Episode 33 Transcript: Demystifying Medicare with Boomer Benefits’ Danielle Roberts

Brett Fellows: Danielle Roberts, welcome to The Retiring Entrepreneur podcast. We are excited to have you today.

Danielle Roberts: It’s my pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Brett Fellows: Absolutely. Again, as I mentioned, I’m really excited to have you. You run a co-founder of Boomer Benefits, which is an agency that helps Baby Boomers navigate Medicare. And what could be more confusing and fun to do that? So, I think many of our listeners and clients are at or near that Baby Boomer age. Obviously, this is a very informational topic that would be useful. So, that’s really excited to have you.

Danielle Roberts: Great.

Brett Fellows: And so, tell me about Boomer Benefits. What do you do? Who is it for? Give us an overview of that.

Danielle Roberts: Okay. So, we are licensed insurance agency that helps Baby Boomers across the nation navigate their entry into Medicare. We do business currently in 48 States. And we are very commonly found by consumers when they’re 64. And getting ready to retire, or maybe planning to work a few years and then needing to figure out how to set up your Medicare to provide the insurance you need to go along with Medicare, no matter what those next few years are, people are eligible for Medicare when they’re 65.

Danielle Roberts: And so, of course, we also work with Baby Boomers and seniors, people of all ages on all the Medicare things they need to know. We educate them first on what the Federal government provides them, because Medicare is very overwhelming and confusing. It’s sort of a mixed bag when you’ve been given group insurance your whole life with 1 or 2 choices. And now you head into this Federal government program with all these moving parts and pieces and plans. And so, we come in and educate people on that.

Danielle Roberts: And we help them on the back end by setting up the supplemental insurance policies that they need to go alongside Medicare, since Medicare has some significant holes in it that can be very costly if you don’t have that kind of coverage.

Brett Fellows: Right. And what does Boomer benefits look like today as an organization? How many employees do you have?

Danielle Roberts: We are sitting right around 100.

Brett Fellows: Oh, wow.

Danielle Roberts: And we have sort of broken ground, if you will, on the space that is next to us in our building. So, when we moved in, in December 2019, we negotiated a right of refusal for the other floors, the other half of our floor and the floor above us. And we are building an additional 175 desks. We hope to move into that new space beginning in June and expand our operations. So, hopefully, here in the next 2 years, if I were to come back and have a conversation with you on that date, we’d be sitting close to 300.

Brett Fellows: Wow. And so, all your employees are local?

Danielle Roberts: They are. That’s right. So, everyone is right here in our central North Fort Worth office. And they are W-2 employees that work for us in both sales and customer service and marketing and things like that.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. It’s interesting, just with all that’s happened the last few years in this world and everybody being virtual, it’s really interesting to hear having actual employees all in 1 place. Is that for control purposes, for compliance purposes, or just the way you prefer to operate and lead?

Danielle Roberts: Well, we were really lucky in that the pandemic, we were considered an essential business, because people need Medicare, whether there’s a virus rampaging in the world or not. And we actually had an uptick in business during that time, because so many people were either laid off or decided to retire early. So, we had more people than ever that were needing help with that transition. And because of our database, of course, includes lots of HIPAA protected privacy information, people’s social security numbers, and Medicare numbers and dates of birth.

Brett Fellows: Sure.

Danielle Roberts: We just thought about it carefully. There are businesses that could do that remote, but it was our opinion that we needed to protect our clients’ information more than anything. So, we just paused our hiring for a year, and then resumed it as things started to lighten up a little bit. And I do see, it looks like a lot of businesses starting to do the same where they’re calling people back into their offices. There are people out there that really like the idea of working remote, but I’ve also talked with a number of employees who left jobs and then are now interviewing with us saying, “I thought I would like working at home, but I don’t.”

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: “I need to work somewhere.” So, those are the employees that we’re looking for at this time. Yeah.

Brett Fellows: That’s great. So, that’s a big organization. How did you get started in this?

Danielle Roberts: Well, interesting…

Brett Fellows: What preempted you opening in 2005, if I saw correctly?

Danielle Roberts: Mm-hmm.

Brett Fellows: Tell me about that.

[07:05] How Danielle’s business evolved from selling group insurance to focusing exclusively on Medicare and Medicare-related products.

