Angela Bradford of World Financial Group: “Business is an inner growth journey”

Business is an inner growth journey. Just having a good work ethic isn’t enough. I used to feel upset with my clients and agents and complained about it to a friend in the business, and she said, “you attract who you are.” At the time, I was UPSET with her. Then I took the time […]

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Business is an inner growth journey. Just having a good work ethic isn’t enough. I used to feel upset with my clients and agents and complained about it to a friend in the business, and she said, “you attract who you are.” At the time, I was UPSET with her. Then I took the time to think about it and decided to become fully involved with personal and internal growth. It took time, but it changed my business in only a few years.

As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Bradford.

Angela is a Senior Marketing Director with World Financial Group. Within five years of transitioning from the blue collar world of trucking and training horses, to the white collar world of finances and training people, she has opened multiple offices and started expansion into two countries. She has an amazing team working with her and has the goal of having agents in every state and province in North America within the next 10 years.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I was driving truck over the road for many years and then the industry slowed down. This caused me to look for other opportunities and into other positions. I was introduced to World Financial Group then and I saw that I could get into a brand new career without much risk, so I thought “why not,”and I decided to try and go for it. I would give it my best and see… So I started up my business.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

The moment that changed me from “trying this thing out,” to all in was my first payday and listening to Steve Holbrook’s story with our firm. I realized that I was finally in an industry where I could give my family the life of their dreams while helping many others have the same opportunity.

I was put on the earth for a purpose, as I believe we all are, and I felt that I had finally found it with starting my own business. I saw that I could work for someone else for the rest of my life, or take the leap out of the employee world and build something for my family’s legacy.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Did I consider giving up? That answer is a resounding YES! I still do some days. Thinking of quitting is normal. What you choose to do with that feeling, is what matters. I felt like quitting when I experienced perceived rejection after rejection.

I thought of quitting when I found out some of my close family thought I was in a scam. I thought of quitting when my cashflow and business wasn’t growing even though I was working very hard. I thought of quitting when people in my agency quit on me. I think if quitting when I wake up and am exhausted and don’t want to get out of bed.

Why haven’t I, or don’t I? It’s because I have a why that I have attached to that is deeper than feelings and thoughts. I want to change the world, and while that seems like a broad concept, to me it means that I am willing to do whatever God gives me the strength to do — moment by moment — in my business.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

While I am long ways from where I want to go, my agency has come a long ways. I believe my and my team’s resilience is paying off. We grew 167% during the COVID pandemic in 2020 and I believe in 2021 we will blow that statistic out of the water. The compound effect of daily activity is an awesome thing to work with.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes my firm stand out is that we are a broker. This means we work with over 40 companies so we can offer our clients more than one option. Because of this, we are able to save money on almost everything people need in the financial industry.

I sat with a family just last year and because we are a broker I saved this family 2600 dollars a month! I think this was an amazing present just before Christmas!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I first started my business I made so many mistakes. I would go out and talk to people who didn’t want to talk to me. I would ask for their phone number and they would get nervous and act like I, a female, was going to be able to do something sinister with that number.

At the time, I would feel rejected, but as time went on, I started to laugh more and confirm that I understood that I was scary and would slowly back away from them so they wouldn’t get more ‘spooked’.

I learned I was looking for those that wanted what I was able to provide, not for unwilling people who were too nervous of strangers to give me a chance to explain what I was offering.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Wow, this is a good reverse question! Let me think. I was given lots of advice that I didn’t take and I am glad I didn’t, that is for sure. One piece of advice I was given that I did take was that I should have talked to my leadership about first was an assistant I started working with. The advice was that as someone relatively new in the business, I should talk to my leadership before choosing an assistant for my team.

It seemed easy at the time to find a person who could fill the role of an assistant, but I soon came to see that I took a chance of losing my license. As it turned out, things went very downhill with everything with them because of the mess I had created through my hurry to fill a position. The result also kept me up many nights, but I am grateful that I learned that the ‘easy’ way is not always the best way!

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Success is something I am not sure I have achieved but am working on it for sure! There are a few character traits that are definitely instrumental to the successes I have achieved and, in my opinion, are needed to be successful in any business.

  1. Self discipline. I have set a daily routine to do certain things every day. Those daily things have attributed to everything I have and am becoming. Getting up when my alarm goes and not hitting the snooze button is the start to a powerful day!
  2. Commitment to personal growth. I was told, you attract who you are, early in my career. This thought changed my perception of reality. In that moment, I made a decision to ‘obsess’ about growth. I make sure to read and listen to good audio everyday. By changing my associations I was able to change my results — internally and externally.
  3. Coachability. When I started my business I had people trying to coach me, but I didn’t want to do everything they suggested. Then one day, I got tired of being where I was and wanted to get to the next level, so I decided to become as coachable as I could. {a possible variation- you decide: The positive results were obvious over the next couple of years!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

One way to avoid “burn out” is to have a strong reason for getting up and going to work everyday. Have a strong connection to why you work hard and the life it can give you, or the people you can help. That has helped me so much in the times I was tired and grumpy.

Another tip is to make sure I have relaxation time scheduled into each week to refresh my body and soul. What I mean by for the soul, are activities such as meditation, reading, walks, or anything that helps refresh my mind and spirit.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Most people try to manage not lead their people. They think because they are the CEO and/or the founder they can push their weight around rather then just leading by example and from the front.

One suggestion for helping with this, is reading or listening to lots of John Maxwell’s books and audios. John is one of the foremost leadership experts, and he knows what he is talking about regarding leading a successful organization.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

From my experience, the behind-the-scenes internal personal growth part isn’t talked about enough. I was told in my first year that we all attract who we are, not what we want. In that moment I committed to reading and growing everyday into a better version of myself. As I changed and grew, the people around me and in the company also changed and grew.

The results were amazing! Major growth in the business and also in my life happened and that makes everything became more fun and fulfilling.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.

I am glad that I didn’t know somethings before I started or I might not have started LOL But somethings that I have learned so far are the following:

  1. Business is an inner growth journey. Just having a good work ethic isn’t enough. I used to feel upset with my clients and agents and complained about it to a friend in the business, and she said, “you attract who you are.” At the time, I was UPSET with her. Then I took the time to think about it and decided to become fully involved with personal and internal growth. It took time, but it changed my business in only a few years.
  2. I wish I had known that other’s opinions of me do not really matter. Rejection is a perception and not reality. It comes from thinking about myself more than thinking about others. In fact, with time, I could see that the people who told me I wouldn’t make it, were wrong. Their opinion did not need to, and thankfully didn’t, become my reality.
  3. Coachability is very important. It is crucial to reach out for help from others and, after reflection, to be open to following their ideas. I tried to do many things “my way” and realized that was not overly smart, and that following a ready made path was easier than doing everything alone.
  4. Decisions run everything. What you wake up and decide every day is key to life and success 100% of the time. When we “try” to make business decisions work on the spur of the moment, they rarely work. I made the decision to go all in to my business in 2016 and that was when my business got easier. I was no longer debating the price I was willing to pay for success.
  5. That not everyone is like me. I know that this seems basic, but it took me awhile to love and accept people where they are, instead of expecting them to be where I am. I recall trying to get people to do things that would help them, but they weren’t in a headspace to take my advice. Until people are ready, it does not help to try to convince them to act.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am working on creating a movement to empower women to reach their full potential. Ladies, you are capable of everything you want to become and accomplish.

How can our readers further follow you online?

They can find me on Instagram at @realangelabradford and I would love to hear from anyone there! Here to help if I can!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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