For me, achieving MDRT’s Court of the Table qualification was a combination of many things, and I found there was an order to how those were done.
Since Court of the Table is three times the qualifying requirements of MDRT, mathematically it seems like to achieve Court of the Table, we need to put in at least three times more effort. Is that true, though?
In my opinion, it takes far more than just three times the effort. It requires a well-thought-out strategy and a consistent set of integrated habits. Over the past few years, I realized the cream of the crop top-level producers have a set of distinct traits and habits they exemplify in their daily lives. These are
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
Genuinely interested in others: Top-level producers are good communicators who connect with you using their hearts.
The stark difference between an ordinary financial advisor and a top-level one is that the latter always exudes passionate concern for the prospect and their family. In our minds, we are always genuinely interested in helping the person sitting right in front of us.
Conversation starters: The beauty of this career is that it allows you to meet people from all walks of life. My previous 11 years of HR experience, coupled with Toastmasters practice, honed my communication skills so I can strike up a conversation with anyone. Many people have asked if I am a natural extrovert, and I’m not. I’m an introvert who trained herself to adapt to different social settings.
The key underlying premise, however, to be a good conversationalist is that you must have good knowledge of multifaceted topics that go way beyond insurance or financial matters. You need to read a lot so that you can be kept abreast of the latest current affairs and social news.
Active listener: A top-level producer listens more than talks. I usually practice an 80/20 rule in the initial meetings. For good fact-finding and building great rapport, we usually ask guiding questions and let our prospects talk. This is one of the ways endorsed by Dale Carnegie in the book “How to Win Friends & Influence People.”
2. Organizational skills
Being productive: Being efficient and productive is key, especially as a working mother. No time can be wasted. Many have asked me how I juggle so many competing demands of being an involved mother, an active engaging agency leader to be producers and still be on the ground meeting clients.
My honest answer is that I compartmentalize my day into the different life pillars for
Anything that doesn’t fall into one of those pillars, I consider a time waster. Even procrastination is considered a luxury.
To be more efficient with my time, for example, I switched from reading books to Blinkest so that I can listen to book summaries during my commute to work. After dropping off my son at child care, my one-way commute time to the office is about 35 minutes. During that time, I can complete listening to a book summary.
Goal setting: I have not met any top-level producers who achieved great performance by chance. All of them set goals from the beginning. I have since internalized this from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.
Goal setting gives us the ultimate destination of where we want to land. This guides us away from being derailed and forces us to organize our time and resources to stay focused on the journey.
I periodically review my goals and track my progress. I also learned to motivate myself by celebrating small wins. Periodic reviews also helped me to be extremely clear on the gaps so that I can proactively find ways to address them.
Strategic thinking: On a typical weekday, I wake up at 5 a.m. Between 5 and 6 a.m. is a precious hour that I allocate to strategic thinking or learning. In hindsight, I believe this was the key tipping point for me to achieve MDRT within six months and then Court of the Table.
Between MDRT and Court of the Table, a key difference is the spirit of tenacity. The Court of the Table qualifiers I meet always show real tenacity in achieving their goals. With a strong why, once we set sight on a goal, we grasp it so integrally in our hearts and minds that under no circumstances would we give up.
Anything that is worth doing requires persistence, perseverance and stubborn determination. Tenacity is the quality consistently displayed by these top-level producers. This often involves doing things you might not like, such as waking up earlier or consistently prospecting.
Having said that, surrounding yourself with a group of cheerleaders to uplift you is also of paramount importance. I remembered when I was in the final lap of qualifying for Court of the Table in December 2018, I really wanted to give up.
It was only because of the relentless positive encouragement and support of my family, team, colleagues and manager that I completed the final lap and qualified for Court of the Table. This career is like a never-ending marathon. The true winner is not the one who sprints the fastest, rather the one who keeps running until the end.
Jaslyn Ng is a five-year MDRT member and a Court of the Table qualifier from Singapore.
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