The Hive Five Podcast

5 Key Takeaways from David Vo

1. Take time to stop and smell the roses

2. Treat everybody with respect and how you want to be treated

3. Money is not everything

4. Enjoy your life

5. Don’t take people for granted


Today on the Person Behind the Professional, we are glad to be talking with David Vo, a Farmers Insurance agent in Arlington, Texas. David started his agency over two years ago, and offers auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance, and more. Before starting his agency, he has a varied background in sales, and also served in the United States Army for five years.

Right out of high school, David followed in the footsteps of his family and tried working in IT. However, he learned quickly that it wasn’t for him and he jumped in cellphone sales for over 3 years, really loving it. After this, he transitioned to auto sales and worked for Volkswagen for about 3 years as well. At this point, the recession was occurring in the economy and David had always wanted to be in the military since he was a kid. During this time, at twenty-five years old, he enlisted in the Army. He shipped out a couple months later to boot camp as an infantryman and was first assigned to Germany for even more training. Six months later, he was deployed to northern Afghanistan. His unit was tasked with fighting the Taliban, gathering intelligence, and training the Afghan National Police to take the US military’s place.

David talks about all of this military experience, what it’s like to be under fire, searching and handling IED’s, and more in this episode. He also gives his unique perspective and how this experience has affected his position as an insurance agent and creating strategy for growing his agency and business.

Please leave us a review and tell us what you thought about the unique perspective of a soldier turned insurance agent!