Danielle Roberts: Yeah, the interesting thing is that we didn’t originally plan to do Medicare at all. So, I had left a career in staffing, where I had worked for 10 years, and I was looking for something entrepreneurial. My dad is an entrepreneur. My brother and I were very entrepreneurial kids. We used to wash cars in the neighborhood and take people’s trash out, mow their lawn, walk their dogs, anything we could do to make a buck.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And when I got into this business and I was doing group insurance in the beginning, I would be bringing on a lot of business owners, small business owners in their 40s. So, what happened, as those people became my clients, they would call and say, “Hey, my mom or dad is turning 65. Do you know anything about this?” And after telling 10 people no, we thought, “We better look into this and find out why is Medicare so confusing.” And once we did look into it, we thought there was huge opportunity there.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: Especially with the coming baby boomer wave of people.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And also, at that time, health insurance was not done electronically very often. Most that time it was people driving out to someone’s home, sitting at their kitchen table, writing a paper application. But we saw that auto and homeowners’ insurance and those things were already trending online. And we thought, “Let’s just take this Medicare business online. We’ll build it from the ground up here, but then we’ll transition into a call center and we’ll help people with this over the phone.”

Danielle Roberts: And we sort of just had the foresight to guess correctly that that’s where the market was going. And now, of course, 15 years later, we have thousands and thousands and thousands of Baby Boomers who are policyholders all over the United States. And we dropped doing the group and individual health insurance along the way, because the demand for Medicare was so great.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. And how long did it take to make that shift from going medical to just Medicare?

Danielle Roberts: By the time that we hired our first employee, which was in 2010, we had pretty much let go of most of the group insurance and were doing individual and Medicare. And then when the ACA legislation came along, it drastically changed the individual market landscape, and we just had to evaluate whether we wanted to go through all of the extra steps to sell policies for less than a quarter of what we had been paid before on the individual side, or if we wanted to just double down going forward with Medicare, and that’s ultimately what we chose.

Danielle Roberts: And so, now today, we do sell products that are related to Medicare. So, for instance, people on Medicare don’t have dental vision or hearing insurance. And so, we sell insurance to go alongside that for the folks that need that. We also sell cancer plans because Medicare Advantage policies have such a huge hole in them when it comes to cancer, where people can spend up to 20% out of pocket on things like chemotherapy and radiation. So, if they’re going to go for these types of plans and then they encounter something like cancer, there’s a heavy, heavy spending that a lot of people can’t afford. And so, we now sell cancer plans to go alongside folks in that situation.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: But if they came in needing something like disability or long-term care, we refer all of that out and try to stick… let’s say we just don’t chase shiny objects.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. Good for you.

Danielle Roberts: Yeah.

Brett Fellows: And another tidbit, you mentioned, just before we started is you’re a co-founder, and I believe the other co-founder is your brother. Tell me about that relationship.

Danielle Roberts: Yeah, that’s right. So, I had originally started with 2 other business owners that I didn’t know well, because I thought, “Well, this is so scary to start a business. Let me find some other people and we’ll go in together and 3 heads are better than 1,” and that was not the case at all. It’s very hard to find people have the same outlook as you. Everyone has different opinions about how much you invest back into the business and how much you take out of the business to pay yourself. And I was lucky, in that I had negotiated a part-time position for my former employer that I could take with me, something that I could do from home.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And I think he paid me like $25,000 a year. And I had committed to living on that, eating ramen noodles and peanut butter and those kinds of things.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And I wanted to put everything back into the business. And the other 2 partners wanted to pull those profits out every month.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: And so, I just decided that I would buy them out or leave. And when I talked to them, buy them out is what ended up happening. Then I did this for a little while on my own, but my brother was working in mortgage finance role up in Michigan, selling mortgages over the phone, which is a very difficult type of sale. And he’s a Finance and Management major. I’m a Journalism and English major.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: But of all the people in my entire world whose work ethic that I know and trust, it’s him.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: So, I let him know what was going on. And he was kind of burned out after being in that business for so many years. And I said, “You should come down here and do this with me. We can really build this into something amazing,” and he did. So, he quit, and he came down here. And we decided that he would sort of be the CEO and run the whole management and visionary and future and sales end of our company.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: I would handle the back end, which would be marketing, recruitment, HR type stuff, payroll, accounting, all of those, and then be the face of the business. Because when Facebook and things started coming along, which was after we started our business, somebody has to be that person. And so, it’s worked out really well. We’re able to sort of divide and conquer. And we have 2 different skill sets. So, that has allowed us to work together well and continue doing that all these years.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great. You made me originally think of that book Rocket Fuel. Have you read that?

