Face to face with the future

Face to face with the future

Imagine you could see tomorrow today and you didn’t have to rely on the “magic” of Disney World to do so. The Independent Insurance Agents of America National Young Agents Committee (YAC) makes that possible for agents up to age 40. At the 1994 National Young Agents Leadership Development Conference, held just prior to the IIAA’s annual convention in Orlando in late October, the chairs and vice chairs from the participating states’ young agent committees convened to network with peers, share experiences and ideas, and honor outstanding state committee achievements.

In welcoming state delegates to the conference, Lynn Mathis, CPCU, chairperson of the IIAA Young Agents Committee, said, “Through various discussions and roundtables, you will share leadership techniques and tactics. You’ll learn how to strengthen your relationship with your state association and get your committee members motivated and working together on programs that can make a real difference for your association and industry.”

Though this was the 19th such leadership development conference for the Young Agents Committee, this was the first time it was held in conjunction with the IIAA’s annual convention. Dovetailing the meetings gave state young agent committee leadership access to many of the IIAA’s executive committee members, a number of whom have roots in the Young Agents Committee themselves. The conference theme, “Explore the Best,” set the tone for what would take place during the two-day gathering.

YAC builds leaders

The opening general session featured a panel of individuals who identified the Young Agents Committee as important in the development of their own careers. Now top people on the state or national level, these Big I leaders acknowledged the value young agents bring to the state association as they grow and mature, and move into leadership positions themselves. The panel’s consensus was that solid, active YACs can be a viable committee to a state association and a solid training or ground for the future leaders of both the state and national associations.

Panel member George Shaffer, IIAA’s president-elect, pointed out that fellow panelist Jim Armitage, vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California, is a “prime example” of how the Young Agents Committee cultivates leadership. Armitage is immediate past chairman of the National Young Agents Committee and in line for the presidency of the IIABC.

Other panelists included Ron Smith, IIAA vice president and former executive committee liaison to the Young Agents, who recalled his own YAC involvement by saying, “Had I not been active in Indiana’s YAC program when I was younger, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

Whistle stops boost membership

Bob McVay, immediate past president of the IIA of North Carolina, was also a panel participant. He applauded at a suggestion made by YAC Region III director Jackie Ireland to combine the energies of the state YAC and association executives to build membership. Ireland had proposed hosting regional “whistle stop” breakfast or luncheon meetings for young agents who weren’t active. Announcements of the whistle stops were sent to all member agents in the state inviting the “under 40 crowd” to the area’s gathering at which Ireland, McVay, and state executive vice president Bob Bird would speak about the young agent activities. McVay reported that as a result of these whistle stops many new member agents, especially those from rural areas, were responding and getting involved.

The fifth panel member Jim Peterson, executive vice president of the IIA as of Georgia, observed, “The Young Agents are the foundation of the future…a firm foundation which allows for future effectiveness.”

Other program highlights included:

* regional roundtables which focused on state YAC projects and accomplishments, and problem-solving techniques;

* a Future Force panel which discussed the importance of Future Force as a young agent program and how it can be used to increase young agent membership;

* membership roundtables at which YACs with a comparable number of members shared proven methods of getting successful programs under way on the state level; and

* concurrent roundtables which detailed projects such as government affairs, InsurPac, InVEST or education that would enhance state YAC involvement.

Copyright Rough Notes Co., Inc. Jan 1995

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