on the industry over the years. Now I can only hope that I am in as good shape and as good-looking as he is at some point, but he’s now more focused on his golf game, is that correct?

Jeff: That is correct, Jon.
Jon: Yeah, so where do you like to play golf?

Jeff: Primarily where I live in Palm Beach, Florida. And, I play about 40 tournaments a year, amateur tournaments, and look forward to that. Love to compete, just as we competed in the life insurance business, I now compete on the golf course.

Jeffrey McGregor

Jon: So, what is the handicap, might I ask, this year? Where’re you at?

Jeff: Three.

Jon: Three?

Jeff: Yes.

Jon: Beautiful.

Jeff: I don’t want to get much better because then I have to give too many strokes.

(laughs)

Jon: God bless you. So, that’s fantastic. So, when you look back over your career in life insurance, at this point as you look back, what takeaways when you look at the industry today and you think about the industry, and you kind of go, wow, either we did that or the industry’s doing that or there are these opportunities, right. So, kind of, where does that start when I prompt you with that?

Jeff: That’s a great question. When I look back in 1978 when I became licensed, I was a Series 6 registered representative. We sold mutual funds, et cetera, and life insurance. At that point in time, I didn’t really push life insurance. If I saw a need, I would address it. But in my first year, I delivered two death claims on two accounts that I inherited. And once I delivered those checks, and found that the family could’ve afforded much more, and I would’ve been able to deliver a much bigger check, had the previous life agent really taken the responsibility of covering the family properly, my whole attitude changed. My attitude changed 100%, and I would never leave a person’s home, because in those days we’d go to their homes sometimes rather than come to the office.

Jon: Or the internet.

Jeff: (laughs) It’s before the internet, Jon. And I accepted the responsibility of insuring people properly, and it wasn’t always easy, because people don’t like to think about their own death. And, I excelled, and my second year in business, moved to the top 20 in the company across 5,000 representatives. I was pleased with that, but that early experience of how you can protect someone really influenced me, and caused me to make sure that, the investments are great but the investments have to have time to work out. So the most important thing was making sure they had the coverage with the life insurance.

Jon: That’s a great point, I think, and often overlooked as to the importance of life insurance and the role it can play in that unfortunate event. And, so what a great product in essence it really is. So you then obviously, you rose to the top of the industry, I mean, in so many ways. When you were at the apex of your career and you looked out across that big landscape, what were you seeing then and how did that feel, first of all?

Jeff: Yeah, it felt like something I had imagined, and then I was living the reality. And to me the reality was helping young people grow, and do what I do, building teams, taking care of our clients, putting our shareholders first. And it also led to questions that caused you and I to get together at a later date. And those questions were, I’m the president of a company, we’re doing quite well, and I go to a meeting, and the actuaries are saying, well, we’re down a little bit. And I say, wait a minute, our sales are up, we’re doing great. And they say, oh no, the lapses and surrenders are less than what we anticipated. And I’m thinking to myself, wow, wait a minute. It’s our job to protect people, but profitability along those lines are built into the insurance company. And at that point I thought, you know, there’s got to be a better way. There’s got to be a better way, which eventually led you and I together, and looking at the secondary market for life insurance.

Jon: For those listeners who are not aware, Jeffrey serves on the board of directors of GWG, and we’ve as a company been honored to work with him over the years, or recent years anyways, and it does bring us together. We were just looking at a little book here on my table. For those life insurance fans, you might this, since we started with the importance of life insurance. Elizur Wright, The Politics and Mysteries of Life Insurance. I was just sharing with Jeffrey this book that I bought. Elizur published it, let’s see here, 1879, I want to say it is. And I was just sharing with Jeffrey–1873. You were just reading some more about this guy, and what struck you? Can you just kind of elaborate on what we were just studying?

Jeff: What struck me is, having been in this business over 35 years, and around some of the top insurance executives in the world, as I worked for AXA over in Europe also, besides the United States, I’d never heard of this gentleman. And here he is, with insights in the 1870’s, that are very deep, and really are a foundation for creating a cash value for insurance policies, and a way for people, if they did need to surrender, to have a viable option, as opposed to just getting raked over the coals and getting very little. So this person was so far ahead of their time, and leads into what we’re doing right now.

