Advisorist Podcast – Episode 11: Embrace your Life with a Survivor’s Attitude and Thrive


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We all carry baggage–personal challenges, problems, and pain. But when disaster reduces our existence to a basic struggle to survive, we gain a new perspective on our issues and what really matters most.

In this episode, Dean shares his inspirational philosophy:

  • How to be your best most AUTHENTIC self.
  • Make your own destiny; what you can do when you wake with a positive mindset.
  • The lessons of survivor that translate into resilience and fearlessness—and how to put them to work.
  • It is important to understand that every client, every person has a story; I want to know that story so I can provide the greatest possible help.
  • Establish an equal footing with people that that translates into stronger relationships.
  • The importance of emerging from traumatic tests as survivors and not victims.
  • Be rich within yourself.

Dean Murinik—South African financial planner and business organizational speaker—surviving one of the worst tsunamis in recent history reduced his life to the most basic common denominator. It is “no time or space for egos,” he explains, “we are all on an equal footing.”


Note:  This Advisorist Podcast transcript was created in part by computers – Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors…or sentences that just downright don’t seem to make sense!  Please compare to corresponding audio if clarity is needed.


Dean: If you are saying to somebody that, “I’ve had a bad day because of this in my life.” Well, actually, you know what? I am so happy because of this. It doesn’t make you a good or bad life insurance consultant. It makes you a real person. And to be able to be real with somebody, for me, it makes such a huge difference.

Jeremiah: Hi, it’s Jeremiah Desmarais and welcome to another edition of the Advisorist podcast. I’m here today with my friend, Dean Murinik, international motivational speaker. What I love about Dean is he’s not only a financial advisor with decades of experience, but he’s used a powerful life lesson to empower so many people with his message of positivity and motivation. Now, if you’ve been in South Africa for a while, you’ve definitely heard of this guy. He’s been on many platforms over there. Cape Talk Radio, Radio 2000, ETV news, Mary Claire Magazine, and many, many more. He’s also spoken in front of industry leaders like integrate IT, Invest Tech and Liberty Life. He also has come over and spoken over the pond here in the United States and has spoken to Fortune 150 companies namely UBS, Aflac, and many audiences in Australia. Dean, welcome to the show, my friend.

Dean: Thank you so much. It’s an absolute honor and pleasure to be on the show.

Jeremiah: We love to start off our podcasts with the same question with all our guests, Dean, and that is, what are you most grateful for today?

Dean: I’m so grateful that I’m here, that I’m alive, that I’ve been given an opportunity, a journey to be able to carry on with. When I wake up each day to know that I’ve got an opportunity to carry on with my life, to go out to make a positive difference be in my everyday life or be it in our industry, and to try and put smiles on people’s faces and just make that difference.

Jeremiah: That is a powerful reason to be grateful. Thank you. So, Dean, you’re traveling, you’ve got to practice as well as you’re on stage motivating hundreds and thousands of people, it takes a certain level of mind and body hacking in order to be able to do that. One of our core values here at Advisorist is strong mind, strong body. So what’s a mind or body hack that you’re using these days to be your best you?

Dean: To be your best you for me is to be authentic, to be able to speak from your heart, to be also to be able to show vulnerability. I believe that vulnerability shows strength and not weakness. If you are saying to somebody that, “I’ve had a bad day because of this in my life.” Well, actually, you know what? I am so happy because of this. It doesn’t make you a good or bad life insurance consultant. It makes you a real person. And, to be able to be real with somebody, for me, it makes such a huge difference.

Jeremiah: I love that. You’re absolutely right. I’ve noticed that the more vulnerable you are, the more people tend to love you because they see you as a real person so I love that. So vulnerability, got that one. Okay, one thing I’m really curious about and I know our listeners are, Dean, is you’re a financial advisor in another country across the pond that speaks English and in my travels around the world, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with advisors from Australia and Japan and Canada and Europe. I just love to hear from your perspective, what is working right now in South Africa for financial advisors to get appointments?

