#SitkinsIsTheSolution

We're All In This Together - Interview with Allison Hammons

podcast Jan 12, 2023
 

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. I have a fantastic guest for you, the agency leader today, that I will introduce here just in a minute or two.

But before I get to my awesome podcast guest today that you're going to learn a ton from, and you're really going to like, I always want to share the mission of the podcast. The mission of this podcast is to help you, the agency leader gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your best version possible.

As we get into this new year, 2023. Hard to believe, right? 2023, I just feel like we're all getting older. But why does it feel more real when you really do feel like you're getting older, for whatever that's worth?

As we get into this year, we are continuing to seek out and to find qualified growth agency partners. And I've mentioned this on some previous podcasts. But if you're an agency that's really looking to take the next step, schedule a strategy call with one of our coaches. We get to know you better. You get to know us better. And see if there's a potential fit for us to work closely with your agency to help you in all kinds of different areas and alignment and getting your producers producing, to understand the power of retaining and the replicating a high level, and to give your agency a high level playbook that can be customized for your agency. So if you want to learn more about that, go to sitkins.com/experience. sitkins.com/experience.

All right. I am privileged to have a guest, someone who I got a chance to meet this year. Didn't know each other before this year. I don't think so, right, Allison? That I'm aware of.

Allison Hammons:

No.

Brent Kelly:

So she's like, "My gosh," she forgot. No, we didn't meet until this year. I had the privilege, I mentioned this on a previous podcast, of being part of the Agency Leadership Institute, which is hosted by Cincinnati Insurance. Reagan Consulting leads that. And I as part of Sitkins Group was truly honored to be able to present, and share, and have conversations with a great group of agency leaders across the country.

And we had two in-person sessions. One in June, one in September. And not only was this person part of the group who had great value to share, and I know she'll have great value to share today with you. But she had the privilege. Wait a second. No, no. I had the privilege of sitting at her table. She probably didn't have the privilege of sitting with me, but we were table mates as well. We had groups of five or six, so I got to know her very well. And we had some great conversations.

So without further ado, Allison Hammons is my guest here with Knight Insurance Group. She's a risk consultant, but I know you've got your fingers around different parts of the agency as well. So Allison, welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast.

Allison Hammons:

Well, thank you Brent. I appreciate it. I'm excited to be here.

Brent Kelly:

Well, I wanted to bring Allison on for a number of reasons. A, she's just really likable, which you'll get to know that right away. Just has a great personality. But I didn't share with you before we started recording here Allison, but I just got a chance to meet so many different people as part of that Agency Leadership Institute. And I just loved your openness and transparency and just facing things like head on. This is something we're dealing with, and this is how we're doing it. And I learned a ton from you. I know that the audience will as well.

But before I get into some of those questions about you and what you're doing and some things that I know will be helpful to agency leaders, I'd love for you to share how did you get to where you are today? You're sitting there, and what you do. If you could share a little bit of a backstory and what you do today at Knight Insurance.

Allison Hammons:

Yeah, sure. So thank you. I have actually been a part of the agency for almost 23 years. I was eight when I started.

Brent Kelly:

I love it.

Allison Hammons:

So I actually started working at the agency, my first job as a receptionist. And I was 18 years old. So I just graduated high school. And I am also second generation. So my dad actually is in the business, and I work with my dad. His name is Sam. He's the president of the agency.

So I throughout college actually worked at the agency. And so that's really kind of where I got I would say the bug for the business. I was their first sales intern. So that is also where I got the sales bug and thought, "I think I want to do this."

I was going to school for business, so I knew I wanted to do something business. I wasn't really sure. And so I went and actually worked for Auto-Owners Insurance company as a commercial underwriter first outside of college. And then I was ready to move on from that. And so I moved back to Toledo, and I actually called my dad and said, "Listen, I need to do something different. If I don't, I'm going to get out of the business." And he's like, "Well, I really think you should be there for five years. It's good to have that company experience." And I said, "Well, you're either going to hire me or I'm out."

Brent Kelly:

The ultimatum, right?

Allison Hammons:

Yeah, right. I know. So in January of 2006, I actually came back full-time to the agency. And at that time, I became full-time sales, commercial sales. And so I have been doing that role for, gosh, it's almost 17 years now. Have really enjoyed it, worked with a lot of really great clients.

But probably about 2019, our CEO started coming to me and said, "I want you to get more into a leadership role at the agency." And so we put me in charge of the Business Development unit, which was really the new people that were coming into the agency, new producers specifically. And what can we do to get them trained? How can we help them? Coaching and mentoring. And I also, myself and another individual in the office came up with our playbook. So we have what's called the Knight playbook, and it's what we put our producers through, especially in that first year. So that was created.