Jon: Yeah. So Elizur Wright, he witnesses in an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph the sale of 42 old life insurance policies, and he is so taken aback by this, he says, I’ve got to do something about it. And he comes back to the United States, and he becomes the first state insurance commissioner for the state of Massachusetts, and he creates surrender values, mandated surrender values, for people who buy life insurance. And that’s the birth, if you will, of the secondary market, or an advent in really the modern era of life insurance, where buyers of life insurance get surrender values. So, when you look at the industry today, what do you see, and what do you think the opportunities are?

Jeff: When I look at the industry today, I think it’s on the cusp of a major change, but it’s going to take innovation. It’s going to take technology. It’s going to take different thinking. Insurance companies tend to move in glacial time, meaning they move very slowly, but this world isn’t moving slowly. We’re all moving so much quicker. We’re bombarded everyday with over 5,000 messages, whether we know it or not, they’re coming at us. And what we’re seeing now is opportunity for an innovator, disruptive company to come in and look at better ways for distributing the product, better ways for underwriting the product, better ways for delivering a product. One idea of how I’ve always thought about it is, why can’t someone purchase a disability policy that as you get older, starts to turn into a long-term care policy. What happens right now is someone buys a disability policy, they pay the premiums. If they’re lucky enough they never have to us, right. It has no value. By the time you’re 55, 60 you don’t need it anymore. But what if as you got older, 35 to 40, it started to create 10%, 20% toward a long-term health care plan, so you’re not buying long-term health care at 65 when it’s so expensive, but you’re moving that way. So, I think there’s a lot of innovation possible in our business for companies that are going to look at a long-term investment, meaning that, how can I design this product that a person keeps it for their lifetime, and of course serves a purpose if someone dies or in the event of disability, pays them a monthly income, etc…. So, I think this business is ripe, ripe for change, ripe for new ideas, and ripe to give the consumer a very good opportunity to hold onto what they buy for a lifetime.

Jon: That’s great, you know, and we were just talking about that earlier, which is technology is accelerating. The tools are being built that really enable new entrance into the marketplace to do some of these things, whereas before maybe not too long ago the capital infrastructure necessary to build some of these products was probably cost prohibitive for most companies, and it’s still got a high barrier of entry, but it can be done now, is I guess my point.

Jeff: I agree, yes.

Jon: So, innovating. You’ve been an innovator all your life. You’re a writer as well. You wrote a book entitled A Spirit Never Tires. Can you talk about that book for a minute?

Jeff: Yes, I did. That book was a labor of love. Not being a true writer, meaning I’ve written articles for businesses and investment publications, et cetera. But, I had collected notes for about 30 years from some of the people that influenced me. Whether they were authors, such as Napoleon Hill or Norman Vincent Peale, to people that I personally hired with my own money to be my life coach mentors, someone to help me along the way. And I learned a lot from people I worked with, not just those that were successful, but those that were not successful. And what I found was that people were the happiest when they were creating. And it led me to get back to questions I had when I was very young. And those two questions were, who am I, and what do I want for my life. And I think those are two very important questions for any individual or for any business. We think about GWG, who are we and what we want for our future. That’s what I call the life in the business world. So as I accumulated all these notes over about 30 years, I promised myself one day I would write a book, and that day came when I retired from Ameriprise, and sat down and started to write. And what was really amazing to me, Jon, is I’m a Type A person. I’m committed, I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do, but writing doesn’t work that way. I wake up one day, and it’s flowing, and you’re writing, you’re writing, and all of a sudden it’s 4-o’clock in the afternoon. You go, wait a minute, I should eat some lunch, I’m hungry. And the next day you go, I’m going to do it again. You come back, and you can’t crank out one page. You know, it’s not flowing. So, it gets back to connecting to the universe and your spirit. When you’re connected, and you’re open, and that flowing happens, great things happen. Your higher self, or your spirit, your soul, your true witness, whatever you want to call it, that’s where the creativity comes from. And that’s what drove me to write this book, and share that with others, some of the experiences I had, and some of the successful people that I was fortunate enough to be around, and how they created their joy, their happiness, and their success for themselves and others.

Jon: Awesome. When you’re connected to that spirit, what does it feel like for you?

Jeff: For me, it feels effortless. I’m walking one inch off the ground. Although I know I’m still on the ground, it feels like one inch off the ground. But things are flowing. The ego doesn’t get in the way. My past beliefs that may have influenced me as a child all of a sudden become flexible. When I’m not flexible, I know I’m not connected to my spirit, and I’m not creating from the universe, from the highest power possible, the energy of the universe. And when that is going, you know, I believe your spirit helps you to make the right decisions. Sometimes we have bad behavior. Sometimes we allow our ego to get in the way. There are things that can get us off track obviously. But when I’m connected, I feel like I’m flowing, and I’m there to share love and make the world a better place.

