Choose the Right Mentors with WFG

HOW CHOOSING THE RIGHT MENTORS HELPED ME EARN A PLACE IN FORBES MAGAZINE By Hanna Horenstein

There are numerous articles out there about women in the financial services industry and how it is, and has been, a male‐dominated profession. Many women have switched careers into financial services and discuss how difficult that has been to “break in” to an all‐boys club. And while those are important topics that speak to many women out there, my experience comes from a different place. Not because it wasn’t difficult to play in a male‐dominated industry, and not because I didn’t begin in different industries before finding my path in financial services, but because I have always been an entrepreneur, and I am woman.

I started working at 11 years old. My friend, Flora, and I built our first business, the Babysitting Twins. We babysat together and made $3.50 an hour for both of us. I got to focus on babysitting and hang out with my friend at the same time. Not a bad idea. And for a couple of 11 year olds, we did pretty well. We “marketed” ourselves to everyone in the area with flyers and other marketing materials and were able to drum up some good business. Although the babysitting jobs were great, I decided at the ripe old age of 14, that I needed to get paid better. So I did what the mainstream told me, and I looked for a “job.” Once I was able to “get a job,” I started working 2 or 3 jobs at a time working for anyone who would hire me: law offices, accounting firms, retail shops, telemarketing, etc. But the whole time I was working, I realized that I hated having someone else tell me where to be and what times I had to be there.

At 17 years old, I got another job at a real estate office as a receptionist. It didn’t take me long to realize that I liked the flexibility and earning power that the agents had, much more than my receptionist duties and having to be at the agents’ and management’s beck and call. It was at that time I decided to get my real estate license. I studied while I was working my receptionist duties and applied for my real estate license on my 18th birthday: the day that you are eligible to apply for a license in California. I took the test and got my real estate license 30 days later, and it was off to the races. Unfortunately, that was 1995 in the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area. Tat was about 1 year after the Northridge earthquake that destroyed much of the San Fernando Valley. Great timing! I worked hard at real estate for about 2 years before deciding that marketing to realtors, rather than being a realtor, was a better way for me to make money. It was at that point that my friend and I came up with an idea to create virtual tours of homes for realtors. Tat business could have done very well, but it was unfortunately before its time: more because of our lack of business acumen at that time than a bad business idea.

With that business failing, I had to reinvent myself at only 20 years old. I became a mortgage loan officer. Although I did pretty well with mortgages, and made a decent amount of money, it was during this “career” stint that I was introduced to the financial services industry. It was 1999, I was 22 years old, and was very interested in the stock market at the time. I continued helping clients with mortgages as I got my first taste of also helping them with their financial needs.

By that time, I had already spent several years working with clients on their loans and trying to buy houses, but I had no concept of how money really worked. I had $30,000 in credit card debt, spent everything I made (and more it appears) and had no idea how to get myself out of my not so perfect financial position – and my other career as a “day trader” didn’t seem to help.

This is where I was when I went to my first corporate overview. I remember listening as numerous people talked about all kinds of financial ideas that I did not understand. Even though I had worked extensively in mortgages and real estate for four years, and did well understanding the financial knowledge I needed to work in those industries, I was amazed during the corporate overview that I had never heard of the Rule of 72, even while working in finance every day for those four years. This concept intrigued me because I thought about the power of that small piece of information and because I was able to internalize it and immediately apply it to my personal situation, especially as it related to my lack of savings and plethora of credit card debt.

The idea of the Rule of 72 alone motivated me to a meeting with the office owner. Because of my penchant for entrepreneurship, our discussion quickly veered from the Rule of 72 towards how I could run my own “agency” and have my own “office.” At that point, I was hooked to the concept. I knew very little of what was needed to provide financial services to my clients, but I could learn those skills and the knowledge I needed as I created my own agency, one piece at a time. Even then, however, I did not yet fully understand the power of this opportunity to which I had been exposed.

