In this episode, we are graced with the wisdom & moxy of Kathy Gadinas. Key insights include:
- How Kathy bought her agency and paid it off over 3 years.
- The advantages of being a woman in our industry.
- Ways she’s prospected for new business and one example of her executive briefing.
Who's the Guest?
Kathy Gadinas is from Lake Oswego, Oregon, and is the President of Columbia Benefit Solutions. A true “Northwesterner,” she loves hiking in the outdoors and grew up waterskiing on the Columbia River. All her LinkedIn profile says in the “About Me” section is: “Benefits consultant, Mom, business partner, and pie maker." I love that. Truthfully, she has served in the industry for years. She's a member of the Oregon Health Forum Committee. Plus, she’s the Past President of the Oregon Association of Health Underwriters. Kathy is one of those people you like running into at conferences, as you’ll always get a smile and an encouraging word.
This was filmed at the same Q4Live conference hotel where we filmed Billy Bridwell's interview. We skipped the car ride and instead made our set outdoors on a patio under some palm trees – which was awesome in the winter (don’t try this in Florida in the summer).
Brokers are smart and they have a lot to say. My favorite comedian inspired me to capture broker insights in a fun way to share with you. With that, we created Brokers In Cars Getting Coffee. Sometimes we’re in cars. Most of the time there’ll be coffee. But we always have great insights about the employee benefits industry!
The Cutting Room Floor
What wisdom was (sadly) left on the cutting room floor? I couldn't leave them there...
On hiring for culture…
Building a strong cohesive team doesn’t just happen. One has to consciously hire for a common cultural fit. Most of her team are women - and one key factor of their culture is that “we don’t do drama.” They screen for this and encourage open communication so that if an employee has a problem, they should just talk to the person about it. Kathy encourages, “My goal is to watch you succeed. If you want to grow, I’m behind you.”
On how NAHU helps her business…
Kathy and her business partner, Jill Pedersen, both serve and attend AHU events locally and nationally. When they attend events outside Oregon, they go to learn. They find like-minded brokers from other parts of the country and are always listening for great practices or vendors or benefit plan ideas to bring back to their clients. After attending lobbying trips to Washington DC, they’ll tell their employers about their efforts. And she made sure to clarify that they’ve had a lot of fun over the years, too!
On her serendipitous story...
The world is small and it’s amazing how many times our paths cross with people we already know. Kathy told a couple stories where she was being referred by multiple contacts to the same person - and it was meant to be! Great networking means you never know how the person you’re talking with can connect you. As you “peel the onion” of getting to know someone, Kathy approaches it with a great sense of curiosity and wonder.
What are your favorite ideas from the interview? Who else you think I should interview? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.