EP 83 – When One Door Closes, One More Amazing Door Opens

Hey hey! Welcome back to The Bullpen Sessions. Normally on Tuesday, I would be sitting down and interviewing abundant thinkers who are doing really well in life. We deconstruct the formulas that they have used to find success in business and in life. But today’s session is going to be a little different!

As we wrap up the tumultuous year that 2020 has been, I wanted to write to you one-on-one about this year. It’s been hard for everyone. From COVID-19 to political unrest, 2020 has ruined plans, jeopardized health, and brought huge levels of anxiety. But instead of dismissing this year altogether, I think there’s a lesson to be gained.

When one door closes, another amazing door opens. Today, we’re talking about how missed opportunities bring growth and open new doors. Back in February, you may have had all these lofty goals, but then the COVID pandemic struck, throwing all our lives into a spin. 

The year 2020 has been hard on many and at the same time it has been a boon for some, and I need you guys to really believe that with the new year there is going to be an equal or a much more amazing door opening up for you. So as 2021 begins, I want you all to understand and believe that this is going to be an amazing year for you, you just have to look at it with that optimism and that perspective. 

My inspiration for this Bullpen Sessions was a conversation I had with a former colleague. This conversation was so influential to me and my girlfriend Amy, and so today, I’m going to share the same wisdom with you all! Let’s get started.

An Unexpected Phone Call

It begins with an unexpected call from a former colleague, which initially I did not answer, thinking that it was probably a call to catch up and to have a random conversation. I figured I would call him back later. But when he called me for a third time that afternoon, it seemed urgent, so I decided to answer it even though we hadn’t spoken in a long time. After the usual exchange of greetings, my friend asked for advice.

He had gone through a tragic event recently and had lost a loved one — and to everyone out there who has lost someone close (especially in a year like 2020), I completely empathize with you. Due to this tragic event, my friend was analyzing his life by taking a step back and looking at where he was headed next. With the loss of a loved one, someone who was a big part of his future, he could see two options in front of him —

  • Option #1: He could choose to do nothing, and just continue doing what he was already doing in life. Or…
  • Option #2: He could choose to close that chapter in his life, and allow an equally good or an even better opportunity to present itself.

And as we dove deeper into the conversation, it became very apparent to me that he had chosen the latter and knew that it was now time for a major shift. He also spoke to me about a new opportunity in his career, which required a change in job and a possible change in location. 

Considering what he had gone through, I told him that it was a sign that a particular chapter in life was ending. And I advised him to go ahead and make the move. It was not just a change in his job or his location, but a full move that was bigger than the career itself. It was time to close a door and to open a new one.

I told him that he had a clean slate now, a new page that was blank, and he had the opportunity to draw and to create whatever the heck that he wanted to. And with that realization, came a sense of freedom. The universe was telling him right then to take up this job and to relocate. And I assured him that a year or two from now he would look back, and he would realize that it was the best decision he ever made in that scenario. As 2020 was nearing its end, he needed to understand that the next year would be a hell of a lot better and that he had the perfect opportunity to make a change.

And I would like to say the same to you all! You have the choice to keep doing the same thing that you did in the past year, which may mean staying in a rut. You can begin 2021 in the same rut, with the same mindset, without any momentum. Or, you can start with a clean page, with a fresh outlook, with a renewed mindset, focus on the moment, and create a life of fulfillment with the smallest change.

What Change Do You Need to Make in 2021?

The change can be as subtle as a change in attitude, or it can be as drastic as a change in your job or location. Whatever it may be, you just need to make that change! Close the doors of 2020 and let go of the past. 

Now, how does this apply to Amy and my life? Amy and I always had the goal of moving out to Colorado, even before we met each other in 2011. Little did we know that we would fall in love and share the same aspiration of living permanently in Colorado someday! 

