I nearly made a huge mistake in my 2020 business plan that I'd like you to avoid as you craft your 2021 strategy.
What was in your business plan for 2020?
Do you even remember how you thought this year would unfold?
Despite being convinced of the business need, do you know why I almost didn't launch the Account Executive Academy last year?
I wasn't sure everyone would/could embrace Zoom.
My thoughts on the ridiculousness of this near miss and how it might impact your 2021 planning are in this 3-minute video.
Friends, think of this as a game.
The only thing I know for sure is that we'll "lose" if we can't let go of our desire for certainty.
Join me at guessing for 2021.
My former colleague (and good friend) Nancy always told us to "keep our eyes on our own paper" when there was drama. I thought of her when responding to a question in the Account Executive Academy recently.
I've included a screenshot so you can see my new favorite tool in action, PreziVideo. And also a funny face because of too many months in a dining room.
Client service is a team sport and how colleagues are showing up (or not) is adding an extra dash of fun to 2020. Resist efforts to steal your time and drain your energy by anyone who just wants to complain.
Repeat after me. Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
When there's an issue between "Colleague A" and "Colleague B" as there was here, be the voice of reason to determine if the problem was an event or part of a pattern.
The goal? If someone slipped up then we should extend the patience and grace we'd want when (not if) we fall short at some point.
If it's part of a pattern of shortcomings, then energy should be focused...
I'm checking in from the Bay Area where I'm "staying-in-place" for at least three weeks with the husband, kids (21 & 16) and 2 foster puppies.
We're already discussing the "family tattoo" we're each getting at the end of this adventure. Suggestions?
I've been trying to decide whether to work or sanitize our canned goods. Do people really need an update from the BenefitsLady in the midst of this chaos? I've rewritten this 10 times the last few days.
Here's my current thinking. Your clients are stressed. My clients are stressed. There are things we can do and offer that will help others. We shouldn’t hoard toilet paper or our talents. Now is the time to crowdsource ideas and positive energy in the employee benefits community.
It will be different, but let’s stay engaged and connected.
This morning I caught up with an industry friend for an hour for a casual Zoom coffee. I’m looking at my calendar and scheduling connections with people who...
Is "risk-taking" rewarded in your office?
How about celebrated?
We've been talking about the employee benefits strategic planning cycle. Our industry needs to change and that involves some risk.
Lately I'm hearing variations of these themes:
We're a group that takes pride in protecting our clients. The insurance industry beckoned us saying "hey, if you like certainty and avoiding risk, come on over and build a career over here" and now we're surprised at how easily we can talk ourselves out of trying something new if we're not careful.
You know I'm right. At least a little.
When someone introduces a new solution or tackles a challenge, does...
A perk of being a high school football team mom? I get to observe teen boys in their natural habitat (without being TOO embarrassing) while handing out Gatorade and cheeseburgers.
It's also a great way to get to know parents. Another team mom and I compare notes about selling professional services (she's in legal) while doing our team hospitality gig. Industries that sell expertise share a lot of the same challenges (and upside) if they can modernize.
At the banquet Friday night, she used a term I'd never heard when talking about her new team. She said they'd usually relied upon "anecdata" and were stressed as she pushed for detailed analytics.
Anec-what? Anecdata = Anecdote + Data
Am I the only one who hasn't been using this term? I love it. Apologies in advance to my clients who are going to hear this term a lot in upcoming strategy sessions.
It's defined as "information that is presented as if it is based on serious research, but is...
I went to the Warriors game Monday night and stayed out a bit too late. Oops.
The game got me thinking, though...
How do you show up when you (or your team) are in a slump?
I'd been warned that the highlight of the night was probably experiencing the new Chase Center and that the Warriors were going to lose (again) since they've been plagued by injuries.
But, the rookies didn't get the memo that they were underresourced and going to be outplayed. We were treated to a high energy experience and saw their first home win of the season.
Do this career "thing" long enough and eventually, you'll have a losing season. It's hard to get your juju back and I was thinking about what behaviors I look for to have confidence that a team is taking steps to shift momentum.
Recruiting & Coaching - We know it's critical to have a strong bench, yet few invest (money, time and energy) to develop a sustainable and measurable process to find and onboard talent....
Warning. There's no turning back. Once this is on your radar, you'll be like two of my original foster puppies. You won't be able to look away.
5 words are routinely used to give feedback that are useless (at best) and destructive (at worst) without context and follow up.
"They need to be more/less _______________."
More (or less) what? I'm glad you asked.
She needs to be more approachable, assertive, creative, collaborative, confident, engaged, independent, open-minded, present, sales-focused, strategic or technical. Or she needs to be less aggressive, conservative or negative. You get the point.
I don't know what someone really means when they say these things. And most of us are not great guessers.
Worse yet, the person on the receiving end of the "feedback 5" usually has zero idea what happened, how to fix it or when they'll have done "it" the right way, enough times, to change perception.
The "Feedback 5" may be part of a...
Are you too slammed to consider new solutions because it's 4th quarter in the benefits business? Are you deferring new ideas until Q1?
Do your clients know? Would your prospects care? Don't forget that clients hire you (and fire you) because they want to be led.
If you're a benefits solution, raise your hand if you've been pushed off to the mystical time known as "after-the-busy-season." Makes you wish for a lunch & learn, right?
I see a pattern at firms at all levels (sales, service, platform resources, and leadership) of completely putting off investing time to think, learn and plan because it's "the busy season."
I understand the demands of competing priorities and am concerned about what those delays will cost you. If you don't revisit an idea until Q1, it's unlikely you'll execute and capitalize on it until mid-2020. That may not be quick enough in a dynamic market.
I've been thinking about this quote from Jason Fried, the CEO of...
Most employee benefits professionals are ethical. [Dramatic pause] But, they don't always tell the truth.
Getting the right employee benefits solutions to the right customers (at the right time) isn't easy. It's further complicated by the fact that many brokers don't tell the truth to sales reps who've pitched solutions for their clients.
I'm not talking about dropping waivers off a census or forgetting to disclose large claims. Those are rare, sleazy moves that should be dealt with swiftly and surgically.
I'm concerned about the hundreds of times a day companies believe they've received feedback on a proposal when it may not even have been evaluated by the broker, let alone their customer. Sometimes there's no feedback at all.
I recently met with a national sales team to discuss how to get actionable feedback about their position from a broker.
Their minds were blown at my suggestion that sometimes a broker's polite way of breaking...
Who produced 20% of your practice revenue this year? Do you have a high degree of confidence that they’ll repeat or was that “accidental” revenue? If production isn’t going to come from them, who will deliver? Benefits leadership is tough enough; let's get real about new business and remove some mystery from 2019. What resources will your new clients leverage? It varies widely based on size, industry and funding mechanisms, making those details in a pipeline invaluable.
In many firms, benefit leaders are responsible for practice investments without reliable insights into producer activity. I think we’ve outgrown leveraging historical production and a Magic 8 Ball to “guess-ti-budget” new business revenue and then holding our breath to see if it materializes. As I’ve written previously here, I'm empathetic to the challenges in our business. I'm concurrently optimistic and believe it's possible to tactically prioritize...