Jon: Awesome. That’s terrific. Do you have any habits, any daily habits that you go through? You are so, it seems as though, in tune with your consciousness and staying in the now. So is there something that you rely on to stay there or get there? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jeff: Yeah, I’ll tell you something that I do everyday, and you might laugh at it as most people do. When I get out of bed, I obviously, like most people, put their two feet on the ground and stand up, and I give myself a hey, JMAC, way to go. Because I got out of bed, I stood up, and I felt good, and that’s how I start my day. I try to give myself an attaboy. It’s a little win, and I believe little wins that accumulate over time end up in big gains. So it’s a funny little thing, but I’ve done it for about 30 years, and I still do it everyday. My wife laughs at me, you know, if she’s awake because I give myself the attaboy.

Jon: She doesn’t give you another attaboy there when you get it out of bed, no?

Jeff: She just says, get out of here, go get the coffee, you know. But that kind of starts my day, and from there I try to follow my routine. I keep my goal sheets, which is the second chapter in this book. I keep a goal sheet at my desk. I keep a goal sheet in the bathroom.

Jon: How many years have you kept a goal sheet around, so to speak?

Jeff: 39 years.

Jon: 39 years?

Jeff: Yeah, I have every goal sheet at home.

Jon: Wow.

Jeff: Typically, there are 14 to 18 different areas on my goal sheet. Well, of course now just being on the board here, which is a priority for me, but I’m not working everyday, there aren’t as many business goals I used to have.

Jon: More golf goals.

Jeff: I have a couple of golf goals. Still trying to be the best person I can be, trying to do something nice for someone everyday. One of my goals is I have to catch myself doing something nice for one person everyday, or I will go downstairs and find somebody. I’ll go to the mall and find somebody to do something nice, because I feel so good when I do that. Typically I do something nice more than once a day. Now this time in Florida, doing something nice means you stop and let some people come in because the roads are so packed with all the Snowbirds down there. But typically I try to go a little higher than that. But physical goals, meaning exercise, watching my diet, being committed to my routine of keeping myself healthy, and staying in touch with my family. So a lot of these things come off the goal sheet over time once it becomes a habit.

Jon: Part of the goal is to get these to become habits, into a routine?

Jeff: Absolutely. Absolutely. If you have a goal sheet, and a friend of mine had a goal sheet, had the same goal sheet for three years. I said, what are you doing? He said, well you told me to create a goal sheet. I said, well the idea is that you’re going to change those goals over time. Now, my goal sheet on exercise is 18 workouts a month. Some months I do 14, some I do 16, some I do 18. So that’s not going to change a lot each year. But I looked back at one of my old goal sheets, and it had, floss your teeth. When I was 28 years old, like most 28 year olds, you know, I wasn’t married yet, flossing was not that important.

Jon: Beer was important.

Jeff: (laughs) Yeah, beer was important. And I went to the dentist, and he said, when you floss your teeth, your teeth bleed. And I said, yeah. He said, well do you floss much? I said, no because when I floss they bleed. He goes, you know why they bleed, because your gums aren’t in good condition. I said, ok. And he goes, you could lose your teeth in 10 years. So, he got my attention. And I started flossing twice a day, and it’s a habit. So it came off my goal sheet because it became a habit.

Jon: By the way, just as an aside, I heard this the other day on another friend of mine’s podcast. Do you realize that people who floss their teeth live longer? Just saying.

Jeff: I believe that.

Jon: Not only have good teeth, but you do actually live long. Do you then swap out the entire goal sheet when they’re all done, or is it more of a sort of once a month, once six months, or when you’ve scratched enough of them off, you update it?

Jeff: My pattern has been once a year.

Jon: Once a year?
Jeff: Yep, it’s typically January 1st.

Jon: Really? Wow, there you go.

Jeff: January 1st, I create my new goal sheet. It goes in a protective case, so I can keep it and always have it. I always save those from year to year. And typically I will add six to seven new goals out of my 14 to 18, but some will remain. The exercise program and different things will remain, trying to do something nice for someone each day, et cetera.

Jon: That’s incredible. You’re in terrific shape.

Jeff: Thank you.

