Listening to smart, successful people is fun and empowering. I wish I had done more of it when I was a young (20ish) professional. On August 19, I attended a wonderful panel called "Grow to CEO" hosted by GenKC and CBIZ.
Because I work closely with insurance agents, I listened intently to Robert O'Byrne, former President of CBIZ. He had some helpful advice for young insurance professionals.
How do you stay fresh?
This was a great question for O'Byrne because he has been traveling three days a week for 10+ years. He made three main points:
- Never complain and be accountable.
- Don't blame your company or resources
- Take action. Good things happen when you are doing stuff. Talk to people and go to networking events
Should young professionals stay at one job?
This was another great question because O'Byrne worked at CBIZ his entire career. Here's what he said:
I worked 37 years for the same company. With that said, it doesn't matter. Be where you need to be, where you can bring positive energy, work hard and learn every day. If I know I will get positive energy from you, I am all for that, even if I only get you for two or three years.
The consistent theme from O'Byrne and the other panelists was "have a passion for what you do." If you don't have a passion, find something else to do.
How do you manage customer expectations?
This was my favorite answer for the day. O'Byrne did a good job highlighting the minimum service requirements and then explaining how to go that next step.
O'Byrne first stated that tier one customer service requires that agencies be responsive and reliable. To go beyond tier one customer service, O'Byrne stated an employee must be proactive. Bring customers solutions to problems they don't know exist yet.
For example, O'Byrne explained that CBIZ works with public schools. Typically the schools don't have a risk manager. Cyber bullying is an issue. So CBIZ approaches schools and asks "how are you monitoring your computer terminals for cyber bullying?" O'Byrne pointed out this type of proactive insight requires knowledge of the industry.
As I ponder O'Bryne's advice, I am reminded of the best insurance agents that I know, my fellow insurance nerds.
- Ultimately, they care deeply about what they do.
- They figure out solutions to problems that only they know exist.
- They dig in.
- And a bonus...they don't complain about resources.
What do you think are the qualities of a first rate insurance agent?