Now, fast forward to 2014. Do you know what hit us the most when we both realized that this could actually become a reality? It was the fact that we were both at a stage in life where it was time to let one chapter close, allowing a more beautiful and amazing chapter to open. 

We had both spent our entire lives in Wisconsin, surrounded by the same people all our lives. We both love our family and friends, but we had both realized that it was time to start on a blank slate. So, in May 2014, we took the opportunity and made the shift. 

And let me tell you friends, after six years of having moved to Colorado, we were both grateful for having taken the best decision that we possibly could have. This move had allowed us to turn the page, break free from our comfort zones, and live our dreams. 

If I look at where I am today, I am starting a coaching business, building a brand. All this would never have happened had we not moved to Colorado. And looking at Amy, she would never have evolved into the person that she is today. We had closed a door and had allowed an equally and more impressive door to open up for us.

What change do you need to make in 2021? It may just be a small change in your attitude or it may be a shift in your career. Take some time today to think about what things you want to change and how you need to change them.

The Mission of the Bullpen Sessions in 2021

So, how does this apply to the Bullpen Sessions? I’m glad you asked! I have released a total of 83 episodes and interviewed so many abundant thinkers and thought leaders. Even before I had the idea to start this podcast, I always knew that I had to make an impact.

I don’t use this podcast to drive my business, honestly. I use it to create a legacy. I use it to create an impact on my audience, a bigger impact that is beyond me, and what my coaching business does. 

The point of having this podcast is to inspire athletes starting out in high school or college, professional and ex-professional athletes, and business executives and sales professionals. It is for people who are transitioning into the second phase of their lives. Remember — when one door closes, another door presents itself to be opened by you! 

I am optimistic about where this podcast is heading in 2021, and I am focusing on bringing more current and former pro athletes and sports professionals from all backgrounds. My goal is to talk to them about their attitude, about what they did to play or work at the highest levels, and how they have utilized their mindset and perception to succeed in a new phase in life. 

I am joyful to share that going into 2021, I have a great line-up of speakers representing different sports like NASCAR, rodeo, baseball, football, basketball, etc. And I promise you that it is going to be FUN, and we are going to have some amazing conversations. I can’t wait to bring you a whole new list of episodes and interesting topics. 

Why You Should Listen to This Episode Right Now…

Folks, ask yourself again what you need to change in 2021. Is it a change in your attitude,  your job, a relationship, or a shift in your entire career that you need? Whatever that change is, let it empower you to start 2021 off with a clean slate. This is your opportunity to write a fresh story and begin leading a life of fulfillment.

I am so grateful to you all for taking the time to read this Friday Bullpen Sessions post! Don’t forget to listen to the episode as well. And if you are enjoying these episodes and finding them useful,  please go over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe, and give me a five-star rating — I’d be really thankful. Also, share this episode with a family member, friend, or coworker who needs to hear it, and tag me on Instagram, @andy_neary, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways!

Before I go, I want to give you two special offers: First, I want to invite you to join my Complete Game Mastermind. This is my coaching program, and it starts in just a few days! Masterminds are a great way to get coaching and put yourself in rooms with other entrepreneurs just like you. You can start building your community and gathering people around you who will support you and your growth.

You can also join my FREE text community! Just text the word “Mindset” to 414-622-1462, and I’ll give you access to a TON of free weekly coaching. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and join the Complete Game Mastermind, this text community is a great way to see if my coaching might be right for you.

I’m wishing you and your family a very happy, safe, and fulfilling new year! I will be getting back to you all with a new podcast episode in a couple of weeks, and we’ll be ready to start the new year off with a BANG!

Friends, when clarity and confidence collide, action happens. Go make it happen today!

Andy Neary Signature


EP 82 – Let Go of Your Damn Expectations

Hey hey! Welcome back to The Bullpen Sessions! In today’s post, I am going to get vulnerable and share a really big problem with you. This problem has plagued my business career for far too long — up until recently when I made a big change and everything shifted for me. 

