It wasn’t until I transitioned into a career of insurance sales that I heard the term producer applied to people. Insurance companies label the agents who sell their insurance products as producers, as in producing sales. Previously, I only thought that milk cows were producers. In the insurance game you are either producing sales or you are dead weight, kind of like a dry cow. While I failed to produce enough insurance milk, I did come to appreciate how all of us must produce something in order to earn a living and support our families.
We all have to produce?
Regardless of whether you are selling insurance, washing cars, performing scientific experiments or taking care of your children, we all have to produce. For those of us that want to be our own boss and be self-employed, what we produce is paramount to our success. The challenge all of us face is determining what we are best at producing that other people will want to consume.
I failed at producing insurance sales
Once I became an insurance agent I quickly learned that I wasn’t a producer. I wasn’t good at producing sales with the traditional insurance marketing concepts: networking, dial and smile, or knocking on doors. My fatal flaw was assuming that my personality and good people skills would somehow translate into sales. Unfortunately, just being a nice guy doesn’t create, construct, or produce anything meaningful.
I became of producer of content
What I could produce was information. So I started producing blogs post constructed around questions people were asking me about health insurance and health care reform. I learned I could produce a website full of information. I learned that I could actually produce something people wanted to consume. Eight hundred blog posts and 50 website pages later people are consuming the information I produce. Finally, I had become a producer. But does my production, consumed at no charge by the public, actually translate into income?
What do love to produce?
As a marketing medium, my blog posts and website are modestly successful at helping me enroll people into health plans. The health insurance companies then pay me an even more modest commission. There are many agents using more traditional methods that produce far more in sales than I ever will. Everyone needs to find the production mechanisms that work best for them.
Starting your own business
I’ve talked to numerous people that have a tremendous amount of education, experience, and information about their industry or occupation they work in. Many of these people are looking for another way to break out of the traditional employer-employee wage position. It can be intimidating to step outside of the traditional employee production role and start a business. When people ask me about starting their own business I always ask, “What do you produce?”
Until you produce, you’re just a consumer
Regardless of your career or industry, to be successful, you have to produce a product or service that will be consumed. That is the hard cold economic reality of business. Until I was able to figure out what I could actually produce, without driving myself into depression trying to sell insurance, there was no way I could lift my head above water to catch my breath.
Good production will open doors
The lesson for me, and perhaps a glimmer of hope for others, is that when you produce something you truly enjoy creating, doors will open. There may not appear to be an easily identifiable path or business model that leads to a sustainable income. But I’m convinced that if you are producing or creating a product or service that people find of value, it will lead to a situation where you can earn a living. We only have to look to the numerous artists, musicians, software programmers, app developers, entertainers, authors, and the millions of trade professionals like plumbers and landscapers to confirm that a person’s production will be rewarded.
What you produce is who you are
I’m not producing much in this world. But what I do produce from blog posts to a few health insurance enrollments is a pure representation of me. I’m a producer on my own terms because I was willing to put the work into building my website and writing. My modest success is not tied to any mega corporation that might vanish tomorrow. Plus, I understand that my production is of no value to the overwhelming majority of people in this world and never will be.
What will I produce next?
It only took me twenty-five years to realize that if I wanted to survive I had to produce something of value. Every day I wake up and think about what I am going to produce next. It’s become my singular focus but not in a negative sense. I enjoy producing content for my website. I enjoy writing posts that I hope will answer questions that people have. It’s not work. It’s just life.