Kitty Ambers, CEO of Network of Vertafore Users Paints Clear Picture of the Future for Successful Agents
Are you ready for 2019? If you’re hoping to make this your best year ever, you don’t want to miss Michael’s conversation with Kitty Ambers. Kitty has been providing independent agents with guidance and leadership through her many positions and professional roles for over 25 years. She was the Executive Director of the Instar Users’ Group, CEO of NetVU, CIC Faculty member… the list of her qualifications goes on and on. Like many of our best guests, Kitty also cares about the agency channel. (It’s been in her blood for three generations). In this interview, she shares her insights into our fast-changing industry like:
- The three critical roles of the agency principal of the future: Strategic Leader, Relationship Manager, Team Leader…and, how that’s different today from how it’s ever been! (As Kitty says: With today’s media, ‘It’s like being on stage all the time!’)
- Why it’s not just the change but the speed of change that scares so many agents – and Kitty’s remedy for staying on top!
- How the nature of the Independent Insurance Agency is forcing agents to re-think their ‘business blueprint’… and how your deepest expertise drives growth.
Please don’t miss this conversation with one of the industry’s most respected thought leaders. Listen today and get ideas you’ll want to put into your 2019 business plan!
What are other agents & brokers doing to thrive? What are the biggest trends affecting the retail insurance agent & broker? What are the most important strategies and tactics you need to grow faster? Find out here in the Connected Insurance Podcast, where Michael Jans discusses the biggest issues affecting the independent insurance agent and broker with the industries leading figures.
One More Thing! What do you think? How will you and your peers use this to grow your agency or brokerage? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, subscribe to get updates delivered to you, and *please share this if you found it informative.
[Transcript] Kitty Ambers – CEO of Network of Vertafore Users
Michael: Kitty Ambers, delightful to have you. How are you?
Kitty Ambers: I am doing fantastic, Michael. Thank you so much for asking and for having me on today.
Michael: Well, thrilled too. Let’s start with this. First of all– For the audience, for those of you don’t know Kitty this is a conversation you absolutely need to listen to and you’ll find out shortly why. Let’s start with this, Kitty, I have known you for years and years in various capacity in the industry but not everybody has. How did you get to be who you are today?
Kitty: Wow. You ask the hard question first.
Kitty: I actually I’m one of those folks that grew up in the business. I’m third generation and my grandmother was a vice president of an insurance agency in downtown Baltimore many, many years ago. That is not really the lineage but my mom and dad started an independent agency from scratch in the early ’80s. I grew up as their perpetuation plan, actually going to college and getting a degree. Somewhere around that end of college, my dad got an offer to be bought out and he couldn’t pass that up. I told him he couldn’t pass that up.
Michael: Change of perpetuation plans?
Kitty: So much for that. Yes, it worked up. I told him, I said, “Look, here I am 20 years old, you’re not going to mess this up on my behalf. I’ll be all right.” Lo and behold it turns out I have been all right having spent a good bit of time in the association side of our industry. I was part of our agency’s first foray into insurance technology when we installed the red shelf system many, many years ago.
Michael: Some decade, what decade was that?
Kitty: That was in the mid ’80s. I misquoted. My folks actually started in the late ’70s, sorry now that I’m thinking about it. Years pass by and I don’t feel like I get any older so my years got all mixed up.
Michael: [laughs] it’s because you still have youthful energy, Kitty.
Kitty: I try. I ended up at the forefront of insurance technology when we were all migrating into our first management systems and learning about integrations, learning about manufactured rates and rating. It makes me laugh today because in our agency we had different terminals, if you will, where you went over and used the traveler’s terminal to rate or you use The Hartford terminal to rate.
What are we doing today? We just sit in our chair and got all those individual spots now. That was obviously the forefront of all the comparative rating. Just a lot of the industry changes we have seen over the years. I have lived through and grew up with figuring out how to manage and helping others figure out how to manage.
Michael: You went on to run AIMS. Remind me what–
Kitty: American Insurance Marketing and Sales Society.
Michael: Which sponsors the CPIA designation, right?
Michael: Then went on to become the– Are you CEO? What’s your title?
