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In these unprecedented times, we need unprecedented leadership. I reached out to Jeff Roy, President & CEO of Excalibur Insurance Group after he released information on what business owners can do to Cope with COVID-19. This is a special edition episode to help agency owners lead the way. No one has ever gone through this, but together we will and it all starts here with this podcast.
Jason Cass: Hello loyal listeners. I am here with you with Jeff Roy. And obviously, I’m Jason Cass in case this is your first time listening. This is an episode of Agency Intelligence. We usually have an episode coming out every Tuesday and every Friday. You’ll notice that this is coming out at an odd time because this is an unprecedented time in our society in our world, as human beings.
I don’t really want to go into all the things that we’re dealing with, but you know, one thing that's important is that there’s certain people in your life that you look up to, that you follow that when they say "Hey, pay attention to this," you do. Jeff Roy is one of those people for me.
Now it seems like it's ironic that we're going through this as a world together and he is in another country. It's only fitting how he tries to share with Americans and how there's really a lot of what I call tangible love that's happening in the world.
It’s love being able to be seen with Uber drivers driving across town for free to deliver lunches to people on the front lines and seeing normal citizens inside of towns, ripping bed sheets apart and sewing it up to make mask and trying to figure out ways that they can reuse trash bags as covers just to protect themselves.
Neighbors are talking to neighbors, the elderly are finally getting the respect that they deserve. And I think that there’s a lot of beautiful, tangible love.
But outside of that, as a business owner, no one’s really talking to you, loyal listeners, to you, listeners for the first time maybe in Canada around the world. No one’s talking to you. And when Jeff shared this information with our Mastermind group and I believe the neon group, I read it and I immediately hit him back and said, Jeff, this is really good stuff.
So I wanted to bring Jeff on for I guess you could call this a special episode of Agency Intelligence podcast. But this is an important time where we need to be serious, we need to think about leading, because that’s what leaders do. They lead and helping our people cope with COVID-19, this is our time to shine. This is a time that will expose you. That’s a very famous saying. In this time of crisis, we will find out who the leaders are. Jeff, welcome to Agency Intelligence podcast, brother.
Jeff Roy: Hey, Jason, thanks so much for having me on the show. And I hope that your family’s safe and healthy, and all your clients and everybody in your area is good right now.
Jason Cass: Yes, you too as well. And we’ll talk about what the last couple of weeks of your life has been while you were out of the country, in Mexico. Some crazy stuff, Jeff. I love what you said to me the other day. You said, "Jason, the world I left when I left to go to Mexico and then came back into were two completely different worlds." And that’s that same way for me living in it. I can only imagine the situation of you being in Mexico and then coming back. Tell me about that.
Jeff Roy: Oh, it’s crazy. It’s crazy Jason. We had booked this holiday for a while. We completely watched every single news source of information to decide whether we should go or not go. And when we left on March 12, to Mexico everything was good. There was no travel advisory there. I think Canada had about 150 cases in total, 59 in Ontario, our area had no cases. So we left figuring we can get our holiday in and get back before anything escalates. And prior to that, our management team did have a meeting to kind of go over and get a plan in place before we left because nobody knows how quickly this will accelerate.
And I think one of the watch-outs is, everybody thinks, "hey, our country is different, it’s not going to hit us." And I think everybody got that false sense that everybody’s going to be different. And it turns out really nobody’s any different.
So we got to Mexico and then each day escalated and got worse and worse, to the point on the 16th of March, where our Prime Minister did a National Address to the nation and told everybody to get home. ...which was quite alarming because being in a foreign country, your Prime Minister’s asking you to get home, and he means as quickly as possible. And then trying to secure a flight on a Monday to get home as quickly as possible. And everybody else is trying to get home and not get gouged, is very challenging. So we were able to cut our trip short, we did get home on Saturday, which is good.
And basically, during that period of time, the border between Canada and the US was closed just to non-essential services. A lot of cases, a lot of paranoia, a lot of people getting concerned just in the area. And the self-quarantine when we left, there wasn’t a mandatory 14 days self-quarantine. And then during our trip that became a requirement which both Una and I are 100% honoring. We want to make sure we're social distancing and we’re following the best practices.
So we’ve been sequestered in our house since Saturday. We think we’re starting day four of work from home and being basically quarantined. So, just basically a real roller coaster and all during that time I’m out of the country. I’m working on my business, concerned about my people, reading documents, talking to people, working on business plans. It just wasn’t the holiday we planned but our team and our community and our clients come first, and we have to do the best you can do as a leader.
So we continually worked on our plans, which we can talk about later. But really, the turning point in Canada was when the Prime Minister’s wife got diagnosed and he went to self-quarantine. I think that was about the same day we left. That’s kind of when everything seemed to get real in Canada to a whole different level, and a whole bunch of precautions and social distancing and business shutting down took place.
So, just a crazy time.
I wasn’t alive during the Spanish Flu in 1918. I think that was kind of the last time we had any kind of widespread of anything remotely close to this.
SARS back in the 2000s wasn’t nearly as significant as this. So there’s just really no other frame of reference for business owner right now.
Jason Cass: No, there’s just not. And that’s why I think that this podcast is essential to a lot of business owners out there. You and I have talked about this, and we’re going to discuss some things for insurance agents. But this actually came from Bain & Company, and it was their COVID 19 Actions to Take Now. This is from March 20th, 2020. This is within the last month...I don’t think it specifically says it’s for March.
Jeff Roy: I literally got this from our tech Vistage group in Canada. I’m in a group of CEOs and it’s been a great support and they sent this document through and that’s why I shared it with you.
Jason Cass: The reason I like this though, is, this is going to be really good loyal listeners, just because there’s the Goldman Sachs minutes out there, there’s a lot of different corporations that have produced their thoughts on it. And they have their predictions of, this is probably going to happen, this might likely to happen. Expect this, expect the downturn here. But what I liked about this, Jeff was that Bain & Company was saying, hey, let’s look at this from an overall perspective and as a business, what can you do? What should you do? Maybe for some sized businesses, some of this is not doable. But for a lot of businesses, these are common threads that we all need to do.
And that’s why I really kind of liked it and they actually even broke it down into what we call the CEO's checklist. Now, so everybody knows we have to just stay focused on two different things. We have the Bain & Company report, but then we also have Excalibur that wrote their own. Jeff created his own as he was talking about when he was on vacation and he had also had a little bit of one before they left, brought this thing together and has been meeting with his team to kind of execute his “CEO Checklist” of things that need to be done. And so, Jeff, is that the best way to frame that?
Jeff Roy: Yeah, I think it’s just, I would say as Bain puts it, it’s basically that you have a war room and you’re working on your continuity plan and you’re executing it. And you know, you can have a plan in place but until you actually have to pull it out, dust it off and use it, that’s the real stress test.
And I don’t think anybody thought this type of scenario would happen. Seeing businesses forced to close, people being forced to isolate, nobody projected this would happen in our area. And a lot of plans, you have to adapt to them.
So, I’ve kind of come up with my own plan. You’ve got your own plan, Jason. I’m not sure the best place to start. I think one of the best places is the safety of your staff. You know, that's our number one priority. We got to make sure our team and staff are safe, and if our team and staff are safe, people that mean everything to us, nothing else matters. And we can’t deliver the great outstanding service under different conditions to our clients. I think that’s the foundation I found. What do you think?
Jason Cass: I agree, Jeff. And I think that there is no exception to this rule. And to any loyal listener who’s out there and their office is still open. I feel this falls in line with you. And I just have to say this because at no point are we taking sides here. This is just what we’re doing because it’s our job as humans, whether it’s blown out of proportion or not. Step one in the CEO checklist is protect your employees and customers. Implement the best known guidelines available for both employees and customers - over invest it says. It literally says that in there. Over invest meaning you should be shutting your businesses, you should be doing everything you can to not accept cash.
A lot of insurance companies I’ve seen have come out with ways of saying hey, if you don’t want to accept the cash, have them call us. We have ways to get that cash to work that process so you don’t have to accept it. There’s numerous ways. There’s no reason why someone should be coming into your office. In my opinion, there’s too many digital reasons. And I understand that maybe you’re a non standard shop and you have a lot of payments that come in.The CEO checklist says, number one, you should protect your employees. And so, I feel in this time of need, that’s not a maybe that has to be checked. Step one. That’s my thoughts on that, Jeff.
Jeff Roy: 100%. And what we did is we shut the doors last Monday. So awhile before we needed to, but as soon as we deemed the threat had risen to a level where people were exposed. And again, everything kind of happened.
The Monday when the Prime Minister addressed the nation that’s when it became really real and apparent to everybody.
So at that point in that day, we did shut the office to the public. Our staff were in but we made sure everybody was social distancing, hand wipes, sanitizers...
Basically, we’re trying to follow best practices at that point, and also looking at phase two, where everybody could work from home. We'll get into that later, but we kind of broke it into three phases. Phase one, we shut the doors to the public. Phase two, we get the staff working from home, and we have a skeleton staff in the offices, and phase three where everybody is working from home, 100%. And we can talk about the differences between Canada and the US in regards to that, so we’re going to touch on that.
Jason Cass: No, and I like that. I think that just seems silly when we got all these emails from the CEOs. And they were like, our foremost, utmost important is to protect our employees. And sometimes that just becomes like, you just hear it all the time right? And it’s how we are as humans, we just kind of discount it because everybody’s saying the same thing. It’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah. But they were following the CEO checklist. You are a CEO. Even if you don’t own your agency, you’re the CEO and your clients are looking to you. This is valuable information.
I thought this was interesting. The next part, which is something we don't think about but is so simplistic and I'm going to go back to the Bain thing here. Jeff, you did break it down into three or four sections, as opposed to Bain, they broke it down into seven sections. But I think this goes through and through no matter the size of your agency. According to this, "Model your exposure, stress test P&L and liquidity." Very, very key there because what they're saying is you should outline scenarios that can happen in the market and translate that into revenue decline, based on what your P&L says now.
So looking at your P&L or looking at your book of business and looking and designing and saying, hey, I have a bunch of non standard clients that pay $30 a month and you know, they don’t pay a lot, it’s just that type of business.
You may be more susceptible to having a bunch of back charges rather than somebody else who may have a more preferred book of business. You may be having more calls, though on the board preferred book of business than you will on some other things. So it depends on where your stress is going to come on that P&L.
And then they also said, Jeff, which I thought was crazy, is it says to build extreme downside scenarios that have the potential to be a 100 year event.
Now, once again, this is CEO talk. But what scenario can you predict? What if this happened, and this is my book of business? What would that look like in six months in a year and how would I adapt my P&L to that, Jeff, any thoughts on any of that?
Jeff Roy: Yeah, and just before I jump into that question, I just want to point out on the terms of making sure the staff’s safe. The second extension is your customer safety communication with your clients. We stopped doing client visits, we basically do everything by phone, remote, which saves our staff, but also protects our business clients. God forbid we send a staff member with COVID-19 into their organization and start an infection. That would be a horror story. And no business owner would ever want to have that happen. And everybody’s trying to avoid that. So customer safety and communication with your clients, letting them know that, you’re putting that in all the emails to them.
We sent out 9000 emails twice, once explaining that business interruption is not going to protect people from the virus. It’s not designed to protect that. And also explaining what the virus is and updating them, then we let everybody know, we have shut the doors to the public, but told them how they could do business with their office. So really important to communication. I just want to point that out. I didn’t want to jump over that. But it’s really critical to make sure that you do and I know all of the great agencies and brokers out there have been doing a great job that I follow on social media. I’ve been following them a lot.
So back to the P&L stress test. We’re going through that right now. And nobody knows. But one stat that just came out in Canada, they figure, one-third of all small businesses will shut their doors after 30 days, if this continues on.
Now, there’s a big debate, there's a debate going on. I read in the US about whether it’s the economy versus people’s lives, and I’m not going to comment or get into that, you know, it’s quite an issue and I know my perspective on it.
But, there’s people that have different perspective, which is quite blows me away, but I have to respect people’s line of thinking, I guess, but it is very concerning that people when it comes down to the economy versus people’s lives, that that's actually a decision but that seems to be an issue right now.
Jason Cass: Very true, dude.
Jeff Roy: Yeah, so basically that happens so I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to get into that. We want to focus on people’s businesses and try and keep this very positive in nature. And you know, imagine if a third of your small businesses, your bought policies are gone what would that look like?
You have chargebacks if you’ve got your goal for your revenue for the year, and all of a sudden, in two months you have 20% of your book of business, figure out the revenue, you know, in terms of cancellations. Do you have the cash flow to handle that as an agency? And do you have money set away and you need to start looking for a credit to get that to make sure that it is shored up if that event happens.
That’s what agencies need to look after. And some people go, if you look back to the Bain plan, they talked about level one where you just miss your plan. So let’s say your new business is off, people aren’t shopping, or there’s just very little activity and that’s quite possible, you’re going to see a big reduction in the new business. And then you’ve also got business canceled coming off. So you can start seeing a decline in your book of business. That would be level one - missing your plan, severe downturn.
Let’s say people were shut down for two or three months. China, I don’t know if it was 40 days or 45 days where they locked everybody down. So you can see the number of businesses adversely affected by the shutdown like the retail, the realtor, the sports teams, the travel, the airlines, the cruise ships, the casinos, the hotel industry, the gas and petroleum, manufacturing, automotive. So many industries that are affected, and there’s a substantial downturn, and people don’t have revenue, the revenues are down 30 or 40%. Insurance is one of those bills that may not get paid.
And Canada will let you know, most of our insurance companies have stepped up and have been very positive and said, hey, we’re going to let people with 30 days of missed payment. And we’re going to look at reducing or minimizing some of the NSF payments or policy fees with that and then the next month we’ll break it over the remaining term.
And Canada will let you know, most of our insurance companies have stepped up and have been very positive and said, hey, we’re going to let people with 30 days of missed payment.
And we’re going to look at reducing or minimizing some of the NSF payments or policy fees with that and then the next month we’ll break it over the remaining term. So companies are working with them, like the bank says they’re working with mortgage owners. I will point out the banks have a lot more of an asset and something to go after afterwards to be able to do that versus an insurance company where it’s a contract for 12 months and it’s earned and you have no asset to go after.
So different industries, but we got people discussing that. So, those are things you have to look at. How's it gonna affect you? And then you know, you have different industries, are those business clients going to go bankrupt? Are there going to be severe downturns? You have renewals coming up next year where your liabilities receipts are based on what your receipts are not. The receipts are down 35, 40%, the renewals will be down that much. So you also have this affecting your renewals next year, when people start sending in revenue estimates and stuff like that.
So this has a longer-term effect. And at this point, depending on which report you look, this going to be 15 to 30 days, 60 days, or it’s gonna be 90 days. And you have different investment firms saying, this was like 2008, where it’s going to go down, it’s going to take three or four years to get back or it’s like 2001, 9/11, where it went down, but it came up fairly quickly. We don’t know at this point, and there’s a lot of uncertainty and it depends what the economy does, because insurance is a reflection of the economy. Yes, we do have renewables. People are renewing it.
We’re fortunate that we’re not like manufacturers that if we don’t actually go in the plant and make something, we have nothing to sell, we have a renewal that renew, which does insulate us a little bit. And people are required to have insurance but doesn’t mean everybody has the money to pay for it. So these are all scenarios as a CEO, or business owner you have to look at. And then if you look at different scenarios, if your revenues affected 15% or 20%, can you absorb that? And if you can’t, you have to start looking at what you can cut. How do you become liquid? What areas? Do you reduce your advertising a bit, you know, do you have to lay some stuff off? Do you have to do work sharing, there’s a lot of different levers you can pull.
And again, we’re hopeful that we can weather the storm for an extended period of time with our planning, and we want to make sure our staff are employed and looked after the best we can do. But these are all scenarios you have to look at. And more importantly, your business clients are having the same conversation. So as a broker, if you can share a document like this and help work through the plan with your clients, it’s not about insurance it’s about survival.
That’s a huge value-added service that a lot of brokers aren’t doing right. So I looked at this document as something that my clients need some help with. We’re providing resources, we can start looking at things for them.
Jason Cass: Yeah. And you’re so right. See, I don’t think it’s, it’s not 2008 because the banks have cash, right? It’s 2008 and it’s 2001. And the fact of the way it hurts our consumer, you’re so right about this. This is a double wave thing, especially for commercial insurance agents. Because we have that, as you said, we have the downturn, the client gets back to paying. But also keep in mind, a lot of these accounts sometimes are earned commission.
So as the customer pays, we get paid. So if you have a book that’s really larger than that, then that could adversely affect you. But as you said, in 12 months when the person’s payroll was a million dollars, but now it’s only $500,000. And you’re now getting back charged on that. That’s happening 12 months from now. And, not just 12 months, once that’s happening with every renewal coming in for 12 months after the first renewal. So I think you can see, you are very right about that. And that’s where sometimes I didn’t understand this when I was younger as a business person.
And I think this is a good time to have this conversation, Jeff, which happens to be the difference between a P&L and a balance sheet. Because those who have not built a balance sheet, and I’m not saying I’m perfect or Jeff’s perfect, loyal listeners, we’re just talking out there in general, the agents and business owners that have built a balance sheet with assets rather than a good P&L with strong profit in the times that are down right now they’re the ones who are able to leverage those assets to get cash to be able to float themselves through this. They have liquidity and also are able to jump into things like the stock market, which is like on an all time everything is 60% to 70% off on Wall Street right now.
I think sometimes those who come through this business, one of the things we need to look at for the next crisis is that I need to build a P&L that’s profitable, but I need to build a balance sheet that’s going to create assets. So that in the time of need, I’m able to use those assets to carry me forward, but also to take advantage of situations where others can’t. Am I right about that Jeff? Is there anything we can elaborate on that?
Jeff Roy: I think that there’s always going to be a rainy day at some point and the future is not a linear extension of the past. So everything doesn’t go up forever, and things will go down. And then basically, it’s how you handle yourself and what you do when things get difficult, when everybody’s watching that makes all the difference. So those are great strategies about getting some assets, having some money and stuff put away to do that, you know.
Some people, they make $1, they spend $10. And that’s part of the problem with the world. There’s a lot of people, the credit limits have never been higher. And we actually watched the demonstration from one of our vendors that said, 50% of people that own a car, were one paycheck away from bouncing checks. That was their prediction. So if that’s the case, and we have an unemployment rate, we had 500,000 people in Canada file for unemployment in a week, which we had 27,000 people, I think last year at this time on unemployment, now, there’s 500,000 a year later, and that’s just quickly in one to two weeks. So you start doing the math, it’s very uncertain. So you need to need to as an owner, you need to look at these things.
Again, I think one of the best things that Bain said is, it’s a different time and you have to prepare for the worst and be thankful if it doesn’t eventuate. You have to have a wait and see approach. You've got to stay fluid because information is changing daily, even by the minute and you have to be looking at stuff. That’s why you need to have, you know, I call it a war team or a team of your management team and also your staff, keeping up to speed on what’s happening and continue looking at scenarios that could happen and make sure that you look at things.
I call it being up river because you want to decide and have things in place before you you’re ready to go over the falls and you have a decision to go down the right fork of the river, right?
You need to be great at these things as a CEO and your staff looks at you to be forward-looking as a leader, you have to look ahead and do the best job of seeing what can happen and the best way to deal with it.
Jason Cass: COVID19 is unlike any previous crisis, traditional crisis response approaches will not be sufficient. That’s number one of their things.
And I think that that’s something we all need to think about with our own governments, local, state and federal, or in Canada. However your government system is, understanding that our leaders are in times that they’ve never been in, there’s no way that they could have predicted that we would need just to be simplistic, this many masks, right? No, I mean, yeah, we can have as much stockpile as we need if there’s a major disaster in one or two or three states or four or five states.
But when it takes over 50 states and continents and countries across the world, you can’t plan for that. And so we sometimes have to think about the 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill that just passed in America last night. They passed it at like one o’clock in the morning. They’re signing it today. I’ve already reached out to my CPA, they’ve got two big webinars that they have to sit in on today to really learn it. And there’s some really, really good things that are coming out in it.
Mitt Romney actually did a report for the state of Utah and he gave some specifics to it that, once again, could have been changed a little bit, but they’re giving up to 2.5 times payroll in loans that are forgivable if for a certain period of time if you don’t lay anybody off. So, if you have five employees right now, and you take out the loan, and in a year just making that up loyal listeners, you still have five employees, you don’t have to pay back that loan of 2.5 times your payroll. So just so you know what your payroll is Jeff, take that multiply it by 2.5.
That’s what you could get as far as a forgivable loan. If you play your cards right and you really take it advantage of the situation, I don’t want to say take advantage of the situation, but you understand what’s going on and you’re using your CEO checklist to plan accordingly, not only will you be able to expect and be able to see losses in revenue and changes in the market going forward the best you can with your team as Roy is talking about, but you also may be able to take advantage of it to actually come out of this and say, wow, that allowed me to see my agency differently.
I shook off the things that really, we should have shook off a long time ago, I now have this extra capital to actually invest.
Jeff, there really could be, maybe not in all countries, but there really could be a huge upside to some of the things that we’re being forced to do. What is it they say? Necessity breeds invention. And that could be. We’re in times that are unprecedented, we’ve never lived before. Invention is rampant right now.
Jeff Roy: Yeah, no, I think I think one of the things that in Canada, we have 39, 40 million people. So we’re quite a bit smaller than the US. But I think our government released $82 billion. We’re not at 2 trillion. But one of the incentives we have that they’re honoring for smaller businesses is 10% of payroll up to a limit of $25,000 to help weather the immediate storms.
So that’s something that’s helpful for us at that point, because that’ll, you know, we’ll be able to apply for that, that helps us. They’re trying to make credit available to, and I’m not sure but I believe the interest rates are going to be ultra-low. There are some discussions whether you were still in business a year later, and whether there be any forgivability or not. I’m not aware, but there’s some talk from different countries about that, that they’ll give you some money to help you out. And then if you survive a certain period of time, you don’t have to pay that back.
So there’s a lot of different things being done to help the government you know, to help businesses out right now. And, you know, our job is to help businesses that know that the business interruption isn’t designed to cover it, what other things can they do? How can we help them and provide other ideas for them?
Jason Cass: Absolutely, absolutely. One of the things that they also talk about is defending against revenue declines, that was kind of their next stage that they talked about. It really got down to this was a very basic part to me, which was taking a customer-centric view, to build trust, loyalty and market share.
I really thought that that was pretty good. I, I think we do terrible job sometimes, Jeff, because we’re so busy, we’re so concentrated and focused on what’s in front of us that we don’t take the proactive personal touches that we probably should with our clients. I’m okay to admit that myself and we just, we just don’t, it’s something we always strive to do better and, but this is the time where you’re not bothering them.
They’re looking forward to you just calling and saying what can I do to help, you know? I was talking to one of my social services the other day, and they do delivery meals to these elderly. Well, the people who always do the deliveries are the elderly as well. They’re like 70 year old and they’re retired. And so, they shouldn’t be out. So I was just like, do you want me to send myself or my staff for three or four hours, just give the meals? Load them up in my car, and I’ll just go deliver them, you know? Probably gonna get taken up on that. I want to do that just because I think that’s part of me being human.
But this is also a part of me being able to reach out and really show where I’m proactively trying to let my clients understand that I’m here for more than just insurance. I’m here for your betterment. What can we do? What questions can I answer for you? I bet you there’s a lot of agents that aren’t doing that. And that seems like a very, very simple thing to me, Jeff. How are you guys countering that?
Jeff Roy: Well, I said right now everybody’s just trying to make sure they can keep everything going with all the different things going on right now. Just making sure their staff’s safe, making sure everybody’s working from home. Again, now we’re still working, improving our work from home, it’s way more intensive. And there’s, you know, a few more snags to get it working as well.
And you know, I know some broker friends that over the weekend, they said, "Hey guys, take your computers home, we’re going to work from home." And they built a strategy. And they’re able to bootstrap and get a minimum viable product up and each day, they’re perfecting it. So there’s a lot of energy put into just making sure your operation, your people are safe and your clients are getting traditional service, that to go the extra level and start reaching out and being proactive, is a little more difficult.
And we’ve been using email, and we’re trying to make sure that we still reach out and contact your clients and not skip a beat. Realizing that you’re gonna have some productivity, it’s when people go home. It’s difficult because you’re in a new environment, you've got to get used to some flow, and you’ve got your kids, all the kids are off school here. They’re at home.
If you have kids at home, you want to focus but they need your attention.
And there’s times when you have to go and do stuff with them, work on their homework and answer questions and stuff like that.
So, you know, it’s about creating the new normal. I guess we’re kind of jumping ahead about maybe the next slide. The next thing is about stabilizing your operation and creating the new normal for right now. Right?
Jason Cass: Correct. Correct and crazy. And I think that’s what we’re doing here. We’re stabilizing it into the fact to let people know and then also Jeff Roy or not Jeff Roy, the people I listen to sometimes they just fly out. Brent Kelly, which is a good person to be compared to Jeff, Brent Kelly talks about how 80% of our business comes from 20% of our clients. This is a good time for us to be laser-focused into taking an approach as they talked about it about specific mitigation of actions due to just core revenue streams.
So, looking at some of your largest clients and making sure that they’re there, maybe you can’t get to everybody in your agency. But look at that 20% that’s driving in that 80% of revenue, and make sure that you’re there doing everything that you can for them and also making sure that there’s not other coverages that they may be needing.
Other types of policies that they may be needing. Not right now to buy, but you’re kind of listening to their concerns, you’re listening to their thoughts and their questions of what they’re asking you. Do I have this? Well, what if this happens? A lot of things that we’ve got from our social services that I really hadn’t contemplated was cancellation insurance.
They’re all asking me like, "Hey, Jason, I have to cancel this fundraiser, I have to cancel this." I’ve never been in a time where I’ve had so many come in and Westbend does have coverage for that. But some of my other non for profit companies don’t. So we’re like, holy cow. So that’s something we’ve had to learn. And we’re putting that on the books to say that’s something we’re going to make sure that we get coverage on them next time. It’s looking at those segment markets and saying, how can we reach out to those to have the biggest impact but also how can we listen to them to be able to help them when this normalizes? I guess I should say.
Jeff Roy: Yeah. I think one of the things that really you know, people need to look at is when a lot of people have gone remote, and there’s a huge cyber exposure and a lot of people have not bought the right cyber coverage. Yes. And there’s a number of examples, you know, all of a sudden employees go, I got my employee set up remotely great on their own computer. Well, if that computer doesn't have a virtual private network to protect the data going back and forth, it’s possible that their drive could map into your server and all of a sudden malware goes on your server and crashes everything.
You know, that’s an example without an employee that doesn't have virus checking on it and it’s up to date, they could have a keyword logger. There’s currently a malicious software out there right now disguised as Corona, or COVID19. where people get your attention, there’s a COVID map, people click on the map and all of a sudden it loads malware in your computer, and it starts getting your keystrokes. So imagine an employee logs into your terminal server into the office server, they clicked on that map to check out the virus wanting to see the updates.
They've got the virus and their keyword is being compromised and all of a sudden they’ve got into your system and all sudden you got a cybersecurity breach that you may or may not have coverage for. So that’s an example of stuff that there’s a lot more exposure and companies are starting to look at their cyber exposure, with all the employees working at home.
The other thing, you have to make sure that buyer structuring is up to speed as they said, because a lot of times they haven’t done and the last thing is double authentication. A lot of people when they log in remotely, and you notice that on Amazon, you can click that you put your password in, they send you a text, and then you have to put the text password in to make sure it’s you.
