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Rising Stars: Meet Tom Valdez of Tierrasanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Valdez.

Hi Tom, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2005 with a degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Like many people in their 20s, I didn’t know what I was going to do with this degree in my hand. In fact, it’s kind of embarrassing to say that my sister helped me find my first job in a nursing home for $8/hour. It certainly didn’t fit what I was looking for, but hey, it was a job. From there, I weaved in and out of a few different industries. In 2011, I was laid off from a job in clinical research due to the recession. That was a pivotal point for me because I didn’t know what to do next. I was 28 with one kid and another on the way. I needed to make more money. And I needed to not be laid off again – that was a terrible feeling. After doing some research, I found that the financial services industry was growing and had a great outlook. And I had always been curious about investments and the stock market. So I went out and bought a few suits, fixed my resume, and managed to get hired in an entrepreneurial role as a financial advisor. I passed some difficult tests to get licensed, but the biggest test that I didn’t know I was taking was being an entrepreneur. What I mean by that is: learning my industry, learning my products, and learning how to market and sell myself. Unfortunately, I failed the “Entrepreneur test” in that first financial advisor role. It wasn’t until 2016 when I started to connect the dots in owning a business. A friend of mine had suggested I sell Medicare Supplement plans. Even with years of consulting seniors as a financial advisor, I didn’t know much about Medicare. But again, I hit the books, passed some more tests and then re-took my “Entrepreneur test”. It’s been 5 years that I’ve had Valdez Insurance Solutions, and in that time I’ve learned how to help seniors make educated decisions when it comes to Medicare. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on my work, which has been helpful in affirming my career path.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think you can’t be an entrepreneur without struggle. My path has not been smooth. Like I said previously, I failed in my first entrepreneurial role as a financial advisor in 2011. Thankfully, I had a few friends and family members in that first year who were willing to throw me a bone, but I lacked confidence. Without confidence, it’s hard to convince anyone to work with you. So that was something that took a few years to learn, Then, when I started Valdez Insurance Solutions from scratch in 2016. I didn’t know a lot of people and didn’t have a lot of money. Money and people are very much needed in those early years. Since I didn’t have either, I had to claw and scratch my way up. Like almost literally. And it was really discouraging – in my first 9 months in business, I had garnered 3 clients, but 2 of them had left me by the end of that 9 month period. Most people would have quit. And I wanted to. I really wanted to. But I had told myself and my wife, “This is it. Whether it takes 1 year or 20 years to become successful, I’m all in this.” That persistence has paid off, and continues to with each passing year.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Though I help people with life insurance and health insurance for all ages, I specialize in working with seniors and disabled persons who receive Medicare. Medicare is notoriously confusing – you have Part A, Part B, optional Part C, and so on. I have taken it upon myself to become as much as an expert as I can be so I can teach people about it in a simplified fashion. I also help them choose a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan or Medicare Advantage plan and I work with many insurance companies. I’m proud of the fact that I can help people with these important decisions and offer them supplemental plans from a variety of companies that I work with – that allows me to be unbiased when making recommendations. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to build a business being ethical and doing the right thing for my clients.

On another note, I’m kinda proud of my social media. I know, I know that insurance agencies and companies are not known for their stellar social media presence, but I’d like to think that I’m doing a good job. Not every post is a home run, but all my content is original and it’s fun to give little glimpses of my personality and style in my posts. A few friends have told me I have the best insurance-related social media account. That’s not saying much, but I’ll take it!

What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I’m still actively growing and marketing. I’d like to hire an assistant or two in the next few years so that I can actually take a vacation without being tied to my phone and computer. But I’m really picky about everything – marketing, customer service, sales…so it’s hard to release control of any aspect of my business. So we’ll see if I kill myself with my nit-picky ways or if I can relinquish control and hire someone. That’s all I’ve got in the hopper right now. Until then, it’s rinse-repeat and trying to better myself each day.


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JC Navarro
Liz Romeka

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