Go see a lot of people every day, be nice to them and ask them to buy. This is the simple mantra that speaker Brian Hicks, a former insurance agent with Aflac turned career coach, preached at Tuesday’s opening session of the Workplace Benefits Renaissance in Atlantic City, N.J. “Do those three things consistently knowing that eventually, results will come,” he said to a crowd that he also got laughing to his jokes during the 8 a.m. session. “Trust the process,” he repeated.

Hicks told several stories that harken back several hundred years in an effort to show the effort behind self-motivation and business success then, now and in the uncertain future. 

Watch me burn

Hicks told the story of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. A quirky fact about Wesley is that he was first ousted by the Anglican Church because he had refused to serve communion to a woman he had once been interested in, along with her husband. Wesley initially took the rejection as total failure, but decided at the urging of an old friend to preach in the open fields hoping he’d find followers. Eventually, due to his passion, many people came to the fields to see him. According to Hicks’ talk, Wesley exclaimed afterward that people “came to watch me burn.” 

“Anybody heard that in the last 24 months?” Hicks asked the audience of brokers and agents, in reference to Wesley’s initial thought of failure. He added: “Here’s a man who said, ‘This is not what I envisioned. I didn’t plan to work this hard to get there, but I am capable of changing it one day at a time.’” And he did. 

Astound yourself

Hicks talked next about Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, improved the telephone for mass use and got electricity into homes. Edison once said that if we do what we’re capable of, we can literally astound ourselves. “Thomas Edison dreamed of a new world and then he created it,” Hicks said. He continued that ‘simple’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘easy’ and that changing things is going to feel like work, but “you’re capable of it.”

An apple a day

“Here’s the challenge — just because nothing happens in a day, what’s the cumulative effect?” Hicks said after suggesting to the audience that perhaps some people might want to replace an apple a day with a donut. 

A donut might not make a difference for one day, Hicks said, but over time? “How you respond to rejection and the changing climate around you will shape your career and your character.” He added: “As I say to my sons, ‘You’re better than that.’”

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