Our finances and all money related issues is a topic so important to our well being and survival but it is the least taught in schools today. As much as we like to say money is not that important, that is not true. We spend at least 8 hours of our day trying to make money and when we are not making it we spend more time thinking about how to keep most it.
The Brazen Women this month, is Chan Kawaguchi. I have known Chan for a few years now and her drive, work ethic and genuine kindness to others are a few things that make her an inspiration! She has embarked on this journey of saving financial lives and I'm so excited to share it with you.
Read more about my conversation with Chan below!
The Brazen Closet: What do you do?
Chan: I’m in the business of saving lives - financial lives. I help people get paid cash benefits when they get sick or injured.
The Brazen Closet: What did you do before this?
Chan: I used to be an Oil and Gas Accountant for several years. My husband and I are also full time real estate investors.
The Brazen Closet: How did make the transition to insurance?
Chan: The insurance part of it really was by accident. Part of being an investor is building relationships and networks. It was through one of those relationships that I was introduced to this opportunity and being an open minded person, I was interested in knowing more.
I saw that they were people of integrity and we had similar values. They were just an amazing group of people I knew I could learn a lot from and I was willing to do that. But when I realized it was insurance, I was a bit hesitant. This industry was the last one that I ever thought I would get into. It had such a negative connotation for me.
But because of my personal story it changed my perspective. My Father-in-law passed away over a year ago of cancer. He was our insurance guy. He did everything from life insurance, to investments, mutual funds, group plans and more. In our family’s eye it was just like a sales position and it didn’t seem like he made much of an impact on people’s lives; it was no different than a sales job.
What got me was their integrity and the training they were offering. I figured it would be good to learn anyway and no knowledge is lost, so I went ahead with it. They had training about mindset, self-development, building yourself as an entrepreneur etc. After getting to know the team more, I learnt that they made over $50 million in sales in their previous businesses. I was ready to learn everything I could from them and have them as my mentors. My main agenda was to apply everything I learnt to my real estate business.
The Brazen Closet: How did you get started?
Chan: I started with getting my license, and during that time I had a light bulb moment and I couldn't wait to get home to share the information with my husband. The insurance I was learning about was the opposite of what we knew.
I was learning information that could have helped us tremendously during my Father-in-law’s illness and during his survival period there was coverage available that could have paid every time he went into the hospital. The funeral costs to our family was over $25,000. They have products that cover anyone and everyone from infants to seniors, from high risk sports enthusiasts to construction workers. It really changed my thinking and my mission from using my learning for just our real estate business to actually educating and helping more people.
The Brazen Closet: How do you differentiate yourself in an industry with such negative connotation?
Chan: I personally deal with the accident and sickness side for business owners, families and individuals. I call it the living benefits insurance, because you don’t have to die to be paid out unlike the traditional life insurance. It is living benefits because you are the greatest asset to yourself and your family. If you lose the ability to earn a living through an illness or an accident, what are your options?
We also have a huge network for all types of insurance, tax strategists, accounting, investments etc. So there is a whole network available for every financial need, we use a very holistic approach, making sure your financial health is well taken care of. At the end of the day you want to learn a legal strategy on how to create more wealth, and for me that was important because wealth gave me financial and time freedom to have with my family.
We create a very customizable plan for every individual’s unique needs to make sure they are educated and covered, with zero waiting periods and very minimal exclusions. It is not about just selling for us. Client education and building long term relationships are a huge priority.
The Brazen Closet: Can you tell me more about your Real estate business?
Chan: My strength lies in deeply connecting with people and helping them find solutions, and together we creatively architect the best scenario possible for both the homeowner and the investor. A typical example of what we do is coming across someone who needs to sell their home immediately and can’t afford to list it traditionally.
We look at the opportunity and the numbers and get to understand the motivation behind the sale, to make sure we are meeting that need, because it is not always about the money. We then find the right investor, someone to manage the financing, someone to project manage the operations on-ground and deal with the tenants if required etc. and we just get a piece of that pie and everyone wins.
The insurance knowledge has also been a huge benefit to our real estate business because when we get to know home owners on a very personal level, we realized that a lot of times something has happened in some home owners lives that makes them unable to pay their mortgage. It could be job loss through a lay off because of the current economic climate or an illness that makes them unable to work.
