Did you make it to BenefitsPRO in Miami last week? If so, you heard a LOT of talk about disruption. Maybe you’re thinking this has become a buzzword with little meaning. But what I found most refreshing about the conference was the amount of discussion around the execution of disruptive ideas.
Today I’m sharing 3 approaches of disruptors that were highlighted at the conference...
1. They learn from others
The Broker of the Year Panel has always been a highlight of this conference, and this year was no exception. All five finalists shared invaluable advice, but there was a definite common thread: they didn’t get to the stage quickly or on their own. We heard the valuable role mentors played throughout their careers.
There were other great insights from each, but a few of my favorite tidbits are below…
- Kareim Cade consciously brings other experts into his client meetings. Whether it’s a way to mentor one of his team members or because he knows the client may better relate to another person’s background, it’s a practice he values to make the most out of client interactions.
- Wanza Schweiger identified the challenge of finding the right talent who are excited and willing to deliver a great member experience.
- Doug Hetherington had the BEST answer when asked about a key challenge, “The coffee isn’t strong enough! Winning in today’s benefits consulting environment isn’t easy!” He specifically spoke about Reference-Based Pricing – not easy, but a great disrupter that brings opportunity.
- Seth Denson offered this great advice, “Expertise is a moving target. Be nimble. You have to be engaged and studying every day to be up to speed on the new thing.”
- Tim Doherty, this year’s Broker of the Year, explained how their team consciously “changed the conversation” with employers in recent years. They focus more than ever on employers who are “sophisticated, innovative, smart, and fun to work with - we let those attitudes guide the work that we do.” For more advice from a worthy recipient, check out this interview with Tim. (Check out this article by Wendy Keneipp for tips on how to do that.)
2. They discuss tough topics
In the main keynote, political consulting duo James Carville and Mary Matalin noted that politicians are creating plenty of soundbites for the media - but you can’t create effective policy with soundbites. Likewise, you can’t be a disruptive benefits advisor without taking on hot topics with your clients.
For example, single-payer healthcare is a hot topic and will continue to be a buzz as we move toward another election in 2020. But are you prepared to have an educated conversation about it? As Reid Rasmussen pointed out in his session: instead of allowing employers to think they should wait on a solution from Washington, brokers must be able to speak intelligently on this topic with their clients. More importantly, disruptive brokers must catapult the conversation into ideas that can be executed today.
3. They implement new methods
Trying new ideas is not just for our clients, but for us personally, too. Keynote speaker and author Erik Qualman challenged us to leverage digital tools to be a disruptor rather than the disrupted. By introducing the S-T-A-M-P concept, Qualman highlighted 5 habits to build your digital authority as a benefits advisor.
It’s an exciting time in our industry because there are so many new and shiny ideas for improving employee benefits. However, we must disrupt with prudence and discretion. As Josh Butler described, one of his biggest mistakes was “trying to push clients to make too many changes too fast. Change takes time!” And Rachel Miner noted “Sometimes change is beautiful. Sometimes change is painful. Usually it’s both!” If we can launch the appropriate new ideas with flawless execution, our clients will be better off – and the industry, as a whole, will improve.
As disruptive leaders we must balance the tension of pushing ourselves and our clients to improve the healthcare situation for their employees. Our combined commitments to excelling at behaviors needed to disrupt will benefit everyone.
Now it’s your turn! What were your learnings from last week’s BenefitsPRO conference? What disruptive behaviors do you practice that help your clients with benefit challenges?