Jon: Awesome. So you mentioned another topic in that, where you’re working on these goals incrementally, and it was something, when I read your book, that really stuck with me throughout the years, increments of betterment. Can you talk a little bit about what that is? What’s increment of betterment?

Jeff: Yes, increments of betterment is the idea that small wins accumulate over time, lead to big wins. And a gentleman that I worked with a long time ago said to me, how often have you had a really big win? I said, what do you mean, like won the lottery? I said, I don’t buy lottery tickets. He goes, no, how often have you had a big improvement in a short period of time? I said, never. He said, well what if we worked on getting little wins that accumulate over time, and we’ll call them increments of betterment that can help you to basically end up with a big win at the end? I said, wow, that’s fantastic. At that point, I didn’t really acknowledge little wins that much, ‘cause I thought, that’s not that special, anybody could do that. But it is special. I did it, I created it, and if I can keep that base going, it’s like walking up stairs. I keep getting those little increments of betterment, and then get up to the top, and then you’ve accomplished it. Now the main thing is to hold onto that. In life sometimes we take two steps forward, one step back. But those are the habits. Those are the habits.

Jon: Here come the habits again.

Jeff: That’s right. That’s right.

Jon: Yeah, I really, like I said, the concept of increments of betterment is just one of those that is just really stuck. And even everyone who reads the book or I talk about your book with, that resonates as well. And I know when I go back to it, you know, we go, ICB’s, increments of betterment. That really, particularly for entrepreneurs. I should say anything, but even an entrepreneur, where sometimes you know the road continues around the corner, but you’re not quite sure where, but if you stay focused on those little wins, I guess a compounding effect, if you will, of those little wins can result in some very big outcomes.

Jeff: Absolutely. Absolutely. I use this technique, I’ll call it, with my sales team over the years. And I always try to have a phone call, if I couldn’t be with the individual, at least twice a month. So my top salespeople always had a chance to communicate with me. And typically, Jon, we would talk about business for a while, but usually we’d get to, like, their family life or what they wanted beyond business, which was so important. And you know, this wasn’t something that a lot of business leaders talked about, but I felt it was important. I felt the healthier and more creative and happy my employees were, the better employee I had. And it would be things like, you know, I’m on the road all week and I come home Friday, and all I want is a home-cooked meal and my wife wants to go out. And I said, well, let’s turn this around. Your wife’s been home all week with the kids, ok, and she wants to get out of the house. What if you called her Thursday night, and said, honey, pick a really special place, get a babysitter, we’re going out. How do you think it’s going to be by Sunday when you have to leave again on Monday to go back out on the road, you think it’s going to be better? And he goes, you know, I’m going to try it. And of course, you know, whenever we put someone else first, good things happen. And you know, it’s like, we talked about business, but we talked about life issues. And those little increments of betterment that helped that employee at home led to a more productive employee, and everybody wins. And you know, sometimes in the business world, we’re not supposed to cross those lines. I thought, hey, if I’m helping someone, I’ll cross any line.

Jon: Amen to that. I mean, you know, keeping your employees, your team in a real positive frame of mind, where you do care about them holistically, is really rewarding I think. I knew I was reflecting just the other day about the team that we have here, just thinking how fortunate I am, you know, to be an entrepreneur, surrounded by such a terrific team of individuals who are committed to a common goal and purpose of making everyone’s lives better who we touch, through the products and services we sell, through the cooperative working with one another. And that’s a really great place to be, and I know I’m a kindred spirit of yours because, again, since we’ve connected, and I’ve read your book, and been able to spend time, the more I learn from you, the better I feel. So thank you for sharing.

Jeff: Thank you for sharing that, Jon. I wasn’t always looking at the higher side. I had a program where the top salesperson, if he were a male, for that month, the spouse would get a dozen roses. And if it was a female, and they had a spouse, they would get a 60 minute massage. Which is very nice, right? But what happens when all of a sudden, for three or four months, Jeffrey didn’t send any flowers or massages? All of a sudden that spouse is saying, Jon, what’s going on? I’m not getting the flowers anymore, get out there.
Jon: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I like that.

Jeff: And so we had a lot of fun with that, and the guys were always happy when the gift was coming, but if the time was going on, they’d go, oh man, I was second, can you send my wife a dozen roses? I said, nope, it’s only number one.

Jon: No good deed goes unpunished.

Jeff: That’s right.

Jon: Way to motivate them. You’ve talked a little bit about also intention, being intentional of that vision, of you saw yourself visualizing yourself in the positions that you obtained. Is that always been a technique that you’ve used over time, or is that something you’ve learned to do and perfected? Do you use that in your golf game?

