By Jeff Smith
Let me tell you bout a story bout a man named Ned.
A poor country boy who barely kept his family fed.
But then one day he got an insurance license.
And his name was not Ned, but Wayne.
Webster’s dictionary has several definitions for the word “hero”:
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
1 b : an illustrious warrior
1 c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
1 d : one who shows great courage
2 a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work
2 b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
Wayne would fit the bill as a 1c type of hero to me.
I met Wayne while I was in my early years of college, still not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. Wayne and I met each other when we were frequenting a certain drinking establishment for a period of time. I shared with him my dislike for the company that I was working for and his immediate response was to invite me to come work for him. He knew nothing about me and I knew nothing about him, other than my sensing that he was a good person.
Wayne owned an independent insurance agency that specialized in commercial insurance for businesses. During my time there, we became very close friends. As I learned about Wayne, I really found myself thinking about a much bigger picture than just working for a major corporation and climbing the corporate ladder. I was going to skip the ladder altogether.
When Wayne was young, he was living in a trailer with his girlfriend when he made his move and went into the insurance business. He slowly developed his list of clients and eventually struck out on his own and started his own agency, which is now the largest agency in the area. His good fortune and hard work have enabled him to live a wonderful lifestyle and also to help a great deal of people that are in need. All those politicians complaining that our government policies make it impossible for small business growth and for small businesses to create jobs should sit down and have a chat with Wayne. He made it happen.
If a hero can be described as someone who is admired for their achievements, then Wayne is one of my personal heroes. It was Wayne’s story and his support that has always kept me thinking about starting my own business, and it’s been his story that has inspired me to believe that I can build a successful company, too.
While I have not made that step yet, I know that I will at some point in my life. Thank you, Wayne, for setting the bar for me!