What was that problem, you ask? Well, I desired to control the outcome. I desired to have all these big expectations, which if not met, made me feel like a failure. As a result, I continued leading a life of unfulfillment because I was not meeting my own expectations, and I was just trying to control every single outcome in my life. 

Today, I am going to explain why we can’t have expectations anymore. If 2020 has taught us something, it’s this, right? Every outcome that we wanted to achieve last year probably got altered in a way, didn’t it? It probably got twisted, turned, or even eliminated altogether. At first, that can feel really defeating, but if we change our mindset, we can learn to embrace the unknown and grow as a result. So, sit tight while I help you all in striking out the limiting beliefs in your life. 

Why Focusing on Habits Helped Me Succeed in Baseball

I look back at the 20 years that I have been in the business world, and I realize now that for so many of those years, I have been troubled by the desire to control the outcome. I have been plagued by having all these expectations, and if they were not met, I was instantly a failure. This mindset led me to a business career of unhappiness, stress, and undue pressure.

Now, here’s something interesting — back when I was playing professional baseball, I never used to focus on the outcome or on anyone’s expectations. And do you know what the main reason for my success was? I just really got good at mastering my daily habits, and that is what ultimately led to my success. I was able to play professional baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers because I mastered those daily habits.

Let me share what I mean — when I was playing college ball at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, we had to crank up our winter practices after coming back from the winter break. We practiced from 10:00 PM to midnight every evening until the season started, and we showed up at practice when most people were going to bed. We were laser-focussed. We’d stretch out, get warm, play a little long toss, and then it was two hours of boredom — doing the same thing day after day to get really good on the field. That was all I focussed on and cared about. I wanted to get really good at mastering my mechanics and locating my pitches. 

Before we played Oklahoma State or any other team, I never thought to myself, “We better win that game.” Never did I expect that all this work and practice would lead to a victory on the mound. I just went to practice and put in the daily grind night after night, concentrating on my mechanics and my pitches, getting into the bullpen sessions, and getting one-on-one time with my pitching coach. 

In addition to perfecting those daily skills, I would hit the weight room 24/7. And I still do this at age 43! It’s just what I do now, and it is a part of me —it was the same way at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

By mastering those mechanics and habits, exercising,  taking care of my body, I did everything that I needed to do to be the best pitcher I could be. 

Again, not once during that process did I think that I must sign that free-agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, or else my whole baseball career would be a failure. It just happened naturally because I had become damn good at pitching and I mastered daily habits. 

Master Your Habits and Enjoy the Process

Unfortunately, that mindset changed when I moved to the business world. I wanted to control the outcome — I had to win each sale, otherwise, I would be a failure. And when I look back at my early sales career, it just blows me away by how much pressure I put on myself. If I didn’t win a sale, I would be just devastated for days. And this mindset made me completely drift away from the entire process — the process of practicing my proposals and my pitch and picking up the phone and calling prospects. I just didn’t like that stuff, and so I started avoiding it. I just wanted to win. I had the expectation that I have to sell $200,000 worth of insurance a year, otherwise, I flat-out failed. 

Are you struggling because you too have that expectation to win every sales opportunity that you have? Are you forgetting that it requires a hell of lot of boring practice off-the-field for you to perfect that proposal? Even if you’re not in sales, this same question applies to you. In whatever your line of work is, are you putting pressure on yourself to be perfect without practicing?

Many athletes are so successful in the business world, especially in sales because they are able to apply their on-field skills into their sales career. And that is what elevates them above everyone else! Unfortunately, I did not do this at the start. 

I completely forgot to apply my baseball mindset to the business world. I put pressure on every outcome, on every expectation, and it just did not work. It led to a lot of frustration, a lot of anxiety and losses, and then a lot of devastation after those losses.

