Scott Wieland, Class of 2005
IB is celebrating 20 years of the 40 Under 40 in 2020, and will be catching up with past recipients to see what they’ve been up to since they were honored. This week features Scott Wieland, benefit agent, Midwest Financial Group.
What have you accomplished in your professional life/career since your 40 Under 40 selection?
At the time that I was selected for 40 Under 40, I was working for a large insurance agency in town. I had recently become a minority owner in that agency, but I knew deep down that I wanted to run my own agency someday. In 2012, I made that dream come true and started up my own agency.
In 2014, I merged my agency with Midwest Financial Group. They work with small businesses and many individuals to help with financial planning. I thought this would be a perfect fit.
As I suspected, the relationship has worked. I have been able to grow my annual revenue nearly nine times from what it was when I got to Midwest Financial, but the best part has been my ability to find clients who I truly want to work with. For the most part, that focus has become to help small businesses either set up a benefits program or take over as agent when larger agencies ignore them because those agencies want larger clients. I have helped over 50 businesses start a benefits program and I love that I am truly a trusted advisor to them.
What accomplishments, milestones, or endeavors have you attained in your personal life since your 40 Under 40 selection?
I have been dating a wonderful woman for the past 6 1/2 years. That has been the highlight of my personal life. She has an 8-year-old son who I dedicate a lot of time to being a father figure to.
I continue to perform in plays and musicals and enjoy running. Last summer, I finished an ultra run in which I did 51.68 miles in one day. I never thought I would do that!
If you were to “do it all over again,” what (if anything) would you do differently throughout your career?
I am so happy with my career right now that it is hard to imagine changing things dramatically. There are a few times where I might have burned a bridge and regret how I handled the situation. Those are learning moments. I don’t necessarily regret severing ties with people who are negative or I feel aren’t moral or good to other people, but the situations could always be handled better.
How did your 40 Under 40 selection help your career?
When it was first announced, it was definitely good publicity. Being able to tell clients, prospects, and other business professionals that I was named a 40 Under 40 gave me instant respect. If nothing else, it helped get my foot in the door to meetings or intros that maybe I would not have otherwise gotten.
As time has gone by, it is still nice to be able to tell people about the award, even if I am well past 40 now.
What is something that you have a new passion for since the time of your induction — either professionally or personally?
My passion really is to help smaller businesses. At the larger agencies, they focus on large groups only and really do not feel small companies are worth their time financially. I do not focus on simple profit margin. I decided many years ago that I would rather be happy every day I go to work and feel I truly make a difference, compared to only caring about money. That is when I decided that I would focus on the smaller companies that are so underserved by agencies in Madison.
Over the past seven months, the COVID situation has solidified even more that I still have passion for what I do every day. I started gathering information about temporary benefit laws, grants and loans available, wellness information, safety information, and what “rules” the carrier had during COVID. I sent out six to eight articles, webinar invites, and webinar recordings every day from late March to the middle of July, and I still send out one to two emails a week jammed packed with good information. My clients have loved this and I have earned status as a true trusted advisor for putting in all that work, often on information that was not directly linked to what I help them with as a benefit agent. This has really strengthened my resolve that I am doing something of true value with my career.
Based on your experience, do you have any advice for today’s young professionals (under 40)?
Surround yourself with people you trust, respect, and care about. I would say think of the type of client you want to work with and your long-term career ahead of the immediate dollar that can be made. If you have clients, choose ones who not only want to work with you, but you want to work with them. Negative people burn you out and take up way more time and energy than those you love working with. Life is short! Don’t let others bring you down emotionally and mentally just for an immediate sale.
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