After college, I entered a career in banking. During my 3 ½ years in banking I learned a great deal about money, finance, business lending and how to analyze corporate financial statements. At the same time, I also enrolled in, and later completed, the MBA program at Loyola University in Baltimore.
While this period of my life was very educational, it clarified in my mind that my personality and temperament were better suited for a career in which I would have greater autonomy and independence to control my own destiny, rather than being a “cog in the wheel” of someone else’s company. Looking back, I probably should have recognized this prior to going into banking (in high school I started my own successful car waxing business by going door-to-door to develop a clientele. I continued this business successfully through college). Nevertheless, as a result of my short career in banking and earning an MBA, I acquired a valuable base of knowledge about money and finance that has been very beneficial throughout my business life.
At age 26, I entered the life insurance business affiliating with a very fine company, MassMutual. Working for myself to build my own business was the perfect fit for me. Of significant value to me was an important realization I learned while growing up over a funeral home; namely, that people die at ALL ages. Having this awareness gave me a unique and important perspective. It greatly enhanced my conviction that the work I was doing on behalf of my clients was very important for them and their families….a perspective that I feel most young people entering the life insurance business do not possess.
After a couple of years of building my business on my own, I entered a partnership with someone 14 years older than me. I benefited from the partnership because my partner was more technically knowledgeable, and he benefited because I was better at developing new client relationships. For the next 10 years this worked well for both of us. In 1988, however, having acquired greater technical skill and experience by that time, I made the decision to be on my own again. We dissolved the partnership and I created The Bradley Company, becoming sole owner and president.