Generations of Leadership

Season 3 Episode 35

Generations of Leadership with Rick and Ryan Eaton

Season 3 Episode 35


Generations of Leadership

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.

Casey Combest: Welcome to the Insurance Leadership Podcast, I have the distinct honor to be hosting yet again. In this episode today, you guys are not going to want to miss this conversation between Ryan Eaton, your normal host and his father Rick Eaton. We'll be speaking about family dynamics, what it's like to work as a father and son, succession planning, and the values that go into building a successful organization like Morgan White Group.

Ryan to kick us off, tell our listeners a little bit about you and your father's role here, especially for first time listeners who might not know a little bit about Morgan White Group.

Ryan Eaton: So we're part of a larger family company, there's probably 16 to 18 of us now,

Rick Eaton: something like that.

Ryan Eaton: 16 to 18 family members working here, and so everything from legal, accounting, design, administration, sales, et cetera, we have a lot of different people, a lot across the board. So Rick is the chief operating officer and they used to be our chief financial officer, I'm the chief marketing officer here at Morgan White Group again, just everyone's got their own roles those are just the roles we serve in the organization.

Casey Combest: That's awesome and for me, I think a lot of these questions are going to be just curiosity, what it's like to work father and son, I think for me, that's an exciting thing in the future is having some kids that may work in the business with me, but to start off for you guys, like what does collaboration look like for father and son?

Ryan Eaton: I'd say we are very blessed, we do a lot of different things as a company and as a family. Each Monday we start with a meeting at about nine o'clock on Monday, everyone kind of gets together and reviews the different topics, what we should do, what we shouldn't do, what's the best use of our time, what do we need to kind of punt and not even look at, we go over those type things. We're blessed though, we're all here in the Jackson, Mississippi area. And while we all may be traveling different spots throughout the week, throughout the month, we're able to pick up the phone and give a call, shoot an email to everybody to collaborate on different things going on. One of our big things is no surprises. So we all want to know what's happening, what's going on. Just everyone's responsible for kind of keeping everyone updated in their area, but that's also where that Monday meeting's for and if we hear something that's happening in another area, we're supposed to be able to make sure we take it back to our teams so that we were responsible for disseminating that information to everyone that needs to know it from our side of the house as well, so it was really good but from a collaboration, working directly with my dad, I would say it's been great, I've said it the whole time growing up, I hit the parent lottery. My dad's always just it's fun to be able to do this podcast with you. I have a great mom, great dad working with them every day, I have a mentor and also my uncle's another mentor that, I get to learn from every day and hear and see how they operate, see what they do, why they do certain things, why they don't do certain things, and it's just really helped me really develop in the industry.

Rick Eaton: Casey, I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that we'd be where we are today with working with my two sons, Alan and Ryan and David, my brother in law who's my best friend and my nephews and they're in the business we're family, and I never imagined that we'd be in a position where we could all work together, and we like each other, that's the key to everything is we enjoy being around each other, we enjoy what we do, but I think what brings us all together and cements us together is that we have a family purpose. It's not just selling insurance or doing administration or other things that we do. We believe that as a family, we're called to do good and we're supposed to make an impact in this world and so it's not just about how much money can we make, it's what can we do to help other people with that. And so we focus on that everything we do has that as an overriding theme of why we're here and what we do, so this Monday mornings that Ryan was talking about, we all get together and everybody has their own giftings, and it's really amazing how the giftings that Ryan has are completely different than the ones that Alan have and David and me, but we all work really well together. And, but having these Monday meetings in terms of collaboration is a way for us to see what the other people are doing and do we have any input because everybody has an opinion about it and usually they're very good opinions and but they may be completely different than what we think. But everybody's opinion is valuable.

Casey Combest: That's right.

Rick Eaton: We treat them like that.

Casey Combest: For you guys do y'all see a compartmentalization a little bit of Hey, we just talk about work things at work and family stuff at home, or is it all melted together?

