Incorporating Your Passion into Your Profession

As children, we’re repeatedly told that the world is our oyster, and that we can be anything we want to be if we just put our best foot forward. After all, how many of us envisioned growing up to be professional athletes, musicians or entertainers? It wasn’t that we were delusional – we just believed in a world where you could make a career out of doing what you love. For many of us, our dreams have evolved, and doing what we love is about helping others prepare for a more comfortable, enjoyable life in retirement. Yet there are a few lucky agents who’ve managed to turn their lifelong passion into an integral part of their day-to-day profession.

Mark Cain, co-founder and CEO of Cornerstone Financial, grew up with a rope in his hand and a rodeo ride in his heart. More than 25 years after joining the financial services industry, he hasn’t let go of his agricultural roots. We caught up with Mark for an inside look at just how he’s managed to remain actively involved in the rodeo culture while successfully helping hundreds of clients protect their ranches, estates and livelihoods through smart planning. Mark’s commitment to a work-life balance filled with giving back to others is a true inspiration to us all.

Q: How long has the rodeo been a part of your life?

Basically as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the rope, and packed it with me as a child. As I grew up, I began competing in events, particularly at the high school level. My successful track record in competitions even helped me put myself through college riding and roping. I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in agriculture business and, after watching my family go through the loss of my grandfather’s estate, moved to Billings (Montana) and put my skills to use checking feed cattle on horseback. Finally one night, I was out on the ranch and the temperature was 20 degrees below zero. That’s when I realized I needed a new calling.

Q: Horseback riding and roping cattle is a far cry from insurance. What helped you through this transition?

Unsure of what to do next, I called up a friend who happened to work in this business looking for some advice. He’d met lots of people, made a name for himself and become fairly successful in the profession. I figured I would give it a shot. I got my life and health license and sat down with my wife by my side at the kitchen table. Initially, I’d make a few calls and get turned down. When I got weary, my wife would be there to “crack the buggy whip” and encourage me to make a few more calls before turning in for the night. Eventually, things started to pick up, and we moved to town to share a rented office and run the business.

Q: How did you manage to keep the rope in your life with your new commitments?

Part of the reason that we came into the success we did is because of our involvement in rodeo. To this day, I still compete locally and my wife competes in barrel racing. Many of the contacts, colleagues and friends we’ve made through the rodeo world have become our clients. In fact, I competed with a client a few years back and we won a team roping national championship together. This year, I wrote the largest life policy of my career on a rancher who came to me as a referral from a national finals rodeo bronc rider I know. Many of the ropers and ranchers at competitions own businesses as well, so it really does come full circle for me.

Q: Other than incorporating your passion into your profession, to what do you attribute your success?

One of the keys to succeeding in this business is to remember that I didn’t do it alone. I have an amazing wife and a great team who have and continue to make it all possible. In 2000, I opened my own office for the first time and started building my staff in 2008. I think it’s critical that I have young people in the office who are prepared to step in and help out if and when needed, because longevity is comforting to clients. I’ve also been blessed to have hooked into Creative for their marketing support, Tailor Made assistance, programs and more. I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time together.

Q: What does the future hold for you, your business and your rodeo days?

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to continue participating in local rodeos, both competing while I can and announcing events long term. My wife and I also enjoy hosting a camp for kids, where we teach 10- to 12-year-olds how to ride and rope. Outside of the office, we feel fortunate to have been able to move out on a ranch where we raise Corriente cattle, which are sport cattle used in rodeo events like roping and bulldogging. I firmly believe that sometimes, you just have to go for it, and as long as you have faith and family support behind you, good things will happen. Everything just seems to come together when you’re doing what you love.


Join the conversation