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The Titanic or the ark?

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President Reagan once remarked, “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” That tongue-in-cheek statement may underscore the dissatisfaction and need for change expressed by the voters two weeks ago. The founders didn’t foresee a full-time legislature or – worse yet – career politicians.

Too often, the driving force of permanent politicians is their nearly pathological need to be re-elected. That imperative outweighs all other factors – frequently including their desire or willingness to listen to constituents. When that happens, they go into “transactional” mode, just like that “other” profession.

Thirty-five members of the House and four new senators have no political experience. The lamestream media is aghast at this development. They wonder how anything will get done with these political rubes in the mix. If being an amateur means retaining the ability and desire to listen to their constituents, I suspect we’ll do just fine.

In our industry, the best advisors and carriers listen much more than they speak. Years ago, a New England insurance company brought together a group of their field people. They were tasked with being the driving force behind the development of a new and revolutionary disability insurance contract. The field people in turn sought input from their most prolific advisors. Working together with the home office, they created a contract that mirrored the needs-based approach, so many of us learned as the bedrock of our sales process.

Sadly, the plan was a victim of the late 1990′s DI industry retrenchment. Yet nearly every time I help an advisor make a sale, I think about that plan and how easy it was to explain and sell to clients. All these years later, most of those contracts are still in force. Why? Because the company listened to their “constituents” and built a plan that served their needs.

The word amateur is actually the French word meaning “lover of … “. As we watch the political process unfold, here’s some bumper sticker wisdom to remember: Professionals built the Titanic. Amateurs built the ark.

Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.


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