Rick Eaton: I wish we could. It's funny. And I give this back to David in a way because, David's thinking all the time. And so whether we're out on a vacation together, because we did, we take vacations together and we play together, we hunt together, we do all sorts of things together. Always business comes into the mix because that's what we do, but everybody enjoys it I think it's not like everybody anybody says I don't want to talk. Nobody rolls their eyes. Because they're all thinking and I think that's been the reason for a lot of our success is everybody. It plays a part. Everybody has a role, everybody has a gift that the other ones don't have, and so it's neat to bounce ideas off each other, whether we're on a golf course or we're in a duck blind or, and it just happens. Cause that's what we like to do.

Ryan Eaton: I can't remember the last Thanksgiving or Christmas that we did not talk about work, right? Like it just, it comes up and every, but like you said, if you enjoy what you're doing, it's great. Zig Zaglar, what he said, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

Casey Combest: Absolutely. As you guys are thinking about big decisions, and maybe y'all can give us an example of this, how do y'all go about big decisions as a family when you're working here at Morgan White Group?

Rick Eaton: Yeah, I think you had one that you were thinking about just the other day.

Ryan Eaton: Yeah, so we had, obviously The Monday meetings are big for us to hit a lot of different topics and try to keep it concise for everybody, but we had one literally last week that was something big that popped up for our organization and

Rick Eaton: outside of the Monday meeting,

Ryan Eaton: It was a Wednesday, a Thursday and it was one of those things. It was like, all right, we all need to talk about this. And three or four of us were at the office at the time, another one was coming back to the office after a meeting, and another one was outside for the day, and so we called them on the phone and said, look we need 15 minutes for us to all talk about it, and we got there and talked about it, and some people thought one way, some people thought another way and other people thought completely different, but that's where I think if, as long as you realize that everyone has the best intentions, right? Everyone might have a different opinion and not that it's right, not that it's wrong, but listen to all the input so you can gather all the data and be able to make the best decision. But I think collaboration like that on big things when they come up, hey, you do need to get different perspectives because if I just look at it from a sales perspective or distribution perspective, I may completely miss that it's going to blow up an administrative opportunity, right? And it's going to mess up stuff over there so, it's good to get different perspectives on that to make sure you're well rounded from a decision.

Rick Eaton: Yeah we've seen many times where, Dave and I be maybe heading off in one direction and we have our meeting on Mondays and Trip or Ryan or Jason or Alan or somebody might say, you think that's a good idea? And, at first you say of course, I didn't know you'd be on, but we have learned through some experiences that they're right. Our kids are the generation below us. But they know a lot of stuff that we don't know, they come at it from a completely different perspective and we've learned from actual experiences that we need to listen to that, and they have good ideas, they're coming from a different mindset many times than we are and they see things that we don't. This getting together and talking about things is extremely important. Everybody has something to offer.

Casey Combest: Right, and I'm sure keeping that in mind helps a ton. As you guys are, and maybe the example from earlier this week isn't the one we want to use, but those crossroads where maybe everyone isn't seeing eye to eye, how do you guys handle that? Those disagreements?

Rick Eaton: In that particular case, we said here's where I think we ought to go but we'll sleep on it, and within 24 hours, David sent an email out saying, maybe we ought to do this and what somebody else suggested and about 24 hours later, we had totally changed our course. And because, if that many people have a disagreement about the direction, a major direction we're going, then there's usually a time not to make a decision, we need to sleep on it, pray about it and then we come back with something and then I think everybody felt good with the direction.

Ryan Eaton: Everyone was at peace in 24 hours after that and it was like, and everyone had there were six people in the room and six, there was probably six different thoughts, right? And everyone had come together within 24 hours and agreed on, hey this is the information. Let's do these steps and go from there, so it was.

Casey Combest: It's sometimes it's not easy when somebody disagrees with you and you think you got a good idea.

Rick Eaton: That's right. And you have to step back and say maybe it wasn't that great after all. But it helps everybody's, everybody has their lane they operate in but they all have really good thoughts and advice and I think we were learning, it's not something that happened overnight. We've learned from miscues that we've made along the way and everybody, if somebody has an issue with something, we need to stop and listen, basically.

Casey Combest: It sounds like, humility is that the word you're speaking?

Ryan Eaton: I guess it is, the opposite of pride.