So there’s a couple levels of security that people probably haven’t put in place and those who just pick up their computers and go home with the corporate computer. You know, generally we have no data on our computers at all. It’s just all on our, our main server so we’re protected if that computer gets into the wrong hands, but we do have the security, we have everything set up. So, that kind of thing can happen when they’re at home.
These are things that a lot of business owners haven’t thought out.
They’re getting people working, there’s trying to keep the doors open answering phone calls, but that there’s a huge exposure there that people need to look after. Right?
Jason Cass: Absolutely. Absolutely. So many different opportunities out there for us to think about. I put this in my notes, Jeff. We should never ever have an issue selling business income and extra expenses. Okay. And the reason why I say that is because sometimes it’s hard for our customers to fathom them having some type of disaster that would shut down their business or could, it’s like they don’t understand it. Business owners who’ve had major losses, whether it fires or tornadoes or something with direct physical damage to the property, those people understand how important it is. So it’s really weird. I used to always say it was a statistic and I can’t remember when I was selling a lot. I used to use Katrina.
They said that I guess 30% or 40% of the businesses during Hurricane Katrina went out of business and the vast majority was because they didn’t have any business income at all. And I mean that that was pretty, pretty major when you think about that. I think that the business income we can go over all those questions of why that should be and why it shouldn’t be.
That’s not what we’re here for here. But it's interesting to look at all these different coverages and start listening to where business owners are saying they’re having issues and start using what my buddy Billy Williams says that, Cass, your gold is in your book. There’s gold that they’re telling you about, you just have to listen to it and then supply them the gold that they’re wanting when we get back to normalizing. Yeah, so where are we still doing stabilized operations to a new normal? Is that where we’re at?
Jeff Roy: Yeah, well, just if you want to I know we have a limited time. I know it’s crazy right now and I wanted to fit you in and have a quick chat and you know, basically to share some more stuff.
Jason Cass: Loyal listeners he so big time he’s literally getting off Cass’ podcast. Can you believe that? Like this guy’s trying to –
Jeff Roy: No I’m not. I’m not trying to do that.
Jason Cass: No, no, no. No, I thought you’re the nice Canadian Jeff, what the heck is going on?
Jeff Roy: Yeah, no, no, I just want to be aware of time because…
Jason Cass: I do. I get you.
Jeff Roy: …and just there’s a lot, unfortunately, there’s a lot of things pressing right here. We've been to 13 hour days. And the one thing working from home, make sure you have some separations, take a break and do stuff. Because before you know it 13 hours go by. So we’re trying make sure we get outside a little bit and trying to break. We can’t leave the property, but we’re getting outside walking around the pool, trying to get exercise and trying to keep things somewhat normal in keeping them balanced.
But yeah, so I think some of the big things like I think the Bain, I think the biggest thing for everybody is to take a look at the Bain document. It gives some good ideas. I think it’s really important to look at as a business owner, as an agency, and a brokerage when you’re going through this, or your clients. So there’s a lot of things that you have the same problems that are universal between all industries. And that’s what-
Jason Cass: Jeff, Jeff, let me let me get one of those universal things. I want you to explain this. You talk about doing the things we hear in America and probably Canada about essential employees and unintentional employees. That’s not this. Yeah, but you talk on your agenda about non-essential versus essential service. Would you give us some thoughts of what you explain to your team? What did you mean by that?
Jeff Roy: Yeah, well, what happened is our government actually came out. I got home Monday and they said, our premier Ford said that he’s going to announce what was essential and non-essential. And the non-essential businesses have to shut their doors, they’re not allowed to be open. And the essential ones are still allowed to be open, like people can go into the building. So at that point, we had to look at the next day, we had to make sure our doors were completely shut. We're 100% remote at that point in time.
And if we were deemed a non-essential service, luckily, insurance was deemed an essential service. And there’s a list of 60 or 70 businesses in Canada that are essential, some of the non-essential they deemed and by no means am I commenting on the government’s decision, they talk about retail sales, they’ve got, hairdressers, counting in some situations, you know, tattoo parlors, certain things, businesses that they feel can be closed and to help to prevent to spread and create a social distancing.
So they’ve legislated as of yesterday or last night at midnight, these businesses have to be closed for the next 14 days. So we’ve got at least 14 more days in Canada, you know, I believe it’ll be longer.
It’ll all depend on when that curve of new cases flattens out. And each country is different, each country’s taking different steps. But that’s kind of what the essential is now. There was some misinformation going around that if you’re not an essential service, you don’t even have to operate your business.
So some people thought, well, we’re not essential. We’re just going to shut down. In insurance, you know, we would never leave our clients like that. And we would always continue to operate our regulator you know, requires us to do that. But it’s not so much the regulator.
We want to make sure our clients are looked after. So we’re always going to operate regardless of what’s going on. I have a plan to keep answering calls doing the work our clients need us to do. That’s why we’re in business.
Jason Cass: See, I like that. Yeah, no, I like that. And I wanted to get your feeling on that because I think there’s a lot of agency owners that are trying to figure out, should they be open or should they not be open? You know, and I’ve heard it and we don’t need to get into that. I just wanted people to get your thoughts on it. I agree with your thoughts emphatically. I believe we are part of the essential businesses. To be honest with you, outside of healthcare and a couple other things, I can’t think of something that’s more essential. Because in this type of crisis, if somebody has an insurance issue, like a fire or a claim of subtype, they’ve got a crisis on top of a crisis, you know?
And at least at that point in time, we can stabilize that. I encourage you guys to go read this Bain company report.
I really didn’t realize at all that we were already 40 minutes into this as well, because I this has been some really good stuff that we’ve been doing.
I think stabilizing the operations to a new normal, we’re not going to talk about that, but I just want to say to everybody, I really do believe that there’s good on the other side of this. There’s always good in all parts of this.
And I wanted to give some focus and some leadership to this, Jeff, and I appreciate you sharing this information and then jumping on last minute as you’re in self-quarantine, trying to help us out as well. I think stabilizing the operations to a new normal, we’re not going to talk about that, but I just want to say to everybody, I really do believe that there’s good on the other side of this. There’s always good in all parts of this.
But sometimes it takes major things like this for us to look at things differently. Sometimes it’s death. Sometimes it’s a shock. And all this is a shock and awe moment to where I think we can look at our businesses and say, where can we cut the fat? Where can we tighten up the customer experience? Where can we start showing more compassion and being involved more in our community? How can we start showing more value to our customers?
There’s a lot of examples out there. Businesses are talking. Clients are talking. They’re telling us the way that they think. They’re giving us the problems that we can provide solutions to. And I think it’s important that we listen to it. Wrapping up, Jeff, what are some of your thoughts on leading this industry and helping try to give guidance to what you’re doing but what some agents should be focused on at this time?
Jeff Roy: Well, as I said, big thing that the number one safety of staff service to clients. That’s going to be priority one, you know, start looking at different scenarios, as they pointed out, and start working with your team ahead of time before anything happens. And start looking at some of the events we talked about today. And realize there’s no perfect way.
I don’t know any agent or broker across Canada that turned the switch and said, “Yeah, we were running perfectly. Everything went great. There are no problems.” There’s going to be stuff that happens every day. That’s new, oh, we’ve never tried this combination with this company, with this situation.
At this time, there’s going to be things that will happen and services are going to be slow. Like you all of a sudden have hundreds of kids and people laid off at home watching Netflix, accessing the Internet, and you’re also trying to access remotely from your house.
How good is your service going to be? There’s going to be disruptions, it’s going to be slow on the server, phone lines and circuits could be overloaded.
You know, there’s a lot of different scenarios and they keep popping up. The biggest thing is to have some patience. Be courageous and basically try and stay as positive as possible. Because stuff is going to go wrong. You’re going to get frustrated. We have to all be in this together, we have to share, we have to communicate, we have to problem-solve. And you know, my good brothers and sisters in the US, I’ve got this really tight relationship with hundreds of agents in the US. And I really feel lucky to be connected with the people of Agency Intelligence. You know, I’m part of the Greenwich group down there. You know, I’m part of the Canadian Broker Network in Canada, Group of Eight, we’re, lucky as Excalibur’s part of bigger groups where everybody’s sharing information and helping everybody through this.
So, you can’t get through this crisis yourself. You’re not an island. Reach out for help. Ask for help from people, listen, and try and keep getting better every day. That’s all you can do. And expect the unexpected and come up with some ideas to find a way to win and try your best of the day. Keep your head up as long as you can look yourself in the mirror and pass the mirror test that I did the best job today to help my team, my staff, my industry in my community. That’s all I can do and get ready to go out the next day. That’s what it’s going to take. We’re going to get through this together. We've got to stay positive.
We've got to stay fired up. We've got to do everything we can. And it’s not a great time, like ever. It’s really easy to sail the boat when it’s calm, but it’s when it’s rough, it makes the true sailor, we’re becoming true sailors right now.
So everybody give it your best. There’s a lot of great agents out there, make sure you reach out and connect with each other and help each other right. This is the time to be helping people.
You know, we’re getting a ton of help here and people bring groceries to our house. People have reached out to us to help us in immeasurable ways.
So we’re very thankful to everybody in our community.
And we’re being respectful to make sure that we stay in for 14 days and make sure that we are good and everything else so our staff amazingly stepped up and worked really hard andhas been there for us 300%. So I just want to point out that that’s kind of some advice and a few thoughts.
Jason Cass: That’s right. Thank you very much, man. Thanks for your words and the were very well articulated. I greatly appreciate it. Loyal listeners, as I wrap this up, I just want to remind us that coping with COVID19 requires leadership. Leadership is something that is sometimes not seen, like, as I mentioned before, with tangible love, sometimes love is...it’s tough to see. And it’s able to be seen right now. So is leadership. Leadership is sometimes not seen by the eye, and it’s not necessarily respected or for what it’s worth.
And I think right now that this is the time that you really truly have to lead because here’s the way that I look at it. Your employees, your team do not have this. They do not have the same mindset that you and I do as an entrepreneur. They don’t have the mindset to be able to weather storms, they like things very secure. They like things very calm natured. They don’t like wild swings up and down. They don’t like walking around on eggshells. It gives them stress.
They’re looking at us right now. Even if you know that your leadership skills are weak it’s your job to do your best. They’re looking for us. And it’s in those times when everything goes back to normal, that they’re going to be able to say, “you know what? I’ve known this guy, or I’ve known this lady, and they’ve led me for this long. But when things got tight, things got tough. This is how they responded."
We always say it’s not the crisis you’re in but how do you respond to the crisis? Because the crisis will go away, but your character is being shown today. And I encourage you to get out there.
Care. Show some compassion. Let people know. You already do this, I get it. But today, you’re not doing it for a dollar. Today, you’re doing it because you’re part of the human race.
This has been Jason Cass and with Agency Intelligence and Jeff, you wanted to say something?
Jeff Roy: Amen Cass, that was well said and all the loyal listeners and all my friends and everybody out there, stay safe. We’ll get through this together and prayers are with you.
Jason Cass: See you later. Thank you.
This podcast is the How-To-Guide for working at home. We talk about the starting point to the finish line and everything in-between. The goal was to give you guidance and tactical information and Wes delivered…BIG time.
Jason Cass: Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Agency Intelligence. I don’t really want to call this the COVID special, but I guess we could call it COVID-19 Special Episodes. I’m kind of doing this unofficially. The last one I did and I immediately did was with Jeff Roy, we talked about the CEO checklist and I publish that immediately. Just like this podcast, no intro, no outro, no ads, just about getting information to insurance leaders so that you, as an insurance leader can lead your people. That’s what this is about nothing other than that. And it had so many downloads and so many people shared it that I thought to myself, wow, we’re onto something. I was talking with my friend Wessly Anderson, whose joined us, Wessly say hi.
Wessly Anderson: Good morning.
Jason Cass: I was talking with my friend Wessly Anderson and we were talking about – I got this call from an agent, one of many that I’ve had this week. And I felt so bad for this person, and I’m going to talk about that but I reached out to Wessly and where I’m going with this is, is you’re going to now see a series of 5 of these podcasts that are going to be released this week. Well, if you’re listening, today’s Friday, actually next week, they’ll all be out. And then we are going to try and put all that information into an e-book and deliver that to you.
Because Wes has been telling me as well, excuse me, a lot of people have been telling me about the calls that they’re receiving, the good things and the bad things that are happening out there and agents that truthfully are suffering.
Some of you who are not, you may find that hard to believe, but they are and I want to bring those stories forward. And we’re going to connect those problems with solutions.
And we’re going to start today with my man Mr. Wessly Anderson, who yes, runs his agency, but is also owner of owner of AgencyVA, which is a fantastic VA company and who would be better than to talk to people about using Virtual Assistants or having your employees work virtually from home? How you doing my friend Wessly Anderson, self quarantined?
Wessly Anderson: I am doing very, very well. The quarantined lifestyle isn’t something that is new to me. I would say approximately about 50 days of my life when I was 19 years old was spent being quarantined as high as martial law. Yep. Or as low as just being self-quarantined similar to what we’re experiencing right now.
Jason Cass: What, how? So you can’t just say that.
Wessly Anderson: Well, I’ll share, here’s what we’re gonna do. I’ll share like the highest level of I mean, quite frankly of darkness that can happen if you don’t check yourself during these quarantines and we’re going to, we’re going to go there real quick and then we’re going to get into some positivity because I’m not a fan of negativity. But, but you got to be careful during these quarantines after you experience one week, two weeks, three weeks, you’ll learn that being happy is not as easy as it used to be. And when it’s not as easy as it used to be, it becomes critical. You have to make sure you’re happy.
So when we were 19 years old, we were missionaries, there was four 19 year old dudes, we would spend our time to try to make ourselves laugh for 30 minutes of every day. And that became like the most important part of the day. And I’ll never forget, we were sitting inside of a church, four of us. We kind of positioned ourself away from the rest of the congregation, and we’re just trying to laugh. We’re telling jokes, we’re trying to giggle because we’ve seen some, some pretty intense stuff.
And in the middle of this laugh time, we were very self preserving in the fact that no, we’re not going to help you right now. We’re going to laugh, so please let us be, and we’re in the middle of laughing life’s good. And I remember this gentleman. I say, gentlemen, I use that term, probably wrongly. He comes barging into the church, and he starts screaming and yelling at one of the ladies that was there.
And the four of us boys were were very protective 19 year olds. But I remember we looked over to our right, we saw this guy freaking out on the lady and we said, you know what? It’s fun time. She's got a handle on this.
We’re laughing right now we’re not dealing with carpets. So we continue to have fun time. But the situation escalated to where he was putting his hands on her and getting physical. And so that’s something that Wes doesn’t play with. I don’t. I don’t I don’t mess with that. So I remember we actually had chairs, physically that were making it so people couldn’t even come and bug us. I jumped over the chairs. I grabbed the guy. I grabbed him by the shoulders. I turned around, I looked in his eyes. And I said, "Hey, don’t touch her, stop it." And this big man, he was huge, had red hair. His eyes were the scariest eyes I’ve seen and I’ll never forget them. And he looked at me and he said, Wes, I’ve just killed somebody. He didn’t say my name. He didn’t know me, it’s that I’ve just killed somebody.
I mean, when someone says that to you, first off, you think they’re full of garbage. Second off, I mean, how do you respond? Well, I didn’t think he was full of garbage. By the way I looked at his eyes, like something was wrong in that guy’s life. And he began to tell the story that as he was quarantined, he went outside to put gas in his generator, because I believe someone in his house was on oxygen. And he had a generator running, I think it was his mother or his father. And there was someone there that was trying to steal that generator. So he said, quite simply, I got a shotgun and I killed them.
And so I’m 19 years old. So, I didn’t know what to do. I was scrambling. Well, one of the elder people within the church, literally came walking in, grabbed him by the shoulders, I put him in a room. I grabbed this guy that was freaking out. I put him in a room. I shut the door, and I went back to happy time.
And it gets even crazier. So we’re on happy time we finished out happy time. Like the other three that I was with remember didn’t skip a beat. So the next day, at happy time, we’re sitting in there. We’re trying to have happy time. I’m like, dudes. No, it was another one of the missionaries. He says, dude, I've got to tell you this funny dream I had. It’s not really funny, but it was weird. He’s like, yesterday or in my dream, we were in happy time. And some guy comes barging in the church saying that he killed someone and Wes is over there freaking out, and, and cornering the guy.
And we all looked at each other. And we’re like, that’s real life right now. Like that’s, that’s the life we live in. And so that’s as negative as it can get. But we really, as I look back at that experience, like being happy, laughing, keeping a positive attitude, I think was the most beneficial, the most impactful thing you can do when quarantined and our insurance agencies, our clients, they’re all looking at us.
And if we’re bleeding out, the fear that we have inside. If we’re bleeding out negativity, you better believe they feel that. And if we’re only positive for 30 minutes in the day, and if we’re making them laugh, and if we’re keeping that mood high and good again, they’re going to feel that. So, the important part of right now as we’re quarantined, more than this digital stuff that we’re going to talk about, is keep your people happy, be positive, be a light, don’t be darkness.
Jason Cass: That is very, very true and one heck of a story. And loyal listeners, you know how it is here at Agency Intelligence, we get people on like Wes, you guys know...who tells stories like that, that we’re not expecting, but that is a great story and way to put it there your happy time. I think it’s important.
I want to talk also some of the things that you told us about that you were telling me earlier about why you were late. And not late, but why you’re tired because you stayed up late. Having some some fun with the family. We’ll talk about that in a minute. But I love what your happy time is. Now. Let me frame this up for you here loyal listeners.
Wes, the reason I bring him on is because I feel as if I can ask him questions, and he may not have an answer but he’s probably run into an agency dealing with the same type of issues you’re dealing with right now. What is that? Trying to figure out how to start to work from home. We have employees who may be wanting to retire at one time and we’re trying to work with them or maybe they’re moving to another state. And we’re saying, how can we help those people stay in our agencies, Wes?
The difference is today, loyal listeners, Wes, they don’t have weeks, months, and years to learn. They don’t have time to pivot, we need to pivot quickly.
If we are doing that, and we have to do that today, and we didn’t yesterday, that’s why I brought Wes here. Wes, here’s some questions I want to ask you.
And so you guys for a frame of reference...if you don’t know, if you’re a new listener, Wes not only owns AgencyVA, but he also had multiple agencies had at one time, I think you still do or maybe…
Wessly Anderson: Correct, I still have two insurance agencies.
Jason Cass: Correct and okay, and they are and they are basically “virtual”. So he’s been doing this for a while, even before he created AgencyVA. AgencyVA came about because he was really good at what he was doing in his agencies. So that’s why I bring him on. So Wes, is there anything you want to add a little bit about that story to frame this up of who you are and your expertise before I ask you some questions?
Wessly Anderson: So I mean, for 10 years now, I never understood why people were spending the majority of their expenses on a sexy office, I didn’t get that. So I’ve always kind of been digital. And then another thing as it pertains to AgencyVA. You know, we have hundreds of virtual assistants we built that company without ever meeting one of them. And if you’re a virtual company, you better believe you need to be able to be nimble and move and be virtual or else why are you a virtual agency? Why do you have virtual assistants? So we had to move a couple hundred VAs from across the world?
And remember, we built this company not having met them, because technology is sufficient today and is not expensive. In fact, the things I’ll share today, it’s all free. But technology is sufficient enough today that you can build companies across the world that are completely digital. I mean, we did it, we’ve done it.
Jason Cass: So what would it be if you were just gonna start high, I want to talk about the tools and the things that someone should invest in. Right? Whether it does in some of this stuff does cost sometimes as you said, I want to give that disclaimer here. There’s a lot of free stuff out there. But sometimes when you have to have free stuff, you kind of have to piece it together. We don’t want you to have to spend a ton of money.
But also there is a little bit of convenience and spending a couple dollars in order to make it work a little bit more smoothly, especially if you don’t have a lot of technical know-how - just want to get that out there. But what what are some essential tools that someone needs?
I mean, you could start with the number one Wes, like our VAs are working at home, what type of tool can't you work without? Not necessarily the name brand, this type of tool. What would you say that is?
Wessly Anderson: It’s no question a digital ecosystem and a digital ecosystem is going to be and I’m gonna jump right into it. You really only have to go Slack or Teams. And you've got to look past today, you've got to really look past today in working remotely and see the value that a digital ecosystems can provide you for tomorrow.
I believe, and this may sound outlandish, I believe that there will be a day when someone comes and wants to see the valuation of an agency more than visiting an agency. Because, if I’m going to look in your agency, Cass, and I go visit it, you’re going to prep everyone, you’re going to tell them to wear collared shirts and be on their best behavior.
And if I’m telling you I’m coming, in the next week, you’re going to prep everyone to be wearing their best shiny stuff that if we get a visitor, everyone is good. Now a digital ecosystem is run real. So if I’m buying your agency and I say, Cass, if you’re telling me all these things are true, give me your login. Let me be Jason Cass for two weeks, I can see how these people act and run to their leadership. I can see systems, processes, I can dive into your digital community.
So, I believe the valuation of an agency in the very near future will be predicated and one of the factors will be how effective is your digital community? And I mean, how long have I been talking about Slack and Teams? I mean, I can go until I’m blue in the face. I’m not gonna allow this as an opportunity to tell you which one I prefer. I’m not going to do that, because we could spend the whole podcast on that, but it did-
Jason Cass: Why would someone need Slack or Teams in that digital ecosystem?
Wessly Anderson: Because normally the way that people operate, or at least when I watched a normal agency, if someone had a question, they stood up, they walked over to whoever was that keeper of knowledge.
Generally, it is the principal, they walked to the principal, they asked the question, that interaction right there is locked, and it’s isolated to those two individuals, and that is poor and that is terrible.
In a digital ecosystem, that very same question is asked, but you have the synergy of the team to answer. And then when I talk about doing this stuff today, that’s going to help you tomorrow, you then create something that’s searchable. So then, you’re creating a team that, hey, we’ve had this discussion about what kind of roofs Allstate and MetLife like, in fact, I know you’re gonna ask me, but I’m just gonna tell you, why don’t you search for that inside of our digital ecosystem.
Jason Cass: So timeout, timeout, timeout. Do not let me, you know how my memory’s bad so use your memory here, because you don’t even drink coffee and your teeth are really white. So here’s what I want to say to you, Wes...loyal listener, let’s translate into what he’s saying there.
I have heard agents reach out to me this week who have not been mobile, not been virtual. And they’ve said to me, "Usually we just yell to each other...Hey, does this house have, does it cover this type of dog?" Or "Hey, Linda," and that’s how you’ve been doing it. And now you can’t because everybody’s in their own home.
What Wes is saying to you is, by keeping this digital putting that in a Slack or a Teams and getting it answered, now can be searched in the future to where you’re not having to scream to somebody who’s in another house, because you can’t, you’re just going to search that there to make that very simplistic. That is the effectiveness of a Teams or Slack. It’s used for a lot of other things, but searchable questions and knowledge is where he was going with that. Uust wanted to kind of add to that Wes, keep going buddy.
Wessly Anderson: And so digital ecosystems, yes. Doing stuff today that’s going to help you tomorrow once you create a digital ecosystem, and when this world gets put back together, because it will, and we've got to have the faith that it will and it’s going to happen.
When this world gets put back together, when we are back at our offices, there are a number of studies that show and clearly defined that if someone has the ability to go home and work and not skip a beat, their overall morale and health are better.
So now you can look at someone and they’re performing well. And you can say, hey, Susie CSR, we now have the tools in place. Why don’t you hop home, go spend Friday with your family, get your job done. Everyone tells the story about being an insurance agent is great because I can work from the beach.
I mean, that’s the most beautiful story and it's days like today when you have to do it. Digital ecosystems are that component that allow you to work from the beach that allow you to let your team go work from home.
Jason Cass: Could we say that an agency management system is a digital ecosystem - it is allowing me, no?
Wessly Anderson: A hundred percent no. I mean, an AMS... So Agency Management System is exactly that. So let’s let’s use the acronyms AMS. Agency Management System. It has nothing about communication in their Agency Management System. It’s for managing your agency. Slack, let’s use the acronym of Slack - Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge. That’s where communication goes and it’s searchable. All knowledge and communication in one singular spot. That is the digital ecosystem. Plus, you’re going to switch your AMS, everyone switches. I don’t know an insurance agency that’s older than 10 years with the same singular AMS.
So, that data is going to leave there and you better hope it goes to another place, it goes clean, which it will not. Slack and Teams, that’s yours. Also, as a side note, and we’re not going to spend time here, Jason, but ask your AMS who owns that data or everything that you put inside of it, because I’m just telling you, it’s not you. Inside Slack and inside Teams, you have more of a control of your own data.
Jason Cass: So in a, in simple form, you can use something like a Slack or Teams, and it’s really for your own preference in a way, they’re kind of different, but they are used to the same way, you can use it as an internal chat. You can do video screen shares with each other. You can do screen shares without the video.You can make phone calls to each other, you can look at each other’s calendars in certain instances, you can connect other things to it.
You don’t need to get that in depth, but start creating a spot as he’s saying where the digital ecosystem is.Start the communication so that we can share it at a later time or pull it up, I mean literally can be asked in the next day. Keep going on what would be your next thing there.
Wessly Anderson: Number two would be video communication in this time right now. You need to see the eyes of your people. Remember in my story how I’m telling you I normally wouldn’t believe someone when they told me that they killed someone and I look in their eyes? You need to see the eyes of your people. You need to be able to gauge if they look like things aren’t well or if they’ve got hope. If they’ve got fear, if there’s anxiety, you have to read them, and you have to see them. So a video communication is imperative.
You can have this beautiful digital ecosystem, which is generally stuff that you’re typing and writing, but you still need to see these people and technology allows us to see all of our people every day. And I encourage anyone that is quarantine and working from home, to make it a daily, not a weekly, a daily thing that you’re looking in the eyes of your people, and this can be five minutes, and this can be your happy time that you laugh. It doesn’t have to be about production right now. It can be happy it can be, “How are you?" "Is everything okay?” You know.
Jason Cass: A lot of things should not be about production, yes. I’ve got a couple people, even in the insurance industry that are out there trying to sell me on stuff and truly pissing me off to be honest with you. It’s really, really tacky. Now, one second, if someone wants to get a video camera, they’ve been thinking like, I got to do this video thing. I mean, should we get a bad one or cheap one? I mean, how much should we think about spending if we’re going to get a video camera to do.
Wessly Anderson: So the one I have and I like it’s on Amazon. I can’t remember the brand. It’s 70 bucks. All the Logitech brand ones are like 70 bucks. I like those ones a lot.
Jason Cass: You’re mostly like a 920 or a 910 or something.
Wessly Anderson: That one seems to be the most common. I’ve got a couple of them sitting here and I’d give them to anybody. Your laptop works as well. Most laptops are going to have a camera installed. If you’re the agency owner, it’s your job to provide this equipment to them.
If they’re using their laptops at home and theirs does not have a camera, spend the 50 bucks and make that delivery make it freakin happen. You need to look in their eyes. And and the medium that I think is the most simple for that is zoom.
Because zoom is simple and easy and you can get a link and what we do is we get that zoom link and then we put it in our Slack channel, that Slack channel is called agency meeting. There could be a zoom link placed in there any moment.
