Also wrote Common Sense; Pushing Up People; All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough (which was on the New York Times bestseller list in 1988)
Founder, A.L. Williams Co.,
revolutionized the term life insurance industry
B.S. Mississippi State University and a M.A. in education from Auburn University
Art Williams : The Life Coach
By The 700 Club
TERM LIFE INSURANCE CRUSADER
Art Williams was born in 1942 in Waycross, Georgia, to a middle-class, Christian family, and grew up in nearby Cairo, with the dream of becoming a football coach. After college and two high school coaching jobs, he took the head coaching job at Kendrick High School in Columbus, Georgia, where he built a newly-formed team into champions in only three years. In the midst of a rewarding career as a winning high school football coach, boasting two “State Coach of the Year” awards, Art made a decision that would change his life dramatically.
His decision had its roots in a personal experience. In 1963, his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, leaving his family with no will and very little life insurance. Art, in college at the time, knew little about life insurance, but several years later at a family reunion, a cousin introduced him to a different concept—“buy term and invest the difference.” Art was shocked to know that he could provide $150,000 of term coverage for the same premium he was paying for $15,000 of whole life. Remembering his parents’ experience, and believing that his father had been misled, and doing some research on life insurance, Art became a crusader for the term insurance concept.
He began to sell term insurance part-time, and quickly found that his commissions surpassed his coach’s salary. In 1973 he left his first company, ITT, for Waddell & Reed, another term company. And on February 10, 1977, with no business education or corporate management experience, he formed A.L. Williams & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, with just 85 agents. A.L. Williams became one of the fastest-growing companies in modern business history. After six years in the industry, it was the largest term life insurance company. In ten years, it was a billion-dollar company. By 1990, the company had a sales force of 225,000 people and ranked as the largest seller of individual life insurance in the United States, selling $93.5 billion in face value of individual life insurance. In just 12 years, the company became the first in the entire industry to have more than $300 billion of life insurance in force, a milestone no other company has reached yet. Several years under Art’s leadership, the company sold more face value individual life insurance than New York Life and Prudential combined, the number two and three ranked companies.
In November 1989, Art sold his company to New York-based Primerica Corporation, a diversified financial services company – a decision that has been one of his biggest regrets. He then served as an advisor to Primerica for a short period of time. Essentially retired from business, Art and his wife moved from Atlanta to Palm Beach, Florida, and began to pursue other interests. Some 16 years removed from the presidency of A.L. Williams Corporation is now part of Citigroup.
Art had a family history of bad heart conditions and had a pacemaker in his own heart. He felt that in case anything happened to him and for the future stability of the company, it would be wise to sell it. He met Sandy Weill of Primerica and thought it would be the best option to sell the company to him. After Art sold the company, he realized he made a terrible mistake, but it was too late. For the next two years, Art fell into a deep depression and was bitter. He lost his passion for his business and questioned everything, even his faith. However, this was a time for soul-searching. Art says he discovered he was relying too much on the belief that he was in control of everything, even though he knew God had His hand on the business and had a special purpose for Art. The Lord took him to the lowest of the low when he lost his company. Through that two year trial after he sold his company, he learned he had his priorities wrong. It was a gradual lesson to learn, but he began to discover faith in a different way and took it more seriously. Though God had been important all his life (he grew up in the church and accepted Jesus at the age of twelve), his faith became more real. He found healing in listening to three to four sermons a day that his friend Reverend Jerry Falwell had sent him. Spending time with his family and writing his book Coach: The A.L. Williams Story helped.
In retrospect some of the important principles that Art learned that he would like to pass on are: win with your heart, not your head – win on emotion, not in logic; have a passion about what you do; nobody wants a boss (who criticizes, judges, and finds flaws), everybody wants a coach (who finds strengths and builds on them).
Art says that the bigger a person's goals are, the bigger the challenges are to overcome. People should fight the fight and have big dreams. Art says don't give up; don't give up on your dreams.
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