Kitty: Yes, CEO.
Michael: Of NetVU?
Michael: You had mentioned to me earlier conversation that you represent the interests of 500,000 users of Vertafore products?
Kitty: Yes, that’s the universe of users these days. It’s very dynamic, and exciting, and broad and there’s lots of needs at lots of levels.
Michael: There are half a million insurance professionals that are in your constituency so to speak?
Michael: All right. Then let’s listen to what Kitty has to say. I’m going to ask you a question because you had referenced to that earlier era and I’m looking for similarities. There was this era where agency principals had to make some decisions. Do I want to have a management system and comparative raters and new technologies and computer hardware, not even to mention these various software applications? This was a solid generation or generation plus ago.
I was around then. A lot of us did observe a fairly significant consolidation to the industry. In the period before that, at least there are reports. It might be difficult to find this out statistically, but reports say we are about 80,000 independent insurance agencies back maybe a generation plus ago. I recall George Nordhaus telling me that the original universe that he was operating in had 80,000. There were some fairly significant contraction, consolidation, mergers and acquisitions. In some cases, agencies just tailing it out going out of the business.
Not everybody wanted to make that transition that seemed to be forced by emerging technologies. That was emerging technologies of the ’80s and the ’90s. Now we are in a different situation where there are, of course, lot’s of new emerging technologies. The things that were shocking, we take for granted. Management systems pretty much take for granted and comparative raters pretty much take for granted.
Now we have new technologies that are attempting to address the changes in consumer behavior and literally on and on and on. Well, your conference, which we are going to talk about is huge. It’s a month plus ago that I was at the InsureTech Connect Conference and they were like 6,000 people there.
Kitty: I know.
Michael: We see that technology really is coming to change things. I’ll land the plane now. Do you see similarities between what was happening back then in the ’80s, with agency principals needing to make decisions about either choosing to embrace the future or maybe perpetuating and what’s happening now? Is there a similarity?
Kitty: Yes. I think at the heart of it there absolutely is similarities because in our world, in our business and in business in general today, I think the one thing that is constant is change. We all have to be broadly aware of all of the things that can impact us and can impact our constituencies; whether that’s our customers, in my world it’s our members. Change is a constant.
There’s so much flow of information, you really have to be disciplined about staying aware and finding the balance and line of thinking that helps you stay on the forefront and be looking forward. Again, there’s not just change but it’s the speed of change and the speed of information today that I think is terrifying, quite frankly. I love to ask people, “What are your top three sources of information?”
Michael: What do you find out? You may be exposed to maybe the more awake agents than the average, but what do people say to you?
Kitty: The people that are average consumers of information tend to love things that are quick snippets, recaps, and if I want to dig for more I can. That’s where in our marketing world, and Michael I know you’ve spent a lot of time in the marketing world and how do we get people’s attention. That’s where this whole power of the subject line to get your email opened. The whole shocking revelation that’s going to be revealed in the article that you are tweeting about.
All of that is very meaningful stuff if we’re truly trying to help people learn and convey, and we are trying to convey thoughts or information or inspire people to take a moment and think something through. I think that’s a lot of times the missing link today, is that we don’t take a step back and look at the broader landscape and look at what’s happening and then map out, “This is how this is going to impact me. This is how it’s going to impact my family, it’s how it’s going to impact my constituency, my community, my customers.”
Whatever groups of people you are inspired to serve, you’ve got to really take some time out and think it through. I think we missed the boat today with just how fast things are flying around, and how reactive we are or can get.
Michael: All right. You’ve opened up a can of worms that we can dive into here.
Michael: That speed of change thing, pretty big. Jack Welch somewhat famously said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.” Clearly, the rate of change on the outside is really fast. Insurance, in general, has a bit of a reputation for not changing fast. Agencies, I think have a pretty strong reputation for really not being cutting-edge, leading-edge innovators. What would you say about that discrepancy between the pace of the world outside and the pace of change in the average insurance agency? What would you say to those people?
Kitty: I really think it’s being a bit introspective and knowing who you are and who you want to be because you can’t be all things to all people. Anyone that tried that knows that you’re going to fail miserably. You’re not going to make people happy all the time, and if you are, you’re doing something wrong, I’ve been told. There’s some things like that to just fundamentally keep in mind.
