First Financial Security, Inc. (FFS) President Meg Jones announced that the company was raising its join fee to $49 effective June 1, 2017. Since the beginning of 2016, the company has charged a special join fee of $10 enacted as part of a year-long celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary. The commemorative fee is set to expire soon.
“We are determined to help as many Americans, who want to achieve financial security and peace of mind, as possible,” Jones said. “We do this by providing financial education and access to innovative insurance products, but another important way is through our entrepreneurial opportunity which allows them to build their own financial services businesses.”
Jones explained that the $49 price point is still affordable and considerably less than many of the organization’s competitors charge. She stressed that the join fee has never been a profit center for the company, but rather, it covers the cost of providing associates with a wide range of tools and services.
In addition to use of the FFS name, brand and good reputation, the join fee covers a variety of business-building tools, including:
Agent Back Office website – This password-protected site is a powerful resource for running and managing a business. The site is intuitively organized for ease of use and includes several reporting tools that can be used to monitor personal and team activity; business documents and forms; How to information, such as getting licensed and appointed; the FFS Field Manual; recognition, events and contest information; training, Marketing downloads; financial calculators; presentations; FFS news; and much more.
Welcome Kit and Welcome Emails – Within days of joining FFS, new associates receive the FFS Welcome Kit, containing information to get a business off to a fast and smart start. New associates will begin receiving a series of Welcome emails that offer additional information and encouragement from key FFS Home Office leaders.
Marketing materials – Associates have access to a large library of professionally created marketing brochures, flyers, posters, manuals, customizable templates, banners, and more for use with internal and external audiences, such as business associates, clients and the public.
Communication tools – FFS associates can customize their own email address while leveraging the power of the FFS brand name recognition, ensuring those with whom associates communicate know they are part of a well-respected financial services company. Business Builder websites are professional, personalized websites created for any associate who wants one, with the site, including content, managed by the company. FFS offers professional business card templates that can be printed affordably at a printer of choice.
Websites – Associates can introduce the company to the people with whom they connect through the FirstFinancialSecurity.com corporate website and FinancialSecurityFirst.com blog site. The company has created a robust social media platform that encourages associates to like and share FFS content, using it to build their own social footprint.
Dedicated Home Office staff – A dedicated Home Office team is available to provide information and support to FFS business owners, helping to shoulder some of the normal challenges of starting a new business or running an established one.
Extensive training online and live – FFS believes strongly in mentoring and developing its entrepreneurial field force. For training to succeed, it must be readily available. That’s why training sessions are included at company events and meetings, as well as offered through an extensive online library of training webinars and materials.
A step-by-step guide to building a successful business – This manual provides the FFS business owners a comprehensive blueprint for building and running their businesses.
National Marketing Director Daniela Dubach shares how to create a positive, productive team culture and why it’s important to your success.Every person has a leadership style. For some, it emerges early in life. But for others, it blooms gradually when they begin to recognize, develop and focus on their strengths.
Growing the Leader withinIn the earlier years of my life, I never saw myself as a leader. I was extremely shy and lacked self-confidence, so much so that I was afraid to speak in front of others. Looking back, First Financial Security, Inc. and the opportunity they offered impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It gave me a platform that empowered me and allowed me to believe in myself and what I could accomplish. I gained the confidence to expand my vision into something so much bigger, which wasn’t always easy. I had to be willing to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, which I still do. For instance, dealing with different personalities, learning how to effectively manage them, and keeping drama to a minimum are difficult. Maintaining balance among my career, personal and spiritual lives can be a challenge, especially during the year’s busier times. I still feel that these are opportunities to grow, learn, and to stretch myself and my vision. It’s not only when things are going well that these opportunities present themselves.