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You’re, they teach you, they train you the military to one thing, you focus on patient, so that’s the only thing once you don’t think about. Okay, am I going to say that when you’re out there, fields are out there. Basically we’re the bad guys are killed and killed. So the only thing you’re thinking about is how I’m going to quit this mission possible without my guys getting killed or my guys getting hurt.
Thanks for listening today. My name is and today on the personal, the professional. We’re excited to be talking to farmers insurance in Arlington, Texas. They’ve just been in it transfer over two years, but before that served in the army for five years where he was stationed in places like Germany and Afghanistan. David, thank you so much for being here today and for your service. Uh, we’re, we’re grateful to have you.
Well, thanks so much, Keegan. I appreciate that. Definitely got to be here.
Well, I really appreciate you taking the time. I know we had a little bit of a, some technical problems here, but we’ve worked through those and appreciate your patients there. But I want to, I want to talk to you just, let’s dive into this, uh, this idea of where you’ve come from. You know, I know you’ve been in insurance, but I want to hear the backstory a where you came from and why insurance.
Okay. So, um, you know, it’s kind of lost story. So basically by my mom and my uncle were like, one of the first, uh, you know, my background is Vietnamese by the way. My uncle, my uncle is a farmer’s insurance agent back in the eighties and nineties, the late nineties. And my mom was an allstate agent during the same period of time and she, she actually got out of insurance thing and she actually works for me now. So insurance is kind of always been on my radar, but you know, the rest of my family in is actually, it was my father, my brother and my cousins were all programmers, database guys. And I tried to do that at a high school and uh, you know, I got my, uh, my certifications did all that good stuff and I figured, you know, this is not for me.
And so, uh, immediately after that, after working, you know, making $40,000 a year doing network administration, um, I jumped straight into sales. So I jumped into the cell phone sales, did that for three years, really enjoyed it, you know, Commission only I was the guy at the mall that would try to sell you, you like the mobile singular 18. And it was only job based on them all. They don’t want to cross the street. Worked at a singular exclusive experience. Similar store commission, only making about 60 or $70,000 my first year and I was 19, 20 years old. So it was a lot of money for me.
You were living it up.
Yeah. So after that I was like, you know what I’m never doing else besides sales. And uh, from there I actually went into car sales Volkswagen for about three years. Um, after that. Um, and then, you know, in my whole life I’ve always wanted to, uh, to be in the military, to serve my country and uh, you know, had the opportunity after recession, you know, the car was Wilson. So good, uh, started working for like Time Warner or inbound sales. Uh, really didn’t like it a lot. Um, so I decided, I was like, you know what, I, I’m 25, I, you know, I’d be wanting to join the military. I don’t have any kids right now, no wife, no girlfriend. Now every time the join, and this was kind of the height of the, you know, the push to Afghanistan. So I decided, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and just take the plunge. So I signed up, uh, September of 2009. I did all my contracts, there’s none of that. And I shipped out January ninth of two, of 10 to a bootcamp and I did, you know, it’s funny because my profession, you know, it had nothing to do with anything else I did before that I was actually an infantry guy. So the frontline, the frontline guy, a front line guy on the, uh, you know, in the military, so I have a different experience than when I did it for five years.
So can you tell us a little bit more, you know, I don’t know how much you want to or can go into detail, but can you tell us a little bit more about how you, how you served in and what you did in Germany? Afghanistan.
Okay. So my first duty station was Germany and staging area, uh, to get ready for deployments. Right. So each unit in the military, employees on a rotational basis. Okay. So, you know, I was part of, we were set to deploy and to other levels. So I got out of basic training. So one of the base training in January got out in April, so about two weeks leave to go back home, then proceeded to Germany. Um, so we had about six months of training, I guess we are trained in the base frame of six months is actually unit training to get ready for deployment to be already for the mountain as environments to cold weather, that kind of thing. Um, you know, we wanted to some different locations so they actually do some, some live fire training, a simulation type turning once in Afghanistan. We got there in February of 2011.
We were stationed in northern Afghanistan, like industry unit and our job, there was basically two a or initial job. There was basically to, uh, find out, you know, find the Taliban, find a hiding areas. Basically we had, we had the main base and we had a few checkpoints that we would, man, I’m deep in the heart of the city were, were most of the Taliban and the fire and we would basically set up camp there. You know, it’s kind of a detour detour of the Taliban from, from attacking the villagers. And we asked you had to do a lot of political work per se. Uh, you know, making sure that the villagers knew that we were there to help them and to relay information to us to help us target these high value targets, these people that we’re trying to terrorize the communities because a lot of times they weren’t set bombs in the road.
Um, you know, there were several, several, several ideas that were, that were set in the roads and children are playing there. So our job was basically to tell the locals, hey, let us know where these ideas are so that your, that your family is not going to get killed when you’re driving on the road or walking on the road and to be, you know, it’s kind of stabilized area. So we actually achieved that. We achieved that. We stabilize the area, we, you know, we got rid of a lot of talent. We pushed them back up north. And then the second part of our mission, um, I guess they call it Operation Enduring Freedom in office was to actually train and to kind of instill our values are our rule law, our training onto the Afghan national police. So we were trying to basically replace ourselves a with them, right. So we’re training them up to basically do our job when we gone. Okay. Because we were, we’re at the point where we were trying to get ourselves out with Afghanistan, so we did a lot of training classes and not that. And you know, we did have Sweden, you know, I can’t go too much into what we did again to several firefights and we did get, we did fewer vehicles, did get hit with some pretty large ones and um, he had a few few attacks on base and things like that. So can I get so much detail? Okay.
