Janet Fish 0:08
Hello and welcome to the breakaway entrepreneur podcast where we explore the entrepreneur mindset, the characteristics and traits that lead to success. I’m your host Janet Fish and in this episode we talk about taking risks with Kathy Manal, after over 20 years serving in the healthcare insurance industry, guiding people through the muddy waters of Medicare and Medicaid insurance, working for someone else. Kathy started her own company, Manal Insurance Solutions. Kathy’s passion is educating seniors, helping helping them make the most informed choices regarding one of the most important decisions they have to make. Kathy is focused on giving back as she differentiates herself with her many years of experience. Kathy and I discussed how she made her decision to break out on her own and now facing risks straight on, makes her the successful entrepreneur that she is. I hope you enjoy Our chat. So Kathy, Manal, how you doing this morning?
Kathy Mennel 1:04
I’m great. Janet, thank you so much for having me. How are
Janet Fish 1:07
you? I’m doing great. It’s it’s gonna be awesome. So let’s just start out by you telling us just a little bit about you, you the businesswoman you a little bit about your personality and I have personality but your personal life. Let us get to know you a little bit better.
Kathy Mennel 1:24
Well, let’s see. I mean a mom and a grandma. Now I have two sons that are, you know, of course out of the house in their early 30s. And then I have three steps, set kids, two boys, girl and they’re all out of the house. And so we have husband and I have five together and five children. And I’ve been working since I was 14 and I’ve been in the healthcare industry insurance part of it for over 25 years. And then in the last 10 years really got involved in the Medicare arena, just became really passionate about it. And so I, you know, started my own business about a year and a half ago. So um, I was a single mom for a long time I got divorce when my children were really young, my two boys and was pretty myself back through college, I did not have a college degree. So here I was, you know, single mom going to school and then working part time and my whole goal was to make sure I was able to get a job that I could support them. And so that was my driving force was to take care of them to give them more than you know, that I had had and then, lo and behold, six years ago, I met a man and got remarried and I thought that would never happen. So now we’re in Sacramento area. I grew up kind of South Bay, but I’ve been in the Greater Sacramento area since the late 80s. And really love it here. So that’s kind of where I am now.
Janet Fish 3:11
Awesome. So talk about your journey from because I know you’ve held jobs for a long time. And then just a year and a half ago, talk about the journey of how you decided to start your own business and what that’s been like.
Kathy Mennel 3:26
I yes, so I did have a lot of different roles. And
you know, they were they were all really different and they all gave me something, you know, a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience in the health insurance industry. And then I when we moved back to Sacramento, I stopped working for a very large insurance carrier, and decided that I really wanted to have a job that I liked. And now that I was married, I wasn’t the you know, that the fret, the only breadwinner in the house. So, it gave me a lot more opportunity. Unfortunately, the kind of the positions that I received were ones that took me, you know, traveling across the country. And after a while, it just gets a little tiring. So with my husband and I both had pretty stressful jobs, and it was apparent that something had to change. So I always, always wanted to own my own business. And so we have, you know, a lot of discussions about it, because you given up a really big salary, and changing your lifestyle to do something that’s quite risky. And, but once again, with having that security, I was able, you know, to finally leave and decide that I’m not just didn’t want to work 12 hours a day anymore, and all the week. I wanted to enjoy my family and so starting my own business gave me that flexibility to work very, very hard to have your own business. I knew that it would be better If I could control my own destiny,
Janet Fish 5:02
yeah. So talk a little bit about that decision. So how did you decide? Let me let me let me figure out how way I can say this, it actually makes some sense. How did you decide which business business to start? You knew what industry it was going to be in. But how did you decide what what you would actually sell or what what business you what part of that because it’s a vast industry? Was it a simple decision? Was it an obvious one? Was it? How did you come to the decision? This is exactly what my business is going to do. Given your background.
Kathy Mennel 5:45
It was, um, it was kind of a stop and go experiment started. I mean, I knew I wanted to be in Medicare because I loved it. It’s really complex. The whole Medicare arena is just so complex and costly. Using that it made me feel really good to be able to understand that whole, the whole Medicare world. And so I knew I wanted to be in Medicare, but I really wanted to stay focused on the education part I really loved. When I was with one position, I would give educational seminars all the time and I, I really liked it. I liked presenting in front of people, it gave me a sense of accomplishment that I could help them try to understand a really complex subject. And so I knew I wanted to do that part of it, unfortunately, in the Medicare world to make any money. There’s so many regulations, so I couldn’t just go out and do educational events because you cannot you’re regulated cannot charge a Medicare beneficiary any money to come and see you so the only way that you can You know, make money is through commission of enrolling them into a different, you know, into a policy. So that’s how it kind of morphed from doing more just really education and consulting into have having to be incorporating that sales within it. So I’ve mesh the two together. And a lot of my clients come from an educational event or sales event depending on the time of year. So I’m able to get that part of it, and then still, you know, have some kind of revenue.