The Importance of Team CultureI love the diversity of our team (EFC Javier Rodriguez’ Crusaders) and what it lends to our team culture. Different backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs make our team strong and open-minded. I’m proud to say that there’s an amazing amount of synergy, support, and encouragement among this diverse group’s leaders. We often rely on each other for help. Associates are eager and willing to learn not only the business, but also how to grow personally and professionally. Creating a Team Culture If you don’t think your team has a “team culture,” you’re mistaken. Your team has a culture whether you like it or not, and it’s defined by what you tolerate. You need to be intentional about nurturing the culture you specifically want or a not so favorable alternative will emerge. I make a conscious effort every day to encourage a positive environment. I value everyone on our team because everyone contributes to our success. If your team feels valued and appreciated it creates loyalty, positivity, the desire to work harder and to achieve more. It encourages them to work together as a team. It’s amazing what people are capable of and willing to do when they feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. I always celebrate team members and thank them publicly for even the smallest contributions or achievements. I invite a potential leader to join our leadership team. I regularly conduct strategy sessions with team members who are serious and have the will to do what it takes. These are just some examples, but they go a long way in terms of motivation.
Teamwork Leaves No Room for DramaEncouraging teamwork is another way to foster a positive, productive team culture … and when you have a positive, productive team culture, it encourages teamwork. Our team leans on each other often. We practice scripts together, help with training, run contests, and discuss improvements we need to make, to name a few. Regardless of where they contribute in the process, everyone can take credit for the success of our team Having a positive work environment that values teamwork, however, doesn’t mean there’s never any conflict. That’s simply unavoidable. We strive for a drama-free work zone, but if conflict does arise, we address it quickly so it doesn’t fester. I find it most effective to do a round table discussion with those involved, but most definitely behind closed doors. I follow the golden rule, “praise in public, punish in private.” It’s worked extremely well for our team.
Key to SuccessOnly during the last two years have I shifted to team building and duplicating what I have learned. I’ve realized that it's not about me; It's about helping other people to personally grow and become successful. I invest a lot of resources and time into developing associates. This contributes to the loyalty and empowerment of a positive, productive team culture. Our office is a place where people want to belong and feel appreciated, maybe for the first time in their careers. That’s something to be excited about. I lead by example. Everything I encourage them to do, I've done myself. I truly feel that decision was a turning point in my career. My advice to other leaders in FFS?
- Establish clear goals for yourself and the team and hold yourself and the team accountable.
- Lead by example and create a positive and productive team culture.
- Keep drama out of the workplace and establish group norms that center around conduct and respect.
- Appreciate and recognize your team members. Make sure they know that they matter to you and to the rest of the team.
About the Author:Daniela Dubach is one of the leading innovators of the next generation of FFS leaders. As a Champions Club member, she has built a strong and successful business through her great capability to lead and train. Daniela spends a lot of her time assisting those in need of financial security for their future in the school and law enforcement
First Financial Security, Inc. Director of Marketing and Communications, Laura Manzer, just announced to a packed house at the company’s Jump Start 2017 (JS17) event that Dream Destination Conference 2018 (DDC18) would be taking 100 field couples to Los Cabos, Mexico. The Minneapolis Convention Center, where JS17 was wrapping up a two-day event, erupted in cheers and applause when the location was revealed.
While the organization has taken its field representatives to Mexico’s Pacific coast before, this marks the first time the company will travel to the Los Cabos area for its annual reward trip.
The luxurious, all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva resort will host 100 qualifying FFS couples from Apr. 15-19, 2018. Situated at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the hotel is surrounded by natural beauty, from desert dunes to majestic ocean rock formations. The Hyatt Ziva’s pristine beachfront offers a magnificent view of the Sea of Cortez.
Whether its from the relaxing confines of a beach chair or perched atop a personal watercraft in the water, this sun-kissed, sea-sprayed coast beckons travelers to have fun. Hyatt Ziva’s guests can participate in a variety of outdoor activities on land and sea:
- Four pools, including one for the kids, as well as two hot tubs
- Deep-sea fishing
- Scuba diving
- A state-of-the-art fitness club
- Tennis, basketball and beach volleyball courts
- Several championship golf courses, including the nearby, Jack Nicklaus-designed San Jose Country Club
The onsite luxury beauty spa, Zen, provides a variety of relaxing treatments that can be enjoyed in the spa or outdoors, overlooking the azure sea.
Located throughout the property are 12 individual restaurants, bars and lounges. Of particular note are Zaffiro, an Italian restaurant located on the beach, and the Mexican Plaza with its authentic taqueria. After dinner, catch live music or a Cirque-du-Soleil-style show in Hyatt Ziva’s Grand Theater.
