I don’t know about you, but I dream EVERY night. Dreams are fascinating. On one level, they provide insight into our thoughts, goals, and fears. But they are also completely bizarre in how they have you jumping from one random scene to another. With that thought in mind, I want to share the following fairytale-turned-dream-turned-nightmare that may sound a little too familiar…
Once upon a time, there was a producer who built a nice book of business. Figuring he could do better on his own, he started a new agency. Of course he needed some help, so he brought along his favorite account manager. The freedom was nice. The producer (now also the agency owner) continued producing and the account manager continued managing accounts.
Over time, the business grew to the point that another account manager was necessary, and then another. Eventually, they needed a receptionist and a bookkeeper and, well, you get the picture.
With visions of “really growing this thing” and wanting more sales energy in the office, the producer/owner decided it was time to hire another producer. It wasn’t the big boost he was looking for, but there was some new business.
Life was great. He was making SO much money!!
Each night he would lay down to dream about how great things were. He would dream of prospects lined up at the door. He would dream of big bonus checks. He would dream of things getting even bigger and even better, as hard as that was to imagine.
But one night, as his dream-self sat counting commission checks, there was a pounding at the door. When the broker went to see who it was, he was terrified. It was the big bad ACA wolf.
“Little broker, little broker, let me in!” said the wolf. To which the little broker replied, “No freakin’ way!”
The wolf responded as expected. “Then I’m gonna huff, and puff, and blow your stick office down!” And he did.
The little broker was scared and decided to go see the Wizard. It was a close call. He almost didn’t make it there.
Along the way, he was ambushed by Progressive Flo who kept shooting at him with her price gun while she ranted, “Price?! You wanna talk price?! I’ve got price for ya!” (Yeah, weird, but dreams are like that.)
Next, the Wicked Warlock of the West threatened to steal all of his clients by giving them “free stuff” while laughing maniacally as he drank a milkshake. (Dreams are SO bizarre! Like THAT could ever happen!)
Then he finally saw the profile of a friendly face. It was his favorite carrier rep. But something didn’t seem quite right. The rep wouldn’t look at him, no matter how hard the broker tried to get her attention. As he passed and looked back at the opposite profile, he saw a much-less-than-friendly face and could hear the rep muttering something about “the Exchange” and a new distribution channel. Huh?
Clearly shaken, he finally arrived in front of the Wizard and admitted that he was scared, that his heart wasn’t in it like it once was, and that he didn’t feel smart enough to put his office back together. “Please give me courage, and heart, and wisdom,” he pleaded.
In his wise, wizardly way, the Wizard told him, “You already possess all of these things. You’ve simply misplaced them. Rebuild your stick office with the ‘bricks of business’ and you’ll find everything you seek inside those new walls.”
“What the hell does that mean?!” the broker demanded. “Where are these bricks I need to use?!”
He could hear the Wizard rambling something about the “bricks” being things like:
In other words, a bunch of stuff to help run the agency as the business it had become. But before he could ask any more questions, he found himself in a completely new scene.
He was at a rally of some sort. Or was it a conference? He recognized everyone and he liked what they had to say MUCH more than what he had seen and heard on the way to see the Wizard.
- “You just need to sell more voluntary and everything will be okay.”
- “Buy our solution, give it away to your clients, and everything will be okay.”
- “Use our automation service to do more of what you’ve always done and everything will be okay.”
Deep down, he knew these things didn’t really make sense, but they sounded so much easier than rebuilding with the Wizard’s bricks. He left feeling SO much better. He felt like his old self again. Like the emperor he remembered himself to be.
And as the “emperor” started the walk back to his office, his confidence received another huge boost. The streets were lined with cheering fans who, oddly enough, looked a lot like his clients.
- “We LOVE your new voluntary product!”
- “We SO appreciate all of your free stuff!”
- “Thank you for doing MORE than you’ve ever done before for us!”
But then there was that darn little kid tugging on his mom’s arm. “Mama?” he asked, “Why isn’t the emperor wearing any clothes?”
He looked down and immediately saw that the kid was right. There he was, in the middle of all of his cheering fans (er, clients?), and sure enough, he was 100% naked.
He was terrified. He was embarrassed. He wanted to run.
Then, from somewhere in the distance, he heard alarms going off. Or was it sirens? Either way, it sounded like a terrible emergency.
The ringing snapped him awake. It was just his desk phone. Whew! What a relief. He was safe and sound in his little stick office. It must have all been a crazy dream.
But just as he started to feel better, the receptionist buzzed through. “Excuse me, sir,” she said, “There’s a Mr. Wolfe here to see you.”
Photo by Davor Ratkovic