Dean: In South Africa, I think just like anywhere in the world, we’ve got our own chase at the moment. There have been a lot of political changes. We’ve got a huge election that’s coming up in May. There’s a lot of uncertainty in South Africa as well as the rest of the world. But what is an absolute certainty is that you make the destiny of your own future? Only you can determine what is going to happen at the end of the day so it’s so easy to be in limbo, and worry about things that are out of your control but if you can wake up with a positive mindset, excited about making a difference, meeting new people, going out there trying to change their lives in a tangible way. Just like any way in the world, we in South Africa are faced with many tests. We’ve got a big election that’s coming up in May. The economy is not in a great way. Now, currency is depreciated. Also with foreign investment at the moment, people are worried, people have been pulling money out of South Africa. But what it’s done for us as people I believe is that uncertainty has also built up resilience. There’s so many things in our lives that we have not got in our control. We have to accept that it’s up to us as individuals to make that difference to go out there, to smile every day, to make the tangible difference in people’s lives. I think to be able to wake up every morning with a smile knowing that it’s only you that can make that change makes the insurance industry in South Africa a good place to be.

Jeremiah: What’s interesting is when I was in South Africa not too long ago, actually, I was blown away with the number of ads. Now you call it assurance. We call it insurance here so I’ll use your language ‘assurance’. But there was so much marketing for assurance, whether it was property and casualty assurance for home and car coverage, there was life assurance, what do you attribute that the rise in the awareness of assurance in your country right now?

Dean: Our country is so diverse. It’s made up of so many different people from all different walks of life. I think that everybody is trying to add something different, something that’s a little bit more unique. When it comes to different features in the insurance or assurance markets, even though South Africa is a small country that sits basically on the southern tip of the world, there’s so much that’s been added to the assurance industry from this country. I think it also comes down to the resilience of the people.

Jeremiah: So it says the second time you mentioned resilience. So how does resilience translate into new clients? Can you maybe give me a walkthrough of the last couple of client experiences you’ve had as an advisor, as an assurance agent? How that resilience transfer into attracting new business?

Dean: Just to mention that I am so grateful to be here because I nearly passed away in the tsunami in 2004 in Thailand. I nearly lost my life. It just made me realize that it didn’t matter who you were, when we were fighting for our lives, you could have been the CEO of a company, or you could have been the street sweeper. We were all there to keep each other alive. There was no time or space for egos.  We were all on that same level. What it’s done for me is it’s made me realize that fear of rejection, being afraid of who somebody is only stands in your way of true success, and happiness so therefore in my life, I’ve chosen not to be afraid and to pick up the phone, no matter who that person is, to try and get that meeting knowing that I am going there to try and make a positive difference, to look off to families. At the end of the day, even though I survived the actual tsunami, I believe the tsunami is just a metaphor for how we all have to tread water in our own everyday lives. So for me, being away before I start my day, get into my car, and go and see my first client is that everybody has a story. Behind everybody’s eyes, somebody carries a story. It’s so important to remember that when you get into your car so you’ve got that extra bit of energy within you to go out there and see more clients.

Jeremiah: That’s amazing. Do you include that as part of your opening lines or questions that you ask? Like, if you go into a meeting and you believe that somebody has a story, what did that do for you? Because before your experience with the tsunami, which will come back to you in a second because it’s probably one of the most powerful stories on the podcast so far but what was the difference between you before that event and now, in terms of what you say in the first 5 to 10 minutes sitting down with a prospect, like if I was your prospect, Dean, what would be something you would say to me that brings that concept of knowing I’ve got a story behind me to life?

Dean: I think to open up with somebody about leveling the playing fields, for me, no matter who we are we all on that same level.

Jeremiah: Okay.

Dean: I think that’s always a great way to open up a meeting.

Jeremiah: So you actually tell the person, “You know what? You and I, were on the same playing field.” Is that what you mean? Like, that’s what you say to them?

Dean: Absolutely. One of the things I do as well is I always say to a client, “If you have to take me through your industry, you have to take me from grade one level. I need you to explain everything that you do so that I can understand what you do, and what you’re looking for out there in your everyday life.” Then as an insurance or an assurance consultants, I need to speak in layman’s terms so that everybody can understand me and not to speak over everybody but to bring us basically to that same place where we are all on an equal footing. For me, that’s extremely important. I would say that is the way I open up my interview.

