To the Point by Jack Bobo
On Jan. 1, 1979, I celebrated my mothers birthday in Phoenix, then boarded a plane for Washington, D.C. The weather in Phoenix was beautiful, temperature around 72 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. When I landed in Washington a few hours later, the skies were gray, it was cold and snow was in the forecast. But it was important that I get to Washington that day for the next day, Jan. 2, was my first official day as head of the staff at National Association of Life Underwriters headquarters.
I will never forget that first morning. As I drove to the NALU headquarters, snow was starting to fall, the cloud level was down around the treetops, people on the streets were bundled in heavy clothing and it was really cold. After I parked my car in the lot, I walked around the building to the front door and as I did so, I observed that the building never looked drearier, a stark contrast to the gleaming buildings I left in Phoenix. By the time I arrived at my office, I was really low and asking myself, “My God, what have I done?”
But as I walked into my office, there was sitting in the middle of my desk a Steuben eagle and a note from the Million Dollar Round Table Executive Committee wishing me well in my new endeavor. No one will ever know how much that raised my spirits that day, and they never flagged in succeeding years.
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Also memorable was my final MDRT meeting while I was NALUs CEO. Charles Marks, the MDRT president, presented me with a custom-made fly rod to “enhance my days in retirement.” Coincidentally, the date of that presentation happened to be my birthday, which Charles announced to the audience. Having “Happy Birthday” sung to you by over 5,000 people is an awesome experience and once again, my spirits were lifted by these people as I entered a new phase of my life.
But in between these events I had the pleasure of working cooperatively with some truly great MDRT Executive Committees and the staff at their headquarters. As a new person in association management, my relationship with Rod Geer, the consummate professional association executive, was of immense help. Rods service as staff head at MDRT was a model that I often used as a guide in my own work at NALU.
John Prast followed Rod as staff head of MDRT, and he continued in the tradition and spirit of Rod Geer. It was a real privilege to have had the opportunity to work with both of them!
But even before my tenure in Washington at NALU, the MDRT played an important part in my life. Attending the annual MDRT meeting is an unforgettable experience, which starts with the flag ceremony honoring all the countries that have members. I have watched with interest as the number of flags from other countries has increased over the years. The addition of these new flags, I believe, more than anything else demonstrates the spreading influence of the U.S. around the world in the marketing of life insurance.
But there is another not-so-subtle point that characterizes this ceremony. Some of the flags that enter the arena represent countries that either dont speak to one another or are downright hostile, and yet they gather together at this meeting to learn from each other ways to better serve the insurance buying public.