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Overcoming the Enemies of Growth

Season 1 Episode 11

Overcoming the Enemies of Growth with Becky Patel

Season 1 Episode 11


Transcript

Intro/Outro: Welcome to the Insurance Leadership Podcast. The podcast designed to bring new perspectives and principles from leaders in the life and health insurance industry. We trust you will enjoy today's episode.

Ryan Eaton: All right, welcome to another episode of the Insurance Leadership Podcast. I am Ryan Eaton your host and excited to have a guest on the show today that will be focused on overcoming the enemies of growth. We've all seen companies that have hit record growth only to hit a brick wall. And we all know and have seen that companies don't grow automatically.

So we thought it'd be good to look at a company that has continued to move the ball forward year after year and pick their brain on how they maintain their forward momentum. So with that, let me introduce our guest for today. It is Becky Patel. She is the CEO of AmWINS Connect. Becky has been in the insurance industry, I would say for over three decades and her story's great.

She started off as a receptionist and within several months was licensed and began selling and she quickly moved up the ladder to several VP roles and is now serving as the CEO of AmWINS Connect. So Becky, thank you so much for being on the show today. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Becky Patel: Awesome. Thank you, Ryan. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ryan Eaton: Well, why don't you do this? Why don't you tell everyone, give us a little background of what got you into the industry. And then also give a little background on AmWINS for those who may not know who AmWINS is.

Becky Patel: Well, Ryan, you know, I don't know that many people that really actually choose insurance.

And so I'm one of those that did not choose insurance. But I have to say it's been a wonderful ride. And so I had gotten married and that was going to finish up school and you know how that happens. And so I was like, I probably need to get a job before school starts and contribute to the family or the household.

And it turns out the L in LSI was an individual who sold life insurance to my father. And he had called my mom on some policy and he was saying, oh, I just, you know, my receptionist is gone. And my mom, of course, in two fashion, Hey, my daughter knows how to type as if that would be the entire end all.

And so that's how it started. And so I said, I'm just going to do this for the summer break and then go back to school. And I started answering phones. And like you said, within three months, I was a licensed. And started selling and calling leads and setting up appointments for life insurance sales.

And the only way to do that was to talk to an employer about health insurance. Right? And so everybody back in the eighties was very interested in health insurance because the costs were so exorbitant because of the small group rules hadn't been brought in. So it was easy for me to call an employer and say, would you like to save money on your health insurance.

Only to set up a life insurance appointment and that's how it all started.

Ryan Eaton: I love it. I love it. So key lessons: so when your kid's in typing class, make sure they know cause that's what led you to your CEO journey? Am I correct?

Becky Patel: That's right. Although Ryan, there's no typing class today. Okay. There's no such thing.

Ryan Eaton: That's probably very true. Well, tell me a little bit Becky about AmWINS, just kind of, it's such a large organization. Why don't you give us just maybe a minute overview on that before we get kicked off.

Becky Patel: Absolutely. So AmWINS originally started in the PNC side of things. And so they're the largest wholesaler of property and casualty, and they've got, you know, five divisions from brokerage to underwriting.

They've got a global division and we're in the GB division. And so within the GB division, they have different businesses stop loss, PBM businesses. And so the general agency's footprint is what AmWINS really wanted to expand into. They've got two general agencies or three actually on the east coast.

And so with us coming on board, it gave them that footprint on the west coast and a larger general agency operation. So at the end of the day, AmWINS connect is really committed to the success of brokers to improve the value offered by every broker local or nationally by identifying gaps in the insurance delivery systems.

So basically our entire goal is to have technology be in lockstep with what we do day in and day out to really help that consumer really navigate the process of buying and maintaining health insurance for their employees and delivering those benefits in a most cost-effective manner.

Ryan Eaton: Hmm. I love it. And that's important.

That's probably the goal of every health insurance agent across the country. Right? How do you deliver and educate your client to the best of your ability while also making it as cost-effective for the group, for the employee as possible? I had a good model behind there. Well look, let's go ahead Becky and jump into some of the questions for today.

And I mentioned to you earlier that we're going to be talking about the kind of defeating the four enemies of growth. And there's a guy who I love his name's Craig Rochelle, huge leadership guy across the country, and he says that there's four pillars of growth. And that's kind of what I built these questions around and wanted to frame them from the insurance side of thing.

