The Hive Five Podcast

5 Key Takeaways from Grant Johnson

1. Know what you are paying for – Especially relating to your deductibles

2. Ask away – Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your insurance agent, No question is stupid

3. Shop insurance every 2-4 years

4. You have control over 2 things in life: your attitude and your effort

5. Insurance agents are people too! Don’t believe the negative stereotype


In this episode of the Person Behind the Professional, we sit down with Grant Johnson, an independent insurance agent. Grant’s agency is Vardë Insurance Group at MWI Insurance Brokers. Vardë has about 20 different companies that they are able to shop from including Progressive, Travelers, SafeCo, Chubb, and many more. Through these 20 companies, they are able to serve just about everybody’s needs.

Grant has a unique background for an insurance agent. He and his identical twin brother Garrett, who he runs Vardë Insurance Group with, have always had entrepreneurial spirits. However, insurance wasn’t his initial aim in his career. He graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and wanting to help people with mental health issues. Working in non-profits and foster care for six years, Grant then got his master’s degree in family and marital therapy and counseling. He absolutely loved being able to serve families and couples as well as just getting to know people. Grant randomly fell into insurance four years ago when his family was urging him into the industry because of his love and passion for serving people. Through this, Vardë Insurance Group was born, allowing him to serve others, make a living, and fulfill his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Vardë is Swedish for “value”, meaning to bring value to something or someone. This was a great name for Grant’s agency, not only because it is indicative of his Swedish ancestry, but also due to the value his agency aims to provide. He and his employees are constantly trying to discover new ways of providing value to their clients. They pride themselves in being great, personable consultants for their clients, not just salesmen. Vardë likes to gather information, assessing their client’s risks and needs, and helping their clients protect and properly cover those things. They want clients for life. Grant and his business partners aim to do this by connecting with clients on social media, visiting them at home or even work for appointments, and really just being as personable and involved as much or as little as the client would like them to be.