My team’s very unorthodox, and people know, shoot we got to jump on, and they do. And we, you know a lot of people when they’re on these video conferences, inevitably, the dog walks in, the husband comes walking in his unders...I mean, how many videos have we seen in this stuff? Look ,that should be celebrated right now. Like when they bring in their kids, you don’t look down on them, you say introduce me, who is that? When their dog comes piling on and licking their face? Who do we got here? Like, let them be people. Let them. I mean that this is this is so so critical in the office environment. You guys celebrate when their children come in. You don’t celebrate their husband and his unders but in the opposite you do celebrate when the kid comes in.
You know, have things like that - say hey, next zoom call everyone bring you know a loved one from their house or something they love if they’re alone, something that they love, and see what people bring. Let them bring their child, their dog or a hobby that they love. You need to start learning about these people when they have home field advantage inside their home. And you need to see their eyes.
Jason Cass: So you can use something like a zoom. I use vineyard for a little bitty things. You’re talking about actual meetings, though, on that you could use GoToMeeting, you can use those different types of things. You can actually even do them inside of Teams, and inside of Slack. So if you just said hey, I’m just gonna stay with the Slack. I don’t want to have a lot of stuff. Wes and Jason, I’m not really I’m very technically challenged. Okay, stay with the Slack, go get your video camera or stay with the Teams and your video camera and you can still be you, you just now have a digital ecosystem that we’re trying to help you create.
Wessly Anderson: I want to put something out there Jason while you’re saying that, and this might be mean.
So, I’ll say it with (I have the linchpin at the end of the parachute that I can pull away if I need to because I don’t know how big or little it will be)...But I want to put this out there that if anyone needs help setting up a Slack or Teams if they can provide me with a roster with their names and with their email, I’ll put it together for them.
Jason Cass: Give them an email that they could send them.
Wessly Anderson: It’s easiest to find me on Facebook more than my email because my parents were hippies. They spelled my name WESSLY, then there’s a J and then Anderson so there’s no one that has that S-S-L-Y but me and my Facebook profile’s public - message me. I really would enjoy helping you. I don’t want to deviate too much here, Cass. We can go all day. We’ve done it all day. We’ve been together a lot. People that are in pain, people that are struggling, the greatest resource they have is serving others. You better believe I’m feeling pain, you better believe there’s struggle inside my life. So if I can get an opportunity selfishly to help you. It’s not going to take me long to build you out on Slack. It may take you a couple days. I’m looking about 10-15 minutes. So I can build it out. I’m happy to do that.
Jason Cass: Wes and I were speaking in Tennessee. And he was showing people how to do this. And then he just said, just send it to me. And a ton of people sent it to him. And so he’s not kidding. Yeah, he really will.
So, we have the digital ecosystem, video conferences are very important. And notice all this stuff that we’re talking about goes back to what Wes was saying at the beginning- communication, right? That’s what we’re trying to do, communication. So many problems happened because the lack of or misuse or reading of communication. So that’s, that’s very, very important. All right, where do you got next?
Wessly Anderson: This is the last and final thing. So I kind of wanted to pivot off of number one with that digital ecosystem that’s changeable. That is, something that we can change. So let’s change with our digital ecosystem.
Number two, with video communication, we can’t see the eyes of our people. So video communication is important. Let’s accept the unchangeable. We can’t go back. So, video communication, we can’t go into our offices and see their beautiful eyes every day. So let’s use video for that.
Now number three, and this isn’t exciting but it’s what needs to be done when you have a digital ecosystem, is remove yourself from the unacceptable. Here’s what I want to share with that.
You’re going to have expectations inside your agency whether you’re together or whether you’re remote, those expectations should not change.
When you have an expectation, you always have to remember this simple sentence. You cannot expect what you do not inspect. You cannot. So if you’re expecting something of your team, it is now your job as the general, it is now your job as the owner of the agency to have something that inspects that.
And so, what we do when we send people home, well we don’t send anyone home because we don’t have anywhere to send them from we’re completely digital, but what we start, when we bring someone in, we have to have something that we can inspect of what they’re doing. You don’t need to spend crazy money on tracking softwares. You can use what we started with, which is a Google Sheets. And you can use Excel if you’d like, as well. Inside that Google Sheets, if they’re your quoter, you just put a couple fields up top, one that says the household name, one that says the time they started, one that says the time they finished, how many houses, I mean, how many dwellings, how many vehicles and then some notes. And every time they’re quoting, they’re putting that.
But if you’re gonna expect things of these people, you need to inspect that. You provide them a log. And that’s why they need to see your eyes when you do this. You've got to look at them and say, look, this isn't an attempt to micromanage you. We have expectations here at our agency. I want to inspect, that’s my job to make sure that we’re upholding that. And so, this is a simple way by which you can go in and you can put your stuff inside this Google Sheets, we embed that within our Slack. So they can just go click that button in the starting of the day, and they can just go fill out their log. Now this though is where an AMS would work fine with this as well. Check your AMS. Andd in your meetings when you’re getting down to business you’ve had the fun with them, you’ve made them laugh, now let’s make sure our companies are staying afloat.
Share your screen on the video and look at the AMS, look at what are they’re doing.
Now you have a unique opportunity that you can take the fog of ambiguity that existed inside your office and create transparency. And what I mean by that is let everyone see everything.
So in a team meeting, put how many quotes John did. How many service calls Sarah did. Let everyone see everything. Use this as an opportunity to be very transparent. And allow your team to see “oh my gosh, Boss Wes sure loves Mike over there”. Well why does he love Mike because look at what he’s doing. He’s outperforming everyone. Make your office transparent. Your expectations need to be inspected, whether it’s an AMS, whether it’s a simple Google Sheet. Have something that everybody can see, fight that ambiguity, replace it with transparency, the results will be fantastic.
Jason Cass: And this is a mindset thing. This is a mind change here. And that’s what he’s saying. We get it, you’ve been thinking about doing this virtual going mobile however you want to call it. You’ve been thinking about doing this and with your own staff. This is how societies change. This is the times, it’s in these times of need and necessity breeds invention. It’s these times right here that people are forced to change the norms. Think of how our society is changing.
Loyal listeners - for those who have never ordered Uber Eats, who have ordered it three times, right? Think of those who have always been shopping at Walmart who said that they would always keep going in, or whatever store, and now they’re having the groceries delivered. They’re doing things that they normally didn’t do. And I guarantee a lot of them aren’t going to go back. And they’ve done nothing but move forward. But they did it when they had to. That’s where we’re at right now.
If you’ve listened to these things, if you’ve read the magazines, you’ve heard the podcast, you’ve listened to Wessly talk about it, you’ve listened to the insurance guys, we’re talking about this going virtual. And this is the time! And we’re giving you this. The reason why I say this with the mindset real quick is that I’m listening to Wes talk about this and I’m thinking to myself, "God, this is good information but if you just can’t get out of your own way, that’s going to be a problem."
So you’re gonna have to start realizing, as he said, I’ve never been transparent before. You're going have to start being very transparent.
And what’s amazing is, is that you don’t have to be- I don’t know how to explain it right when I say it - but when we’re all in the office, there’s an aura of transparency that is just normalized. When you take us out of that office and you put us into our own cubicles in our own house.
Now, it feels as if people probably don’t realize how hard I’m working, they probably don’t understand how great I’m doing or maybe they don’t realize that I am putting too much dishes in the dishwasher and doing the laundry when I should be working.
Everybody starts getting this and the more is he saying that we can be transparent with our communication, where are seeing each other in their eyes, creating this digital ecosystem. Notice so far what we have said we started with some of the most important parts. Basically Slack's free. Yes, there is like you can do the pay but I’m telling you right now we use it for AI and we don’t pay
Wessly Anderson: We don't either.
Jason Cass: We don’t pay and we do a lot of stuff. We run pretty much our whole office with it. We told you about getting a camera, most of you have a laptop, camera comes with it or you can pay $70. We talked about Zoom, that’s free unless you wanted to get the premium, but you can use it and pay nothing. Nothing that we’re talking about here is crazy.
Okay, everything is very simple and basic. A lot of it is in your head and your mindset. Now let me ask you this, what if we have in terms of tracking them? Not tracking them, but you know Wes I feel good when I’ve got Sue Ellen or or you know Wes I feel good when I can see Jonathan right over there and I can see that he’s doing his work and it makes me feel good. I mean, how do I get out of that mindset to make myself relax? What am I looking for? What can I use as a gauge to help me understand that they’re getting their work done when I can’t see them? Any insight into that?
Wessly Anderson: I think thoughts on that... the thing that comes to mind to me on that is going back to just that transparency. And inside of a Zoom call, you can have each individual team member present and or show something and they have their screen they’re showing. So if you want to see him working say, "hey, what’s everyone got going today?"
And Sue Ellen as you referenced says, "I've got a quote to do." And you can say, "Okay, you know what, Sue Ellen the stage is yours right now. We want to watch you and see and everyone else I want you to take notes."
And because she’s an all star so you watch her do this quote, let’s watch. No one’s talking while she’s quoting. “Sue Ellen, how long is this going to take?” “It takes me about 20-30 minutes”. Okay, let’s do it, let her open up her screen start working. You can see it happen.
I promise you, as you start doing those exercises, you’re going to have a lot of notes and you’re going to hit Sue on later that day and say, "Sue Ellen, you freakin killed it today. I really enjoyed where you did this, this and this as a team for efficiency. We’re gonna try to work on maybe moving this, this and this. But overall, thank you so much for getting on stage for doing this for making this happen. We can’t thank you enough over here." They feel that gratitude. Now, as you were saying when you see them so as the owner, you see them working. Now she sees you appreciating. There’s transparency right there, and everyone else watches Sue Ellen.
Don’t put someone on the spot that sucks at quoting. If Sue Ellen sucks at quoting, don’t ever do that. But if they’re good at something like what we do, we’ll be in the middle of an agency, one of our daily meetings, some people call them huddles because you can keep them five minutes. And the phone will ring and we say, answer it. And they’ll answer and they’ll talk and then they hang up and we say, "Oh my gosh, you’re good at that. Like holy cow. Like I felt motivated after you just spoke to that client." Or when we’re all there and someone does something poorly, it doesn’t have to be the boss that says, dude, you gotta pick it up, stand up and smile when you speak. You know what I mean? Like-
Jason Cass: We listen to our recorded phone calls at our meetings. So we’ll do that on our video calls and then we’ll play them and we will listen too. We will. I will just randomly pick calls and sometimes someone butchered it and we all heard it. And sometimes we all were like, wow, and then it’s the feedback we get.
One other thing I want to give is a real life example of what you’re talking about. Literally, I was doing this two days ago with May, my great VA from AgencyVA and she was doing some quoting. And the way that we train them is we train them by company.
We train them into where they know Erie and they know it really well, then they know Progressive and they know it really well, then they know the PL Rater, rather than teaching them all at once.
We found that to be more effective. And so now she’s moving on to state auto, and I think it’s West Bend, and she’s learning them.
And when we do those, I literally I have four screens. I just put her up on one of the screens and I make it live and I have her share her screen, and she just does the quoting. Now, I’m not watching her all the time. Very rarely am I, but I’m looking at my other three screens and I’m doing my work. And then whenever she has an issue, she’ll be like, Jason, real quick. Why should I answer this OEM coverage? Is that something that I should do on this? And I can stop and look right over there and say, oh, yeah, okay, and we answer it. And she goes on working, and I turn right back around, and I’m on my screens. So we actually are working in the same space.
Actually, it’s nicer. Because if she was in the office, I would have to walk over to the desk, I would have to say where are you at? You know what I mean? And that’s just... that’s a hassle. I actually find it easier that if she’s having issues, just share your screen and do your thing. And when you need me, let me know.
So many ways it actually becomes more effective. I never would have known that if I hadn’t taken that opportunity to use a VA and use video in that regard. So those are two real life scenarios. And actually, you gave one too so those are three scenarios.
What if I’ve got an employee that just even in the first 2, 3, 4 or 5 days I’ve realized they’re not good at working from home? I’m doing the Google Sheet and I’m seeing that like, their production has went down. They’re not really good at this. What do we do,Wes? What are some thoughts?
Wessly Anderson: I think the reality of the situation is, when you see their eyes, there’s there’s a probability that they could be dealing with some real stuff, some real issues and and maybe some of your day is spent like what’s going on? Like, you may find that they are a terrible worker that could be it. But I would believe right now, one of the factors is people are realistically, you know I’m gonna get real...this is and this is uncomfortable stuff to talk about but..I sat across from an insurance agent yesterday.
He owns a nice agency, he's done a lot of life insurance business. And he said, you know, Wes, I delivered two checks this week and it’s something I’ve never done.
I said, you delivered two in one week and you've never done it? He’s about my age and he said, yeah, I did. And I said, okay, well, awesome. And I knew he wanted to talk about it but I really didn’t. And he was like, can I talk to you about it? I’m like, oh, freak, 'cause I could again look in his eyes. I knew this wasn’t gonna be fun. And he said, and I mean, this is the most serious of serious things. He says, both of these this week were suicides and I had to go and deliver the checks.
So I’m telling you that right now, again, jumping to the farthest, as far as like we did at the start of this, that person could be performing poorly because there could be a level of depression and work could have been their reprieve. And you actually will find a high percentage of people, their work environment is their most healthy environment they live in and their home environment is garbage. And now, they’re stuck in this environment with depression, with negative feelings, with what’s happening in the world, maybe with fear that because of their performance, you as the principal is going to can them.
So, sometimes people need to cry, people need to get angry for a second, people need to have that negative emotion. And if you’re not transparent enough with them that they can do it, they won’t. And so, I would tell you before you go, especially right now in these moments, try to lay the hammer down on someone. Ask why, see what’s going on. If you’re creating an environment in that video where they share something they love...if they show up with nothing, they’re telling you stuff. Now they show up with something, then take 15 minutes after that call and ask why do you love that?
You know, talk about positivity, help them explore positivity. Because right now in the quarantine, these digital ecosystems, video expectations, these are all cool, but really what matters is the health and the happiness. And look, I’m telling you what we do today is going to determine how our business runs tomorrow.
And if you’re taking care of your people today, you’re going to have very loyal people, deeply loyal people that love you.
And that if love is their motivation for you because you took the time to look in their eyes and ask what’s going on, which maybe you didn’t feel comfortable doing in an office environment, but now you’re at home, and now they’re at home.
And now, there’s no one else that can come barging in, and it’s a one on one video. Now you can do these things...but take some time to make them happy. Take some time to make them laugh.
I'll actually make it lighter. Gosh, I’m all like down, up, down up.
Jason Cass: No, you’re not. That is a very, very good point. I love what you said. I’m gonna let you go on but I love what you said about sometimes that’s their refuge or their way to get away is at work and you’re now putting them back in that spot and putting work on them. Go ahead.
Wessly Anderson: I encourage laughing. I encourage, I mean, Jason, you’ve been around me. My people have been explaining that I’m very chaotic. And I agree with that. I can’t argue with them. I am chaos. I am chaotic. I don’t have much structure. But my goal is, Jason, anyone that crosses paths with me, when they leave they feel better. And if I can make them laugh I’m going to do it. If I can build them up I’m going to do it.
One of the things I’ve been doing during these trying times is I got this Lucha Libre mask and I don’t know it just makes my team laugh. So I’ll start the call with this puppy on and and that starts the whole meeting. Not one where there’s a suit or something. You know they all laugh and I have the alter ego with the accent and you know Nacho Libre style and you know what...they laugh and they giggle and I have fun with them. And like I don’t take myself too dang seriously.
In the office you have the tendency to walk in with your chest out...this is my office, I built this. Look at my shiny shoes. Look at my suit. I got a book. I don’t judge my book by premium but by revenue because it’s that big and everyone else hear me roar. And dude when I go into agencies and I see that I’m like, homie sit down, like relax, like everyone’s seen right through this. But, if you start a video call and you got yourself on a funny mask or you’ve got your child sitting right there with you at the starting of the video call. My favorite child to deal with, I got four so I got a lot to choose from. Woodson is like a crowd favorite.
So he’ll sit on my lap and start the call and it just disarms them, it lets them laugh, right? You know, they can then be themselves and again if nothing is taken from this call, I’ll help anyone with fun stuff. But if nothing is taken from this call, then right now, be that beacon of hope and light for your people.
Be that beacon of hope and light for your community. Let people laugh around you, let people let their hair down around you. Don’t be too serious about yourself. That is more important to me than all these tools and stuff.
I think these tools are cool. I think having a digital agency is great. I’ve been saying that forever. But like, making people happy and better, that’s of greater importance than anything here and right now, it’s critical.
Jason Cass: And if you’re not the lovey dovey type of guy, you’re not me, you’re not Wes...that’s a tough thing for you to do. You have people in your office that maybe are… so maybe you have one or two people who are good at working from home that needs to be your, I don’t know...make a role up right? Your work at home team leader or whatever. And that’s the one who’s in charge of helping you check up on people. How are you doing? Getting on the calls, establishing best practices.
Like, what is something that really you absolutely bombed because you didn’t think about it now that you’re at home and what is something that actually works better and sharing those things and leaning on those other people?
One of the things that I feel the most frustrated or not frustrated, or I feel for is the frustration that came from a man that called me yesterday when it’s him and his wife who work in the office, and she has an immune deficiency situation. She has a separate disease and because it depleted her immune, so... she’s fine, but she now has to work from home. And so here’s him trying to work from the office. And I mean, I could hear it in the guy’s voice. I mean, it’s not word for word what he said but he said, I’m basically losing it. He’s having a hard time. And it’s not because the phone’s ringing. It’s not because all this Corona Virus. I think he’s in South Carolina, I want to say North Carolina, but I’m pretty sure it’s South Carolina.
And he’s having all these things. And when I said to him, I said "What’s going on, talk to me." He’s like, "It’s working from home. It’s killing us. We can’t figure it out."
And a lot of it was that he doesn’t have the systems in place. And that’s the hardest thing. I don’t know this sort of fact, but there’s probably a good possibility he has paper files, right?
Very, very tough in this situation to pivot quickly in that scenario.
And, it may be long enough that you call a company and say, hey, come get these files in this filing cabinet and haul these suckers over to my house, right? Put them out in the garage or something if that’s what you got to do. Hire a kid who’s not in school right now. Well, they can’t actually because they can’t come into the office. So anyways, get a VA, somebody who can who can help you scan those things in. That’s a very tough thing.
But right now, you don’t have time, you’re trying to pivot. But like I said, get crazy, get wild and say, what do we have at the office that I can’t digitize, get it to where it needs to be and then start that digital ecosystem. Start sitting down with the video conferencing, start setting expectations and priorities. Understand that people who are in your situation are just as stressed out as you even though you may be the owner, or you may be the employee. Mr. Employee, there’s a boss who’s stressed out trying to figure out how to do it. And Mr. Boss, there’s an employee out there that you may be putting him or her back into a situation where they’re escaping from, as Wes said.
One of the most powerful things you’ve said here that I think a lot of people, I don’t think really think about when you said that Wes. And so I want us to stop and relax. I want us to reach out to people like me, we use each other as agents all the time to get better in the marketing piece. Are you using for this type of client or whatever it can be?
We need each other more than ever, and we’re all here more than ever now. Just ask Wes. I mean, Wes has a lot of stuff to do. But the poor guy hasn’t left his damn house in like two weeks. I mean, he’s telling you he’ll set up your Slack system for you. I mean, really he has things to do. We all do. But we do have more time than anything right now.
Anything to add before we end on a light note about some fun things we can do and some of the things you’re doing?
Anything you want to add though to give some more reference to helping that person who’s pivoting to working at home?
Wessly Anderson: Yeah. I had the opportunity earlier this year to stand on stage at Ayers’ event, IAOA. And of course, Ayers doesn’t have me talk about any success, he puts me on the failure panel.
And it was interesting, I’m talking about failure out there with him. And we didn’t script it. I mean, he basically...yeah, we won’t get to that part. But I get up there and I’m talking about failure.
You would not believe Jason, how many people since that time have called me with their partner sitting there talking and remembering that failure and because I opened the stage and said look, I’m here for you, if you’re experiencing a failure similar to this, I got you. Okay right now I’m going to open back up because those calls and those things finally faded. I’m finally getting less of those. And I don’t care if I get opened back up to more, I’ll do what I can. But if you’re hurting and things are bad, and I can help you, don’t think that you’re too far down that you’re beyond help. Like, one step at a time we got this, message me on Facebook, I’ll jump on a Zoom call.
We've got resources, we can get some relief here. Right now I have a lot of muscle with these Virtual Assistants that if you want to talk about people that love people and help people and have gratitude, it is so enlightening to have them in your life and I can have a VA jump on and create your Slack. I can create your Slack.
But I’ll try to bring light to you if things are dark and that’ll be my goal of this right here is if I can help you please let me know, if you just need me to make you laugh. I’ll put on my Lucha Libre mask and you can laugh and it’s super important to me. So that’s what I wanted to end with, though is these three things are great. I will help anyone with each of these three things. But if you’re hurting, find me and I’ll do my best to help.
Jason Cass: Wes, appreciate you very much. I love your expertise. If you have your own little personal issue that we maybe have gotten close to didn’t scratch scratch the surface or there was something you want to learn more about, then reach out to Wes...reach out to Wes say "Hey, I need to continue that man."Call us.
I have virtual assistants through Wes’ company that do 80 hours of work a week for me. At AI we have a VA that does 45 hours worth of work over there with Sarah and Sarah works in California.
I’ve never even met Sarah face to face and she literally runs my life like she has access to my bank accounts and stuff. Literally, I’ve created that relationship with her. So reach out to us. We’re here, man, we’re here.
I’ll be honest with you. I can’t sit on the phone with you for 20-30 minutes. I mean because Wes and I are getting a lot of phone calls, but we can take 5,10,15 minutes to kind of nudge you in the right direction and then hit you back. Okay? In the meantime, Wes, dude, you were up late last night and tell us what you’re doing with the kids.
Wessly Anderson: So we heard and we were saddened by the fact that the Olympics have been moved. And I was telling my kids, I’m like, you guys are Olympians. We’re gonna have the Corona Olympics. And so here’s our household with four children. This is our laugh time, man. We are having events. I mean, I’m on the tramp doing front flips, I’m going to break our tramp I’m so freakin heavy. We’re in our hot tub having aquatic events. Our Corona Olympics, they’re going like we’re putting the clocks down and not looking at clocks. Last night we ended at 11:30pm with four children. We’re having basketball games, one on one sibling versus sibling, Mom and Dad jumping in. My goal is when life gets back to normal, my children look at this and they’re like, those were some of the best days of our life. And that was fun, we went back to the roots.
It’s gonna be weird when I don’t have them here all day. And I’ll stop and we’ll go do an event and we’ve done archery, and we’ve done bb gun shooting...and Jason you know how my backyard is. There’s a lot of space back there for us to be stupid. I mean, I’m telling you, it is theirs. It is like sprint contests. I’ve raced every one of my children of which I am number one in pretty much every event I have the gold medal. I’m USA and they are other little dinky countries that can’t handle USA and so I’m waving the American flag after every victory.
I’m taking my four-year-old out man, like I’m going at him. It is so fun man, this Corona Olympics. I was telling Ashley we’re gonna have to have a ceremony when all this ends. We’re filming some of it. But at the end, we will have a ceremony.
100% I’ll tell you this it's spoiler alert. I’m going to be number one on the podium. No questions asked. I mean, it’s not even close. And my kids think it’s close and they’re trash talking me left and right. Yesterday, we had brawl, it was fight. It was last man standing. And so all six of us we took mattresses, put them in our living room. And it was it was Wrestle Mania, man it was just straight up. And yeah, that was intense.
I was wearing my Lucho Libre mask, which I think helped me along but yeah, no, it’s it’s about having fun and, and me and my wife laugh our heads off. We’re seeing this side of our children, because you know what, these kids are feeling that fear. They’re feeling the uncertainty, their schedule has been changed the same as the people we work with, the same as ourselves. And so in the moment of doing those Olympics, the Corona Olympics where we’re trying to make memories, we’re trying to laugh and have some fun. It’s been excellent.
Jason Cass: Wes, appreciate you very much man. Appreciate you as a friend, appreciate everything you do for us in this industry. Thank you for AgencyVA. There’s a bunch of good VA companies out there but you guys know that you're top of the line. Your agency vision software that you personally have created to monitor agents, some of the things you’re doing that I know you can’t talk about right now but I know about them that you’re working with large carriers to create a great working environment that is secure but also efficient and manageable. From the carriers to the agents to our VAs, you’re doing a lot of great things out there.
And we got lucky to get a person like yourself and yeah, because you are caring and because you are generous and all that stuff. But you thrown in a mixture of the technology, and you allow us to kind of understand your frame of reference when we’re talking and discussing things comes from a completely different mindset. And I think that helps. And it’s those kind of mixtures that we can put into this wonderful industry, the greatest that God's ever created. And I think that that’s where your genius is. So thank you very much for coming on. This has been very important. We have laughed, we have joked. I’m serious, the back of my head is hurting.
But in all regards for anybody out there, if you need our help, we’re here for you. That’s what we’re here to do. I ain’t got time to do it in four or five months when the virus has gone. Yeah, but right now I’m trying to help you. No, I’m joking. Seriously, we’re always here for you but right now we’re super here for you because we need to be able to make sure that you make it.
In a way this is almost like the Great Separator. It really kind of is and it’s really weird as I think about that over the last couple days is that, this is part of it
I think to myself about how many agencies are now going to go virtual, who are now going to go mobile, are now going to create digital ecosystems when they were never forced to before, who are going to look back in a month or two and go holy cow, I can’t believe we used to do insurance like that. And kudos high five, bam.
Wessly Anderson: Find that silver lining.
Jason Cass: But the great separators are also those who fight this. You can’t let fear overcome you in this. Fear is only there because of the unknown, when you know the unknown fear goes away. When you see that person who you think is going to harm you and they’re down the street but the closer they get you realize they’re not who you thought they were, you ease up with fear. You don’t let the fear overcome you once you know it, right now get to know it. You can’t mess up, or your customer is going to get mad at you because you have people working from home, right? They’re expecting it right now, they’re expecting you to mess up. This is the time to capitalize.
I’m not doing this podcast because I want to. I am doing it because I think that we have a unique opportunity right now. Everything is 70% to 80% off at the stock market, that’s a unique opportunity. The world is changing and transforming and you have time to look at things differently and accept failure as successful right now. And that’s what I just want to encourage you to do because I'm telling you this without a doubt, 100%, the agencies that do are going to look back in two or three months and go wow, in a weird way that was really good for me and we are better now because of it.
There’s two people that are that are sitting and watching a speech and one walks out. First one walks out the door and says that speech will change my life forever. And the next one walks out and says that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Be the one that this changes your life forever. Because you’re going to change your agency forever. You’re going to change your employees’ lives forever. You are going to create what I’ve been saying for a while...tangible love.
Wes, thank you very much, buddy. I really greatly appreciate you coming on here and bringing your expertise, if anybody wants to reach out to you reach out to him on Facebook.
And the reason why he also wants you to do that is because his VAs monitor it...but it’s the truth, you want to make sure that it gets done.
Wessly Anderson: Yeah, I get 50 to 70 Facebook instant messages a day and they are greeted by my talented virtual assistant, David and we get a lot more done together as a team. It’s so much more efficient.