So I was helping coach and mentor people, as well as kind of put the behind the scenes stuff in place too, some of the detail stuff. And then I also became a partner in the agency just soon after that, really after COVID started. And then there are now six of us that we became partners. Myself and Greg, who's actually another younger individual here at the agency. And so we were only partners for a few short two years. And then this year, we actually became 100% employee owned. So we now are an ESOP. And that happened on August 1st of this year.

So I'm still on the executive team, and we meet still to discuss about what are we doing as an agency, what do we need, how are we moving forward? But I am still very heavily in my sales role and helping my clients grow, and getting more clients. And then as well as what are we going to do to help grow our sales team? So that's kind of where I'm at now.

Brent Kelly:

Well, thanks for sharing that. And I said you had your fingers so to speak, or your pulse on lots of stuff, right? And you do. So many of our agency leaders that listen, and those that we work with at Sitkins Group, they're very similar to you in the sense they're kind of that player coach. And that's a really challenging role. So I'd love to get your perspective on how maybe you balance some of those things. And also obviously, so many of our agency partners are second, third, fourth generation. And I always find it interesting to hear the story. Every story is unique. But there are similarities. And I got to ask you, and I don't know if this is true or not, so I just want to get your take. Did you ever have a point... And you said you started at 18 as a receptionist, and growing up around the business. You made a comment, "I will never be in this business, I'll never do this," or did that never ever happen? Did you always kind of like, "No, I like it"?

Allison Hammons:

I never said I would not be in the business or never do it. I don't think I ever really... My dad's been in it forever, and he's had a really great career. So no, I never really thought that. I think he did.

Brent Kelly:

Okay.

Allison Hammons:

He's like, "Wait, maybe you should do something different."

Brent Kelly:

I'll have to get him on the podcast as well.

Allison Hammons:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But yeah, no I never really felt that way. And then once I got into it, I was like, "This could be really great."

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. And obviously everyone's got their own journey, but it's interesting you're talking about the company side, which was good. But you were very quickly ready to do the other thing.

But it is interesting. There's so many generational agencies that I know and work with of having that bit of just the company side. I think in one way, and again, a lot of ways you could phrase this. But I think it really does give you appreciation for what happens from the agency side of things. I think it also gives you appreciation for all the stuff that carriers do. But sometimes, it can be taken for granted of how great this business is.

Allison Hammons:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

So I appreciate you sharing that. So all right. I've got a few questions for you. I told you as we got into this, this is like us having a cup of coffee. And obviously we're virtual, and I'd love to be in person with you, but it got my cup of coffee here.

Just to get some ideas, and I ask these questions for the audience. But certainly I learn a ton as well. And I'm just curious, Allison, from your perspective, if I ask an agency leader, "What's frustrating you?" I typically could sit back and for an hour you're like, "This and this and this."

But I'm curious from your perspective, whether it's individually, or as your team, or again, even as an industry. What do you see as your biggest frustration right now? Or biggest challenge maybe. And what are you doing or your team doing to address that?

Allison Hammons:

Yeah. I think one of the challenges is finding people, which I know that is a huge issue for many agencies. But finding experienced people. Because in that realm, it takes so much time and effort to train somebody. We've done it. We've brought in new salespeople without any experience. Or even on the customer service side, we've brought in new people. But it just takes so much time and effort to really get somebody going. And so it's so nice to be able to bring in somebody, but there's just not a lot of movement in that. And I think of myself too. When you've already got a book of business, it's hard to leave. It's hard to leave that comfort of like, oh my gosh, I'm going to have to start over.

So we are trying to figure that out. One of the things we thought is, "Okay, let's hire producers with books. Let's buy their books so that maybe we don't have as much concern about that." Looking to still try and find experienced account managers, like senior level account managers.

One of the big things that we did this year, and actually it came from some of the training, the ALI. We actually revamped our referral program, our employee referral program. And so we now are doing $1,000 for an employee referral after they stay for 90 days. And then we added if they stay for a year, then they're getting another $1,000 dollars.

So we did do that with one employee so far. We kind of kicked it off with her. So that's one of the ways that we're trying to hopefully maybe see if people know other people within the industry. Some of these people came from other agencies. So that's one of the ways we're trying to combat that.

I would say also for me, on my own business side of things with my sales, is getting people to respond back. And it's not cold calls. These are people that have sent an email or made a phone call on my behalf as a referral, or I know the person. I know them. They know me. There's a relationship there.

