Altig Orlovic Agencies with American Income Life
-Bernard Rapoport, founder of American Income Life
It’s tax week in America. Canadians, you’ve got a couple more weeks. It is one of those painfully annoying patriot things we have to do every year. It has been noted that IRS is joining the 21st century. They now have 5 twitter accounts. So while you may not be following them; they are definitely following you. They also are supposed to have 4 Facebook pages. Can’t image any of them have too many friends though.
President Obama reported $800,000 in income this year, including salary, books, and all outside income. Kinda sad that if the president of the United States worked for your company, they wouldn’t be ranked among the top earners. In fact, we’ve got SGA’s that GIVE AWAY about that much to charity each year.
But taxes and our governments are a serious matter. Pay your taxes. Do your returns right. That means take the allowable deductions. Not more, not less. Don’t take more because they will ultimately catch it. And then you’re in worse trouble yet. But don’t take less.I talked to a couple guys recently who said, “I take less than I’m even allowed to take.” I said, “Why would you do that?” One said he liked having some “cushion.” Cushion? Cushions are for couches. And besides, what if they don’t audit you and you never “use” it. Then you’ve lost those deductions forever. And be aware that they may not give you your “cushion” back even if they did audit you.
The other guy said he had been through an audit and was overly cautious. I’ve probably been involved (as a CPA, CFO, or wherever) in about 30 or 40 audits. You’re best scenario is when you take all the deductions you are allowed. No more, no less. It makes you look really accurate; it gives them a level of comfort, and keeps them from wandering over into other places you might not want them and asking a gazillion questions.
What about the gray areas? If you have a good tax preparer, he or she can guide you through each individual area, but don’t be overly aggressive, where most reasonable people would go, “Hmmm, that’s sounds like a stretch”. And don’t be scared to take something that’s a legitimate business expense. Ask yourself, if someone reviewed this, could I reasonably defend it? Not everyone will agree (auditors come in all kinds of flavors), but is it a defensible position? And there’s not that much gray between there.
Speaking of great North Americans, I had the privilege of attending our founder, Bernard Rapoport’s memorial this week. The eulogy list was half a page long. Congressmen, ambassadors, judges, over a thousand filled the auditorium to pay their respects to a man who had influenced their life greatly. What was the tenor? Let me see if I can capture it in half a page.
It was a sad, as most memorials are. But not overly. He was 94. He lived a life filled with joy and achieved most of his goals on this earth. He had done more in his lifetime than about 99.9% of the people I know. One overriding theme was that he never met a person that he didn’t want to help. It was in his DNA. Instilled in him from a very young age and developed over his life. The rush of changing someone’s life was like a drug to him. He brought hope wherever he went. Whoever was talking to him felt bigger, smarter and more important than anyone in the room. And left more confident and with a greater appreciation of both him and themselves. He deeply believed in people. I’m sure they disappointed him occasionally, but he never talked about it. In fact, several people afterward stood around trying to remember a time when he spoke ill of a person either maliciously or in public, and we all struck out.
How do you succeed? That came up frequently. And the same three themes kept coming up: Work, Work, and Work. He set up a foundation, with tens of millions of dollars devoted exclusively to helping the under-privileged. Especially children. But he never gave handouts. He always helped the person who was working hard and needed a break, a hand.
His gargantuan vocabulary made it into the many speeches. American Income CEO Roger Smith, Strode confidently to the lectern. He said Bernard had always told to him to enter the stage with alacrity. He had to look it up, but once he did, he never forgot to come onto a stage briskly, enthusiastically, willingly, and with zeal. B was one of a kind.
How do you leave a legacy? Like everything worth achieving in life, you’ve got to focus and work hard for it. I know people sometimes try to tell you there are shortcuts. They are not being completely honest with you. Believe in people, have faith, and make everyone around you better for having met you. And did I mention, work hard?
He set up a culture that permeated the company. Even more than a decade after he stepped down. How powerful? How important is culture? Culture is everything. It will make or break you. That was very apparent in the news this week in many storylines. The Secret Service was rocked this week in a scandal where 11 of Barack Obama’s secret service and 10 more military personnel working with them all were sent home for bringing non-union labor up to their hotel rooms this past week. 21 guys? Really? How could they all be involved? On NPR, one Washington Post writer described it as follows: They are not requiring physical fitness tests.They are not regularly re-qualifying them for fire arms testing. And if they are, the agents are filling in their own tests scores. Corner-cutting is tolerated and a general laxness is allowed. The commentator observed, “These are not goofballs. They’re very impressive people. They are just being let down by their director, their leader.” What is the culture in your agency? Is there laxness? Are you letting them down? Could you experience your own “Columbia?” Great time to reflect.
March Bonuses are tabulated. Bonuses are a cultural thing as well. I look down the list and see 6 from one agency and thousands of dollars and then one or two small ones from another. It’s easy to see your culture from the bonus chart. Three of the top 5 in all of AIL are Altig agents. Alan Sedaghat. $8,158. He’s at #2 in ALP in the whole company with $156,664 of ALP for first quarter so far. That’s on pace for $600,000 this year. Katie Massart got $5,826. Ryan Bisanz. $4,743. He was at the SWAT meeting. Great, great guy. Over a million and a half given away last month if you add it all up.
Leadership Bonus: Bobby Gujral. $15,653. Not for the year. For the month. Ryan Kendl $6,515. John McGrath. $6,291. Been seeing him race around in some pretty nice cars on Facebook. Nick Lorence. $5,607. He’s more of a poker guy; investing in good tournaments. James Raymond and Mark Nielsen. $4,300 and $4,100 respectively. Josh Olin, Ashlynn Orng, Andrew Aaron, Natalie Wagner and Dan Toshner all were between $3,000 and $4,000. But Toshner got $3,000 in WGB!?! So. You can get like 5 bonuses. Andrew Aaron picked up a $1,250 recruiting bonus. Tiare Hubbard got a $2,287 Training Bonus. Get a bunch of them.
Top Territories. Remember. First Six Month Production:
#1. Washington. $65,000. Total Production was $150,000, but we’re focusing on new growth. They did better in first six month than the total production of some states. They are about tied with Hawaii at 95 total agents. Redmond. $35,000 Renton, Tacoma, Olympia, Lynnwood and Spokane all put in. They are really starting to cover that state well.
#2. Hawaii. $43,017. $115K total but we’re focusing on the here, now and the future. They’ve got 9 offices turning in. Is it a coincidence that the states with the most offices had the most growth and production? No coincidence. No mistake. Don’t make it one of yours.
#3. Nevada. $38,000. They may be new but they average $1,050 ALP per sale. They’re outdoing the veterans. That’s what I love about new agents. They don’t have any pre-conceived notions. They don’t limit themselves. #4 California. $32,000. 26% closing for new agents. Better than one out of four and they haven’t even had a chance to get really good yet. Love it. Virginia. $29,000.