So I want to ask you again, “Are you putting too much pressure on getting the outcome that you are trying to achieve?” I am here to tell you to just let go of that expectation. Just focus more on the daily habits that you need to refine. And if you end up mastering those habits, then the outcome is just a by-product. You don’t need to have that expectation — it is just going to happen for you! 

And as you sit down to start planning out your goals for 2021, I want you to create lofty goals — big ones that stretch things and make you uncomfortable. And when you have those goals written on a piece of paper, I want you to toss it into the garbage bin and forget about the goal. Just focus your energy on what you need to do every day which will lead to that goal becoming a by-product. You don’t need to have that expectation that if you do not achieve that goal then you are a failure. Nope! Just get good at mastering habits, and everything else will fall in place. 

When you focus on mastering your habits in the new year, you will be blown away by where you are in the next year, or in the next two years, or in the next five years! The reason my coaching business has succeeded in the first 18 months of its life is because I don’t care about hitting a certain revenue goal or about hitting a certain number of clients.  I just wake up every day, make sure I do the right things, work on the right priorities, master the right habits, and bring as much value as I can. Because I know if I do that, the outcome or the result will take care of itself.

Why You Should Listen to This Episode Right Now…

As 2021 begins, make this new year about letting go of expectations and stop focusing on the outcome. Make it the year of mastering your daily habits. Because if you do that and create that clarity and that confidence, you know what happens? Massive action happens. So go make it happen today.  

Thank you for taking out the time to read this Bullpen Sessions post, and do listen to the podcast episode as well! If you are enjoying these episodes, then please do me a favor and go over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe, and leave me a 5-star rating. And if you feel that any of your friends, family, colleagues, or business associates would benefit from listening to these episodes, then please share The Bullpen Sessions with them! I would be so grateful! And don’t forget to tag me, @andy_neary, on Instagram with your screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaway.

Before I go, I want to give you two special offers: First, I want to invite you to join my Complete Game Mastermind. This is my coaching program, and it starts in just a few days! Masterminds are a great way to get coaching and put yourself in rooms with other entrepreneurs just like you. You can start building your community and gathering people around you who will support you and your growth.

You can also join my FREE text community! Just text the word “Mindset” to 414-622-1462, and I’ll give you access to a TON of free weekly coaching. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and join the Complete Game Mastermind, this text community is a great way to see if my coaching might be right for you.

Friends, I wish you nothing but the best for a safe and healthy new year, and I hope that you get to spend time with your friends and family! And remember, 2020 has taught us one important thing — we must let go of our desire to control the outcome. We have to let go of those expectations right now! But don’t let go of the habits that create the outcome that you want.

Andy Neary Signature


EP 81 – Johnny Elsasser: The Art of Masculinity

Let’s face it: We are in the middle of a male mental health crisis. Many men are being asked to put their emotions, struggles, or mental battles on the back burner, and as a result, they don’t know how to process their experiences correctly. Men are struggling with limiting beliefs that need to be changed.

But there’s good news: my guest today is an expert in the art of masculinity. Keep on reading, because he has a lot of tidbits to help men everywhere overcome negative beliefs that we all battle today. We’ll talk about mindset, staying present, building the right foundation, and staying true to yourself. 

Friends, I’m so happy to have Johnny Elsasser on the Bullpen Sessions to share his story with you all. In this episode, we cover his journey from joining the military to starting The Art of Masculinity and helping men become their authentic selves. This conversation was so enlightening for me, and I believe it will be so for you too.

Let’s jump in!

Who Is Johnny Elsasser?

Johnny is the founder of The Art of Masculinity, a coaching program designed to help men own their masculinity in a way that honors them and not what was created for them. 

Johnny comes from Fresno, California, and has a storied military career. He served in the elite second battalion, 75th Ranger regiment. He had four combat tours between Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Johnny describes his old self as happy and incredibly present when he was a child, so much different from when he got back from the military. His depression led to a failed marriage, which fueled a more difficult life for him,

Through his podcast, The Art of Masculinity, he is able to help men find strength and develop masculinity, be consistent with who they are and what society expects them to be; even in the midst of great trials.

