Year-End Recap: Revisiting Highlights

Season 3 Episode 34

Year-End Recap: Revisiting Highlights with Ryan Eaton

Season 3 Episode 34


ILP - Year End Recap: Revisiting Highlights

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

Ryan Eaton: Good morning and welcome to another episode of the insurance leadership podcast. This one special is our highlight reel from the year showing all the speakers that we had throughout 2023. We are so thankful for them committing their time and energy and effort to being on the podcast and to all of our listeners listening in this year.

Here's to a great 2024. Thank you very much.

Joey Havens: It takes a lot of. Hey, it's getting better. And that's what's going on in organizations. Yeah, it's the soul of our organization We protect it. Yeah, we say it's good and it takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to say hey we can be better. 

Ryan Eaton: That's right I think to you mentioned can you put the air fresheners you rolled the windows down right.

Joey Havens: And did the band aids?

Ryan Eaton: That's right. And we all I feel like we put band aids on such, Oh, it's going to get better. Oh, we did this should correct it, et cetera, instead of really just truly addressing the issue. And that was another point along these lines that you had. And my next question for you is, we tend to address emergencies, as you said, but we allow deteriorating cultures to just go by the wayside. And when do you see companies finally saying, Hey, we need to bring this to a head. How do you address that in those types situations? Instead of just letting something go, if maybe you don't have your leadership on board, maybe not everyone's there, but you are the leader and you say, Hey, we gotta do something about this.

How do you take care of that? 

Joey Havens: I think, you have to take a step back and say, this is a symptom. This is the third star that's walked in this week that we've paid more money or we changed their flexibility schedule. But this is a symptom. It's happening more often. Our turnover is creeping up.

What's going on here? Yeah, or our client service is not where it needs to be. Why are our people not? Really creating a client experience that's incredible. It's a matter of stepping away, and it might take a leader to lay out a vision, but it takes a leadership team. To say, that's who we want to be.

Ryan Eaton: Takes a leader to lay out a vision and takes a leadership team to say, this is who we're going to be. Oh, I like that. Good point there.

James Benham: But he was he's taught, raised me telling all this, these farming stories and the problem in farming is if you're not just super consistent, it's a brutal business because the weather's going to come and the downturn in commodity is going to come and the same thing in business.

When you're I, in the early days, I would lie to myself and say, as we build this business and we build this venture, it's going to get easier for me that, I can start to coast or relax or take it easy. And the reality is if you've got a growth mindset, because there's two kinds of businesses, you have growth businesses and you have lifestyle businesses don't really grow.

They're there to to accommodate the lifestyle of the owner, which is not anything I've ever built. Growth businesses have growth objectives and revenue targets and want to be larger companies. And if you're running any growth business, you're never going to have an easier year. You're just going to try and carve out the work and delegate the work you're not good at or don't like doing.

So at least you're enjoying the work you're doing. But you can't be a lazy farmer. You've got to get up early, put the hours in, put the time in, have a work life balance, but you're not going to get to take it easy. That's just not, businesses demand the attention of their owners. They demand it. And when you don't give it, bad things happen.

That's right. And farms are the same way.

Ryan Eaton: And one of the questions I want to talk about, you've done a lot of marriage conferences, and I've heard you talk about tension before. And that we have to pay attention to the tension. And I love that comment. I thought that was great, whether it's with our spouse, or whether it's with our kids, or maybe it's kids and spouse, or maybe it's just a little bit of an atmosphere in the house that's just tense when you get there.

What do you do looking at that? If you notice that, what's the next steps there? 

Lee Smith Yeah, man. First of all, let's just say this tension is never fun, right? Tension is never fun, but tension is necessary, right? Tension is necessary for growth. And I'll illustrate that real quick. So when we were kids I remember a couple of buddies of mine, we would do this silly game, right?