Following a day of fun-in-the-sun or sightseeing, DDC18 qualifiers will want to relax in the the comfort of their spacious room. The Hyatt Ziva’s elegantly appointed, 591 rooms offer oceanfront and ocean views. There are one- and two-bedroom suites, including 34 Swim Up, Club Level Ocean View and Presidential suites. Many of the rooms feature spa-like bathrooms with rainfall showers, chic décor, private balconies and leading-edge electronics.
Although DDC18 qualifiers will attend meetings while on the trip, there will still be time to do some sight-seeing and shopping in nearby San Jose del Cabo. This charming town is only minutes from the hotel and boasts fine examples of 18th-century Spanish Colonial architecture.
Centering San Jose del Cabo is Plaza Mijares. Gentle breezes from the nearby ocean waft through the town square that’s shaded by old jacaranda trees. Along its narrow boulevards are adobe houses that have been converted into stylish restaurants, smart boutiques, art galleries that feature the work of local artists, and jewelry stores.
Anchoring the square are a town hall and Iglesia San Jose, a lovely, colonial-style church. It was built on the site of the 1730 Mission San Jose del Cabo.
Take a break from sightseeing and try some bird watching instead. Located east of the town is the Estero San Jose Wildlife Reserve. This peaceful, palm-lined estuary is a great place to spot many bird species, including hummingbirds, ibis, white herons, frigate birds, sparrow hawks and red-tailed hawks.
Beginning in February, FFS representatives will begin competing to earn a spot on this trip of a lifetime. Contest dates and guidelines can be found in the Agent Back Office (ABO) intranet site.
First Financial Security is heading back to Las Vegas, NV for Leaders Convention 2017 (LC17). The Norcross, GA-based national brokerage agency will stage the event at Red Rock Resort, a short drive from the Vegas strip. LC17 is scheduled for Aug. 3-5, 2017.
Leaders Convention is one of the most important, annual events on the FFS calendar. This year’s convention promises to be one of the largest in the organization’s 10-year history. It will also set the tone for the company’s second decade of business excellence.
In addition to three, jam-packed days, LC17 will begin Aug. 2 with the Field Leadership Council and Champions Club meetings. Both events will be by invitation only. The LiSA Initiative meeting will round out the afternoon. There also is the potential for training opportunities offered on Aug. 2.
LC17 attendees will be treated to “the ultimate Las Vegas resort experience,” while staying at the Red Rock Resort. The resort’s tower stands as a dazzling counterpoint to nearby, majestic Red Rock Canyon.
The resort positions itself as “an idyllic getaway resort hotel.” Red Rock is conveniently located a short 10-min. drive from the strip. If you prefer communing with nature to hitting the slots, the resort is a quick 5-min. drive to the entrance of Red Rock Canyon National Recreation area. Here you can enjoy everything from walking trails to mountain climbing, as well as other outdoor activities, including:
- Horseback riding
- River rafting
- Soaking in the area’s hot springs
Recover from your adventures by visiting Red Rock’s innovative Spa & Health resort. You can schedule any number of personalized programs and treatments that provide “a fusion of spa and wellness.”
There is a wide range of dining options located throughout the resort. Enjoy a delicious steak at the resort’s fine dining establishment, T Bones Chophouse. If you want the famous Las Vegas buffet experience, be sure to check out Feast Buffet. There are also 11 casual eateries offering an amazing assortment of dining options, including:
- The Grand Café – Red Rock’s 24/7 restaurant offering American classics for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and more
- Hearthstone – rustic American cuisine
- Libre Mexican Cantina – traditional Mexican fare
- Salute – an Italian trattoria
- Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que – barbecue and the Blues
- 8 Noodle Bar – Asian fusion
- Yard House – American fusion cuisine and 130 taps of imported craft and specialty lagers and ale
If you need coffee, snacks or pastry, hit up one of the resort’s many spots for a quick bite. Also, you may want to check out, Taste the Rock. Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., you can sample dishes from participating restaurants, starting from $5. Among the restaurants that are a part of Taste the Rock are:
- Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
- T Bones Chophouse
- 8 Noodle House
Most of these restaurants are offering appetizers and their signature drinks. There are a few who have pizza and pasta on this special menu. If you are looking for an early dinner or a quick bite between LC17 sessions, this may work for you.