Casey Combest: And just being open to, what other people think.

Ryan Eaton: That's right.

Casey Combest: So for context for this next question how long have you been at Morgan White Group, Mr. Root?

Rick Eaton: Before in 1987, when Morgan White Group was formed, I was the outside CPA. I had a CPA practice, and so I did their accounting work. And it was a long story, but Morgan White was purchased by an outside group in 1999 2000 time frame. And I sold my accounting practice and came to work for Morgan White and David and I are married to sisters, we're brothers in law. And part of the deal when he sold it to this company in New York was that I would come on and be the CFO. And so that was in 2000, and then a year or so later, that company that bought us got purchased by a fortune 500 company and they agreed to sell us the company back. And so that's when I became a principal in the firm with David and Johnny, and we bought an insurance company at the time and they allowed us to buy that back at a really good price as well. So I've been an employee here since 2000, but I've been involved since the very beginning in 1987.

Casey Combest: Got you. And for you Ryan, how long?

Ryan Eaton: I think it's 19 years this month, if I'm correct. Yeah, 19 years. Yeah, so quite a long time.

Rick Eaton: I think Alan, my youngest son he's been here, 11 years, I think now. So everybody's got a good bit of experience in the business.

Casey Combest: What was that like for you, Ryan, coming in? Your dad's here. He's a major part of what you guys are doing at Morgan White Grave. What was that like to have a role model, someone to advise you, someone to walk with you into your role? Cause your role is quite a big job here.

Ryan Eaton: Yeah, so I did not start off and the role I'm at now, let me say that, it was an asset though having a father, having an uncle who knew the business, who we have all of our Thanksgivings and Christmas and everything else together and, I've been growing up hearing about insurance. I got my license when I was 18 years old. I was in college, studied insurance in college, went and did study abroad over in London and did a little thing at Lloyd's of London for a little bit while I was in college as well, so we had a lot of stuff going on that so I knew a little bit, but I knew nothing about what we did and having them to be able to go and ask, why did we do this? How's this work? I remember hearing the term TPA majored in insurance and never heard the word TPA, the third party administrator. And I was like, what is a TPA? And that's our biggest part of our company, and so there was stuff like that just being able to bounce it off someone and ask them and sit down and it was a huge value to me. They started me off on the sales side here for the company and so I learned a lot through that, I still think to this day, sales is the best way to be able to learn because, you scrape your knees and everything else trying to get out there and you learn what you don't know and how much you don't know.

Rick Eaton: There's a reason he started out in sales, as you probably know, he's Ryan from the time he was a little kid. He could have sold anything. And in fact, one of our friends told Ryan when Ryan was explaining to him what he did at Morgan White, he was the chief marketing officer in broker services who recruit brokers to sell our products. He said, so he was a rush chairman in college recruiting people for the fraternity. So our friend said, so you're the Rush chairman for Morgan White? So I said, yeah, that's exactly what I'm, because that's just his gifting and that's where he is and that's why, he's been so successful and that is not my gifting. So if David and I have done anything right, it's figuring out what our children's giftings are and trying to plug them in the place where they can shine, and as an example my other son Alan, when he was a kid, he liked to do puzzles and Ryan wouldn't anything do with puzzles and he wanted to be out beating people. But Alan would get a puzzle and he wouldn't look at the picture. He would turn the thing upside down, and he would do it without looking at what this thing was supposed to look like, and he would do it just by the shape of the deal. And I said, how could you possibly do one like that? But that's been his gifting all along is he likes to get in and get into the details of things and put spreadsheets together and do investments and other things.

Ryan Eaton: Learn AI and everything else.

Rick Eaton: That's right and that's completely opposite from Ryan and I'm somewhere between the two of them, but finding your place in the lane that you're going to operate in and getting your children plugged into what they're good at, because that's if they're good at something, they like it. And that's just the way it is and we're really unusual as a company because every one of our David and Tripp and Alan and Amanda and Lily and Ryan and Alan, everybody is in a different lane, basically where giftings are different and we recognize that, and so we value what they have to say from the perspective they're coming from.