Jason Cass: A year ago I couldn’t get you on Facebook message. Now I can actually get you right? Yeah, so no, it’s Wes on there don’t get me wrong but his VA helps manage his. So hit him up on Facebook is the best way. So this is Agency Intelligence podcast. This has been Jason Cass with Agency Intelligence. He’s been Wessly Anderson with AgencyVA and we are out.
Wessly Anderson: See yah.
I sat down with Erik Garcia to give you the leadership knowledge that flows from this man’s brain. Erik and I have done many podcasts together (he even has his own) but this ranks high up there, in my opinion, as one of the best yet and there is no better time to deliver it. Once you listen to this, your fears of the unknown will subside and the leader that is in you, the one you have been building for years for this moment, will start to rise. #rationaloverconfidence
Jason Cass: This is Jason Cass with Agency Intelligence podcast. Back with you again for a COVID-19 special episode. Our guest today is Mr. Erik Garcia. We’re going to roll out different podcasts. unedited, just pure information to help you in this time of, they say, crisis. I hate really using that word, Erik. I really truly do I know that’s what everybody else uses? But it depends on the way you look at it and you’re going to talk about that.
Erik Garcia: But then when you say the word crisis you almost create crisis. Yeah, right. Like, don’t panic. Oh, he just made panic.
Jason Cass: Just makes your mind go like oh, crisis, what? You can’t use crisis in a good way, right? Usually the alarm
Erik Garcia: All the alarms go off in your head, right?
Jason Cass: Oh, yeah, right? No one is going like, oh, does he mean a good thing? It’s all bad. So, it’s all about adapting. Let’s say it that way. That’s what crisis is about. Crisis is about adapting to the situation that is at hand. Now, today I brought Erik on because I look at him and he’s been on a lot of podcasts. Matter of fact, we pushed back a podcast that was supposed to this is Saturday morning for all you guys and yesterday we were supposed to release a podcast, which Erik, do you want to tell them what that one will be about?
Erik Garcia: Yeah. The Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey Yeah, reason the reasons I just for reasons I disagree with Dave Ramsey’s investment philosophy.
Jason Cass: There. That’s actually what it was, I think, I don’t even know what the girls named it. So that’s, that’s great. Hey, so yeah, so that’s what that is. So look forward to that. Erik and I have done two prior. Erik has really started to position yourself not in an authoritative way. You’re just trying to say, hey, I’ve got connections with really smart people who I have seen change other people’s lives and mine and I want to give them a platform. Would that be the best way to explain kind of your gist of the last six months to a year and a half of your life? No?
Erik Garcia: Well, as a financial planner, you know, I’m always looking long term always looking into the future, right. It’s good and so recently with the COVID situation, I started realizing that we’re in this for a while. And my job as an advisor as a financial planner is to get my clients through this. So, I want to offer value because from an investment standpoint, from a management standpoint, we are sticking to our long term plans, and we’re managing our money, the way we manage it, based off of the strategies that we set out. Okay, we’re doing it, we’re doing a good job doing that. So yeah, I’ve got to add value to my clients. So I decided to start interviewing and having conversations with people who are just doing cool things right now during during quarantine.
Jason Cass: But you were kind of doing this a little bit before, right?
Erik Garcia: On all my podcasts, what I try do do is, there’s so much financial noise out there. There’s so much information that someone can Google. So I didn’t want to be another another voice of just more information on what’s an IRA and so what I tried to do is bring in from different perspectives, so bringing in a couples counselor and let’s talk about marriage and money. Bringing in a child therapist and let's talk about kids and money. Bringing a gym owners. Let’s talk about the parallels between fitness and financial fitness. So, yes, sir. We’re telling them where you’re sitting right now. Tell them your scenario. Man. I am on my front porch overlooking the Mississippi River. There’s a giant boat that is probably level with me right now.
Jason Cass: Interesting.
Erik Garcia: Yeah, it is. Yeah, the the river right now is flowing probably a little bit higher than where I’m sitting. So if it wasn’t for the levee, I’d be in trouble. Wow.
Jason Cass: Yeah, Led Zeppelin said it best when the Levee Breaks. Oh, yes. It’s a good song.
Erik Garcia: That’s what I’ve been doing. Just bringing in different voices to the podcast, because here’s the thing, man and we’re gonna get into this -
Jason Cass: Because I think that’s what this is about real quick, loyal listeners. This is not about investments in boring you with that, I would say to phrase this really quick, it’s about plans, right? Am I right?
Erik Garcia: First there’s nothing boring about this Cass. There’s nothing boring about…
Jason Cass: Yeah, there really is when they’re thinking, why is he talking to me about IRAs right now?
Erik Garcia: I'm not. I don’t want to talk about IRAs right now. You talked about during crisis, it’s about adaptation. Yeah, I’m gonna say it’s about leadership. Okay, and us as advisors, I’m going to just reference this all as advisors or as leaders, we lead our clients, and we lead our staff.
And we find ourselves in the middle of this, crisis, let’s call it what it is, a situation, which is kind of untenable at times, you know, we look at it as leaders, we’re like, where does this end up?
And the problem is when we start looking towards the future, and try to figure out where this thing is going to end up. There’s so many variables, it’s so difficult for us to know where we end up. And it could lead to us to start to worry could lead to concern it can lead to fretting. I feel for those commercial producers who have a huge hospitality clientele right now. Yes, when you start looking at, we start looking at reduction of revenue. So this situation can cause us to start to fret, cause us as leaders to worry and the problem is, if we’re fretting as leaders, and we’re concerned as leaders, and people are following us, who are also fretting, who are also concerned, that’s a train wreck. It’s a train wreck.
The advisors who survive on the other side and thrive on the other side I think are the ones who are able to get past the fretting, get past the concern and lead clients confidently towards the unknown, towards the future right? And I’m calling that rational overconfidence.
Jason Cass: Rational overconfidence, you heard it there and loyal listeners. He came to me with these weird terms and said, Cass, we need to talk about this. I was like, alright, let’s do the podcast. And so there’s number one rational overconfidence.
Erik Garcia: No, I didn’t coin it. I've heard other advisors kicking around. And let me tell you the kind of, the genesis of that. I’m gonna come first from my industry’s perspective from an investment perspective.
The only historical precedent that we have in the stock market is recovery. You go back, every major stock market crash, every major economic downturn, every recession, what have we done? We’ve recovered. Right? They’re all the same.
People say, well this is different this time. Well, all recession and all bad economies start differently. It’s triggered by something different. But the end of the story is all the same and it's recovery. So the only historical precedent we have is recovery. So it’s perfectly rational for me as an advisor to say, "Hey, I’m gonna plan for recovery."
When I have a conversation with you, who has an investment account, we’re planning for recovery. Even though I might have my own doubts, my own concerns, my own fears, it’s rational for me to say we’re going to recover and I can be overconfident about it because that’s gonna happen. That’s the only historical evidence that we have.
And I would say on the insurance front, I know a lot of your listeners are insurance agencies. I look at it and say, shoot, man, in 2005, Katrina wiped out New Orleans. And we recovered.
Jason Cass: Yeah, came back stronger.
Erik Garcia: You look at wildfires around the country. You look at earthquakes, we recovered. The insurance industry recovered. Sure there’s some casualties but generally speaking, agencies recovered, agents recovered. So as leaders, we’re going to look at that and say, “Hey, you know what, I’m gonna lead confidently towards the future, even though it’s unknown, fretting about it gets me nowhere.”
Jason Cass: But it is known and I like this. This is really, really good. Fretting gets me nowhere, because we know, rationally I can be overconfident about where I’m going. And one of the symmetries, the symbolic natures of a wildfire, or a lot of different times of “crisis” is the land is torn.
But it’s also a perfect breeding ground for new, right? New trees springing up. Different things- things that didn’t have an opportunity before.
Swinging back real quick, I looked up the definition of crisis, you know, I love the meanings of words. I even love the meanings of words what they meant years and years ago, that’s even better. But crisis is used as a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. A time when a difficult or important decision must be made, like a crisis point of history, or a turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death. And when it comes to the economy, we know it never is death. It’s always recovery. Because of what the great Erik Garcia said.
And Erik, while you’re talking, you’re making so much good sense, your voice is just mellow and just to the point and I’m sitting there just listening in the background. I hear (bird sound)…
Erik Garcia: Ain’t that peaceful? Ain’t that wonderful?
Jason Cass: Oh, see it here. I mean loyal listeners you’re getting it too, aren’t you? You’re getting it. You heard it like I did, and you’re thinking this is great. Like I feel like my eyes are closed and you've got your own tropical island somewhere, but no, it’s just lower LA.
Yep. You know? It’s lower LA dude. It’s lower Louisiana
Erik Garcia: I’ve actually been working outside the entire past week. It’s so therapeutic.
Jason Cass: You have been? You’ve been doing a lot of stuff.
Erik Garcia: I have been.
Jason Cass: A lot of great stuff was talking to Wesley on his last podcast, they’ve been having the Olympics because he said that they found out that the Olympics had been postponed. And he told all of his kids that they didn’t have to have the Olympics because they’re all Olympians. And so they’ve been like having like these, these like Olympic Games. Dude, I’m gonna steal it, dude, I’m gonna steal like four or five of those games and we’re gonna do it. Doesn’t it sound fun? But anyways, go back to what you’re saying.
Erik Garcia: So, crisis fretting.
Jason Cass: Crisis fretting…
Erik Garcia: There’s this phenomenon called scarcity..scarcity, right scarcity versus abundance. Scarcity it’s like there’s a limited quantity of stuff. So like, a couple of weeks ago, there was scarcity on some of the toilet paper. People went crazy, freaked out, bought it all up. So when scarcity exists, our thinking changes. And there’s all kinds of cool science behind this. And we get into this tunnel vision. Right? And during scarce times, our long term thinking, our ability to think long term is diminished, and we become more impulsive as people.
Well, there’s a really interesting study. And they looked at sugarcane farmers in India, and this was a study on poverty, but I think there’s some applications to this right now. So the question was, are there people who are poor just because that’s just how they are? Or does poverty cause people to think differently, which causes them to be poor?
So what they did was they looked at sugarcane farmers in India, because sugarcane farmers in India are paid once a year. So the month after the harvest, they’re rich. And then the month before the harvest, they’re poor. And what they found was the decisions that they made were totally different. Right? So the month after the harvest they’re thinking long term they’re able to save because they have money even in their work, they weed the fields getting them ready for the next planting season. And then a month before the harvest there, they’re so focused on just getting through the next day, that they have no focus on the long term on doing things are going to help them long term. Fascinating study. So we look at where we are now in the midst of this crisis. We’re so focused on…I say we people are so focused on the virus, that they lose sight of everything else, they become more impulsive, right?
It becomes very difficult as people to make long term plans right now because we’re so- our thinking, our cognitive abilities are dramatically changed right now because we’re so focused on this virus.
So what I’ve been telling people is, and you and I have had this conversation that right now, this isn’t the time to make some long term plan where there’s a lot of unknown variables, right? This is the time to stick to the long term plan that you’ve already made.
Erik Garcia: So, I have a podcast. I think it was maybe back September October that I did-
Jason Cass: What is your podcast? Say it real quick where people could find it?
Erik Garcia: Planwisely with Erik Garcia.
Jason Cass: Okay, good. So I just want the people to know.
Erik Garcia: Yeah, so this particular episode was how to plan for the next recession that might not come. And so the idea is, you have your plan in place before it happens, because when it happens, it’s kind of too late to put the plan in place.
Jason Cass: Make sense.
Erik Garcia: Now, fast forward to this idea of leadership, becoming aware of this, becoming aware of how people think during crisis. Us as leaders, I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to not think like that. Right? We have a responsibility to be able to lead people through this to understand that this scarcity, or this crisis frightening mentality, robs people of insight.
We have to become aware of our own emotional status to know whether we’re falling into that or not. And sometimes we have to surround ourselves with other people who can say, “Jason, look, man, let me help you out. Let me walk alongside you got to start thinking differently.” And to me, that’s leadership.
Jason Cass: That is…that is.
Erik Garcia: I don’t know, like right now, if you want if you watch any of the press conferences of the federal or the state level, there are certain people who speak that you look at and say, “I will follow that dude into fire”.
Jason Cass: For real.
Erik Garcia: And there’s other guys you watch, there’s other people you’re like, “I would not follow that guy into anywhere”, right?
Jason Cass: For real.
Erik Garcia: Anywhere, nowhere. And that’s leadership. So, what I want to talk about is what are some qualities of leadership? Well, let’s chat about that for a little bit.
Jason Cass: So, this is like my thing, dude. Like, this is the reason why like I have a man-crush on Brent Kelly. I mean, because he’s so involved in leadership. You know the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. Cass talks about that all the time. I’ve had listeners listen to it, or read it and go, “Cass I love it”, and others are like, “Cass, why are you so into that?”
Dude, it’s something that got me when I was younger. It just made me realize, like, you know, I heard Seth, so I’m not going to go on but I heard Seth Zaremba say one time that his life changed when he realized that sales was a skill and he could learn it.
It was amazing to me when I learned that leadership was a skill and I could learn it. That there were laws that I could follow that were like the laws of gravity that if I did it, and I say it all the time, if you’re really good leader and you understand the laws of leadership, you can predict the future, you’re really truly can because you know what’s going to happen. Like throwing a pin up in the air. So, okay, so one of my most important laws that I just use, now let’s talk about this. So we can be all over the place as long as we stay in the leadership realm.
One of the things and I was just talking to Sarah, about this week, was the “Law of the Lid” which is the number one law of leadership. And I think it’s important, because if you just start there, you can only be as effective to other people, organizations, as effective you are to yourself. Like, how effective are you as a person, right?
I don’t have that in front of me or anything that just comes right out of my brain because I think to myself, whenever I’m trying to get them to understand. There’s a company that I have a good friend in, the company was stuck at 3 million. They brought in my buddy, and he took them to $15 million in five years. But here’s the deal. They’re stuck at 15 million for like the last like three or four years. And so I told him, I said, without saying his name, because he probably listens.
I said, "Dude, you have to become better, that’s the only way that… you were way better than the dude who can only get to 3 million, but you got it to 15. But bro, it’s stuck." They ended up getting rid of him. They got a guy who came from a bigger insurance company, and boom, they’re skyrocketing. Right?
So it’s about that. So in this time of crisis, as you said, you can be following and putting yourself around people where, it’s amazing what happens, you just automatically become more effective when you hang around with more effective people. And then you will start to see everything change in your life. That’s one thing, throw it back over you. What’s the leadership thing that you want to talk about in this?
Erik Garcia: So let me take a step back. You bring up-
Jason Cass: ‘Cause I didn’t even know that he’s going to talk about leadership so this is great. Go ahead.
Erik Garcia: You bring up Maxwell. So he said and this is so key, he says true leadership must be for the benefit of the followers and not to enrich the leader.
Jason Cass: So important.
Erik Garcia: Right. True leadership, it’s got to be about the people who are following you. You’ve got to be so concerned about the growth of the people that you’re leading. Otherwise, I think you’re going to be ineffective eventually as a leader or people will see through it.
Jason Cass: Absolutely. Time will expose you, as my buddy Daniel Seong likes to say out there in California, “Time will expose you, Cass.” And that is a very true saying. I like that a lot because it does. You can only fake it for so long. And sometimes those who say they are great leaders, time is exposing them right now. Whether for the good or the bad. That’s exactly right. Go ahead.
Erik Garcia: And along the same ideas, Martin Luther King said life’s most urgent question is what are you doing for others? So again, it’s this idea for others. I lead for others, I lead for the benefit of others and not for myself.
And I think that’s one of the qualities or characteristics of good leadership is humility. Right. Humility is this idea of kind of like thinking low of yourself. I think it’s kind of-
Jason Cass: Think of Jesus.
Erik Garcia: It’s being not boasty. Right? It doesn’t mean to think poor of yourself. It just means to not be boasty.
But also, I think part of humility as part of thinking yourself lowly, right, is that you raise others up. It’s about other people. Humility, in most cases, it’s about how you hold others up, as opposed to how you hold yourself up.
Jason Cass: Lao Tzu said, if you could be anything in the world, that he would be water because it flows to the lowest point. And if it gets something that’s that is full of love, or I can’t remember exactly what he says, it will float. So it lifts things up. So not only does it go to the furthest point of – it lifts it up. I remember reading that when I was younger. See, that’s just stuff that like, I forgot that I read, you know what I mean? And it just comes out at this time, because I was trying to work on myself to become effective, and I’m not very much. So anyways. Okay, so I really like that. I really, really truly do. I do like that.
We’re looking at short term and long term thinking. One of those things that sometimes we don’t attribute to be leadership, which is cause and effect. Cause and effect is vital. I tell you what, if people understood the law of cause and effect, I mean, I know we think we do. But if we really did, we wouldn’t have as many arguments as we have, we would not have as many disagreements, everybody would still have their own mindset. But when we look at cause and effect, sometimes I look at it a lot as you can look at it, if you’re a golfer.
If I keep leaving my club open, I’m going to slice it, you know, if I close it, I’m going to duck hook it. If you’re not a golfer, maybe there’s some other thing out there that can you can attribute that to. But the law of cause and effect and what we always try to do as leaders is understand that you have to change the cause to change the effect.
But, if you look at what we do in society and what we do in business, 9 times out of 10, we’re always trying to change the effect without changing the cause.
We’re trying to create better processes and workflows for our staff. But what we don’t understand is sometimes it’s not the procedure and workflow, it’s the person who’s doing the procedure and workflow. So we have to look at what is the cause and what is the effect.
Also, we can have a great person in there, but we have a terrible procedure. So we have to look at where the weakness is, that’s going to tell us where the effect is. And then we got to fix the cause of that.
That’s a big leadership thing to me. Whenever I’m in the middle of a challenging decision that I need to make, I’m looking at and saying, am I fixing the effect? Or am I fixing the cause? Because that’s vital.
Erik Garcia: Yeah and I think along those lines…One of the things that’s so important is, is our attitude. And sometimes our attitude is the cause, right? How we approach something. So this is a little lengthy, but hear me, let me read this to you.
Erik Garcia: Yeah.
Jason Cass: Come on, come on, come on.
Erik Garcia: Okay, ready? And I’ll read it slow, or not slow but I will just read it on my normal…
Jason Cass: Like us, like you and I.
Erik Garcia: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It’s more important than success than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace that day. We can’t change our past. We can’t change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We can’t change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that’s our attitude and I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.” Right? Think about that. Charles Swindoll said that.
Things are going to happen. COVID is going to happen. Market pressures on our businesses are going to happen. How do we react to it? How do we respond to it? How we do, is leadership. Do we let it defeat us? Do we let it send us into a frenzy? And fret? Or do we look at it and say, huh, let me evaluate the landscape. And let me figure out how I’m going to approach this, how I’m going to attack and how I’m gonna solve this.
I think attitude is so important, even before process. I don’t care, you can have the best processes in the world but if you’re a crappy leader, who has a terrible attitude, I would rather follow the guy who doesn’t have processes, who’s got good attitude and good clarity about where they want to go than be an organization that’s got wonderful processes that forget people.
Jason Cass: Totally, totally, dude. Totally.
Erik Garcia: So let’s talk about another characteristic of leadership. You ready?
Jason Cass: I heard Simon Sinek say this the other day. My loyal listeners know this. He said that processes are nothing more than a lack of a good culture. That’s what it was. He’s saying that with a good culture you don’t have to have processes and workflows. I disagree with that. Two weeks ago, I released a podcast with Grant Botma. I brought it up to him. He said it’s absolutely true. We have no processes and workflows in our office, not one. He said, we have a center vision. And as long as you’re going towards that vision, you’re doing the right thing. And that’s what we do. I said, yeah, but if someone’s going to be moving this piece of paper to this piece of paper? He says everybody knows their job. They know what their goals are, they know what our mission is and what their piece of that is.
Erik Garcia: And it’s called the process.
Jason Cass: Really, really kind of interesting, though. Go ahead.
Erik Garcia: Yeah, you might not have formal processes. But there’s process. There’s processes everywhere.
Jason Cass: True that, true that.
Erik Garcia: And if you have the proper culture and the proper people, you’re hiring people who are doing things the way that you want them to be done, therefore, that’s your process. And that’s cool. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jason Cass: Grant, I welcome you back on the podcast at any time to counter what Mr. Garcia is saying, because I think you’re both making very good sense. But don’t let me cut you off. Go ahead.
Erik Garcia: I’m not gonna disagree with Grant. I’m not, you know, I’m actually saying that he’s right. He just calls it something different.
Jason Cass: Right, you call it processes. He says it’s not process. That’s weird.
Erik Garcia: It’s “both-and” so next characteristic, okay. And this kind of goes in line with the same idea of leadership serving others, is compassion. It’s a real concern for other people. A real concern for the suffering, right? So right now, you’re running your insurance agency or you’re a financial advisor like me, and you’re having a conversation with someone who’s really struggling with loss - loss of revenue, loss of account value, whatever it may be. How are we responding to them? How are we interacting with them?
I’ll tell you a story. And I think I shared this on the Mastermind last week. After Katrina, every call was the same. Every call was exactly the same. Different people - it was the same. House flooded, lost everything, in the hospital and, and it took 30 to 45 minutes for them to share that. And the temptation was to say, “Yeah, I get it, you lost everything. Here’s the claims number, let’s move on”.
But that wasn’t a compassionate view. A compassionate view was, "I’m really concerned for you, tell me your story." This was the first time they were telling me and you have to listen to it. I think that’s compassion. So right now, for people who are dealing with a lot of clients and this might not be everyone because you might be personal lines and you know everything is mortgage build and everything is fine, not losing any revenue. But if you’re a commercial agent, you’re dealing with significant issues with your clients. Listen to their stories, you know. Fight the temptation to presume you already know what they’re dealing with. Even though you may already know what they’re dealing with, listen to it. You build a lot of loyalty that way.
Jason Cass: It’s tough but you got to do it.
Erik Garcia: Yeah. So compassion I think is a good quality of good leaders. And along that same line, the other side of that same coin is empathy.
Jason Cass: That’s what I was gonna say. Yep. No, and I wasn’t gonna say that but I was, you were getting into that area. So yeah, empathy is huge and understanding where other people are coming from. One of the things that I will throw out there is, I’m kind of impressed, dude, I really had no plans of this. But, John C. Maxwell says that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.
So that’s very, very important for a lot of leaders who are out there, especially in this time of crisis. It’s easy to get people to follow us when things are going easy. But it’s tough in this time of crisis. And if you look around your office, and you start to realize that some of the things that you thought were in place or that you have talked to your team in the last week or two that in this time we’re going to do this…When you’ve noticed that they’re not seeing it, they have a mutiny that they’re not doing what you’re asking and you’re huddling them back together and refocusing them on the vision and setting them loose, and it’s just not working.
This one of those things where you have to look inward and realize that sometimes they may not be believing in the leader. Travis and I talk about this at our agency because there’s certain things that I’m really, really good at leading the team with. And then there’s certain things he’s really good at leading the team with. So I’m really good at the vision part, and getting them to see that, understand and believe, but he’s really good at the leading part and actually acting that out. And I wouldn’t want to say a manager because he’s still leading hardcore there. And managers can be leaders as well. But I’m just saying that he’s really good at that part. And so the point is, that if they buy into the vision of my vision, and then his vision of how it should be completed, they buy into you before they’re going to buy into the vision. And so use that as a test to see if they’re buying into you, if they’re not buying into the vision and it also could be that your visions just not very clear.
Okay, there’s other things, but that's the gist of it. Don’t think that, hey, even though I may not be the best leader or I don’t have the best attributes as a leader, or maybe they don’t see me as a leader, if I can come up with a good enough vision, then I can get that position. That’s not true. It’s opposite of that.
Erik Garcia: As to what you’re talking about with you and Travis is, you know, you and I talked about the book Traction, right? You’re the visionary. You’re the one who’s looking forward. And Travis is the integrator. He’s the one who’s operationally making it work. And I think that’s a self-awareness thing. I think good leaders are self-aware.
Jason Cass: Self-aware dude that is big, big time. I love self-aware, dude. That’s one of the parts I like about Gary Vee. He talks about being self-aware all the time. And I think he’s so right. I’m putting that down.
Erik Garcia: And that’s the thing. Some leaders you know, who might not be as humble think they’re good at everything. And they’re not and people can see through where you suck.
Jason Cass: Right. And it’s about them having good compassion, humility and confidence and empathy as a leader for them to be able to tell you that. Sarah, in my office, has no problem telling me that I’m not good at something or “No, you’re not going to do that Jason. Let me do that." Right? Like, I’m better at that for a reason. It used to be, well, why, why this and now it’s just like, whatever it is, she knows something that I don’t see. And I trust her in that position to be able to do that. So it’s important that as a leader, you feel that way with them. So they’re open to being able to have that humility and empathy with you as well.
Erik Garcia: Yeah, so another one and we kind of talked about this when we talked about rational overconfidence is that I think that leaders are courageous. And this idea of courage is, despite my own fear, maybe? Despite my own concerns, I am still going to lead, right? It’s the firefighter who says that house is on fire. That building is on fire, but I’m going to run in scary as all hell and I’m going to go rescue someone. That’s courage. In the face of fear, you still do what you’re supposed to do.
Jason Cass: Correct. I like that.
Erik Garcia: And I think that’s that rational overconfidence. These are scary, unchartered waters. That’s how it was for Katrina. But despite it, I’m still going to press forward. The plan is still this and I’m still going to push towards that plan. It was a good plan before, it’s still a good plan. And I’m going to continue to walk through the unknown, despite my own fears, because it still makes sense. And that’s what I’m called to do, that’s my mission.
Jason Cass: And isn’t that why with a plan, in the time of ups and downs we follow through, right? Yeah, shoot, this is the reason we made this. Now sometimes we have crisis plans where it gets really crazy like this. But I love that when you say that, that is so, so powerful, right there. Follow that plan.
Erik Garcia: So here’s the thing. Crisis plan. Okay. So, I’ve got a long term retirement plan. I want to retire in 15 years, whatever. So between now and 15 years, a lot can happen to change that.
I can make less money, I can change jobs. I can make more money, I have more money to save, the stock market can do good, it can do bad, I can have another kid. I can have an unknown. A lot of variables could happen. And as they happen, I deal with them. But it doesn’t change the end goal. I have to adjust as new variables are introduced into the environment.
And it’s the same thing, right? No one saw this coming. I still have a plan to grow my agency to attract clients from this niche. Okay, we’ve got this COVID thing happening right now. How am I going to enlighten this big plan, right? Because I’m keeping my eyes fixed on that big plan. How do I now adjust? That’s going to get me back on course towards that because this crisis has totally knocked it off. It’s when Jesus comes walking out in the water in the middle of the storm.
Jason Cass: Boom.
Erik Garcia: Like Peter sees them and he’s like, dude, it’s a ghost and Jesus is like, no, it’s me and Peter’s like, dude, if you tell me to come to you, Jesus’ like, “All right, come to me”. So, Peter gets out and starts walking on the water because his eyes are fixed on the goal. His eyes are fixed. As soon as he saw the wind in the waves, what happened? Fear was introduced, and he sunk.
Jason Cass: Boom. Got wet.
Erik Garcia: So this is leadership right here. This I mean, this is the perfect example of the picture of leadership. We, as leaders are out there in front and people are looking at us. There’s wind and their storms, and there’s floods and there’s fires and there’s virus all around us. And we’re saying, hey, look, this is where I’m leading you. Okay, we’re going to get through this. We don’t know where the end is. But keep your eyes fixed on this goal.