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Everyone has a story and everyone has been there for business owners, to parents to young adults. The hive five aims to tell stories about overcoming the struggles and adult team while celebrating the little victories of life in each podcast. Our guests will give insight to five key takeaways from someone who’s been there and done that, leaving you better than when you started.
Thank you so much for listening today. My name is Keegan with Bright B, and today we have a special guest grant Johnson with Bart, a insurance group at Mwi in Edmond, Oklahoma. How are you? Grant? No. Good. How are you kidding?
Hey, I’m doing fine. Thank you so much. Well, thank you for being on today. A one, a one to talk about many things about you and your insurance agency, but also just you as an individual and also your partners in crime in the insurance world. First off, just give us a little bit of background on who you are, what products you offer, and also the companies you offer. Sure.
I think it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. And I’m getting a grant Johnson. I am with the [inaudible] insurance group at Mwi and Mwi stands for Mwi insurance brokers. I work alongside with many different agents at Mwi and I myself have a team of agents that work with me under Nwi, including my twin brother Garrett. And another awesome employee we have named Casey. So I have been in insurance for almost four years now. Coming up on that very closely and absolutely love doing what I do and being able to ride great protection and coverage. A consultation for people for basically every type of insurance besides health insurance. So you’re looking at home, auto boats, life insurance and commercial and business insurance too.
Can you give us just a few companies that you do represent as well?
Yeah, so at Mwi and Varta insurance we have about 20 different companies that we get to shop from. So, uh, we’re just like any other insurance agents, but we have multiple companies to look from, including companies like progressive travelers, safe co Chubb, so we have a good variety of just about being able to help almost everybody from companies that might have, you know, higher risk, different odd types of things have, you know, different home types that other companies might not allow or, or insurance for a or just the everyday normal type of homes that you’ll see or vehicles or whatever else. So a lot of fun to companies to be able to look at and choose. What do you like looking at the most? What, what do you feel like is your niche? Me Personally, I love home insurance and auto. They are typically, as you probably know, an insurance, they tied together a lot because you get really good bundles and discounts for having both.
I love working with home buyers, a new home buyers, first time home buyers. I think it’s so much fun to be able to provide value to them, uh, in such a small piece of the insurance while they’re looking at the homes with their realtor or, you know, sending up a mortgage, which is one of the scariest things to do most of the time when you’re young or old and being able to be part of that and their life is really, really rewarding and fun for me. And when you say being a part of, of your life, what does that look like? Yeah. So we do a lot of things. I mean, most people think of insurance, um, you know, when you need it, uh, whether, whether when you’re purchasing a home for the first time and someone tells you, okay, this, this point, you go find insurance and whether you go find somebody who you’ve had or your parents have had or you search online, we’d like to be there for, for any, any people who need insurance.
And so, you know, we, we are contactable many ways from phone, email, text messages, Internet. When we get connected with people, we like to just be able to be consultants for them, so find what they’re looking for, what their needs are, let’s say for instance, it’s home insurance where we’re going to shop many options for their home insurance and find the best values of coverages and rates for them, uh, that we can find and not only that, but consult them. So we, we really at already insurance group, we pride ourselves in being a great personable consultants. I joke with people and say I don’t sell anything. I, I’m an insurance agent, but what we like to do is just gather information, have great conversations with people and be able to connect with them on personal levels and help them any way we can and insurance.
And so a lot of times that looks like gathering information, uh, on their home, auto life insurance business, whatever it might be, assessing their needs, assessing the risks, assessing what kind of coverage they might need and how to make that work in addition to just the transactional pieces. You know, we love to connect with our, our, uh, our clients. We want clients for life and so we’d love to connect with them on social media. We do things like visit them at their home or work if that’s more convenient for different appointments or questions. And so we like to be more involved, personable as we can be and sometimes as personal as they want to be because sometimes people don’t want that. They might just a figures numbers and, and to go on with their life.
Yeah. And that may be enough personal time
for them. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So we’re not, we’re definitely not like that with everybody. We, you know, we are usually nice and ask, you know, how involved do you want us to be, what are you looking for in an insurance agent versus just cramming things down and we’re like, we’re not going to randomly show up at your work or something, but, but you know, we’d like to build relationships and for all of us at Varsity group, we’d love to invest in those relationships and rather than just basic transaction, here’s your home insurance quote, what do you think? We like to know our clients and for our clients to know us and um, you know, for all of us, that’s really what wakes us up in the morning to be able to help people and know and grow with people.
Well, and it seems like, and from what I hear from a lot of insurance agents, when talking to them insurance is not where they started, you know, you didn’t go to college to think I’m going to be an insurance agent from, from what I can see. Tell us a little bit about how your experience in past careers and just personal life experience has led you to this place and has led you to this love of, of your insurance agency and the people that you serve. We’re