Casey Combest: And this might be a similar answer, but as a grandfather and father Ryan, you have two sons, if they express, Hey, we're interested in this business, we would love to pursue this. How would you guys walk with them in that journey?

Ryan Eaton: For me as a father with two boys, I would love to have them in the industry with us, right? Like I'd love to be able to go to work with them help grow them and train them in what we do and Family trips and work trips and I know we've enjoyed different we get. You can go to St. Andrews together and different things and golf trips and all that type stuff It's been a lot of fun, but and my biggest thing for my kids is hey I want you to do what you love, what you're passionate about, if you're meant to be a doctor I don't want you coming and selling insurance with me, right? If you're meant to do this or that, or you love engineering, go do that but I think because of our company, how it's grown so much, we have the legal side, we have the accounting side, we have admin, we have sales, we have design, there's so many different pieces. I think they can find something here that they would like that would fit their need. Chances are, possibilities that may not, but I would love to have them here, but I want to make sure they pursue their passion first. But if they come here man, I'll be absolutely thrilled and, I think when you're raising your kids, the number one thing is the character, teaching them hard work, good work ethic, and the word means what they say. What you say is what it is and because for us, we hire off hard work and character, right? We'll teach you insurance. We can learn that, it's not that complex but it's very hard to teach hard work and character if you haven't learned that growing up. And so that's the big things for me, make sure the kids know that because there's always a place for them if they have those. If they don't have those, you ain't jumping the line because your last name. That, but I'd love to have them here with us for sure. Rick, would you add to that?

Rick Eaton: I would think the same thing. They hear us talking about business when they're on the trips and stuff with us and they, I think they see that it's interesting, that we enjoy it. And I think that kind of attracts them. And as Ryan said, there's a place, we're so diverse in the things we do now, that you could be, have a talent in just about anything and find a place to work here. And Ryan's son Carter interned with us last summer.

Ryan Eaton: He did.

Rick Eaton: And we were introducing a new product, and I talked to Carter about this new product and he was able to explain to me how this thing worked and I said, wow, that's pretty good because most of the other people we talked to don't have a clue, but his job was they were trying to do this, the system so that people could buy it online, and his job was to try to break the system, and he loved that.

Ryan Eaton: He did.

Rick Eaton: It's just exposing them to these things and if they don't want to do it, they don't have to do it, there's something else that God's called them to do but we'd love for all of them to be a part of this operation because as I mentioned earlier, we have a family calling and that is to make an impact in this world. And we do a lot, try to do a lot for orphanages and missionaries and we try to bring our kids up in that atmosphere so that they know that this is not just about insurance, this is about making an impact in our world and that's what we're called to do. And so believe it or not, making money gets old if you don't have a purpose. And so you've got to stress that purpose for your family. And we remind everybody all the time. And we talk to them about, what we're doing, what we're trying to help, projects we're involved with. So that they keep that in the forefront of their minds about why we're really here.

Ryan Eaton: That's right.

Casey Combest: As you're looking at Morgan White Group, there's so many great things that you guys are continuing to build on. And this might be greater than just the family. Maybe this is the question for all employees, but how do you keep that spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation also keeping those traditions, the values you have from the beginning?

Rick Eaton: David and I are the old dogs on the block, and I won't say that we're technologically impaired, but we're pretty close to it. And but, the next generation they think completely different than we do, and so when Ryan's running his area or Trip or Jason or Alan, they're encouraged to find a better way to do what we're doing now and I think they think in those terms, we may not know a better way to do it. But these guys do and so innovation is at the forefront of everything that we do and technology and we want to stay on the cutting edge of everything we do, we don't want to be stodgy old insurance group from back in the fifties, we want to be cutting edge and kids like that. They like to find a new ways to do things and we encourage that and I think that helps, to keep everybody plugged in and innovative in what they do.

Casey Combest: It sounds like you guys know when that is maybe a deficit and being able to lean on them.

Rick Eaton: Yeah. No question about it. No question about it.