And he says there are four things. One is unnecessary complexity. Two is unscalable processes, threes, unhealthy mindset. And four is undeveloped leaders. And, you know, as you look at different businesses, you can see that these are killers of growth. You think about larger organizations and how they, you know, they can process things to death where nothing ends up happening.

Right. And so I wanted to build these around AmWINS and kind of throw these to you and just kind of see how your business looks at this. So my first one is how do you fight to keep simplicity in the day-to-day processes across your organization?

Becky Patel: Fantastic question, Ryan. And I just want to say that the questions that we're going to be talking about today we're like almost a roadmap to all the things that you should be focused on when building your plans for, you know, 1, 2, 3, 4, or five-year plans, because it is at the heart of everything we're working on today. And so. You know, I came back to this and especially when you are now not a singular organization, but you're integrating other organizations, other cultures, other processes, right?

Like how do you keep that simplicity? Because all of us have our legacy stuff that we carry. Right. And so how do you get rid of some of the baggage and make sure that what is essential comes with you on the journey, right. And I was thinking of like, how do you articulate this? Cause at the end of the day, it's exactly what you said, which was that that mindset, right?

Like how do you make sure that everyone is focused? And so what we did is we came back and said, what do we do every day? And we call that the core. And we said, like, forget all the fancy, forget everything that's going on. What is the core? And let's define the course of that. Every employee in the organization understands what we do day in and day out.

Right. And so that core for them is aligned with what does the brokers and carriers want? Cause see Ryan, we're in really a two-sided market where the broker is our customer, but the carrier is who's paying us. Right. And that's a very interesting proposition, right? Like, and so actually understanding that really that mindset.

And so in part of that, what we decided and what we said is that we have to serve both sides. Right. And in understanding what that is so many times I'll go to the insurance company and say, what is it that you want me to focus on? Well, the insurance company is always going to say we want members, we want members.

Okay, easy enough. Then you go over to the broker side and you say, all right, what are your pain points? What are you focused on? And one of my philosophy is the market will always tell you if you're listening, right? Like what it wants and that is where you have to be able to drive scale and align your organization.

So part of this is also what we translate to our employees is that right? Here's the identification of what we do day in and day out. Once we understand that we want to know what would be enhancement. What are you hearing? What are the brokers telling you? Now, the critical part is not to put the enhancements or the additional services that are being asked of you in your core line, because that's what starts to create confusion, right?

When everyone's building towards that. Third part of it is there are no sacred cows in our organization, right? Like we are constantly learning and improving the process. And in order to do that, you have to empower and engage the person that's on the front lines to be able to articulate what they are seeing and to put it in a way where they understand their input is so valuable.

We're not going to be able to work on everything. Right. It is really their responsibility to lift up because we're all listening and they have a voice in this of what the customer is asking so that we can actually come back and start to evaluate, you know, what is needed, but really it's the focus on the core.

How do we bring the enhancements in? Who's the voice of that enhancement? And then how do you ultimately have that litmus test to make sure that it is aligned with how we know we are never going to dilute the value we're bringing to the marketplace.

Ryan Eaton: That's so good, Becky. That was a phenomenal answer.

And I love the, really, when you're talking about your core to everyone in the company know what you focus on, what your goal is, what you're striving to do. What your main desire is? I love the laser focus there to think that is that's excellent. So kind of on that same question then when we all know organizations don't naturally drift towards simplicity.

So do you have a process for taking the complications out of those three and trying to create simplicity with those.

Becky Patel: Yes, absolutely. So it's through a series of actions. So the first was really understanding in detail the core. Right. And then it's really looking at now, again, I bring in the steps of technology, right?

Like so many times you've got technology in your organization and they're in a vacuum building because they believe they know what's best. Right. And then the business says, timeout, timeout, why am I clicking 17 times to tell the broker where was their last quote right? And so it sets this balance of, of getting them together.

But again, here's the core, here's where we've identified gaps and now technology. You aligned to that in how do we make it easier? What is that unit telling you that they need to do that now you're the specialist and you understand how to build that technology. So it is: is the technology making sense?

Right. And I, I joke around with the team and I want to start to know clicks. Right. And I'm just being sort of silly with that, but it does, right? Like if you've got a broker who's calling you and is sitting at the client's office and is asking you a question when we're their backroom support? Like you need these things like fast, right?

So let's not be searching 17 pages to find that information. So that's where you do have to have the simplicity, but this is where I force people to shadow the front lines and I force leaders to sit there and go through when they're on a call. And I actually want technology to sit there because you live a day in their shoes and then you instruct on how this should be better.

