Yesterday, we posted the second episode of Share Your Umbrella, a First Financial Security® podcast where entrepreneurs share stories of helping families in need with financial solutions and opportunities. We plan to take interesting excerpts from each podcast episode and feature them here on our blog.
Our guest this week was Pahoua Xiong, an FFS agent who reached her first diamond at the end of 2019 and spent the pandemic learning creative online strategies to keep her business growing. We spoke to her about the challenges and benefits of working for herself as a woman in this industry and what her goals for success in 2021 look like.
See below for an excerpt of our conversation — you can listen to the full episode here.
Pahoua, what made you decide to join FFS, and what did your life look like before you were part of our team?
I was actually a recruiter. I was recruiting at a local university, bringing in students for the school. I would come home and tell my husband the number of students I recruited that day, and he’d say, “Well, if you did that, you would do great at FFS.”
Then my husband got diagnosed with kidney disease. I was really devastated. At that point, I was also registered to go back to school to become a doctor. I was gung-ho, nothing was going to change my mind—until he got diagnosed. It was really that breaking point in my life where I had to make a decision. I had to ask myself “What if you became sick? What happens financially?”
If I did become a doctor, the next 10 to 13 years of my life were going to be dedicated to school, with no income potential. It’s such a long process of sacrificing so much of your life. You have to be so committed to it. And so many people come to this field with that same desire to help people. It's giving people financial security and peace of mind that keeps them going. That’s what sold me on FFS.
What were some challenges you faced early on at FFS? How did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge was actually personal fear. No one in my family had ever been in a type of business that’s only commissions, where you’re not getting paid for the hours you put in. So there was a fear of how I would schedule my day for my FFS business. I had to be responsible for my success here, and I had to start making personal decisions to prioritize my business. It took a while for me to get over that — but now, it’s just everyday work.
The transition is hard because now you’re doing it for yourself. You're no longer working for someone; you're building your own business. It takes a mindset shift. I kept telling myself: “This is for my kids, for my future, for our community — so we can grow more and be more.” It was something I had to tell myself every day.
Now that we’ve talked about how you started, what is it that keeps you going? How long have you been with us?
I’ve been with FFS for eight years. I stay because I really want to continue to be a part of a bigger cause. I think a lot of people forget the opportunity that we have to create a better future for our families. I want to continue to be a part of bringing people to a better financial situation.
I chose FFS because I’ve always wanted to be surrounded by great people. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have leaders who saw my potential, the system that’s been set up here, or the overwhelming tools and resources that we have. I tell my team all the time, “There's no way you cannot be successful in here.”
FFS makes the initial, basic parts of doing business so much easier: everything from payroll to all the advertising to all the different apps. There’s so much support from people who just want us to be successful. So I continue to stay because of the leadership and the business system.
We named the podcast Share Your Umbrella because umbrellas are an insurance symbol — they cover, shelter, and help people. For us, the umbrella represents not only the products that shelter our clients from risk but also the opportunity to build a business in the financial services industry.
With that in mind, do you have any stories of sharing that umbrella with others? What does that concept mean for you?
Personally, it’s seeing agents on my team say “I can” more than “I can’t” now. They start to believe in themselves. A lot of my team members have been able to create financial opportunities for themselves and their families. This opportunity can help people become someone that they'd never thought or dreamed they could become — to me, that is so rewarding and fulfilling.
2020 was a big challenge for everyone. What did you do to keep yourself and your team motivated? What did and did not work for you?
The business really ran itself — I got a lot of referrals because people were experiencing the urgency of needing coverage. I think the most challenging thing was just juggling everything: the kids, the business, and the marketing. Still, last