Red Rock Resort offers lots of options for fun on property. For starters, they have a 72-lane bowling alley. There’s a full-service Pro Shop, certified coaches, snack bar and lounge with lane service, game room, pool tables, and darts. There’s a separate 12-lane VIP suite outfitted with 65-in. plasma flat screen TVs and “night club-quality” electronics and furnishings. Catch the latest blockbusters at the resort’s 16-screen Regal Cinemas and IMAX complex. Cool off in Red Rock’s Backyard Pool that’s complete with 19 private cabanas, swim-up gaming and a waterfall island.
Within walking distance of the resort is world-class shopping at Downtown Summerlin, a mixed-use complex. There are 75 shops, including two anchors – Macy’s and Dillard’s – as well as designer boutiques, specialty shops, outlets and more. There are around 30 restaurants, featuring the cuisine of well-known chains and local eateries.
Like First Financial Security, Red Rock Resort celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016. Throughout the years, the resort’s owners, Station Casino Properties, have been building an upscale, luxury brand in Red Rock Resort. Today it’s the crown jewel among their many properties. It’s an exciting location for First Financial Security to host its first Leaders Convention of its second decade of business excellence.
FFS’ field force is encouraged to take advantage of Early Bird pricing and register for Leaders Convention 2017. They can register through the company’s Intranet site, FFS Agent Back Office (AB0).
Jak Horakunwetchana is a strong supporter of developing and continually pushing his agents to become more and more independent. At the same time, he makes sure they’re not afraid to fail. This is how he maintains balance in leadership.A key strategy for building a business with First Financial Security (FFS) is to develop a productive team of leaders. To accomplish this, I start by being a servant leader. Then, I mentor teammates, so they can duplicate my efforts.
It is definitely a balance in leadership that I work hard to maintain. Both of these tasks are equally important to the overall performance and growth of the team.
People often ask me which qualities do teammates demonstrate that show they have the potential to become strong leaders. Some of these qualities can be developed, such as technical knowledge and improved communication skills.
There are several core qualities that I believe potential leaders must already possess:
- Willingness to be coached
- A strong work ethic
These are all key components to being a successful leader in our business.
Training a Leader
When I find a leader with these qualities, I invest my time teaching them the FFS Business Building System (BBS). The BBS provides a step-by-step guide that directs people through all areas of our business.
The key for me is spending time discussing the system’s details, so they understand the importance of following it precisely. The more closely they follow the system, the quicker my new leader can start running their own meetings.
As builders, we need to embrace the challenges that an entrepreneur faces with the understanding that they will make mistakes. The key is to grow from those experiences. It’s a foolproof learning system that is unique to each individual.
I am a strong supporter of developing and continually pushing my agents to become more and more independent. I believe in getting them out there to apply what they’ve learned. At the same time, I make sure they’re not afraid to fail. They always have my support and the support of our entire team.
I did say there is a balance between developing my leaders and serving my team that I like to maintain. Every day differs, though, because my team’s needs vary.
My daily routine includes monitoring the back office for team production and contest standings. I review any team emails, text messages, or social media. I’m continually returning calls throughout the day and am on standby for a leader call. I also hold meetings to share updates and training to ensure we’re all on the same page.
That’s about all that’s standard, though. When it comes to support and development it’s much less structured.
Balancing my time depends on the maturity level of the leaders and agents with whom I’m working. Experienced leaders require a different level of support than new recruits. While recruits need more training and development to get started, producing agents require more time to get policies issued. New leaders need guidance on developing a strategy to help build their teams.
What’s most Important?
We have a limited amount of time each day to take care of business and personal needs.
What I’ve learned is that you need to prioritize your time, or you won’t be able to optimize your results.You also have to be able to balance your personal time with your business responsibilities. Life is short; balance is the key to success in almost everything you do. I communicate that to my team through my words and my actions.
Do as I Do
I’m also a role model for my team at all times, whether I’m in a servant leader or leadership development role. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business.
You earn the trust and the respect of your teammates and, in turn, they want to follow your example. I would never ask my agents to do something I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself. So, when I challenge my agents to move outside of their comfort zone, they know I’ve been there too.
I want to empower them with all that I know and help them grow their businesses. It’s important that they know I will always be by their side for support and guidance.
