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Blue Ocean Strategy

Season 1 Episode 4

Blue Ocean Strategy with J. Jude Thompson

Season 1 Episode 4


Intro/Outro Speaker: 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.

[00:00:25] Ryan: Hello and welcome to the insurance leadership podcast. I'm Ryan Eaton, your host for today and honored to have Jude Thompson as our guest. But before we get kicked off, I would like to tell you a little bit about Jude's impressive background in business. First of all, he is the President and CEO of Delta Dental of Kentucky and CEO of Game On® Mouthguards.

[00:00:42] Prior to this row, he served on the board for Delta Dental of Kentucky for nine years. Jude's roles prior to Delta Dental include serving as the president and co- CEO of Papa John's International. Prior to Papa John's, Jude served as the senior vice president of Anthem and president of individual business of Anthem blue cross and blue shield.

[00:01:02] Jude holds a degree from the University of Kentucky as completed executive coursework at Columbia University. Jude serves on numerous boards, across multiple industries. One of the most nationally known is Jiffy Lube. And while this resume is extremely impressive, if you have spent any time around you, you know that his personality trumps his resume, he is one of the most fun loving, storytelling guys you have ever been around.

[00:01:27] And I can't say how honored I am to have him on the show today. Welcome my friend.

[00:01:31] Jude: Ryan, thank you. That makes me blush a little bit. It tells me how old I am when you read that. I haven't done that in a while, but thank you for having me.

[00:01:38] Ryan: We're excited. Well, Jude, tell us everything's been in Kentucky

[00:01:42] Jude: Well, you know, we're just like anyone else in the U.S., In the world really. March 18th, our governor you know, with COVID-19 asked the dentists to not work, unless it was an emergency situation.

[00:01:54] So you start getting into this you know, protecting your employees, protecting your family, and we were able to let them work from home. And so, we're still doing that today. It's only our governor Bashir here in Kentucky has a "healthy at work". And we follow that no more than 10, 15% of our employees are coming into the building on any given day.

[00:02:17] But we're able to, we've weathered this pandemic really well. We feel fortunate, blessed in so many ways to be able to be in a business that has survived and held its own. So, we're doing okay.

[00:02:31] Ryan: Oh, that's great. Well, I've been keeping up with you through Game On® mouth guards and it doesn't seem like you guys have missed a beat. Why don't you tell our audience a little bit about everything you got going on there? Cause it seems like you get something new every month. It's pretty exciting.

[00:02:44] Jude: Thank you. We do. And we've been fortunate. So, when I became CEO, gosh, interim will be in March four years ago. And then after six-month period I took it as a permanent position.

[00:02:58] But during that six months, I applied the book that I've given you before blue ocean strategy to say, what would I do if I was interested in this? And one of the things that you've become aware of when you just have one state to sell in and one product is how limiting that is when you come from a Papa John's or an Anthem blue cross blue shield, some, and some of the companies that I serve with. A single product's pretty tough, but we found that there was a mouth guard, an athletic mouth guard, the only American dental association accepted mouth guard by the ADA.

[00:03:35] We made a visit to them. We were able to come to agreement to make our first acquisition, probably six months after I was in. And it had so many opportunities inside of that patent. And that product that Dr. Monroe Elkins and Dr. Monice Rabboni, the creators, inventors, they're still on our payroll and they're still contributing every day.

[00:04:00] Amazing, but it was not only an athletic mouth guard, but if we took it through the FDA approval process, it could be an occlusal guard for people with bruxism, TMJ. It had the ability because of its hydrophobic nature, it rejects water and bacteria. It could be whitening trays. So, we have upper and lower whitening trays called smile kits that are on Amazon.

[00:04:26] Bruxism-- they're all under the name, custom bite. What that did for us, Ryan, after that, because we had this material in our patent, we were brought three opportunities and we acquired those as well. And one is my shirt. You can't see today called AirWave. It's a lower mouth guard for performance. And so, when you clinch in an athletic sport or running or lifting, what tends to happen is you restrict your air.

[00:04:55] By that clenching, but you also release cortisol and lactic acid. So, the fittest man on planet last week announced his partnership with us Rich Froning. If you know anything about CrossFit, I think he's the five, six time CrossFit champion. He tried the mouth guard, loved it, his scores, times, personal best improve.

