PENDLETON — Last September, when Sean Kirby and his wife were planning a getaway prior to the birth of their first child, he received an invitation to a small conference in San Antonio for insurance professionals.
“My wife was pregnant, and our anniversary is in September, so I said, ‘Why don’t we do three things at once?’ ” Kirby recalled.
The conference concluded with the announcement of a live vote to choose a winner for an “Apprentice”-style competition called “The Protégé.” The show, hosted on YouTube, features 15 insurance agents from across the country competing in challenges designed to help them grow their business.
Following the vote, representatives from Killing Commercial Insurance, a sales training program tailored for independent insurance agents, put out a casting call inviting submissions for the show’s second season. On a whim, Kirby decided to submit a video audition.
“The whole program is about how to build a commercial business and work with business owners and solve business owner problems,” Kirby said. “I got excited because I’d found what makes me happy.”
Kirby’s audition video, one of hundreds of submissions, was chosen for him to be one of the second season’s contestants. After 10 weeks of challenges and fan voting, he’s made it into the final trio, from which a winner will be picked after online voting closes next week. The winner receives a full membership in the Killing Commercial program, valued at nearly $17,000.
Kirby, who graduated from Pendleton Heights High School in 2014 and attended the University of Iowa, has run the Performance Insurance Group, owned by his father, Mike, since 2017. He said his experience with “The Protégé” has helped him bring an outgoing personality to a profession that, he admits, many find unexciting.
“Insurance, plainly, it’s a boring thing, right?” he said. “If you look at it from the outside looking in, it seems very boring to watch us go through the challenges of building a business plan. But (the show) has allowed me to show personality and stay captivating in my own aspect and kind of add to the show as much as I can.”
He added that, whatever the outcome, he hopes his appearances on the show will bring welcome attention to the local business community and its efforts to revitalize the area.
“Eyeballs are everything,” he said. “If you look at what Madison County is and has always been, it’s blue-collar, hard-working people. If somebody in a national competition can still be successful in Madison County and work with large business, that’s the idea.”
Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.