Chris Castanes is an award winning insurance agent, speaker and author of “You're Going To Be Great At This!”. As president of Surf Financial Brokers since 2011, he helps his clients with life and disability, and long term insurance. He is originally from Fayetteville, NC and began his career in sales and marketing after graduating from North Carolina State University in 1985. He resides in North Myrtle Beach, SC with his wife and daughter.
- CEO Hack: Get into a rhythm and schedule everything. I also love Coffee.
- CEO Nugget: Believe in yourself, and learn how to sell yourself. Be nice and polite to people
- CEO Defined: Help others and my team to grow to and earn a living too
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show show today. I have Chris co stanis of Sir financial brokers. Chris, it's awesome to have you on the show.
Chris Castanes 0:39
Thanks for having me.
Gresham Harkless 0:40
No problem. Super excited to have you on and wanted to introduce you to people that haven't heard about all the awesome things that you're doing. And Chris is an award winning insurance agent, speaker and author of you're going to be great at this. As President of Sir financial workers since 2011. He helps his clients with life and disability and long term insurance. He's originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina and began his career in sales and marketing after graduating from North Carolina State University in 1985. He resides in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with his wife and his daughter, Chris, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community?
Chris Castanes 1:14
Yes, I am.
Gresham Harkless 1:16
Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more on how you guys started. Could you take us through what I call your SEO story, and we'll let you get started with awesome. So
Chris Castanes 1:27
originally, I got started selling insurance right after I got out of college in 1985. And I was working door to door insurance sales working out in the very rural areas of North Carolina. And I had hated every bit of it. Because it wasn't what we thought we were getting into you know, when you when they hire you, they tell you one thing and it's not what it is. So I got out of insurance. I also went into retail and sold office supplies and a few other things and about 2000 I got back into insurance sales again. And I just kind of bopped around went from one company to another just learning how they were all doing things and work for some some big name companies and, and then about 2009 a couple of guys and I started what eventually became sir financial brokers and I just took it over in 2011. They, they dropped out of the business. And so I've I've had it ever since. And that's what a what I've been doing. And then a few years ago, I had a bucket list item. I wanted to write a book and I wrote my book and and a friend of mine said, You know you've been going to Toastmasters for three or four years, why don't you do some speaking, based off of the book? And I thought, well, that kind of made sense. I didn't think of that. So sometimes people have to point things out for you that are obvious. So yeah, so that's where I am right now is I'm at promote my book a little bit I do it well, before the pandemic, I was speaking a little bit and promoting the book and promote my insurance practice. And that's where I am right now.
Gresham Harkless 3:09
Nice, absolutely love that is so important to have really great friends and a circle around you. Because sometimes we all miss things there sometimes right in front of us, and especially if there are gifts and you're doing so well and speaking why not marry those two things? So definitely. Great to have that. That circle around you. So I know you touched a little bit on you know what you're doing with sir financial brokers? Can you tell us a little bit more about that, and how exactly you serve the clients you work with? And also what we can hear about and read about in your book.
Chris Castanes 3:35
Yeah, so the book is about sales. It was it's more or less designed to be the book that I wish I had had given to me when I got into sales. And so it's it's not your typical motivational book. It's it's a it's a little pG 13 in some parts because I tell some true stories and cleaned up most of the language and I had actually had one lady read it and and I guess she got about two I don't know maybe about a third of the way through it and texted me to let me know that it was a little too profane for her. So I thought that was quite funny. But everybody else is reading as well. This is exactly the way you talk and and and it sounds like I'm just talking to you. So I was a little impressed with that with my with the way people were were receiving it. And like I said the book is about sales and sales techniques and just if the landmines that we have in front of us when we're first getting into the business, so I try to make it as generic as possible as far as industry specifics. But there's a lot of stories in there actual things that happened to me fell on the other side of the the coin here is my insurance practice and we do life insurance, disability, you know Long Term Care those kinds of products. And what I've done is we've put a a link on our website where people can actually set up their own appointments, you know, we're using the cat calendly app, and they can just book their own appointments. And that makes it a lot easier if we were really about not doing any kind of high pressure sales. If someone says, Hey, I just want to, you know, they know what they want, they can let us know, well, we'll fix them up. And just, I'm really not into high pressure at all, I do what we call good pressure, which is, you know, if I think that, you might need just a little bit more insurance than what you think you need, we'll discuss it. And let it just let them know why i think that you know, that, hey, you know, what, you're married, you got a wife and two kids, I don't think 100,000 is going to cover everything, let's let's bump it up a little bit, you know, that that's good pressure instead of high pressure. So that's where we come from on that. And I have a couple of agents that I work with, and they they helped me out. And, and some of them are licensed in other states, that's always one of the battles we fight is, when you have internet leads coming through, and you're somebody in Texas, we may not be licensed in Texas, so we have to set that, you know, figure out how to work around that sometimes. So, other than that, that's, that's where I am with my business in my, in my book,
Gresham Harkless 6:17
nice, I definitely appreciate that yet, it's so important to kind of be able to, like we kind of talked about before to have those people around you. And like you mentioned, especially in the insurance world to make sure if you aren't the person that is necessarily kind of licensed in that state, you need to have those partners or people you can lean on and and I've worked with that you can refer people to so creating that network is of great importance. And I love the PG 13 label just in case anybody's listening to this to make sure that they get all the I think that probably the real world of what we're experiencing what we see when you go out and do sales, and be able to turn that into being successful.