I think if you are aware of what’s happening around you, and you are taking that back and thinking it through with your organization to say, “Is this in line with what we want to be from a strategic standpoint?” Then you’re doing that planning and having the selective- making the choices, not just being reactive but being proactive in your business blueprint, you can decide whether that change is going to impact you or not and you can decide whether you need to listen to it or not.
I think in our main street America industry world of the generation plus ago where we did try to whatever walk through our office door, we absolutely wanted to figure out how to serve them, and I think we have figured out that we need to be specialists in things. We need to have program, business, niche marketing, whatever it is that we want to become known as the expert on. You may not even realize you are until you sit back and analyze your book of business and go, “Look at that. We write an awful lot of that class of business. Guess we could maybe get intentional about growing that segment.”
Those are the kinds of things, I think, that really benefit agents today and the ones that are super successful are realizing that they’ve got to be good strategic business people as much as they need to be excellent insurance advisors.
Michael: All right, let’s dig into that a little bit. There are those who may say [laughs], and I might be among them, that agencies don’t practice strategy. Well, most. The great majority don’t really practice strategy. You outlined a narrative where you step back. Presumably, there’s really some strategic thinking. There’s some analysis of the landscape. I think you used that word, an environmental scan looking at the forces and changes and the trends that are affecting the industry. Then figuring out how to navigate through those turbulent waters and creating a blueprint.
All kinds of things that on one hand may feel seem fairly standard in business operations, but then you and I know that agency principals, like everybody else, show up at work probably with a full plate. The next thing you know, it’s five o’clock. Then it’s the next day and then it’s Saturday, and then boom, the next thing you’re celebrating the end of the year and never quite got around to that strategic planning.
My observation is there isn’t nearly enough and then agents go a little bit helter-skelter grabbing the next shiny new thing. Number one, in your observation, generally agree that there’s not enough analysis of strategy and execution on strategy?
Kitty: I would agree with that.
Michael: What do you think needs to be done to bridge that gap? Clearly, this is a time where good strategy will help us navigate our execution because we’re all going to do something all year long. Our staff, our team, we’re all going to be engaged all year long and so it would seem to make tremendous sense to have those engagements and those behaviors aligned around things that really matter. What do you think we need to do as an industry to take strategy and planning seriously?
Kitty: Well I think that if you look at those that do carve out the time or do have the consultants or do have the mastermind group that it’s an absolute requirement that you show up with this homework done, they’re obviously a little bit ahead of the game. I don’t know that the general group of independent agents out there today, I think the most common reason why it doesn’t happen is exactly as you said, they come to work every day with a full plate. There is always something happening and they think that, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have time to do this. I don’t have time to put all this stuff together.”
I think that we need to step back and realize that, you know what, it’s never going to be 100% baked. Start small. Find the one thing that you can do differently today than you did yesterday that can make a difference. It’s all about the little bitty steps. I do a lot of reading. I’m a very avid reader and I love listening to leaders and how they approach things. I think you know James Clear, I’ve been reading a fair amount of recently. He talks a lot about just a little incremental changes that you can make that ultimately the end of the year you turn around and you go, “Huh look at that. Look what just happened.”
It gives you the confidence then. Then it gives you the feeling of accomplishment so that you can look back and go, “You know what, what if I did this a little more? It really is worth my time to have a theme, have a mantra, have a plan that I just start chipping away at.” I think that that’s where we often, the average Joe or Jane, that’s where we go wrong. We think we have to have this pretty polished presentation document blah blah blah, no. Pick something and get started.
Michael: Got it. Back in the ’80s. There were some changes in the industry. When I first entered the industry, one of the early meetings that I organized as the executive vice president of the PIA on the West Coast was they were the battle of the management systems. I don’t know if you–
Kitty: I can see that.