Danielle Roberts: Yes.

Brett Fellows: It sounds like the 2 of you.

Danielle Roberts: A little bit.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. Go back to you purchasing the business. That must have been a scary ordeal. If you only had a part-time job and living off of peanut butter and ramen noodles too, how did you get a loan? Or did they sell or finance it or Small Business Association? How’d that all work?

Danielle Roberts: So, what we did was just I negotiated to give them, I don’t remember all the fine details, but I think what I negotiated was paying them each 1/3 of the ongoing current commissions for it might have been a year, 18 months.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: So, I let them keep their 1/3, and I invested my portion back into the business every month. They took theirs and went on to go do whatever they went on to do.

Brett Fellows: Right.

Danielle Roberts: And neither of them were bad people, we just had different goals and ways to go about accomplishing those. And I was going out to industrial business parks and front door called calling businesses to sell group health insurance.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: Which I felt was very difficult. And to do that for just 1/3 of the profits and then only be able to invest that little bit back into the business just didn’t seem smart to me. So, I just said, “I’m either going to leave and go do this on my own, or I can pay you your portion for this much of time.” And that’s ultimately what we decided, and here we are today.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, wonderful. And when your brother came on, was it just the 2 of you that point, or had you already started to hire other employees?

Danielle Roberts: It was just the 2 of us. And so, from 2006 to 2010, you had 2 people in a tiny office just pounding out policies as fast as we could to grow a nice foundation so that we would then be able to hire our first employee. And that has served us so well. It was such a good decision. Because after we got to that point, we didn’t realize this at the time, but it put us in a position where we would never need to have investors. And so many of our competitors in this business are heavily leveraged.

Danielle Roberts: They have invested into and this make [inaudible] the way that you might run your business differently than what we’ve had to make because we had so much cash in the business from us putting in all that work in the first few years. So, I highly recommend it if you can afford to live cheap, just building that foundation in your business so that you have cash to work with when it comes time to begin hiring employees.

[15:00] What Danielle Roberts believes was the key to their success in the early years of Boomer Benefits.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. And obviously, that’s a huge point, the cash. What do you think was the key to your success for those first few years to 2010 for you and your brother?

Danielle Roberts: Our work ethic is, you know what I would call it? Is like the blue collar, just 2 kids from Detroit with an entrepreneurial dad who owned his own business in auto insurance. And we were willing to put in hard work and long hours. We weren’t the kind who would rest on our renewals and go play golf on Thursday or take the boat out on [inaudible]. And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I know a lot of insurance agents making probably 75,000, $100,000 a year working in a business with renewals, and now they’re just you know, putting in 15 hours a week to keep those going.

Brett Fellows: Sure.

Danielle Roberts: But we had different goals. Anytime we come number in our business, and we’re looking at it, my brother likes to add zeros at the end so that we have big things strive for. But really, we just put in an insane amount of work. I can remember during the annual election period closing up shop, it’ll be at night and being like, “Okay, hey, I’ll see in the morning at 7:00.”

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And that’s what it really takes. Insurance is a very difficult career to get off the ground.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And it’s easy in the fact that you can start with friends and family. Some of you, if you’re doing like life insurance or health insurance aren’t there, but you can’t scale there. So, you have to put in the hard work, and then you have to find a way to source leads. And we did that through a number of different ways until we could afford to purchase leads.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: And then that was really what launched the first phase of heavy growth in our business.

Brett Fellows: Okay. And fast forward to today, what does a typical week look like for you today? What’s your role now?

Danielle Roberts: So, we still operate the same roles that we did before, but we just had a lot more help. So, some years ago, I hired a marketing director. And now today, I have 8 people on our marketing team.

Brett Fellows: Wow.