Yeah. No, no, I appreciate you giving that much detail. Well, it sounds like this was maybe a little bit more challenging than, than selling cell phones. I mean, you were, you were literally selling yourself trying to say, hey look, we’re, we’re here to protect you, to help you so don’t hurt us. Right.
Yep. That’s basically, it’s basically just a bit. And you know, we’ve met with a lot of. I was fortunate because I was actually, so I was industry guy, but I was actually um, the uh, I was infantry guy, but I was also tasked secondary test as the, uh, intelligence, uh, gather intelligence officer. You will, so over, you know, we know it’s kind of like give too much detail, but basically gathering intelligence through locals, talking to local leaders, the local militia that did not want Taliban there. Um, so there was a lot of that, a lot of meetings, meetings with government officials, you know, the mayor, the governor, um, high ranking generals, so we had a lot of opportunities to meet high level officials, uh, with my, with my commander over there and gather intelligence, create reports. And that way we kind of had some actual intelligence to act on these missions if you will basically take the fight to them instead of them taking the fight to us. That makes sense.
I’ll say this, it makes sense to a point. I mean, I hear what you’re saying, but I, I just can’t even imagine what, what you’re thinking through all of this, this time, what’s going on through your mind? What’s going on in other people’s minds? Um, you know, the, the risks that you took a, you know, it’s, it’s something kind of surpass it, passes what I can understand, if that makes sense. I think for a lot of people, um, you know, if, if you haven’t experienced that, it’s hard to understand.
Yeah, definitely.
What would you say was going through your mind when you’re thinking about at Ids and attacks and you know, gathering intelligence, you know, first off it sounds really cool, but, but we know that can be dangerous as well. So with all that being said, what was going on in your mind at that time?
Well, at the time, you know, you read on really your mind, your tissue, they trained you in the military too. Don’t one thing you focus on as a nation, that’s the only thing that you think you don’t think about, you know, okay, am I going to get a shot today? Die. If you found out that when you’re out there in the fields are out there, you know, basically where the we’re, the bad guys are already getting yourself killed. And so the only thing you were thinking about is how many quit his mission, the safest way possible without my guys getting killed or my guys getting hurt because I, you know, really, you know, being there and I was there, I was there for the full year so we’re for, for one full year. So we had a lot of privates and stuff that came in from basic training little bit later during deployment.
So they came in halfway through an appointment. So it was my job to make sure that they were, they were okay. Right. So we are basically, you know, we basically had more experience so, you know, then these guys coming in, these brand new guys are 20 years old, 21 years old. I was a little older. So, you know, my, my, my level headedness being there for six months already help out why. Um, so, you know, we had to basically keep our cool and makes sure that even though even even if everything was, you know, going bad, you know, lack of better terms, just, you know, the feces hitting the fan right when that happens, you have to maintain your cool because then you more likely or you will get, you will get severely injured. And I was in charge of four guys know the team leader was in charge of four guys and, and their, their lives for my hands, so I had to make sure that they, that they did with her is supposed to do and I’d make sure that they were capable of doing what they’re supposed to do and they went freeze up, something were to happen.
There was a couple of instances where things had happened and uh, you know, I had to, you know, kind of take initiative and anything like that, but no good things. I personally didn’t lose any, any, any, any of my men are, you lose the two guys. Um, but me personally, I didn’t lose any of my migraines. I’m very fortunate with that.
Yeah, definitely. So, so moving back into this insurance thing, I’m assuming that you take growing your agency with a strategic approach.
So tell me a little bit about how you’re growing your agency and what your strategic approach is to that.
Okay. So, um, I’ve been, I’ve been with farmers or for going on two and a half years now. So I started my dependently almost November before that was with state farm for about two. I was a producer for state farm for two years and I kinda Kinda gets to, you know, got to see both sides. Right. So as a farmer, the producer, my only goal was to basically sell market, acquire new business, right.
And it taught me a lot of things because one of the state farm office, you know, I did not know there was, there was a, you know, the agent spend a lot of money on advertising, a lot of money on that. I never really took inner leads because that was my forte, right. I was always been the salesperson that’s been, you know, face to face, meet with you, sit down and talk to you kind of go for three years. So a lot of the constitutive selling, right? So what I did and when I did, I learned this from state farm was the best method was two for one for referrals and that sounds Cliche, but really is referrals was the best way to obtain the business. So what I would do is I would, I would go around, start with my friends and family. Obviously that’s what we’ll will do.
And from there you build your confidence and you start, you start targeting, let’s say targeting military. You start find that you started finding a, started finding clients and get referrals. Referrals. You start, they start. It’s kind of like a domino effect, right? You get, get, get one client, save them some money, you help them out, they love you. You ask them for four or five referrals, the referrals, you help us, you know, maybe out of the four that you can help two or three of them. And from there you asked, you keep asking for more referrals, so constantly our referrals. So on average, you know, I would probably, for each sale I would get at least three referrals from you. So I did and I was referrals that I got, I would say got three, I’ll at least get 50 percent of the referrals that, that actually get their business.
