Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Three weeks ago I launched into a project I have done everything I could to avoid for over 7 years – the pursuit of the Series 7 exam for Securities. It is the mother of all ugly tests but allows you to sell individual stocks, bonds, options, margin accounts, and other odd stuff. I have been able to avoid it for so long I thought I could escape it’s pain but recent sales and some potential future business required me to get it at this time. Many a good agent has had to take the “7” multiple times to get a passing 70 grade. I knew of the study and focus it required and I simply didn’t want to give up that much time and take the test.

Wanting to avoid crashing on the rocks of defeat like some many others had done I decided to spend several hundred dollars and take a class. That was another fear – paying a bunch of money to sit in a class room all week and sleep through half of the material. Since junior high school I have fallen asleep in virtually every class, training, workshop, play, and movie I have ever watched. To prepare for the week I got a blessing from my home teacher to stay awake.

The class was a miserable experience. Eight hours a day for 5 straight days sitting in a classroom listening to the instructor give a rapid fire lecture on the most menial facts and minutia. It was exhausting to sit through but I didn’t nod off even once through the entire 5 day course. I’ve never done that before. That week included study and work every night trying to remember what I had learned during the day. The next week was even worse as I tried to work a few hours and then study the remaining 10 hours. The course material was two telephone book sized study guides. Then the practice tests. Endless 3 hour practice test and the goal was to get through 10 to 15 of those before the actual test. My life was glued to my desk and those books and the results were terrible.

I needed to be scoring in the 70 and 80’s in order to pass and I was scoring in the 60’s and low 70’s. I was brain dead, I hadn’t done my new church job, I didn’t talk to the kids or say hi to the new missionary, and the worse is I didn’t pay any attention to Tracy for two weeks and that makes life really stinky.

I took the 8 hour exam on Tues and the blessing paid off. The question seemed so easy compared to practice tests and I ended up with an 82% for my final grade. I can’t describe the elation and joy of having passed that ugly test – in time to leave the next morning for a rewards trip to Cabo San Lucas. Home Teaching blessings really work.

With only about 2 hours of sleep we got up the next morning for a 0 dark thirty departure for Mexico. I didn’t want to think for the next 4 days, just relax and spend time with Tracy, plus a little scuba diving. We filled our time with checking the sand at the beach, eating tons of good food, catching rays, going shopping, visiting with a few other agents. We also zipped around on Jet Skis, cruised along the Land’s End coast with sea kayaks, did a little really wild body surfing in the pacific, and read and relaxed.

A couple of highlights needs mentioning. While sea kayaking, Tracy and I tried to shoot through this narrow little gap between rocks and ended up tipping over and getting a little bloody on the rocks. I cut my hand and Tracy her leg and now her neck hurts. The body surfing was incredibly wild with a high and low beach which poured the outgoing tide onto you at different angles with real force. Sand got everywhere. We were scheduled for a sunset cruise and everyone made it on the ship except for mom. No one could find her. We left the dock but kept trying to reach her and finally when we were in the middle of the bay she went to the hotel lobby. They hustled her down to the beach plopped her down on a jet ski with a hot Mexican guy who said, “Hold On” and he zipped her James Bond style out to the dinner cruise. Everyone labels Tracy as the Bond girl of the trip and she loved the attention.

We were in Cabo the weekend of the world’s largest Marlin fishing tournament and were lucky enough to be down at the docks when they were pulling in 550 and 600 pound fish. It was amazing. It was a million dollar purse and one boat brought in an 800 pound Marlin, but they arrived 10 late past the reporting time and lost the chance for the prize money. Too bad they couldn’t have jumped on a jet ski like mom did. The diving was good although I didn’t see any whale sharks like I wanted to. I did see massive schools of skip jack and snapper. There were thousands of fish in these schools and the snappers weight between 40 – 60 pounds each. It was like being in a snow storm of 50 pound snowflakes. We saw some sharks and a cool sand cascade. Well worth the time and effort and I want to go back.

I’ve decided that I don’t need quite as much agony to enjoy the ecstasy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


My next 2 1/2 weeks are going to be torture. It's hard to think of a more ugly way to torture someone then to have them go through Series 7 training. For the next week from 8 until 5 I get to sit in class listening to the most boring convoluted and complex crap about Options and the Securities Act from 1934. Then I get to study all that garbage for another week and then take an 8 hour exam. Yes the exam lasts 8 hours. I'm afraid my head will explode. I'd rather eat 7 courses of meat loaf and watch Pride and Prejudice multiple times than do the Series 7. The only consolation is that we leave for Cabo the day after the exam. I'll either be very happy or ready to punch out the nearest whale shark. Tracy is hoping I'm happy.