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AGENT ZERO TO HERO

My Story From the Heart

Welcome to my website where I share tips and techniques on how to become a life insurance agent and go from Zero to Hero!  These are the techniques that worked for me.  I was homeless and on the streets of LA, when I turned it all around.  It is my hope that AgentZerotoHero.com will add great value to your life, and career... and I'd love so much, to have the opportunity to share my experiences and insights with my readers.

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Everyone sees the glory...but no one knows the story.

Believe it or not, I wasn't always a Life Insurance Agent. For the better part of the last 20 years, I've worked almost exclusively in the Entertainment industry.  I've worn many different hats i.e. as a Talent Manager, Photographer, Videographer, Writer, Producer... but I definitely was known as a Casting Director in most circles.  The first four years of my career began in NYC, but eventually, I made the pilgrimage to sunny LA.  I worked on all types on projects for some of the world's greatest creatives... I worked on projects for Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Calvin Harris, Britney Spears many music artists videos.  Projects for Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, Selma Hayek... Magazines like Cosmo, Allure, Seventeen... With Producers & Executives at Warner Brothers, MGM, Paramount, NBC, FOX, MTV, BET... And for Brands like Gucci, Porsche, Lancome, Google, & Apple. 

 

I've had an interesting past 20 years to say the least.  But one thing I never had was true financial freedom or security... By nature my Casting position was freelance.  I went from project to project, studio to studio, just hoping my work was good enough that my luck wouldn't run out... There is no union, or guild for Casting, no vacation pay, no sick days, no retirement benefits... in fact some days I didn't even get to take a proper lunch break... or any break at all.  I was my own small business, hustling from job to job, and this was my way of life for the better part of the last 20 years.  Right up until the Covid-19 Pandemic...  Covid-19 shook up the world and of course Casting Directors were no exception to this.

As the pandemic dragged on and on, with no end in sight, I had no work, and I had no "seemingly" transferable job skills.  My position in Entertainment didn't immediately translate to anything in the real world.  I directed Actors and Models through auditions all day for 15-20 years.  There are probably less than 1000 of us in the whole country... I was definitely a unicorn... less than one-in-a-million. 

 

As work dried up, and I was running out of ideas... I eventually began filling out applications for jobs at big establishments like Target, Domino's Pizza, Home Depot, but I generally failed the personality tests... because I just didn't know how to answer questions like, "What do you believe is more true in the workplace?  a) Repetition and consistency cultivate perfection, or  b) Variety is the spice of life?"... How am I supposed to answer that?

 

Like many others, my life was swiftly turning into a disaster... I couldn't keep up with my bills...  And it took a while longer before 1099 contractors could claim unemployment benefits, as helpful as that was... at $450 a week... that just wasn't enough to cover all of my expenses in Los Angeles anyway.  So with all the uncertainty in the air, I moved back to Detroit indefinitely for the first time in 20 years.  I left California with absolutely no intentions of ever returning.

It was a hard adjustment.  I struggled even more making any money in Michigan, but it was a necessary reboot for me.  I got to live around people from my childhood again for the first time in 20 years.  Detroit has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years too.  When I explored downtown, I was honestly feeling encouraged about being a part of its renascence.  But 11 months into my return, fate as it were, is not lacking a sense of humor, and out of nowhere I get a call from a TV celebrity/Producer I have looked up to and worked with since 2017.  They asked me about returning to LA to produce a podcast show for them.  And while that offer was attractive, it was not quite enough on its own for me to commit to moving back to LA.   

Coincidentally, not even a week later, I received another phone call from the west coast from a Modeling Agent/friend.  E! Network was shooting season 1 of "Raising an F***ing Star."  One of his Models was a lead on the show, so he was on the show too, and he had recommended casting me to the Producers of the show to be the Acting coach of his Model on the show.  My initial reaction was "Nahhh... I don't think I'm interested in being on a Reality TV show."  I had no aspirations of being a Reality TV personality.  But my friend asked me not to give them an answer right away, but just sleep on it a couple days.  Over the next 48 hours, I realized how invaluable the opportunity could be.  The potential global exposure... viewers seeing me on E! Network, just doing what I did for 20 years, working on scripts with talent...  That could be worth it in the long run... maybe I could write a book, or do Acting bootcamps across the country if Covid 19 ever let up.  And when people ask, who was I that they should listen to me, I could always point to my appearances on E! Network's TV show as validation of my pedigree.  And also considering I wasn't having luck making money with any other job, I chose to brave it again in LA, even though the show was shooting during what was still considered the height of the Covid pandemic.

