Part 1 was meant to draw out emotion. I wanted to make you a little uncomfortable. I wanted to make you think. I wanted us all, as an industry, to start talking about technology and social media and relationships and insurance and ProjectCAP and the future.
Part 1 was a call-to-arms for young insurance agents to stand up and be heard in the marketplace. Not because young agents know better than veteran agents but rather as young agents we have a unique perspective that needs to be part of the conversation.
In that regard I would consider Part 1 a huge success. So many insurance professionals contacted me with their own inspirational stories of taking the independent agency message to the Inter-web… I’ve personally been blessed to connect with so many amazing people.
The ball is rolling… Believe that.
However, I must address an unintended consequence to Part 1 that will also lead me into the point of this article, Part II. In Part 1 of Social Media Unites Young Agents, I asked old timers to “Get out of the way” and let young agents harness the tools given to us by technology. When I submitted this article to American Agent & Broker, I knew this phrasing would elicit emotion. What I didn't realize was some members of our industry would view it as a divisive fence built between the more veteran members of our Industry and our younger professionals.
When I said "get out of the way" what I meant was "unshackle us." Old timer as it relates to age, was not my intention. Old timer as I intended, is a mentality. Old timer to me is the narrow mindset that hinders so many of our independent agencies across the country. And believe me there are old timers who can be considered young agents as well.
Divided We Fail
I receive emails from insurance professionals asking questions about breaking the shackles of traditional agency marketing. It is the outcry of these individuals that I was addressing in the nGInsights blog.
Here is one example: How to Convince Your Internet Hating Boss an Online Presence is Important. If you've read anything I’ve ever written other than that one article you'd see that I promote the same relationship driven independent agency that the forbearers of our industry built their success upon. What we need now is for every generation of insurance professional to combine best practices, experiences and ideas to form like an insurance voltron (A fictional defender of the independent insurance agency system) to defend the value-based selling we believe in.
If the words I used in the nGInsights blog offended you because you thought I was age bashing, than I apologize—but I must admit that I am not sorry for writing the article. It was meant to be a bell ringer... a war cry... not to pin baby boomer against Millennial but rather independent insurance agents and our carrier brethren against the competitors that threaten our livelihood.
Look at ACT. An amazing group of which I am a proud member, which is made up of insurance professionals from every generation that have dedicated themselves to discussing the cutting edge tools, techniques and technology that will grow the insurance industry.
Do you think I was talking to the more experienced members of that group, the people pushing social media in circles of influence I have no access to, the people able to shift our industry? Do you think I was talking to these people, whom I have the utmost respect and admiration, when I used the words “old timer”?
No, no I wasn’t.
Part 1 was meant to rattle your cage. It was meant to spur discussion. It was meant to bring technology believers off the sidelines and into the battle for our longevity and legacy.
Read on for Ryan's challenge to the industry
We Carry the Torch Together
The independent insurance agency is falling behind in the technology and marketing chess match. But all hope is not lost, not by a long shot. We have plenty of Bobby Fischers out there doing amazing things.
What we need is for everyone to wake up to see what is happening. That was the purpose of the Part 1. Instead of “Get out of the way”, maybe I should have said: “Unshackle us. Let us be your mentees, but respect our opinions and enthusiasm. Let young agents be part of the growth and strengthening of the industry we love. Teach us how to sell and then let us help apply that knowledge to the Internet—so we all can succeed.”
I have no intention of being a divisive force within our industry. If anything, my passion is the exact opposite. Yes, young agents can be brash, bold and a little crass. But that is why we need each other. That is why as an industry, working together, only amazing things are possible.
That is why I see so much potential moving forward. That is why I’m writing THIS article.
Today I challenge myself to do ONE thing that helps to promote the independent insurance agency system.
What will you do?
I hope to see you on the Internet battlefield.