[00:05:16] So that's one of our new products. We have an anti-snoring sleep apnea, and we are introducing an all-natural appliance cleaner. For all of these mouth guards, you still are going to need to keep them clean. So, we've been busy for three or so years, but it's fun.

[00:05:33] Ryan: Well, it's exciting to be able to hear all that you guys are doing.

[00:05:36] And one of the things that most interests me, Jude, from that perspective, you took a product that has been around for 50 years. You took it, you had a different vision, different perspective, different way of looking at it and then paired it with insurance, which is another thing that's been around for hundreds and hundreds of years.

[00:05:58] And you put them together and you saw it from a different lens that most people didn't see, how did you kind of come up with us, merging these two things into one?

[00:06:06] Jude: Well, you know, for any of us, are you all on that? We'll be listening to some played sports. You've had the boiling bite mouth guard. Seven minutes,

[00:06:16] you get your tongs, you get it out. And you've got about five seconds to line it up and make it work right. Or you, you get one of those mouth guards that don't even let you do that. It's not, not real comfortable. And what we do is ours is microwaveable in a wet paper towel for 30 seconds and you can remold it endless times.

[00:06:35] So we've got some pretty famous athletes that use that at the college level soon to be pros. The quarterback at Clemson, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields at Ohio state. So, this Vista max material, it's not like EVA plastic, which is the boil and bite. So, one it's quicker. You can get out.

[00:06:56] It's more shock absorbent. It's primary purpose, Ryan, is for car bumpers. Vista max is used to make car bumpers. It's also in orbit chewing gum. It's the outer lining of a disposable baby's diaper. It's stints for bypass. So, there's a lot of applications to Vista max, Exxon Mobil created it, but you're right.

[00:07:18] There's a 50-year-old process out there, and our mission at Delta dental is to improve the oral health of Kentucky, and as all deltas in your given state are. But for us, we first thought what a great way to do this athletically and it is just morphed on. So, I guess I the words that I would share is that: don't be too afraid of, to take a little bit of a chance.

[00:07:42] It was in our sweet spot. We're in oral health insurance and trying to help people less fortunate. So, we were able to acquire that company and it's just been amazing for us to watch it grow and we get to hang out with some interesting athletes. And, you know, we can announce here that we signed a deal with Wilson sporting goods.

[00:08:04] They're going to be naming this Evo shield mouth guard coming up in the spring. Evo shield for your baseball players, you'll see, as the arm protector or the shin guard, they love the property so much. So, when you buy an Evo shield mouth guard, that's our mouth guard.

[00:08:21] Ryan: That is amazing, man. Congratulations on that.

[00:08:24] Jude: Thank you.

[00:08:24] Ryan: So, let me ask you this, where do you think most people kind of miss it then? Is it, is it taking that risk of, Hey, I had a good idea and, and trying to do something with it. Do you think they just get nervous? What is it that you think the average person-- why doesn't go to the next level.

[00:08:41] Jude: So, it's-- all of us have our own barriers to what we do. And it'd be hard to pick on one. For me. It's not something that I wake up and you just look at, I needed a book like blue ocean strategy, which gave me little case studies of who is the father of the automobile. And the answer is Henry Ford. But the real answer, there were hundreds of autos being produced before Henry Ford made the model T but he didn't look at them as competitors.

[00:09:12] He looked at the horse and buggy, and so he knew he needed to sell to the masses to eat with the classes. And if he could be more reliable, and equal to in cost as a horse and buggy, he might have something there. And I think he was right. That's just one the studies. So anytime I look at a business that I'm involved with at Anthem way back when this book helped me with our individual health sales to do that voice signature.

[00:09:42] Now today in 2021 voice signature's not that radical. 2004 or 5, getting departments of insurance to allow that so we didn't have any buyer's remorse. We could cut down on the postage-- big deal. You know, Papa John's, we took this book there and it was really some of the things that we did there is we revamped the online ordering because the iPhone had just come out. We had signed the official pizza of the NFL, just the, the science behind that. And I always say, you know, online ordering at the time, we did that at Papa John's, was about 8% of our total sales, but the average ticket was $4 and 50 cents more than the phone order.

