Today’s column is a tribute to my father, Leon Kobrin, who just passed away. He brought me into the life insurance business. I owe him a debt of gratitude for doing that.
My father entered the industry after a successful career in show business. He had been a singer and master of ceremonies at various resorts. The time came to settle down and find a job suitable for raising a family. Life companies have helped many, many people launch their sales careers (as a side note, my father’s father, Grandpa Harry, had a brief stint with one in his 60’s, when he was restarting his career!), and so my father got his start.
He went on to form a successful general agency. As a general agent he helped many others build their own life insurance sales practices. He employed what the industry now calls “natural marketing”, and directed people in prospecting their native cultural or ethnic communities. He also specialized in the tougher cases, and so gave me the framework I now use in my own brokerage.
I worked with his firm all through my childhood, and into my high school and college years. As a kid I used to stuff envelopes for his weekly direct mail campaigns. On one special occasion he took me to his office on a Monday night, when his agents were following up on the return replies. He pointed to the stack of coupons on each person’s desk and said to me, “See those names? All those people need help buying life insurance. And they would have never found us had you not prepared those mailings.” He could not have used a better way to teach me that in business, as in all other parts of life, you reap what you sow.
My father called upon his talents as a performer when making his sales presentations. His goal was to “stroke the emotional chords of the buyer”, as he used to say. He knew how to connect with people. He was amazed that I could accomplish the same thing via phone and email as my company went national. I think he eventually understood that although my career was growing in a different time and place, and with different methodologies, I was doing the same thing he had been doing: just helping people buy life insurance.
Fathers can do so many things for their sons. These can include lots of small but very meaningful activities such as having a catch, or just shooting the breeze. But to give your son a trade so he can stand on his own two feet: that is a gift that keeps on giving. I am grateful every day for that.