Jeremiah: I love that. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an advisor open up a conversation with we’re on the same level. I would just imagine that if I was a prospect of yours then that would be very reassuring because opening up the kimono as it were and talking about your personal finances with a complete stranger is probably very intimidating.

Dean: Yeah.

Jeremiah: I think that there’s probable conversation going on in your head as a prospect saying, “This person is going to judge me. They’re going to find the amount of money I have to be ridiculous. I’m not wealthy. I’m trying to make a living here. I feel insecure and I feel uncomfortable, and I feel vulnerable.” I think that those are some deep questions that go on in the minds of prospects, right?

Dean: Right.

Jeremiah: Absolutely. Love it.

Dean: Sure.

Jeremiah: Thank you for sharing your opener with us. Now, obviously, your encounter with the tsunami was probably one of the most impactful things in your life and one of the things we ask all of our guests because we probably learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes, Dean. So tell us about this number one struggle or event that you’ve had in your life and what impact it’s had on you since then?

Dean: I was born in Cape Town, which is the most beautiful city, the southern tip of South Africa, beautiful beaches, Table Mountain. I was born into such a warm, loving family. My mom, Pam, my dad, Ralph, my sister, Lauren who always watch my back. My dad has always been this father figure to so many people in our city. As a witness to my friends, when things happened, it only happened to other people, not to our family. In my own world, we were this perfect family. My whole life I played a lot of competitive sports and I’m also a singer. Sounds quite strange, the singing soccer player. At the tender age of 21, I joined my father Ralph in the life assurance industry. I tell you to work with my dad was the most amazing thing in the world. He always had my back. To know that my father was always there for me made the first seven years of my liberty life existence. That’s the company that I worked for, the place to be. It didn’t matter if it was New York trips or Thailand trips. It was so easy to attain. There were times that I worked extremely hard to show myself that I had the ability to be in our industry but the knowledge of always having my father to fall back on made the first seven years of my liberty life existence the place to be. Then Jeremiah in 2002, I felt like my world turned upside down. My dad was diagnosed with depression and it took a while for us to learn that depression is a life threatening debilitating illness just like any other. It is harder to see and to understand and my life for the next two years was a combination of chaos and madness. There were numerous suicide attempts when my dad tried to take his own life. From finding him in the casino to the ICU unit. Man, just when I was inundated with all this turmoil, I had become victim and riskier. I thought to myself, how am I going to be able to carry on in our industry? This man who was such a legend in the industry, who carried the world including me on his shoulders, it didn’t matter what my achievements were in the past, I always had my father. How was I going to be able to carry on? My best friend turned around and said to me, a guy by the name of Morris Isaacson, “You can never run away from a problem but you can get away from a bad environment.” My friend said to me, Morris Isaacson, “You can never run away from a problem but you can get away from a bad environment. Dean, go live in Johannesburg, start your own office, have your own independence. Your mom and dad are still married. For you to wake up every morning to see if your father is dead or alive is not a normal existence. Be known as Dean Murinik, the Life Assurance Consultant and not just Ralph Murinik’s son”, gave me such a feeling of pride and inner peace. It was early April 2004, I got into my car, I packed my belongings and I headed north to Johannesburg. It was so scary, the thought of starting on my own, the guilt that I carried for leaving my fault. But when I arrived in Johannesburg and I started making things happen, I realized, “Wow, I cannot believe it’s me who’s making a difference and that people are asking me for advice.” Even though I