Joining the Military

Johnny grew up in a blue-collar family. His dad was a mechanic, and his mom was an accountant’s assistant. Neither of his parents graduated from college, so they were adamant that Johnny did, but he was always in the present moment —something he described as a blessing and a curse. He never thought about the future.

“At the end of high school, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to sign up for college. I didn’t know where to go get money from. I didn’t even know where I [was] going to go. And I stumbled into some army recruiter’s office. It was literally just because I was present, and I was not fearful of anything in the future that I didn’t really have anything holding me back. So I went in and talked to him. I was like, ‘This sounds cool.’  [I] thought I could get army Rangers in a contract.” – Johnny Elsasser

This was the beginning of Johnny’s journey. By being present, he impressed a drill Sergeant who loved his passion — and who basically ended up bringing the contract to him. 

“Fortunately, the way my story worked out — it was like the universe conspired for me. I was a stud; I was running two miles in like 11 minutes and 30 seconds. And I was maxing out pushups and pull-ups and everything else. The Sergeant loved me.” – Johnny Elsasser

Being in the army, Johnny was all about what’s happening in the moment. His journey wasn’t easy, but he kept the faith. 

Importance of Fundamentals

One of the most important lessons that Johnny wants to impart is the importance of putting in the work and really understanding the fundamentals. Whether you’re at work or on the sports field or the battlefield, you have to be present when learning the basics. 

“I’m a huge proponent — and this is how I also coach men — it’s all about the fundamentals and the foundation. People think that you can rise to the occasion, but you do not rise to an occasion. That’s false. No elite person rises to an occasion. What happens is when you’re down to your sympathetic nervous system and your consciousness kind of shuts off, you’d be basically resorting back to your foundations. So it’s the level of your foundations which makes you elite.” – Johnny Elsasser

What Being a True Leader Means

One of the things that I admire about Johnny is that he’s a true leader. He believes that being a leader is not about barking orders at your people. It’s about setting an example and doing the work. 

“The biggest thing, in my opinion, is that if you’re truly going to be a leader in any environment, you have to be willing to get back in the trenches with the people that you work with or that are looking up to you. I think a lot of times people, especially men, are inherently looked at as leaders, and if you’re just sitting there directing people, not wanting to get back down in the trenches and you just want to have some control and power, like you really need to evaluate who you are as a person.”  – Johnny Elsasser

He also explained how men have this misalignment with who they are and what they’re supposed to be doing as leaders. 

Johnny’s Transition Back to Real Life 

When you give your all to one thing, it tends to become a part of you. When Johnny left the military, he struggled with that transition because he felt like he lost a piece of his identity.  

“I came back home, … at the time I was engaged, and then I was married. And it took about six months — I’ll never forget — I was working behind a desk. And I was like, ‘Wait, who am I? What am I even showing up for? What am I pressing these buttons for? There’s nothing behind this. There’s no bigger purpose for this. So who am I showing up as today?’” – Johnny Elsasser

This cost Johnny his first marriage and was one of his biggest life lessons.  

“I woke up, and I hated the guy I saw in the mirror. And that was my realization — that I didn’t know who that was anymore, and I didn’t have a purpose.” – Johnny Elsasser

The Art of Masculinity 

Folks, Johnny has done incredible work with his coaching program. He discusses what it means to be a man today. It’s such an important topic today because I feel like so many men in this society are struggling with their emotions. 

“Guys are being told to embrace emotions, but they’re not being told how, and they’re not being told where these emotions can lead to or how to open up about them or to [whom.] And we’re all predisposed.” – Johnny Elsasser

Johnny and I further talked about how fundamentally we’re predisposed to external influences from a young age that tell us who we are as men, how we’re supposed to act, what is okay.

