If you or someone you know has moved to the U.S. and feels overwhelmed about finding success in the financial services industry, you might want to spend some time combing through the new book, Leadership Beyond Borders. Written by NAIFA member Aamir Chalisa, the book tells the inspiring story of his life in two countries — the U.S. and Pakistan — and the lessons he learned on his way to becoming managing director at Futurity First Insurance Group in Chicago.
When Chalisa’s dream of becoming a doctor was thwarted by political unrest in his native Pakistan, he emigrated to the U.S. to further his education in an environment free of violence. After years of working as a janitor to fund his education, Chalisa earned a bachelor’s degree as well a master’s degree in business and joined the insurance industry. He quickly set himself apart in his career and community.
In Leadership Beyond Borders, Chalisa describes a few steps financial professionals can take to set themselves apart in their careers and communities.
» Be active in industry organizations. When he worked for MetLife, Chalisa said the company did a phenomenal job of training its agents and providing resources to help them learn about sales. MetLife also encouraged the agents to attend NAIFA meetings regularly.
» Mentor someone or work with a mentor. Chalisa encourages new advisors to seek at least one mentor who will help shepherd them through their most difficult first years in the industry. Learning from someone who has blazed the trail is priceless and is easier than learning on your own. Once you become a seasoned advisor, he writes, you should pay it forward by guiding new agents through their first few years in the business.
» Combat your fears and learn from early experiences. Sometimes in life, Chalisa writes, you need to experience a situation that terrifies you and requires you to step up and meet a challenge. After you get through that situation successfully, your self-confidence will increase and subsequent challenges will become easier to handle. So, embrace difficult situations and learn how to find the valuable lessons they teach.
» Understand the significance of the products you sell. The significance of life insurance does not really hit you until you deliver your first death claim, Chalisa writes. During his first year as an agent, he wrote a policy for the father of one of his clients who originally thought he would buy a $50,000 policy just for burial purposes. About a year later, the client died unexpectedly. Chalisa understood what life insurance is all about when he delivered a check to the client’s family.
“Life-changing experiences of clients make us realize that we are not just working with people’s money,” he writes. “We are also contributing to their peace of mind, financial stability and their families’ futures. I began to see that the work we are doing is significant and self-fulfilling. It is not just about making money — it is also about helping people become financially secure.” The two years Chalisa spent on the sales and service side of the business before he got into management truly helped him understand what the industry is all about, he explains.
» To grow and succeed, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the best things happen when you are taken out of your comfort zone and you become uncomfortable because this makes you stronger, builds perseverance and helps you face future challenges with more confidence, Chalisa writes.
» Seek out and celebrate diversity. Make time to learn about new cultures and seek opportunities to gain an understanding of other communities. Also, share your background and way of life with people from diverse backgrounds.
» Donate time to others. Appreciate how blessed you are to have what you have rather than taking the comforts of your life for granted. Support charitable organizations not only by giving money, but by giving your time. In doing so, you will help others while developing a valuable perspective on other parts of the world and about people whose life experiences are vastly different from your own. Through volunteering, Chalisa has made many friends, and through those friends, he can now better figure out where his help is needed the most.
Throughout his 28 years in the financial services business, Chalisa never gave up despite facing many setbacks. His tenacity is the quality he values the most. “Life is a roller coaster, a journey with hardships at times and adversity all around,” he writes, “but family, friends, faith, perseverance, leadership, drive and ambition will allow you to fulfill every dream you have for yourself and your family.”