According to several recent studies, volunteerism continues to decline in popularity. The decline is being felt in all sectors–churches, boy scouts, business organizations and social clubs, to name a few. This is really sad because so much of our culture in the past has been enriched by the work of volunteers who have devoted time, energy and resources for the common good. There are no doubt many causes for this, but that is not the subject of this column. Rather, my purpose is to focus on the missed opportunities this trend has created. I continue to believe that there is real serendipity when one accepts a voluntary job, in that personal growth almost always follows.
I was reminded of this at a recent meeting of the Phoenix NAIFA (formerly NALU). The speaker at the meeting was a long-time friend and retired CEO of a New York-based life insurance company. The speaker related his experiences as he rose from a local group insurance representative to CEO of the company. He attributed the start of that growth experience to the occasion when he joined the local life underwriters association.
A member of our local membership team had called on him several times about joining the association and at first he was not sure this was an organization he needed to belong to. However, our membership committee member was persistent and he finally agreed to join. But he did more than join–he became heavily involved. He became chairman of the legislative committee for health insurance. Along with other members of the committee he worked hard for a bill the industry then sponsored. In doing so he became more articulate and developed an understanding of how the legislative process worked and how best to represent your case. Working with other members of our local, he developed a clearer picture of our own business as well, and in particular, the factors that motivated agents whose business he sought.
In time his company recognized the growth he was experiencing and promoted him to the home office with larger responsibilities. From there he was promoted to the position of CEO of their New York company. His tenure in New York was very successful and he led the company to new heights. He continued his involvement in industry affairs and was elected chairman of LICONY, the company organization for New York State. Again, his organizational experiences gained at our local association stood him in good stead. I was once seated next to Peter Flanagan, CEO of LICONY, at an industry function and he told me that our speaker was one of the best elected heads of the organization that he had ever worked with.
Our speaker, even though retired, is still active in other associations requiring extensive work with Congress. He acknowledged that his effectiveness today in that work can be traced to his early days working with the Arizona legislature in behalf of NALU issues.
In the end, he described his joining the local life underwriters association as “a life-changing event” and thanked long-time membership committee member Marshall Roberts for making it happen.