[00:10:28] Cause people could see our menu, but I jokingly like to say you had to be a hacker to get a pizza because you had to click like eight, nine times. And so, we used a smart company called Razorfish that helped us redesign that. And the rest is really history. I believe the last time I looked at a quarterly earnings, Papa John's over 60% of their orders are online.

[00:10:52] So that's basically in 10, 11 years, how things have changed from 8% to 60%.

[00:10:58] Ryan: That is awesome.

[00:11:00] Jude: So, we're not going to invent pizza, we're not going to invent anything like that. But it's maybe how it's ordered or, or how it's acquired. And I would think you know, we're doing a zoom call today. I would, I did not know about that a few years ago, so that's always changing.

[00:11:16] Ryan: So, what do you do from a leader standpoint, leading several companies, having led multiple companies in the past. How do you kind of build that environment where you can get people to think outside of the box and be able to think, Hey, what's new. What can we do differently? How can I, you know, redesign this application from an insurance standpoint, how can I reach these consumers differently? What is it that you kind of do to help get your team thinking differently?

[00:11:42] Jude: Well, you have to set a little money aside for swings and misses, and depending on how big your company is, or how financially secure you are or your reserves or whatever the word, retained earnings. You know, I never try to swing for it, the fences, I’d rather go for a few singles along the way.

[00:12:04] I love data too. In today's world, you know, data can make make a big difference in how you look at something. And so. You know, measuring twice, maybe three times before you cut is wise. And I think, you know, it's one of those things you've gotta be in a position to where you foster that, and you have to walk the talk because we miss. We miss a lot, but we hope that our singles or doubles are enough to make up for those misses.

[00:12:33] But so you've got to have everyone understanding that. Sometimes, people don't sign on for that. One of the things that happened when I got here at Delta dental, we had 50 years of success with dental insurance. We now have Delta vision. We have Delta life, you know, not to move away from the mouth card business, but some people won't sign up for that change.

[00:12:56] It's too hard. And so, we've gotten some new folks on the team. Four years ago, we didn't have one person under the age of 30 employed here. And I said, that's gotta be a problem. So, we went to the University of Louisville MBA school, and we hire probably three to four last year, MBA students, they work 30 hours a week and we've hired many of them and their ideas have brought us a long way.

[00:13:23] So, you know, it's just trying to make sure that you've got enough people around you that are smarter than you and recognize, you know, at 58 years old now, there are things that I didn't grow up with. And when we have these MBA students here, it blows my mind and they've got to have a voice.

[00:13:42] Ryan: Right.

[00:13:42] Jude: They've got to be able to feel free. And so, I'm not big on hierarchies and things like that. So, we just... I just want to win and find people that want to win.

[00:13:51] Ryan: So, when you get some of these new guys that have come on out of an MBA program, or heck maybe they're just anybody, when they come to you with a good idea, or you personally have what you feel like is a good idea.

[00:14:02] What do you look at from like a vetting process standpoint? How do you kind of take it to see if it's something you want to swing for the fences on or, hey, do we want to see if that, those first few see what those first few pitches look like before we take a swing?

[00:14:15] Jude: You know, Is there a market? So, let's talk like before we decided to go to Amazon and I'll give you some statistics that might be a couple of points off, but...

[00:14:24] We're based in Louisville, Kentucky, but our ad agency 89 global out of Minneapolis. They're only an agency for Amazon. They're all things Amazon. And so, when we went there, we asked, help me understand this world of Amazon. I've never been on it. I have never had a business that's been on Amazon and they said something like 62% of the U.S. households decorate a Christmas tree.

[00:14:50] And I'm like, wow. I thought it would be more than that, but okay. 81% of the households have an Amazon prime account. I'm like, okay, you got my attention.

[00:15:01] Ryan: Wow.

[00:15:01] Jude: So, this is a marketplace. And so, the way this thing works is if you can get in the first page of Amazon, so we have a sporting mouth guard, they know how many mouth guards and how many dollars that universe is.

[00:15:18] They know what bruxism is for night guards, grinding guards. They know what, and by the way, I've just gone up in the size of the market. Athletic is smaller than bruxism, bruxism is smaller than whitening. Think about whitening your teeth. So, it's a multi-million dollar, billions of dollars are sold in teeth whitening on Amazon.