Don't judge us. We would hold out an arm in front of us. And then one of our buddies would grab our wrist and slowly begin to twist our wrist until the pain was so intense. We'd just cry uncle and then they'd stop. Silly game, right? Silly game. But that boy illustrates, hey, without that tension, without that pain, we would do permanent damage if we just kept twisting the arm, right?

And I think a lot of times we have tension in our families, with our marriages, or with our kids. The tendency sometimes is to want to push back or to like just avoid it altogether, medicate it away, or power up over the tension. Instead of really embracing it, Walk through it with them and and man, see the growth that comes from that.

Here's the problem with tension though. Okay. So Andy Stanley gave that comment one time, that quote, he said, pay attention to the tension. But the thing is this, the thing I don't like about tension is that not all tension can be resolved. Some tension has to be managed over time. If you've ever been a caregiver to a loved one, you understand this because you understand sometimes health issues just don't clear up.

Sometimes things just don't change. And so how do I manage helping this person and yet maintaining my own health. And so I've got to manage that tension over time. It's not going to be easily put into a box, which is what I love. I know. I love when tensions there. Let's resolve it. Knocked out. Put it in a box.

Let's move forward. Yep. Some can be resolved and other tension just has to be managed over time.

Ryan Eaton: Tell me this one of the things that got again, got this topic was some questions we had come in and getting into branding. I can use this broadly at times. But tell me what, when you hear the word branding, What do you relate that to or how would you define?

Tripp Douglas Yeah, so for me, that's a huge topic and when most people hear branding, I think most people tend to just think of the logo . You know they say put in which that's a huge part of it. The logo is your brand that's where you get the word like stamping a brand on something and saying this is official , and so the logo is hugely important, but from my perspective branding is much deeper than that.

It's the entire experience that people have with your company. The whole process start to finish. Their interactions on your website, their interactions with your staff. But branding is also, I think even among your staff internal, which we're going to talk about that. That's part of your brand.

That's really who you are. The analogy that I usually use when I'm explaining this to clients is that, people have a face companies have a logo. And if someone says the name, Ryan Eaton, I'm immediately going to picture your face, but your face is not looking as good looking as it is that your face is not who you are.

That's the starting point, but who you are is your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, all those things that go into it. That's what people think of when they think of Ryan Eaton. And for companies, it's the same way. The first thing you think of is the logo, but then, your opinion of the company, which is where I, that's what branding is. Your opinion of the company is much, much deeper. And so and in the example, one of the most widely visible ones, Apple. If you say Apple, you think of the Apple logo, and then you start thinking of the devices, the iPads, the phones, but then you probably also think of if you're an Apple customer experiences you've had in the store, good or bad.

What it's like to own the device. So it's, that's all branding. It's every bit of it. Every step of the way is part of branding.

Ryan Eaton: What would be something that you would suggest to them when getting started and what to be thinking of and keep it in the back of their mind?

Spencer Smith Yeah, there's a couple of different answers to your question, Ryan. I think, setting aside podcasting for a second, any one of those people that you just described should be leveraging social media whether that's a LinkedIn, whether that's simply just posting articles, writing articles, interacting with folks, the lowest barrier to entry is LinkedIn for folks like ourselves.

And if you're not at least using that as a baseline, I think there's a really big missed opportunity. From there, you can expand in whatever channel you want. So plenty of people I know make 30- 60 second videos where they're just talking about one small subject or highlighting some new, legislation that's come down.

Since we all have one of these in our hands, right? We have the power of recording video and uploading it to the internet in one fell swoop. So the, to me, it's the more of that excuse or the fear of doing it. I really, I think that's more than anything, just an excuse. So that, that's one component to answer your question.

The other component, and if they are interested in podcasting, I can say that it's created an exponential effect on, on, on visibility for me. Relationships that have grown from it. I was actually tabulating the other day. I've had people fly in from 16 states to be on the show. And I could have never, literally never imagined that the first time I sat down and did my first episode.