FAST FORWARD... $1400 & 2000 miles down the road later... I'm back in LA producing the new podcast show for one of my favorite TV celebrities, and shooting scenes with my Model client for E!'s new upcoming TV show... I thought I was living my best life........  Until suddenly... the rug was pulled out from under me......AGAIN..... My TV celebrity didn't want to self-fund their podcast anymore.  They had read how much Charlamange the god was offered in sponsorship for the "Breakfast Club" show, and so my TV celebrity felt they were could net a similarly lucrative deal (but we hadn't built a comparable audience for our podcast yet).  So they pulled the plug on our production until their agent could find outside money (Brand Sponsor or another Equity Producer) to finance our show.

Meanwhile... on the E! show, as the first season of filming was coming to an end, my clients father was arrested for defrauding tens of millions of dollars from investors.  So the TV network ultimately decided to re-shoot my clients storyline to include this new information, and this alternative dramatic storyline unfortunately left me on the cutting room floor.  There goes my idea of using my national TV appearances as marketing leverage!

So now here we are... the two main reasons I returned to LA were both null and void.  Very quickly my $3000/month rent was getting the best of my finances.  I didn't want to lose the place entirely so I quickly arranged for an out-of-town Model (from Utah) I had done multiple photoshoots with, to take over my place while I figure out my next move.  My hope was that she stayed long enough to allow me time to get back on my feet and move back into my place.  I had multiple pending deals... maybe I could couch surf a few weeks... But it didn't work out that way... I end up spending the next few months living out of my car.  And making just enough money to maintain my cellphone bill and a gym membership... After all I needed some reason to get out of my car everyday... I have never been so eager to exercise and take a shower in my life.  

There's no getting around it though, I had hit rock bottom.  I didn't know what to do.  I was going from shop to shop on Hollywood Blvd trying to hustle small marketing deals.  I had one verbal, handshake agreement in place to produce a series of magazine print ads and a TV commercial for a local Pizza shop on Hollywood Blvd for $15,000.  And I also had another handshake agreement to market a new local cannabis dispensary for $2,000/month.  And I had a pending TV commercial and SEO marketing deal for about $12000 with a kitchen remodeling construction company.  So I had hope...but all the businesses kept stalling on executing the agreements for days, which turned to weeks, which turned to months.  Every week I thought relief was just on the other side of the weekend.

It was excruciatingly painful.  Never in my life did I think this would happen to me.  I just knew God always had my back (and he did... I was hungry, but it was never more than I could bear)... I never imagined I would ever go homeless...  but after a few months, it just hit me........................  I could stay here forever if I don't get a grip.

 

Who had I become?  And how was I going to get myself out of this situation.  I couldn't even tell anyone I was homeless... in the Entertainment business once the sharks smell blood, they will lowball me every time, because they know I desperately need the work.  And I couldn't reach out to any family, because I was afraid it would get back to my father.  My father already has his hands full dealing with my mother who suffers from dementia.  I eventually realized if I kept my hope in the same things, I could only expect the same results.  Since my small business clients were failing me by not honoring their word... I had to pivot... and go all in on developing a new strategy... a new rescue plan for myself. 

So what's the new rescue plan?? Let me REWIND again or travel back thru time...  When I went back to Michigan there were two things I had started doing before "Hollywood" called me back to LA.  I started mastering video SEO strategies... I was getting paying clients to have me rank their videos on the worlds second most popular search engine, YouTube.  And this was a third income source for me when I came back to LA.  