Right? Like, I don't want you to creating in a vacuum over here. So, so we stay very true to that. Right. Like understand what is being done and then the teams themselves. So let's say if we're looking at the coding department. We may have like 10 people in the coding department. So they meet once a week, sometimes once a month, depending on the time of the year.

And they were talking about what was actually happening. And I really insist on that, you know, mini stand-up, if you want to call it that right. Where they're able to express who I got a quote in, and it took me four hours and that leader needs to ask why. Right. So that they now know what to bring back. So it's that type of communication.

But once a year, Ryan, that unit gets away from what they're doing and they step back and they say, okay, this is what we set out to do this year. How did we do right? And they actually are able to have sort of a retrospective on their department, their role, their skillsets. And this is what I feel like allows them to continually understand that we constantly come back to the core.

We define and focus on what's repeatable and scalable, and we make sure that every person understands that there's always a better way. And that is a philosophical mindset that is sort of their currency so to speak, right?

That, that every employee is currency is that there is a better way, and it is in your hands.

Ryan Eaton: I liked that. I liked to the why click five times, if you only have to click once and let's not build in the vacuum and get everyone who's building the different technology, get them on the front line to be able to hear what the complaints are because just something can be done in five clicks. How can we improve it? Right.

Even though five clicks is better than 15 clicks, what can we do to minimize it and make that experience is as good and as quick and simple as possible as we can for the end user. Right. I love that. You said Becky y'all evaluate that sometimes on a monthly or quarterly basis.

And then kind of look from a you know, how did we do this year? Did we accomplish what we set out to accomplish? You look at that on a, on an annual basis, did I hear that?

Becky Patel: Right. We, we call that a huddle. So every department has their huddle where they, they get away from, you know, back in the days, their desk and they meet in a place.

And they really just talk about what were the obstacles, right? Like what were, and embedded into that huddle is always a learning mindset type. So like, I then expected the leader, the manager of that department to also bake in additional tools. Right. And so we focus a lot on emotional intelligence.

Right. And how do we become good stewards of emotional intelligence? You know, what is the broker saying? What are you hearing? You know, all of that, but it's not always just the broker, it's your internal customers. So when sales comes in is pounding, you know, why didn't this happen to what, you know, just getting that enlightenment right.

Of who is that individual? Why are they in that space? And. You know, just part of this is also Ryan. My big, big philosophy is that, you know, there's always going to be hierarchy and there's always going to be roles and things like that. But respect is at the core number one thing. And so it doesn't matter whatever role, whether I'm addressing someone someone's addressing me articulate in a way that showcases the respect for the opposite person.

Let's try to communicate in solution-based responses right. That removes any of that. And I think that's the. If I were to say, I leave a legacy is going to be that everyone has the exact same respect and what they do. We just had different places. We deploy our skillsets. And if we keep that at the forefront, then, you know, we can actually ask to keep some of these egos at the door and let's solve the problem.

Ryan Eaton: It was one of the things your team told me about you. They said her integrity. And her relationships and the communication among her team is so awesome. And that was one of the things that really, I guess, a pick my brain, I guess, or intrigued me so to say, and getting you on the show was seeing your experience and seeing kind of where you came from, and then also.

Kind of how highly your team spoke of you and to see the team that you're leading and the things that you've built. It was pretty neat. I'm honored to have you on the show, but with that being said, let me ask you this, Becky, you got the huddles, you got the different meetings. You're doing that. But when you're talking about.

Offices on the east coast and the west coast. How have you streamlined communication with those different branches? Obviously you're working with different time zones. You're working with, you know, different people. Some people working from the office may be in California or working from home in California.

Cause they can't go back to the office, but maybe your office in Virginia or somewhere over there on the east coast, they're all fully back in the office. How are you getting those communications and keeping that streamline from that person?

Becky Patel: Great. Another great question, Ryan. And, and this is as, is every leader.

I think a major proponent of culture comes first. Right? And, and it's easy to throw that around Ryan, right? Like, oh, culture or people. I hate to say our greatest advantage that our people, but it's true. I just want to say it in a different way where it's not become, you know, this cliche, so to speak, but.

You have all these mini cultures within this culture. Right. And I, and I thought about it and I thought, all right, I've got the east and we've got different times zones. And you know, we're coming in as the entity that wants to build this, this, this big general agency. And, and how do you do that without diminishing the pride in what the other general agencies have brought in, right?

