However, it probably remains pretty high on the list of decisions you've made that had the greatest impact.

The reality is far fewer people know this potential life-altering decision is even available.

Then the real question is, how do we make sure more people have a chance to make it?

Jarrad "Rod" Powell, principal at Encore Insurance Group, talks about his journey to the industry and why he thinks everyone needs to consider having a license.

Joey Giangola: Mr. Rod Powell, how you doing today, sir?

Rod Powell: Hey, doing great, Joey. Hey, thank you for having me.

Joey Giangola: Rod, thank you for being here. I got to know this before we jump into anything too serious: what would be your most important non-essential life advice that you would give somebody?

Rod Powell: Most important non-essential advice: bathe daily.

Joey Giangola: All right. All right.

Rod Powell: And that may be essential. That may actually be essential.

Joey Giangola: It's close, but it certainly could be overlooked. Rod, for me, it's going to be order your party food later than you think. Give about a 30-minute buffer because it's always just going to be sitting there, and nobody's ready to eat when they first get to a party anyway. Nothing like a cold pizza that's already cold, just give it 30 extra minutes. I don't care. Nobody cares. Just order it late. Rod, I want to move this over to the world of insurance and I guess maybe more on the essential side of things, what would be your best advice for somebody that would maybe be looking to get into the business that maybe has not really thought of this as an opportunity?

Rod Powell: I would say be open minded because working inside of this industry is in oftentimes going to feel different than what you may have conventionally been told about how career paths are supposed to work. From the way that you might enter into the industry to how your compensation may work, different bonuses for how you interact with other professionals in the space and with consumers and clients, how you market yourself, be open minded because you're going to have to shift your thoughts typically in some ways throughout the course of your career, entering it and throughout the course of it.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, that open mindedness, that's interesting. What does it take for somebody maybe to get to a point, to have an open-minded about it because we often hear so many stories of accidental finding in the world of insurance, I never really planned to be here. What do you think has to go right or wrong for somebody to even first have it as an option to be open minded about it?

Rod Powell: In my experience, like most people, you say you fell into it. I heard someone say recently, Ricky Jones from Trialist, he said, "You didn't fall into insurance, you were chosen by this industry." I think that career experiences and life experiences will lead you in the direction that you're supposed to go like it did for me. My background was in the entertainment industry prior to joining the insurance industry. Very different, very different as far as your day-to-day activities and how you approach, but really not so different when you think about it. You're still engaging with people. It's still actually way more fun than people think, but it's a lot of hard work. Both of them are very tough industries to move and be successful in. Based on my experience, I think that comes from, like I said, one, the exposure, someone exposing you to an opportunity, but your own personal readiness. If you're someone who has been maybe feeling like you don't really know where you're supposed to be, but where you are is not where you want to be, I think that that can be a motivator to explore and maybe find.

Rod Powell: If you're in a situation where you have a desire to do more, you just don't know what the vehicle for that is going to be, and maybe you have some skills and talents that are a bit unconventional and you're trying to find a place where they can really be maximized. Because there's so many different paths inside of this industry, whatever your skill set is you can usually plug in, whether it be marketing or design or law, IT, if it's sales, whatever it is, if it's analytics, or if you're mathematical, wherever you find yourself, you can find a place inside of this industry. That open mindedness, I think just comes from your experiences is, is coming from what you're reading, coming from what you're seeing, and also coming from people that you meet. One of my mentors told me, "A wise man always listens." So when someone introduces an idea to you, just hear it out, see if it resonates with you.

Joey Giangola: Well, I have to know this. What was the day then for you? Because you're sitting there in the entertainment business and then all of a sudden insurance pops into your brain. How many times did you have to say, no, we're not doing that? What was that process like for you to come to a point where, yeah, no, maybe this makes sense. This is interesting, I need to think about this a little bit more.

Rod Powell: I never thought I'd be in this industry to be frank with you, but I remember it was October, 2012. Actually, I had released an album in the summer of that year. The album actually charted on Billboard. I was touring nationally for it. I did some international touring for it later on for that project too. What I found, my youngest son, who's 12 now, was just being born, I wanted to find an opportunity career-wise, where I could stay home more. Things were changing. The business, that entertainment business was changing and I knew I needed the stability and I also needed to be present. I have four boys and I needed to be present for them. I even had some step sons at the time that I was raising. I wanted to be present, so when I found the opportunity, I said, hey, if this is something that allows me to still pursue what I was doing on the entertainment side, but also gives me some flexibility to own my time and be home, not necessarily taking the conventional nine to five career path, I was going to give it a shot.

Rod Powell: That's really what I did, how it surfaced for me, and it happened to work out. Frankly, I thought it was going to be something that I was doing just on the side in the midst of the other things, just keeping some stability, but also still feeding my habit. I see you got the instruments in the background so you know what I mean. I'm feeding that habit too, but I would have this as a stable base. And over time it just became the primary and I realized that it also was a passion. It was a field where I could add some value in a different kind of way other than creating and producing music and licensing music. It was more than just entertainment, I was producing events and doing all kinds of things on the business side too. I found that it was a different way to add some value, and it was also something that I found a lot of passion in from a personal professional development standpoint, and it was also quite lucrative so that didn't hurt. That didn't hurt. So it worked out.

