This article was originally featured in the September 2019 Issue of OTR, titled 'Music to My Brain', and is reprinted with permission of ON THE RISK, Journal of the Academy of Life Underwriting.
The general population doesn’t know what life underwriting is or what a life underwriter does. Introducing yourself as a life insurance underwriter typically gets you blank stares. Based on personal experience, it would go something like this:
If you grew up in North America in the 1980s, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with, or even watched, the wrestling television program called the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). This sports show included popular wrestlers Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Many of these athletes were larger than life, but one redefined the term “giant.” André Rene Roussinoff, better known by his ring name André the Giant, stood 7’4” (224 cm) with a billed weight of 520lbs (236 kg). He appeared ginormous in the ring, and as a kid, I figured he was just a huge person. In fact, Andre the Giant suffered from a rare endocrine condition called Gigantism that causes abnormal growth during childhood and adolescence.
You’ve made it to the final instalment of the business leadership series. Your business model is sound, the vision is set, and the operation is running – but how do you keep your people motivated and ready to do their best work, day after day, month after month, year after year?
The medications we take control our ailments and make us feel better, but what many patients don’t know is that the pills they take may not be approved for their condition. After all, in the US, Canada, and the UK once a medication is approved to treat a condition, a physician can legally prescribe it for any other purpose. This medical practice of writing prescriptions for non-approved medication is called off-label prescribing or off-label drug use. Off-label prescribing is widespread in medicine: some estimates place the rate of all off-label prescriptions as high as 20%, with psychiatric drugs alone at 31%.
Parts 1-5 of this business leadership series helped you set the foundation to run the business successfully. Now you are ready to zero in on the challenges and opportunities that will have the biggest impact on your customers and on your bottom line. It’s time to put words into action and start running the business each day.
As underwriters, we analyze risk in insurance proposals and determine policy terms and premiums on the basis of actuarial, statistical, and background information. We receive intense training and amass great amounts of knowledge through hands-on training. We accordingly possess stellar analytical skills, keen attention to detail, and advanced verbal communication skills.
Moreover, we exercise sound judgement, show consummate negotiation skills, and maintain an extraordinary ability to think outside the box in making the pieces of insurability evidence fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These special powers make us the superheroes of the insurance industry.
I just came back from a three-day leadership course. It was an insightful course that not only reinforced some of what I already knew about leadership, but also taught me new skills to help me improve as a leader. Most importantly though, it got me thinking about why I’d decided to become a leader in the first place.
In part 1-4 of this business leadership series you’ve investigated the business structure, identified the gaps and communicated a clear and vivid vision. Now, it’s time to start thinking about how you can improve the financial results of your business. In part 5, you will analyze and identify what you can (and should) focus on in your business to make it profitable. In other words, you have to find the key levers that drive results and that you have control over.