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You don't need to win an award to be a winner

Jeff Zulman 4 minute read

The broking industry comprises plenty of inspirational individuals, writes Book Buyers Brokerage’s Jeff Zulman

I was privileged to be asked to judge the finalists in the 2015 Australian Broking Awards. The quality, diversity and complexity of award submissions make for a dizzying array of talent and achievement.

Not everyone can make the podium, however what shines through are some of the stories of bravery, determination and true grit displayed by entrants. I want to share extracts from just one of these stories with you, in the hope that Michelle will inspire you, as she did me:

“I am 34 years old, I’m a wife, a mother of two stubborn and determined children, and I run a finance brokerage. I come from a long line of professionals. I was the kid who was destined to become the break in that chain. The one thing the teachers loved me for was my ability to sell them on the reasons why I couldn’t do something the way that they wanted and how I believed my approach was creating a much broader audience.

I decided to take a leap into selling cars. I quickly learned at 19 years old that I had entered a world of males who dominated the industry and I just didn’t fit in. So I worked harder. I pursued every female client I could find, to prove a point – that I was a better salesman than the men. I learned every inch of a car – from engine to the surge tank, I knew it all. Turbos, V8s … there wasn’t a car that I couldn’t rattle off how every variable worked. I knew the prices, I knew the stock, and every morning I would memorise it and go out and sell the living daylights out of them!


In the GFC, I was at the peak of my wonderful finance career: great job travelling and teaching dealerships how to operate effectively, finance managers and sales staff how to be successful, how to increase retention, how to make more money, working for the biggest finance company in the world.
I hit rock bottom the day I was made redundant. I crumbled and didn’t know what to do. There were no sales jobs, no finance jobs and I knew that me being anywhere but in front of my customers would not make me happy. So I decided I would start my own company. And not just any finance business, the best one that anyone could possibly find. I went back to my mentor – my grandfather – and asked him to tell me everything he knew about business and what I needed to do to be successful. He told me three things: ‘Tell 100 per cent of the truth 100 per cent of the time to 100 per cent of customers. Remember that people will only buy something from someone they like. Be likeable.’
I walked up and down the streets, day after day, talking to people, old ladies, businesses, the bread-shop owners and promised every single one that if they came to me when they needed something, I would promise no matter what time of day or night they needed me, I would be there.
I was frustrated – my business was going slow. I was awake, stressed, trying to figure out how to keep my company from going down the drain.
Until the phone started ringing at 2am one morning. A man that was walking his dog about three weeks earlier had been stopped and bombarded by me and my sales pitch. He worked as a jail warden, and finished that night at 1am. His car broke down on the way home, so as he walked for an hour and half home thinking that he needed a new car, [and] he thought of me. And he gave me a loan to do. It was approved in three hours that morning; he had his new car that day. He wrote me my first testimonial, and started bringing me clients.
I work around my life and children, days and a lot of nights. My clients, who finish their shifts at 2am, still call me. I still answer every one of them. I may work seven days a week. I may not sleep a lot to ensure that the work always gets done. I may never be so financially wealthy that I don’t know what to do with all of that money. But when my clients need a broker, they know that I’m the one that is going to answer the phone.”

The finance broking industry has been built on the back of individuals whose passion, hard work and determination allowed them to demonstrate their unlimited potential. Michelle may not have won an award on the day, but in my eyes, she is already a winner.

You don't need to win an award to be a winner
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Jeff Zulman

Jeff Zulman

Jeff Zulman is the founding Managing Director of TrailBlazer Finance a specialist financial services lender offering business loans, valuations and M&A advice and execution services, specifically tailored for financial intermediaries, principally mortgage brokerage and financial planning firms, and finance brokers.


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