Joey Giangola: I'm curious, did you carry that over into the clientele you're going after? Are you focusing any coverages for that type of business, the entertainment business, or what's your bread and butter now?

Rod Powell: That's funny. That's funny that you say that because I think it's an area where I would have and would actually liked to spend more time and attention on, but it wasn't. When I started in the industry, I was in work site benefits, so I spent most of my time in schools, prisons, government facilities, municipalities. That's really where I spent most of my time, so I was completely detached entertainment altogether. Matter of fact, I was completely detached from any type of individual conversations for the most part because I dealt with employees in employer groups and I dealt with those employers and those decision makers in those spaces. It was completely different. But I would love to go back and take some of the things that I've gathered now and share that with folks in the music and entertainment community because it's definitely not something that we talk about at all on that side.

Rod Powell: I'll tell you, when you're gigging, when you're going from gig to gig and that gig is your income, if you get hurt, you get injured, you get sick, you don't have anything to really fall back on. And also, as you start to get older or your schedule slows down, it's not like there's a retirement plan in place for you. Even if you are doing some investing that's only going to take you so far, so you need to make sure that you got those mechanisms in place. Besides the fact that equipment, those guitars that you have, the keyboard, these things are expensive. Somebody steals a keyboard from a gig, somebody damages a Gibson that's $15,000 that you got, how do you replace these things? So I definitely think it's an important conversation that has to be taken into consideration.

Joey Giangola: What would you have, I guess, in terms of a piece of advice from somebody that might be sitting at their own crossroads of maybe they're doing this thing and they're maybe not sure if it's time to give it up or to dive in feet first with maybe something else. Is there anything that you could identify to help somebody else get along to that journey and to find success in something that is completely different than maybe what they're doing now?

Rod Powell: Hey, my slogan is always, you should get a license, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to look at this industry as a career path. Conversations that I typically have, we call it the number one source for information, education and information on the most underrated career opportunity in business today. I would recommend them checking out resources like that platform, listening to you, listening to other thought leaders and people who are in the industry to get a glimpse of what's behind the veil. I know I jumped right in the recruiting room, so I didn't even know resources like that existed and they may not have at that time. This is obviously pre-pandemic and everything, and I don't even know if all of the online attention and things that are happening now were even happening. But I would say research.

Rod Powell: Research the opportunities that are out there. There's a great book that you can read. It's called You Should Get a License. I happened to know the author quite well. It's interesting when I wrote that book, it really is about all of the different paths that you can take, whether it be property, casualty, life, health, not just as an agent, but also as an underwriter, as a marketing rep, as a IT specialist. There's all these different paths that it explores as well as look at magazines, trade associations, websites, news journals, information that can expose you to what the industry is like. Because man, I wish Joey, that now after being in this space for 12 years, I wish I had found out about it earlier. I wish I found out about it when I was 19, 20, 21 years old.

Rod Powell: I had some great experiences on the entertainment side, don't get it wrong. I had some amazing experiences there, but could I have done some things a little bit differently and just navigated a little bit differently had I just been empowered with the knowledge that the industry has given me, whether I was using it professionally or not, just having the information. I think for somebody at a transition, really, it's just about researching and if they want to explore this industry, pick up the book You Should Get a License and it'll tell them all about what this industry could potentially do for them.

Joey Giangola: Well, I'll help you out. I think the international tour is probably the better choice, having been somebody that didn't do that and was insurance most of the time, I think you're all right. I think you'll catch up just fine.

Rod Powell: Right.

Joey Giangola: I want to know. So then obviously, like you said, maybe making up for lost time, where do you want to get to next? What's the next journey and what's the next step for you personally in the industry? What are you looking to try and do? What are you looking to try to go and push things beyond?

Rod Powell: Ultimately, I want to make sure that as many people as possible have access to education about the industry and financial education as well as opportunity to become stakeholders in the industry, financial opportunities. My legacy, I believe, will be one of giving, just adding value wherever I can. That can be as an agency owner, which I am. I'm a principal of Encore Insurance Group in Chesterfield, Virginia. We're a full service agency. So it can either be a client that we're servicing or it can be helping someone else enter the space. Because even if someone is my client, it's not uncommon for me to say, "Hey, look, I'm happy to help you with your coverage. I'm happy to help you with asset protection, with wealth accumulation, if you want to talk about legacy building and things of that nature as well. But let me also show you what it would look like if you were to actually come and join this business and be in this industry too."

Rod Powell: I want to give you the exposure or the opportunity that I had, but could have very easily been passed over as well. It's so easy to make a mention. You never know if someone is waiting for that, going back to your earlier question about transitions, you never know if someone is waiting for the opportunity to hear about a transition. You can only make decisions based on the information that you have. I didn't know this existed. I didn't know it existed. Just to think if I didn't go to that interview and listen to the state manager of the organization that I started with. I just think if I didn't go to that interview and I didn't hear him tell me about supplemental health insurance at that particular time, I didn't know. What if I didn't know? I never would've known. I never would've even known.