Ryan Eaton: We let our team, we have some of the different missionaries or orphanages that we support as a kind of the purpose as Rick was talking about. We sometimes get recordings of them. Where what's happened with the funds that they receive from the organization and how it's impacting because sometimes you can lose, if you're always taking customer service calls or billing calls or sales calls, it can feel repetitive at times. So if you get to hear the byproduct of what's your hard work and what those calls have done from someone, a little girl who was pulled out of a abusive household or this or that or orphanage, you let people hear that and see that. It changes that work environment, that goes back to what Rick's talking about from a purpose standpoint. Making sure, if you're just making calls to make money, or you're making calls to do this or that, it will get old, you'll be worn down, at the end of the day you'll be like, why am I doing this? But if you have a bigger purpose, and you can see the byproduct of that purpose, and see how it's being fulfilled, that's going to rejuvenate anybody.

Rick Eaton: I think that kind of carries over to our staff and our team here is that we try to remind them every time we can of what our purpose is and they've got a purpose too, and it's not just to work at a eight to five job and so we encourage people to get into a place that they've got gifting so that we can together impact the world. And so we try to encourage our employees to do that as well, we've got a great team here and they're really family and so we see them as a part of this whole mission that we've got as a family. It's the family extends to all the Morgan White employees.

Casey Combest: We spoke a little bit about exposing your kids to what they're interested in, letting them see parts of the business, being open about it. If we could get a little more granular, are there any tactical things you guys do to prepare, even Ryan, how you prepared him for roles in leadership or Ryan, you're preparing your boys?

Ryan Eaton: With my kids right now just little things, we have different things in the school that we have available from the school that they're at, a leadership training program, a mentorship program that we've got them involved in those type things also, if there's a situation where we have groups of guys come to our house for different studies each every other week. I call out my kids to be able to do different things to lead the group, right? And at the time, I'm sure they're like, Oh, why does dad make me? But I want to prepare them and get them to those spots, I think signing them up to do service work, getting them to help for the Boys and Girls Club here in Mississippi, we do some stuff with it. They're over there cleaning up and bagging leaves and helping serve food and other things along those lines. I think anything you can do to expose them to leadership type stuff along those lines, my oldest son had an accident this summer and was in ICU for six days and now we're in the process of, he's actually about to do a pickleball fundraiser for the Blair E. Batson clinic to be able to try to help raise money for that. But it's awesome too, because he's partnering with his school to be able to help put this together and there's a colonel there who's helping them lay out from a leadership perspective what you need to think about. Anything you can do to get them kind of thinking on those lines there's Zig Ziglar's training programs, there's Rick telling me hey, if you're a major in insurance, you might want to go ahead and get your insurance license at 18. Things like that kind of, making sure they have the work ethic, right? My kids been mowing their yard or our yard, my yard really, since they were eight years old. And, bagging that I think there's so many kids nowadays that don't even know how to crank a lawnmower, right? And so that kind of goes back to the work ethic and Carter being up here this summer, I want him being exposed and, next summer if he came back up here and I probably would not let him work in my department, I'd make him go work in another department and kind of see another area to see what he may like and be able to isolate that. But I think getting in leadership positions, getting where they have to speak in front of people, getting them where they have to make a decision and stand up for that decision, those are all big things from a leadership standpoint, the earlier you can expose them to that, I think. It's a really good thing.

Rick Eaton: Ryan has been very intentional about that raising his kids and exposing them to things and getting them involved in projects that take them outside of their own situation and see other people. And I don't think I was nearly as intentional as he was, it just developed, and our big deal was just trying to make sure they got to the place where they had a gift, but I remember and then let them thrive on their own. But I do remember taking Ryan and Alan on a missions trip early on now, alan was a teenager I think Ryan, you were probably 19 or 20 and so it's just good for your kids to see how the rest of the world lives, gives you a bigger perspective and it's not just, all my needs are met, my parents take care of me, I go to school, come home and it expands your vision when you see how the rest of the world lives and what they do and how blessed we are to be in this place. And then the communication of our mission to them makes more sense. I know Trip and Amanda real good at taking their kids on mission trips. And by doing that, it expands their vision for what we're doing here as a company. And it's probably more likely that they'll want to get plugged in because they see that we're doing things to help these people that they've seen with their own eyes. And that's an important part, but I have to say Ryan is it's probably the best at being intentional about raising your kids and getting them interested in things that they need to be involved with.