spoke to my dad on a daily basis, it was November 2004, that I phoned my father about a great deal that I just sold. All I heard on the other side was this voice of a frantic policeman saying, “We have a serious problem here. We have just found this man. He is caught and it looks like an overdose.” I flew down to Cape Town, not knowing if my dad was dead or alive. On the arrival, back at that same clinic. there was my father lying in a deep coma. This time it was really touch and go. Miraculously, two weeks later, my father woke up and neurologically well. My mind was spinning. And the question remained, how could I get my family out of this hell? I thought about it for a moment and the answer was Phuket, a place we had spent so many peaceful happy holidays together. So against doctor’s orders, I managed to persuade my mom and dad to come with me to Thailand. I had to break away from my painful reality. I just needed to borrow 10 days or two weeks with my father just in case he would get it right and take his own life. So it was Friday, December 24, my parents and I, my friends Morris, his girlfriend Dolores, David and Rael in Phuket, Thailand. We arrived on December the 25th ready for the start of what we thought would be a fantastic holiday. It was the morning of the 26th of December, Boxing Day, and I was sleeping in my hotel on the fourth floor and suddenly I was woken by an earth tremor. I thought, “Was it the start of an earthquake?” I got dressed and I’ve made my way down to the breakfast terrace, which was down on the ground floor next to the swimming pool, approximately 50 meters from the beach, down to breakfast with my mom and dad and David and Rael. Morrison and Dolores did not join us for breakfast. They went next door to the local convenience store and would meet us on the beach later. Jeremiah, it was about 9:50AM, I heard ‘bang bang bang’. At first I thought it was a terrorist attack. I couldn’t identify the noise. It was so foreign to me. I looked at my friend David and he shouted, “Get up and run! Get up and run!” As the noise got louder, I look back and I saw this massive water coming at me at an incredible speed. It was carrying boats, cars, jet skis and bodies. It was huge and it was loud and I was absolutely terrified. For a split second I froze in disbelief of what I was seeing. That the speed of the water coming towards me made me realize if I didn’t act now, or if I didn’t act quickly, that this was a tsunami and I was going to die. I look back to find both my mom and dad lying on the floor. In their haste to get away from this mess of water, they fell onto each other. I grabbed on to both of them and my fear was generating such strength that they felt like toddlers in my arms. As we’re being pushed from pillar to post with both my parents heads bobbing up and down I shouted, “Come on, come on! We can survive this together.” Four by four windows and everything you can imagine was missing us narrowly. I wasn’t afraid to die but I couldn’t allow my parents to die in front of me. Men were shouting, woman was screaming, and children who are crying. I looked to my dad, who is desperately trying to stay afloat, fighting for his of life. How ironic for a man who are numerous occasions try to take his own life was fighting so hard to stay alive. He had a choice. Every few seconds when I came to get up for air, everything seems so surreal. I could not describe the absolute chaos and devastation. After what seemed to be an eternity of holding up my parents, I realized that I did not have the strength to hold on to them anymore. At this stage, we’re all washed back approximately 200 meters through the hotel, through the lobby, into the conference room. Water was everywhere. We were surrounded. There was no way to go and there was no space to breathe. I was suddenly overcome with fear and exhaustion realizing that I might very well die. I thought to myself, “Is this fair after everything that I had been through?” The water continue to rise and our heads are now inches from touching the ceiling. I realize now that I had to fight for my own life. I looked at my mom and dad and I said, “Mommy and Daddy, I love you so much but I haven’t got the strength to hold on to you anymore.” I let go of my parents and we said our goodbyes. Jeremiah, there’s so much more to the story but I’ll be happy to talk about it another time.

