Apathy is the Enemy: Part One

During some internal conversations at Sitkins Group, we were discussing what works and what doesn’t work in our business, and why some agencies commit to getting better and others don’t. We also wondered why some owners and producers appear to be so lackadaisical about their business when they have every reason to be excited about it. That’s when one of our team members remarked,

“Apathy is the enemy.”

Apathy is defined as “lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.”

We’ve all seen it. Some people are very excited and involved in their business while others are sort of neutral about it. Everything is just “okay.”

But why would an entrepreneurial business owner ever not be interested and enthusiastic about what they’re doing? What would make them apathetic?

I often wonder why only 2% of people can implement long-term meaningful change. It’s something we see across the industry. If there are approximately 35,000 independent agencies (depending on whom you ask), why is such a small percentage committed to building their business? If you look at those who are, you’ll find they are anything but apathetic.

At the producer camps and CEO programs that we run, I always ask the participants questions. For example, I’ll ask, “How many of you are making more money than you thought you’d ever make?” Of course, all the hands go up. Next I ask, “How many of you are making more money than your parents, friends and siblings?” Once again, the vast majority of hands will go up.

Let’s face it; this truly is a great business. It’s great from the standpoint that every year, more than 90% of your customers buy again. How many other businesses offer a recurring revenue model like that? What’s not to like?

My greatest concern is lost potential. “Potential” is really a bad word in my book, because it means we haven’t achieved what we possibly could. We haven’t accomplished what we’re capable of doing. Certainly in athletics, the word has extremely negative connotations: “He has a ton of potential, BUT...” or “She had the potential to be the best ever until she (fill in the blank ... lost her competitive edge/was injured/tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, etc.)”

It’s the same thing I hear from agency principals when I talk to them about what frustrates them today. Typically I hear something like, “We hired these people and we thought they had so much potential, but then they just started plateauing.”

Do you ever feel that way about yourself or some of your team members? Clearly, apathy is the enemy! It reminds me of Jim Collins’ classic book Good to Great in which he observes: “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.”

World-renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall once said, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” Sadly, this observation applies to many of our independent insurance agencies.

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