Simplify to success

2015 Is the Year to Simplify

Every year, we choose a theme and our theme for 2015 is Simplify.

It was a pretty easy theme on which to agree. As we look at all of the challenges the industry is providing, the complexity of life in general, and the naturally distracted personalities that we find in so many agencies, we believe that simplicity is something we all need more of. And, being honest, we chose the theme based on our own needs at least as much as we chose it for those with whom we work.

At first Simplify may sound like committing to “eat more donuts” as a New Year’s resolution; it’s anything but.

Simplify doesn’t mean doing less work; it actually means more work, at least initially. We see a typical work process as two steps:

  • the work we do in preparation,
  • and then the work we do in execution.

To be fair, this is an industry willing to work hard; that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the hard work we do tends to be in the execution. We are all so anxious to get to the “real work” that we move through the preparation as quickly as possible “thinking” that this will get us to our desired results faster. Oh how wrong we are!

By slowing enough to spend the time needed for truly effective preparation, the execution becomes much easier, more predictable, increasingly powerful, and simpler.

Starting with the man in the mirror

We have been as guilty as anyone over the last couple of years. We have been busy building tools, curriculums, etc. to help ourselves and our agencies become more successful. In fact, we have built so many resources that, one could argue, it was getting difficult to sort through them and put any of them to use.


In 2015, we are applying a consistent review to anything new we consider adding, as well as to everything already in place. Nothing will leave our desk without having been challenged with the questions, “Is it necessary? And how can we make in simpler for everyone involved?”

Sure, it’s more work up front, but we know it will save countless hours and avoid unnecessary frustrations in the long run, for everyone involved.

Take a look at yourself

We are encouraging you to consider adopting our 2015 theme of Simplify to everything you do; we think you might benefit in many of the same ways. Here are some “simplification” opportunities to consider.

  • When setting your goals for the year, stop and ask, “Of all the goals I have, how can I narrow (simplify) the list down to the one thing I have to do this year that, once accomplished, helps everything else fall in place?” – Now spend the year focusing on that singular goal.
  • When building a new solution for your clients, don’t stop until you have answered the question, “What is the easy-to-follow (simple), step-by-step process it will take to ensure the solution delivers the intended results?” – Sharing that detail will give your clients the confidence they need to get started.
  • When a presentation feels finished, ask yourself, “What are the weakest ideas that I can eliminate (simplify) to make the remaining ideas more obvious, easy to understand, and impactful?” – Your audience will appreciate you filtering the ideas for them.
  • When the analysis of a prospect’s situation results in an entire laundry list of needs, it means slowing down enough to ask, “How can we narrow (simplify) this list down to the critical few?” – Your prospects want you to focus on their most pressing needs, not all of them at once.
  • When writing a blog post, ask “Where are the perimeter ideas that, when removed, makes the rest of the message more impactful?” – Give your readers an easy to find nugget of information, and they will keep coming back.

While it might feel impressive to have an extensive list of solutions, or multiple steps to a process, or many fields to track in the database, it often just overwhelms people to the point of inaction. Simple actually inspires action because it feels possible.

We’ve all heard the acronym KISS (keep it simple stupid). And, to quote one of the great movie characters of all time, Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I realize “stupid” is an ugly, juvenile term, but I’m using it to drive home the point that each of us is usually our own biggest enemy. Don’t let anything leave your desk until you have asked and applied the question, “How can I make it simpler?” Do that and you will find 2015 will be much simpler as a result.


However you do it, make it a great 2015!


We hope you’ll join us in choosing a theme for 2015. It’s a fun activity and one that can really inspire ownership when you do it as a group. For a little inspiration to get you started, read this post about creating a theme, and check out some themes we’ve had in the past.

  • Take action – Time to stop thinking, wishing, and dreaming and just do it. This is a great one for a little extra motivation when you're getting something new started.
  • Execution and results – Focus on taking the right action and following it through to see the results. This is good if it's time to get serious rather than just being busy.
  • Teach, tailor, control – Adapting your efforts throughout the agency, and with clients, to take control of your processes in an effective way. This is good for taking a more advanced and customized approach.
  • Confidence – Rightfully having and instilling in everyone that you've got the confidence to take control of your own situation. This is a very necessary one for moving forward and not allowing yourselves to slip backward into the comfort of what worked in the past.
  • Collaboration, integration, accountability – Really taking advantage of what you’ve already got and using it more effectively. Reinventing may not be necessary; using your existing resources to their full potential and applying some leadership to it will likely get you further and engage your team more.
Kevin Trokey

Written by Kevin Trokey

Kevin Trokey is a coach and an implementer of business strategies. He works with agency leadership, department managers, and producers of benefits agencies to craft strategies and lead them to successful transformations by breaking down the complexity into manageable steps.

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