And we’re going to get through this and we will deal with these variables. If I've got to reach down and grab your hand because you’re starting sink because of the fear that’s surrounding you, so be it, but we’re gonna keep going towards the goal and that’s leadership.
Jason Cass: Yes. That is. Good leaders are flexible. And their plans are fluid. They allow creativity. They plan but they look for options.
Now I like that because I just actually saw that and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, I’ve ever heard that one from John C. Maxwell. I was looking for another one because I couldn’t think and I didn’t want to butcher it. So I wanted to get it right. And I’ve heard him say this recently is that when you’re a leader and you’re trying to find where your place is, you sometimes have to realize that a successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.
I'll say it again. “A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.” This is where you can start to judge yourself. Using the quote like that you can start to say, am I thinking of myself in this crisis? Am I thinking of others? See what we have to do is the old saying is, that you can't fix a problem unless you know that the problem exists. 95% to 98% of everything that happens in our life that’s negative, good or bad comes from the actions that we do, most of the bad ones. The good ones come from actions of others.
But that’s where I think these are those times where I read something like that, Erik, and I think to myself, okay, the way I’ve been thinking, the last week or two, I’ve been thinking about what’s gonna, where it’s gonna put me, or is this because it’s where it’s going to put my business and my employees in what’s going to affect them? But that was a good one I heard a long time ago.
Erik Garcia: Yeah, or your clients? Right? You as an insurance person. This is outside of crisis, right? You as an insurance person, if you’re meeting with a client, you better be providing them the product and the service in their best interest.
Jason Cass: Correct.
Erik Garcia: So like for me, I’m a fiduciary to my clients, meaning I am legally obligated to give you advice. It’s in your best interest. But first and it’s the same idea as people are-
Jason Cass: Unlike that Dave Ramsey guy who’s not licensed, so he can give unqualified information. He’s not regulated but someone like you who’s licensed-
Erik Garcia: We’re not hating on Dave Ramsey right now, come on.
Jason Cass: -No, I’m just saying dude. But if you want to find out more… In two weeks find out.
Erik Garcia: Let me just clarify this because I don’t want to you know, I don’t want-
Jason Cass: He’s very serious today isn’t he loyal listeners? I mean, he get in early in the morning. He is focused. Go ahead.
Erik Garcia: Focus, man. I got three cups of coffee on me. So what Jason is alluding to-
Jason Cass: You’re outside, it’s beautiful.
Erik Garcia: It’s gorgeous. It’s already like, I don’t know it’s gonna be pushing 80 already. I’m starting to sweat here. It’s all good though. What Jason is referring to about Dave Ramsey...Dave Ramsey said that he gave up his security license so that he wouldn’t have to be regulated by the regulatory authorities. And what I said was, I have all these licenses and I can’t just say some of the things that he says because there’s a real thing called compliance. Anyway.
Jason Cass: He said some other bad things too. So you should listen to the podcast in two weeks.
Erik Garcia: Leaders also build community. I think this is important, leaders building community. Right? So think about that. Leaders build community. I’m gonna give you a real example right now with the gym that I go to. Our gym owner shut down, even before the orders from the state or the city came to shut down all gyms. And Jody, I actually interviewed Jody, you can check her out on my YouTube channel. And what she’s done is she’s done a really good job just in general about building community at the gym.
But even in this time of quarantine, she created these squads or these teams and assigned team leaders and each team leader is responsible for four or five people, just to make sure that they stay engaged in their fitness program, that they stay engaged in the community.
And to me, that’s leadership. And that’s cool. And as leaders, we have a community to come to as leaders, you’ve created a community for us.
Jason Cass: Oh, with AI Mastermind. Yes, yes, we have. And I’m thinking about that because it this way my goofy brain thinks, I’m thinking like, okay, so if you create a community, you’re a leader.
So if you’re leading people, obviously those people have something in common? So that creates community. So I started to question myself, is it possible to be a leader if you’re just leading one person? I think if you’re on an island with just one other person, maybe so. But I think truly I guess, you could be a leader if you were just leading one person, but then I don’t know if you could consider that a community because according to the definition, as I look, it’s a group of people who are sharing something in common. You can define a community by sharing attributes of people and by the strength of the connections amongst them So I guess you could lead one person and be actually considered a community.
Erik Garcia: Here’s something that’s really, really important, okay? That I don’t want to miss and I don’t want people to think that if they’re not doing certain things, they’re not leaders. So, leadership is not necessarily that you have to lead a group of people. I think we lead in different situations differently. Like in my house, I lead my family, right? You may have a friend who’s struggling and you lead that one individual and you may be a good leader in that relationship. You may be a poor leader in another situation.
So just because you don’t have a big following of people, doesn’t mean you’re a poor leader. In fact, I will say this and this is what leadership isn’t. Leadership isn’t a title. Right? Just because you have a title of you know, an official leadership title, CEO, whatever, doesn’t mean that you’re a true leader. And I think that’s something that that’s really important is that most people who are leading are people without titles.
Jason Cass: Can I tell you where I’m a poor leader?
Erik Garcia: Sure.
Jason Cass: One of the things that always bothered me is, John C. Maxwell says that when you’re defining an organization that believes in leadership and teaches leadership and is driven by leadership, one of the first things that you will notice about that organization is their ability to create and develop other leaders. I’m not very good at that. And I don’t exactly know why. I can train somebody on producing, I can train them. I try to get better at helping them in their personal life. I’m a very selfish person. I really truly am. It comes through and I find it a lot in trying to be open.
I mean, I know it sounds terrible. I created a community on the Mastermind. And I love that stuff that I do. But I did it because I needed to get better and other agents needed to get better. So I created it for a selfish purpose for that way.
And it’s grown into something that everybody else needs. But going back to my agency, I do get jealous of the way that other agents are able to create leaders in their agency as in producers and senior account managers. And I think that’s a weakness of mine. And it frustrates me because I like to say, that I’m a decent to good leader, I fall in line with a bunch of the other checkmarks. But going back to what you’re saying and being open and raw with people, that’s where I’m not a good leader. It is when I’m trying to develop others in our agency. I would say that.
Erik Garcia: Do you feel an inclination or a calling to do that? Because look, there’s things that I’m poor at, and I’ve come to realize that, you know what, it’s just that that might be a personality thing for me, I’m just never going to really be good at this. And it’s not throwing in the towel. Just saying, I don’t need to be good at this particular aspect. It’s kinda like what you’re talking about with you and Travis, right?
The visionary, the innovator, you know, you become an innovator you die, like it literally steals your soul to have to operate as that. I’m sorry, the integrator of you know, using Travis as that guy who has got to operationally put these things in place, Travis might fail as a visionary.
Jason Cass: Yeah I could see that. No, I’m not saying he would, but I’m seeing what the whole realm of what you’re saying there. And I think it’s important that we own up to those things. You know, Uhm I see-
Erik Garcia: That’s self awareness.
Jason Cass: Correct. And I think that that’s where you’ve got to get that way that you’ve got have a bit of humility to do that. I see it when my son does something wrong and I’m trying to fix it and correct it. And I tell my wife all the time, this is an example of bad leadership. Right? I’ve allowed this to happen over and over again. And now all of a sudden, I want to hold him accountable and he’s supposed to act correctly, right? No. It’s my fault for not holding them accountable from the beginning and not staying along the lines. It just a way that is bad leadership everywhere.
Erik Garcia: Do you feel sometimes with your kids, when you want to discipline them or pick the challenges, you’re like, "Oh my gosh, that’s me." Like I’m disciplining myself. And it just like cut your heart and it’s like, oh dang it!
Jason Cass: Oh, absolutely. And then I think about how bad I was when I was their age. And I go, man, that’s really not that bad what he’s doing.
Erik Garcia: I mean, so here’s another trait of a good leader is foresight. And this kind of goes back again to this. This leading into the future is foresight leaders, good leaders have the ability to remove themselves from the crisis or the situation and see beyond it.
Jason Cass: What you said earlier is actually opposite of the way that the brain works naturally. In crisis you have a problem seeing that long term.
Erik Garcia: It is, it is. I always remember, I don’t know why this analogy always pops into my head, but I’m not a real estate guy. Real Estate scares me. I never want to own real estate or outside of my own house.
But they have those people, they have those people who can see like a beat-up house and say, wow, or you watch these home improvement shows and they have this unbelievable vision about what it could become and they take this crappy house and they make it this beautiful masterpiece and they have vision.
Jason Cass: You know what’s crazy, dude? Have you read the book by Malcolm Gladwell -Talking To Strangers?
Erik Garcia: You know what? I listened to him talk about that book the day before they told us to social distance from people. I’m like, oh my gosh, this is insane.
Jason Cass: That is kind of crazy. He talks about what you’re talking about with the long term vision, okay? There are only two times in the brain when the brain can only focus on the here and now, two times. Number one when it is angry, because of fear because of emotion at a high intense rate. The second time? Alcohol. Actually, he proves in this book, anybody listening, you should read it. If you have listened to it or read it, I listened to it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts is not true. It’s absolutely not true. It’s been proven over and over. What it is, is that you get stuck in your thoughts in the here and now. So if you already thought that you can’t get away from that thought about a person, now you’re drunk, you’re with the person. You can’t get out of that thought. Now before you’re drunk, you never said anything to the person because you knew the long term consequences if you said this, that it’s gonna cause this problem or that, or I’ve already talked to them in the past about it. But when you’re drunk, you don’t know that, you don’t know that past, you only know the present, you're stuck in it. Very, very similar to what happens when you are in fear. And so it’s really crazy.
So when you started talking about that in crisis, and not being able to see long term, it’s that emotion, you know? That also goes back to something that Billy Williams says, that if you put emotion in front of anything, it’s bigger than it is right? Something good happens, you put emotion in front of it, it’s bigger, it’s better than it is. Something bad happens, you put emotion in front of it, it’s worse than it is. So a lot of things to learn there. I think we’re kind of going around that when we’re not level headed.
When we get wrapped up in our own emotion. We can’t think long term and so to counter that we should have empathy. We should have compassion. We should have humility, confidence. Self-awareness. These are the things that are definitely what we’re trying to say here.
Hey, our family misses us, we’ve been on here for 50 minutes. I want to kind of wrap this up. I think dude, we’ve been having some great things, any other tangibles? You had out there on leadership and in this time of crisis?
Erik Garcia: Yeah. No, everything we’re talking about kind of comes from this idea of what’s called servant leadership. We talked about at the beginning of the podcast, but this idea of servant leadership said that leaders are servants of the people that are following them. And I think that that is super vital to keep in mind as we’re making decisions, and it’s something you alluded to earlier. Am I making a decision that’s best for me, or am I making a decision that’s best for the people who are following me, the people that I’m serving?
I want to read this other quote from Martin Luther King, because I think some people think that I’m not qualified to be a leader, you know, I don’t have the education or the skills or whatever, but this is beautiful he goes, “Not everybody can be famous. But everybody can be great. Because greatness is determined by service. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve. You don’t need to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics and physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and soul generated by love.”
Jason Cass: Like, holy sh**. I’ve never heard that before. Dude, I love when people make simplicity out of things, and he just did right there. You don’t need to have all that. And what I mean by simplicity is sometimes there are ways that you can throw things in front people and say, “Hey, what do you think about this advice or chew on that?” And it’s easy for them to discount it. It’s easy for them to say, “yeah, but…” ” well, you know…” You just eliminated or he, Martin Luther King just eliminated every one of those by saying you don’t, none of that matters to serve.
Erik Garcia: If you can be humble, if you’re compassionate, if you have empathy, you can be courageous,
Jason Cass: Rationally overconfident
Erik Garcia: Nothing there, notice none of the characteristics we talked about were strength.
None of that none of the characteristics we talked about were just success, self-made.
And I think that’s key. I think that’s key.
Jason Cass: Hey, you know what’s amazing is...wrapping this up. Thank you very much for your time. I really do appreciate it Erik, thank you.
Um, so here’s what I want to just end this by saying, just a little common sense, little common sense.
Something that I see is common sense, a little commonality in everything we’re talking about. There have been books written about leadership. There have been ways that you can talk about it for 50 minutes here or 54 minutes. I am telling you right now, Erik, I think that we busted down leadership in a very effective way. We could have talked about it from many different angles, but we stayed true to what’s rational. What is important to you right now.
What’s amazing is there have been books written about this for hundreds of years. But I think every book if you go back to it, it just pictures Jesus. You really go back to every one of these leadership traits, and all of these attributes and maybe your religion is not Christianity, whatever your religion is.
What I’m saying is, we develop leadership and an understanding of what it is from those who have already lived it. Those who have already given us the best experience to understand the power, the conviction and the heart and the "How To" guide of how to be a leader. So no matter who it is out there, no matter who you may want to follow, whatever you may think, understand that Erik brought to this conversation leadership because he, he believes of all the things that he is seen of all the people he’s talked to, all the existence that he’s lived, I think, knowing him in his life in his business and his family. He’s one hell of a leader. And I think he drives home the importance of it. So please listen to what he says get involved find other people reach out to Erik. Erik, if someone wants to reach out to you. What, do they just hit you on Facebook?
Jason Cass: In the meantime, stay safe out there. Stay healthy. Don’t panic, be rationally overconfident, have empathy.
Erik Garcia: And remember leaders, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Jason Cass: That's the truth. Think of what he just said...no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care and think of the cause and effect. Think about how we always try to change the effect of that. But we need to be looking at changing the cause.
This has been Jason Cass with Agency Intelligence. I had today on Mr. Erik Garcia of Garcia Insurance Services and of plan-wisely.com. Stay safe out there. Look forward to the next one that I've got coming out with Erin Nutting and Elisha Cavanaugh as we break down life in this crisis, we are out.
This episode is brought to you by . Listen here.
The podcast was recorded with Elisha Cavanaugh and Erin Nutting and we discussed life inside and outside the agency in this new temporary norm. We give great advice about drinking more wine and how we are all dealing with our new profession as a school teacher.
I am sure no one is dealing with this right? Sit back, hit play and put a smile on your face. We got this.
Jason Cass: Hey, Hey, Hey everybody. Welcome to Agency Intelligence podcast, today is another special episode. The COVID Special Episodes I guess you could say. And just to rehash what we’re doing here, we’ve got a lot of agents who reached out, different agents that are in different positions. I’m talking to some agents right now that life’s easy for them right now. It really truly is. I’m talking to some agents who you’ve heard me say before, literally are telling me they’re about ready to lose it, not just their mind but their agency on some of the changes that are drastically happening to them. And so in those situations, we’ve all been in those situations, those who are not affected right now have been affected at some point in time.
And so what we’re doing is, we’re just trying to gather that information, put it together into a podcast injected into your ear, and if for some reason you don’t like the headphones, then we’re going to put it into an Ebook.
But anyways, today on Episode 4, we’re going to kind of bring everything together in a lot of different ways inside the agency, outside the agency, get some personal stories, some true-life things going on. And today I’d like to introduce as you guys know, been on here many times, Ms. Erin Nutting. Erin, how’re you?
Erin Nutting: I’m so...I am so good in this new normal, Jason. I am here for it. I am good. I’m trying to, you know, I think everyone right now is very like, “Let’s just take it one day at a time” and I’m not gonna say those weird, standard, one-liners today by any means, but I’m doing very well. Thank you.
Jason Cass: Well, good. Thank you and I’m glad that you came and that you joined us here. Elisha Cavanaugh is also joining us, so as best buds we also had Erin and Elisha on a podcast the last time. I didn’t want to do two separate podcast with them, I wanted to have you two together because your friendship, it just makes the listeners really, really enjoy our conversation. So Elisha, welcome to Agency Intelligence again.
Elisha Cavanaugh: Thank you, always nice to be here.
Jason Cass: I wish it was under better circumstances but as I said to some people, I have to tell you right now we’re getting like 20 to 25 calls a day and normally it’s around 40 to 50. So our calls are way down. Our commercial clients don’t want to see us. We’re giving them information, we put in phone calls to our nonprofits, we volunteered to drive where the elderly did before, and we need to do it now. But I want to be honest, there’s a lot of cleaning going on at my office. A lot of files are being done. We’re preparing, I don’t know if we’ve ever been more prepared for the next 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 months than we have ahead of us. But that’s not what I’m hearing from everybody out there. Erin, what is your day like? What’s your life looking like? How’s it changed?
Erin Nutting: You know, the biggest thing for me and I’ve talked about this, the most phone calls I’ve gotten in the last two weeks actually have to do with my sister company, Arizona Wedding Insurance. And, it’s just kind of crazy because on that side of things, a lot of people aren’t thinking about the fact that the wedding insurance industry has been completely disrupted right now.
And I know that sounds like small potatoes for a lot of people because all in all, if you’re not getting married or you don’t know somebody getting married, it’s probably not very important to you. But in this world, I’ve spent more time telling people “I’m so sorry, I cannot help you” in the last couple of weeks than I think I ever have in my insurance career.
Mostly because moratoriums have put in place to where you actually can’t write special events, policies or wedding insurance policies, and to be open and honest, there is no coverage for anything viral in a wedding insurance policy.
So it has been, needless to say...I’ve had brides, grooms, who are just like, hundreds and thousands of dollars just gone because they can’t have their wedding.
So it’s been interesting in the last couple weeks, it’s been sad, you know? That is very emotional. I mean, I got into that company and I started that company because it allowed me to be girly and emotional and those kinds of things.
And I think I never really had the opposite side of it until now and where it’s the emotion is just a very sad emotion. It makes me want to do things and I just, I can’t. My hands are tied, of course.
So it’s been a little interesting as far as the main company is concerned, I actually had a record month last month. And I hate to say that because I know people are really struggling and hurting and going through all these things right now. And I’m sure we’ll talk about it a little bit more. It’s just my business started as a digital agency so I’ve never had anybody come into my office. I’ve never had any customers who knew where I was. So for me, this is kind of like business as usual on the agency side, but we’re making up for how, you know, devastating it’s been on their wedding insurance side.
Jason Cass: Wow, interesting. And Erin, I’ve heard some stories of some of the things people are doing out there like people are having, they’re taking their wedding online...have you heard any wild and crazy stories? I was just hearing these last night.
Erin Nutting: I did. But I’m going to be really open about that, I was supposed to get married in two weeks. So…
Jason Cass: Oh, sh** fire. This directly affects you. Oh my god.
Erin Nutting: So like, Elisha’s booking plane tickets and coming out and all these things. And we had to make the huge decision a couple weeks ago now to say you know what, I don’t think this is...now we’re very fortunate in that we kind of go-with-the-flow seat of your pants kind of people anyway.
So it’s okay. I think I’m more bummed about our honeymoon trip than anything else. But the reason I’ve heard about these crazy things is because now that we’ve postponed, like the ceremony and all that jazz, everyone has all these great ideas.
So everyone keeps sending me these articles. And, in fact, we were just hiking the other day and we were talking about how when you’re incarcerated, you actually can get married when you’re incarcerated. I was joking around like, there’s gotta be a way. I don’t want to rob a bank right now. There’s gotta be a way.
Jason Cass: This is awesome. I mean, you’re really thinking here. Unbelievable.
Erin Nutting: I’m gonna go on a limb and say I don’t think I want to look back in 20 years and be like, hey, remember that time we got married via Skype? Like, that just doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.
Jason Cass: No, it doesn't, man it’s gonna be parallel to your story, your whole life of when you got married, right? Or when you’re talking about the virus. It’s oh, yeah, well, I got married, you know, I mean, wow, it’s gonna be parallel to it. So that’s not such a bad way. It’s a unique way. Elisha, how has life been for you? How have things been?
Elisha Cavanaugh: Different. I mean, I do have a brick and mortar office. It’s not that we have a ton of people coming in. But I think there is something about culture that’s been the biggest shift, the culture change and making sure that I’m still connected and know what’s going on and that we’re touching base. And then sometimes I’m on phone calls and I have a toddler in the background. So that’s obviously a change.
Jason Cass: It’s called the real world.
Elisha Cavanaugh: Little easier with a 9-year-old, so that has definitely been just different, you know? But I think that’s what makes a good entrepreneur right? We adjust and we’re adaptable, we figure out okay, game plan, you know, so yeah. My husband just brought me my slippers. For those of you, that’s “working from home life.”
Erin Nutting: So like this, to get like an idea though of the severity of each one of our states, I know Elisha has been on complete lockdown for a week or so now.
Elisha Cavanaugh: But it feels like seven years. No. I think it’s been about 10 days that we’ve had a stay at home order.
Erin Nutting: Okay, so Arizona has been on a self quarantine order for roughly about the same time almost two weeks but tonight we are going into shelter mode at 5pm. So, we will get that effect where the only thing that you’re going to be allowed to do outside of your house is medical and grocery store. How about you, Jason?
Jason Cass: Yeah, that’s me too. We’ve been that way for about 10 days or so. Something like that. Yeah, it started to slow down really really fast for us. And before Illinois put the order out because they found a couple cases in St. Louis and that’s 5-10 miles from me.
And so that was kind of a big deal. But we only have about two in our county so it’s not bad. But I think everybody is going to be singing a different tune in 14 or15 days. The people that are very impatient right now, I get why you’re impatient. But if these models are anywhere close to what they’re saying and like, you know, I just read this morning they ran 12 models.
Trump said they gave him 12 different models and they were all so out of whack. It was like immediately like yeah, okay, gotta move it to April 30th. And you’ll notice what he also said we’ll be getting back to normal around June 1st, which you know, and we’ll go into that later and we don’t have to, I don’t want to, but I really don’t see how BrainShare can happen at this point.
They’re talking in August that we’re still going to be having deaths. We won’t be at our Apex, we will still be having deaths then. No one’s going to get on a plane two months later and then they say during the fall that it’s going to come back.
So I’m just trying to be real in the whole situation and I don’t want to do virtual or whatever. That’s just not me. That’s not the same. It’s a very personal, intimate thing with us.
Elisha, what state are you in?
Elisha Cavanaugh: Washington.
Jason Cass: Oh, well, I was way off. I was thinking you were like in North Carolina. Sorry about that. I have no idea. Because you guys had some early outbreaks?
Elisha Cavanaugh: We did, yeah. I’m pretty sure we had the first case in the country. So, you know, we’ve been social distancing for longer. But it’s definitely, it’s interesting and requires a lot of flexibility I think. Like I said before adjusting and just figuring out how to keep going and how to make things work. I say everything has a solution.
I saw someone posted something that said, “Every problem is figureoutable. And if it’s not figureoutable, it’s not a problem. It’s a fact of life.” And I thought that is so good. And that’s true, I always say that. I say that to my kids all the time. Every problem has a solution. You just have to figure out what it is. I say that to my employees. We just have to figure out what steps we need to take to fix this.
Jason Cass: Right. That’s what the clients are calling us for. We’re trying to make it too complicated. They just have a problem. They need some solutions, right? “Just help me fix this problem”. Sometimes we get way too in-depth in that. You know, you said something also Elisha that was really good about being an entrepreneur, and then you use the word being flexible, figuring it out, accepting facts as when they are facts.
Those are really good things. One of the things my mentor told me a long time ago is one of my favorite sayings and is name is Mike Beard. You loyal listeners know what his name is - "Beardisms" is what I call them. He said a good entrepreneur is always flexible. And he said, Jason, always remember that “Blessed are the flexible for they don’t get bent out of shape.”
Elisha Cavanaugh: Hey, I love that.
Erin Nutting: That’s so cute.
Jason Cass: Did you hear that, loyal listeners? They’re saying that it’s cute. It’s cute. So they’re saying it’s cute. So Erin, in your day to day life because you have your kids home. Elisha, you have your kids home. My kids are home. I mean, what a trip. I mean, it’s not like they’re just home sick right? Now we’ve had to become teachers. I don’t know how it is in your states but like my wife said last night. she said, “I really don’t mind this..but I didn’t know that all of a sudden I was going to be a teacher for the whole month of March.” You know what I mean? Like we’re supposed to be on vacation. Actually, we were supposed to be in Key West last week. Oh, I’m serious. So I mean, and now my wife’s teaching. How’s that been for you guys?
Elisha Cavanaugh: It’s a challenge for me.
Erin Nutting: Yes. I will say...I want to be very upfront because I feel sometimes like really not alone, I have a tremendous support system at home. But I called Elisha yesterday, we couldn’t connect but, I cried yesterday. I want to be very upfront with people and letting them know. So Matt and I together have six kids, okay? Two of which are teenagers, so they’re pretty much self-sufficient in doing their own thing. But I want to be very upfront and letting you know that my four youngest that are six and under, I was just told yesterday they’re not going back to school for the rest of the year. Meaning, I have four different curriculums, four different login Google classrooms, four different pre-k-kindergarten. I have two kids who are more like, I have to do my schoolwork, whereas my preschoolers really don’t have to, but they’re kind of feeling neglected.
And then because we thought it would be a really great idea this was semi-apparent win, semi-apparent fail, we thought, let’s get them a PlayStation4 because they’ll share, right? So yesterday, I think when finding all that information out, and then coming back on a typical Monday for my digital agency and having 200 plus emails, which, I mean that's probably is not a lot for a lot of agents, but for me, it just felt really overwhelming.
And I just remember coming to the top of my stairs and just losing it and just saying, I think I’m maxed and I need to figure out a way to kind of unravel a little bit. And what I’ve found in the last 24 hours is being open with your clients about it, this is the first time in my lifetime, I don’t know about you guys, but in my lifetime where it seems like everyone in the entire world is on the same page. Like we all are doing the same thing.
Jason Cass: I agree…agreed.
Erin Nutting: So, telling somebody like, hey, by the way, I realized that you have this happening right now, like they can’t pay their insurance bills, which I’m just going to do a quick little segway for any agents that are watching this because I know you’re trying to release these quickly. If you have not talked to your carriers, or your reps or anything like that yet about how you can help your clients during the time with pushing premiums or like waiving cancellations, do it.
Because I’ve had probably about 65-70% of my carriers say that they’re doing it. So if you don’t have the information yet, do it because there’s nothing like being able to tell somebody, "Let me see what I can do for you." Instead of a policy being, “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re gonna lose 100 million dollars on the Swan fountain you had to have at your wedding.”
Jason Cass: Progressive even had the thing that if you pay with cash, we don’t have it, but I saw it in the email that if you pay with cash, those people who come and do that, that you can have them call Progressive and Progressive has a program to help those people as well. Now, I don’t know what the program is, but is that not awesome? I mean, I don’t know how they’re doing that. But they’re either letting them slide or they have a third party that they can go pay through or something like that. I have no idea, maybe teamed up with a CES that’s still open, right? So I’m like, I don’t know, it’s pretty crazy. I was like, holy cow.
I mean, these companies are bending over backwards. We talked about that in the Brick and Mortar with Wes and the fact that if any time is the time to challenge your office and working outside and having to deal with staff in different ways or the clients and prospects.
What you just said is so important. They’ll accept you messing up right now. They accept you trying new things. They accept you being transparent and saying, “Hey, I don’t have that answer, because we are in weird times.” And what you said is so good, Erin, everybody’s on the same page. It’s not like you start talking to someone, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t watch the news.” Everybody knows what’s going on, you know what I mean? And there’s power in that.
Erin Nutting: Even if you think about the holidays, for example, not everyone celebrates Hanukkah or Christmas or anything like that. Every single person in the world is experiencing this one thing right now and is it’s such a huge powerful thought when you think about it...
Jason Cass: Very powerful.