Rod Powell: For me, that legacy is to make sure that people know this industry exists and know that there are opportunities that exist. Even on the diversity side, just creating a more inclusive environment so that we see more of our society reflected in the industry. There's not a balanced and equitable amount of representation of all different kinds of people in this space, and I want to be a part of helping to create that and support that wherever I can as well.

Joey Giangola: Just from your experience, how do you help shrink that gap, solve that problem a little bit? What's something that you have seen actually get a little at traction to, like you said, introduce this industry, this conversation to more people? Is there anything that you have seen have tangible results in just your short time?

Rod Powell: I think social media has been very powerful in that regard. I think the mark that social media is missing right now because there's a lot of conversations about asset protection, about wealth accumulation. Generational wealth is a hot topic. Financial literacy is a hot topic, but I think a lot of the conversations revolve around an agent or broker to client conversation versus a broker to candidate conversation. I think the conversations have to shift to broker to candidate conversation. Hey, look, I can help you. Whatever you want to do from a client standpoint, I can help you with that. That's fine, but are you open to opportunities as well? Because if you are, here's something that you can grab and hold onto, not only from a professional development standpoint, but it's also going to empower you with knowledge and information that you can not only use to better your own situation, but you could also use that to help somebody else as well.

Rod Powell: I think it's important because it's not like there's that many licensed people in the country. We're an underpopulated industry just as it is, and you see the talent starting to die out. I think it's platforms like this. Once again, platforms like mine. Power Producers with Dave Carothers, that's a great one. What Ned Schelt does with his benefits conversations, I think those are the outlets that really can give individuals a peek into what's happening here and also what the opportunities could mean. It's one thing to get the information, but to know what you can build and what you can accomplish. I think it's a compelling story. We're not flashy in this industry. It's not like we're going around showing our cars and houses and things like that. When you hear some of the personal experiences, it at least is an incentive to explore and have a conversation to learn more about what it's all about.

Joey Giangola: I don't know if I've ever asked anybody this question before, but what would your pitch be, what would your summary be of agency ownership? Looking back on your time of getting into, like you said, you started somewhere else and now you've got your own full service place. What does that look like to somebody? What does that mean? What advice would you give to somebody that is looking to maybe follow a similar path and what does it take and what does it sound like from somebody who's made it?

Rod Powell: Find your network. Find your support systems first, because no man is an island. We've heard that saying, and no one can do it alone. So for us, I got a shout out all the time, I got to shout out [inaudible 00:16:55] with the Black Friday Network, who has really helped us as. My partner and I, when we were starting to develop the agency structure, she was very influential in that because she's a part of our network and we have close relationships with her. Her relationships ended up becoming our relationships. So I would say make sure that you're leveraging your network, leveraging people around you, asking a lot of questions. I asked other agency owners, other brokerages about their experiences, the things that they're using. Explore the trade associations, so take advantage of, well, NABIP now, NABIP, Big "I", Nayya, which is our trade organization for African-American professionals.

Rod Powell: Take advantage of all of those resources so that you can know what you're stepping into. What I've found is that people are so apt to help you if you just ask questions and ask for help. Shoot, when you start working with carriers, the carriers will help you too. So they'll give you the information. There truly is no such thing as a stupid question, ask every question that you need to know the answer to. Do that first. Plan it out first, and then start to move on that plan with the understanding that it's not going to go as you plan.

Joey Giangola: All right, Rod, I got three more questions for you, sir.

Rod Powell: Sure.

Joey Giangola: The first one is, what's one thing you hope you never forget?

Rod Powell: Man, I hope I never forget the feeling of experiencing my children being born. Just from a life standpoint, fatherhood is one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had the pleasure, opportunity, and honor to have. I consider it a gift, just thankful for it.

Joey Giangola: Now, on the other side of that, Rod, what's one thing you still have yet to learn?

Rod Powell: Everything. If there's one thing that I know, I know I don't know anything. Every day I'm asking for a lesson. I don't ask for things. In my prayers and my meditations, I'm not asking for things. I'm asking for opportunities to be a better thinker. What I want to know is, I want to know how to ask the right questions to get to where I want to go.

Joey Giangola: All right, Rod, last question to you, sir. If I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to reshape, change, alter, speed up, really any part of insurance, what's that thing? Where is it going and what's it doing?

Rod Powell: Oh, shoot, for insurance it's going directly to underwriting. Everybody's guaranteed issue. Let's go. Within excessive reason. But listen, in all seriousness, there are some definite overhauls that need to be done from the underwriting standpoint. There's some old data analytics that I think are still being applied that have been systemically discriminatory. A lot of the work that I do on the advocacy side is really trying to address those types of barriers and get those torn down, so definitely underwriting would be a focus. I love underwriters, by the way, out there. I got in trouble for talking about underwriters before. So underwriters, I love y'all, but we got to evolve.

Joey Giangola: Rod, this has been fantastic, sir. I'm going to leave it right there.

Rod Powell: Thank you, man. I appreciate you, Joey. Thank you again.