World Financial Group’s (WFG) model allowed me to build a business as I learned those necessary financial concepts. By the time I got fully licensed (one year after that introduction to the business) I had about 15 people on my team. And all I was doing was coming to trainings, bringing my friends with me, and learning information with them.

But in the midst of hanging out with my friends at meetings and learning about providing financial services, I learned what the power of our model truly is: personal growth and mentorship. It is with that personal growth and mentorship that I was able to achieve what I have achieved. The business model in which I work allows me to constantly interact with different people, help different types of clients, and forge new theories and experiences, which each add to my personal growth and the services I can provide to my clients.

WFG allows you to create and build your own business, working for yourself, while, at the same time, having access to the most professional and successful mentors. I was particularly aware of the benefits of these mentors because of the number of businesses I had begun and ended. My success as an entrepreneur and a business owner was hindered because I could not get over the hump that all truly successful people have to overcome. By getting the opportunity to work with mentors who had crested that hump, learning what led to their success and how to structure a business to be successful, I was able to move past the point where your experience hits that proverbial “wall” and success can be achieved only through mentorship. This is special to this company because the structure allows everyone to be dedicated to your success, no one needs to protect themselves by competing with your ever‐growing business.

But these concepts of personal growth and mentoring were not obvious to me when I started. When I began moving out into the field, I began recruiting because everyone told me I needed to and because it allowed me to meet and talk with different people. I sold products because that’s how I made money. I continued to focus on numerous other businesses simultaneously, including my mortgage business, in order to make money. I had a plan for my mortgage business, but not a vision. I didn’t have a plan or a vision for my financial services business. Simply an idea that working in the financial services industry could make you money.

So I continued to work in my mortgage business and my financial services business, making sales and bringing people to meetings. Many times getting frustrated that my financial services business wasn’t making the headway that I saw other people’s businesses achieving. My success was limited by my mindset. I did not understand how to make my business successful. I did not understand that my business was not sales, it was people: growing people and increasing the scope of their vision; investing in people to help them succeed; and realizing that my business only improved when I helped my people improve.

But the overall structure and mindset of success is not easily or readily discernible by most people. Success is not a talent, it is an acquired skill. It took me years of working “in the business, without acquiring that skill, to finally have the light bulb turn on. I learned to work “on my business.” Everyone says that, but what that means is harder to define. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, “working on your business” means investing your time in your people rather than yourself. And only with the mentoring that our business encourages was I able to open my mind to seeing what building a business requires.

Women are no different than men. We have the same obstacles to success. We have the same impediments to understanding. And there have always been successful women, albeit substantially fewer of them. But the basic skill-set women need to succeed in business already exists. Women have been taught to be nurturers. Women have been taught to devote their time and effort to other people, and have historically spent their time “investing” in their husbands’ success by being the rock of the family at home. But the skills we learned from our mothers and society about nurturing and supporting have been traditionally limited to the context of the home. It is only recently that women have been unchained to apply those skills to the business world.

I was fortunate that I was introduced to a company early in my life that understood and supported the value of women. WFG and Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. give everyone, male or female, the opportunity to learn these skills and be mentored by people who understand how these skills apply within the business world. As a woman, I am succeeding. And with the right environment, every woman has the ability to succeed by acquiring these skills with the help of mentors dedicated to the development of successful entrepreneurs.

My past successes have required considerable time, effort and sacrifice. No success comes without them. And throughout my career, there have been fits and starts, failures and setbacks. Few successful people achieve their successes without encountering them. But by overcoming those hurdles, and dedicating myself to a company that has a system in place that supports and promotes its people, I continue to compound my successes and work towards the ultimate level of success that I work towards and that I know I will one day achieve.

To become a registered representative of Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc., Transamerica Financial Group Division, you must first become an associate with World Financial Group, Inc. The Rule of 72 is a mathematical concept that approximates the number of years it will take to double the principal at a constant rate of return. The performance of investments fluctuates over time and, as a result, the actual time it will take an investment to double in value cannot be predicted with any certainty.

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