Danielle Roberts: And so, I’ve offloaded all of the things that I used to do like Facebook and YouTube and those things, I have a team now that schedules and scripts all of that. And I just come in and use whatever they’ve set up for me to film a video. Or they may tell me I have a Facebook [inaudible] Friday at 11:00 and they [inaudible] questions and we’re in our Facebook group answering those questions. We’re doing that online.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: We’ve also hired an HR manager and an IT manager. We have sales directors. And what the business can do now [inaudible] us to an extent. So, we don’t have to be in the office quite as much as we used to be. We both work from home in the mornings, and where we can get a lot more done without so many interruptions. And then, most afternoons, we are in the office.

Danielle Roberts: But eventually, we’d like to be on the office most of the time. And so, we’re working now to take the business forward to where we have really key people that eventually will be in a VP or C suite level roles. And if we want to go spend a month in Wyoming working remotely while we look at the mountains, we can.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great.

Danielle Roberts: That’s where we’d like to take it eventually.

[18:07] How Boomer Benefits differs from a typical insurance agency, and why Danielle believes this distinction has fueled their growth over the last 10+ years.

Brett Fellows: That’s great. All that growth from 2010 to present day, as you look back, what’s probably the biggest takeaway you have? What’s the one thing you learned, if you could talk about that?

Danielle Roberts: So, I think the insurance industry, it has a lot of people that want to get-rich-quick scheme. And I don’t know why it has that reputation, because there’s nothing quick about it. It’s like any other business that you put in. But you have to really, I think, if I were to look at people that I know that are successful, the main difference that I noticed is that they’re not obsessed with their client the way that we are.

Danielle Roberts: And when I say obsessed, like I am truly obsessed by Baby Boomers. I have alerts on Google that feed articles into an email that comes to me every day that I save in a folder. On Saturday morning, I read through all those articles. And those might be keywords like ‘Baby Boomers’ or ‘retirement’ or ‘65 money’, things like that. And I am always studying them.

Danielle Roberts: And we did our business a little differently, in that when we put a client on the books, we don’t just sell them the policy and tell them to call the insurance company if there’s a problem. We’ve built a client service team in our business that is very expensive. I’m sure if we ever were bought out by Wall Street, the first thing we would do is want to axe that service team, thinking that that team doesn’t bring in revenue.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: But actually, it really increases our persistency. Our clients stay on the books for a long time.

Brett Fellows: Right.

Danielle Roberts: Because they come to us for the help. So, our goal is to be the good in the Boomer and senior community. We want to help them in any way that we can. And we’re always looking for better ways to do that. We obsess over it, we think about it. We read books about them. If I’m standing in a grocery store and there’s the Baby Boomer next to me, you can be sure that I’m going to start up a conversation.

Danielle Roberts: I’ll never mention the word ‘Medicare’. They won’t know who I am. But I just like to hear what they think. What’s on their minds? What do they care about today? And we’re always learning that way, instead of just slinging policies. And I think that is why we have the brand awareness and reputation that we do today.

[20:18] Danielle Roberts explains why Medicare is so confusing for the millions of beneficiaries who depend on it.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great. So, let’s talk about your ballpark here. Why is Medicare so confusing for the millions of Medicare beneficiaries out there?

Danielle Roberts: Yeah. So, because no one prepares them for national health insurance, they have no idea what they’re doing, and they don’t know where to turn for help. So, if you’re new to, you’re turning 65, and all your life, your employer has chosen your group health coverage for you, and maybe given you 1 or 2 options, and then now you turn 65 and you’re supposed to know how and when to enroll, and you’re supposed to know what the different parts of Medicare, parts A, B, C, and D, which is really confusing. Like, why do they separate out the hospital and the drugs and the outpatient when the insurance you had before was all in one?

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: They have to try to figure that out on their own. And at the same time that insurance companies are bombarding them with mail in their mailbox and telemarketing them endlessly, just to solicit them for products that have things like a zero premium, Medicare Advantage plan, you can find those, and they don’t understand how that could be free. So, “What am I really getting with that? Is it the wrong thing or the right thing for me?” And there’s really no one to hold their hand. And so, our message being out there is to try to make people aware of who we are, and then letting them know that that help does exist.

Brett Fellows: Okay.

