KBW Member Spotlight, Cortlyn Vacek

My name is Cortlyn Vacek. I am a current student at the University of Houston pursuing a bachelor of arts in Media Production with a focus in broadcasting, and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. I hope to graduate in late 2023. I am from the small town of Splendora, Texas, and currently live in Kingwood. Between work and school, I am all over the greater Houston area. I have one beautiful Persian cat named Ellie. She is my baby!

Did you always know that you’d be in your current industry? Tell us your story of how you arrived at your current success.

If you would have asked me if I would be working in Insurance when I graduated high school five years ago, I would have thought you were crazy! I began working at State Farm Insurance in 2018, barely after my 19th birthday. I got the job because a mutual friend knew the agent personally, and knew they were looking for someone. At the State Farm location, I was at, the work environment was cutthroat and toxic. I was the youngest in the office and was given very little respect. It took me a long time to realize how horrible it was, and why there was so much turnover. Granted they did work with my school schedule, but not without consistently asking when I would be done. It made me feel like I couldn’t put my studies and myself first. I knew I was too young to be working for someone who did not even care about me and only acknowledged my success when it benefitted them.

I reached out to a woman I grew up knowing from church, and let her know the basics of my situation. She IMMEDIATELY made a Facebook post about a young agent, who is also a student, with both her Personal lines and life insurance licenses who needed help. People immediately began commenting. My agency owner, Charles McDade, was the first to comment. As soon as I spoke to him I had a good feeling. I spoke to a few other agents, but nothing compared to the feeling I got with McDade Insurance. I eventually went in to interview them, and it went great. I was going to take the position and finally leave State Farm. But then, the uncertainty and anxiety hit. I ended up deciding I wanted to get my mental health in order before I could take a new job. I told Charles at McDade Insurance my situation, and he totally understood. During that time, I was able to get back on medication. About a month later I got a random text from Charles just checking on me. My old boss NEVER did that. It meant so much to me, and I decided it was time to make the move. I wanted to stay in insurance because I knew a lot about the industry, and it was safe. Now I realize, it’s not just my knowledge I have, but the love I have for helping people. I was 21 when I left State Farm. It has been the best decision of my life so far.

A healthy work/life balance is important. What’s your take on it?

I am the queen of having to balance work, life, AND school. It is so important to put yourself first, and what is going to actually help better you. Since being at McDade Insurance and having the support of being able to focus more on school, I am making the best grades I ever have had. I have time to play with my cat, go on dates and trips with my boyfriend, and for myself. Work is no longer a huge weight on my shoulders or a burden like it was in the past. If I take care of myself first, work and school will follow. At the moment, I am really big on school coming first.

What is most crucial to you in a business?

In business, atmosphere and sincerity are the most important to me. I learned early that having a good work environment and atmosphere can really make or break you. I have also learned that when you believe in what you do and are sincere about it, success will follow.

How did your areas of improvement drive you to find your strengths?

Every day I am still learning how I can improve on my strengths. I’d have to say that my genuine love for helping people is my biggest strength.

Has networking been an asset to developing your business? and How?

Networking and referrals are how I earn most of my business. It is important that people trust me to take care of others and themselves.

What greatest success have you ever had in the business industry?

My greatest success comes whenever I am able to help clients during claims. When the process goes smoothly and they are taken care of by the insurance company, that is success to me.

Other than a double shot espresso, what method or tools do you use or attribute to your increased business productivity?

Reminders on my phone are the biggest lifesaver. I also have automation tools to use to help reach out to my clients and follow up with them.

You’ve done great things professionally to get you where you are today! What are some of your professional achievements?

My professional achievements are obtaining my property and casualty license, and my life and health insurance license. I do not work for a company that gives out rewards.

What’s your best-selling product, package, or service? Why do you think that is?

My bestselling product is homeowners. It is one of the most important assets you have. I always make sure to inform my clients about the coverage they do and do not have. It is important for them to be aware of what coverage they are purchasing, and how it and I can help them in the future. It’s not about selling the product to a client. It is about them understanding what they are purchasing.

Knowing what you know now as an entrepreneur, what would you tell your younger self?

I would tell my youngest self to embrace her flaws and insecurities and to use them to her advantage. Keep the confidence you have, because will help you go further. You are capable of this you could never imagine, but you will do them.

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