You don't know, but you don't know until you try. And so I would say the downsides are only if you can't control what you say and you might occasionally slip up or venture into the territory of being controversial, which I don't do. But other than that, I really don't see a downside for anybody's career, especially if they're in sales.

Ryan Eaton: How long did it take you to get the technical side of it set up for you at the beginning? We had Casey Comest here who helped us with the whole process, but for someone who doesn't maybe have IT or someone technical or someone who's done podcasting before, what would you recommend there on getting started?

And how did, how long did it take you on your original whiteboard series?

Spencer Smith I figured out the whiteboard videos fairly quickly, although I was dealing with sound issues. Anybody that's ever recorded a podcast will quickly discover that audio is like your number one friend and enemy, depending on how good your audio is.

So I had to start investigating things like buying a, a lapel mic, or buying, I bought a Blue Yeti that sits on my desk if I want to use a microphone like that, and they're You know, this thing was 20 bucks. The blue Yeti's a hundred, 120 bucks. You can spend a crazy amount of money, but it's not really necessary unless you're doing professional level audio recordings themselves.

Ryan Eaton: Look, we're getting close to the end of our timeframe here. I got several , I don't know if you want to call them just quick questions or lightning round or whatever, but want to throw some of these at you. You said that most of us get in debt because we want to live a lifestyle we don't yet deserve and you brought that up again on the podcast today.

What's your best tip to get out of debt?

Sam Dogen Best tip to get out of debt, I like attack, attacking the small debts first. Because it's easier to pay them off because every time you pay off a single piece of debt You feel like it's a good win and you build that momentum Strategically you want to pay off your highest interest rate debt first. So maybe you do a little hybrid of both. But you want to get that momentum going and once you commit to paying down debt you don't want to add to any more debt and you also want to analyze your lifestyle your expenses and why you got into debt because I think it's really important to really drill deep into inside and see if there is a reoccurring problem as to why you got into debt in the first place, especially if that's consumer debt.

If that's student debt or mortgage debt, it's different because, we want a house, we need a house, and we need education. That's right.

Ryan Eaton: Is financial success more discipline or head knowledge?

Sam Dogen I think it's more discipline. It's more grit, discipline, and believing in the power of compounding. If you do anything over a 10 year period and you stay disciplined, whether it's eating right, exercising right, saving.

Regularly building your business, putting out that product every single year you're gonna find success. When I started Financial, Sam I, in July, 2009, I told myself, if I'm gonna start this, I'm gonna make it successful. I'm gonna make it last. So I said, I'm gonna publish three posts a week for 10 years in a row and see what happens.

No excuses right. And that's what I did. And 10 years later, it was fine. It was generating a livable income stream for a family of four in San Francisco. And I truly believe it's grit more than brains, more than intelligence. You just got to keep at it. Keep going. You can't fail if you don't quit.

Ryan Eaton: That's right.

Rick Holmes What we do with this product is we basically give them the resources to pay those providers. They're deductible, they're coinsurance, it's gonna save them money, and then also make it where they can actually have the best care available to help them take care of their 

Ryan Eaton: David, one of the questions we even had come up internally the other day was someone thought this was an individual policy.

And we were like no, it's for individuals, but it's actually not an individual policy. Why don't you hit a little bit on that for us? 

David White: It's easy to get mixed up on it because we're doing something a little different than we've ever done before. Our premium saver is a group policy sold to groups, billed to groups.

And this particular plan, we saw the need. And the association came to us and said, we really need to do something for individuals that have a problem. And we knew internally, to do individual policies is really a problem because you have to go to each state, you have to file that with that state, and if you want to change your plan any, you have to go back to every state.

So it becomes very time consuming and very hard to do. And really, in my opinion, not fair. Because the way we're doing it is we have an association group. The policy is issued to an association. So what happens to that association actually nationwide, if it's profitable fine, but if it's unprofitable. You don't go to each individual state that was unprofitable and say, you have to raise your rates higher than somebody else.

