Recent Articles by Mike Manes
Insurance is Not a Commodity? Hmmm
I was scanning the Insurance Thought Leadership site, and saw the Most Popular Article today is Insurance is not a commodity, by Chet Gladkowski. Number 10 on this same list was Lemonade – Insurance is changed forever, by Rick Huckstep. Both articles were well written and thought provoking (for us folks in the insurance industry). […]
You Must Break Free of Your Culture
By my definition, culture is the house rules. An edgier definition comes from David Balestracci: “Quite simply, culture is created by what is tolerated….Your current processes are perfectly designed to get the results they are already getting.” In any case, culture is the most powerful force in your organization. It can bring greatness, or cause […]
What Trump Means for Best Practices
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, the majority of a major minority of the people in this country opened the window, stuck their heads out and yelled just as Howard Beale instructed in Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The rest will be history. Power to the people! As […]
Destination 2020: Adventure or Disaster?
Today, GPS makes getting directions easy. A successful trip, however, is much different and a greater challenge than just good directions. Today, as a passenger on Planet Earth, you are heading to 2020 with more than 7 billion other folks. Our destination is known – what we’ll find when we get there, is not. Your […]
26 Most Important Words in Business
The second edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. Many, if not most, of these words have been used in the thousands of business books now in print. Our alphabet includes 26 letters. The popularity of Twitter shows how much can be […]
Are You on Your Game, or Is Your Game Over?
Weeks ago, Jim and I met for coffee to solve all the world’s problems. We didn’t, but he did hand me an article about Sudoku and said, “There may be a story in here.” He was right. I just didn’t realize how quickly it would appear on my computer screen. Later that day, when I was […]
Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?
If you’re raking ashes in California or ripping out sheetrock and carpets in Louisiana (where I live), you are disaster-wise. We grow through adversity. If you have never lived through a disaster, you are probably – with all due respect – dumb, fat and happy. This article is written with one intent – to make […]
Hard Lessons From the Louisiana Flooding
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” On Aug. 12, 2016, it was the best of times in Denham Springs, (Livingston Parish) LA. By Monday, Aug. 15, 2015, it was the worst of times. Denham Springs was a community of 10,000-plus people in […]
Get Used to It: We’re Not One World!
Paul Harvey used to say, “We’re not one world.” He was right. When I started in the business, it wasn’t one world. But that didn’t matter to the old guy who owned the place. The only opinion that mattered was that of the owner, and, if you didn’t like it, you could leave. That’s the way […]
Differentiation – Real Advantage or a Lie?
In 1965, as college freshmen in the Deep South, we were oblivious to the cultural revolution that was starting to sweep campuses around the country. We were tradition-bound and institutionally managed by a dress code. Our hair could not touch our shirt collars (shirts with collars were mandatory) or cover our ears. Our shirts had […]
Are You Still Selling Newspapers?
“Who is that guy, and what’s he doing?” Shaun called me, laughing. He explained that he had just heard about a teenager who was at his friend’s house. As they walked through the den – he saw an older man reading a newspaper in a recliner and asked the question above. The man’s son said, […]
Change at the ‘Speed of Life!’
In my career, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words on change. I was preparing another article for your consideration, when three articles, one invoice and one memory made my ramblings about speed unnecessary. Consider the following, then decide – is the market being transformed? The memory – In 1978, I represented the Famex Insurance […]
Healthcare Reforms Aren’t Sustainable
A recent NPR program celebrated the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The benchmark was that many really sick people finally had coverage and that many poor people were now obtaining coverage because of subsidies or because of the expansion of Medicaid. If measured by participation, the healthcare reform under ACA is a success, […]
Decision Dysfunction in Corporate America
Nancy Newbee is the newest trainee for LOCO (Large Old Company). She was hired because she is bright, articulate, well-educated and motivated. She is in her second week of training. Her orders include: “We’ll teach you all you need to know. Sammy Supervisor will monitor your every action and coordinate your training. Don’t take a […]
Agents: What’s That Spot on Your Face?
In December 2008, a spot appeared on my face. It looked like a large freckle. I ignored it. In March 2009, Floyd and I were having breakfast. He asked, “What’s that spot on your face?” I answered, “A freckle.” He then responded, “What are you going to do about it?” My reply, “Not a thing […]
The Need for ‘Price-Driven Costing’
In 1973, I began my insurance career as a claims’ adjuster. We handled some of the first claims in the new NFIP Flood Program. There was chaos. A year later, I was hired by Cumis Insurance to staff a new sales office in Baton Rouge,LA. The market hardened dramatically, capacity was limited and our office […]
Getting to 2020: the Right Way to Lead (Part 4)
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Walt Kelly, Pogo To conclude this four-part series on setting your agency up for what it needs to be in 2020 (the first three parts of which can be found here, here and here), I asked a longtime friend to describe the surprise he experienced when […]
Getting to 2020: Redefining the Culture (Part 3)
This is the third in a series of four articles that offer a “road less traveled” to Agency 2020. The first article focused on your agency in the marketplace’s current reality. The second article considered the world as it might be in 2020. Today, we address the processes necessary to ensure you have the “seed […]
Getting to 2020 — Defining the Unknown (Part 2)
Today’s exercise focuses on the best concepts you can dream up so your organization can thrive in the future. You’ll then need to perform a reality test on those ideas, using research you’ve developed. This article follows up on my first, in which I argue that now is the time to prepare for what I […]
‘Agency 2020’: Can You Get There? (Part 1)
It’s been 45 years since astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said. Many consider this to be mankind’s greatest adventure. Today, you should begin planning for the greatest adventure in your agency’s history. Now is the time to prepare […]
Look Up, Look Out, Think New!
“The stalking weasel has its nose to the ground. It never hears the descent of the hawk. Until. . . ” -Andrew Vachss, author Are you like the weasel? Are you so focused on what you’re doing that you don’t hear the hawk that will soon take you out of the marketplace? You may […]
The Revolution Is Coming! Be Ready
The world, the world of risk and risk in the world will be as different in 2020 as the original 13 colonies were from the U.S. as it is today. The bad news is that Paul Revere won’t ride through your town alerting you. So you'll have to settle for me — and I am, in fact, giving […]
A Real Checklist for Real Disasters
In a fraternity, they’d call this hell week. At your agency, this is the one week each year when you deliver renewals to your four largest accounts. Renewals might be a misnomer this year because you are moving all of the accounts to a market that is better for you and them. Two of the accounts were being […]
A Primer on Leadership: the 26 Most Important Quotes
The starting point “The absolute of leadership is followers.” — Peter Drucker, management guru and author of dozens of influential books Defining reality “The first role of the leader is to define reality.” — Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller and author of Leadership Is an Art Verifying reality “All the well-meaning advice in […]
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