Like, cause they've been around and they've been successful. And what we're just saying is collectively, you know, we, we need to come together right. To drive a lot of what's going on and in thinking about that, I really focused on internal communications, right.

And the alignment of that communication. So it was really imperative that all our people were singing the same song so that it would resonate with the market. And we would have a clear understanding of what we were delivering. So immediately when we brought everyone together, we created this meeting and it's called spark and basically.

30 minutes and all 390 people get on for the 30 minutes, right. Once a month. And basically what we talk about every month is really, I brought three different concepts in this year, right? In, in, in these meetings. And one was okay, this is how it's going to sound. WAO. And basically what WAO is is we are one, right?

And it's WAO and that's our battle cry. When we bring people together, we started to reinforce them. So it's been awesome to hear, you know, they'll put it in their emails or when we begin the call, you'll get the WAO, you know, It was just a silly sentiment. Right? Get everybody aligned in a way that says we are one at the end of the day.

Right. And that is what we're going to focus on. And it, you know, it's not going to be one and done, but it is a continuous focus on establishing the fact that we are one. Number two in that WAO like this year, it was the W's. I don't know why, but it just came together that way. So first was WAO, right? We are one.

And then I said, what do we do? And we deliver wonderful experiences. And that is a WowWee well, actually it's more, we own wonderful experiences.

Ryan Eaton: Oh, I was trying to do that in my head and I was like, I'm missing something here. I got into the delivery

Becky Patel: route. Right. We own wonderful experiences has been the sentiment across.

And that has been incredible Ryan, because what we've done is every once a bits of Wiley, right? Like when someone has delivered a wonderful experience. And so sales is talking about their teams, the broker. R. And, and so that all gets posted and every month it's like this running list of wineries, right.

People who contribute their WowWee and we applaud them and we recognize them. But more importantly, it's just that our people know that our business is built entirely on positive broker carrier and client experience. And that is in their control. We may not have the latest and greatest, but every day you can deliver a wonderful experience.

And that is our brand, right? So it's the spark meetings that bring everybody together. It's us aligning around. We are one. And then now putting it into the hands of every employee that you own. Delivering wonderful experiences. And then of course we do fun things of, we have this little software and it picks out the name and every individual who's has a WowWee submitted, gets a gift card, but get this, you get 20 wineries, Ryan, and you get a day off.

I mean, that's how serious I am about every person understanding. You own delivering those wonderful experiences? Look, I

Ryan Eaton: know that goes a long way. We did something years ago, Becky, where we, we get off Friday at two 30, so everyone gets two 30 to five 30. They get paid for it, but we've given off and, and it equates to about 300.

Weeks of paid time off throughout the year. If you add up all the two and a half hours and it is our biggest employee benefit, it, people would tell us to get rid of health insurance before we get rid of the time off. So I know anytime you can give someone a day off for great suggestions, I know that goes a long way.

How many people have hit that number? Just in.

Becky Patel: So so far we've got, I believe five that have hit it. And this is a new program. So 100,

Ryan Eaton: a hundred good suggestions then basically from just those five. Well, no,

Becky Patel: those aren't suggestions that is when someone delivered ah, experience. So not suggestions. So this is where let's say somebody in customer service was helping you.

And then, you know, you feel compelled to just say, Hey, to whom it may concern, but I was working with so-and-so and they did such a phenomenal job, right. Or a lot of them come from their peers. So-and-so helped me with above and beyond. And that's that, it's just the wonderful experience.

Ryan Eaton: Man. I think every insurance company's customer service team should put something like that employee.

That is, that's a great idea. We might even steal that idea from you, Becky, and use that one ourselves. I think that's great. So let me pivot with you now from kind of communications to. You guys do so much with brokers across the country and I'm interested because there are so many agencies and agents that are listening in.

What have you seen from here years of experience in this industry and working with brokers, working with agents, what's the biggest hindrance to growth in a sales organization.

Becky Patel: All right. So sales are near and dear to my heart, you know, and, and I've always had this philosophy, you know, kind of when I got into the business, it was like, oh, you're in sales because you got the gift of gab.

You know, you can, you can communicate it. You can talk to anybody. And, you know, the more and more I got into it, I found out that the truly great sales folks are folks that really. See sales as a craft, as a skill, right? And that you are constantly working on it and that some, you know, maybe able to articulate really well and that helps them, but it is a craft and you are constantly with finding your prep.