“Men nowadays are struggling because they’re told the way that they were conditioned …  is wrong, and there’s nobody that can say any of that is wrong. But what we can say is that society has evolved. And as men, we have to evolve as well to embrace our own authenticity, regardless of what that means.” – Johnny Elsasser

Johnny advises embracing your authenticity. To do that, you need to look back at who conditioned you at a young age, right? From ages zero to seven or eight, you’re in this mode of absorption. You’re manufacturing your blueprint for masculinity at that point from either a mentor or the media. 

I think Johnny is absolutely right. You need to have these down to three to five traits that will be your foundation. When you’re not thinking about anything else, you still show up as that guy every day. Then you’ll be authentic, right? You’re in alignment with who you are, and you’re not coming home regretting what you did that day. Maybe you can improve tomorrow, but you don’t come home beating yourself up, and that’s where the power in authenticity comes from.

Why You Should Listen to This Johnny Elsasser Podcast Episode Right Now…

This interview was empowering, and there’s more where that came from. To connect with Johnny, send him a DM on Instagram, and make sure to subscribe to his email list to be notified of events that he’s having. You’ll be glad you stayed in the loop!

Also, don’t forget to share this episode with someone who needs to hear it! Tag me, @andy_neary, and Johnny Elsasser, @johnny.elsasser, with a screenshot of your biggest takeaways on Instagram — I’d be extremely grateful! 

Here’s the last thing I want to leave with you: Remember that where confidence and clarity collide, action happens. Before you can be your best for anybody else, you have to work on being your best for yourself, and that’s not selfish. Don’t be afraid to be disliked. Be your authentic selves. Go make it happen today, everybody! 

Thanks so much for reading!

Andy Neary Signature


EP 80 – Steve Watson: The CFO’s Guide To Fixing The Healthcare Budget

Hey, hey! Welcome back to The Bullpen Sessions! Before we get started, I’ve got to say that today’s episode is not like any other. I had the pleasure of interviewing this really special guest and I was constantly taking down notes during our conversation. 

My guest today is the incredible Steve Watson. Steve comes from the health insurance industry. Now you may be wondering — Andy, I thought you were only interviewing athletes? Well, yes, I usually do and this is definitely not our podcast’s usual cup of tea. But with the election just taking place a month ago and the current health crisis still rolling, I thought that it was best and appropriate to have somebody enlighten us on this issue. As soon as I learned about Steve, I immediately wanted him here to share his expertise to all.

In this interview, we’ll take a look at his inspirational story, beginning with that budget-breaking million dollar claim that launched Steve’s journey of helping others. It was when he was on the top of his career as a CFO/CHRO, that he faced a dilemma that made him doubt himself and his capabilities. 

However, after finding a solution, Steve made it his mission to serve others by sharing what he knows. You will be amazed not just by his intelligence but also by his belief in the importance of accountability and commitment to a life of purpose.  

So, are you ready? All right, here we go!

Who Is Steve Watson? 

Despite his amazing contribution in breaking the rising costs of healthcare, Steve Watson does not consider himself or want to be called a genius. It was with his current position as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Human Resources Officer for Child and Family Support Services, Inc., that he encountered an opportunity to look and evaluate their company benefits more closely. This situation led him to the discovery and understanding of the health insurance market and eventually inspired him to build his innovative consulting company, Trendbreakers.

Steve’s mission is to lower the healthcare costs of 1,000 employers by helping them replicate what he did with his own company. Though seemingly simple, his tested strategies have successfully recreated the wheel without impacting employees and their benefits. His secret? Have a life committed to serving others.

Aside from being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Society for Human Resource Management-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), Steve also works as an outsourced benefits procurement manager and a resource speaker. His speaking engagements on the subject of revolutionizing health benefits for the good of everyone are highly sought and recommended by those who have heard of his expertise. 

Having him share his knowledge in The Bullpen Sessions was something I knew would make a positive ripple to the lives of our listeners, whether they find themselves in insurance or any other profession. I can’t wait for you to hear his wisdom, so let’s dive in.