[00:15:42] So if you could get one of the 10 tops spots, this is what your business would look like. And there's organic search, there's paid search and there is a way to win at that. And that's why we hired people to help us with it. So, you know, when you look at that, when someone said let's go to Amazon because I'm not the only bricks and mortar that we're in is oral B uses our

[00:16:07] product for a night guard called oral B plus scope. It has scope in it and that is our material, but I don't manufacture. They pay me a royalty to be able to use the material. But I personally, we have chosen not to go to bricks and mortar.

[00:16:23] Ryan: Okay. What was your decision on not go bricks and mortar, just to stay with the online side.

[00:16:28] Jude: I don't mean to be too jokingly here. They're all going broke. There's too many stores shutting down. I mean, from radio shack and you see things, and then it was the reality test, here I come in with a mouth guard called Game On®. I think it's gold, "Game On®, stays on, protect your game face", but it has no brand awareness.

[00:16:48] And I walk into Dick's sporting goods or Academy sporting goods, and there's a wall of mouth guards. And by the way, the number one is shock doctor, really cool name, but it's Eva plastic. And ours is more shock absorbent. But that's the name. And there are about 60% of the world's bath guard sales, and then you go through it.

[00:17:10] Nike has one, Adidas has one and there's all kinds of names. And you know what we found out?

[00:17:17] Ryan: What's that?

[00:17:17] Jude: Because we only had that product, we couldn't even get in those things. They only want to take brands that have multiple products. So even if we wanted to, we could today if we decided, but they also take 30% to put it in there.

[00:17:36] And I said, would I be on the bottom shelf? Would that be in the far-right corner? Would I be, where would I be? And I said, we were going to use an influencer model. So, we use professional athletes like Larry Fitzgerald, Dak Prescott. We do these camps. We do Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Rudolph AJ Green, Deshaun Watson.

[00:17:57] We have a lot of those athletes we work with, and there's more, the list goes on. James Harden, you name it, we work their camps. Now COVID put a little bit of a a change to that, but that's... and the science behind that is if there's 500 kids attending a camp, that's 500 sets of parents that’re going to see that mouth guard, but they need 250 college and high school position coaches to run that camp.

[00:18:27] So we get an hour with them and we make them mouth guards. We tell them about it, what the benefits of it. We can logo it out to their team's mascot, whatever they want to their initials to whatever it is. And so that gave us an audience and I'd much rather put my money there than being on the bottom row, in the right-hand corner, in the back of Dick's sporting goods.

[00:18:50] Ryan: I love how y'all you saw where there was an opportunity in a different market. You didn't just jump in where everybody else was kind of like the book blue ocean strategy, right. You kind of got into that niche. What would you tell, what would you tell the average insurance agency that's out there that has been playing in the red ocean, so to say, and they have been doing the same SEO stuff, the same lead generation, email marketing, all the same stuff that everybody else has been doing, what would you suggest to them?

[00:19:19] Or how would you try to get them to look differently at some different opportunities out there to acquire customers, retain customers, et cetera.

[00:19:27] Jude: You know, the thing about insurance is everyone that's not in insurance, they shut down when they hear the word insurance. Cause we have acronyms like no one else.

[00:19:40] And what they really want is someone they can trust. If the wheels do go, who am I going to call to help me get through this process? So, it's a trust thing for me. It is what carriers do you represent? Promise made, promise kept. And when it comes to me, when I'm an agent, handwriting notes, being that person that's not-- look give five to 10 years of your life in this business,

[00:20:14] and the insurance business will take care of the rest of your life. It's called referrals. It's called renewals. What a wonderful-- when I first this business, I was like, well, maybe I should get into car sales. And then I realized that if I sold that car, I didn't get anything after that day. Now most people keep their car too long for my attention span and that could get some referrals,

[00:20:39] but I said, we get paid year after year if we do a good job and they stay as a customer. So, whether you're in health insurance, or you're in Medicare, Medicare advantage, life insurance, dental insurance, if you could build that trust and you could be viewed as that person that is just going to shoot straight.

[00:20:57] And my favorite thing to hear from someone in a position of authority, whatever I'm asking is, I don't know, I'll get back to you on that. It's hard to know everything, but for me, when I see people that went out there, they're just they're advocates for their customers. They work hard for them.

