When Ryan Ballesteros1 was studying Forensic Psychology at Walden University, he didn’t imagine a career helping protect families as a life insurance agent, much less becoming a Partner at New York Life. However, when his son’s mother was pregnant with their first child, Ballesteros saw the power of life insurance. His son’s grandfather passed away, leaving a death benefit to take care of his wife and six children. Ballesteros was able to pay off debt, start a savings account for his son and purchase life insurance for himself.
Around the same time, Ballesteros reached the top of his career path. He considered his New York Life agent and wondered, “What would it be like if I was walking in their shoes?” That’s when he decided to become a financial professional with New York Life, to make a real difference in the lives of families like his own.
Leaving a Legacy
When he was growing up, Ballesteros’s mother worked two jobs to support him and his sister. When she was able to spend time with her children, she was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. Ballesteros knows that if she had financial education and resources, she could have been more present in their lives. “I can provide the same emotional presence to families,” says Ballesteros. He aims to be a messenger of love and responsibility, educating and empowering families. He has a special interest in reaching Filipino communities like his own, in which as talking about death and money is considered taboo.
Ballesteros is a Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table2 (MDRT) in 2020 and was a Centurion Agent3 at New York Life two years in a row. However, when Ballesteros talks about his work, he emphasizes the difference between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues”. His grandmother was his biggest role model. When she passed, more than half of her small town in the Philippines walked behind her hearse. It was clear the impact she had on her community. Following her example, Ballesteros strives to leave an indelible mark on his community.
As an insurance agent, Ballesteros focused on life insurance and employee benefits. One of his clients was a local school district, covering 1,600 employees in 35 schools. New York Life offered a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, allowing families who wouldn’t qualify otherwise to get coverage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the district’s teachers passed away and her guaranteed issue policy let her family stay together in their home and gave her husband the time and resources he needed to grieve.
Fostering the Next Generation
As a Partner of the Silicon Valley General Office of New York Life, Ballesteros gets to train, coach, lead, and develop future insurance and financial services professionals. He teaches his agents three aspects that help them succeed: belief, knowledge, and skill.
Agents need to have a strong belief in what they do, says Ballesteros. He talks about the origin of the word “passion,” which comes from the Latin word passionem, meaning "suffering, enduring". “If you really believe in what we do and how we can change the lives of people today—if we can really bridge the gap between Main Street and Wall Street and break the cycle of poverty for families—then you have to be passionate to get your message out and help as many families as we can,” he says.
Knowledge is gained by spending time learning and investing in yourself, says Ballesteros. He became a NAIFA member for the wealth of knowledge other NAIFA members share generously and the professional development they can help foster.
Finally, agents need to develop the skill to break down the abstract concepts of finance and insurance and explain them to clients through storytelling.
NAIFA's Political Advocacy
NAIFA’s political advocacy is crucial, says Ballesteros. “Being able to advocate for our industry—to be the shield that protects the industry and shape the narrative and really help the industry thrive to give Americans a chance—gives me immense pride.”
Ballesteros shares why every insurance and financial professional should be a NAIFA member, saying, “Whether you're a member or not, you’re benefiting. We need smart, talented professionals who care about Main Street Americans to be advocates as well.”
The Value of NAIFA
Ballesteros became a leader within NAIFA soon after becoming a member. He’s served as NAIFA-Silicon Valley’s Young Advisors Team (YAT) and Membership Chair, Federal and State Grassroots Representative, and is currently the President-Elect of NAIFA-Silicon Valley. In his role as YAT chair, he helped develop resources for and plan seminars for agents under 40 years old. He embraces the opportunity to share what he’s learned with other industry professionals. “I love helping people accelerate the velocity of their growth and rise from their adversity,” he says. “I love guiding them to see a real life-changing success.”
NAIFA has provided Ballesteros with resources, training, and the opportunity to learn from the best. Networking through NAIFA allows professionals to connect with people who share the same mission, vision, and core values, he says. It also allows members to refer clients to industry professionals with other specialties. “[At NAIFA], there are a lot of opportunities for involvement, a lot of opportunities to serve, and a lot of opportunities to learn and grow,” he says. NAIFA also gives members the chance to expand not just their businesses, but their wealth of knowledge and their network, he adds.
Outside of the Office
When he’s not working, Ballesteros lives to spend quality time with his family: his fiancé, 8-year-old son, and 6-year-old daughter. He loves seeing them grow and pouring his heart and soul into them, he says.
Ballesteros also stays involved in his community. He volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley, his church, and Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Ballesteros owns Canid Roots, a social enterprise raw dog food company that donates a large portion of its proceeds to the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. He also sits on the executive advisory board for California State University-Chico and volunteers teaching digital marketing tools to its students, faculty, and staff.
For his service to his community and our industry and association, we’re #NAIFAproud to have Ryan Ballesteros as a part of our NAIFA family.
1. Ryan Ballesteros
1731 Technology Dr. #400 San Jose, CA 95110
2. The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), The Premier Association of Financial Professionals, is recognized globally as the standard of excellence for life insurance sales performance in the insurance and financial services industry.
3. A New York Life Centurion Agent writes 100 policies or more in one year.