Remembering the Claim That Started It All

The story of Steve’s journey to a life of purpose unfolds like a movie. Steve was the protagonist who had just taken over a new department, and he quickly found himself in unfamiliar waters.

 “My journey started ten years ago when I took over the HR department as well. And I was negotiating our first renewal, and the broker came by and gave us a 30% rate increase. Another 30%. I mean, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars as a CFO… But then there’s also hundreds of dollars for every employee. And as a CFO, for years, I’ve learned how to find value in all parts of my business, except for this line item of healthcare. Like it was just this black hole that I didn’t know how to manage. And didn’t know how. ”- Steve Watson

Hailed as one of the best in the business by his peers, I was surprised to hear such honesty coming from a man such as Steve Watson. He just freely exposed his vulnerability, self-doubt, and insecurity. I would have never thought that this kind of work could be something remotely alien to him. As a young man, Steve was always fascinated with numbers and possessed immense patience, but when this new issue hit him, he was at a loss of what to do. 

Yet, with his roots coming from a family of businessmen, it is also no surprise that Steve’s mindset was focused in addressing the problem full-force. After all, the 30% increase in health insurance costs was considered a slap to the company’s finances and to their customers.

Eventually, his consistent and persistent efforts paid off. The answer he was looking for fell on his lap when he needed it most.

And then I read Dave Chase’s book, the CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream. I highly recommend it to anybody negotiating these benefits to read that. My eyes started connecting with other CFOs. And then it really started solidifying that I had a chance to be a CFO for an insurance broker on a kind of a contract basis. And that really opened my eyes to kind of understand the ins and outs and everything. And so that’s probably when my eye-opening happened. Being my own CFO, working with an insurance broker, and reading the book solidified my realizations.”- Steve Watson

Initially, Steve felt like he was working on a puzzle that was too difficult to be solved. However in the end, he accepted that the increase demanded by the broker was bank-breaking and needed to be dealt with.

But it was the claim that started it all.

Delineating Healthcare from Health Insurance and Beyond

Armed with this new knowledge, Steve knew that he could now solve the problem he had for the past two years.

The time came to finally lift the curtain to see where the problems originated.

Gathering with other CFOs and decision-makers of various organizations, Steve and his team were able to pinpoint the first problem — there was a huge discrepancy between what companies pay for health insurance premiums and what employees actually consume for their healthcare.

So for example, I was meeting with a HR director here in Phoenix. They were paying $6 million a year in premiums, and they were going to get a 5% increase. I said, “Well, let’s stop. What were your claims last year?” And so they pushed back. They figured out it was $3.7 million. And at that moment, all of us needed to stop and be like, ‘Where’s all the money?’ We went to the doctor and the hospitals and stuff. Of course, there’s a little bit of money for admin for the insurance company, but $2.3 million left on the table, and …now they’re going to give me a 5% increase…” – Steve Watson

Even the seemingly innocent insurance broker did not escape Steve’s scrutiny. 

He learned that the increase in health insurance is usually calculated for misaligned incentives of brokers. When a company pays a 10% increase for claims, the broker gets a 10% increase too. Similarly, when there is a 10% reduction, the broker’s incentive gets reduced by the same percent. 

Steve knew something that everybody else didn’t know. He knew that the burden of paying these costs is shouldered by the company through its employees and their salaries. It is them who ultimately pay the price for additional costs they haven’t even heard of.

“And even if you’re not a CFO and you’re just an employee listening to this, it’s important for you to start understanding this because this is how your rates are being negotiated. And so if your CFO’s not doing it or not, HR professionals are doing it. But guess what? You’re the ones who are paying those higher rates.” – Steve Watson

Through these discoveries, Steve was able to delineate the difference between healthcare and health insurance. That gray cloud hovering over his head finally cleared. He could finally come up with ways on how to reconcile the needs of the company he loved and the people he worked with for many years. He thought his job was finally done.