Jason Cass: And then then most of them are doing it from home. You know what I mean? And what you’re also noticing about some of your companies, even their systems suck, they’ll be like, “well, I don’t know how to transfer because I’m working at home and dada-da-dada…” you know.
One of the things I want to talk about, something that Wes brought up. This was so good, I did not know he was going to bring this up.
Wes said that some of the people are having the hardest time working from home because their work is their refuge from their home. And so we have to understand that we’re putting our employees in a spot that’s not, as Wes said, that’s "messy". Right? It’s like they don’t really have much control, their life is dominated and we’re not saying in a negative way. It’s just that our kids become the priority when we’re around, right, and they can make life really crazy.
Maybe we do have a butthead spouse or something like that right? I mean, maybe that happens too. But I had never thought about that.Those people that are being put into those positions and then they’re putting work on a front with new processes and procedures. Erin, as you stated, there’s a lot of stress going on there. Elisha, I mean, you got any thoughts on that Elisha? I had never thought of that before.
Elisha Cavanaugh: Yeah. So I think this is really interesting. I hadn’t thought of it either and then a girlfriend of mine said, "What about women who have abusive partners?" and I’ve never been in that situation. I never would have even considered that. But she has been there and so she thought about that. So now she’s stuck at home and here I’m like, it’s not as mentally stimulating to work from home. That’s how I feel. I’m not as stimulated. Even though I’m doing the same thing and I’m having the same conversations, I’m not as stimulated.
And there are other people who may literally be, you know, having emotional, I mean...there’s just all kinds of terrible things that happen. And I think if we’re not in the situation, sometimes we forget that that’s happening right now.
One of the things that I’m trying to do and I know we’re not getting into logistics that much, but one of the things I’m doing is people who have an easier home life, like I have somebody- one of my producers, she’s in her 30s, she lives alone. Guess what, she’s answering the phone more. And it’s just an expectation.
It’s like, hey, you don’t have anything to attend to, except for a really cute dog and so we’re gonna do more work right now, because we’re a team and that’s what’s gonna happen. And then build little tiny little incentive into that but I think when you have a good culture and a good team, you can do that.
You can do some shifting and makes more sense for somebody to not answer the phones and do work after their kids go to sleep. That’s fine. You just make adjustments.
Jason Cass: That’s exactly right. That’s good stuff right there, Elisha. Were you gonna say some, Erin?
Erin Nutting: I was just gonna say that I love that idea, because I think not only is it going to probably keep her culture intact during this time, because she’s still giving value to that one person who probably feels...I’m going to go on a limb and say, maybe even a little alone during this time since she’s quarantining by herself.
So it’s probably a really great thing not even her knowing that this person actually has more responsibility, more things to do and is feeling more valuable in a time where Elisha is not 100% available anymore, because she’s got Emery asking her for fruit snacks every five seconds, you know those kinds of things?
Jason Cass: Yeah, I agree. It’s really, really crazy. I think in business, we are way more technologically advanced. What I mean here is that I think that there’s people who have never used Uber Eats, who have now have three, four or five times, right?
There’s people who were are not using their apps and other different things that now they’re doing that stuff. They’re doing a lot of things differently. And I think we’re going to see two thirds of those maybe go back to doing what they were doing, but the other third are going to be like, hey, I didn’t ever think I would just have Walmart deliver my groceries but I’m going to. You know what I mean? That is actually easier now that I’m stuck and forced to do it.
I’m trying to look for those things in business. And I think it’s not so much the tools we use but I think it’s the expectations are now going to be sped up by the consumer. We’ve already been experiencing them coming along and now it’s like, wow, I can do all this stuff. Like a lot of people, I guarantee probably went online to look at their insurance information, not only because they’re bored, but they need to pay their bill and they don’t know how they’re going to make the payment.
But they finally locked in, finally went online, and realize, like, oh, man I always call and I could go right in here. And this is what my son or my daughter has been talking about, right?
There’s those things. And that’s only going to create more of that great separation.
Because it’s not like it’s...I want to get your guys’ feedback...the normal that’s coming up is going to be, I don’t wanna say drastically different but with some of our clients it's going to be drastically different than the norm we just left. You know, they say that if anybody does anything for 21 days it becomes a habit, we’re going to be like doing the same things for 45 days where there’s a lot of habits will be broken. What’s say you, Erin?
Erin Nutting: Well, I can’t help but think if you don’t follow Elisha on Instagram, you need to do this because people who follow her are gonna get this right away. Elisha has this thing on her stories and it says "Chapter one of what’s in my elevator today" kind of thing. She has this public elevator that she rides on way up to her office and I would say at least once a week there are some questionable situations happening in said elevator. So I ..
Jason Cass: Wow, interesting.
Erin Nutting: And like you said, even simple things like I was watching a movie the other night and there were people on a subway and I am like the anti-germaphobe. I never have questioned anything, I wash my hands as much as the reasonable person does, etc. But I’m not somebody to go above and beyond and is fearful, right?
But I can’t help but think about just something as simple as Elisha’s elevator. What our world is going to look like after this happens is, in my opinion, I feel like eventually people are going to go back to what used to be our normal. It’s just I think it’s just bound to happen, people go back to what they know, etc.
But I’d like to think that during this time, people start developing a little bit more empathy for each other. So that maybe we can kind of take that into our new normal. In that you know, being appreciative. It’s really easy and I joke around about this all the time on my Instagram. Someone says, “I’ve been stuck in the same place.” Well, “no, you’re safe in the same place”.
Maybe taking like a little bit of a different mentality during this time because I think, imagine what happens when we’ve been home with our babies, right? We’ve been home with our babies for gosh knows how long this is gonna go on for. We have to send them back to school and they’ve been used to being with us for six months.
I don’t know what that’s going to look like. Is it going to look like kindergarten day one again? What kind of things is it gonna look like for us to go back to work? I think everyone in the grand scheme of things really wants to think we’re going to go out for champagne and mimosas when this is all over, but I do actually think our new normal will be a little bit more in touch with humanity.
Jason Cass: I agree.
Elisha Cavanaugh: I do too. And I always say -- before I say that I feel a little bit like Susie sunshine. Like okay, enough already positive Patty, but I think that there will be a new normal where we’re a little bit slower, right? We always have all the sports and all the activities and we’re trying to make sure kids are well balanced and well rounded and they’re doing all the things.
And I definitely agree with you that I think that this will slow things down a little bit. And whenever I’m at my wit’s end, I try to remember this is a time where we’re really getting to spend time together as a family. And how often does that happen? Where we’re really playing board games every night and charades and Jenga and all the silly things. I think that when this is really far gone, we’ll look back on it with a fondness that life is slower.
And I think you’re right. I’m hopeful that some of this will carry into the new normal. But to Jason’s point kind of circling back, I’ve had gotten more online leads in the past three weeks. Shout out to the Advisor Evolved. I mean, people are definitely, definitely doing that Jason.
Erin Nutting: Yeah, so awesome. I don’t know how your voicemails have been. Basically ever since my team’s gone home base, I’ve basically been 100% answering service. So somewhat my phones get answered, but they get answered by a carrier.
So I’m not answering the phones anymore and neither is my team, my producers whoever, and we’re being directed, but there’s like a little advisement that says, "hey, during this time we realize everyone da-da-da..."you know, all the good stuff no one needs to know about.
But I am finding that people are emailing more. This has been the craziest thing, because normally people will never email my service email. But I’m noticing more email@example.com emails than I've ever experienced in my life.
Jason Cass: Absolutely and those go to our VA, so we’re so happy about those. That’s not a phone call interrupting our time and it’s actually going directly to the person who’s going to be doing the work anyways. So this is better for us. This is better for the client. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
These changes of the ways that our consumer works and the way that they normally, you know...are cool with us. And the more that they use email, the better that is for us because then we can collect our message with them. I love what you said though, "You’re not stuck in the same place. You’re safe in the same place." Is that what you said?
Erin Nutting: Yeah, I honestly...I think that’s been kind of...I was the worst, the first week of quarantine, every day I was like, oh, this is terrible. What am I gonna do? Matt and I are literally working on a table together and I don’t know if you’ve ever had two CEOs of a company in the same space trying to work. We joke all the time that like this is true marriage counseling.
And I think Elisha’s husband is very, very similar and maybe your wife, Jason, they are very positive, optimistic, very supportive. And sometimes when you’re not that way, which Elisha is, but I tend to go the other route, it’s almost like, "Oh, it’s so annoying. Why are they telling me it’s all gonna be fine? I just want to be so upset about this."
But when I started taking that mentality this week of how awesome is it that I’m in complete control of my children’s health? I’ve never felt that way. I always have sent them to school and they have that quote when you have a kid, when you become parents, you like physically take your heart outside your body and they just like run around.
How cool is it that we get to keep them safe? So as soon as I took that mentality of I’m not stuck here, I’m safe here...I think things have changed this week. Now. I’m not saying that my snack intake situation has changed but my mentality has changed.
Elisha Cavanaugh: I’m gonna gain the “COVID-15” by this, you know the “? No, save the COVID-15 for me instead, it’s bad!
Erin Nutting: What are you snacking on right now?
Elisha Cavanaugh: All the kids’ snacks. I never eat that stuff but the kids are like, “Can I have a fruit snack?” And I’m like, “Sure, me too."
Jason Cass: “I have nothing else to do. Yep I’ll take some”
Elisha Cavanaugh: I was just like making it until I started eating it. Terrible. “Somebody bring me a fruit roll-up while they’re in the pantry.”
Jason Cass: Yeah, yeah, you’re right about that. The things that they’re doing too. Wes was talking about it, they had an Olympics. They found out the Olympics had been postponed and he told all of his kids that they’re all Olympians. So they’ve been having like these Olympic games and stuff like that.
Erin Nutting: That’s so cute!
Elisha Cavanaugh: That's adorable.
Jason Cass: Yeah, they brought out the mattresses and they had wrestling and you know, they’re doing trampoline things. He said it so well and it’s what you guys are alluding to in a way that it’s stressful now, but our kids are probably going to look back at this and say, man, mom and dad, I remember when for that like two or three months, we were home from school, and that was so much fun, you know? And it’s like, wow, that is really, really amazing.
I do believe that there is...I see how life…I don’t want to say it’s so much slowed down for me. I just seem to almost appreciate it more because so many other people are appreciating it more. I mean, walking, we have a lot of bike trails and stuff around here. I mean, they’re actually too close like there’s so many people on the walking trail. It’s like man, you guys are still, you’re not distancing yourself you know what I mean? It’s just really, really, really unique.
And I think that there’s a lot that’s going to come out of it. Not to mention, there’s still a lot of people working right? There’s still a lot of people that are still working and all we’re doing is sit around saving our money. I mean, you can only buy so many or rent so many movies off Netflix and prime video, right?
I mean, you just can only do so much. And so whenever we’re set loose, holy sh**. I mean do you know how busy the hair salons are gonna be? I mean hair salons are gonna be so busy. It’s gonna be absolutely ridiculous. The restaurants-
Erin Nutting: I’m not even prepared to talk about my nails. I am not ready for that so if we could just, you know. The other day Matt was like, “Oh my gosh, I can see your natural hair color. I didn’t even realize what color was." Excuse me, what? What was that you were saying?
Jason Cass: Now let’s be real about something. Okay, let’s be real about December and January. Everybody says there’s a lot of divorces that are going to happen and I’m saying no, we’re seeing the opposite now. Now come talk to me in 30 days my wife might wanna kill me. But like, for three days they had power outage in the New York North Eastern area and they couldn’t handle the babies in nine months.
Three days. Three days. We're like 45 days cooped up and there ain’t nothing else to do a lot of times but like, go take a nap, right? And so "there’s gonna be some kids." Yeah. Just doing the air quotes, but you know what I mean? "There’s gonna be some kids".
Erin Nutting: No Jason. I do not know what you mean. Did you hear that I have six children now? Elisha Is the one who is going to quote-unquote air quotes -“know what you mean”.
Jason Cass: You know, the people who are in the stage of doing that, let’s just say tha and Elisha you may be I don’t know. Are you going have any more kids Elisha?
Elisha Cavanaugh: No, my husband has been like pushing for a third baby for a while and so we’re cooped up inside. I mean it might be a good time to make a baby.
Erin Nutting: I feel like I need a side bet, like July or August.
Jason Cass: Yeah, you know I mean that’s why I’m saying December and January, I mean there are going to be a lot of babies born. Like they’re not going to need to take down all these hospitals just leave them up because in December, January, there’s gonna be some babies coming. I’m telling you.
Erin Nutting: New business opportunity. Drive-thru Doulas. Let’s get working on that.
Jason Cass: See? For real and that life insurance...I mean, this is gonna be once again, it’s gonna echo through time. There’s all these babies will be called the corona babies.
Erin Nutting: That’s gonna be terrible.
Elisha Cavanaugh: “The Coronials”.
Jason Cass: Haha. “The Coronials”! And you gotta think the Millennials are the largest generation right now right? And they’re the ones creating all the Corona babies so it’s like an explosion. Yeah.
Erin Nutting: I have been a little disappointed in…I feel like anytime I read an article or anytime like I read like a third-party article, one that doesn’t have a lot of, let’s call it a lot of weight when it comes to...I don’t want to get like political or anything like that because I believe that there’s enough of that in the world right now and the last thing we do is infuse that...
But I will say that I have been extremely disappointed in the representation that people think that millennials are the ones who are making it difficult to get rid of the Corona virus. I’m going to go on a limb and say that I have been in yoga pants for two weeks, doing my duty, keeping my kids at home and it is not me that is making this worse.
Elisha Cavanaugh: It’s the other ones. What are they called? Are they Generation Z?. Okay, we’re all in our 30’s now, we’re not in Palm Springs or on the beach in our bikinis, drinking.
Erin Nutting: We’re all watching the Tiger King on Netflix okay?
Elisha Cavanaugh: That’s what the Millenials are doing…binge watching, buying all the wine.
Erin Nutting: I did want to say one thing though that I was searching on. I’ve been looking at everyone like the insurance feeds and Instagram and Facebook and stuff. And I do want to say that there’s been a few insurance companies that have done In fact, our good friend Denisse Bravo, who’s also here in Tucson with me a little highlight because I was really impressed by the way she has turned her business page into somewhat more of a highlighting other local businesses page.
And I was really impressed because she’s like, “hey, while we can, let’s eat local.” And then she was like telling people to give their recommendations in the feed.
I wanted to highlight that because I think if all of us could do just like a little bit of that in the community, like eating our local takeout, things like that, that would not only- this sounds horrible, but that would not only be awesome for the community, but it would also be really great to continue to put your insurance company’s name out there and show that you actually want to help the community. So little stuff like that.
I’m going to tell insurance agents right now and you guys can back me or leave me alone in this alley. But shame on you if you are using COVID-19 to sell product.
I have never been more disappointed. I’ve unfriended people, it is emotional for me to watch that go down. But there are other ways, follow Denisse Bravo, follow other insurance agents that do this. I’ll find a few that I can send you Jason that I know have more in there. But follow that if you want to actually be useful in the community.
Jason Cass: Josh Witt who does commercial insurance in Knoxville, Tennessee, he told his staff two or three weeks ago, don’t worry about lunch for the next however long we’re going to order lunch. It’s paid by the agency and we’re buying it from local communities and/or clients as a way to sponsor them. And that was great, that was something great that I know a ton of agents inside the Mastermind are doing now.
And it’s like that little bitty thing of saying, okay, I’ll buy the lunch, let’s do it. Any other things like that are fantastic.
But I want to talk about something before we wrap it up and I’m not saying we have to now but I want to talk about this. I think there needs to be a talk about- we always talk about this being the greatest industry God ever created and I think that right now we’re seeing yet and again, speaking with a broad brushstroke here.
We are very, very immune to some of the stuff that’s other business owners are going through right now. I mean, you have to literally think about this to yourself , I mean, I told Andrea, I said if we owned a shoe store right now we wouldn’t have sold shoes for two weeks we’d be freaking out what in the he** we are going to be doing?
There are business owners who have been having legitimate problems. We’re about ready to get paid and we are going to grow, you know, 5-10% this month like we have been.
And it’s comes to that. And I think this is the time that we should remind our employees of this great opportunity because this is the time where you can say, “Hey, I know you always think it’s great because you get to leave whenever you need for a kid’s appointment.” or something like that, that becomes the norm.
This now is the time where we can capitalize on it and say, "Hey, listen and think about what everybody else’s world is, versus the security you have. Not only are you still gonna get paid, you’re probably working a little bit less than you have been in the past, you know." What say you about that, Elisha, with you and your employees and culture?
Elisha Cavanaugh: I absolutely agree. So I have been in the industry for almost 20 years, which is scary to say. So I was around for the recession in 2008 but I didn’t own my agency then, I didn’t start my agency till 2012 and I think that’s a good reminder Jason that from an employee perspective, I didn’t really realize how great it was that my job is secure.
And I do think this is a good time to not only remind our employees how great this is, but also appreciate them because my team has been phenomenal. I don’t know how you guys are experiencing and what the people who are listening have experienced, but my team has really stepped up.
They’ve, you know, even to the point where they’re doing little things like buying themselves a new mouse versus me saying, oh, no, I’ll order it for you or I’ll drop it on your porch. They’re like, no, no, it’s fine. Or you know, they just stepped up and made it work. So not only do I feel like they should be grateful to be in a recession-proof industry. I think that we should be grateful for our teams and what they’re doing and how they’re making this work too.
Like Erin said, we’re all in the same place right now. We’re all experiencing the same thing but not everyone handled it with grace and my team has been freaking fantastic. So I think reminding them like, “Hey, your job's not in jeopardy, this is why this career is so great." And I also think appreciating them and doing what you can for them right now, financially or otherwise is really helpful. Some people’s spouses are really affected by this. So if, you know, I’ll put this out there. If you normally give a bonus in November, December, maybe consider doing something sooner, maybe considered quartering it and changing that to a quarterly bonus.
Erin Nutting: That’s an excellent idea.
Elisha Cavanaugh: Whatever we can do for now I think is awesome. And even sometimes, what I’ll do is if I feel like somebody needs help, I’ll put something out there. I’ll say, "Hey, I know you need help. Here’s what I need you to do to get you that help" or they come to me and ask for it.
Jason Cass: No, that’s really really good stuff. I've got three things in my head now from all of that. Anything. Any thoughts on that?
Erin Nutting: No, I hadn't even thought about the bonus idea. I love that idea so much. I think that is such a great way to just say hey, like, “I got you.” and to create that trust, the continuous trust, not just during the holiday season which I think is easy to have assumed trust during the holiday season but during the year, sometimes people struggle at different times of the year.
I know for me, I have rough months, I have better months, that’s the cyclical business of insurance. I am incredibly grateful especially being on the opposite side of the sad phone calls. Of the ones who are the business insurance like people who, I have a lot more wedding vendors than probably the normal insurance agent would have and a lot of those businesses don’t really know how they’re going to survive because all of their events have insurance.
So, I do find I'm incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to be basically recession-proof. But the other piece of it too is I just am reminded to be so humbled that even though it has taken us a long time to start building renewals and to start building our new business and all those referral relationships, there is a reason why we choose to spend the time and invest in that and it’s because of reasons like this.
It’s really...it’s humbling though because when people ask you how you’re doing, you need to be very careful. Like, maybe change your comments of, you know, we’re really in a good spot to be able to help our community and we’re grateful for that.
Things like that to where you’re not like, oh, well, you know, I told you guys that I had a record month and it was great. But that’s because we’re all in the same industry. I would never ever, ever say that to anyone outside of our space especially right now.
Just because I think sensitivity and being humble about what we have is the number one thing we can probably give back right now and being completely empathetic to other people.
Jason Cass: Yeah, you’re exactly right. That’s why we do have that obligation because we are numb or immune to some of these things. So we have to step up in a greater way. You know, something that you had made me think about Elisha is there has to be recognition on the fact that we want our employees to understand how great it is that the industry they’re in, and then you say that we need them to understand how great they are.
I say that a lot. Our employees are our greatest asset. It bothers me so much that we actually list them as liabilities on our profit and loss statement. Their payroll is a liability and really, you think about that, I mean, I understand why that is for accounting reasons, but really they should be on the asset side.
So the thing is that I think that’s important though, what I want to get to here is it comes down to Elisha, that you as a leader of your organization decided to -dovetailing into what Erin said - decided to do to work on this culture before now. I understand there’s a lot of people that are reading this ebook, listening to this podcast and they’re trying to put it together right now. And I feel for you. That’s why we’re doing this though. 100% compassion. But I think there’s something to learn as we go forward that, you know, those conferences that those people go to and they learn from each other, those might be something of value to me.
I now have seen how something like a virus, not an army, not a nuclear weapon, not a tornado or a hurricane, not a… No, a virus that no one can even see shut down the world. I think I might want to start talking how business is done differently. And kudos to you Elisha, right? Kudos to you to be able to make that investment. And you at the time you didn’t even know, well, I've got to make this great culture. No, you just knew this is what we have to do.
We are going to have what my pastor likes to say seasons, right? We have seasons of life and we have seasons in our business and you prepared for that. And I hope that people listening are understanding that this is a time to make a plan.
You know, here’s the thing. In the stock market, a lot of people aren’t freaking out as much because they had a plan and they knew that there’d be ups and downs. And if they’d stick to the plan, they’d be okay. But yet, we don’t have those same plans for our business.
And kudos to you and other people out there who have actually taken that plan in that time. And those who didn’t make that plan in time I’m not here to beat you up. But I’m saying, do you now see the importance of this? This is very, very important. Start listening, start getting involved in groups and committees and conferences and associations or whatever, to where you’re going to learn this stuff. Because it’s going to become more vital in every day, as the Great Separator says. Anything you want to say to close up, Erin and Elisha?
Elisha Cavanaugh: I just wanted to add one thing to what you just said. I think sometimes when we talk about culture, it seems like this big thing and you’re like, I can’t give unlimited PTO and I can’t do the types of things that person is doing.
And I think I’ll just add a few sentences to that. If you just make small incremental changes, you don’t have to do all these things that other people are doing. If you just make small changes, and before whenever I talk to anyone else in the business that want an opinion on an employee thing, or how to do things, I always say - "What do you want your culture to look like?" So if you just know what you want your culture to look like and maybe make a few little changes, I think that’s helpful moving forward and less overwhelming.
Jason Cass: Mm-hmm. And this is the one time that even if your team doesn’t always like each other, they all like each other right now. We’re all on the same page. Erin what about you, any thoughts?
Erin Nutting: I could not agree more with Elisha and I will comment on the other side of it because I tend to be more like Elisha is so great with the business aspect of doing what is needed in the right time. I’m going to take the bonuses into consideration. All those things are just things that I’m going to start implementing.
On the other side of things as far as you being the business owner, and your stability and your mental health during this time I think it’s really important, and I know sometimes I fall victim to this too...you go online and you see all these Pinterest moms who are making time blocks and schedules.
Before this all happened, I went into time blocking mode that actually worked really well for me, and I had a very hard time throwing it out the window when we got quarantined.
And I just want to implore business owners out there, whether you are a mom, whether you’re a dad, whether you’re a grandparent or an uncle who are now taking care of children every day, or whatever the case may be... I think the best advice that I got during this time was to don’t worry about what everybody else is doing.
Stop paying attention to social media. Stop paying attention to what you should be doing. And it is completely okay to not be okay. And that is something I’m trying to focus on every day as I’m fighting the battle too.
We all look like we have our lives together and everybody’s cute on social media but the reality is, right now everything is unknown. So do what you can to control your culture, like Elisha said, because that’s within your control. And then just know that everything else will eventually find a new normal.
Jason Cass: That’s good. That’s good to say. Elisha, anything to add as we wrap up?
Elisha Cavanaugh: Yeah, I just wanted to say, you know, when you originally sent this, you said that you thought the title would be “Flattening the Curve or Spike Your Drink” you know, you’re kind of playing around with that title. And I just loved it because that’s true, right?
We still know that there’s going to be a curve where things are different. And we have to just say, okay, these things are going to be different a little bit. And then also, the key to success here is, drink some wine, buy your kids some moon sands, give them as many fruit snacks as they want. Last night my kids had macaroni and hotdogs for dinner.
Erin Nutting: Yeah girl. That’s it!
Elisha Cavanaugh: I told my husband, I’ve never felt so white trash, but that’s what I’m giving our kids for dinner.
Jason Cass: Oh dude, and as a kid I used to love macaroni and hotdogs, you know, I did, so it’s awesome.
Elisha Cavanaugh: I mean, it’s delicious. But you know, this is what our normal is. We’re just doing our best. Our kids are fed, our businesses are running. It just doesn’t look the same right now and that’s okay.
Jason Cass: I agree. I agree. I agree. Thank you, everybody, very much you loyal listeners. Thank you, Elisha. Thank you, Erin for joining us. And thank you just for everything. This has been a great conversation.
I look forward to seeing you guys. I thought I might see you at Brainshare, but I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.
Erin Nutting: But you know Jason using this time to create some awesome content that… you never know. It could take a total turn, and that might get more membership because people are not going to have those kinds of meetings available to them.
Everyone’s on the same playing field. So maybe creating the value in the content and talking about things other people don’t talk about, dude, this could be a game-changer for you too.
Jason Cass: Good call, good call. I feel better. This is Agency Intelligence podcast where we give you real agents, Elisha and Erin. Inside real agencies, their agencies giving you the real agency intelligence and not the artificial that the industry tries to make you believe. This has been Cass, Elisha and Erin, and we are out.
Less is more, it is a statement I say often when I return from Cuba.
Miles reminded me of this today. In a weird strange, way that has become us. Right now we have less to do yet the things we can do, we focus on more and those are the things that matter.
It’s the same with your business. Enjoy
Jason Cass: Hey, hey, hey welcome everybody. Welcome to Agency Intelligence podcast. This is Jason Cass and today I have on Mr. Miles Merwin as we continue on with the COVID Special Episodes. Miles Merwin who is in our Mastermind, you loyal listeners out there definitely knows who Miles is because I talk about him a lot. He’s somebody that I look up to. Him and I, I think are very similar in the way that we run our agencies and the different metrics that we look at and we use. Actually, I think that I use a lot of metrics until I read some of your posts, Miles, that you have in there and I’m thinking wow, I didn’t understand, I didn’t realize that I could break that down even further.
And so, when I was reading what Miles put inside of the Mastermind about adding value right now, that was one of the things that we talked about with Jeff Roy and the CEO's checklist. I think it was like number three or something like that, being proactive with reaching out to your clients. And you said in there, I don’t remember exactly, but it was pretty much that you should focus on the 20% that are providing 80% of your revenue. And then you said that you had reached out to those people personally, and I think you said you had done voice drops if I’m correct?
A lot of my loyal listeners don’t know what that is and we may talk about it a lot. So I want this conversation about that. So Miles Merwin for the third time, fourth time, don’t know, we’ve been buddies for a long time, welcome to Agency Intelligence podcast.
Miles Merwin: Thanks for having me, Jason. I really appreciate it. Great intro, I was writing some notes as well. You know something, this year we've focused on a couple things and especially during these times, one thing that I’ve been focusing on is education for myself and my team.
So, we have extra time, what are we doing to educate ourselves to run our businesses, whether that’s me is the principal of the agency running my business or it’s my agents running their own books of business?
What I’m trying to do is is find ways to become a better leader during these times when I’m not sitting across from my agents or my account managers. How am I supposed to lead people from afar?