Right. That’s a good ratio. Yeah, it’s good ratio. And I was very fortunate and the reason, the reason I think that I was successful with that because there was other guys that were, that were there that were there longer than me, but I put up a more numbers than they did. I, I used to do, you know, when I first started, um, I became the number one. Uh, so if they run a program of aspirin program, you know, aspiring to be an agent. They had a program for all the guys at DFW. And uh, my first, my first two months I became, you know, run out of the military. I was already number one in the dfw area. Right. So these are guys that have been doing it for a while and in my, my trick was that I would not do stuff over the phone.
Every single appointment I had had, I would do it face to face, sit down with the client, talk to them like a human being instead of trying to sell them on the phone. I don’t that, I take that same concept though here. We now I’m on top of that, more of the marketing side. Um, I will get a referral, you know, I’ll be able to referral and I basically would, uh, find out, you know, find out what’s a made that, that particular referral, you know, want to do business with me. Right? So a good example of that is, you know, I come from the enemy’s background. Okay. So I speak Vietnamese, I’m not 100 percent slow and um, you know, uh, better than conversational. So, you know, get my point across with, uh, with my clients. But the big, big portion of my clientele is not a very good mixture.
And what I did was I actually found a lot of niche markets, right? So a lot of people that, a lot of these, uh, producers and agents will not be focusing, be focusing on the, you know, the multimillion dollar households or you know, the, you know, the typical American consumer, right. Well, I was finding clients that are resistant of finding clients, have Laotian, the sense a Somalian, Nigerian, just find these little niche Morgan, the Nepalese and I’ll sign of these people because I was actually calling out marketing to businesses and to, for example, I wouldn’t say I used to go to gas, it’s just a lot. And I would try to, you know, get the gas station business and the owner was there. Then I would speak to the clerk behind the, behind the counter and I would sell them insurance and lot of times these carts were for Nepal or India or wherever the cases.
And I’d be like, Hey, well, you know, the elderly here, but how about I give you a let’s, let’s, uh, let’s get you to see if I can save you some money. And a lot of times people don’t do that. And I built up a very niche market from that. And so I stayed from the two years I was there, um, I averaged about 100 policies and walked myself, right. Um, and, and to the same mindset and brought it over here to farmers. And I still to this day have a lot of clients from, from state farm that call me, right? And they’re like, hey, where’d you go? I was like, Oh, I’m gonna open my own agency up. And they bring all their people there, referrals going on, we take care of people and we kind of go the extra mile for comfort wise, especially the ones that are like, you know, the Burmese are just came over here from, from Syria or Iraq or the cases.
We try try to help them do things that aren’t necessarily insurance way. Right? So a good example would be, you know, they may not know how to do like the homestead act, you know, make sure that their homes safe from the homestead or maybe they don’t know, they don’t know how to get a lawyer for this type of thing. So, okay, well I can help you find a lawyer, talk to this person. And it’s kind of help them walk them through different things that you know, that most Americans take for granted. Right. So they may not know what to do, but you know, we, you know, me personally and I make sure my staff was the same thing is go the extra mile for our customers. Right. We make sure that they’re taken care of, that they need anything that we’re here for them. Now obviously we don’t make any money off of that, but it makes them feel like, hey, they can talk to you, we can talk to dave, Dave lowers staff and they’re going to really get to take care of us. And I feel that’s really been a big part of our success. So we take the same concepts in Britain and brought over to the farmers.
Yeah, I mean you’re taking, you’re taking things from all of your experience. I mean from, from selling phones and, but, but also from the military and really putting it into this consumer service environment, uh, which is, which is pretty neat. So I feel like you get the best of both worlds.
Absolutely. I agree. It’s very rewarding because insurance, to be honest, when I first got out, I’ve always been a very big financial guy. I’ve always been a big lesson you to find that kind of thing. And that’s Kinda, that was Kinda what was my goal was to actually be a stock broker or a financial analyst. So I got a degree in finance through the military and um, you know, I was kind of what I wanted to do and, and so I started, you know, uh, looking at some different things and I found out, okay, well insurance is pretty related to that. Especially with say farm, you know, they have, you know, able to build to sell mutual funds and Iras, those kinds of things. And it sounds like, okay, well it’s a good transition. So then I can start, start with that. And then later on I can go into, you know, Goldman Sachs, that’s the goats to the investment world.
But after, after awhile I realized like, Hey, you know, as an, as an agent, you know, I can, I can make the same kind of money these guys make and work a lot less. In the sense that it’s weird because the harder you work, the harder you work with those types of companies. Like you know, the, the Goldman Sachs, jp morgans, the harder you work early on, the more human work, the more stress and more work later on in life versus insurance. The harder you work in the beginning, the less you’re going to work as you get, as you get, as you get bigger because you have staff for that.
Sure. So what would you say your goal or mission with your agency, what do you hope to accomplish? And let’s say the next five years.
Okay. So why hopes to accomplish really? Kagan is basically to be the go to guy for, for all their insurance with obviously, but also the girl our policies and now we’re worried about. So we started a scratch agency. So in business for a little bit over two, two and a half years. Right. And um, right now we have about 2,400 policies. So we’ve, we’ve grown about $1,000 a year. That’s great. Thank you. So my goal in five years is to have about $7,000. Um, which that’s, I think that’s very doable because we’re, you know, we’re, we’re consistent with what we do or numbers wise, we’re consistently the number one producing agency in our district and our district is the largest district in the country largely, well the number one district and also don’t have a large number one district in the country. So I have a great, great, you know, great district manager, I’m going to staff that helped us along the way. But um, you know, we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying to be, you know, have six or seven, six or 7,000 policies in force as long as well as being the number one of life producing a agency for farmers in, in Texas as well. That’s my three
