I used to think you had to have an answer to the “what is your 5-year plan?” question, but I don’t anymore. Instead, I like to think about what I’ll believe in 5 years from now. I think a lot about how best to express what our business stands for. Why do we do what we do? Why does it matter?
You can read our list of core values here but I’d like to say a few more things about them. First, I feel there’s nobility in curiosity when it’s directed toward a genuine interest in what matters to other people. When you have affection for the enthusiasms of others and offer encouragement by presenting people with your appetite for learning about them, I believe that’s a mission.
When you put down the rule book and the standard templates of typical responses and solutions to solving problems, you improve your chances of advocacy that puts other people first. I’m so turned off by our industry’s proclivity to go fishing for the client that fits the Product & Eligibility Guide and my industry is running headlong into irrelevance by too slowly responding to what people actually need and do. I feel we provide some respite by being small and having autonomy and authority to literally do whatever we feel we should in order to solve an issue.
Being of high quality and caliber means that you don’t shoot from the hip. You study, you hone your craft, you consider yourself not-yet-done so you keep investing in yourself, and you shun the standard metrics of how the masses measure each other. Families expect us to know a very complicated instrument that one day may stop them from suffering financial ruin. That’s a big deal and why that responsibility is too often answered by peers who focus their efforts on performing well in total written premium, customer retention, loss ratio, and new policy sales is beyond me. I’ll argue that the expert who gives free advice to 5 families because it’s the right thing to do is of higher caliber than the superstar agent who sells 400 policies a year.
I think most of our core values are answered by a compulsion to put someone else first. John, Jim, and I express it in different ways because we have different contributions to make to our firm, but I can honestly attest that I’ve not been around an organization that, as a daily occurrence, gets together to talk about how best to apply ourselves for the betterment of someone who’s put their trust in us. That’s not boasting, that’s just an observation that I wish I knew how to make transparently visible to everyone. It’s been a part of the Mechelsen family culture and I’m proud to be a part of that.
So I don’t know what the business plan looks like and I don’t know what we’ll accomplish, but I know that we’ll continue to have a genuine interest in what matters to other people, an insatiable appetite for learning, a rugged defense of our individualism, and a work ethic to put words like this into action. Know | Act | Grow