[00:21:14] They're straight shooters and you know, having had how, I guess, thousands of salespeople through my, my career is that some will overwhelm people with their knowledge of their insurance, and it had just put people to sleep, and it just goes, and people are smart. Just, Hey, I want to know I'm covered, my family's covered, and if this happens, what will happen to me? And if you know, what, if it doesn't you call me and I'll take care of it. I'll go to work for you.

[00:21:44] Ryan: That's so true. So true. I love how you simplified that. I think it might have been you and I talking several years ago, we were talking about how for some reason, insurance agents love to put things on spreadsheets, but the average consumer twitches whenever they have to look at a spreadsheet, but for some reason we do it over and over again.

[00:22:03] Jude: I can remember the first time I was a young executive and had a cell phone, and I was talking with someone at Anthem blue cross blue shield, and this person was in a whole different business. He goes, man, I don't know what you were talking about. You were saying all of these acronyms and stuff. And you know, and then as I was in a position to become CEO, I joined young president's organization.

[00:22:28] And so I had these nine other men that ran big companies and they told me they all could run their business, but when it came to health insurance and all that, they didn't understand it, they just knew it was the biggest cost. And if they cut back on the benefits or raise deductibles or copays, and they walked their shop floor, their employees didn't care for him.

[00:22:51] And it was out of control. So, when you start using these things, let me just tell you how to lose an audience is start saying words that people don't understand, and you're done. And so, I don't mean to, but there's a book besides this one I love was written by Jack Trout.

[00:23:07] Actually, he was the man that came up with better ingredients, better pizza. His book was the power of simplicity and he would say the greatest compliment you can give someone is to be simple minded. And so, you just had mentioned something about: make it simple. Well, look, I mean, you got to know your audience.

[00:23:26] If you, if you're in front of engineers or what have you, they're going to want to know A, B, C, they don't want to hear A, and then D they want to hear A, B and C. You got to take it sequential, but then you're also, there’s other audiences that need it differently. So, make sure you have your elevator speech for whatever audience you're in front of.

[00:23:45] Ryan: Wow. That's fantastic, Jude, great advice. Hey Jude, I saw something the other day when we were talking, you didn't mention this, but I saw that in 2020 you were voted as one of the most admired CEOs in the state of Kentucky. That was a pretty impressive thing to be able to say. I had someone send me actually an article on that. That was pretty impressive, buddy.

[00:24:04] Jude: Thank you. Well, you know, we try to come up with simple things and way back when I had my first direct reports, how is everyone going to understand what I'm trying to do? And it was as simple as I like to start meetings, no jerks allowed. If you're a jerk, I'm going to find you a job at our competitors and you can go ruin their company because, you know, you think about how many employees you have at Morgan White group.

[00:24:33] And if you have someone particularly in management, that's not living your values or, you know, doing to others as you want them to do to you. I mean, that's all your people want. My door's open. I intentionally put water bottles in here and ask people to come in and get it cause I want to hear their opinions, but if they can have their dreams and their hopes to feel that this company, and they're not worried about someone being abusive or not nice, or being a jerk, they're going to focus on my competition, our competition, and always said, if I can get every one of my people to pick up the rope with me and we can pull it in the same way, we will beat our competition. You shouldn't worry about me or someone in the company because the people I compete against, they have money, they have products, they have people.

[00:25:26] Same as we do. What can ours be? And it could be trust and respect. And so, here's what you do. If you do have someone that is through fear and intimidation, they got to go. It's how you do it. I never have called anyone out in front of a crowd. Don't want to do that, but we will have honest talks. You cannot have a bunch of jerks in your building and expect for people to perform. They're nervous. They're scared. And so, I just do it through people.

[00:25:56] Ryan: I love how you said that. And let me ask you this, you keep your door open. You allow people to come into your office, you want it, you value their opinion. All those are phenomenal things in leading and inspiring, but how do you do it? When, you know, it's one thing if you're managing five people or have five people in your office versus 30 versus a hundred versus a thousand, it gets harder the bigger it is to really know what's going on. How do you continue to lead and inspire as your organization grows?

[00:26:22] Jude: You know, there's a book, and I'm not being facetious. They were called disciples. You got to have disciples that believe in what you believe in and to believe in people the same way. And I'm not talking about a cult. I'm not talking about everyone. If you saw my direct reports, we all have different personalities because I respect what they bring to the table.

