How many of you grew up with the dream of getting into insurance?

When I ask that question in a room full of industry professionals, there is rarely more than a hand or two that goes up.

So, if you didn’t intentionally pursue insurance as a career, what is it that has kept you here?

I’m guessing it’s the rewards that come from working in the insurance industry; the potential for a great income, good work/life balance, a nice working environment, etc. However, as nice as those things are, I believe they pale in comparison to two additional reasons. The first is the fact that virtually every employer has to buy what you are selling. Add to it the second, a recurring revenue stream that keeps paying you year after year for the same sale, and it becomes a hard industry to leave once you’re here.

However, when I ask industry professionals why they do what they do, I don’t hear answers from the list from above; instead, I hear some version of, “I like helping others.”

We exist to make other business owners more successful at what they do.

Think about that for a second. You are arguably the single most important relationship a business owner has, more important than the accountant, attorney, or banker. Sound like a bold claim? When you do your job the way it needs to be done, you impact the businesses of your clients strategically, operationally, financially, and emotionally. No other partner has that kind of an impact.

However, all of this (including what you do for your clients) is being threatened.

  • ACA has taken away any semblance of work/life balance, at least in the fourth quarter.
  • Exchanges and selective carriers are keeping you from the products you have always sold.
  • MLR is eroding the compensation you have enjoyed.
  • New competitors have distracted you from the needs of your clients.

Everything that kept you in an industry you never intended to enter is under attack. And, as we all know, when attacked, we either choose to fight or to take flight. It saddens me that with so much on the line, too many are cowering, retreating, or running from the industry as fast as they can.

Time to take action

The businesses of America need us to take a stand. They need us to stand up and fight to protect our opportunity to help protect their businesses. Because there isn’t just a single enemy and because each of the enemies is bigger than any one of us, nobody can win this fight alone; we must unite and fight this battle together.

For those who believe ours is an industry worth fighting for, it’s time to take action. Every great movement needs a cause around which to rally and a place to gather as one to demonstrate its solidarity and the intensity of its commitment. We need a place that provides:

  • A platform for us shout our cause
  • A Town Hall where we all have a voice
  • Healthy debate of the issues that stand between us and our cause
  • A safe place to challenge one another to new levels of performance
  • Celebrations of common victories
  • A chance to learn from one another
  • An opportunity to share our ideas and resources with one another
  • A way to collaborate for the benefit of our clients
  • Personal development opportunities
  • Development for the leaders of tomorrow

And, maybe most important of all

  • Confidence that we aren’t in this fight alone and that someone has our back

Does such a place sound too good to be true? It isn’t; in fact, it already exists.

And guess what, with or without your participation, others are already out there fighting to protect what it is that makes this industry so special. I was reminded of that fact when I attended the recent NAHU national convention.

The National Association of Health Underwriters exists to preserve and strengthen the very industry to which we are all so indebted. As Theodore Roosevelt pointed out so poignantly over a century ago, we all have a responsibility to help pay that debt with our money and our time.

“Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

There has never been a time more critical for each of us to meet our moral responsibility to the industry, to our clients, to our team, to ourselves, and even to our competition than right now.

If this industry is going to survive, it will be because we all chose to embrace our responsibility to our collective community; it will be because, through our time and money, we fostered a common culture, a culture defined by its commitment to making the businesses of our clients stronger; it will be because we recognize the road must be traveled together.

It’s time to evolve – together

In many ways, our industry has yet to evolve. Sure, we have brought incremental change to the industry, but the basic ways of operating have changed very little. We are very traditional with the occasional hint of modern and technology added to the mix. Incremental change will do nothing more than maybe delay the inevitable. If we are to survive, we must embrace profound changes to the way we work, to the way we collaborate, to the way we contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

It’s a different world than it was when Teddy Roosevelt shared his insight. People are less interested in gathering together, face-to-face, with others in their industry and are more interested in sending an email or a text, if even that. We claim to be too busy to participate, too tired to contribute, and too stressed to offer solutions. Our finances, we say, are stretched too thin.

Our industry is shrinking on a daily basis and at a time when today’s employers need us more than ever before. I would argue that we don’t have the benefit of excuses. We can’t deny our responsibility to contribute. We can’t leave the heavy lifting to someone else. We can’t afford to be too busy to participate. We can’t be stretched too thin to donate. Our clients can’t afford for us to not afford it.

I get it. No industry professional can afford to miss an opportunity of the next prospect. They can’t be slow in responding to a client need. They can’t afford a day away from their own business to help their peers with their businesses.

But many do. All around the country, your NAHU brothers and sisters gather in local, state, regional and national forums. They travel to state capitals and to Washington DC to lobby on our collective behalf. In addition to their time, they support a financial effort through dues, as well as through additional donations. They sacrifice time and money that could be devoted to their own self-interest, and instead, choose to invest it in something larger, investments they willingly make because they know they benefit us all.

They better the future for all of us, you included. In their quest to preserve this industry and to pass the opportunities we have enjoyed on to others, they make it easier for you to focus on your business. In their quest to educate the lawmakers, they ensure your client’s best interests are served.

If you are a non-participant, you receive almost as much benefit as those doing the work on your behalf. It’s time for you to stand up – not to take the place of those currently doing the work – but to stand beside them and relieve them of a bit of the burden, to stand beside them in solidarity, to stand beside them to add volume to their voice.

No excuses

It’s time for you join the ranks; it’s time for you to become a member of NAHU. And, don’t just fill out the form and send your check (as important as that is). Show up at the meetings and let your voice be heard. Show up at the meetings and ask what part of the load you can carry.

I know there are criticisms of NAHU; nobody would pretend it to be a perfect organization. However, it is THE organization fighting for OUR industry. No, it may not be perfect, but it becomes a little more so with every added voice.

I’m tired of hearing the excuses of why too many are allowing too few to fight on their behalf.

  • I know you’re busy, but if you don’t fight for what is keeping you busy, very soon, you’ll have a lot of extra time on your hands.
  • Yes, you can afford it financially. In fact, you can’t afford to not write the check.
  • Don’t think that your voice won’t be heard, it will. In fact, we’re waiting to hear what you have to say.
  • The fact that your competitors are in the room is maybe the greatest reason for you to be there as well. Do you really want them gaining that kind of advantage? And, besides, we all need to get over the idea of not sharing ideas with our competitors. The only way we get stronger as an industry is when we get stronger as individuals. We need collective strength.

Those who are hell bent on standing alone with their excuses will, in fact, find themselves standing alone and this is not a time to go it alone.

Ours is an industry worth fighting for. It’s time we stand together; it’s time we fight together. It’s time that, together, we take control of our collective destiny. Yes, there are days when our journey will be hard, there are days when it will be scary, but, rest assured, you won’t be alone; rest assured, we have your back.

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Photo by Taiga