Money & Investments Talk (and Book Recommendations!) with Sa El, Founder of Simply Insurance Agency
Sa El is the co-founder of Simply Insurance, a consumer-facing digital insurance agency, and a licensed life and health insurance agent with over 11 years of experience.
Sa began selling life insurance when his grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. She didn’t have any life insurance, and it was agony for the family to pay for a funeral. He was only 18 years old at the time, and he was very shocked at how little anyone new about the fact that his grandmother had no life insurance. He realized that most people don’t know a thing about life insurance in general.
Sa’s goal from that moment on was to give accurate insurance education, along with an easy insurance buying process. He began working on Simply Insurance once he realized that customers wanted an option to purchase insurance online, without interacting with an agent.
In our interview, Sa talked about his favorite books, including the one that helped him understand that he needs to transition from being self-employed to becoming a business owner or investor and create sources of passive income, common mistakes made when it comes to investment, skills that will be fundamental in the future, and more.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
My favorite non-business book is Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, this book is full of sage advice on how to get over yourself and to not let the small things in life beat you up. It also helps you understand that anything you think is something big, is still really small stuff because it won’t matter in 100 years.
My favorite business book would be Rich Dad Poor Dad, The 4-Hour Workweek, and Think and Grow Rich, these books helped me understand that you must first become mentally rich before you can see the financial reward of it and also the perils of staying in a poor mindset or around people with poor mindsets. They teach you that you have to create the reality you want to live in.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, when I read the Cashflow Quadrant, it helped me understand that I needed to transition from a space of being self-employed into either being a business owner or an investor. I became a business owner and have been creating passive income from it.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.
I would have to say that the book that most changed my life was Rich Dad Poor Dad, it really pulled me out of a poor mindset and into the journey of building a rich mindset. That book started everything for me and without it, I am not sure if I would be in the space or place I am today.
After that, I would say The 4-Hour Workweek was essential in me starting my path as a blogger, I don’t think anyone can read that book and not immediately want to start a blog or some type of automated business.
What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?
Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller – This book is all about telling the story of your business to your customers to that they know exactly what you offer and how to make them the hero in the journey. If you want to build a smart site, with a strong call to action, this book is essential.
Work The System by Sam Carpenter – This book is about creating systems and holding the systems accountable as well as the people who function inside of them. These systems can give you the ability to spend less time at work and more time enjoying life. If you plan to run a small business, systems will be essential.
Rich Dad Poor Dad – This book started everything for me and put me on a path to a rich mindset, it helped me understand that dreaming wasn’t enough, you had to actually place that dream into reality if you ever want to achieve it.
Think and Grow Rich – Another book all about how to obtain financial success by changing how you think and how to change your actions based on that thinking pattern, mindset is the first thing that must change if you want to build a business.
The 4-Hour Workweek – This book will help you understand that business in the traditional sense isn’t the only answer, it shows you that if you plan out what you want and need, and put a number on it, you can live financially free with almost no effort once the hard work is put into it.
We’re interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? How often do you read? What format do you prefer?
I prefer audiobooks when I am working on my blog so I can do both things at once so that is how I manage the time. I try to read 1 chapter of a book per day.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I like to read books twice, the first time to just get an understanding of the concept and the second time to take action moves based on the suggestions in the book. This makes it easier to manage information.
How do you choose what books to read next? Do you prioritize books recommended by certain people?
I am a part of several mailing lists, podcasts, and groups that all show the books they are currently reading or talk about some of the best books of the month or year and I usually pick one that sounds the most interesting to me and one that sounds the least interesting.
I have found that if you read a book that you don’t think will be good you usually can learn more from it.
Your mission is to educate the everyday person about insurance “in Plain English”. What is a common mistake people make when they buy insurance? What are the biggest aspects that people can’t seem to understand on this topic?
The most common mistake people make when they buy insurance is that they assume they are purchasing it for themselves, life insurance is not for the person buying it, but for the people they are leaving behind. We tend not to make the best choices when we are buying something for ourselves, it’s best to say “I need life insurance for my family” instead of “I need life insurance”.
The biggest aspects people don’t understand about insurance is that it isn’t the answer to your financial freedom, nor is it an investment instrument, it’s simply protection against the loss of something, be it your life, your home, a car or a cell phone.
With the jobs market more and more unstable and insecure, lifelong education is key. At the same time, learning resources are becoming increasingly commoditized and know-how also becomes obsolete faster. What fundamental skills, those that will always matter, do you believe should be learned in schools?
For me, the most fundamental skills that need to be taught in school are:
Fun – If you make something fun, it is much easier to remember and much more enjoyable to do. At some point in school, we stop doing Fun and start being too serious, I think protecting fun is important.
Discovery – The skill of Discovery is also important and should be taught in school because teaching someone how to discover new things about life or themselves is going to be what allows us to continue to grow into a more stable and responsible planet.
Math & Science – Numbers never lie and sometimes they even create new truths, I think Math & Science are important for the logical mind and to make our future better to live in.
Problem Solving – While we do a ton of problem-solving inside of math, they aren’t the same things, I wasn’t great at math but I was an excellent problem solver, I loved Math and Computer Science because it was all about solving the problem. I think problem-solving is an essential skill that should be learned in schools.
Critical Thinking – Last but not least, we need to learn more about Critical Thinking in school, this type of thinking would make us much smarter when dealing with people, help our emotional intelligence and make us overall better people.
Do you have an example of a mistake you made while building your business? How did you change your mind, what was the thinking process behind it?
When I first started in the insurance space and decided I wanted to focus on the telesales side of insurance, I went out and hired people, paid for classes, and spent tons of money on leads to try to build an agency in a space I didn’t fully understand.
I realized that I needed to learn everything about the space first before trying to bring people into the process, this was one of the hardest lessons to learn but it was the best lesson I learned while building a business.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Right now I am reading through the series of books by E. Lynn Harris starting with Invisible Life, it’s something I am doing together with my husband so It’s more for entertainment and relationship building with my husband. I think reading together with your spouse is super important and builds bonds you wouldn’t imagine.
Links where you can follow Sa El or find out more about his projects:
- Simply Insurance
- Credit Knocks
- Connect with Sa on LinkedIn | Twitter
All books mentioned by Sa El in our interview:
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life, by Richard Carlson
- Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Tim Ferriss
- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
- Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom, by Robert Kiyosaki
- Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller
- Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, by Sam Carpenter