In a turbulent world, intelligence wins.

And – good news – you can control how smart you are. IQ is not fixed.

If ever there was a time for insurance agents to be smart, it’s now.

I’m not talking about being a ‘nerd’ – though, technical skills matter more than ever.

I’m talking about the capacity to:

  1. Know what’s going on – awareness.
  2. Make smart decisions – wisdom.
  3. Execute sharply – action.

I was recently on a panel with three other industry thought leaders about ‘insurtech’ – the intersection of technology and insurance.

Not ‘little tech tools’ that might boost your Twitter following or post faster to Facebook.

Big ‘tech tools.’ The ones that visionaries think will transform the industry completely. If not disrupt it altogether.

That movement attracted over $1.7 billion dollars in investments. Last year alone.

At the end of the panel, we took questions from the audience.

One question – a good one – was how do we know this stuff?

My fellow panelists, all brilliant, live and breathe this world. I’m not surprised that more agents don’t know about the burgeoning world of insurtech.

Agents and brokers have a lot to do. You are busy.

But there is a storm right outside your office.  That storm is insurtech.  Some of it wants to change your life forever. Some of it probably will.

And some of it just plain wants your customers.

People do get hurt in times of turbulence. There’s often a thinning of the herd.

But also, in times like these, winners rise to the top.

And to be a winner now means being smarter than your competitors.

So I’d like to answer the question about how we know this stuff.

Here’s my 4 step process to gather a ton of  intelligence in a fraction of the time.

In a moment, I will share with you my personal ritual for gathering intelligence.  And I will share with you precisely what I read to master the trends that are affecting our industry.

In this case, I take the word ritual seriously.  There’s sufficient research on accelerated learning that demonstrates sitting rigorous, disciplined approach to learning rapidly hastens the road to mastery. (The love of learning is akin to the love of life. Watch a toddler learn to walk. That is focused joy. You can have that in your work.)

I believe that if you follow my simple process for gathering intelligence, it will, well, make you more intelligent.

  1. Decide what you want to know. In my case, for example, I want to know what is happening in the field of insurtech. I want to know about the trends in changes that may affect the retail agent and broker. I want to know the strategies and practices of successful software businesses. And I want to know the latest breakthroughs in all phases of digital marketing. Those are my ‘top topics.’
  2. Select a news aggregator. Personally, I use Feedly.  And, the free version perfectly suits my needs.
  3. Using your aggregator’s interface, Identify the categories and the sources of information from which you will gain intelligence.
  4. Make a ritual. Determine your discipline. And stick with it. Do it for a week. At some point, it becomes a habit. A routine.

QUOTE: “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.” W.H. Auden

Here is my personal reading ritual.  I’m up at 5:30 AM. Exercise. Meditate. Give thanks. (There’s a cold shower in there, too! You can skip that, but it does work wonders for me. ☺ )

At 6:30, first cup of coffee in hand, I hit my Feedly account.

It looks like this.


45 minutes later, I’m done. In a week, that’s almost 4 hours of reading. (That does not include project specific research that I may perform later in the day.)

  • If I see an article that I want to read later, I save it to my pocket account (one click does it). That looks like this.
    Pocket - My List
  • If I see an article that I think my followers would gain special value from, I click the Evernote extension on my chrome browser and save it to my social content notebook. Here’s the Chrome extension:
    Evernote Social Notebook

My Evernote social content notebook looks like this.


  1. If I see an article that is especially valuable, I will often highlighted with a chrome extension called GistNote. (I believe it is one of the great research tools of all time!) it looks like this.


Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest species that survives but the most adaptable.” Regardless of the size of your agency or brokerage, now is the time to be adaptable.

Being adaptable means being able to learn.

The changing world requires it of us. You won’t see me trotting out the old marketing tricks that I taught ten or twenty years ago. (Do you want a copy of my old report, “25 Ways to Write a Killer Yellow Pages Ad?” Once upon a time, it was my most downloaded report.)

The very best marketing is grounded upon a deep understanding of today’s consumer, today’s technology and today’s insurance world.

Here is a short list of what I review every day. I’ve pared it down. It’s insurance-focused, with an emphasis on change, trends and things that really matter:

  1. Pocket: Recommended. As my Pocket account learns my reading interests, it recommends articles that would likely interest me. (A round of applause for machine learning!) It tends to be light on insurance news. Heavy on social media, digital marketing, consumer behavior.
    Pocket Recommended
  2. Coverager. The founder, Shefi Ben Hutta, was a fellow panelist on the insurtech webinar. Coverager is smart, fun, informed. Shefi is committed to ‘buidling the most optimistic and informed community of insurance professionals.’ Shefi delivered amazing insight on industry trends here in my interview with her.
  3. The Accenture Insurance Blog. Their researchers and consultant routinely blog relatively short, pithy insights on industry trends.
  4. Insurtech News. Self evident. A good curator of relevant content.
    Insurtech News
  5. Insurance Tech Insights from CB Insights. They post less frequently, every week or two – but when they do, it’s pure science. Lovely.
    Inusrance Tech Insights
  6. Insurance Thought Leadership dishes up smart insights and opinions from thought leaders throughout the industry. The founder, Dave Dias is a long time friend of brokers and passionately devoted to the industry. (You must listen to my interview with Dave here.)
    Insurance Thought Leadership
  7. Digital Insurance (formerly, Insurance Network News).
    Digital Insurance
  8. Insurance Innovator Report. While IIR is largely a resource for insurance IT professionals, their focus on distribution and customer experience keeps me coming back.
    Insurance Innovation Reporter
  9. Of course, insurtech isn’t the only thing we need to keep our eyes on. For the most current pulse of industry news, a quick review of Insurance Journal and PC360 is a must. (Rough Notes is an industry standard and cares deeply about the broker channel. I wish they’d pick up their digital presence a couple of notches.)
  10. Leading insurance thinkers offer insights through regular blog postings. Our friends at Agency Nation recently published a list that several agents & brokers should read. (I suggest you add their excellent blog to your reading list.)

That takes care of most of the insurance stuff, especially the insurtech reading.

Of course, no list is complete without reminding you that I’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. I’ll review, curate and share. If you comment, I do everything I can to respond. Not much misses my eye.

You can follow me on Twitter here. If even you’re not active on Twitter, it may be time to, at least, use it to gain intelligence. (That alone justifies a few minutes a day.) You can connect with me on LinkedIn here. And, subscribe to my blog on the right side of this page.

The bottom line is simple. Today’s insurance consumer is changing. Today’s insurance world is changing.

Don’t trot out old tricks and expect them to work like they did yesterday.

Be aware. Gather intelligence. Ritualize it – as I have done – and stay on top of the rapidly changing insurance environment in which we live.

In this turbulent insurance world, the smartest broker wins.

Are their other resources I missed? What else do you read that helps you win?


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