Michael: We had a facilitator who traveled around the country and did this. It was like the battle of the bands. The audience was agency principles, all really serious and concerned. I remember they’d be looking at each other like, “Do you have an agency management system? Are you going to do this?” Then upfront, each management system rep would have 10 minutes to do a show and tell and then it was Q and A. It created a lot of consternation in the audience. People were intrigued, and fascinated, and concerned, and upset. There were those thinking, “This isn’t what I signed up for. I wanted to be in insurance. I didn’t want to be in computers,” and blah blah blah.
Now we have maybe some new challenges. What do you think the next few years? You’re right there in the middle of the real world practical discussions about technology. What do you think that the insurance world looks like a few years down the road? Pick a number, three to five years. At some point, predictions get silly. How do you think it’s different in the near future or mid-term future than it is today?
Kitty: Well, I think you see such a huge gamut right now in implementation of technology in agencies. There’s still that group out there that still have no management system. They’ve got what works for them. Again, back to what do I want to focus on, what do I want to be? You got to make sure that your selection of tools to do the job are in alignment with what you want to be now in and into the future.
I think that that’s where the vision is going as we hear about all the InsureTech solutions, and we hear about a lot of open API conversations, and we want to integrate and we want to push and pull data. I think that that’s all with an eye towards efficiency because at the end of the day, in the independent agent’s world, nothing happens until somebody sells something.
Still, fundamentally, at the end of the day how all of this gets done. If we’re not enhancing point of sale solutions, if we’re not– Once I’m done with data entry and I was on a call yesterday and somebody was chatting about, I’ve been hearing for years about this single entry multi company interface I was like, “Yes, I remember when that was born”
Michael: Semsi… Semsi, right?
Kitty: We’re still trying to get there. I think all of it is with an eye towards a couple of things. Number one, is efficiency because we’ve got to do more with less. Number two, it’s towards being a good risk manager, insurance advisor because with the legal environment today we’ve got to make sure we’re doing a very thorough job with less than four people who don’t have time to answer all the questions we need answered. How do we underwrite better using technology?
The third thing is, how do we know in the agency world that we’re paying attention to our numbers. We know it takes double renewal cycles to pay for that original cost of acquisition. How do we keep them happy, keep touching them, keep educating them. Then, of course, we have that overarching regulatory environment that we have to live with. For example, the new cyber security requirements that are coming, GDPR are for anybody that’s doing business in the UK. All of that’s going to trickle down into individual state legislation and we’re going to be impacted by it as an industry.
Michael: I think you’d mentioned last time we talked cyber leg in New York State.
Michael: It will affect anybody who’s doing business in New York state. The way state legislatures are, there tends to be a copycat effect. You know more about that than I do. Kitty, tell us a little bit about the cyber legislation and what that might do.
Kitty: Well, I know enough to be dangerous.
Michael: Okay [laughs].
Kitty: I know that it is a couple of things. There are folks out there who, again, we’ve got a full plate where we start the day. We haven’t taken the time to learn about the legislation that’s going to impact us in our business and our customers’ business. There is that piece that there’s just a huge amount of misunderstanding around, does it apply to me? Does it not apply to me? Which of the target dates do I need to be in compliance with? Is it just because I have a license in New York? Is it because I do business in New York? Is it because my customers do business in New York?
Using the organ as example, we’re seeing it in South Carolina, there’s California. There’s 42 states now that have it on the docket for this year in the next year.
Michael: The intent is to protect consumers and make businesses responsible for the data they maintain. Am I right?
Kitty: Correct. That’s the general gist.
Michael: Yes. Okay. That does, conceivably, could put quite an onus on business owners.
Kitty: Sure. Especially in some places there are very, very specific testing requirements and compliance requirements and validation that you’ve done this or that or the other to comply. That can be expensive. It’s definitely worth looking at. I know the Agents Council for Technology has done a really nice job of trying to summarize and give agents a bit of a road map to pay attention to for their own protection.
I think one of the things that’s interesting about the whole cyber arena is that there’s not a business out there today that probably isn’t impacted in some fashion. If you’re going to learn about it for your own business, leverage that knowledge you’re acquiring to help your client and sell them the coverage they need.
Michael: Sell them the coverage they need, right.