Chris Castanes 6:51
Right? It's not always, you know, sunshine and rainbows.
Gresham Harkless 6:53
Exactly. There you go. Absolutely. So I wanted to ask you for what I called now your secret sauce. And this could be for you personally, or your business or a combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
Chris Castanes 7:09
I really hope that it's my sense of humor. One of the things we do to really promote the book and the and the businesses I've learned how to make my own means. And it's not necessarily a good thing or not. But if you get on like on a if you follow me on Instagram or my Facebook pages, we have one that's one page for the SIR financial brokers and one for the book and one for the book actually has a lot of the means we make. And they're just making fun of the whole sales process and clients who stand you up for appointments and you know, just all the frustrations just bring in a sense of humor to it all. And so that that's what I hope is, you know, people think of it Okay, you know, I had a teacher, when I was at NC State, who was an English teacher, and we had to write a paper each week in class. And she told me one time she said, you know, the things that I really remember, and I appreciate our good funny story and a little humorous humor injected into a paper. And so I would try to try to do that. And it's something that always kind of stuck with me, people, people appreciate that a little bit. And like, especially when you're selling life insurance, you know, it's such a serious subject, and you're sitting there talking about dying, and, you know, your family being destitute and all this. And if you can throw a little humor in there, it always helps. So what, like I might show somebody a $10,000 policy and a $15,000 policy. And I'll say, well, this one is for your funeral. And this, this other one for $15,000 will cover an open bar. And you know, just anything to kind of lighten the mood. I
Gresham Harkless 8:53
absolutely love that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an apple book or a habit that you have or something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Chris Castanes 9:05
Gresham Harkless 9:08
that's the secret
Chris Castanes 9:11
that's the big part now you know, it's just it's just getting into a rhythm trying to schedule everything. I tried to schedule everything down onto a Google Calendar if I can down to the minute you know if i if i know that i'm having to spend an hour dialing the phone let's put that in the schedule. Let's let's put it in there and and commit to that.
Gresham Harkless 9:33
Let me ask you this do you feel um, I was gonna ask you for what I call a CEO nugget and that's kind of like a word of wisdom or piece of advice. Something you might even tell your younger business self Do you feel like understanding the synergies between sales and marketing has to do with what you would call your CEO nugget?
