I recently had the opportunity to spend three days with some extremely talented high school students, and they completely blew me away with their abilities, focus, presence, and drive.

Kevin has talked about recruiting a new generation into the insurance industry and based on what I saw, the talent is readily available, anxious to get started, and extremely well prepared to come in and shake up the traditional way of doing business.

Making it happen

My daughter is in the DECA club and they’ve been faced with nothing but obstacles this year. Having lost both their marketing class and their advisor, they took it on themselves to form a club, find a stand-in advisor, get ASB support, study business principles, bring in outside coaches to help, get registered for competition, and send 12 students to the state competition!

While this might sound like a nice story about high school students, think about what that kind of drive and determination looks like in your own agency. Do you have people on your team that feel so passionately about what they’re doing that they blaze right through all the “I’m sorry, we can’t do that” answers in order to make it happen?

If you don’t, you should find them. People like this transform not only companies, but also entire industries.

However, it can only happen if:

  • You’ve got the vision (a few of these kids has been to the competition before and were determined to go back)
  • You’ve got the right team (the few returning kids recruited friends to join who were just as determined and enthusiastic because they “saw” the vision)
  • You really believe it’s the right thing to be doing (at the opening ceremonies, the girl leading the team told the others passionately “This is going to CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”)

But wait, there’s more.

It wasn’t just getting there that impressed me. It was also the student presentations.

As former business partners, my fellow parent chaperone and I were really intrigued with the whole DECA experience, and quite unexpectedly, we found ourselves judging at the competition. It was an incredible experience that I would encourage every businessperson to try. You’ll find a whole new way of looking at “I can’t” excuses from yourself and your team.

The competition

The students entered the competition hall with only their nametags. They were given a role-play scenario and 10 minutes to prepare their ideas, notes, and presentation materials with only the paper and pencils provided on the tables.

I saw detailed notes pages. I saw 6 page presentations with agendas, talking points, charts, graphs, and business cards. I saw professional dress and professional level poise and presentation. I heard cohesive and well thought-through ideas. I heard discussions about the principles of HR management and how effectively managing employees can improve the overall productivity of the company, improve relations with customers, and attract better employees.

All prepared in 10 minutes. And delivered in a competitive setting to a judge they’d never met.

Impressive? I certainly think so.

Practicing can be intimidating because you feel like you’re being judged. These kids actually were being judged. We had to give them scores and feedback. Yikes.

Now think about practicing your own presentations in front of a mirror, or in your office with the door closed, with a partner, or even with your sales team. In comparison, it seems like a cakewalk, doesn’t it?

If these teenagers can put together a presentation and impress the hell out of me in 10 minutes, just think what proper preparation and practice can do for you and your producers in front of your clients. It’s worth every minute you put into it. Trust me.

And if you want to start judging and scoring your practice sessions, just let me know and I’ll make up a scoring sheet for you!