One of the biggest hurdles to team building is the leader who says they have no time to develop associates. They can’t spare the time to invest in grooming leaders. At the same time, they find that they can’t effectively lead the entire team on their own.
They won’t find any relief until they consciously make the time to address the roadblock. Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Dedicate the time to find balance. If you do, you’ll see a dramatic change in the growth of your team and the success of your associates.
Meet the Author: Jak Horakunwetchana
Jakarat Horakunwetchana came to the United States from Thailand after graduating from high school in 1995. Knowing little English and with no money, Jak supported himself through college by working full time at restaurants in Florida and Georgia. In 2002, Jak graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Prior to joining First Financial Security in 2011 as a part-time representative, Jak worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant while he was studying for his Masters degree. He also was involved with a start-up automotive plant and worked as a Quality Engineer for several years.
Today, Jak is full time with First Financial Security as a National Marketing Director. He is a member of FFS’ prestigious Champions Club for representatives earning more $100,000 in a rolling 12 months. Jak leads teams in Georgia, Florida, as well as North and South Carolina.
Did you know your financial health may affect your business success? First Financial Security leader Amy Nitao shares tips to financial savviness.If you ask 10 people to define financial savviness, you’ll likely to get 10 different answers. It was an important question for me to answer for myself. I believe financial savviness is the core reason for my success here at FFS.
My definition of practical know-how is linked to our company’s vision to help all people achieve financial security and peace of mind. You must be able to confidently guide your clients down the path to a more secure financial future.Practice what You Preach
As a leader, the way to help others to manage their financial health is to have already experienced the challenges, failures and successes yourself. We must practice what we preach. If we want to be trusted with other people’s finances, we must be diligent, careful and strategic with our own.
Would you hire an actor to be the CEO of your business? No, you’d hire a proven, experienced, and qualified candidate who will guide your company in the right direction. The same applies in our business. We must be financially savvy and share that information with our clients. By applying it to our own lives, we can serve as a trusted role model.Your Actions Speak Loudly
I gained a reputation for being financially savvy years ago, but that’s only because it’s part of my everyday life. For example, my friends would come to visit us in California and want to visit Disneyland, but we’d never pay full price. I knew where to find discount tickets! I’m always showing people that I know how to manage my money well and protect my family’s finances. Ask any of them and they would say, “Yes, I would trust her with my money.”
If you’re grappling with debt and wasteful with your money, you’re sending the message that you’ll probably be just as careless with someone else’s money.Set Goals
In our business, it’s also critical to set goals. My first goal was to qualify for the FFS Dream Destination Conference trip to Puerto Rico. But, more than that, I wanted to earn a suite.
I shared this goal with my team because I wanted to be held accountable. Within three months of joining FFS – before my first Jump Start meeting - I achieved it. I set short- and long-term goals and once I reached them, I set new ones. I’m never done.
Our financial goals are important because they are our everyday GPS. They guide our decisions and our plans, reminding us of what we’re working toward. More importantly, they help us to not lose sight of the important achievements we’ve set for ourselves and our family. We want peace of mind not only for our generation, but hopefully for many more of generations to come.
Once you’ve set your goals, they don’t go in a drawer only to be looked at again in six months. Put an action plan together and review it weekly or bi-weekly.
I have a conversation with my husband on the 1st and the 15th of every month. We discuss our budget, which helps us manage our spending, savings and charitable donations for the month. We know what we have and we live within our means. If you don’t know how much you have, how can you possibly know much or little is available to spend? That’s where you run into trouble.
Make a pact with your partner to communicate the successes and the challenges along the way. When you know what you’re working toward, there’s a stronger focus. When you have someone working with you, there’s always more encouragement, motivation, and support.Keep Moving Forward
It doesn’t happen overnight, but I can tell you that it can happen. I am living proof. It takes time, dedication, patience, failures and successes. The important thing is that you pick yourself up and keep going – and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your financial health will benefit, your clients will benefit, and your business will benefit.About the Author:
As one of FFS’ top producers, Amy Nitao has earned FFS’ Success Society, 75K Club, and Champions Club. In fact, she attained her spot in Champions Club more quickly than any other associate to date. Amy passed the $100,000 cash flow mark less than a year after joining First Financial Security. When asked what spurs her on to these incredible milestones, Amy replied, “Love for my family.”