[00:26:45] I always like to say there can only be one of me because I need something done. I'm dreaming. I'm coming up with ideas. We've got to have someone implement this stuff. I mean, so, you know, my chief revenue officer, he's MBA engineer. Brian is amazing. Angie, chief operations. She can make all this stuff go.

[00:27:06] Chris Green, my CFO, CIO. Those people are amazing at taking this blob of stuff I'll throw out and get into the meat of it and say, Jude, we can execute that, or we can't, or it's going to cost more than it's going to be worth. So, I love them, but their personalities are so different than mine.

[00:27:25] Ryan: Right. Right. So, Jude, let me ask you this as well kind of on that front. You got some wonderful people that are there by your side, helping you and pushing that dream and pushing that vision forward. How do you handle it in today's world, everyone's pulling on your time, right? You're getting emails, all throughout the day, all throughout the night, phone calls coming in, every which way I go, your buddy calling you and asking you to be on a podcast.

[00:27:49] I mean, you get it, you get, you got people pinging every which way, but you told me years ago that you said no is a full sentence. Right. And I love that. How do you handle that with being respectful with other people, but also valuing your time so that you can focus on the things that are truly important in your life?

[00:28:08] Jude: Okay. So, it's a visual if I could, but if you think of an automobile, it has four tires and I keep a paper calendar still today. I mean, we, I do accept invitations on the iPad and iPhone, but I liked my paper calendar and Gina helps to keep those because if one of my tires is under inflated, I'm going to have a bumpy ride, gas mileage is not good.

[00:28:35] And those four tires for me or family, faith, my work, and my health. And I'm not saying at any given time, you may have to devote more time, but if you overinflate something for four weeks and the others don't fit into those tires. You're going to get this wobbly ride, it's going to be terrible and you just fill it.

[00:29:00] It'll be inside of you. So, I go back to the calendar and say where I've been spending my time. And I used to do this with salespeople. They'd say my wife just doesn't understand, you know, how well I'm doing. And I said, well, tell me about that. So, what do you do? And he goes, well, I, I work, you know, six days a week and I'm doing this and, you know, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do go to Applebee's and I have two beers and I come home.

[00:29:24] And I said, how old are your kids? One and three. I'm like, tell me where that fits in one of the four tires. I said, buddy, you know, she will understand, but she's sitting here, she's cleaned them up, change the diaper, trying to wait for you to get home.

[00:29:39] And you went out and ran, let your hair down for two hours. I said, I promise you if you follow these rules, she's going to tell you to go out and go play golf. She's going to let, but you've got to, that's your teammate there. That's your partner, but you've got to figure out those four things. And some people say, well, I don't care about faith.

[00:29:54] I said, I'm not trying to push Christianity, I'm just telling you better have some time to reflect on what you're doing and whatever centers you, you do that. But you know, you're not going to feel great if your health is gone. So, you just can't do that Applebee thing, seven nights a week. You're not going to feel great.

[00:30:14] And your family's not going to feel great. And you know, your work's going to suffer. But you just gotta turn it around. You're in golf. You're a golfer. I love watching good golfers on TV or in person when they hit that shot and they look quickly, the first thing they do is they look for the divot because it's immediate feedback on why that shot went wrong.

[00:30:36] If the toes down, they just sliced it. The heel's in, they just hooked it. If it's too deep, like chunked it, you know, they look at their divots for feedback. Mine is my calendar and the imagery of four tires on that car. I'll make it down the road, but it's just going to be bumpy. And God forbid, how many times I only put air in one tire. And gonna let three of them... I mean, it's a terrible ride. I'm on the rims by then.

[00:31:05] Ryan: Well, we've all been there. And for your buddy, the Applebee's buddy, if I would've gotten home, I don't think my key would have worked anymore, Jude.

[00:31:13] Jude: No doubt. That's the benefit. That's one of the great things about getting older. I mean, there's things you can't do, but there are so many things you can do. You can share things and I don't force it on them, and people want to come talk about it and they ask, I'll tell you what works for me. If the car thing doesn't make sense to you, if the divot thing doesn't make sense, whatever does, use something to gauge.

[00:31:38] Cause people said, things aren't clicking right now. I'm like, what do you mean? I said, I just don't feel right. It's just, everything's a fight. And I'm like, well, let's take a look at what you've been doing the last month.

