Last night at a karaoke party hosted by Prudential, I watched folks more aligned with premiums and policies step outside of their comfort zone — way outside.
It’s dangerous enough to get in front of peers and sing your guts out even if a few beers gives one a mythical sort of courage. But that didn’t prepare us for what was to come.
I expected and got the requisite number of warblers belting out Garth Brooks and Neil Diamond ditties, but for the most part people refused to play it safe.
When you see annuity gurus galloping Gangnam Style in gold lamé shirts you know you’ve trod upon an unfettered landscape.
Throughout the raucous performances, my boss wanted to talk about work and I wanted to talk about zombies, and with neither of us able to be heard without shouting, I went back to my room to decipher what I’d just experienced and to coax the ringing in my ears to cease.
I’d heard that the NAILBA Conference could bring this out in insurance folks and hadn’t believed it. Now I did and had a thrumming hum in my skull as proof. Unable to make sense of it all, I went to sleep.
This morning, during Major Dan Rooney’s keynote speech, something he said brought it all together for me.
Prowling onstage in a fatigue-colored military outfit, Major Dan told us that as a collegian, he’d been a decent golfer (he’s now a professional) and a marginal student. He was sitting in a classroom with other jocks in what he thought was the easiest course on campus — sports psychology.
Rooney wasn’t a nobody going nowhere when he entered class that day, but by his own admission he wasn’t “great” either.
Something the professor said woke him up. “I had an epiphany.” From that moment it truly hit him for the first time: He had the power to choose his own path. He had the choice to pursue his dreams.
Whether playing on the PGA Tour or flying combat missions in an F-16, that’s what Major Dan’s been doing ever since. And that’s what those insurance folks were doing galloping in their gold lamé.
If you’re going to dream, don’t dream a little dream. Dream a big dream — a big, shiny, gold dream.
When it finally hit me that “dreams” were sort of an unspoken theme at this year’s show, I started to laugh. Inspired by Major Dan, the guy next to me balled up his fist like he was going to throw a punch. I wanted to explain that we were two sides of the same coin, both of us basking in Major Dan’s wisdom, but I decided to cut my losses and get out of there.
Dreams? Yeah, dreams. How fitting, I thought, with Disney World right down the road, the place where dreams come true.