By Greg Jenson
Clarion Ledger, August 1, 2007
Sales Director: Primerica
City where you live: Madison
Title: Senior National Sales Director
Education: University of Southern Mississippi
Family: Wife, Jill; two children, Tommy, 25,
and Lauren, 23
Description of your business: Primerica is the largest marketing company in the financial services sector in North America with more than 100,000 representatives providing nearly 6 million clients with various financial products.
Community involvement: Chairman of the board for Mission Mississippi; board member of the Magnolia Speech School, Habitat for Humanity, New York Foundation for Leadership, Outback America and Here’s Life; and a member of the University of Southern Mississippi Business Advisory Committee.
What was your first business experience?
I grew up in a small community (Tucker’s Crossing) in Jones County. My two younger brothers and I baled hay for what seemed like the entire county. By the end of the first year, we had made enough profit to pay for our equipment, and the second year we made enough to build a swimming pool for our family.
How did you come to enter your industry?
I was a senior at USM majoring in business with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. A friend contacted me and simply said he had a business idea he wanted to show me. What impressed me was the idea of being my own boss, helping people and unlimited opportunity. I felt totally excited and scared to death at the same time.
What were the keys to getting started?
Learning to manage my time was a huge key. I was a full‑time student and still had a full‑time job as a health club manager, so I had to learn to make the most of every spare minute. I also learned the value of letting all the negatives and naysayers motivate me to try harder. Hard work and a positive attitude went a long way as well.
When did you know that you would be successful?
My fourth month in this business I told my wife, Jill, “I am going to make a six‑figure income.” I don’t think she believed me. My confidence came from three things:
- I knew I had work ethic.
- I had people who were willing to coach me.
- I knew what I had to do to earn promotions (no politics).
What keeps you successful?
I’ve been in this business 28 years and have come to understand a life of purpose and passion is better than a life of leisure and pleasure. I believe all of us are here to make a difference with our lives. Success in business gives you a platform where you can influence others in a positive way.
How do you balance work and family?
You don’t! I think they are hard to separate. I’ve always looked at this business as a family business. Jill and I made the decision a long time ago that we would build a business together. Two heads are better than one. I believe in more of an integrated approach when it comes to my spiritual, family and business life. If you have a lousy personal life, sooner or later, it will affect your business and you will blow up.
What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?
To be successful, you have to be willing to do what average and ordinary people are not willing to do. You have to have a burning desire to do something special with your life. When you combine having a game plan, work ethic and being a good person, you will beat 90 percent of the people in your field. Keep your eyes on your goal. Be a servant leader. Be consistent and don’t ever give up.