So we have a group policy, but in this case, issued to individuals that have an individual ACA or an individual comprehensive major medical plan.

Ryan Eaton: So this is a group policy, individually billed, and it's billed to fill in the gaps, the holes, of individual comprehensive major medical coverage.

What are some, some of the red flags there of people who should not be leading?

Maybe they need to lead themselves and maybe they need to lead themselves better, but you don't need to bring these qualities to the table if you are a leader. Could you hit on that for a little bit?

Bobby Harrington: Yeah, no, I got a lot of energy around that. I would say probably my top three would be poor interpersonal skills.

Number two would be lack of compassion, which we already touched on because it's all about people. I ended up as a servant leader, so people were the most important thing to me. Those relationships were precious to me and to round that out probably irrational or emotional people and that goes back to days and football and the Marine Corps, if, the team captain got excited or, platoon sergeant or whomever was leading, that mission, got irrational and emotional and I saw that firsthand.

That's why I'm using it as an example. Then it causes others to, to lose belief.

Ryan Eaton: That's right. It does. No that's exactly right. So let me ask you this. If someone's working with someone let's just say my boss or my supervisor is demonstrating some of those. Maybe they're irrational.

Maybe they have no compassion or whatever the case may be. It might be weird for me to approach them about some of that, right? What would you say to the person who maybe is in a position right now and they see those leadership qualities in their leader? You got some different things like, hey, I can just sit here and continue to take it.

I can quit. Those are two different type things. But if you were to address that with the leader, how would you bring that up? What would be your way to approach that with them? 

Bobby Harrington: I'm 53. I grew up where it was don't speak until you're spoken to, that sort of thing, no, not necessarily, in my house, we always had healthy discussions, but like in the Marine Corps, business after that, in the oil field, it was a one way thing, and, so I'm just building up to say that the number one thing I would do if I experienced that is give feedback, today. And I think in corporate America and it's permeating to other parts of society and companies. is there should be a healthy two way feedback loop. And if there's not, that's a red flag, but I would say first and foremost is give the person direct feedback.

Ryan Eaton: How do you evaluate new trends maybe that are coming to market?

20 years ago, Eaze probably wasn't even around. I don't know when their company was founded or anything. 

Eric Silverman They just sold the employee navigator, so they're gone.

Ryan Eaton: That's right. So with ease employee navigator, whether it's, I solved or whoever the company may be they weren't around.

And so how are you proactive and knowing which opportunities make sense for employers and employees versus which ones are just time wasters? What do you go after? What are some of the things that, that click for you? Hey, this is something we need to implement.

Eric Silverman I get messages just like anybody on social media and emails and phone calls from solution providers and carriers trying to pitch me on their product and their service and their technology every day.

I don't meet with all of them. I can't meet with all of them, but the keys that I look for when evaluating the market and we do that strategically we have to the key is I'm never going to work with a carrier that's new to the market brand new I'm never going to work with a solution provider. That's a startup brand spanking new.

They've got to have a runway They've got to have a track record. It's just a personal thing I don't I'm not going to put my reputation and clients at risk without me fully vetting it. So ultimately I'm, what's the saying in the world? You're a first mover or you're a laggard. You come up at the end.

I'm neither. I'm right in the middle. So you gotta show me a track record that you're financed capital wise. I've had partners tell me that they put in the next best creative, whiz bang, amazing TPA partner they could ever imagine. And it sounds too good to be true. It typically is. And a year later, they're out of business.

They don't have any more funding. The PE company fired them. And they're out and now the broker is left holding the bag. The employer is in a worse position and everybody gets fired. So I'm never going to be that guy who recommends bringing in a brand new strategy until it's vetted. And when it comes to the trends, you just got to listen to your clients.

So one of the key power questions I encourage all of your listeners to add to their repertoire. This applies to a salesperson selling to brokers. This applies to brokers selling to employers and everybody in between. If you're not already asking a question to your prospect as such, Change it. And that question is not even hard.