Chris Castanes 9:49
Yeah, I mean, you know, the number one thing when it comes to sales is you have to realize that you're you're selling yourself. You're not just selling a product people don't buy from companies, you know, I used to work for a real big life insurance company, I don't know if I'm supposed to say their name or anything. But, um, they were, you know, it was always, when we would have meetings, it was, it was a big rah rah session, and we were the best. And we were supposed to, you know, it was always in, you know, drilled into our little heads that we were the best of the best. And that was great. But then you go to some, somebody's house, and they would have an insurance policy already with a smaller company that might not be as financially strong. And, you know, and I asked him, What, what made you buy, you know, why did you decide to buy with that company, and it was never been the name of the company, or the strength of the company, it was always, you know, well, the lady came down, and she spent some time with me, and she took her time, and she didn't rush me. And she was very nice. And, and that's when I realized that people buy from people they don't buy from companies. And so, you know, the, the biggest nugget, I can tell people, what you've got to learn how to sell yourself. And, and, you know, just make yourself available, be nice, don't be mean and rude. If you're having a bad day, that's, that's something that you need to leave in the car, when you go into someone's home, or if you're talking to him on the phone, you know, just just be nice to people and, and they'll want to do business with you, they're going to want to do because, trust me, there's plenty of other people out there that are just horrible, and they don't want to deal with them. And it doesn't take a whole lot of effort to, to, you know, fight your way to the top sometimes and just be polite and say thank you. And yes, and yes, ma'am, and send somebody a thank you card every now and then or wish them happy birthday. And, and, you know, it's just, it's just a matter of being a good, decent person and saying, Look, I don't want to, you know, I'm not trying to screw you over here, let me Let's, you know, let's just see what we can do to help you. And when you do that you're selling yourself, and it doesn't matter if you're selling vacuum cleaners, or insurance or podcast or whatever you're doing, it's just a matter of selling yourself first, and people will buy the product that you have. And that's what I tell people that all the time when I'm given level talks, and, you know, whatever I'm doing is just something, it's probably the most important thing out there, and it carries over into everything else in your life to, you know, if you're, you know, one of the ultimate ways of selling is is dating, you know, or if you're trying to get a job, you're selling yourself. So that's, you know, that's it's all about selling yourself and trying to convince other people to, you know, like you and buy from you, because people buy from people that they like and trust, if they don't like you, and they don't trust you, they're not gonna buy from. And that's what the bottom line always is.
Gresham Harkless 12:49
Now, when it asks you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, and we're all gonna have different, quote, unquote, CEOs on the show, so Chris, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Chris Castanes 12:58
Well, for me, it's just a matter of, you know, I'm, I'm kind of the CEO of myself. And I have, like I said, I have a handful of agents under me, but they're all self employed as well. And, and I don't really have minimum sales requirements or anything with these people. So my goal is just to help them help them make their own money because they, they sell something, I get a little, I get a little override, but it's not anything huge. It's just a matter of helping them and it gives me something to do in the sense that I get to help do something a little different, sometimes.
Gresham Harkless 13:37
truly appreciate that perspective. In that definition, I appreciate your time, even more, what I wanted to do is pass the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can, you know, interview, get a copy of the book and find out about all the awesome things you're working on.
Chris Castanes 13:51
Well, the books on Amazon, and it's a it's called, you're going to be great at this and you can just look it up under my name, if you can figure out how to spell my name. And, and because they're there and I have a blog, we actually have chrisKiss Stannis calm as well. And there's a lot of signup sheet on there. Somebody wants to book me to speak or whatever, I'll do that. And hopefully, once the pandemic is gone, we can get all that back back to normal. And then, you know, I'm on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, at Sica. Stannis. I'm just trying to think of all of them. There's just too many little social media places. But yeah, I mean, I'm, I just try to make myself available. I'm always like at love the network. I'm actually trying to figure out if I want to write the next book on networking, or just make that part of the book. I'm not sure so we're still trying. If anybody has any, any suggestions, I'm open. We're going to a friend of mine is always telling me he says networking is not working because every time he sees me post a picture at a networking group I'm eating food so because you're not networking that's not working and I was thinking that would be a good title for I was
Gresham Harkless 15:13
about to say that
Chris Castanes 15:16
with a picture of me with a muffin in my mouth
Gresham Harkless 15:20
there yeah that'll definitely be awesome and to make it easier for everybody will have the links and information in the show notes so they can find to you and all the different social media sites but yeah I love you know the light hearted Spirit because I think you know, especially during times like this there's a lot of frustration stress and so many things into it to have that light hearted approach helps out obviously, as you mentioned in life insurance but in so many different other aspects so I appreciate you for doing that and reminding us of it and
Chris Castanes 15:44
that was out and I did want to mention that that I did you know before the pandemic we was actually considering doing a lot of stuff online and and doing phones you know, trying to get more stuff over the phone and it was kind of funny that it happened that way and and now everybody is you know we aren't doing phone appointments it just sped it up for us a little bit but yeah, it's a go to Sir financial brokers calm and you can see the little tab on there says book your own appointment and the calendars there you can see what's available and and we will be happy to talk with you.
Gresham Harkless 16:17
Also as well. So yeah, we'll have that have that in the show notes as well too. But thank you so much, Chris and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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