Janet Fish 7:33
Yeah, I would suspect that. I mean, when I look at the how to sell or the marketing funnel, they’re part of the process. So much of it relies on for people who are good at what they do on the educational piece, provide people great education and then they want to work with you and in whatever the paid part of it is. And you obviously have a great love for that and obviously have a great history of that, which I’m sure completely sets you apart from so many others. Who are others who are just out there brokering these, these plans to whoever is turning 65 and now has to make a decision on which way they’re going to go. So I’m sure that totally differentiates you from so many others out there doing the same kind of thing.
Kathy Mennel 8:16
Now that’s really true. And it’s really frustrating to see that happening. So I see I’ll meet people that were giving wrong advice from someone that was just trying to make a sale or even people that were just knowledgeable and it’s so frustrating to see because it can be detrimental to that to that Medicare beneficiary to that senior it could affect them financially. It can affect them in you know, of course their health insurance is super important to them. And it’s also a very big part of their retirement portfolio and what they’re going to be doing. So it is really frustrating and then then on the kind of on the other side The coin. Sometimes I meet people that don’t want to know too much. They just want you to tell them, you know, I trust you just tell me what to do you know, and, and so you know, you meet those people too. And that’s fine. That’s fine. But at least I know that I’m giving them the right guidance.
Janet Fish 9:18
Yeah, well, and it’s got to be gratifying when you see those people who have been perhaps led down the wrong path or the path that may not be perfect for them. And there’s a better way, it’s got to be gratifying. I mean, a lot of what I do is all about helping people and that’s a lot about what you do. It’s, to me, I’m assuming that’s the gratifying piece of, of what you get to do every day,
Kathy Mennel 9:39
is it really makes you feel good, and it really gives me a sense of accomplishment and to be able to help somebody.
Janet Fish 9:46
Yeah. So tell me what’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur
Kathy Mennel 9:53
is giving back because I’m certainly not you know, it’s not about making the money. So much are making money. Certainly, you know, you want to have enough to be a viable business. But really it’s giving back and being able to share, share the knowledge and experience that I have. You know, when when people go into this, they’re like, why does this happen? They have a lot of questions that are Why, why, why why? And so I like being able to share the history of history, the experience that I have, that can really kind of get get a little bit deeper if they if they want to. So just getting back, I think is what I really love about it and seeing somebody say, Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad I met you, you so much and just get that. So that in itself is priceless. So I love that.
Janet Fish 10:51
So then I’ll ask the opposite. What’s your least favorite thing about being an entrepreneur or you can answer it. What’s the most Shocking or thing that you didn’t expect about being an entrepreneur because I don’t necessarily want to go if you don’t want to go in the least favorite negative go in the what’s what surprised you the most?
Kathy Mennel 11:12
I think Well, I think
I think didn’t surprise me But well, okay, some of it did were the accounting business crash. So I know what that’s all about. But the accounting part of it is just so overwhelming to me. And the way that this this Medicare space works, it’s not like even just any other kind of insurance. It’s very, very different. There’s so many different components to it, that I didn’t realize that it was going to be so varied, and that it was going to be really overwhelming. So that’s the part that I struggle with. And it’s like, I’m sure you’ve heard of that book. You know, eating A frog. And having to do that one thing you really don’t really have to get done or maybe you don’t want to hit Done. And doing that first. It’s something that I try to focus on. I’m not great about it, but it’s still in my mind that that’s what I need to do. So the managing the administration, of doing the business and also trying to combat with other powers would be better in the same industry is something that I’m not really fond of. There’s just everybody in their brother trying to jump into this industry because so many people are turning 65, you know, the baby boomer generation. And so it’s very, very, very competitive. So I’m not, you know, I am competitive, but I just, I want to just be able to share what I’m doing and not have to fight so hard.