Michael: Maybe buy some. I want to circle back to something you said a few minutes ago about– Maybe it’s an old school perspective on what an insurance agency is, and what the neighborhood agency is, that kind of thing. Anybody who walks in, we’re going to try to figure out how to sell them a policy.
There’s a time and a place for everything, but I think you then began to paint a new narrative about the contemporary or the modern insurance agency. Clearly, they trade on their expertise and their wisdom and their knowledge and their specialization. Do you think the agency of the future looks more like that, with more specialization and less being a generalist?
Kitty Ambers: I think it depends on the impact or the possibility of automating some of the more standard things or partnering with something to do the more standard things. Now, in our agency and this was BC, before computers, we had a plan. We had kind of, “Here’s the market that we think we can serve. We happen to be about nine miles inland from the ocean.” We knew we didn’t want to write oceanfront property.
We happened to be pretty good at flood insurance, but again, not because we wanted to insure property. Interestingly enough, we focused on all of the inland small businesses who served the oceanfront community. That’s everything from small contractors, to dry cleaners, to cleaning services. We got pretty good at that segment. Then, obviously, some doors opened up and some new things happened. We got pretty specific and defined about what we were going to invest our time and our staff time and our education and training on.
We had no problem referring things that didn’t fit to other people we trusted to handle them. Then the same thing happened in return. Our neighboring professionals would refer folks to us because they knew that’s what we specialized in. I think we can do that almost in a global environment today because of the connectivity we enjoy today. The carriers and the accessibility to market that we have, whether it’s through our wholesale partners or through our standard carriers, there’s so much opportunity that you almost have to pick a team or two and get really good at playing on that team.
Michael: Right on. Well, for all of the anxiety and fretfulness and the worry that I think a lot of agents have had about the internet and how it’s changed, and new technologies, the threats that it presents and the problems and how it’s changed consumer behavior, it also opens up tremendous and relatively easy or comparatively easy opportunities for niche marketing, right? You can reach your market. It has allowed everybody to be a publisher, to be a content delivery service.
Enough on specialization. I think we all see that there are growing and progressively easier, lucrative opportunities for that. It raises another question. You’ve worked with agents your entire life, right? Maybe stuffing envelopes or sweeping the office back when you were a kid to now, obviously.
Kitty Ambers: Yes.
Michael: In the back of my mind I have a small book. A Michael Jans e-book publication in mind that I’m– When ideas come to me, I’m just jotting down a note and I may or may not get around to it. The working title in my head is something like, pick a number, 11, Eleven Unusual Skills Agency Principles Need Today. There are maybe some different skill sets that agency owners; they either need to have them themselves or they certainly need them in their agency that they didn’t need back in the day. Back in the day, you said social media, nobody would know what you were talking about. You talk about video, they were like, “Why would I shoot a video?” Campaign, marketing campaigns, email campaigns, the capacity to communicate in different media like writing. There’s some skills that are lucrative skills today. I’m curious what your perspective is on the changing role of the agency principal now compared to what it was in the past.
Kitty: Three things popped into my head and by the time I finish talking about the first one I’ll forget the other two.
Michael: I do that all the time. I got three things and here are two of them. All right.
Kitty: What popped into my head first was we’ve already talked about being a strategic leader, whether that’s from any of your business direction selection. That’s a given. I think at the heart of it all and all the things that you mentioned, we still have to, to be successful, be good relationship management people.
Michael: What does that mean? I’m going to press you on that one. This one I also feel really strongly about. I think that for years we’ve heard agency principles and insurance people say this is a relationship business. Now I got an agency with let’s say 8,000 customers and certainly the agency owner could walk down the aisle on the grocery store the carrots section and maybe there’d be a customer picking cucumbers right next to him and they wouldn’t know him. There’s just too many. Talk to me about relationship management today.
Kitty: Yes. Again, years ago we kept it on paper. It was the first page in every file was who the kids are and what they’re doing. You just had your little relationship note. Now we obviously have automation where we can put those things. If you start to think about, I grew up in a small town of 1,800 people and yes we wrote most of the town. My dad was the mayor. We knew everybody. You never went to the grocery store without having the makeup on. That kind of thing.