And in educating myself and the best way to do that, I’ve introduced a couple of business coaches over the last couple of years to help me do that. So I’m not being led by my team, I’m able to be led by someone else and then lead my team. So, a couple things that’s come out of this recently, trying to learn how to better lead is how do we lead our clients? How do we lead them through a path that we want them to go through? Of course, we’re listening to their comments, we’re listening to their suggestions, their testimonies, their survey responses to find out what they want, what they need.
But are we leading the agency? Are we leading our team, are we leading our account managers, are leading our sales team to do what we need to? And so, one of my mentors, he said recently, now is not a time to sell. Now is time to provide value.
And it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to sell to take it off the table, that now’s not a time to actually go out and sell policies. That’s not right, you need to have 100% confidence, you can go in that room and close the deal. But the way that we go into these rooms, these Zoom videos, you know, the way that we go into the salesroom is different. And the way that we go into the sale is different.
Jason Cass: True. Very true.
Miles Merwin: You know, we’re looking to provide value in a way that someone else is not. As Jason said, you know, there’s so many agents that are just average or below average, because average in this industry is freakin awesome.
You were making more money than your neighbors, your family, your friends just being average. And so the average or under average agents now, they’re the ones that are going to fail.
The ones that are above average, they’re leading this initiative. They’re providing value where their current agents are not, are going to find double the sales coming out of this with their prospects and the current clients.
So you’re doing and selling that value to your clients, and you’re picking who you’re going to provide that value to, in certain niches and classes of business. Are you calling your personalized client list that was working in the service industry?
You know, you’re not spending time on the phone with them. There’s other ways to communicate with them to build that value because you want to help them but you’re really identifying who are the centers of influence? Who are the people who have sent me quality, targeted business. Who are the clients that are my, that the 20% of clients that create 80% of my revenue. Who are these people?
They provided me value in the past by earning their business or their referrals during this time of need, what kind of value am I providing back to them? Because they’re not necessarily filing claims or claims that are being covered. So what kind of value am I giving them during this time when they’re at their largest need?
Jason Cass: That’s right. I like that and sometimes saying what you just said is so transparent that it works right? At the time you have valued me as a business enough to give me your business and I am reaching out to you to say besides paying claims besides looking for the best price for your best coverage, what value can I provide you? Is there something I can do? I will tell you what we’ve done, personally we know that our non for profits, they do Meals on Wheels, a lot of those deliveries to the elderly are done by the elderly, right?
The 75 year old delivering to the 90 year old. And so now we have those situations. So we have not been taken up on it. I think I’m going to be next week on next Wednesday but…
Miles Merwin: It's canceled for Meals on Wheels they said we weren’t delivering anymore.
Jason Cass: No, they’re not. But there’s still people that need to eat. So, what I have said is I will go to the senior center, and I think I’m going to do it next Wednesday for Clinton County Senior Center. And I’m going to go there and I’m going to deliver these meals. I think they have like seven meals that need delivered, but they’re like 20 miles away in different directions, you know? Yeah, like, load me up, you know what I mean? And then I just and they’ve got these instructions that they've email me I have to set it at a certain area, you know?
Maybe everybody can’t do that right? But this was something that I just sat back and literally looked at the wall and was like, what can I do? Where can I help there? And that’s where we got that idea to do that. I mean, what are the things we’re going to be doing there? There are a lot of pantries, there’s a lot of places, they’re talking about shortages in places that normally have food, they’re not getting the same amount of food.
Once again, a lot of these social services, because we do a lot of them, are run by the elderly. They’re the ones that now can’t service people. Where can we step up in those situations? Believe me, call a non for profit, and say, hey, what do you need from me? They’ll put you to work, I promise. So...
Miles Merwin: And talking about providing value and communication with your clients just to further advance the relationship, as you mentioned earlier, we’ve dissected that book of business, there’s a certain client list that you need to spend time with. I’m talking like, get on the phone, call them, get on a Zoom video, schedule it, get on the call and just provide some value there.
Jason Cass: Who was that for you guys? What did that client look like for you guys?
Miles Merwin: So those are our top commercial clients, multi location restaurants, they are really any of our large commercial clients. So we should-
Jason Cass: So you did it kind of by revenue as a way to simplify it?
Miles Merwin: Yeah. Okay, we start there, right? We’re going to start with our taxes. And our personalized agents are going to start with their top revenue personalized clients.
So we’re going to start at the top. And we’re going to work ourselves down every day, every week, right? We start with a list and we’re working ourselves down, and you have a certain number.
So if you’ve got 1000 clients, maybe that’s 20 you need to have a phone call with maybe it’s 100. It’s top 10% - 100. But at some point, you’ve got a broad list of clients that you need to touch but you don’t have time to hop on the phone with every single one of them. And most likely, you’re not going to even get them on the phone. And so as you mentioned, there’s some tools to make this a lot easier, right?
I don't know anything about the pros of slybroadcast at all but voicemail drops we’ve used. I was going to kind of mention there’s different sections of your agency as well so I don’t know what other people are doing, this is what we’re doing. As the principal of the agency, I did a voicemail to all of our clients. I did a voice drop as owner of Advisors Insurance Agency, I just kind of put a message out there to all our clients.
Jason Cass: Kinda like everybody else did in emails, all the COVID emails you got, but you did a voice drop. That’s good stuff.
Miles Merwin: I did both, right? I did both. Maybe five people look at that and the mixture of all the emails, I did the voice drop too. And I’ll mention the email in the voice drop, "I also sent you an email with additional information about our agency."
So that’s from from the principal. Then I’ve got agents of record that are response for their books of business. They also did the voice drop for their own clients.
Jason Cass: Ah, nice.
Miles Merwin: "I want to let you know I personally appreciate your business...you know, during these times we’re here for you. You know, I know we talk a lot about value, we don’t typically talk about the specifics of your budget, whether your insurance programs are affordable, you know, talk about price or cost. But now maybe is a time we do need to talk about price. You might be financially strapped, let’s just put that on the table and go ahead and discuss it. So feel free to call us."
Jason Cass: Wow, that’s very proactive, Miles
Miles Merwin: So agents are calling them and then I’m getting their account managers to do Loom videos and voice drops too. So, they’re going to get communication from the principal, they’re going to get communication from their agent, and they’re going to get communication with their account manager to know that, "Hey, my whole insurance team is very connected. I know who they are.
They’ve all reached out to me." They feel confident calling us to talk to us, and they’re not going to call a commercial just to get their quotes reshops by the time they call you, they’ve already got someone entered into their lives.
Jason Cass: So Miles, a lot of people would say, I don’t want to be that proactive because if they want to shop, then they’re going to want to shop and I’m going to want a lot of people to shop. Here’s what you’re kind of saying is you’re saying... when financial hardship hits people, they’re gonna shop, this is the way you know that you’re going to be involved in it.
Miles Merwin: Yeah, absolutely.
Jason Cass: That makes sense. Because sometimes I think that could be a little bit pushback. Let me ask you this over these messages, you sent them, this communication. What was that time span? What is that? A week, two weeks, three weeks? How was that, was that overload to the customer?
Miles Merwin: So as a principal of the agent, I did that very early on at the very beginning of this whole thing kind of going down. I almost did it a little... I don’t know if it's too early, but I kind of wanted to let people know that "Hey, we’re on top of this. I’m not the last person you're gonna be hearing from. I'm the first person."
No schools were even closed yet. No one was shut into their homes yet. And I was saying, "Hey, this is a serious situation, we can see what’s coming. We’re a leader in the community. I'm putting this message out first." And then they’re like, "wow," you know, so the the faster it comes from the principal or the top leadership, the better because they’re being led versus following.
Jason Cass: Great. That’s a very good point. So did you say that time timeline so yours was first, how long until the others did theirs?
Miles Merwin: The agents did theirs about a week afterwards. And then the account managers are falling about a week after that.
Jason Cass: Sweet. Well, you do look good because this has turned into a world crisis. National crisis and we hate using the word. I've got to find a different word - "crisis" just like Erik Garcia says when you say the word crisis it just makes it seem like it’s just like...you know. It’s just, I hate it. But anyways, it is what it is.
Miles Merwin: You know, Jason other than just emails, we’re doing the voice drops and then we’re using Loom. Again I’m not doing a sponsor for Loom but we’re using that for it again. I’m doing videos, my agents are doing videos, and my account managers are doing videos and we’re texting and emailing those links to all of our clients within our books of business to again kind of say, "you’ve probably never seen me before. As you can see, I’m working home just like many other people we’re in this together. Just want to let you know this is my face, this is my team. We’re just trying to better-"
Jason Cass: Is that a general, that’s not to each client? That’s a general, "hey, here I am" and then dropping the link into the email or sending it?
I like that. Are you texting it? Are you dropping any messages in any texting in this communication? Just curious.
Miles Merwin: I haven’t yet.
Jason Cass: I was just curious about that myself if you did like instead of doing the Loom. For everybody out there we’ll tell you what Loom is in a minute. But I’m doing the video and then dropping it into their text to where they could click it and open it up on their phone, but i don’t know I still, I’m so private with that kind of stuff. You know what I mean? I want people to be private with me on that. But this is something that is important. Explain to them how you use a Loom and what that is. I know loyal listeners you probably know but you don’t maybe understand what Loom is.
Miles Merwin: Where Zoom is great for meetings, Loom is good for just creating video messages with just your picture or video messages explaining something on a computer screen so you can circle things and just really edit those the way you want it. You can trim things off super fast so you can start a video and trim off the first 10 seconds trim and off the last 10 seconds. It takes a minute to do that. And you can send them out via text, email, multiple ways. The nice thing too is you can see how many unique viewers you had.
You know, so did you have 20 people see this video? Was it 30 people or was it being shared? You know how many people actually saw this video. You’ll know how it was seen and how many unique people saw it. So, if you send out an email to 1000 people, and it has hat link, you can go back and see how many people from that email link actually watched the video.
Jason Cass: Totally, very, very helpful.
Miles Merwin: You can grab data from it versus Zoom. You can record yourself on Zoom too, but you have no idea how many people saw it.
Jason Cass: That’s true. I never realized that. It’s Zoom and Loom, that’s very cool. Are they are they part of the same?
Miles Merwin: I don’t think so.
Jason Cass: That’s crazy. I was just thinking of that.
I always mispronounce it but I think I use Vidyard. Exact same thing, exact same thing. Marcus Sheridan told me about that at one of his conferences and it is the same exact thing. I mean identical, it really works well. And then also some of you guys out there who use quote vids for Advisor Evolved, you could do the same exact thing using that software as well.
You know what’s so amazing, Miles, and I think we can elaborate on this some more because you’ve talked about it a lot, is how much people have been using the word communication, right? For people who are having to work at home, the fact that they’re not sitting next to each other... now that communication, that channel is different, they’re having to figure that out.
The communication we’re having with our clients, the way that our clients are able to communicate with us. If they used to walk in versus now they can’t walk in, now they’re figuring out. I said it on the other podcasts, I bet you we’ve had more insureds actually go to their online account than ever before.
That’s going to change the way the consumer is going to want to expect to do business, which is great. You know, a lot of us agents have tried in to get our consumers to go to online portals, and they’re just not really worth the money right now because you really don’t see the action often.
Maybe if you’re high commercial, maybe you'll do a really good job of training your clients and coaching them.
But overall, it’s not something that’s highly used in a lot of situations. Non-standard is used. But I think that there’s a lot of change there. But it all comes down to communication, right? So the reason why we’re doing this Miles is helping leaders lead their people and that’s what you started out with.
That’s why I’m putting this together because agents are just clueless as to what to do right now. And so am I in a lot of things, but I’ve been able to find out a lot of things just from listening to you and other things. But what I want to get right back to, it’s communication. That’s what we’re talking about in all of this stuff. Huge.
Miles Merwin: It’s communication. And you know, I always try to look for trends in my own household, right? If I’m going to buy a stock, I start looking at things in my own house like, okay, I recently just bought a bunch of sono speakers from my house. I’m like, if I’ve seen it, and I’m nobody, if I’ve seen it and I bought it, then there must be a lot of people buying it. So I look for trends in my own household.
One of them is that my wife hasn’t been on Facebook in a year or two. She hasn’t posted on Facebook in at least a year. She’s been on Facebook connecting back again with friends because she’s seeing what they’re doing with their families, how they play with the kids, like she’s back on.
If my wife is back on Facebook, then how many other people are looking for ways to connect again, they were too distracted by social media before because they already were limited in time. But now, they’re not out and about in the town, they’re at home. That’s the way they’re connecting again.
And so, to think about your marketing efforts, maybe you had swung away from Facebook marketing or in Instagram marketing, whatever it is but I feel like if my own wife is back on Facebook, then how many other people are also connecting that way. They’re doing Facebook groups for their church community groups, they’re doing Facebook groups for their neighborhood groups because the kids aren’t playing together. That's how people are connecting again.
So we don’t want to necessarily eliminate your marketing efforts.
It may be time to boost that back up and consider that this is how people are communicating again and getting these people are, you know, people want to see people. They can’t get out and see people anymore, so they’ve got to see people online. So using these videos and getting comfortable with it...
One of my commercial producers, he’s a little bit behind on getting new technology stuff and we were doing a meeting this morning. And I said, "you need to start using Loom and doing videos." He’s like, "I just haven’t done it before."
You need to do, this is a Brent Kelly right here. Some low risk practice versus high risk practice versus. Which is, low risk practices, practicing on your team with your team's risk, practice on your clients. You need to get on the phone right now and do some low risk practice and send me a Loom video summarizing the conversation we just had.
I mean, you can do these in between picking weeds in the yard. I think all of us, our yards have never looked this great. Mine is looking freakin' fantastic.
Jason Cass: Perfect, houses clean, stuff hasn’t been done forever. It’s wild. You know? I mean, let’s get off here for a second. You’re right. I like that. Let’s capture that because people are... you can watch what other people are doing and your wife is the same way. I knew two, three years ago that video is going to be huge because my wife started stopping and watching video in her newsfeed.
Whereas before she would be like , "Why do people put this on? No one’s gonna watch this." and then she did and I was like, oh video is gonna become big and do the same exact thing.
Have you also seen the drive-bys that the kids are getting for their birthdays and different types of things that parents are doing? Yeah, you know, and they’re communicating through Facebook and Instagram, so you’ve got to be there. That makes a total lot of sense.
How is it possible that we could change our society drastically from learning from this, right? Something that we could change drastically? Because, let’s talk about this real quick Miles.
Let’s talk about the good side because I believe there is a lot of good side now. I think a lot of agents are going to walk away realizing that they’re going to come out of this better than the way they were before because they’re going to trim the fat.
You know, we talked yesterday about the state of the industry. Sometimes it’s not so much about cutting expenses. It’s also about cutting revenue, right? Cutting revenue that’s costing too much because you’re not getting anything back from it. But I think that there’s a societal shift that could happen here. And let me read you this right here.
This is what this lady posted yesterday, which maybe you’ve heard before but to me it made sense, it said "Traffic is gone, gas is affordable, bills are extended, kids are at home with their families,parents are home taking care of their children, fast food is replaced by home cooked meals, hectic schedules are replaced by naps, the air seems clear, the world quieter, people are walking around riding their bikes again, people are conscious about hygiene and health again, we finally listen to authorities and head home when they say so, money doesn’t seem to make the world go around anymore and now we have time finally to stop and smell the roses, families are spending quality time together. And lastly, we become closer to God. And it seems like the COVID-19 is a reset button for humanity." There’s a lot of truth in that.
That’s powerful. And I’m thinking to myself, how do we do this as a society to where we are all kind of like teachers, where my business is somehow changed that for 11 months, I can get the same revenue out of it that I could out of 12 months, but yet my team gets to take off, but yet we shut down everything that’s not essential, but those people would still get paid?
Okay, but like, so the government doesn’t have to bail them out? We can plan for this. But I know that is starting to get a little European, by the way that they’re going down to like 32 hour work weeks and they take six, seven weeks off. Maybe they got something figured out, you know, maybe we don’t have to lose money, but we can somehow uh, re-adjust how our system is set up so people don’t lose money but yet we’re still allowed to do that.
I think we could somehow do that. And what do you think about that? Miles I mean, I know there’s a lot of complications into that. But man...
Miles Merwin: Well, it reminds me not too long ago, you were talking about the...maybe with Erik Garcia, you were talking about this with, the culture and the community in Cuba. They have less, but they have more.
Jason Cass: They do.
Miles Merwin: And so it’s kind of like right now you’re saying we have less to do, but we’re getting more value out of everything that we can do. Because you can’t go to Country Club and have dinner with your social friends. You’re having to spend time with your family. Right? But it’s just interesting when you strip out the water, the things that you think that you want, you end up finding out what you need.
Jason Cass: You’re exactly right. And I love what you say, I’ve never really put the two and two together. But I have to tell you, this is a lot like how Cuba is. You know, I saw these guys, they were playing dominoes and it’s like 11 o’clock at night underneath this lamp light out in the street, they just took their card table and put it right in the side of the street is crazy. And so they’re playing and the next morning they’re playing and I see his name’s Ani, and I see Ani out there and I said to him, it’s like 6:30 in the morning, we’re getting ready to head over to the mission, you guys are still out here playing like Domino’s, like all night and keep in mind, they’re not drinking or doing drugs, right? They’re just out there just like having fun. And I’m just like, "Guys, guys, when do you have to go work." They’re like, "Oh, we gotta go to work at 8 but we may get done by 10" I’m like, two hours. That's just how they are.
Because there’s low commitments now, their economy is not as robust as ours, they don’t have all the nice luxuries. Everybody’s walking around, though. Everybody’s stopping at each other’s yard saying hi, it’s just it’s a remarkable place and that’s very good, because they do have less but yet they have more. And I like how you say we're having to do less, but we’re getting more out of the things that we are able to do. And I think that is really vital. We’re not spreading ourselves thin.
We’re focusing on things. Something that Erik also brought up to that I went back and read because he brought something into my mind and at the time of crisis or of times like now, I had read Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell about how we become very narrow minded and we become very focused.
In times when you have great stress and you’re very mad, or if you’re drunk, or in a time of crisis like this follows along with the same type of madness, it is actually a survival instinct that we have, that in the time of great fright, or need or shock, all that what we do is we shut down parts of our brain so that we can put all the energy and focus on the here and now. And that really works to our benefit more than it does not.
But as business owners, leading people today and being focused is important. How do we get them today to be working from home tomorrow, right? How are we doing this stuff that we didn’t have plans for? But we can’t lose sight of that thing that our brain won’t let us think about, which is that long term vision of long term planning and strategy. And if you listen to Erik’s most recent one, he said as beautiful as can be that the only thing that we know about uncertain times is recovery.
We don’t know when it’s going to be, how high it’s going to go, how bad it’s going to be, but we know that we always recover. And he talks about rational overconfidence. In making decisions as a business owner today for the future, being confident in them, knowing that we will recover. And I think that that’s a very, very powerful message. What say you there, Miles?
Miles Merwin: Yeah, I think I’ve heard Brent Kelly and my other business coach with Sandler Training and my pastor all say, this too shall pass. You know, I keep thinking about that as I look at my refrigerator in my house that’s packed to the brim, my beer fridge has no beer. It's packed with the brim with food and frozen meat. I never buy frozen meat. I’ve got a whole thing in my garage full of canned goods. I mean, we got six things of milk, it’s absurd the stuff that we have.
I’m like, you know, at some point we’re gonna bust out of this house, we’re going to work at some point. This too shall pass and we’re gonna be out of here, look at ourselves, all this food we have in this house we have to eat.
Jason Cass: So true.
Miles Merwin: You know, we changed our behavior but looking at it like like you just said, we’ve narrowed our vision. My goal is to survive, you know, to go to the grocery store and not come out of this with a disease. You know, that’s what we’re worried about.
Are we going to have enough dinner in three weeks when this thing’s at its worst? And I’m gonna have to go to the grocery store in two weeks? I don’t think so. But, you know, this too shall pass.
Now is a time to be making sure you’re keeping your team accountable. You’re continuing to give them goals. You’re continuing to discuss what this looks like in the fall. How are we coming out of this fall? What is our plan?
If you can take this time to learn how to sell professionally, you will be way above any other salesperson out there when we come out of this. Because if you can learn to sell now, oh my goodness, you will crush it when people are just close minded to this. I mean, because there’s a difference between selling and selling professionally, being prepared, going through this with a process you know, taking concerns away, dealing with objections.
Like, if you can do this and close some good, great accounts now, when you get out of this, you’re gonna feel even more like you deserve to be at the table. I killed it during a time that everyone else was depressed and narrow minded.
Now that I’m coming out of this, they’re all trying to figure out what’s going on. Their pipelines are empty. My sales team's pipelines are full. We took this time to provide value. And we’re coming out of this with full pipelines versus coming out of this thing - I didn’t lead my team well, I didn’t lead my prospects well, I didn’t lead my clients well.
Jason Cass: That’s true. It’s very, very, very true. And I think there will be those. I mean, it’s there that there will be that separation, and one of the things that we always use as an excuse Miles, is I don’t ever have time. Brent Kelly said this yesterday, he’s got time now.
Brent Kelly. I love Brent because he humanizes things to his own not so great experiences, he tries to expose himself and how he makes these mistakes. And he says, "You know, I always want to spend more time with my daughters. Well, now Brent, you got all the time that you need to spend with your daughters." You know what I mean? And I’m being real. It’s like, it’s overwhelming sometimes. But I believe it’s probably overwhelming to our kids. Why the heck is dad or mom around all the dang time? You know what I mean? It’s good.
One of the things I loved from the podcast I did with Wes. Wes said, I want my kids to look back at this time...As a world we go, "Wow, that was crazy. Like, what happened?" And the kids look back and go, "Oh, I remember that time that we did this and this and this and this and this." And it’s like, wow, that’s crazy that we recognize that but yet we will fall back into where we are. I don’t think everybody permanently will. You'll do things for 45 days you’re going to start forming habits.
I think there’s going to be people who are going to break out of a lot of this stuff. I think this I think once again, we couldn’t see it at first with 9/11 but 2, 3 ,4 months after that our nation got stronger we came together, our economy actually if people remember, roared back. Now we did have a dumb ass war but you know, this is a word that needs to continue to keep on going on here because this one this one is serious. I have to admit I think that the media hypes up so much stuff, Miles. I think they bought so much stuff you don’t know who to believe.
I really, about a month ago, I really kind of thought to myself to like, really, how big is this? Like, I know this is gonna get bad, is it gonna be that bad, you know?
But now we’re recording this loyal listeners on 4/2, the president came out two days ago basically saying if we can keep it under 100,000 deaths, that’s pretty good. That’s where I want to turn this to because want to pinpoint on this here for a minute because I think this is important to have this written down.
It’s hard to sit here Miles and talk about how things are going to be good and things are going to be better and everybody needs to have their head up and you need to be taking advantage of these times. And these times are great, families are together, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then there’s people on the front lines who have been fighting as a medical professional for 25 to 30-35 years who are freakin frantic. Who're freaking the F out and don’t know what to do.
Teresa Swartz is someone, one of my friends who’s in the medical profession, and she’s posted recently and she’s not a bullshitter she’s a very tough and she’s just breaking down. I mean, these people are just dying all around her and she can’t do a damn thing about it, you know?
Miles Merwin: Well, I was gonna add, you know that in talking about even leading our own teams of people, this is very real out there.
And you have to understand as well that maybe you are not concerned about this as much in your financial situation, because you own an insurance agency, which I’ve never thought of before. But insurance happens to be fairly recession proof and pandemic proof. Think about other businesses that are both recession and pandemic proof. There’s not many out there...is that there are those people who are really struggling right now. And it’s a really good idea right now to reach out to your team members that are your service team and let them know that you happen to be in the insurance industry and if you know whatever your situation is, this business has been led well and we are debt free or maybe not. Now we have plenty of capital reserves, in the wake of your friends losing income, losing jobs, your job's very secure. In the wake of your friends and family losing income, your income is very secure.
I promised that with reserves the way that we run this business that I will be able to retain your job and make sure you fully get paid the same amount now as you always will. And if you have any friends and family who need help, you need to let us know.
But let them know and be confident that, no matter what happens, how bad it gets around me, how beautiful is this insurance industry thing? And how beautiful is it that they we were able to financially put the business into a situation that I can be secure in my job. Talk about retaining employees and providing some confidence at a time of insecurity. You know that this is a time to do some of those things and be open with people to let them know.
Jason Cass: I agree emphatically. So I said yesterday and I’ve said it before on some of the podcasts. I mean, this is an okay time. I have to say that one of the people that when I said this yesterday, I felt as if one of them, a very strong cultural person, and just kind of I could tell they agreed with what I said but at the same time, I don’t think that they quite did and maybe I came across rough with it. But I think that our staff get used to the luxuries that we have here and the insurance industry.
Yeah. You can say whatever you want, as you know, I am culturally driven or whatever. Listen, if you’re an RN, and you work at the hospital and you work seven to seven, and you say hey, I need to come in an hour too late or I need to leave for something...you get that like once, two, three times right for the whole year?
And that’s it. And if it’s like, well, I don’t have any more personal days or any vacation days, it’s like, sorry, get somebody else in the family to take them to the doctor, right?
Miles Merwin: Jason, if you’re a nurse, and you get assigned the COVID floor, and you say, no, you can be arrested.
Jason Cass: You can be arrested. Okay, you can be arrested. But what I’m saying is, in normal times our staff has, they have this "well, you know, I want to do this, or I want to do that, or I’m going to leave early today for this or that" and they’re allowed to do that. That’s great. I’m not saying that you should be considered a special boss because of that. But actually, in most jobs, you don’t get that. You just can’t tell the team, “Hey, I need to run out.” So that becomes a normalcy if that’s the right word to say it like that just becomes the norm.
I don’t think you should ever sit in front of a leader and say this is the greatest place to work because you get this da-da-da and I think that should be seen. But I also think in times of need, you just said we're pandemic proof.
I think it’s okay to remind them of how great this industry is. You added something great about giving them examples of, hey, we are flush with cash. We do have reserves we have. I didn’t plan for a pandemic. But I planned that if something went wrong, we would have this right.
Miles Merwin: We call home immediately. Like there wasn’t a big, big sacrifice for us to be able to pick up and go home. The business was planned that if something like this, we could connect with our clients, and you can now work from home, it took one day for us to all go home and work. I’ve been thinking about these things for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years. Yes, this is a new situation. But as a leader, this is a great time to show we’ve prepared for anything like this. This is a different situation we've never face but we can apply these principles right on here and we can continue on.
Jason Cass: The vision you’re trying to give them in the middle of the crisis is sometimes not believable. But if you led them this well and are doing the things like you’re saying, had a plan, you guys were able to go home quick. Businesses flush, we plan for the future. Now that we’re in the crisis, here’s what I’m going to say that we need to do. It makes it much more believable.
Now, there’s people listening to this though, and they’re saying, yeah that’s great Miles and Jason, but we’re in the middle of the crisis now. There will be many more crises and you know, we need to learn from this. We need to have an action plan. I mean, let’s get crazy here. No one freakin pictured this. This is not a military situation, think of a nuclear weapon. Up until now, this was like the thing that you thought when, and I’m not going to say this is going to end the world, but I’ll tell you what, throw a Coronavirus and then throw another virus out there at the same time and you could have some serious mayhem on your hands.