Janet Fish 12:59
You have Well, and I think that Well, I know because I also when I started struggled with the accounting and administrative and I didn’t have the intricacies that you have of the Medicare system and all those kind of things, but just know it does get easier, because you figure it out. And then you just kind of keep doing the same things over and over again. And then a really happy day is when you get to hire somebody else to do it for you. So you just tell them how to do it the way you want it done. And then you just leave it and you don’t have to do it anymore. So those days are ahead if that’s the direction you want to go. So just know that it’s not always gonna be like that,
Kathy Mennel 13:38
right? Absolutely. I want to do that.
Janet Fish 13:42
So what’s the best advice you’d have for someone who is thinking about starting their business? I mean, especially coming from your background of being an employee for a long time and then saying, Okay, now, with all this knowledge that I have gained All the things that I love to do now I’m going to break out on my own. What’s your best advice for someone thinking about doing synthetic?
Kathy Mennel 14:07
Thank God, I wish I would have had a mentor, I wish I would have gone to somebody that was doing what I doing, and talk to them and gotten some type of guidance or what have you. I did so much research. And I had so much experience and background, I thought that, you know, I researched I talked to people, you know, and bounce things off of them, but I never found anyone until later that could guide me on how it really works with your own business. And so that would be my number one recommendation, do research then do more than you think you need and find a mentor to help you through that. That has done the same thing.
Yeah, and I’ll add to that
Janet Fish 14:57
because what I have found probably the most benefit Official thing along with you know, hiring a coach or a mentor is being active in a entrepreneurial community. So when I took my straddle I was it was 2005. And I had been in corporate America forever. When I decided to start out on my own, and I was involved with a entrepreneurial organization, and most of it at that time, this was 2005, as I said, was focused on investing and real estate. But it was also a heavy focus on how to structure your business, how to incorporate how to take advantage of tax tax advantages that you get for being an entrepreneur or an S Corp. And, and I was in a community of those people. And so my advice would be one, hire somebody to help you, but to, even if you don’t do that, get involved with a community of entrepreneurs. Who Some are struggling with you to figure it out at the same time you are. So you get that camaraderie like Kathy, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing either. Let’s figure it out together. And then you also have a community of people who have done what you’ve done, and are at that next level, and can really help you. So that would be kind of my advices. And, and I still am in that, right. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years, and I’m still in communities of entrepreneurs, and I still rely on them for help and guidance, because there’s a lot of people who are doing better than or are at that next level from where I am. So that’s my piece of advice.
Kathy Mennel 16:42
No, I agree. I agree. No. Um,
Janet Fish 16:46
so I always talk about because this, this podcast is about the characteristics and traits that make us different. We both been corporate people, and now we’re entrepreneurs. What do you think the traits are that differentiate entrepreneurs from people who have regular jobs?
Kathy Mennel 17:11
I think that the ability to take risks is one. Also, I never was when I’m in my been in my different corporate worlds. I always wanted more. I never, you know, you could be in a corporate environment, maybe your team or your department, there’s a lot of complaining going on. And I noticed over the years that I was the one that always did something took action of some kind where everyone else just kind of, you know bitched about it to be quite honest, and then just didn’t do anything where I’m like, Okay, well, this isn’t working for me. So I’m going to make a change. You know, sometimes it was wasn’t the right decision, but I took action. So I think that’s one way Big thing, I’m really motivated to be successful. I’m really, really that’s important to me. And know the sense of achievement. But I think that just the driving force of being able to step out of the box and take risks sets me apart from say somebody else that was an executive or a manager or something like that in the corporate world.
Janet Fish 18:25
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I couldn’t agree with you more to doing that. And I always say, being an entrepreneur is hard. And anybody who tells you it’s not is a lie. Right, cuz I always say that. I mean, we all know people who say, Yeah, I started a company and I made $10 million. And you’re like, something happened in there. It was it didn’t always go well, right. So now, so I’m sure you’ve had challenges and will continue to as we all have, and will continue to What do you do when you’re facing those challenges? Have there been any in particular challenges that what have you learned from them? It’s kind of an open ended question because I don’t want to be really specific, I want it to come from you. But talk about how you either how you face the challenges and how you get through them, or a specific instance up to you.