Think about that on a global basis today. With the social media, what is my persona and what am I doing in social to connect with people on a personal, like they would walk up to me in the grocery store or a church and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” How am I presenting myself in social. How am I able to present myself in person. To me, that’s where video is amazing.
Doing the virtual meetings is having a face in the place and we can do that today easily all over the world at any time of the day or night. I just think people and owners could be really mindful even if they don’t want to do it themselves. Who is the spokesperson and the face of your organization that’s out there and what is the messaging that you want to consistently be disseminating across your place. When I think about customer relationship management, I’m very much thinking about– It’s almost like being on stage all the time because you are.
Michael: Yes. Well said.
Kitty: Then, also being responsive. Many times the celebrities are on stage and then you never see them again. Now, you’ve still got to then reciprocate. What I find amazing today is the power of the handwritten note after I’ve done all of the technical stuff. The power of the handwritten notes that goes with a stamp on it is pretty amazing.
Michael: Right on. Stays on their desk for a month, right? It’s the only one they got but it does mean a lot. I say that as a former software and startup CEO, is that I would still send out the handwritten note on a one to one.
Kitty: One more piece on that relationship management from an agency owner perspective is, don’t forget your inside customers. Don’t forget about your team because they’re an extension of your firm. Building relationships with them, appreciating them, especially if you’re managing a remote workforce, is as powerful because you’re not walking through [crosstalk]
Michael: That’s on my list. That is on my list of unusual skills. That owners need to become increasingly comfortable and capable of remote management. Certainly I do, working out of the Casita here. This is it, right? The team that supports me, I don’t see them. I do video chats with them. That’s my team.
Kitty: Half my team is remote as well and it’s video, it’s Skype, it’s webinar.
Michael: You’re seeing more and more of that in the agency world, demand for remote?
Kitty: Yes. There’s just so much skill out there that, why beat somebody up making them drive to work two hours each day when they could be much more productive probably in half a day if you set them up correctly, give them the right tools, know how to manage them. There’s a lot of ifs that go along with that, it’s not, “Just stay home today and try to do what you can do.” No. It’s very, very intentional.
I read a book several years ago but it was entitled The year Without Pants. It was all about learning to manage a remote worker. It was fascinating. Some things you don’t think about.
Michael: As long as you have your camera properly adjusted, your webcam adjusted, you can go for a year without pants. Kitty, you said three things now. I’ve got, being a strategic leader, relationship management, a team leader I could throw that. Is that your number three?
Kitty: No. It’s something else. I forgot what it was.
Michael: I knew it. I have three final questions for you, but I’m only going to remember two. Okay?
Kitty: Okay, perfect.
Michael: Maybe even forgot. Okay, sorry, I can’t remember two of them. The first one is, and I’m circling way back here. If you were going to say to an agency owner, there are three things or whatever, two things or whatever, pick a number, that you need to do to be aware, to be alert, to know what’s going on. You can’t spend 40 hours a week on them. None of us– we can’t just consume information. We have to actually execute and run our businesses. What should they do to be aware of what’s going on?
Kitty: I think first off is to pick a publication podcast, wherever you want to get information that resonates with you, make it a practice to consistently tune in and then schedule yourself that 15 minutes of extra time to take a few notes on, “What did I learn today?”
Michael: Bingo. There you go listeners. Weekly listening to the podcast plus 15 minutes. That was a good subtle subliminal pitch there.
Kitty: I even do it with things that I read, is taking that couple extra minutes to say, “Did it apply? Didn’t it apply?” Maybe it didn’t apply to work life but maybe it’s something that applied to being the daughter of aging parents. Who knows? I’m open to that, but taking that time to debrief. I tell people to do the same thing when they go to a conference or an event or a training class, go having looked at the agenda, and “What do I intend to learn? What do I want to make sure I go to that I’m going to tune in on?”
Then take the time afterwards, whether it’s on the airplane or whether it’s the morning before you head home or whatever, and debrief yourself on, “I’ve got to go back and report to my organization what are the three things I took away from this that I’m going to share with them, that’s going to add value to our business?” To me, that’s really important. Be a good learner.
Michael: It’s really being a lifelong learner and doing it well. Your real gem was, I think, reminding people to learn well. Like listen all day long, what difference does it make. Listen and learn.