Ryan Eaton: So one of the things I remember hearing at a conference one time is the guy was telling his kids, he said, you're not better than anybody. But nobody's better than you. And I thought that was a great thing because you can grow up where, you're in a blessed situation, right? You got everything you need where a lot of kids don't. And I thought that was so good, it's never look down on anyone else because you're not better than anyone. But at the same time, nobody's better than you, I thought that was a great thing we've tried to impress that on our kids is, hey, you're blessed where you're at, but don't think you're better than anybody. But don't let anybody else look down on you either. So that's been something else that we've tried to strive for with our kids.

Casey Combest: And it sounds like both of you are talking a lot about transparency, and the vision and the way you communicate. Can you guys speak to that a little bit? It doesn't sound like you're hiding a lot from each other or from your kids.

Rick Eaton: No. A lot of this comes from the fact that we enjoy being around each other and when we have our Monday meetings or when we go on vacations and we talk about business, the whole thing is to let, everybody know what's going on I don't think anybody is trying to keep a secret from about what's going on in their division from anybody else, they all want to have humility, in that respect, because they don't mind taking advice from people. But the only way you do that is by communication and getting together regularly, talking about things. And I would be very surprised if anybody in our family ever came back and said, I've been doing this for the last six months and y'all didn't know about it.

Ryan Eaton: What do you think?

Rick Eaton: Everybody, we had given them an opportunity to tell us what's going on every week and they do, everybody's just very transparent about that.

Ryan Eaton: Yeah. We have the opportunity to tell us for some reason we went six months, it was our own fault because every Monday morning we meet.

Casey Combest: Just as a listener, the values of your family, it sounds very clear. Do you feel like those values have bled into the culture of Morgan White Group as a whole?

Rick Eaton: I hope so.

Ryan Eaton: I think they have. I think even you can tell the difference just in our different offices, so we have about 12 offices now across the U. S. and some throughout the Caribbean area. And I think each office almost carries a different demeanor, I would say, a different culture. Some of that's just obviously where they're located, but I think this one carries more of with having David and Rick there from a leadership standpoint and their moral compass and their, hey, that bleeds down to everybody and then when they bleed down to the leaders and the leaders bleed down to their teams, it has a big impact.

Rick Eaton: And I'm thinking around the offices that we have around the world, really. And they have all pretty much picked up on this mission that we want to make an impact in wherever we are. The lady that runs our Caribbean operation, she's in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her husband is a missionary there and we're involved in what he does, we do things for the hospitals that we do business with and they know that we're blessed to be a blessing and so I think that culture. It looks a little different maybe because of where they're located, but I think it has transcended the seas and they've picked up on that and I think they enjoy being a part of that. And so that's a good thing and I think it does here, we may not notice it as much here but we've got Friday morning bread in the word and we have a large turnout for that. And it's an opportunity for people to come in and expand their vision and hear what other people are doing ministry wise and know what we're involved with, it's a good thing and so we try to communicate that culture to everybody and hopefully it's sinking in.

Ryan Eaton: Like leadership, man anytime you're around somebody. The more you're around someone, the more that rubs off on you, right? I think you'll see where Rick and David, wherever they go, the more time they spend in the area, that culture permeates more in those environments just because you're around it, right? And so the Jackson office has been more blessed than the other offices to be around it, but I think we've done an awesome job from the company podcast, letting everybody know, Casey, but you've helped us out with that for our internal podcast and then the bread and word, like you mentioned on Fridays, trying to make sure if you are an office in where you have multiple locations, trying to make sure you're intentional on that standpoint to make sure that culture spreads because obviously wherever it's permeated over the main spot, it's going to bleed more there, but if you try to get it spread out to the other departments as well or the other locations, I think that's a big thing too.

Casey Combest: Yeah, so someone watching or listening right now and they're like, man, this sounds great. I love what you guys are doing, maybe they run a family led business or there's family involved with their business, what practical things would you encourage them to take these steps to have a good culture, to have values that have a lot of meaning?