going way way back. My father is an entrepreneur and uh, my twin brother and I, you know, I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s a great mentor to us. We’ve always had kind of entrepreneurial spirits of being able to look at things and see how to connect things or help people. I’ve always been a helper, and this might sound corny or Cliche, but I really just love helping people any way I can. Growing up, going to school, going into college, I graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology, again, wanting to help people in the mental health world, but really struggling with two sides of my brain of saying, okay, I want to help people. I won’t. I love mental health kind of things. But I also love business. My father is a businessman and I love the aspect of working in that. And so I graduated college and went into a nonprofit world and worked there for about six years within foster care in Oklahoma.
Absolutely loved it. And during that tenure I got a master’s degree in counseling, so I was actually having a master’s in family and marital therapy. So I actually really loved helping families and couples, uh, being able to, to, to get to know people. I’m kind of like troubleshoot for different issues and areas of how to help. And my story goes a little bit like, you know, things were changing in Oklahoma with mental health and I was kind of looking to see if I should do something else and actually go into the business side. And when I was thinking about it, I had a family member say you should actually be an insurance agent. You know, you love people, you love helping people. You look connecting it to be something you would be really good at. Did you think, heck no, I didn’t go to school for that.
Yeah. Yeah. Because I have no education and didn’t, you know, I’m, I’m a therapist, I’m this, I’m that. I’m. But I actually interviewed several different jobs, different positions including a couple of insurance companies. Just check it out and researching it, learning it, you know, for interviews and all those things. I was really starting to realize this could be something I would really enjoy and it’s a great way to help a lot of people and you know, can make a good living and be able to grow something on my own and really just fit those skills and abilities and dreams that I have of entrepreneurialship and other things. So jumped right into it and having the past experiences of psychology and mental health and counseling comes in real, real handy as a, as an insurance agent. I mean, you know, we deal with a lot of people who have claims and have scary things happen or some of the most frightening times they’re calling their insurance agent and those are skills and abilities that I have that are really come in handy that, you know, sometimes I really thrive and not that I want anything bad to happen, but, you know, I’m able to help.
Uh, and, and you know, we, we train our team to do a good job with that. And not only the buying of insurance, but the using of insurance to it probably gives you an advantage when, when she say they’re not a lot of therapists that become insurance agents, I don’t think. And um, and, and it does because being able to listen well to people to relate to people and you know, not only having those abilities but strengthening those skills as a, you know, I paid a master’s degree for um, is helpful and, and again, it’s just insurance became just a great vehicle or model for me to utilize some of those skills. So Varday, you’ve explained it to me before, but I want everyone to hear at Varda is not a normal word that we hear. Explain that Varda is the Swedish term or word for value.
It’s a basic and impact term that means to bring value to something. And so when I think about insurance for my role for my team and my employees, what we look at for insurance, we want to be able to provide value to our clients, to our partners and to our community. And so I just love the idea of value. And I have some Swedish heritage, so it Kinda just worked out and I thought it was a really cool word. It kind of just wraps up and encapsulates everything that we want to do at barley insurance group with our, our, uh, our community, you know, at the serve people provide value to them not just to provide insurance but to go steps beyond that and you know, provide great consultation and education about explaining what coverages are or, you know, helping them navigate different types of insurance and things rather than just throwing a attachment in an email and saying, good luck. Here it is, you know, so the value is a big deal to us and we strive each and every data to find ways to keep adding value to, to everybody we contact. So I know a lot of people will probably be wondering, you know, when, when you say you’re a twin, I’m a twin as. And one of the first
questions they ask are, well, are you identical? And uh, I tried to explain to them that, you know, a boy and girl cannot be identical twins, but for you it’s a little bit different. Are you identical? Yes. Garrett and I are definitely identical twins. We look a lot alike. I mean we are both bald with beards and um, and so yeah, and it’s funny being in the same circles in the same cities, uh, running around town, being mistaken for each other all the time and played a lot of fun tricks as kids. But we are identical twins and we are often mistaken for each other. So we, we always joke that we have to walk around kind of like politicians. I’m shaking everybody’s hand that looks at us or you know, like a rockstar when you walk into a restaurant or do you think, you know, me, do I have to be nice to you because you think you know me, I don’t know who you are, but you might know my brother. So it happens often, but you know, it’s, it’s, it’s really fun and unique to be twins, but also to be doing business with my twin brother. I was just thinking what a blessing it is to be able to be with your brother and have that type of work relationship to be able to grow a business together and also have that phenomenal relationship outside is just. It’s rare and so it’s so encouraging to hear that. It’s Garrett, right? You’re right. What does he do for the agency?