Danielle Roberts: And that’s why they’re so confused and really overwhelmed, and sometimes dreading Medicare, because all of that marketing for them starts the year before they turn 65, which makes them feel like they’re behind, and they’ve missed something, and they’re going to make a mistake. And I think that’s why people are so confused about Medicare in the beginning.

[22:01] Danielle Roberts shares some of the costliest mistakes Baby Boomers tend to make when enrolling in Medicare.

Brett Fellows: And you also authored a book, ‘The 10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make’, which we will post in the show notes. What are some of the most costly mistakes that Baby Boomers can make before while they’re choosing Medicare?

Danielle Roberts: So, the first mistake is they miss their initial enrollment period, which is specific to them. They confuse it with Social Security. And so, there are actually people out there who just never enrolled when they’re supposed to. By the time they figure it out, they now owe a penalty for life. And so, you’re eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, regardless of whether you started your Social Security or not. And then the other mistake is if they’re working past age 65, same thing. They may not realize that, if they work for a small group, Medicare is still primary, so you should have actually enrolled in Medicare 65. It’s different if you have a large group. And so, that’s also something confusing.

Danielle Roberts: Another big mistake is they assume that the fall annual election period that you hear about every year is just open season where you can sign up for the Cadillac plan and have had no insurance before that, and you will magically get approved. And they forget that these products are offered by insurance companies, which are in business to make money. So, they assume that, if they wait because they’re pretty healthy when they’re 65, they could just wait until later until they’re sick, and then in October, we go sign up for a plan.

Brett Fellows: Right.

Danielle Roberts: And it just doesn’t work like that for all the plans. Medigap plans work very differently. And those are the plans that have the most coverage. And everybody gets a 6-month window when they first get Medicare to enroll in one of those. But after that, if you try to get one, you’re going to go through underwriting in most States, and then you might find out that the health condition that you’ve now developed will prevent you from ever getting the coverage that you would have really wanted.

Danielle Roberts: And that is just a big mistake that we see literally thousands of people make every year, the idea that I can just wait until the fall and then sign up. And it doesn’t work like the ACA plans do. So, it’s something that you need to be reading and researching ahead of time when you’re 64 so that you know all these things before you go in that you don’t miss your initial enrollment period, and that you know what those other election periods are for.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. It’s interesting, our financial planning, software’s that we have try to guesstimate the future cost of Medicare. Is there an average annual cost that you could pinpoint? Or does it vary too much? I mean, is it $8,000 a year? Is that average? Or would it be greater or less? [inaudible] health driven?

Danielle Roberts: It does vary. Yeah. So, it varies because, first of all, Medicare itself is not free. You have to pay for Parts B and D. And what you pay for those 2 parts is based on your income. So, most people pay a base wage of $170, a month or so for the Part B. But there’s 5% of beneficiaries who could pay somewhere significantly more than that. In fact, people in the highest bracket pay almost $600 a month for Part B.

Danielle Roberts: And then Medicare doesn’t cover everything, so then you have to choose the supplemental insurance. And you could choose plans that are really comprehensive. Those plans might cost anywhere from 100 to $300 a month, depending on the state in which you live and how the cost of health care is there. Or you could do the Advantage plan just have a zero premium, but certainly, they’re not free, because you’re still paying for things as you go along. And in some regards, you may pay a lot more once you have an illness.

Danielle Roberts: And so, it really does vary based on their income, and also which plan they ultimately choose. But I have read that, I think it was, I don’t remember who published this, but I’ve read that the average senior couple needs $300,000 for health care expenses in retirement.

Brett Fellows: Yep.

Danielle Roberts: And we see that all the time, because a lot of them don’t know that Medicare doesn’t include long-term care. So, they need to have purchased long-term care insurance or be able to privately fund that, and they don’t know that or they can’t afford it. And they end up spending everything they have trying to get into a Medicaid facility. So, if there’s one message that I could put out there, it’s like you need to save twice as much as you think you need to for your future health care expenses.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. It’s interesting you say that. We just posted an HSA video last week, and yeah, the numbers I have is 285,000. If you’re a female, it’s going to be 150. And if you’re male, 135.

Danielle Roberts: Yeah.

Brett Fellows: So, it’s interesting. What about the income is fascinating too, the triggers of income and how they increase the Medicare premiums, nobody seems to know about. Do you guys get those calls all the time about, “Why did my Medicare premium increase?”