Kathy Mennel 19:27
I think there’s been, you know, there’s a lot of different challenges. We talked about the administration part of it, but there’s also kind of, if you think about the emotional side of it, so, you know, when you get a little bit older, you’re just treated a little bit different. And so I find that you know, there’s some people in my family and my, my extended family, that are very supportive, but then there’s others that aren’t and it’s kind of dismissed. It’s I feel sometimes like I know, I don’t have Have the big title behind my name anymore in that, no, I just feel like I would really like to have more support from that, like my husband’s very supportive. But he doesn’t understand that that whole business world he did you know blue collar work and he’s certainly in a much different job now but that entrepreneurial spirit that taking risks that doing doing doing without getting, you know maybe the results that you want, but stay with it that tenacity that you have to have. I don’t think a lot of people understand unless you’re actually doing it. So that’s been challenging to me, that whole kind of family or emotional side of it. So the way that I kind of get through that is I have some people that are in the same profession than I am that I’ve established really good relationships with, and I call them or you know, I go to my business network is Group and ask people their, you know, that are also entrepreneurs? And you know, have they experienced this? Or what are they doing? How are they doing this? And how did they get through this. And so that’s been super helpful is just reaching out and the ability to reach out to people that you trust that you know, that just lift you up. And sometimes, you know, we all we all need that. And I certainly try to give that back to them too, when they’re trying. I mean, I’m sure you went through it too, where there’s been times where just like, Am I doing the right thing? Is this right for me, you know, is the time that I put into this? Am I just you know, why? why I really want to give back but I also need to be able to be a valued, viable business. And so that’s been, you know, a challenge for me and I just keep doing it. And when that happens that we talked about earlier, when somebody says says to me, oh my gosh, thank you so much for that gratitude, or I saw somebody need your problem. It doesn’t matter that I’m like, I’m doing the right thing. Yeah,
Janet Fish 22:09
yeah, I noticed that when I first left my corporate job. My family and my family are all non entrepreneurs. You know, they’re all w two. And they didn’t get it at all. And I found it curious that there are a couple of, and I’ll generalize here, but there’s a couple of types of people. So there’s the one person who I won’t name names. I actually named it in other podcasts and then I cut it out because not that he would ever listen, but I just did it. But was that, you know, you can’t do that you can’t go start a company and I went from working selling software to land development deal in Mexico. So I mean, I kind of took a big jump, but I had mentors and people and partners helping me, but they’re like, you Can’t do that. And I realized after a while that it would that was a reflection on that person’s where they were at in their thought, because they would never even conceive of taking the risk in the leap and all of the things that you’ve been talking about, Kathy, that you have to do, to go and start your own company. There’s no check that comes in every week, whether you work or not. And I realized that because I was very hurt by it, that it was a reflection of where he was, and his fear of doing something different. And I honored that and I got that. Then we have the other person and I’ll name this one because it’s my sister, who I remember she used to say, you’re going to go do that such and such a thing. And I’m like, Yeah, I am. And I was working for an organization as a coach and she was I would go all over the country and the world actually and do events for them and coach for them and teach and she’s like, Here Gonna go off and do that again. And she never really like I mean, 6567 years into it. She’s like, what is it that you do? And I’m like, like, I’m a business coach, like I teach people how to build their business, how to make more money, how to deploy marketing, how to analyze what’s going on. Like, it’s not that rocket science but but regardless of what she understood of what I did, she’s my biggest fan. I To this day, she’s my biggest fan. So I and there’s a whole bunch of people within that spectrum. But I share that because if you don’t have exactly what you’re talking about, if you don’t have on someone that you can call and say, Hey, someone’s raining on my parade, and it’s a day where someone just said no to me, and I thought I had that deal. And someone said, or someone shut you down. And you’re like, just starting to question because we all have that. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and now I’m trying to do something a little bit different and there are days where I’m like, maybe nobody wants that or you know So I think it’s important to have those people that you can lean on and call upon. Because if you don’t have that, then you stay in your head, and you don’t get out the next day. And you don’t get out the next day. And then you don’t get out the next day. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about keeping at it. There’s a woman named Sharon lechter. I love her. She’s in the Napoleon Hill foundation I think she runs it thinking go riches, their book, but she wrote a book called three feet from gold, I think it was, and it was about how we work and we work and we work and we work and then we quit. When we’re just three feet from finding that gold. It’s I get chills because such a good book. She’s She’s amazing. Anyway, so I totally agree with you. And I’m glad that you found that. And I’ll also say if you’re ever in that spot, and you want to just pick up the phone and call me I’d love to be that person for you. If
Kathy Mennel 25:59
that’s something Appreciate that. Yeah.