The question is Mr. Ms. Employer, Mr. Ms. HR person. What's on your benefits wishlist?

Ryan Eaton: How long does it take to get proficient? And then how long does it take to implement on an average?

Chad Hogan: Yeah. So I think from an implementation standpoint you're probably looking at. Four to eight hours of work again, depending upon how many markets you're in, right?

If you're in a single market selling just a single insurance type, you're gonna be on the lower end you might even be an hour maybe two hours of work if you're gonna sell in 45 states You've got writing IDs from 15 different carriers It's going to take a little bit more effort, right? And that you're going to be on the upper end of that.

And you're probably not going to sit down and do that in a, in an eight hour chunk, right? But we have tools for example, we have an upload sheet where you can, fill out the data and then just upload it into the system to make it easy to do that. It's an investment in your business and, what we have found is agents that implement and or should purchase and don't, go in there and implement their information and things. They typically drop off the platform within about 60 to 90 days. And we know, we can look at the statistics. We know how many times they log in, whether they put their data in or not. And they drop off in about 90 days.

The agents that go in, they start adopting, they start implementing. And this gets to your up to speed curve, right? Super simple to run a quote. It's very straightforward process. Those that get past that 90 day, They stay on the platform for years 5, 6, 7 years they're a customer , on our platform because it becomes a part of their business, no separate than their cell phone or, anything else.

It's a way in which they conduct their business and it's a mindset in which they conduct their business. 

Casey Combest: So for you, Ryan, like you've got a new team member, how do you determine what motivates them? Are there personality profiles you do? Are there questions you ask? What are some of the tools in the toolkit?

Ryan Eaton: That's great. So we, whenever we bring someone on, we do the disc profile, we do the different Enneagram type stuff at time with people as well. We obviously go through our hiring process. We go through all the different things there to see if they'll fit our niche. I got a lady who, to me I can do an interview, but she's better than me.

So I believe in delegation. And so I let her do that. And then I come in to make sure that I feel like this person will be a fit for the team as well. But making sure someone fits on your team is crucial. But then once they're on the team, we get a list of responsibilities that we go back and say, Hey, here's our responsibilities for you being on this team, here's what our expectations are, but here's also what you can expect of us.

And so we make sure we lay that out from the get go. And if they don't want to sign it. They don't work here anymore, right? But it's one of those things that we don't say it from a threatening standpoint. We say it from a, hey, these are all the character traits that we're looking for in somebody.

Here's also the character traits that you can expect in us as the leaders, and we want to make sure that we have almost like our Bible that we go off of to where, hey, This is one of the traits that, that we said we expect of you or that you could expect of us. If I'm not living up to this or you're not living up to this, one of us has to adjust.

And we agree on that on the front end, it makes it much better. But then, once we do that we try to meet with people quarterly or annually and just say what their goals are, what their desires are, what's maybe They like what they don't like so we can make sure we're always constantly working on that balance and because people change, things change, companies change, et cetera.

So having that all together is what we found helps us make sure that we got everyone moving in that same direction.

Casey Combest

And for your team, have you seen? When you're clear on the expectations, that adds a layer of stability for them. 

Ryan Eaton: 100%. We start off each year, we call it our broker summit.

It's really our internal team meeting where we get everyone on the same page. Here's what we're shooting for this year. This is why we're shooting for this. Here's the steps that we're going to take on our side to try to be able to help you reach your goals. Here's the steps we're going to take as a team to hit these goals.

If you communicate that clearly, it's great, but if you don't. You don't know where you're going, what are you aiming at, right? You're going to find that people start veering off, you're going to lose people off your team, you're going to have good people that end up leaving because there's no clear direction.

And so for us, that communication is clear. And then, having, obviously you can have supplemental meetings to that as well, departments or sales teams or admin team meetings to make sure you're constantly hitting those goals . The vision for where you're wanting to go. If you're not constantly reiterating that, repeat repeat.

You can have problems.

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