(Photo by Don Kadair)
Name: Collis Temple III
Positions: National sales director, Primerica; regent with Louisiana Board of Regents; investor/owner, Quarters Endless Entertainment
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Education: Bachelor’s in general business, LSU 2001; master’s in sports management, LSU 2002
Collis Temple III’s biggest claim to fame in Baton Rouge may always be his time on the hardwood for the LSU basketball team. But these days, his star is burning just as brightly in the business world. After injuries derailed his NBA dreams at a young age, Temple took his LSU education—he earned his master’s in 2002, before he finished his Tiger playing days—and turned it into a job with Primerica, an insurance and investment firm that focuses on the middle-income market. Temple is the firm’s national sales director, and he runs Collis Temple III and Associates, a Primerica training center for over 250 licensed agents for the company. The lessons he learned on the court—the importance of work ethic, focus and “coachability”—still apply to this day. “Those three things have made all the difference in my life, whether it be my personal life, athletics, academics or business,” he says. Growth is always on Temple’s mind: He’s aiming to help at least 25 Primerica agents open new offices by the end of 2020. He has also been a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents since 2015.
Where did your business career start, and how did that previous experience prepare you for your current position?
My business career informally started very early on in my life watching my parents run their businesses and learning the value to relationships and interacting and dealing with people. Formally, it started with Primerica on Oct. 22, 2003. I’m still with Primerica today, and I use all the same things that I used when I first got started 13 years ago.
Of all the lessons you learned as an LSU basketball player, which ones applied to the business world?
Almost all of the lessons I learned as an athlete applied to business. In my book, Work Like A Slave, Think Like A Master, I talk about the “Three Common Denominators of Success”—coachability, focus, and work ethic. Those three things have made all the difference in my life, whether it be my personal life, athletics, academics or business.
What have been some of the unexpected challenges in your position at Primerica?
The first challenges came in the form of me walking away from my “former life” as a basketball player. You couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to have a ten-year NBA career, but due to injuries that obviously wasn’t able to happen. The toughest challenges I face in my business life with Primerica now are dealing with people who say they want one thing, but are unwilling to do what’s necessary to achieve it—whether that be agents or clients. It’s tough because I know how successful they could become if they were just willing to follow a plan and make a commitment.
What is one thing about your job people don’t expect or know about?
The fact that because of the totally unique business model, if you put in the sweat equity you can build a business that has an extremely strong profit margin and gain total ownership of your agency and the income stream that it generates for generations to come.
What are your goals for the future?
I have goals revolving around the growth of successful agencies we’re able to help others open. Due to the hybrid business model, I’m able to train and assist others in opening their own agencies. I have a goal to help at least 25 people open new offices which will each be helping 20+ clients monthly by the end of 2020.
If you had to choose one characteristic, what would you says is the most special thing about Primerica?
The most special thing about Primerica in my eyes is the crusading spirit to correct the financial injustices that unfortunately still plague our communities today—misinformation, no information, and perpetuating the thought that only a few should know the ins and outs of the way money works. The attention to financial literacy is critically important in our communities.
Primerica seems to offer a wide variety of financial services. Which services are most widely used among your Baton Rouge customers?
Primerica helps families by selling term life insurance and investments and savings products to the underserved middle-income market throughout North America. The company believes that term life insurance is a better alternative for middle-income families than cash value life insurance, which is why the company only offers term life coverage. Many of Primerica’s term life products are popular in the Baton Rouge area—Custom Advantage and TermNow products specifically. Primerica also offers clients a broad selection of investments and savings products—including mutual funds, annuities, managed accounts and 401(k)s. We can help people with limited money to invest, and we often open mutual funds and IRAs with as little as $50 per month. I also have clients that invest upwards of $150,000 per month. Primerica can accommodate the needs of the novice investor, as well as the most educated investor. The key is to start investing now—don’t wait a minute longer! Primerica is unique in that the company has always focused on serving Main Street families, and the company remains committed to helping these often-overlooked consumers.
What role, if any, did Primerica play in the Capital Region after the floods in August?
Primerica was involved in relief efforts throughout the Capital Region after the devastating floods in several ways. Given the areas impacted, the company made a donation to the Red Cross in order to ensure that needed services reached the most people. Primerica also provided policy owners with extended deadlines in order to conduct their Primerica business, recognizing the suffering and loss they experienced. Individual Primerica representatives from around the country chipped in with assistance in their own ways, such as donating gift cards; locally, Primerica representatives donated gift cards, clothes and shoes, their time, effort, and energy, and other items to help flood victims make it through the tragedy.
You’ve been on the Louisiana Board of Regents since January 2015. What has been the most challenging part of being on the board?
The most challenging part of being on the Board of Regents was the learning curve of getting up to speed. It’s a good thing there’s such an amazing staff at the Board to help with “catch up” and study to be able to make an educated decision about certain issues that come before us.
What is your favorite part about what you do? What makes you excited about going to work?
When I was injured, I didn’t think there was anything I could compete at and totally get engaged with. Primerica offers me the opportunity to truly make a lasting and extremely impactful difference in the lives of our clients, and in the people who I get the opportunity to train and develop their businesses into a great part-time income or even business partnership and potentially ownership. Secondarily, there was the chance to generate a strong income, and most importantly ownership of a generational business.
What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve overcome, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been extremely blessed that I haven’t had to deal with things that most people would consider significant obstacles, but I would say overcoming the injury that derailed the dream that I had at 5 years old and stayed true to until the injury at 24, which was competing in the NBA. I totally threw myself into building my Primerica business and doing what was necessary to succeed at the highest level that I could. (I also didn’t watch the NBA for almost two years.)
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
It was such a high honor to be chosen among all the successful businesspeople in a company like Primerica with over 115,000 life insurance licensed representatives in North America to introduce the incoming CEO and host the introduction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on the eve of the company’s fifth-year anniversary as a public company in 2015. I and my wife, Britney, also had the privilege of being among the Primerica leaders chosen to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate the company’s successful IPO five years earlier.
What other leadership roles do you hold in the community and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
I’m a member of the 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge, an organization I’ve been extremely proud to be a part of and serve the community for six years. I’m also on the board of the Knock Knock Children’s museum. I’m extremely excited about the work that has been put in to provide a world class museum experience for the children of the Baton Rouge and surrounding communities.
What is a great piece of advice you personally received? Did you have occasion to put it to use?
I learned so much from my parents. From Dad: “You can’t get ahead, staying in bed!” And “boy, you better work like a slave, and think like a master.” (That became the title of my first book.) From my Mom, the mentality that how you do anything is how you do everything. I’ve adopted the idea early on that I may not be the best at everything I was involved in, but as long as I was the best I could be, and the best me at it, that was enough. I apply these ideas literally everyday!
What gets your workday off to a good start?
Prayer, reminding myself of how blessed I am, and how many things I have to be grateful for, as well as writing down my goals and affirmations in the morning lead to my best days!
What do you do to unwind?
To unwind, going on a date night with my wife to the movies and dinner is my most favorite activity. We make sure that it is an unmovable date on the calendar at least once a week!
What is an item on your “bucket list”?
There are so many places that my wife Britney and I want to travel to. I’ve been blessed to have been all over the world, but exposing our three children to this amazing world that we live in is something that’s extremely important to us both.
Where is your go-to spot in Baton Rouge during your free time?
Quarters and the new restaurant, The Grind. It’s a great mix of adult atmosphere during certain times as well as family atmosphere at other times, and the food is tremendous. (I’m a partner in the ownership group.)