I mean he’s. He’s an agent like I am. He does a lot of things and we all kind of do a mixture of things with a quoting of the things, but Garrett has a really strong background in public relations and marketing. He is kind of the guru for social media and marketing. I mean he takes care, great care of clients as well and those quotes and things. He also does a great job with the business insurance side, a commercial insurance. So those are kind of his areas of expertise and so we, we kind of all do a little bit of everything, but you know, you like to specify and stay in your lanes and do things too, so we try to keep that as well.
Last question I have for you and then, and then we definitely want to get to our five key takeaways from you. You did come from a larger company, a larger brand, and then you went independent. If I’m, if I’m reading all my facts correctly and I want you to just give an idea of why someone should choose independent agency like yourself are to insurance versus a, you know, a bigger brand. A great question. One question we get asked often, you know, understanding what is independent agencies or what, how does this work? I would first start off and say, I mean there’s a lot of great companies. There’s a lot of great agents, uh, all over the state of Oklahoma and you know, the, one of the main differences between captive agents or independent agents is just options. As an independent agent, I have a, like I said, multiple dozens of options to really shop for clients rather than just showing one or two options from a company. I worked with several companies to be able to provide the best coverages and rates and so I’m not limited to one company and trying to possibly force a policy or hard sell a policy because that’s all I have. I’m able to to shop for clients and find the best rates and coverage as possible and, and it’s, it’s a lot of fun
as we like to ask all of our guests on the podcast, five key takeaways that you believe are important for our listeners to know and that’s could be whether it’s you about an insurance or just life in general, so give us those five.
Okay, cool. Yeah, well I had had five things that were geared towards insurance, but I, I love reading. I love doing all of those things, so I’m going to share a couple of points on the fly, but regarding to the insurance, I’d say number one is know what you’re paying for. We spent a lot of time consulting on the insurance just educating this what this is, what that is. I’d say the deductibles and that is, might be one of the most important things we see a lot of people who have rather large deductibles and aren’t aware of it, so know what you’re paying for is a, is a big one. And also say an insurance ask away. Don’t ever think bombard or bug an insurance agent by asking, you know, the quote unquote stupid question, you know, we’re, we’re licensed agents and you know, a lot of agents had done it for years and that’s our job.
Um, and so most agents are happy to educate you and answer those questions to help you feel more comfortable with what you have. I would say shop insurance every two to four years and, and that’s kind of a fun part about being an independent as well, is we get to shop for them. So, uh, rather than, you know, losing clients, we get to continue to keep clients as independent agents at Bard and, and continue to, uh, to find the best rates and coverages for them. Number four, I would say you have control over two things in your life, attitude and your effort. And that was taught to me at a young age and the more and more I grew up and had more experiences, the more true are those things came about and I could see. And so, you know, you can’t control other people, you can’t control sometimes circumstances, but in those circumstances you can control your attitude about it and your effort in the moment.
And that has changed my life. Number five, I would say insurance agents are people too. So I agree with that. So a lot of times, uh, you know, we have a negative stereotype and I completely get it. Before I was an insurance agent, I had a similar stereotype and, but, you know, a lot of times it’s fun to see that people recognize that, that, you know, as much as we were available and want to help, we have families too. And, and, you know, it’s good to have balances on things to have certain hours of calling a things. Now obviously every insurance agent wants to help people and wants to be available, but we’re not all monsters. And um, and we, a lot of agents in Oklahoma are really great people who want to help people.
I would say we probably have some of the, uh, the nice ones, you know, Oklahoma is definitely known for being a kinder state. So it definitely is more approachable I would say.
Yeah, I got some great friends who are insurance agents at other companies and all around Obama and, and across the nation to. So there’s some really great people.
Well, and one thing with [inaudible] is that we want to project as we say, we want to help people find a qualified insurance agents, but we also want to help the agents establish the reputation online. If we help them establish their reputation aligned than we can show that they are people just like the person searching for them. We are dedicated to working tirelessly to help you with that. So we really appreciate your patience and allowing us to have the opportunity to, to take time today to talk. If other people are wondering how they get in contact with you, what are the best ways that they can reach you?
Yeah, always a, you can go online and find us on facebook, barley insurance group. We’re on instagram. You can find our information online for a email calling us and our website is [inaudible], pretty easy. V, e R, d e Dot We give out our cell phones to individuals as well, so I’m always happy to take a call or text and and help anybody with their insurance needs
and just a reminder that anyone can also go onto [inaudible] dot com and search for grant Johnson and you will find him there with information about him and more things of that nature. We’ll also have all of this information in our show notes as well, but grant it has been great talking to you. I wish you a lot of success and we will talk to you very soon.

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