[00:31:49] Ryan: Oh, that's so good. It's so good. I love that advice. I think we can apply that in every area of our life. And I think you're right. I think there's four main areas that you, you got to focus on. You got to have that balance there. Jude, last thing I want to be able to ask you today is from a leadership perspective. You've seen and you've done a lot. I would love to know what is the most valuable leadership lesson is that you've learned maybe from a mentor, maybe from a book, whatever the case may be, from personal experience, but what has been the most valuable leadership lesson that you're learned?

[00:32:21] Jude: Oh gosh, when you were saying that to me, and I've got these imagery in my head of like lanes of a swim contest. There are so many things that hold up a building, you know, so much scaffolding, so many principals. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A had the opportunity at Papa John's to ask him a couple of things.

[00:32:46] And, you know, if you're in the franchise business, it's tough. Because if you lose them, you can lose a lot. A lot of CEOs, a lot of companies go by the wayside because they lost that relationship. And I said, Mr. Cathy asked, why do you only let your franchisees have one store? And he goes, well, if they had two, they think they're smarter than me.

[00:33:09] And I went, Oh my gosh. He goes, you got any problems with people that own one stores? And I said, no, sir. And then, you know, I'm sitting here talking to the guy that's not open on Sunday and I'm going for 32 years, your comp sales, comparable sales, have gone up 32, say, I don't know of any chain that's ever done that.

[00:33:30] What's what's the secret to it. He goes, well, if it's your profession, and you're dedicated to it, shouldn't you get a little better every year? And I'm like, I was really hoping for there to be something a lot more difficult to this, but his words just ring out and there's so many of these people I've run into in my life that I've been able to talk to about things.

[00:33:54] But Mr. Cathy was one of those ones. He's written several books, he's passed now. But don't be afraid to be simple minded. And don't be afraid to have people in positions that maybe aren't your cup of tea from a personality standpoint, but they have all the core values and things of it.

[00:34:16] I mean, we went through succession planning last year, 12 months ago, I mean, two years into this. And I would tell you what I said, and I'm on the board, but I said to the other board members, if something happened to me or you choose to make something happen to me, these three people that I've mentioned today, every one of them can do this job.

[00:34:33] But when they take the steering wheel, it'll look different than me, but you will have success. But it'd be different. Even though we're a part of that, they have to be able to do things in there their way, because it would seem false or fake, and they don't want to be phony. And for them to be original and for them to be genuine it's important.

[00:34:54] And so, you know, that's, that's what I look for. It's not easy getting the right people in there. I didn't come in and know this day one, it took two years.

[00:35:04] Ryan: Right.

[00:35:05] Jude: To do this. And I kept reviewing and reviewing and asking and see if people could change. See if people could buy into that, see if people wanted to help. And eventually it's with respect, you have to say goodbye to someone, and you bring new ones in.

[00:35:19] Ryan: Right. Man. Phenomenal, phenomenal advice, Jude. Man, look, buddy. I can't tell you how good it is just to be able to catch up with you, but you doing this today, it's a blessing. I know the audience is going to appreciate it so much and I appreciate you and that you've been a mentor to me.

[00:35:36] And I thank you for all the advice and counsel over the years, and just being a brain, I can call and be able to get some ideas and bounce things off of. I can't tell you how much it means.

[00:35:45] Jude: Well, you all do it great. I can tell you from my visit to your headquarters, and then when you visit here, I mean, every one of you, your father, every one of you are amazing. I mean, you all have a wonderful belief system and how you make things easier. You're there to help with service. You can always tell when the people that weren't even supposed to be in the meeting, so to speak that are making things great there. And it takes a lot of people. It's never one person. There's a lot of people that believe in it.

[00:36:15] And then they're protected. And you've got that. But you're doing amazing things, but I appreciate you having me on today and I hope it helps someone. If it helps one person, I'll feel good about it.

[00:36:27] Ryan: I guarantee you will, buddy, guarantee you it will. Well, thank you, Jude, so much for being here today, and that wraps up our episode for today.

[00:36:34] And thank you for listening to us at the insurance leadership podcast, where a good plan today is better than a great plan months from now. Thank you for listening.

[00:36:47] Intro/Outro Speaker: 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

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