Rick Eaton: I think it starts when they're young. I think if you have a family business and you really want your kids to grow up in your grandkids to go up in it, it's what's communicated to them early on and, we are very blessed, all of our family are followers of Jesus and we know that all the good stuff that's happened as a result of our serving him and that's the first thing is we encourage our family members to recognize that and they all have a heart after God and I don't know how you do it, to be honest with you, without that foundation to build a family business where you don't have that common element, it's a hard work to do that, but everybody's got to be on the same page and after a higher purpose and know why they're there and operating in their gifts and I think that's the key is start out with the right foundation. No foundation can anyone lay than that which is lay, which is Christ Jesus and that's our motto is that, without him, none of this would be like it is today.

Ryan Eaton: On top of the moral compass, if I say, if you're looking at recommendations for family businesses, don't let problems sit. If you see something you don't like, or if you have a disagreement with somebody and you don't feel like it was cleared out at the time, go and approach them one on one. That's a big thing, at least to me.

Rick Eaton: It is, and you've been good at that. Everybody has an opportunity to be I have a lot of problems. Everybody has an opportunity to be offended about something somebody says. Even though they didn't mean anything by, it's just working with people that happens, but I think it's

Ryan Eaton: I don't forgive you in 24 hours, I might be mad at you for a year.

Rick Eaton: So it's important to not necessarily in the meeting that you're in, it happens to go to the person that said it or implied something and talk to him by telling what bothered you,

Ryan Eaton: it's important to keep the air cleared so that there's no dissension. The worst thing that can hurt an organization is when you have strife, and cause it is the scriptures that leads to every evil work. And so whatever you can do to eliminate strife, and most of the time it's just communicating. That's the key. And remembering too that, typically, I'd say 99. 9 percent of the time, people, if they make a mistake, whether it's your family or someone on your team or whatever the case may be, they're not trying to screw up, right? They're not trying to mess something up, they didn't purposefully blow it up, right? They made a mistake, and I think trying to remember that too is a big thing as well that, hey, they may have missed it, it's okay. If they miss it, continually as a family, y'all need to say something. But if, just trying to remember that's important too.

Rick Eaton: And at least for me, it is just open communication, right? And those are the big things for me. If you have open communication, you can get through a lot. If you quit, cut off communication, that's where problems, bitterness, strife, everything else that can come into issues, and then you don't know what someone's doing, and the next thing you know, they spent money over here they shouldn't have spent, or this or that. It just leads to a lot of things, so open communication is definitely key.

Casey Combest: Yeah. So as we wrap up, guys, I've really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you all for sharing.

Rick Eaton: Thanks, Casey.

Casey Combest: What does succession look like for you guys? Have you all?

Rick Eaton: That's been mostly settled back in 2011, David and I gave the financial interest to the companies to our children and grandchildren. David and I really don't own any of the financial interest now. Maybe one, two percent. But we kept one hundred percent of the governance, which means that we can still make decisions and they can't fire us.

Ryan Eaton: So basically means they control us and our kids are doing okay.

Rick Eaton: But if something happened to David and I, we have a plan for the four direct children to take our place in terms of the governance of the organization, and then we didn't go to the extent of saying, okay, if I'm gone, you're going to be in this position and this is what you're going to do. We left that open between the four of them to be able to make that decision because things change over time. What they're doing today may be a little different than what they did before. But there's a place for all of them in that, but they're the ones that'll be calling the shots instead of David and I. And hopefully they'll have their kids involved too and be taking advice from them at that point and the company will continue to grow and move forward as we to get respect, you got to give respect and I think that's been one of the key things for us. And it works that way in the governance of the organization and we have to recognize that everybody's got something to offer and respect their opinions, what they have to say. And, our kids have been amazing at showing respect to us, even though they don't really have to, but I think they recognize that we value them and they in turn value us and so that's been a key to our success, I think, too.

Ryan Eaton: I agree. I did succession planning yet.

Casey Combest: Not there yet, thanks again for your time and thank you guys for watching and listening to another episode of the Insurance Leadership Podcast. Thanks.

Ryan Eaton: Appreciate it. Thanks.

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