20 Under 40
Agent/Owner, State Farm
I provide solutions to help prepare people and their loved ones for the unexpected, and I also help families put a proper plan in place to achieve their financial goals.
Years lived in Columbia:
I opened my agency’s doors in Columbia in December 2007.
MU, Bachelor of Science in hotel and restaurant management, 2003.
I started my career with State Farm in 2000, in a part-time clerical role while I went to school at Mizzou. After working my way up to an underwriting role, I left the operations side and went to work for an agent for 18 months before ultimately being selected for my own agency opportunity in 2007.
John Shrum and Lili Vianello — these two are my sounding board and professional coaches. They provide an objective, outside perspective into my agency, as well as help me with the day-to-day decisions that ultimately shape the way we do business. I’m grateful for their mentorship, honesty and friendship.
What don’t people know about your job?
I think there are two common misconceptions: first, that my specialties are limited to home and auto insurance, and second, that State Farm is the company someone will get “one day” when it’s “more affordable.” The reality is that most of my job is to help people perfectly plan for the best of times — like helping a couple plan for their retirement. As far as the “one day” assumption, we work every day to dispel that, and while we are never the cheapest (who wants cheap protection?), we are the best choice for a personalized protection plan that fits within our clients’ budgets.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is also the hardest. Being able to help a family after a house fire or deliver a life insurance check after a death is rewarding, because I know I answered on the promise I made to them when I wrote the business.
A favorite recent project?
I’ve been involved with the American Heart Association since 2007 and worked on many projects and events. My favorite was this year’s Go Red for Women luncheon, where I served as co-chair of the executive leadership team, which helped obtain sponsorships for the event. We had a phenomenal team and ended up doubling our goal.
What was your New Year’s resolution in 2015? Did you accomplish it?
Focus on being present. And the year isn’t over yet!
What are your specific professional goals for 2016?
I have been fortunate enough to experience success both personally and professionally at a young age, but I still have much to achieve. Right now, I am turning my agency into a training ground for future Columbia professionals by hiring aspiring young entrepreneurs and training them in eighteen month increments. Obviously, I would love for them to all be future State Farm agents, but more importantly, they have the opportunity to see how a small business runs — everything from payroll to managing team members — and hopefully they’ll feel empowered to have a local business of their own one day. I have three in my office currently, and I’m looking to add another in the next six months. My goal for 2016 is to have one of them leave my agency and pursue their own opportunity.
What about your day do you look forward to most?
I enjoy coming in and seeing my team grow in their skills and find success. I love sitting down face-to-face with my clients and helping them see what is at risk, as well as find a solution to take that off the table. Every single day is an opportunity to get closer to our goals. That happens one conversation at a time.
What motivates you?
Being better today than I was yesterday, and seeing my team grow from that mentality too.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I have no idea! All I’ve ever known is State Farm, because I started with this company when I was 19. Maybe I would be a coach or consultant to young women getting into the workforce or trying to start their own businesses.
Accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Besides opening the doors of my agency at 26, I attended State Farm’s Chairman’s Circle conference in Chicago in May. This is an honor that only the top 5 percent of the roughly 18,000 State Farm agents in the country receive each year, and I was honored to represent Columbia and Missouri.
What do you do for fun?
Relationships are very important to me, so in my free time I spend time with my family and friends. I also enjoy golf, listening to live music and Mizzou football and basketball games.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and watching reality TV. After a long day, I relish the mindless entertainment for an hour … maybe two, if I’m really guilty!
Greatest lesson learned?
Believe in yourself — because if you don’t, no one else will.
Want more 2016 20 Under 40? Check out the Schlacks Brothers’ Q&A.