top lifestyle. So congratulations on that. That’s great. And to have that so, so early into the game, that’s, that’s phenomenal. Products and other companies do you offer at your agency?
So farmers do farmers and we do have, we do have a company called craft, like a farmers’ homes and it’s almost kind of like an independent agency. Right? So they, they offer, if we can’t write a few farmers or through one of our companies, we can go through craft lake and they basically shopped different, different carriers for us, um, you know, so we’re able to like write general contractors, write to Hartford or do vtis, things like that. So, you know, really we offer, you know, farmers offers, auto, home life, umbrella, commercial, pet insurance, credit cards, a specialty. So like, you know, your boats, jet skis, anything like that, motorcycles. So we basically offer a wide range. The only thing we don’t offer is helpful. That’s one thing offer.
Gotcha. Well we always like to do is make sure that our consumers and other people were listening can take away five key takeaways from you. So what would those five key takeaways be if you were talking to our consumers?
Well, being in the military really opened my eyes to really just kinda like, because that’s really, uh, that’s really helped me a lot. It’s really helped me appreciate life in general and that’s a big part of our success is realizing the small things in life are not as anywhere near the things that could happen to you. So sometimes you will feel really bad. Like, Oh, I’ve had a really bad day, but I can guarantee you is nothing compared to, you know, getting worried about getting blown up by an IED. So that’s I think what every single day. So there’s days where I have a bad day and I just looked back line David could be a lot worse. I could be getting shot at right now are getting blown up. So that’s one key takeaway. A second key takeaway would be, you know, treat, treat, you know, not just your, you know, not just people around you but your staff or everybody treated with respect, you know, treat, treat everybody how you want to be treated.
I’ve been very fortunate because my staff, I have probably the greatest staff in the world because they really care about the business, right? They care about as much as I business and I’ve been so lucky and the reason I think is part of that is because I treated like human beings, you know, I reward them for doing good work and I make sure that they know, hey, you did a great job, thank you so much and I’ll, you know, take one trips and whatnot. That’s another key takeaway for me, you know, just treat the staff, the staff and people in general with kindness. And also it goes back to, you know, selling, right. You know, you never know who you’re gonna be on the street, you know, be kind to everybody you can. And Hey, you know, maybe one day they’ll, there’ll be your client or one day there’ll be a good connection for you.
Right? So that’s a, that’s a, that’s a big thing for me. Um, and also, you know, in another big thing I realized recently is money is not, money is not everything, right? You can, you can make all the money in the world, which can be the most miserable person in the world. So the all your time with your family. I have two little boys, um, and they are just my, just my, my, my, my light every minute. I, I just, it just makes me happy. Oh. So my, my oldest is three and my youngest will be two next month.
Alright man. Mama is busy right now.
I’ve got a five and a two year old, so I understand.
So you understand. Okay. That’s awesome. Um, and you know, just enjoy life. I mean we’re here for a limited period of time. I mean it’s inevitable. Death and taxes are the two things that are certain things in life. Just enjoy life and enjoy life. And I mean there’s. So. There’s so much to appreciate. Better life being not just, you know, being in the US, but just being alive at this time with this technology. I mean 30, 40 years ago you and I will be having a conversation via podcasts, right? That would be nonexistent. Right? But, you know, we live in, we live in a generation where there’s so much advancement, so much cool things that are happening that by God I mean this, this is, this is part of the best time to be alive right now. So much for, to see too. I’m excited to see where does it lead us to the future, right?
Yeah, definitely. Um, and uh, I guess my last key takeaway would be don’t take people for granted. Don’t take it for granted because what a lot of people, you know, and I’ve done this before and I’m guilty of it myself. That’s what I can say it, you know, I’ve taken people for granted in the past, um, when I was younger and thinking about it now, you know, especially your parents, like I took my parents a lot and you don’t realize until they’re gone. Um, so while family member’s gone that I’m know things could have been different. If you feel better about yourself, obviously you can rent it, you know, you have no way of preventing it from dying. Right? But at least you could, you could, you know, value your time with your family or your parents or your loved ones, whatever the case is, you know. So that’s, that’s a big thing for me. I’ve really realized that a lot is like value your time, don’t take for granted, just, just live everyday like it’s your last day, right?
Sometimes we hear that a lot, but unfortunately we don’t believe it and we don’t live by it. So I think that’s, that’s great. So if people want to get in touch with you and want to learn more about you, your agency, and maybe how that, how your agency can serve them and maybe their family, what are the best ways to do that?
Okay. So, um, you can reach out to me, um, wife. My telephone number is six, eight two, a two, one nine, zero, two, three, nine. Or they can shoot me an email at a d as in David, v as in Victor, O as in Oscar, the number one, uh, the at sign farmers with an s [inaudible] dot com. That’s the best way to get ahold of me. The email.
Thank you so much for being here and we want to thank everyone else for listening. When remind you just to make sure to subscribe to the podcast and also give her a view and tell us what you thought about David. Also, don’t forget, if you are looking for insurance quotes that don’t staying, make sure to check out [inaudible] dot com. Click get a quote and then search for David Vo and you will find him there with a great bio and also other information about his agency, but we really appreciate you, David, and appreciate your service in the military and we will talk to everyone very safe.

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