Jeremiah: Dean, you just live being vulnerable and thank you so much. I know that it wasn’t easy to share that story and this is the second time I’ve heard it and you’ve still got me choked up, brother. Thank you for being able to share that. What you’ve been able to do with that story is to turn it into a vehicle of empowerment. I’m curious, I don’t know, if you have a book in the works already, you should but if not, if your life was a book up to this point, Dean, what would the title be?

Dean: There’s two titles that stick out for me. One is ‘Leveling The Playing Fields That We’re All On An Equal Footing’ and my other one would be ‘Like Tsunamis’.

Jeremiah: I like that one.

Dean: I may have survived the actual tsunami in 2004 where so many people lost their lives and I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to carry on with my life journey but what is so important for me is to be aware that the tsunami is just a metaphor for how everyone has to tread water in their own everyday lives. My experience was extreme but our own experiences take us to a level that is too much to deal with and the most important thing for me is for each and every one of us to emerge from these traumatic tests as survivors and not as beaten individuals. In other words, these experiences should make us and not break us and make us better people.

Jeremiah: One of the models that we live by at Advisorist is CANI, Constant and Never Ending Improvement. Part of that is looking at the struggles and the moments that we’re treading water or we got broken and getting right back up and going back at it surrounded by people that you love. I absolutely love your mission and the vision, which is why I wanted to have you on this podcasting because I know your message is resonating with somebody right now who’s listening and I’m just so grateful for you, my friend. You’re doing a phenomenal work. Switching gears a little bit here. I asked you about if your life was a book. I’m curious, you’re probably a guy who as a singer has a favorite song. So if your life had a theme song Dean, what would that song be?

Dean: Two productions that I played Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and played Tibia on Fiddler on the Roof. So I’m thinking maybe which one of those songs I really enjoy.

Jeremiah: Yeah, if you could pick one, which one do you enjoy singing the most? Or a song from one of those productions?

Dean: I really enjoy ‘If I were a rich men’.

Jeremiah: Beautiful song.

Dean: Yep. It’s a great song. For me, rich doesn’t just mean money. It doesn’t just mean material. It means about being rich within yourself. For me, it’s about how can you remind people of the value on a daily basis?

Jeremiah: So from your perspective, we are all rich. It’s a matter of reminding each other that we are rich, did I get that right?

Dean: Absolutely. As an insurance advisor, I would just like to give a little example for me, it’s New Year’s Eve, and we’re all sitting there with our champagne, and we toasting and we all saying,” This is going to be our year.” Even if we are not saying it verbally, we think it and we say, “You know what? This is going to be great. I’m going to be the best in my field in the life insurance. Whatever my issues are in my family, I’m going to make sure that my family are great this year. My health is going to be great.” You go into the New Year with so much excitement, and enthusiasm but what is normal for every single one of us? Is that we get hit by life curveballs. When that happens, our shoulders came to drop, and our own perception of our value tends to go. Therefore, for me, such an important message is to always remind people on a daily basis where strength is got, what they good at doing, so that they are able to carry on with purpose and with a smile on their face. By telling people what they are good at, one doesn’t understand how it would add such a spring to this step and makes them carry on with their everyday lives. For me being happy brings about great productivity in whatever you do.

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Jeremiah: There’s so much in neuroscience research that was done, or that is actively being done around the science of happiness and how it impacts your life and gratitude as well. You’re absolutely right on that. That’s something that I geek out on. I research that all the time. I’m actually going through a program right now, personally, my wife and I to tap into greater areas of genius in the brain. A lot of that has to do with how you set up your environment. To know that you have that as your mission to help other people see their value, to see why they’re special, how they have a unique gift is just so powerful. We need more people in the world like you my friend, Dean. Dean, this has been an incredible conversation. I have one final question. It’s more on the business side of things and it’s something we love to ask all of our podcast guests. That is if you lost everything, and you had no more contacts, nothing more than your assurance license, a laptop and $500, you have a phone too, what would you focus on in the next 30 days to reboot your business?

Dean: I honestly feel that $500 would make a lot of calls. If I could get on that phone and speak to people, just that I’m able to go and sit in front of them, to have that opportunity to full my diary, here I am, and I’m still alive. I’ve been given this chance to get out there and see people. I would fill up my list and that would get my business going again.

Jeremiah: Outstanding. Dean, if our audience wants to connect with you, learn more about you, or hire you for an upcoming event, where can they go?

Dean: One can contact me on my email [email protected]. As well as please, you can get me on LinkedIn.

Jeremiah: Outstanding. Dean, thank you so much for being part of the podcast. Keep up your amazing work, my brother, and we’ll see you out there.

Dean: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor for me to be on this podcast. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my story.

Jeremiah: If you’d like a transcript of today’s interview, you can go to and look for the episode with Dean Murinik. You’ll be able to get the shownotes and the transcript right in there. Thanks so much for listening to Advisorist, the most loved podcast in the insurance and financial services world. Until next time.

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Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah is the founder and CEO of Advisorist® and is a 23-time award winning financial marketer, a TED speaker and philanthropist. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNN, and Worth. His work has generated over $2 million insurance leads and helped advisors in over 51 countries generate over $300 million in sales commissions. He is the author of the best selling book, SHIFT.

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