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The Wonderful Wizard of Odds

In the early days of my career, I worked with a senior agent whom we called “The Wonderful Wizard of Odds.” Clearly it was a play on the “Wizard of Oz.” But unlike the fraud “behind the curtain” in the movie, Mr. D was a true wise man.

He helped us young sales-people address an objection posed by many prospects. Sometimes a prospective client would not qualify for the life insurance premium they wanted, due to a medical issue. Our job would then be to coach them on how to become eligible for a lower rate. Obviously we were not their doctor and would not be rendering medical advice; but we could advise them from an underwriting point of view, on what the results of new tests would have to be for them to pay less money for their policy.

Many times our prospect would become a bit discouraged, and basically ask us, “What’s the use? There’s no guarantee anything I do will make me healthier. And what about all the people who smoke that live longer than non-smokers?”

True that as far as it goes, but Mr. D helped us point out the rest of the story. His reply would be this:

“There’s no guarantee in life, except that at some point you are going to lose it. Until that day comes, you still have the choice to make your days better or worse. Doing things like stop smoking, losing weight, and getting healthier, tilt the odds in favor of more good days than bad. Not doing those things tilts the odds the other way.”

“You have no choice but to play the odds. Which ones will you play?”

Wise man, that Mr. D.