They are forced to choose between paying for treatments to stay alive or paying their mortgage to keep a roof over their heads and they have no financial ability to survive. But if they had some sort of specialized insurance plan that could pay them cash benefits, they could have saved their home from foreclosure or had money to pay their bills.
It has now become my duty to educate as many people as I can. So when I came across an insurance company that has been around for over 100 hundred years that does just that I was interested in knowing more. This changed my mission from just real estate investing to educating people and saving lives financially. So I’m on a mission to financially save 1 million Canadian lives.
The Brazen Closet: What motivates you?
Chan: It is definitely not easy. I have a 11 month old and a 3 year old and we have other businesses. What really motivates me is my mission. It is bigger than myself. I am trying to save 1 million Canadian lives through financial education. So people know that there are options available to them.
If I leave a client more educated than they were when I met them and they are able to make a more informed decision, then I have succeeded. If I missed an opportunity to educate someone and something happened, I would regret it. My family came to Canada in 1980 and no one has ever knocked on our door with such information. I know my Dad could have used it many times over, because he has had a heart attack, a stroke and now he has cancer. So I regret that I didn’t have this information sooner.
The Brazen Closet: How do you juggle it all?
Chan: It honestly is not easy. I can’t say there is such a thing as balance. There is no way I can get 50% of my family and 50% of my business done. It just doesn't work that way for me. Besides who only wants 50% of their family? Something definitely has to give.
Because I am really focused on my mission and my family is 100% on board, we’ve had to hire extra help. We also have our extended family that help us out. It is a huge sacrifice but because I feel 100% on purpose, I know it is well worth it. I want my life to be about significance not just success. I also make sure that when I’m with my family I am 100% present, and I schedule in some personal time and date nights as well, otherwise it won’t happen.
The Brazen Closet: What have you learnt from being in business and would you have anything differently?
Chan: No, I won’t have done anything differently because when I look back I believe everything happened perfectly when they did. I’ve learned to say why is this happening FOR me not just why is this happening TO me. And any decision made in the past was right at the time and whatever the outcome it produced I’ve always learnt from it. It really has gotten me to where I am today.
I believe having a positive attitude and outlook has also really helped especially during the trying times. I also wish I would have learnt this much younger, so it makes me passionate about teaching younger people about real estate and insurance, and educating them about finances because that information is not taught in schools.
The Brazen Closet: How are you planning to move your mission forward, impacting a million people in 2017?
Chan: I have to do it on a big scale. Building a team and talking to people on a large scale is how I hope to impact more people. I’m looking for business owners with employees, people with influence and high caliber, people with great integrity who want to make a difference. People that want to write a story of significance and not just success.
So far already my husband is also licensed and we have a team of 12 people and we want to double that in 6 months.
The Brazen Closet: Any final words or advice?
Chan: A lot of people get to a cross road at different points in their lives, trying to make the best decisions to move forward. My advice is having a moment of silence. All the answers are within you if you just give yourself that moment to be an observer. Whatever brings you the good feelings and bliss is your answer.
You won’t really come one day and say you’ve found your passion. For me, I did not find my passion in insurance or real estate. I’ve learnt that you cultivate a passion through the vehicle you have chosen, that journey you’ve chosen. The vehicle you have chosen no matter what it is, be it insurance, teaching, car sales, a student etc. is not as important as the drive and effort you put into it and the impact you make.
Whatever you do, put in integrity, hard work and your absolute best effort. The passion is then cultivated from that. It could be to help people, to serve, to give back, to donate, etc. Wherever you are right now and whatever you choose, it is okay and it will be okay. Don’t compare yourself to other people, only be better than who you were yesterday and what you are capable of. We can always do better and operate at a higher level.
The Brazen Closet: What does style mean to you?
Chan: Style for me is like borrowing from someone else's inspiration. I don't have a lot of time to spend putting together a wardrobe to look "stylish". The less decisions I have to make on this, the more I can divert that energy to more life altering decisions. So I get inspired by simple, comfortable pieces that can make a bold statement about myself. I love the style of Audrey Hepburn. She seems kind and classic, and that to me is always enduring.
I hope Chan's story has inspired you, I think one the most inspiring quotes I have heard recently is this "write a story of significance and not just of success". We can all be better than we were yesterday and make a difference, living BRAZEN!