So as I was building our own sales organization, I kept that at the forefront, right. That, that no matter how successful my sales person was, right. My sales leader. You have got to stay on your toes because again, coming back to what does the market want? And so possibly what got you to where you were may not be the thing that's going to take you into this ever evolving marketplace.

So bringing it back down very simplistically, I really believe that the biggest hindrance to growth in a sale. Organization is lack of adherence to the sales philosophy. Now this is where every organization has a chance to identify and define what is their philosophy and a philosophy in, in this case is what makes you great.

What makes you feel good? What makes you feel like you're delivering. On that promise that you're setting out, right? So everyone's expected to find this is our sales philosophy, right? Like this is what got us to who we are, and this is what we represent now, when I say it, humans to that sales philosophy is you have to hire to that philosophy.

You have to manage to that philosophy. You have to evaluate to that philosophy, right? It can't be 31 flavors. Right? The ice cream philosophy doesn't work here. Like we can't be everything to everybody without losing sight of really what we are and how do we deliver? And I've hired many. Many leaders, you know, throughout my years.

And I always was very much of this very collaborative mindset, right. So it's great to bring in best practices and all of that, but you can't do that until you know who you are, what you represent and what are you really good at and what are you trying to get better at? Right. So there's, there's, there's many different philosophies.

There are some that say you want to have a lot of Salesforce. And that roll up is the amalgamation of your sales number. There are some that say we're going to be a high performing sales organization, right? So maybe fewer sales, some may have a completely different philosophy. And it's mixed. All I'm saying is know who you are.

So for example, if you define yourself as a high performing sales organization, then you have to hire to that. You have to hire people that understand what that means. Now, when you do that, You can't focus on micromanagement because you hired people that are driving a certain way. So that's where you have to be very accountable to what you are saying, and you have to back it up by your actions.

Right? And I feel like it's when you start to lose a lot of that is when that confusion sets in, everyone's building in vacuums, right. There are many Fife thems, and that is the number one. Hindrance to growth is the lack of alignment. You know, you will, you'll hear me say, and you'll ask any one of my team members.

My number, one thing that I am constantly focused around is alignment. And that alignment is really Ryan. Like, you know, that whole analogy of you have like a. And you have everyone pulling and everyone's given 110%, but if they're all pulling in the opposite direction, would you get a lot of vibration zero moment right now, if you start to get those folks aligned to pulling in one direction, think of the momentum you build.

Right? And so it's at every. Juncture are we aligned? And are we staying true to what we set out to do? And really it's just, it's, that's what I think. Very simplistically. And now you also have to, to measure I'm I'm, I'm also a believer of the whole trust, but verify, and that's what systems are there for, right.

Like make sure and people want that. They want to know, right? Like, Hey, how did I do well, I, should they be able to tell them how you. And have a discussion around that. So you have to measure and you gotta track and you have to give a trajectory and that's the discussion

Ryan Eaton: you have. Well, I like one thing you said, I feel like a lot of times and sales organizations, you said hire to your philosophy.

And I think that's one of the things sometimes that somebody, a company may try to bring on someone at a, at a low salary or a lower commission to try to be able to get a better deal on somebody. But really, if you're trying to hire to your philosophy of, Hey, I want excellent salespeople that I'm not having to micromanage because I need my time to be used for other things.

I may have to pay more, but at the same time, I'm getting a higher quality product as well. And I think that really just depends on your philosophy at the end of the day. And that was

Becky Patel: a.

Not only exact, like, I know I'm going to have to pay, but also the support system I build around that sales individual has to be of a certain caliber. Right. And so I can't also then say, well, you know, maybe I'll get a couple of interns to support that. Person, right? Like just when, when, when you want to deliver best in class and when you want to be that entity and that's what you're going to build your reputation on.

Then that's where the focus has to be. That every individual on the team knows what is expected of them knows that they have a forum to speak up, knows that there is constant learning. And that is built into that dialogue from the very first interview to that monthly conversation. To that quarterly review to that annual review that everyone knows.

You as the leader are committed to their success. Right. And then get out of the way.

Ryan Eaton: I love that. Well look, kind of on that along those same lines, you know, we're talking about hindrances to growth in sales organizations, kind of flipping that another hindrance can be that when you're continuing to grow you see so many opportunities come your way.