But it was not yet over.

During a meeting with other CFO’s, something dawned on him that would change his life forever.

“I’m looking out my window, and there’s a hotel across the street. They have about 300 employees. I had about 400 employees. We’re not competitors at all. I’m like, why don’t we talk to each other? Like, why don’t we compare plans and ideas and different things, but there was no forum out there that I could find. And so I created a Facebook group and a LinkedIn group called ‘Trend Breakers. And the name comes from breaking the rising trend. I’m just sick of this. Everybody’s saying the trend of healthcare keeps going up, so we’re going to break it.” – Steve Watson

And break it he did.

Serving with a Higher Purpose

There are many people like Steve who are smart and authoritative in their fields. They have connections, they have skills, and they have talents that make them respected and considered as experts. 

But what makes Steve Watson stand out from the rest is he decided to take his knowledge and share it with others in order to serve with a higher purpose.

Steve could have chosen to stay within the four corners of his office and just go on with his usual life. But with that picture of the neighboring hotel fixed in his mind, Steve decided to use his voice and his status as an expert in the field to make a positive impact on so many organizations. He knows the ins and outs of the healthcare insurance system, and in order to bring balance into the field between brokers, employees, and clients, he decided to share his knowledge with the world. 

Soon after launching the Trendbreakers community, Steve was asked to speak a lot of different conventions and share his success stories with several organizations. Through his teachings, Steve has encouraged brokers to be better partners to their clients. He’s also used his voice to emphasize to his fellow CFOs the impact that sound financial decisions can have on a company! 

When was the last time that you authentically felt satisfaction from helping a client? Do you have their best interests at heart? 

Or maybe you’re a  business leader — when was the last time you sat down with your company policies and thought of revising it for the benefit of your employees and clients? It’s a shame, but some companies only care about their own personal benefit rather than the benefit of those they’re supposed to be serving. What if instead, we considered “compassion” and “service” as central parts of our work ethic and culture?

“And I think as a CFO, that’s something most are focused on, right? They’re focused on hiring the best talent. I’ve got to keep them happy. And part of that is providing a quality benefits package that can be used to attract talent.” – Steve Watson

Let’s face it — if you’re a business executive and you’re not offering your employees adequate pay and benefits, they’re not going to want to stay. Plus, you’re not going to attract real talent into your company. Steve knows that when you treat your company, employees, and clients with respect and try to add value to their life, you make a bigger impact and a better company as a result.

Why You Should Listen to This Steve Watson Podcast Episode Right Now…

Do you feel empowered now to make the best decisions for your business? After interviewing Steve, I sure did. 

As someone who coaches and advises people, I felt even more energized and inspired to share what I know about the mindsets that will give you success. And after all, that’s what The Bullpen Session is for. And on another level, my eyes have been opened to the ins and outs of the health insurance markets!

Guys, if ever you need someone to help you in your next renewal, do not hesitate to hire Steve’s expertise as an outsourced benefits procurement manager. He can definitely help you manage the broker/carrier relationships and bridge the gaps between the finance and HR departments. You can also book him for training and speaking engagements to revolutionize your current HR and employee benefits policies. 

Follow or send him a message on LinkedIn, or call him at 602-320-3099 to know how he can help your business. You can also email him at stevew@trendbreakers.com or check his company’s website to sign up for his services! And check out his podcast Trendbreakers where he talks about benefits, finance, and human resources with the sharpest minds in the business. 

And if you learned something from this episode, let me know! You can tag me on Instagram, @andy_neary, on Instagram with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways! 

But before I leave, I want to share my own takeaway: Remember that there is always a bigger purpose behind everything you do. Focus on how you can make an impact and keep your eyes on that mission. Steve Watson made it possible, and so can you. So keep crushin’ it, man!

Thanks for reading!

Andy Neary Signature


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