From the April 2012 issue of American Agent & Broker •Subscribe!

Lessons from Oz

We’re all familiar with the perils Dorothy faced as she traveled through the Land of Oz. Constantly on the lookout for lions, tigers and bears, her journey along the Yellow Brick Road was fraught with uncertainty. Dorothy easily could have thrown in the towel, but she had the drive and desire to stay the course.

Examining Dorothy’s path to success, several things stand out: She established goals (return home), had a plan (follow the road), had the drive and desire (help from her ruby slippers) and surrounded herself with a strong and committed team (the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow). Facing challenges, Dorothy could have left her team behind and “sold out” to the wicked witch, but she remained loyal to her team and committed to her plan and goals.   

Similarly, the recent path for the independent agent has had plenty of uncertainty and challenges: the everlasting soft market, the impact that healthcare reform will have on your benefits book of business, or even the feeding frenzy of acquirers, jeopardizing true independence.

I have seen firsthand how the top independent agents find, nurture and protect the key ingredients to stay independent and grow:

  • The Tin Man (the heart of your agency) represents the employees that have built the agency, and is reflected in the clients retained year after year. It is commitment to the community and your firm’s investments in continuing education for you and your team. These efforts make up your company culture, which is at the heart of every successful agency.
  • The Lion (courage) comes from your willingness to stay independent despite being tested every day by the economy and finding the courage not to sell out your agency’s “heart” but to serve clients first and foremost. It takes courage to create a perpetuation plan that allows your team the opportunity to participate in the ownership of the business, and courage to forge forward in the soft market while continuing to invest into your business.       
  • The Scarecrow (brains) is your ability to see, plan and stay current with industry issues that could fall in your path. Wisdom and intelligence is available all around you through consulting firms, associations and industry lobbying groups.   

We all have a Yellow Brick Road to follow and there will always be threats along our journey. It is how you embrace your heart, courage and wisdom that will allow you to stay the course.  


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