And just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something. Right. And so how do you evaluate what your company should do versus what you can do? Because I think that's something that a lot of us get trapped into and we end up saying, yes, We partner with somebody in something, or we work with them in some other facet that we think we should say yes to everything just to kind of keep a relationship going, but it really is not the highest and best use of our time.

So how do you define the should do versus the can-do?

Becky Patel: This one is so hard, right? Like it is really so critical that you get this process down and, and I think it's really hard. It really is hard to do because again, what are we, we're a sales organization and the tendency is to want to say yes. Right? And so you want to be able to say yes, more than no, but really understanding where you have to say that no.

To like, I think Ryan, in the end, it always comes down to if we say yes, how are we going to deliver? Right. And if we can't deliver to that value prop that we're putting in the marketplace, then we cannot say yes. Now it becomes very tricky because sales is going to come in and say, we have to do this.

I'm going to lose that. We have to do this. Right. And this is where your pre-work really comes into play that respect that collaborating on the same page, understanding that we it's the same customer. And so for me, it's always, we want to be able to say yes, but let me bring it back to here's our core.

This is what we do day in and day out. What you're asking me to do does not fit there. Okay. Let's go to the enhanced, right. Or the core plus is it anywhere there? Because if it's not there, I can't scale. I can't staff it. Right. And I don't want to do that to take my focus off of something that we really want to deliver that's great in the marketplace.

However, I have found something and I don't want this to be sort of the secret. In in how I get leadership to play nice with each other, right, when they want to do something. I just say, how about if we pilot something? And when we pilot, everyone's going in with the same notion: we get the broker involved, we get sales involved, we get operations involved.

We get everybody together and say, look guys, if we believe this is what the market is asking us, let's pilot it before we go big and go home. Right. Like let's really understand and let's get some understanding, right? Sales, we're going to hold you accountable to why we're going to do this. You're going to build kind of this, this innovation lab that allows you to think of some of these ideas.

So you're a little bit ahead of it and keep that communication going. But I absolutely agree. It's one of the hardest things for me to say no, but getting the team to understand that we don't want to say yes if it ever compromises our reputation or put someone in an awkward spot where they can't deliver.

Ryan Eaton: And it also puts you kind of back in the driver's seat site and look, Hey, we would love to do this, but we're just not at the point that we can deliver to the expectations and to our philosophy and to the desired outcome that we would like. I mean, I think that's, you're telling them you like their idea. You're giving them the, yes, this is good.

Hey, yes. This product is good. Or, Hey, yes. I like your technology or yes, Mr. Broker, you have a great idea here, but we can't hold up to our end of the part. And I think that's.. I like how you said that that's really good.

Becky Patel: Yeah, and you just have to stay very judicious about what you're going to take on because the world is moving so fast and it takes every, every sense of our being to just stay focused on the today and now. Right.

Ryan Eaton: Well, well, so Becky, this.. I know we're getting close on time here, so I'm going to skip to a few questions that I had for you. I want to kind of my, my last two questions here. For businesses that are looking to grow their organization, or they're looking to reach new market share, maybe, maybe they're in California and they're wanting to kind of see what Nevada looks like or they're in Maryland or Virginia and they're trying to get over into Ohio or Pennsylvania market. What was the best advice you have in trying to reach new markets? You're trying to grab new market shares somewhere you're not currently.

Becky Patel: It's going to be an involved answer, right? I'm going to let you know.

Ryan Eaton: Now, throw them to me. I may ask you some questions along the way as you go if that's okay.

Becky Patel: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So someone looking to expand, right. Someone to that, that I would always say there are X amount of call it marketing dollars, marketing effort marketing under resources.

Right, exactly. That, that you have to scope out first. Right? So for me, it is what is the market, right? Where is, is there a need. And in many places you can identify a need. So in our, in our space, we go to the insurance companies and we say, do you want to grow someplace? Do you have a pain point where you're not getting the membership that, that you feel you should?

Right. So always go towards a pain point that then is matched up with your value point. You know what I'm saying? Like every, every sales broker or any entity knows what their secret sauce is, right. What's what they are bringing to the marketplace. You want to take that and you want to marry that with some data, the data that you backfill to.

Right. So what is that that market needs? So for me, like, I'll give you an example. I take things very basically, and it's not where I spend all of my time, but let's say if we're looking at California and if someone said, well, yeah, there are 250,000 businesses under 25. Right. Okay. So I look at that and they say, okay, of the 250,000, how many are actually insured? Right.