To be honest with you, which is scary, is I think there might be some mad crazy people out there that may have learned a lot from this. So this is something we’re gonna have to start planning for. It’s gonna happen again. I think when we get these little bitty flu type things that we’ve had the H1N1 and all this stuff, I think next time we get anything I think people are going to be pandemonium and I hope not.
Miles Merwin: Yeah, it a great time to learn from this. And again, we talked a ton about providing value. Communicating is providing value and communication to your team and your centers of influence and your employees that no matter the situation that the economy gets into, no matter the situation health wise, whatever it is, that we are going to be here for our employees. If you're here for our center's of influence to provide them the tools that they need. Maybe that they weren’t as prepared, we can give them the tools they need to be prepared, and your team's central influence with our clients that "Hey, no matter what happens you’re gonna be able to call us if you need to plan for yourself, we’ve got plans we can provide you these plans."
You’re not creating it all by yourself right now. In a recent video I just sent out, I think it was Facebook, I just kind of tell you if you’re a small business owner and you feel like you don’t have a community of people to talk to to help through through the situation. We are a small business. Some people just think of insurance as insurance right now. As a small business owner, we started zero and worked up to this, we’ve gone through this process. Yeah, we’re business owners and some of our team members, a little side business rental properties, whatever, we’re experiencing these things, call us, let’s be your be your community to bounce things off of.
We’ve got you know, 100 other business owners that we’re talking to as well. If you don’t have a community of business owners to help understand the situation, call us. Let’s help each other out. Let’s get through this together.
Jason Cass: I agree, dude, I agree. Miles thank you very much for coming on. I just want everybody to remember, I do take advice from Miles. Sometimes directly, sometimes he reaches out to me but I’m reaching out to him and listening to what he has to say. I also know that him and I get the water from the same well when it comes to some of our coaching specifically with Brent Kelly. And I do want to thank Brent. You know, the thing with Brent Kelly to me is just like Billy Williams, they’re very similar. They keep things very simple.
Brent has his things and and he's more on the personal line side. Billy’s kind of more...he has that same fundamental but I get a lot more of commercial driven, sales focused, retention agency management focused out of that than I do sometimes over on the persona lines side, which is one of my weaknesses.
So that’s why I like and I rely on Billy hardcore there. Brent is fantastic. And I know you guys take a lot of training from Brent as well, right?
Miles Merwin: Yeah, we do. I mean, I hired him as a coach through their team and we work with them on a monthly basis. And then, again education. I also hired a company called Sandler Sales Training and they’ve been fantastic as well on just professional sales, so you know, any kind of Billy Williams or the Sitkins program really good for insurance, right? If you want some best practices, you want to know how to do better proposals, insurance wise, something insurance specific, they’re great.
We recently went out and hired Sandler Sales Training. There’s tons of different types of businesses out there, not just one industry and their sales coaches are for many industries. And they’ve just been great sales coaches, like how to actually get your foot in the door, what a professional sales process looks and it's different than people who are just in the insurance industry. And so it’s been very beneficial, apparently, Sitkins was built off of a lot of the Sandler sales training principles. And if you go and you listen to both, you’re like, wait a minute, Roger Sitkins sounds a lot like this. It sounds a lot the same.
Jason Cass: Right? Yeah. You get a lot of that stuff. You know, you really do but it’s just changed. Roger's really good as well. Thank you very much, man. If anybody wants to reach out to you, they can find you on Facebook I assume, right?
Jason Cass: You think it’s easy that if they know you well enough that if they put in gingerinsurance, it just pulls you right up?
Miles Merwin: I need to buy that, I’ll buy that domain today.
Jason Cass: Haha. He’s got red hair, folks, and he’s 6’6″. All right, man. Hey, I appreciate you very much, Miles and until next time man, till next time buddy.
Miles Merwin: Thank you.
Jason Cass: Everybody. This has been Agency Intelligence podcast where I give you real agents- Miles Merwin, inside real agencies- Advisors Insurance Agency, giving you the real agency intelligence and not the artificial that the industry tries to make you believe. This has been Jason Cass. He’s Miles Merwin and we are out.
This is Cass and for this final episode I am joined by Chris Burand and let me tell you, you are in for a treat. He blew my mind twice and made me think about things that I have yet to.
He opened my mind to solving this crisis we are all in for the future so it never happens again. I promise you, this is mind candy with many different flavors.
Enjoy and Lead.
Jason Cass: Hey, hey this is Jason Cass with Agency Intelligence podcast. Here today, normally this would be an Agents Influence podcast, conversations with Jason Cass. For loyal listeners, you know that I have two separate podcasts. I’m bringing Mr. Chris Burand and who you guys have heard before, who literally in the last 12 months is the number one most downloaded podcasts. A lot of people know him. A lot of people didn’t know him and now are following him and thinking, holy cow, why did I never know about this guy? All of the COVID Special Episodes have been with current agency owners or somebody who’s working in an agency, hence Agency Intelligence. But this all directly has to do with agencies. We’re going to talk about the industry, we’re going to talk about a lot of things.
I reached out to Chris. He usually takes a while to book but I said Chris, we need to do this. Now he hopped on and said Cass, anything I can do for the industry. So I want to put it together and put your hands together, please, if you stand and you clap, don’t throw money. This is all over the audio, Chris Burand, thanks for taking your time to come with us.
Chris Burand: Oh, Jason, thank you very much for having me this morning.
Jason Cass: Wild and crazy times right, Chris?
Chris Burand: You know this is my fifth massive insurance disruption in my career. Each one’s been different but each one has been quite similar in different ways. So it’s an interesting time for sure.
Jason Cass: Do you have those in your head? I mean, can you rattle those off? What would you say would be those five? If this was your fifth? What were the other four?
Chris Burand: So the first one was when I came into the industry, there literally was no liability insurance available for any price for certain kinds of businesses.
Jason Cass: Wow.
Chris Burand: And that was a horrible time. Just horrible. Then obviously, we had 9/11, which was interesting long going. And we had Katrina, then we had the credit crisis and now we have this.
Jason Cass: Gotcha. And you said that a lot of those have been very unique in their own ways, like a pandemic versus the financial crisis, right? Night and day, but very similar, but night and day. I mean, what are some of those similarities here that you’re seeing between those five?
Chris Burand: In each case, customers care about coverage for about the next two years. Coverages trump price for about 24 months. And the next part is agencies with strong balance sheets always come out on top.
And agencies that are proactive and really, truly caring for their customers and working with them in a real proactive, constructive manner. They really sit in the catbird seat for about those 24 months, and then everything gets back to normal and price becomes much more important again.
Jason Cass: Wow, interesting. I have never heard anybody put it in the timeframe of 24 months. That’s...that’s interesting. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into that, Chris. If that’s new to me, I know that’s new to a lot of people, but not everybody. What makes that 24 months? What’s that? Is that just what you’ve seen from the prior four times?
Chris Burand: Yeah, just what I’ve seen in about a 24 month period.
Jason Cass: That is interesting! That psychological reason of why society does that. I mean, do they do that and other things, right?
Is it just their insurance or is this their buying consumer habits overall? Right?
Chris Burand: I have no idea.
Jason Cass: Yeah, I know. I’m just curious about that. That is an interesting concept. Something you talked about in December of last year, very heavily you’re right about it a lot, Chris, is that in the time of a financial or something disrupting the market over the next 12 to 24 to 36 months, as I have heard a couple other smart people say, those who have balance sheets will be sitting pretty.
And I talked about this in another episode and I brought up you in that conversation that we had. Help us understand, because I don’t think a lot of agents understand that a profitable P&L doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re building a great balance sheet and the balance sheet is where your wealth is. Am I saying that right?
Chris Burand: Yeah, the balance sheet is where your wealth is. Anytime there’s a disruption, it’s how much working capital do you have? The more working capital you have, the safer you are. The ability to take advantage of the opportunities presented in a downturn, you know, a balance sheet is what it’s all about.
Jason Cass: I’m not a stock guy, Chris, that’s not me. I’m not an in and out..I have my little investments with my people, they take care of it, help me, I know what my plan is. but they deal with that. I went and got that Robin Hood app, and I dropped about $2500 into that thing.
You can see how people who have liquid cash right now are able to put money into something like the stock market where everything is 60% to 70% off. You know, that is just by having that capital, that solid balance sheet enables them outside the industry to be able to capitalize where other people just can’t because they’re frantically looking or they’re frantically trying to pay bills or trying to stay afloat.
And I know we’re at a point in time loyal listeners that we just can’t all of a sudden say "Oh, well, hey, I’m going to start doing what Chris says, I’m gonna have a great balance sheet." You need to start doing that. And I understand that’s not going to help you tomorrow or next week. But it’s important to start to listen to what Chris is saying and those commonalities between this, which I think is really good.
Number three, you said was the fact that those who concentrate on their customers, those who, I was taking notes here, proactive agents are sitting in the catbird seat is what you said. I think we know what that looks like but what does that proactive agent sitting in the catbird seat look like to you? What are they doing, Chris?
Chris Burand: They’re reaching out to the clients asking them about what their concerns are. They are not walking away from discussions about what the appropriate coverages are.
Jason Cass: I love that. “Not walking away from those conversations about what appropriate coverages are.” That’s good stuff right there. So Chris, what are some of the things I think truthfully I hate to- this is a weird subject to talk about when I asked this question of how people will come out better on the other end, because we’re taking, we’re putting our situation into a scenario that is like a wartime effort. I mean, it really truly is.
There are people dying on the front lines. I think there were about 1,500 people that were admitted to the hospitals yesterday, you know, and they’re expecting almost 2,000 today. There’s people that are dying, and I want to make no small bones about that, but we deal with a lot of that in our life. And the point of this Special Episode is to take us away from that for 20 to 30 minutes, so that we can be leaders helping leaders lead their people. So let me go back.
But Chris, on the other side of business, where do you see agents coming out ahead? Not so much coming out ahead…where’s the difference? Is there a new norm? Will we go back to the norm or is there a new norm and what are your thoughts on what that might look like?
Chris Burand: It’s going be a pretty interesting situation. Because at the heart of this, not from a life and death perspective, which again, all due respect to that, is this is an insurance coverage problem for the world’s economy.
At the end of the day, the economy is suffering because businesses and governments and schools to some extent or another, don’t have business interruption insurance to the extent that they need it.
Now, I’m not saying that there should be or shouldn’t be coverage, but there’s an opportunity here to solve the problem within the insurance industry, maybe with or maybe without the government’s help and maybe prevent this from happening again.
We can avoid a 25%, 30% unemployment rate with the right kind of insurance programs. We have an opportunity in the insurance world to solve a societal problem. If we can work constructively with the governments of the world, and build out the program, instead of running away from the opportunity which is what I think I see, in many ways the industry has done.
Yeah, it’s a big risk, but it’s also a big opportunity. With that being said, I’m already working with and I think it’s going to only gain momentum on providing private industry solutions to individual entities on a go-forward basis because the mechanisms already exist to do that.
Jason Cass: I’m following you.
Chris Burand: And so I think we’re going to see the more sophisticated, more educated people in the industry both at the carrier side and the distribution side, really work on providing these solutions in the event something like this happens again. And those solutions are probably going to be available to clients by the end of 2020 without any problem.
Jason Cass: What I’m hearing there is something I never really thought about Chris, how profound but yet simple. It’s what we do in life, we solve the world’s problems with insurance products, right? By transferring that risk we’re able to foresee things that possibly could happen and when it does, we’re going to share that risk. So, you literally said that we could fix a pandemic or a crisis or whatever could happen that’s causing the unemployment, these are factors that can be prepared for and be prepared for with insurance products.
Chris Burand: That’s correct.
Jason Cass: Just not simple BI/EE but simple products if this happens again, this is how these people would be paid, this is how business would still function. That takes BI/EE to like three levels deeper, right?
It’s just not so much you just lose your ordinary payroll or your normal income. It’s now we’re going deeper to say, what are those other things? I really have never thought about that. I think as an industry, we are running away from this BI/EE conversation. And that was a breath of fresh air from you right there, Chris to hear you say that.
Because I think if we change our mindset, and we look at this as a societal problem and say, how do we solve this? We had people who were passing away and dying and leaving their family with debt and all kinds of taxes that needed to pay and the insurance world step up said "Hey, you know what, I think we can actually ensure that when this person dies, we have a product that they could pay for a lot of those issues or taking care of the family." Right? Like like an insurance product took care of death.
Chris Burand: Right? Exactly. Yeah. And you may need a backstop from governments and all that. But that is a business income problem. At the end of the day, the vast majority of what the economies of the developed world are going through is nothing more than a business income problem. There’s some event cancellation, there’s going to be some D&O, there’s going to be some workers' comp and there’s going to be some life insurance issues for sure.
But in real reality, the life insurance actuarial table should have addressed this. The bigger issue there is probably on the investment side. And this is why we have the mechanisms to deal with business income claims. We have the claims adjusters, we have the processes, we have the procedures and yeah, we’re kind of running away from it from what I see. Not that we should offer coverage where coverage doesn’t exist.
Jason Cass: Correct, right, that's not what you’re saying.
Chris Burand: That’s not what I’m saying.
Jason Cass: Because what you’re saying is, we shouldn’t be paying coverage where coverage doesn’t exist. But next time we have products that we can prepare for, where that product doesn’t exist or that coverage doesn’t exist, we can get that fixed. We just have to be prepared with that. That’s right and we can’t run away from that. I’m going to help you sing that message. I’m going to help you tweet that song. Because I really do truly believe that what you’re saying here, I think is something that I’ve heard no one out there talk about.
You are right, the whole world is dealing with it. This is a business income issue. And Chris, I believe emphatically and here’s why I think that America, we lead the world, but we should be leaders in this because I think that besides other parts of Europe and Asia, our capitalistic society makes the private industry, specifically insurance able to thrive, right? It allows it to be the best in the world so we should be able to capitalize on that business income.
And I think if we lead correctly as a country, we could actually apply products to the entire world that we then could, in the event of something like this, be able to help the entire world because we’re helping each other anyways. But why not collect a premium in the meantime? Sorry, but that’s just a way that I’m thinking about preparing for it next time.
I don’t think a lot of people are talking that way. Maybe people up in the higher echelons of the government or insurance companies and maybe you’re hearing some of that. That’s the reason why I brought you on. That’s a great perspective. Really, really good. Let’s talk about something real quick, just to get your personal opinion. I don’t think BI/EE should be paid. Because of the circumstances. Do you think it will end up, do you think insurance companies will be pressured into paying and if not, how do you think they may step up?
Chris Burand: That’s a great question.
Jason Cass: Right now it is.
Chris Burand: The pressure that they must be under to pay is pretty intense. You know, in one sense or another, what I think is going to occur is that I think there’s going to be such a deluge of lawsuits, that at some point in time the carriers may or may not be able to even have enough adjusters address them all in a timely fashion.
And so there’s going to be some pressure just to pay to get rid of the suits, right, wrong and different. I think that might be where you see it. Without the backstop from a government, the claims are just so far off the charts and the premiums aren’t there that I don’t see how that they could pay for it. It’s just the scope, it’s just the scale is just off the charts. So I think that’s going to be the catch, if they will.
I think that the most interesting proposal I’ve seen is from JP Morgan Chase.
JP Morgan Chase, I don’t know if you saw it, but they made an offer to adjust and pay all the business income claims with the government providing a backstop.
Jason Cass: Right. Right.
Chris Burand: And it’s like, well if JP Morgan Chase of bank can step up, it seems like insurance companies might want to get the goodwill that that offer generates. And there’s a reputational issue here for the industry right?
Jason Cass: Yes, there is.
Chris Burand: This is a way to solve the problem for everybody in many different ways. Maybe we’ve already passed the time where that offer could have been made, but that’d be a good way of addressing it from my perspective.
Jason Cass: Yeah I know, if they came through with something. If they came through and I’m not for them paying the coverage because I think there’s also another side to it, Chris, that you don’t hear a lot of people talk about but I’ve heard talk about. It’s how many of those policies out there don’t have business income. That’s the issue for the insurance agent, specifically, because whenever all of a sudden they come through and say, "Hey, we’ve decided we’re going to pay these BI/EE claims with the federal backstop,"...which I only have one source that’s telling me and I asked another source who I think would know, and they said they hadn’t heard it...
But what I’m hearing is that the NAIC, some of the main CEOs are in talks with the government about sayin that in an effort of goodwill, we’re gonna pay this but there’s going to be a backstop. And the backstop can be way far back next time but right now, it can’t be very far back. I mean, we’d never collected these dang premiums in this. I think it’s a great opportunity for that to happen.
At the same time, the agent, a lot of commercial package policies, a lot of these BOPs all have the business income in it. And I think that that’s where insurance companies, I wonder how that’s gonna change coverage, Chris. How many were just giving away business income like it was going out of style but if the government forces them to now start picking up exposures, that is very, very hard for them to actually be sound. I wonder if all of the sudden you start seeing them not giving that away anymore.
Back when we were selling commercial package policies in the early 2000s, mid 2000s. When I first got in, there were hardly any BOPs. And I mean, in business income, extra expense is something I would use to separate myself from the other agent. Now it’s given away. But I wonder how many of those commercial package policies for other agents didn’t mention business income and when it gets paid, think about those phone calls that the agent is going to get. That’s going to be crazy.
Chris Burand: So I found a quote from Chubb from 1995 that said, "One of the problems with business income is agents don’t know how to sell it." They don’t understand it. They don’t know the coverages or what have you. I have a separate company that specializes in coverage education. The next is cyber, the coverage that agents have the most difficulty understanding. And I would argue, based on our experience teaching classes, the coverage in which agents have the least knowledge is business income.
Jason Cass: I can see that.
Chris Burand: Yeah, so I think your point is really important from an E&O perspective is, did the agent offer the right business income package? And it’s not just the worksheet, right? We get a lot of people that say ALS, we'll just do ALS on everything. But ALS is clearly not the right answer for everything.
Jason Cass: Correct. Also, if the agent didn’t know what he was selling, what kind of deductible? Did he pay it out a third, 50%, 80%? All that stuff which was kind of like, "Oh, yeah, as long as you had it something"...No, that could become real. There’s a lot of issues that could go that way. I do love the goodwill. I do like that.
I mean, I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m innocent of this, we probably have some package policies that don’t have BI & EE, I know our larger clients do not but can’t really say that those middle, a lot of our small business clients, they’re literally all on BOPs, so most of them have it. But then again, we also have to explore the language. Have we really ever looked at the language of some of these BI/EE forms?
We used to whenever we had to add them by endorsement, you know, and you would see them in the commercial package policy. Now you really don’t even really see it anymore because no one reads a BOP policy or makes sure all the endorsements are in there and actually reads those endorsements. I’m assuming that they’re the same.
I learned just the other day that one of the Directors and Officers coverages that I sell for one of my companies for nonprofits...I had another rep come in and said "I know you sell a lot of them but let me read you their form versus mine." Blew my mind. I was like, holy cow. This other company (not going to mention any names), they’re leaving something out. I immediately got on the phone with their underwriters saying, "Hey, we’re gonna have an issue here if this is the way that this reads" and to be honest with you I don’t think they’re going to change. But you know, there’s those types of things. It makes you kind of wonder about how those forms read because everything is just thrown into a BOP now you know.
Chris Burand: Yeah, it’s a good question. So when we teach the classes, especially on the BI classes, we actually have all of our clients and students to read the forms that they’re selling, and read multiple forms that they are selling. Yeah, imagine that. And then we do a compare and contrast exercise. And it isn’t all the same…by any means.
Jason Cass: Yeah, it’s not a lot the same, yeah. You know, umbrellas are the same way, I mean dude it gets deep out there it really does and I think that’s what scares a lot of people out of commercial insurance. But at the end of the day, I just educate myself, do the best I can make sure I have a good E&O, with a low deductible and let's roll.
You know? That’s just the best you can do out there in the world is educate yourself and try to help others. Anything else you want to add anything else you want to put to this?
This is Episode 6. This is the last one and people have been going through this whole thing. I think they feel more refreshed. I hope as leaders we were able to help them lead their people. I mean, anything you want to just kind of bring up, Chris?
Chris Burand: Sure a couple things. Number one is education, truly understanding what it is you’re selling. It’s a great opportunity. Customers are going to pay attention to for the next 24 months. It’s a great opportunity to just do the right thing. If you know what you’re selling, you can do the right thing by your clients so much more effectively. And my clients that, I would argue are the most knowledgeable are probably outselling everybody else three to one at this point.
So, one of the best sales tools in the world is to actually know what it is you’re selling. Just kind of weird how it works out that way.
Jason Cass: It’s weird. If you wanna teach math, you gotta like to know math. You know, it’s the same way with insurance. Yeah, that really truly is. Do you think people are out there selling right now? And if they are, are they doing it differently?
Chris Burand: I have clients that are definitely out there selling, they’re doing quite well right now in fact.
Jason Cass: Like in certain needs, cyber and other things specific or just everything just keep on going like nothing happened? Wow
Chris Burand: Yeah, everything. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of a weird deal. But when you’ve built a reputation for yourself of really truly deep coverage knowledge in a time like this, and people are scared to death that they do or don’t have coverage. They are willing to listen and they are willing to switch agents a lot faster right this moment as a result of that.
Jason Cass: Didn’t think of it from that aspect.
Chris Burand: Yeah. I mean, I’ve I got an email from a client. He said, just one producer closed another million dollars in the last two weeks.
Now, there’s a capricious aspect to this and that part is one we can’t really control for the time being. And that is that some agents out there, and my heart goes out to them, they have specialized one way or another in some niches that are hurt the worst, you know? If you’re specializing in restaurants,I don’t know what exactly the solution is for the moment.
Jason Cass: And that’s a 12 month repercussion, right? Because the audits are gonna come. And so all these expectations of oh yeah, we’re gonna have 10 million in sales or this much in payroll and that audit is going to come. So agents are hurting now possibly and then it’s going to hit them again. When that audit comes in, they get chargebacks, right.
Chris Burand: Right, so that’s another reason for going back to the beginning. That’s another reason for having a strong balance sheet.
Jason Cass: Right. That’s the truth. Yeah. There's a lot of lessons I’m learning as a business owner, Chris, a lot of lessons that I think everybody is. No one’s ever been through.
But one of the things I think that’s pretty profound, my buddy Nicholas Ayers said it and he's kind of a smartbutt on Facebook but he has very high education and so when he speaks to be funny he’s still very educated. But he made a very good point and it was a long post about how we’ve only been sheltered for two to three weeks and our economy has collapsed, we’re losing our minds. I mean, this is a worldwide issue but he made a good point. He said, "What would we do if something took us down for 8,12 ,16 months?"
You know, my brother in law has 179 guns. And I tell him all the time, Tommy, why do you have all these guns? Dude, you don’t need to have all these. He said Cass, you never know what’s gonna happen. Well, I’m telling you what, after seeing what’s happened for two to three weeks, you put us out for 8,12,16 months?
All a sudden, it may be smart to have 179 guns, you know, because that’s where I’m probably gonna head is to Tommy’s house. I mean, it’s a really, really good point. And I think you said something that can prevent that, that’s how profound I think it was. You said that this is a BI/EE opportunity. And we need to solve the world’s problems with insurance products, we always have. And this is an opportunity for us to do that.
Chris Burand: It really is. It truly is. It’s a fantastic opportunity to help the world, help ourselves in a very, you know, capitalistic way. Capitalism works when we come together.
So, hey, I’ve got one thing to share to everybody real quickly. And that is, if you’re in a state, where the insurance commissioner Department of Insurance has allowed people to postpone payments for two or three months or whatever it is, work with your companies to find out what that means relative to what you have to do on agency billed business.
Jason Cass: Okay, interesting. Any certain reason you just trying to get that out there as awareness?
Chris Burand: Just get out there as awareness because if it's agency billed that means the agency probably can’t cancel the policy any more than the company could and yet you may not get paid. And so are you then still on the hook? How is that all going to work? And I don’t know that the carriers have everything figured out on that yet but there’s a lot of money for agencies that have a lot of agency billed business on the line there and you know, you want to avoid becoming the bank.
Jason Cass: Dude, thank you very much for that. That’s why I love Chris, you think about stuff outside the box. You know what I mean? If you and I ever sat down and had a cold, refreshing beverage around a fire, where it’s not real hot and we sit out there all night, I think you and I could probably create the products that would fix the world, Chris. I think that’s what we could do. Chris, I appreciate you for coming on man, I really do. Thanks for helping us. Thanks for giving us this insight and a fabulous podcast very positive, so I appreciate it very much, Chris.
Chris Burand: Great. Thanks. Have a good day. Stay safe.
Jason Cass: Yeah, stay safe. Stay healthy to everybody out there. This is gonna wrap up the COVID Special Episode. This has been Agency Intelligence podcasts, where, you know, we do give you real agents inside real agencies, giving you the real agency intelligence and not the artificial that they try to make you believe. This has been Jason Cass and that was Chris Burand, and we are out.
It really never hit me until I heard him say it. “What we are going through Jason, is nothing more than a business income problem.”
What Chris Burand said rocked my world and set my mind a blaze. It was mind-blowing if you are an insurance geek like me.
Many are just hearing this term “business income” for the first time including the many business owners who either have it and don’t know it, or know what it is and are wondering why they don’t have it.
It doesn’t matter really, because the pandemic is not going to trigger coverage anyway….but that is another topic that you can find many articles on.
What you will not find articles on are what I would like to bring to the attention of many.
The world as we know it and need it to be, can’t exist without insurance.
It’s true and I’ll prove it.
If you are in insurance, then you know this, but if you are the other 99% of the world you may have never thought about it and I can see why, it’s insurance. Any time that our lives are disrupted, changed or threatened the insurance industry always steps up to design products to help protect our way of life. It’s vital to life as we know it. What is Insurance? In simple terms insurance is a transfer of risk from one person or company to another. Let’s say a real estate developer and contractor in New York city wants to demolish a building and then construct an 80 story building that is surrounded by 50 story buildings. It’s a typical construction project in the big city and that could never happen without insurance.
What if the building they are building falls over into the other buildings damaging it while at the same time harming or killing people around it? That could cost millions if not billions and all the risk is on the developer and contractor.
So the role of the insurance company is to analyze the project and charge a premium for the risk they are willing to assume. The risk is then transferred from the developer and contractor to the insurance company for a price. Now everyone is covered and protected in case something unfortunate happens and the job can go on. Literally tens of millions of contracts and projects like this are happening all across America everyday spurring our growth and they could not happen without insurance.
Think life insurance…same thing. People were dying and leaving their families with debt, taxes and loss of future income from a person dying early and was the breadwinner for the family.
What did the industry do in the face of this issue as a society? They stepped up and created a product that for a premium they would pay a lump sum in the event of death. Life insurance.
I could go on and on but I want you and everyone to see….. Life is not what we know it without insurance and for many of us just looking out into the world it is hard to see..
Except for right now.
If you want to see what a world looks like without insurance just look at the world right now.
The coronavirus pandemic in less than 3 weeks has collapsed the world economy and not because it is spreading and killing, it collapsed because our economy is built on things being bought and sold and us living our lives as they are. And when that doesn’t happen the world stops…but it doesn’t have to be that way and how you fix it is with insurance products.
Insurance companies right now are working on products for businesses and consumers so that in the event of this happening again for a premium they will assume the risk, keep the doors open and the bills paid!
We may not be able to stop a pandemic from happening but we can stop it from ruining our lives and economy and the only thing that can make that happen is an insurance product.
Insurance is awesome. It can solve the world’s problems. It always has.
- Jason Cass