Danielle Roberts: Yeah, absolutely. Because they just get this letter in the mail from Social Security that says, “Hey, we looked at your income, and you’re going to pay more for Medicare next year.” And then they bill that quarterly, which is very confusing to people. And they also add that, it’s called an income related monthly adjustment, they add it to your Part B premiums, and also any drug plan that you’re enrolled in.

Danielle Roberts: And so, then people are deciding whether they want to pay extra for that drug plan, or maybe they want to delay drug plan. But if they do that, they could owe a penalty later on. And there’s all those moving parts that they’re trying to figure out. So, I do feel like people assume that Medicare is free, or they might have read that they pay a premium for Part B. But we have people coming in all the time that had no idea that their Medicare was going to cost more than they had originally anticipated.

Danielle Roberts: And in fact, I’ve seen a few over the years that have said, “You know what? I’m going to go ahead and keep working for a few more years, because clearly, I have not saved enough. I’m not going to be able to retire this year like I thought I was going to be able to.” And that’s always sad. So, we try to get the word out as much as we can so that people can start to prepare for that. And that’s really where a good financial planner needs to come in, talking to people about this in their 50s and 60s, especially if they have the kind of wealth that means someday they are going to pay those adjustments.

[27:42] Recommended resources for Medicare education.

Brett Fellows: Of course. In addition to your book, and website, again, we’ll have all those connections in the show notes, what are some resources that you typically would recommend so people can educate themselves about Medicare?

Danielle Roberts: So, one of the best is YouTube. There are lots of good videos out there about Medicare and Boomer benefits. We have a channel, so you can certainly come and watch yours truly teaching many videos about little concepts in Medicare. But they’re also published articles there that are put out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the articles videos.

Danielle Roberts: And then medicare.gov itself is a wealth of information, the government’s own site. You can go there to find all the different premium expectations for the parts of Medicare. And you can learn about things like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance that you’re going to be responsible for paying. You can learn what Medicare covers and what it doesn’t. You can learn the different wellness visits and things like that that you won’t pay anything for that you want to take advantage. And that’s a great website too.

Brett Fellows: Great. What about looking forward, Danielle? If it’s 5 years from today, what has to have happened for if we were looking back at those 5 years for you to feel happy with your progress, whether that’s personally or professionally?

Danielle Roberts: It’s funny, because there are days at the office, like if there’s an employee issue or something where my brother will come in, and he’s like, “This is one of those days where maybe we’ll sell.” But at least for us, for now, I think we’re committed to doing this for at least another 5 to 10 years. Neither of us have children. So, we’re not exactly sure what we’ll end up doing with our business when we sell, which makes me think that maybe we just put the right people in place and we don’t ever sell. We put in employees that are going to run this, and then we’ll come up with some sort of succession plan further down the road.

Brett Fellows: Right.

Danielle Roberts: But I like to tell him, “Hey, why don’t we just fill up half of that new space in the building where we’re expanding, the floor or expanding, and then slow down a little bit so that we don’t grow quite as fast?” And some days, he’s willing to hear that, and other days, he’s already talking about expanding out of the 6th floor.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: So, in my world, we’ll still be doing this if we have a really good base of employees who are happy at work, who feel like we have a good culture, who have career opportunities. We’re reluctant to sell for those reasons, because we have seen other business sell, and then these companies come in and they lay off a bunch of the people or they slash their salaries. All of those things mean a lot to us. And so, it makes us reluctant to really ever be thinking [inaudible] 5 years, we’d probably be filling up the 6th floor, if I know my brother very well.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. That’s great. Who, if anyone, has been your entrepreneurial influencer? When you think about that, is it your dad, or…?

Danielle Roberts: Yeah, you could certainly say that we got the entrepreneurial bug from my dad. I mean, when I was a little kid, we lived on a road that went out to the lake, and he taught me how you could go out after it rains and you could pluck earthworms that had come up to the surface, and put them in a little container and then put the cooler out and sit on the front porch in the morning while the fishermen were going by.

Danielle Roberts: And of course, they were all happy to stop and pay money to a little 4-year-old girl. That was my first business venture with my dad. And so, he planted that for us so early. And then in my brother’s teenage years, my dad was doing a reloading business as well. Hunting is very big in Michigan.