And of which, where is the geographic population of these businesses and what are they looking for and how do I fill to that. How many brokers do I have within that region? Is there a region that's a big growth potential that I don't have brokers in, but it's take that time to get your data.

Right. Right. Yeah. And as you get the data right and you get a picture for them now, put your business in the middle of that. What are you going to bring that's going to separate you from everybody else? Right. And once you look at that separation point, now you're going to say, okay, How am I going to staff for this and how am I going to resource allocate to this growth and make a plan, make a plan.

And you don't have to stick to it a hundred percent, but you got to have some ideas of what does success look like and what are some of those milestones?

Ryan Eaton: I think that's excellent. Having a plan for knowing where you want to go, having the data to be able to show that it's, that it's worth the trip, right.

And then having the technology, the people and everything else that once you get there, that you can go back to your original point on being able to fulfill your philosophy and, and either hit your core values, strengthen your core values, or reach a new market with, I think your word, would you say go forward.

You said go towards a pain point that matches your value point. And I love that. And that's a, that's an excellent way to look about from an expansion standpoint. So thank you. Thank you for sharing. Any other points Becky on that I kind of stopped you?

Becky Patel: No, no. And just one more on that. And this is, this is something I'm really passionate about.

The customer journey. You know, and remember I was, I was telling you that we in our world, that's a little interesting because our customer is the broker and the carrier is really the entity that pays us. Right. It was expected of whether you're in a single sided market or a two-sided market. If you can always have this viewpoint on the customer joining, because that's where you identify where those pain points are and where you can go in to solve a problem, because at the end of the day, that's what we do.

Right. We're solving a problem. For me when I say, when I bring my passion into that customer journey at the end of the day, what are we doing? We're wanting to make sure that that employee that has to go to the doctor knows that they're going to be able to make the right decision for their healthcare.

And that is where I feel we've got to do a way better job, right? Like with where technology is to the resources we have. And in this great country, why is it that a person has to worry if they're going to end up in the hospital? Right. And part of it is we're trying to do everything we can as an industry to be focused on the cost.

So a product of that is let's say a high deductible health plan. Well, how many employees understand really how a high deductible health plan works? Right. And think of the person that's making $20 an hour, that has three kids, right? And invariably, someone's going to get sick. Someone's going to get an ear infection, maybe it's December, January, but now the employers plan to make a good decision for the employees and says, I want to go get this type of plan.

I can afford this. Have we done a really good job of explaining how that plan really needs to be used. And so how does the employee need to save? That's where I get on my soap box, Ryan, right? Like, and that's where it really matters. And did somebody tell that employees that, Hey, as a part of your plan, you should really go to Walgreens versus a CVS because it's this or that rate and, oh, by the way, if you put it up on your phone, The CVS is two miles and the Walgreens is half a mile.

I mean, come on, we're using, we're using all of this technology in our day-to-day lives, but we're not bringing it into how can someone make a better decision about the utilization of their health care? And that's what I want us to be focused on us being AmWINS connect. How can we, even though someone might say, Hey, that's not your place.

I don't care. It's a part of the value chain we're building. And if we can bring information together. And if we can streamline this well, why can't we make a difference and continue to focus on that level of if we can impact how an employee utilizes their health insurance. Right. If we can work with brokers that have that same passion to deliver that value of, you know, what plan makes sense for you?

Mr or Ms. Employer and how do we educate the team around it, then bring it back to the insurance company. And I speak to the insurance companies and say guys, what's it to you if that group keeps your coverage when another year. What's it to you if they keep it one month. What is the value to you if that employee didn't end up in an emergency room, but took care of their situation in maybe an alternative where it wasn't that cost that was hitting everybody with what's the value of that?

Because it comes down to education and understanding the pinpoint.

Ryan Eaton: I was just about to say the same thing, consumer education, you know, we were joking about it just last month, but we were saying that, you know, everywhere you go, whether it's to the movie theater, to the to the clothing store, to fast food, you have prices and you understand like I'm getting this for this, but somehow in the health insurance industry, it's almost like this, you know, oh, what just insurance will cover it or I'll figure it out later.

And it's one of those things. There's no specific price points for most things. And we got to have better education there for that. And because if people don't start making those choices and understanding what does this cost me? What does this cost my company? What does this cost, et cetera, you're right.