The other thing I had started before I left Michigan was preparing for my Life Insurance exam.  Why did I do that??  Simple - My younger brother is in the Financial Services industry as well.  He has more licenses than me.  I believe he has his Series 6 &/or 7 licenses.  Now if memory serves me correctly, he had just left his position at Morgan Stanley and just started at another smaller local firm... I really knew nothing about Financial Services at this time, but he seemed to work 40-50 long hours a week.  He was often busy with homework, that was given to him in return for his salary.  But there was a commission component to his pay, and his firm only works with 1%ers.  So I knew the commissions were good.  I began asking him what it would take for him to start his own firm.  I thought he could do well, he's a very smart guy, and it would give me more purpose, and fulfillment in my career.

So I offered to leverage my digital marketing expertise for him, and I started to put together this ambitious marketing strategy for him to establish himself as an authority in his field, so he could ditch the long work hours, and branch out on his own.  But while my brother and I share a lot of views and I love him... we are also very different people sometimes, and he just wasn't comfortable with the risk associated with leaving the security of his salaried position.  He is married with children, so he preferred to keep his salary, and avoid the risks of being a full-time business owner.  I can't blame him.  While I was greatly disappointed - of course, I understood that perception.  I don't exactly agree with this "risk assessment," because I think putting all your eggs in one basket in the form of a salary job, is generally the illusion of "security,"... because you could be fired and have absolutely nothing... however I do understand this conventional wisdom.  

 

And so it was at that very moment, I decided I was going to do some form of financial services and market my own self.  I had no idea how to get into Financial Services... I just knew I needed the right product... a product I could truly get behind.

Now you know if you ask the universe loud enough, don't you know... you will receive...  Less than a week after this seemingly unsuccessful sit down with my brother, a very good friend of mine from LA calls me out of nowhere, asking if I will listen to this financial services training presentation.  At first I didn't put 2 and 2 together, so I really wasn't interested... but I was willing to do it for him, solely because I considered him such a close friend, having worked in the trenches of Casting together over 12 years...  That decision changed my life forever!  I had finally found the product I believed in... And the conviction I had was genuine and organic, not just something I thought "could work" to make money.  This was it!!  My friend had introduced me to the IUL (Indexed Universal Life) policy.  And it's probably obvious from my personal production (#13 on the Alliance National Leaderboard at the time of this writing) that I believe in IULs, because I don't feel like I'm "selling" anything.  I just "tell" the facts... I don't have to "sell" the facts... the client either gets it, or they don't.  Though my passion is clear, I try to detach myself from the outcome. 

Now FAST FORWARD back to me homeless in LA... Hollywood is still shut down, so I was assessing my other skills, and options.  Just two months before going homeless I actually passed my insurance licensing exam with a 70 out of 75 (93%) and received my license.  But I was in no position to drive around and get leads face to face, or buy leads.  I made a mental decision right then and there that if I was going to be successful in Life Insurance I was going to have to get good at developing lead sources online.  And I was kicking myself for not trying this earlier.  So that's what I devoted many hours of my homeless-and-alone-time in my car doing.  I studied, and studied, and studied.  Slowly, I steadily improved on my knowledge.  I looked at my computer screen so much consequently, I now must use reading glasses at times.

Initially my Insurance business was also hindered because I was with an Insurance Marketing Organization (IMO) previously that I feel does not know how to execute business well.  They notoriously take around 2 months to pay out Agents for completed policies, while starting Agents at a ridiculously low commission rate.  I generally loved the team I worked with and I miss those relationships, but the company itself left a lot to be desired.  An experience like mine, can ruin any Agents impression of a Life Insurance career if you have the misfortune of them recruiting you first. I simply lost faith in that IMO as a way to create a sustainable income.

But on a rainy Thursday afternoon, I see a random email in my inbox from a man I now refer to affectionately as "Brethren."  This regal leaders name is Marvin Osuna from Reno, Nevada.  And I responded to his generic marketing email by accepting a follow up phone meeting with him.  On our call I told him my limited experience in the business, and how I felt I was being held back by my current IMO, because I didn't even know how to run an illustration for myself.  Marvin said that if I joined his next team meeting, he will show us all how to run an IUL illustration.  And that was all I needed to hear.  He was actually empowering me???... Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day... Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for his lifetime.

