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An Hour a Day

Knowledge is power, but do you know the difference between information and knowledge?

By David F. Woods, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, NAIFA CEO

One extra hour of study per day will make you an expert in your field in five years.

—Earl Nightingale

If Earl Nightingale said it, it’s good enough for me. In this frenetic 21st century world, if ever knowledge was power, it’s now.

Anyone with a computer can access and get more information about any subject than he can possibly use or assimilate. But information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge means understanding the implications, relationships and hierarchy of information. Not all information is relevant, and information that is important in one circumstance may be worthless in another. Knowledge is understanding what information is needed when and what to do with it.

It took knowledge to use the right information in the right way at the right time.

Most of us spend our days running from here to there, from this appointment to that luncheon, from this meeting to that conference, from this soccer game to that dinner. And we are constantly bombarded with information—from the important to the mundane—which we then frantically try to stuff into our heads or PalmPilots, seldom knowing what it all means or what to do with it. For that we need knowledge.

Which brings me to my point. Only quiet study and reflection each day can bring the necessary knowledge of what the jumble of information means and how to apply it. Fortunately, in our business there are many opportunities to study and gain the power that knowledge brings.

NAIFA is committed to your professional development through education. Recently a subcommittee of the Member Benefits Committee met for an intensive weekend of creative thinking about what more we can do to provide you with meaningful educational opportunities. The results exceeded our expectations, and you will be hearing more about this in the near future.

I began my insurance career in an entry-level home-office job. My boss told me to become a CLU, so I did and gained a lot of information. A few years later I became an agent and was sure I would be an instant success. What I discovered, of course, was that information didn’t make sales. It took knowledge to use the right information in the right way at the right time. And gaining that knowledge took the study of people and sales skills as well as the practical application of all that information that I had crammed in my head. Additional study over the years made me an expert in one aspect of our business, an aspect that was fun and profitable.

This industry provides many opportunities for gaining both information and knowledge. NAIFA’s local associations are a very convenient source of outstanding educational opportunities. Our Programs in a Box series is but one example of the expertise available only through NAIFA membership.

Another priceless industry resource is The American College. Through its LUTC, CLU, ChFC, CFP and MSFS programs, the possibilities for study—an hour a day—are endless. The Association of Health Insurance Advisors, the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, GAMA International, the Million Dollar Round Table and the Society of Financial Service Professionals provide additional opportunities.

One hour a day. Try it. It’s powerful.

David Woods is CEO of NAIFA and president of the LIFE Foundation. Previously a MassMutual agent for 30 years, he has been an MDRT member since 1970. He was NALU president in 1986-87.


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