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Hidden Gems: Meet Matthew Vuckovich of #SurgeonAgent

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Vuckovich.

Hi Matthew, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My story began in 2007 during my senior year of college when I started a sports agency representing Major League Baseball players. I loved watching Jerry Maguire and was hooked on the business of athlete representation. I spent the better part of a decade signing 1st Round Draft Picks, negotiating multimillion dollar deals, and helping clients navigate the business world. My mentor, Dennis Gilbert, advised me throughout most of my sports agent years. Dennis was once the most powerful sports agent in baseball, negotiating recorded breaking contracts and changing the way baseball players were represented.

While Dennis was running his sports agency, he was also running one of the most successful life insurance firms in the nation. Based in Beverly Hills, his life insurance clientele consists of high-net-worth individuals, A-list celebrities, professional athletes, business executives and doctors. One day while I was in LA for baseball meetings, Dennis and I had dinner and he suggested that I come work with him in the life insurance business. He knew the work ethic and mentality of a sports agent would transition into a successful life insurance agent. In October 2018, I moved to Beverly Hills to learn the life insurance business. It was during the first week in January 2019 when Dennis came by my office and said, “I think you should start working with surgeons. All Residents and Fellows have to buy disability insurance, so it’s a great place to start.” At that time, I had no clue how the medical world worked, nor did I know any medical Residents or Fellows. Dennis went on to tell me that when he first got started in the life insurance business, he built his clientele around young doctors. He would go to the UCLA medical building cafeteria, have breakfast with all the resident doctors, and end up selling them disability insurance. His advice to me was, “find a way to meet young doctors.”

In February 2019, I connected with the President of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons and convinced him to allow us to host their next meeting at Dennis’s estate in Beverly Hills. This was the very first interaction I ever had with surgeons. The meeting went great, we had over 50 plastic surgeons attend, including some residents from UCLA and USC. I got everyone’s number, continued to follow up with them, and all I got was ghosted. No one would talk to me. One of my surgeon friends from UTSW in Dallas, Dr. Demetri Arnaoutakis, ended up doing a facial plastic surgery fellowship in Beverly Hills. During the summer of 2019, he became my first and only surgeon client at that point.

I began meeting other surgeons, residents, and fellows around LA in plastic surgery. What I learned is that medical residents tend to know other residents in different specialties and at different medical institutions. My network grew from plastic surgery to neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, and vascular surgery across the country. I was selling disability insurance to residents and fellows because that’s what they all needed. I started asking my chief resident and fellowship clients basic business questions like, “what’s your elevator pitch, how are you creating your job search criteria, who do you plan to use to review your physician employment contract, etc.” I noticed that no one could really give me a solid answer. It was at that moment I thought young surgeons needed an “agent.”

In November 2019, I created a company called Exclusive Medical Advisors, whereby I would act as an “agent” to surgeons that were my insurance clients – the #SurgeonAgent was born. I would help them prep for interviews, find jobs, connect them with medical reps, healthcare recruiters, healthcare attorneys, etc. EMA took off and I ended up helping a lot of young surgeons land their first job. Then March 2020 came, and the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was having a conversation with one of my neurosurgeon clients from UCLA, Dr. Joel Beckett, and he suggested I start a YouTube page talking about my sports agent background and how I’m using it to help young surgeons.

In June 2020, I decided to start my own podcast, Interview with The Surgeon. The idea was to get leaders in medicine to talk about their journey and how they got to where they are now. Fast forward to today, I’ve interviewed over 150 leaders in medicine. These interviews provide insight into the business side of medicine from all different perspectives. The podcast acts as a guide to graduating Residents and Fellows as they look to transition into the professional world. The success of my podcast has allowed me to present to over 50 Residency and Fellowship Programs across the country on important topics such as “Navigating the Job Market, Contracts 101, Physician Life & Disability Insurance, and Transitioning to Practice.” Due to the need for broader business knowledge for Physicians, I’m now a frequent speaker at numerous national society annual meetings.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Breaking into the resident and fellowship medical community was extremely difficult. They work crazy hours and can usually only talk early mornings before surgery or late nights after surgery. On top of that, they are a very guarded community and not very welcoming to outsiders as they feel everyone is trying to sell them something. Honestly, it was the podcast idea that opened the doors for me. These leaders were, and continue to be, very supportive of my platform because they know young surgeons and physicians need more real-world business knowledge.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a Partner at a life insurance firm in Beverly Hills where I specialize in Life, Disability and Business Insurance. My clientele consists of high-net-worth individuals, celebrities/entertainers, professional athletes, and surgeons/physicians.

In the medical community, I’m known as the #SurgeonAgent. My focus is really career guidance and helping the next generation navigate the professional business world. During medical training, career transition and the basic business fundamentals are not taught. These extremely intelligent individuals go to school for 12-16 years and then in their mid 30’s they enter the professional job market for the first time. Most of them don’t know how to sell themselves or find a job because they have been too busy becoming the best surgeon/physician possible. My platform is trying to change that narrative

As a sports agent, it’s all about value outside of job description. Doing more than what you’re paid to do. Lots of people sell life and disability insurance but very few add value to their clients’ lives. I’ve built a very exclusive and powerful network which allows me to make value add connections and introductions for my clients. Being a good connector earns you respect and credibility.

Having an idea and turning it into a nationally recognized platform has been amazing to witness. Most individuals in the medical community have heard or know of the #SurgeonAgent and Interview with The Surgeon podcast. It’s the emails and messages that I get from medical students, residents, and fellows about how a specific interview changed the way they view a situation is what it’s all about.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
Dennis Gilbert. For over a decade, Dennis has been a mentor, friend, brother, father figure and inspiration to how I approach life and business. He’s one of the few individuals in this world that leads by example and practices what he preaches. My success is a direct result of his mentorship and guidance.

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