Now Marvin didn't know I was homeless at this time.  I didn't want to burden anyone with that information.  And for like the first 4-6 months I was juggling a lot of different things to try to make ends meet, and get above water... I just needed to keep my cellphone on, and keep my $250/month Equinox gym membership going (it was the closest gym I could walk to... no fuel needed and it is clean and nice, and worth almost every penny, haha).  

Anyways I got busy building my first Financial Industry website, IULaccount.com.  In its early days the website was generating some leads... but I wasn't closing any of them at first.  I felt like Will Smith's character in The Pursuit of Happyness.  Then I started applying some of the techniques I will share with you on this website and suddenly I started gaining a little traction, but was it sustainable??  Only time would tell, right?...

Well obviously the answer to that last question is "Yes, it has been sustainable," or else I wouldn't be on these National Leaderboards (Top 25 Rookie & #13 overall IUL Production), and averaging $10,000+/month.  With my small successes, I've been able to experiment, and diversify my lead generation techniques.  I try different things... a lot of different things!  Marvin refers to me as a "mad scientist" like Dr. Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future franchise, because of my zeal for trying things and making adjustments or tweaks.  "Great Scott!"  And as busy as Marvin is leading his team, he doesn't mind talking things out with me, so we can analyze different angles to our approach, or to lead generation. 

 

At the Miami conference I was telling people how Marvin, plus our Administrative Assistant Johana, and I work together, sometimes it feels like we're Morpheous, Neo, and Trinity from the Matrix movies...Marvin is the wise 20+ year veteran of the financial industry... the mentor, or "Morpheous"... I'm the new guy being sucked into the Matrix after taking the red pill... I'm always messing around on the computer with various processes, and asking questions, similar to Neo who was a software coder in his dream state (trapped in the Matrix life)...  And Jo is a highly skilled weapon who fills in the gaps for both Marvin and myself... just like Trinity does for Morpheous and Neo.  That's honestly the best analogy I can use to describe our dynamic (hmmm...we might have to make a Christmas card like that or something).

So here's my offer... I know what it is like to be hungry.  I know what it is like to need to make EVERY dollar...hmmmm, NO... every penny count.  I know what it's like to be at rock bottom... which believe it or not rock bottom is a beautiful place, it's a beautiful place... because this is where you truly realize the only way you can go is up!

 

In the black & white photo above on this website... that was a selfie I took the very first day I was homeless... within the very first couple hours even...  Somehow I had the presence of mind to take the photo then, because I wanted to remember this moment... I was thinking at some point I will need this photo, so when I tell people about how I went through the fire too and came out shining like gold people would believe me... If you look close enough you'll see there is a slight grin, or smirk on my face, because somewhere inside of me there was a realization that even though I was homeless, I was not hopeless!  I couldn't see the future... but the minute I had the thought to take the picture I just knew this wasn't the fate God had in store for me! 

 

Taking a selfie when you are at rock bottom is not something you do when you think your best days are behind you... I took that selfie with the faith that my best days actually lay ahead of me!  And so I would eventually need the documented proof... because when I get where I'm supposed to go... without that picture, some of you are just not going to believe me, when I tell you what I went through to get where I am today!  So believe me when I tell you, if I can do this, you can do this too! 

 

So What Can You Expect on this Website??

On this website I am going to share techniques you can use to close more deals.  I'm going to share case studies I have attempted, so you don't have to.  I'm going to provide you discounts on exclusive leads!!  I will raffle off lead packages!  I will present unique networking, marketing, and sponsorship opportunities... I will offer various web and video services.  You will be armed with tools to create and grow your business from scratch.  You will see the techniques I used to go from a big fat Zero in my bank account to over $10K/month...You too can go from a virtual Zero to an Insurance Hero! 

All this and more right here on AgentZerotoHero.com!

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