Prices will just continue to go through the roof and it's got to have more member education, member communication, group communication is vital to our industry really for everyone.

Becky Patel: Absolutely. And I guarantee you, if a broker sat down and drew out the customer journey from their perspective, right. They would identify their pain points and now they can build their value points.

Right. They're going to make a difference to solve this. So it's all there. It's just, you know, how do we spend our time in, in, in what really just, you know..

Ryan Eaton: You're exactly right. Well look, last question I got to wrap it up for you is a little bit more of a personal question, but I think we, it's something we can all relate to and all something that we can, we can learn from, but what have you implemented personally to help with your work and personal life balance so that it doesn't get too complex or too crazy?

Becky Patel: I would say Ryan, when I saw this question, right, that this is probably going to be the hardest question.

I'm not so sure I've got anything that, you know, lead off of the way that I've done it. But, you know, I was thinking about that. I am like you, you know, constantly reading on, on effectiveness, you know, and how to, how to have that balance. And, and there's so many philosophies. And at the end of the day, it is very personal, right?

Like how each person views, you know, their, how they balance that. But for me, the only thing that I can really share here, Ryan is that in my time in my world, I separated it, you know, and, and there's different philosophies on that. And so for me, it was sort of like when I worked, I work. Right. And when I am family, then I am with, with my family.

Right. And, and it was hard to do that, but so, you know, we laugh about this because a lot of people like, how come you don't know how to do that? Like had to ask you how to turn on my voice recorder. I have not explored and I don't surf the internet. And so I'm focused. And so when I'm working, I'm focused and today I'll see, like when we're having a meeting, people that have their screens up and I'm like, are you paying attention?

It's almost, they were taking notes. I need to look you in the eyes and know that you're listening because I'm focused, right? Like, I want you to know that what you say matters to me and you have my a hundred percent attention. So the only thing that I could say, when I worked and given my a hundred percent and then when I'm with my family and my personal life, it's at a hundred percent.

Right. So that they know I'm there and, and that's all that I've done. And so, you know, like I now step back and I think, okay, well, I don't have any real hobbies cause that's what I did. I worked and I family and, and I gave it my all, but I will say that like technology has made it a little weird, Ryan. It, it makes me feel like I have to be accessible and it's really, convoluting my philosophy here.

Right? Like I feel like I have to respond if someone sends me this email or a text and this whole business texting has become a whole new thing where usually in my brain it was like texting was reserved for, you know, personal life, so to speak, right? And now my business and personal is all intermingled. And I have to be accountable on social media.

I gotta be accountable on texts. I gotta be accountable on emails and I have to be, you know, and so it's just, we just collectively, I think have to, to work towards being not 24/7 responsive to everything, but I think leaders all have different situations or people have different lives. And you have to recognize that and we have to help people work towards the solutions that can best help them.

Right? Like it's so individual and how you manifest your reality. So.

Ryan Eaton: You said it great. You said whatever you're doing, basically give it a hundred percent. Whether you're working, whether you're family-ing, which I love that term family -ing. whether you're doing your hobbies, whatever it is, give a hundred percent to what you're doing at the time.

And I think that's the correct way, because like you said, I mean, I'll have agents sometimes text me as early as five o'clock in the morning and then I'll have some text me as late at 10 o'clock at night. And because one's on east coast, one's on west coast. It's just different time zones for them. It doesn't seem late, but at the same time, if I feel like I gotta be on at five and on at 10, someone was going to get the worst part of me later in the day or, or early in the day. It just depends. So, but I think whatever you're doing, give it a hundred percent. You said that.. You said that very well, Becky.

Becky Patel: Yeah, honestly, that's it. You know, and then we're all going to be students of how to have that better work life balance and, and things are gonna continue to change. But if we can, we give that a hundred percent to whatever we do and who ever we're doing it with, it's going to be felt, right. And it's going to be genuine. And I think that kind of helps with everything else.

Ryan Eaton: No, that's perfect. Well, Becky, that wraps us up for today and thank you again so much for being on the show. You did an excellent job.

Can't tell you how much I appreciate it, but for those in the audience, I want to thank you for listening in again, and don't forget that a good plan today is better than a great plan months from now. Thank you so much, everybody.

Intro/Outro: Thanks for listening to today's episode of the insurance leadership podcast. Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you'll be notified of future episodes or stream online at insuranceleadershippodcast.com.