Speaking To the Best of the Next Generation at Northwestern Mutual

This past week I had the pleasure of making a presentation to the top 100 interns at Northwestern Mutual at their annual Winter Camp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  What an outstanding experience!  Here is a group of future superstars in the insurance and financial industry for which goal setting is old hat and thinking about being number one is a daily affirmation.  In fact, when I suggested their goal might be “to be the best performer there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be”, not an eyebrow was raised and instead a light went on in nearly every one of their faces with “Hmmm, good idea!”  Like I said, it was a group of college rock stars present at that meeting.  I would like to thank Michael, Cameron and Lisa in particular and the many other amazing people at Northwestern Mutual for making my stay so enjoyable.

A number of people have asked how I was connected with Northwestern Mutual.  Well, it happens to be another instance where networking is the key.  First link is my good friend Tom, who I cold-called for a homestay at the Xterra in Utah last summer.  He happens to be a rock star at Northwestern Mutual as well as an accomplished triathlete.  He asked if I would make a small talk to a small group of interns at a golf tournament that was scheduled for the same week as the race.  I made a quick presentation to that group which was seen by Lisa, one of the recruiters from head office in Milwaukee.  Lisa, along with her daughter, is a competitive triathlete as well.  She suggested I would be a good speaker for the Winter Camp to Michael and I agreed to come from Feb 8-10th.  (Okay sidebar… I am only giving first names in the interest of their privacy not because I can’t remember last names.)

I flew in Thursday night to speak on Friday afternoon.    I was armed with a great video showcasing Xterra that was guaranteed to get any audience psyched and I prepared a presentation that I thought would be appropriate for the group.  I think they ranged in age from about 20 years old to 28 years old and were basically getting ready to embark on their full time career.  My presentation was called “Love the Challenges – Win Consistently”. 

In a nutshell, I discussed six attributes that I think are common among consistent top performers.  I believe consistent performers are passionate, goal-oriented, fearless, accountable, resilient and balanced.  I am sure there are many other ways to describe ass-kickers, but those six are a good start.  It was too long a presentation to go into it here but if you want to book an appearance you know how to get a hold of me.. haha!

Anyway… I will share one point I think is funny.  On the topic of fearlessness, I want to clarify.  I don’t mean the daredevil type of fearless that everyone in triathlon seems to think the Xterra crowd is.  What appears to be fearlessness is actually exercising calculated risk.  That said, in racing you need to ride just on the edge of your comfort level to be as fast as possible on the bike.   High performers are confident and believe they have a high chance of success and therefore are comfortable taking those risks.  They will go ahead even when there is a risk of failure.  It is not important what the ODDS of success are, it is important that there is a CHANCE of success.  Like in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”, when Mary says to Harry “I would only be with you if you were the last man on earth and I am the last woman on earth.”  To which Harry says “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”  Ha ha, think positively!

Anyhow, I will get feedback on how they think the presentation was but I did have a chance to talk to some interns who found it motivating.  That was the goal and I hope some of the principles stick with them to ensure they remain the cream of the crop at Northwestern Mutual.  The only problem I encountered was the sound system couldn’t handle the bass in the Deep Dish music in the intro to my video so it didn’t sound as kickass as it could have.  Oh well.

So now I am headed home for five whole days before my next trip.  Exciting stuff coming up!  More to report this week but for right now think about your goals for this year and make sure they are challenging enough.  For my last group “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be” sounded about right.  That is Mel’s new Xterra goal… and seems like the next progression, don’t you think?  Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.  It is the only way to get great things done.

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