Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 11, 2012

Key to business success: Embrace being different

By Don McNay

CNHI News Service

“I’m older now, but still running against the wind.”

— Bob Seger

I was racing to a church on a hot summer day to watch my wife sing. Wearing a designer suit.

In the parking lot, someone looked at me and said, “Most of the people in the church are wearing shorts and golf shirts.” I responded, “Why would I want to do what everyone else is doing?”

That’s one question that could sum up my philosophy on life.

My key to success is doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

It’s worked so far.

This month marks my 30th anniversary in the financial services industry. No one would have predicted that I would have lasted 30 seconds. I was one course short of a master’s degree in political science and had never taken a business class in my life. I had only lived in the city where I was based for two months.

I’ve never been interested in the trappings of wealth and wanted to do work that made a difference.

I eventually figured out that you could make a difference in the business world. Especially when you own the business.

I took the “personality and suitability test” for the industry seven times and flunked it every time. (Three years later, after I was named to the Million Dollar Round Table, I took it again and still flunked it.)

After the sales manager saw the results of the personality test, he decided to run me off by telling me I had to know everything in the 200-page rate book that life insurance companies used.

I didn’t know I was being run off.

I read the book overnight, got the numbers down cold and the stunned sales manager hired me.

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