ANAHEIM, Calif. – Being passionate about life and work and finding inspiration from other people are key ingredients that make for winners, according to several speakers at on the Tuesday morning platform of Million Dollar Round Table.

D. Scott Brennan made that point in his acceptance address as the new president of MDRT for the coming year. A MassMutual agent from South Bend, Ind., he said he has drawn his inspiration for his career from the people at MDRT. Much of his address recounted how his affiliation with the organization helped him find his career path and passion, and his success in the high end market.

His first MDRT experience was actually during childhood. Brennan said he grew up hearing the MDRT recordings that his father, also a MDRT member, constantly played in the family home. Those recordings educated him on ideas from Earl Nightingale and other inspirational speakers who talked about the power of positive thinking and psycho-cybernetics.

But even that strong upbringing did not make his early years in the insurance business easy. As Brennan put it, “I took a vow of poverty for the first few years in the business.” That brought a burst of laughter from the audience. Then he added, “and I did not qualify for MDRT.” That brought more laughter.

What he could become

But Brennan had been hired by someone who Brennan said probably took him on for what he could become, not for what he could do at the time.

Later, after much persistence, he started making some headway. After going through 20 closing interviews with no sale, he said he suddenly made six sales in a row.

But it was not until he arrived at his first MDRT meeting in New York City that he started finding his sense of purpose and commitment. “That’s when I saw what I wanted to become,” Brennan said.

His discovery was that he wanted to be able to sell in the high-end market. That is an art form, he said. At the same meeting, he said the family he wanted to have also started coming into focus. “My life was changing,” he declared.

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Since then, he said he has been ”classically trained” by MDRT to do life insurance sales. That is where he learned that selling life insurance is not a commercial transaction. Rather, “it’s an exchange of emotion,” he said, adding wryly that “we know this but compliance doesn’t—yet.” The comments brought another round of laughter.

Brennan indicated he has enjoyed years of success since joining MDRT, including a happy, loving marriage. But he made clear that his life has not been without struggle. He has developed leukemia, for example, and one of his daughters had some years of being in and out of rehab before straightening out.

In closing, he showed the leather briefcase he purchased when starting out in his career, now worn at the edges and showing its age. The briefcase has been at his side all along the way, Brennan said, including “when I heard the word ‘no’ and sometimes ‘hell, no!’ ” — another comment bringing laughs from the audience.

That briefcase has carried hundreds of checks for millions of dollars that have kept families together and companies in business, he said. “But it wasn’t me. It was you. MDRT helped me make the most of myself.”

Resonating messages

All those points resonated with messages from other speakers. For instance, Keith Abraham, a professional presenter from Robina, Australia, said that nothing great happens until someone get passionate about something.

“When you know why you get up in the morning, you will find the how,” said Abraham, who counsels financial advisors on how to increase their business growth.

His advice for advisors is to focus on creating not only external wealth but also internal wealth and external wealth.

Start by deciding how you want to feel,” Abraham suggested. That will lead to deciding what action to take, and that will produce results. It’s a matter of feel, think and do, he said.

Successful people do more of the things they love to do and like to do, he added, and less of the things they have to do and hate to do.

Jeff Wadsworth, a MDRT member from Linthicum Heights, Md., said he too learned many things from MDRT, including how to set big goals and dream big dreams, especially when things get tough.

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About things being tough, he recounted how he constantly worked with a client through the startup and business building years, to ensure the man’s life insurance kept up with the growth. At one point, the client did fire him, but they did mend fences later on and the life insurance stayed in force. Suddenly, the client, by then a friend, died when hit by a car. Wadsworth told of his grief over this event, but he also told of his relief — that the man’s wife and baby girl would be taken care of and that the man’s companies would keep running, because of the “powerful tool and benefits of life insurance.”

Robin Benincasa, an athlete who has competed in a variety of adventure sports including the Eco Challenge, used her sports experiences to show how winning works. It’s not from trying harder and reaching up, she said. “It’s from reaching out.” By that, she meant that people who win learn to work with and through their team members, so that the several minds become one. After offering many examples from her own experience, she said ”the best of the best know that no one wins alone.”

It’s the synergy between people who reach out to their team members that helps take things to the next level, Benincasa said. That takes total commitment, empathy and awareness and a host of other teamwork skills, she added.

John Nichols, a 12-year MDRT member who says he is passionate about disability insurance, gave a graphic picture of how that can work out when a person is injured. The person in this case was Nichols himself. Though a freak accident while preparing to water ski, he had broken his neck. He was declared a quadriplegic and sent to rehabilitation, “mentally and physically crushed.”

However, he had disability insurance, he said. That paid for things while he went through rehab, and he is now back at work in the insurance business. He also is walking again. In fact, he told the audience that he even trained for and ran a marathon in Chicago. During the race, his knee buckled and he fell. Nichols said he considered quitting. But he decided to go on, “dragging my leg,” because he had made a commitment and “I had to finish.”

, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at [email protected].

© Entire contents copyright 2012 by Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reprinted without the expressed written consent from

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