Kitty: It’s planful learning.
Michael: What did you call it?
Kitty: Planful learning.
Michael: Planful learning, I like that a lot. Here’s my last question. I’m going to ask you just to deliver a message but keep it short, kind of super pithy P-I-T-H-Y. Kitty, you get to stand on Michael’s soapbox and say, “Agents, listen up. I got one thing I want to say to you.” What do you want to say?
Kitty: Pick a theme, pick a direction, and start somewhere.
Michael: Bingo. Got it. I wrote it down, hope everybody’s listening. All right, kidding. I want to ask you to take a moment to tell us what’s up with NetVU. I think everybody probably is either looking forward to the conference or should be. Tell us what’s going on with NetVU.
Kitty: Well, great. Thank you. NetVU, we just went through a brand refresh. We’re super excited about that. You may have noticed the newly designed logo and our new tagline, which is “Strength in numbers”. If you’ve ever gone through a rebrand, refresh, or a branding exercise period, there is a lot that goes into it. I have to give a shout out to the Van Aartrijk Group because they walked us through every step of the way. Peter’s new book Power of 10 is fantastic.
I got an advance copy typos and all. I had to call him after I read it. I said, “Peter, I owe you an apology because I always thought all this stuff you were trying to do is a bunch of hoo-ha. Now I see why it really, really matters.” He laughed at me for that. That’s been at the heart of some of the things we’ve been working on because it is all about our members.
Our members range from the one person user of software, a single software solution, up to the largest insurance companies who are working with agents to integrate technology solutions, who are crafting their own solutions, trying to do a good bit of interfacing. It spans that large of a gamut. We’re always looking for how do we best serve the most members in the most efficient way. Education, obviously, is the cornerstone of that.
At our conference, which is May 21st through 23rd, in Cincinnati, Ohio, we’re excited with all the exposure to insurance companies that will be in that region of the country, as well as the number of members that can actually drive there. We’ve done some studies and we’re thinking about even some bus trips in for folks. We’re trying to do some fun, new and different things, but still at the heart of it is, how do we help businesses be better businesses by maximizing the use of the technology they’ve already bought and paid for.
So many systems, it’s like our brain are so underutilized. That’s a big focus and there will be 200 plus education sessions. When you get tired of going to the technical dry, it’s not that it’s dry but there’s just some things that make your brain hurt. We have several new tracks we’re introducing. We introduced last year around executive development, leadership, the strategic planning we’ve been talking about. We’ve got one track that’s called Go Grow You, and it is all about growing your personal skills.
If you want to be a better remote worker, here’s some ideas, if you want to be a better communicator here’s some ideas, a better networker, whatever the skills are that you want to develop to advance in your career at whatever stage you’re in. We’re seeing a lot of young people come in our business. We love having them there because this is the opportunity to expose to them how exciting this insurance industry can actually be. People can figure that out sometimes.
Michael: Kitty, for people who have not been, this is a big conference, roughly how many people do you think you’re anticipating in May?
Kitty: It’ll be around 2,500 to 3,000.
Michael: Okay. Big conference, excellent conference, very well organized.
Kitty: Great trade show, great exhibit.
Michael: Great trade show, yes. To our listeners, I highly recommended it. Kitty, if people have a question for you or they want to reach out learn more about NetVU, how do you want them to do that?
Kitty: netvu.org, N-E-T-V-U.org is the best place to start. I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, so I’m pretty easy to find as well. On Linkedin, certainly happy to connect with you there. NetVU have a presence on Facebook. In fact, we do a lot of Facebook live work these days. We have a member tip every Monday, quick Facebook live gives you a hint, Tweeter. Wherever you’d like to find us, we hopefully are there.
Michael: Right on. All right. Kitty, as always been a ton fun. Hope to see you at the conference in Cincinnati. Thanks so much. The industry, first of all, can’t thank you enough for the contributions you’ve made to it but I will thank you for the last 45 or 50 minutes in any case. Thanks so much.
Kitty: It’s been a lot of fan. I always appreciate it, Michael. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
Michael: Thank you.