Brett Fellows: Yeah.

Danielle Roberts: And they did that together for years. And my brother worked entrepreneurially alongside of him in high school. So, certainly he really is the biggest influence where we got that sort of the bug. And then in the insurance world, we work with several great FMOs, field marketing operations people. And one of them, Galen Hendricks, is an insurance powerhouse. She’s been in the insurance world for more than 25 years. Very, very influential person with great relationships with carriers. She’s built and just recently partnered, if you will say, in a semi-buyout, sort of relationship with Integrity Marketing. And she is a speaker now. She helps insurance agents look to the future and learn how to grow their businesses and grow those businesses into higher profits.

Danielle Roberts: And she’s become a really good friend, but she’s certainly someone does influence the type of company that I want to run and the type of the way that we like to do business. And she’s a really good friend of mine. I just came back from spending a weekend at an insurance retreat for women with her and doing some speaking there. And she’s been a big influence on me in particular.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great. I’m curious, do you have a coach?

Danielle Roberts: Yes, I do a little bit of coaching. Yeah. So, I have always really been into life and business and now leadership coaching. And I do think it’s important for people to work with a coach. You need to have somebody to unload your thoughts on every week. Even if you learn how to manage your thoughts well, there’s things that are going to come at you that you need to be able to just vent to someone about.

Danielle Roberts: And a coach is a perfect person to do that. Because you can do this with your friends and your co-workers, and they’re all going to jump in the pool with you and feel your pain. But for someone to look at it objectively and allow you just to talk with them, that is an important piece.

Danielle Roberts: So, one of the things that I shared at the retreat that I was at this weekend is that every female insurance entrepreneur needs a coach that you’re meeting with weekly for an hour to dump all your thoughts out, pick through those thoughts, find out which ones are sabotaging where you’re going, and helping you to see things in a different light and maybe choosing some more positive thoughts that are going to move your business forward. So, yeah, I do believe very much in coaching.

[33:32] Danielle shares why she believes the insurance industry is a great industry for women entrepreneurs.

Brett Fellows: Yeah, that’s great. The retreat, why do you feel like the insurance field is such a great industry for women?

Danielle Roberts: Well, there’s no glass ceiling, or at least if there was one, we’ve already busted through it. So, women are great at selling insurance, because we are consultative in nature. And you don’t necessarily have to be a great salesperson if you’re a person that’s honest and ethical and you have good integrity, and clients can feel that. So, you can be sort of that girl next door, girl Friday kind of person.

Danielle Roberts: And the seniors really relate well to people like that. Now, I have male employees who are also very successful, but we certainly have more and more women in industry than ever before. And I love seeing that, because in 2005, I can remember going to meetings where I was the only woman in the room.

Brett Fellows: I bet.

Danielle Roberts: Yeah. And I was certainly the youngest person there. And they didn’t think that insurance would ever go online. None of them agreed with my future projections on where I wanted to take the business. So, I’m glad now to see so many more women succeeding in this industry.

Brett Fellows: That’s great. That’s fantastic. Danielle, last question, this podcast is about successful business owners, and then how do they possibly pull equity out of their business to live their ideal life, so they’ve been successful. And I’m curious, what would be your definition of success for you?

Danielle Roberts: I would say, certainly, there’s the financial success, and that’s lovely, right? But money doesn’t buy happiness, it only buys convenience. So, in my heart of hearts, what makes me successful is if I’m helping a great portion of the community with a problem, and I’m able to bring resolution to that through the company that I own, and at the same time, create a company where people enjoy working for us, and can find lucrative careers doing that.

Danielle Roberts: Being an employer and employing, providing jobs for other people is probably the most fulfilling part of the industry that I never knew to expect. And so, if we can continue growing and providing great jobs for people, I think that both my brother and I, at whatever point we do make our exit, will feel very successful about that.

Brett Fellows: Yeah. That’s great. Well, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it.

Danielle Roberts: You bet.

Brett Fellows: Well, Danielle, I appreciate your time. And we will, as I mentioned, have the connection to your website and your book all on the show notes. And I thank you very much for your time today and The Retiring Entrepreneur Podcast.

Danielle Roberts: Thank you. It was great talking with you.

Brett Fellows: Have a great day.

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