Janet Fish 26:04
Well, I think we all do. I think we all do. And, and I will say that during this time of COVID-19 Yeah, we’ll get all we’ll get through this. But I think it’s been particularly poignant for people to be able to reach out to other people as we’re sitting in our houses trying to do things, you know, differently than we’ve ever done. And we can’t necessarily go out and do the normal marketing types of activities we’ve done. How do we do things differently? And if we don’t stick in this together, you know, then I think that’s a missed opportunity. So,
Kathy Mennel 26:37
alright. Alright, so, um,
Janet Fish 26:40
what do you love to do? Like we as one of the one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur, is it gives me freedom to do not anything I want anytime I want, but I have all freedom of choice. What do you like to do? You said, you quit that other job because you don’t want to work 12 hours a day. So what Do you do for fun? Or what do you do?
Kathy Mennel 27:03
Yeah, I really, I love to cook. So I really get into like cooking shows and cooking and entertaining. I like to do you know, like Sunday night dinners with the kids and as much as possible, and I like you know, I like working on decorating my house, which I’m not really creative. So it’s challenging. And then I love, you know, walking my dog or allottees I love bodies. It’s a great, great tool for me kind of like is a meditative exercise. So I like doing that being with friends and family. My husband and I started traveling a little bit. So he’s introducing me to places I’ve never been before, like we’re going to Yellowstone. So, you know, just being with family and friends and getting out there is what I really, really love. To do I’m having a really black thumb, so I can’t garden. But, so, so and then I’m a I’m a wine enthusiast, for sure. So I like to go wine tasting. And that whole scene so awesome.
Janet Fish 28:16
Do you have a favorite quote in life?
Kathy Mennel 28:20
Um, I think one of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is what other people think of me is not my business. It’s none of my business.
Janet Fish 28:31
That’s awesome. So do you want to share a little bit more about that?
Kathy Mennel 28:35
Um, my, my stepmom taught me that a while ago and so anytime that I’m thinking, like we talked about before that, you know, how come that person in my family isn’t even asking about me? So I asked all the questions about them and their job and how they’re doing but nobody says hey, Cathy house, how’s it going with your business? And I think you know, it Even if they don’t agree, what I’m doing what they think about me, is really none of my business and I have to maintain my own drive and my own confidence level to get past that.
Janet Fish 29:13
Yeah, I really believe that I met that spot is not that it sometimes it doesn’t hurt, but I’m at that spot where you know, if you don’t, whatever you think about me, doesn’t matter. I agree with that. And I’ll say that I’ve come to that a lot through realizing that people don’t really, people don’t really think that much about other people, right? Because they’re so much thinking about themselves. And then we’ve all had things happen in our lives where like, Where did that come from? And why did that person do that? And whether it’s business or personal, and I always go back to, that’s their shit. I mean, that’s their stuff, right? And that has nothing to do with me. So whether it’s the guy who cut you off on the freeway, or your best friend said something really hurtful, or your husband didn’t do whatever, it’s about what’s going on with them and 99% of the time, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. That’s a great quote. I really, I really like that. All right, my final question is, what do you want your legacy to be?
Kathy Mennel 30:25
in the business perspective, I would like it to be that you know, once again, and I’ve given back and then I’ve helped people feel confident and comfortable as they enter their retirement about their health insurance and that I am an open door to them, you know, I just don’t help them through the initial process that I’m always there from them year round for them to call no matter what and then, so I’m hoping that I’m seeing as you know, Kind of like a, you know, a specialist, an expert in the Medicare feel that I would love that to be my legacy and then also as a good person and a good mom and grandma.
Janet Fish 31:13
Yeah. Well, I’m sure you’re all of those things for sure. So I appreciate you. Thank you so much for spending some time with me this morning. This has been awesome. It’s been great. To get to know you a little bit better. That’s one of my favorite things about doing this podcast is I always learn something new about somebody. I mean, I interviewed a guy who I’ve known for 20 plus years, and I learned something about him. So whether I’ve known you for two years or a year, however long I’ve known you, or I’ve known them forever, there’s always something new to learn about them. And I’m so happy and thankful that you’ve shared your thoughts with us today.
Kathy Mennel 31:45
Well, thank you. I really appreciate it. And I know just appreciate your openness and camaraderie and and it really means a lot. So thank you.
Janet Fish 31:55
All right, thanks. Have a great day.
Kathy Mennel 31:57
Okay, you too. All right.
Janet Fish 31:58
Thank you for listening. To the breakaway entrepreneur with Janet Fish. If you liked our show and want more, check us out at www dot breakaway entrepreneur.com. If you have any questions, please email me at coach at breakaway business coaching. com. I’ll answer your questions in an upcoming podcast. If you’re enjoying our podcast, please share it with your friends and colleagues. I hope you’ll join us next week.
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