Jeff: I use it in my golf game all the time, but more importantly, it’s a way to get through barriers. Sometimes we have barriers on self-limitation, or you know what, I don’t know if I can be that good. You know, and all of a sudden you’re saying, well wait a minute. Let’s not have any counter-intentions, let’s have our focus.

Jon: But how do you self-talk yourself through that?
Jeff: That’s the million dollar question. You reinforce it. You have to reinforce it. If someone has a counter-conflict, like, let’s say I want to make money, but somewhere in their mind, money is the root of all evil, you’re going to have an intention, counter-intention. It’s not going to work. So what I always try to do is how can I excel where I want to excel, get to where I want to get, do it ethically, and do it in a positive way, and not run over people along the way. Now, everyone does not have to win equally, ok, but I don’t have to abuse anyone along the way. So in my heart and connecting to my spirit, if I’m doing everything I can to succeed, and I get there, great. If not, I’ve given it my all. So I tried to keep myself on track, and that’s back to your goal sheet, reinforcing what you want, and then continuing down that road.

Jon: Got it.

Jeff: And, you know, in golf, it’s so interesting. I mean, when your intention is there, your attention goes there, your energy goes there, everything. You don’t have time for negativity.

Jon: Does it all get quiet for you?
Jeff: It gets quiet, it gets peaceful, and you know, you have a knowingness that you’re going to hit a great shot.

Jon: Got it.

Jeff: You’re not thinking, you know. We have to think, human beings, but knowingness is higher to thinking. Ask yourself this question, I think she loves me, I know she loves me. And it’s the same thing on the golf course, I know I’m going to hit a good shot because my intention, all my energy is there. I will pull it off. If I think I’m going to hit a good shot, but you know the wind’s blowing, and oh god I had this shot last week and I didn’t hit it that well, all the counter-intention come in. I’m going to be lucky if I pull off my best shot.

Jon: Yeah. So it sounds as though you have to push this knowing. Knowing is a key piece of expanding into that space, having the faith to know that you can do that, and keeping that, and that’s how you can create the space to be quiet, and to visualize and see that through.

Jeff: Exactly. If you have that gut feeling, you know, that many times is a knowingness. You might not even know that you can do something, or you might not see a business opportunity, and you have that, I think I can do this, and all of a sudden it goes, I know I can do this. And that gut feeling is gnawing at you, you have to do it. That’s the knowingness that comes from that connection to the universe, your spirit, and the ability you have to execute.

Jon: That subconscious.

Jeff: Exactly.

Jon: That subconscious. Get your sub going.

Jeff: And everything melts away, and the path becomes clear.

Jon: Great. Well, this has been just a pleasure to speak with you, Jeffrey. Closing question, books.

Jeff: Books.

Jon: Books.

Jeff: I think the book that most influenced me was Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking. And why I said that was because I was given that book when I was 12 years old by my grandfather, who I love deeply. And he said, you know, read this book, and don’t sit down and read it all at once. Sit down and read it and think about it. And he was so true. And I wore the thing out. I’ve had many copies, but you know, I go to Norman Vincent Peale, I go to Napoleon Hill, I go to so many people that influenced my life, and what they’ve done is formed a foundation. And then from that foundation, I wrote A Spirit Never Tires. I took some of their ideas, and things that I tried, and you know, people like Anthony Robbins. I mean, there’s so many people, NLP. I studied any technology, any science that could help me to get better. And I’m not saying those have all the answers, but I always found a few answers in all of those that worked for me. I think that’s the key, is not being afraid to try new things and find out what works for you, because we’re all unique in who we are, and what helps you create, stay happy, loving, will create the right universe for you.

Jon: Amen. Alright we’ll close on that beautiful thought. I want to again thank my guest Jeffrey McGregor. His book, A Spirit Never Tires, it is available on Amazon.

Jeff: Yes, it is.

Jon: It is. And I will post links on my podcast if you’re interested in that. I will guarantee you, you will enjoy the read, so thanks for tuning in, and join us next time. (music) Alright, that was a terrific cast with Jeffrey McGregor. Thank you for tuning in today. You can find me at jonsabes.com. Keep innovating in life. Keep innovating in being the best version of yourself. Have a great day.

To buy a copy of A Spirit Never Tires go to https://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Never-Tires-Jeffrey-McGregor/dp/1452557624

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