So I've really struggled with that this year, probably within the last even six months. It's been, why don't people respond back? What is it? And so one of the ways that I've been is just reaching out to other individuals that are not even in our same business, but maybe they're in some kind of a business development role. And say, "Hey, what are you experiencing? What are you doing?" It's emails, it's calls, it's text messages. I've done all of that. What's something else?

And so, some of it's persistence because it's just persistence and being able to do that. And then sometimes it's walking away too. Saying, "All right, I've done everything I can do. If it's not going to move forward, it's not going to move forward. It's okay. Move on and get to something else."

So those I would say are some of the things that I'm trying to change and experience different things maybe to try and help me get things turned around. So it's going to happen, but sometimes it's just frustrating.

And then I guess lastly, I'm a full-time working mom. So the balance of being there. The beauty of this job is I can be there if my kid is sick, or if they have an appointment, or I'm not at work at 8:00 AM.

But it's also tough, because you're trying to get so much stuff done. And when I'm home, I'm with my kids. And my kids are young. I have a three-year-old and an 11 month old. So they need me. They're not as self-guided as maybe I would think so.

But it's great. It's wonderful. It's just the whole time management and being able to figure all that out, and get everything done that I want to get done. So I would say those are probably my top three right now that we've kind of been experiencing.

Brent Kelly:

Well first of all, thanks for sharing. I'm sitting here going, "I bet you there's some other people listening that go, 'I can relate to that.'" Maybe in some different ways, but similar ways as well. And the last part, I know you just had the... When we were there in June, new baby. The whole deal you're dealing with, which is so awesome. And it's exciting, and it's wonderful. I shared with you, I got five kids. They range all over.

By the way, them needing you. Even when they get to college, it changes different, but it's different. They just need you in different ways. "I don't need your time. I just need your money, mom." There is that challenge there. There's no doubt.

And I think what hit me as you said that is that the great thing about the independent agency world is that it is flexible, right? Which is great. But it also creates challenges because you can work when you want, which can be good or bad. You can work when you want, which means, "I can go to that thing at 3:00 or the doctor's appointment at 1:00," which is fantastic. But guess what? I also can work what I want, which could be 9:00 PM, or 11:00 PM, or 4:30 in the morning, right?

So part of that is... And again, I'm not going to give any bandaid solutions to this other than we talk a lot about energy management. But the biggest thing is prioritize and be focused where you are. Which is so hard, because it's like right now, and I get it. We're having this conversation. I have no doubt as a human being, you have a pretty good idea of what you have to do after hanging up this call. So we're all that way. But it's like when you're here, you're here. And that's a huge challenge for salespeople, and entrepreneurs, and leaders.

I want to share a couple of things too. And I don't mean to hog or steal from what you just said. But it's interesting because you mentioned the challenge of finding people, which is obvious. We had some discussions at the ALI group certainly about that. And I've had others. On a recent podcast, I had Art Betancourt who is part of AE Betancourt. Great guy and had some interesting solutions on that.

But one thing that I'll never forget came up at our table. I think I asked this question to someone because I was just kind of sitting there listening as they were talking about all the different things they're doing for recruiting. And again, as you remember, there's multiple different ways you could do this. But I asked the question about, "What do you paying a recruiting service?" And they're like, "Well we're paying this and this and whatever."

And I said, "Well what do you pay if someone internally that really loves your company that's been there part a long time and is a great internal recruiter? Because not because they know all the details just because they believe in the culture." And it was like, "We only pay this." And I'm like, "That was about it." And it was like oh my gosh, you're right. In essence, we're paying strangers way more than we pay the people that have been here that love our company.

Now you got to be careful with that and how that's facilitated. And you mentioned after a certain period of time, and every agency's got to find their own thing. But I think what I've seen Allison, and some of the stuff that you guys have done, I know I'm talking to you at Knight, is that really yes, there's someone in charge of recruiting. But it truly is a team culture approach that everybody in the team understands obviously who we are and the people that we want, and why we want them. And all of a sudden, you've got people that are at a restaurant, or at an event, or at a bank. I don't know. And they go, "Gosh, you're frustrated with your job because we have an amazing crew opportunity. You should talk to such and such." That takes time and effort. But I love what you're doing there. So I just want to share any other comments on that. I don't mean again, to take what you said-

Allison Hammons:

Yeah actually, well one of the other things too that really getting people engaged. And it actually came from some of our... we have two younger gentlemen that actually came to us. One came through an internship program when he was in college, and the other I believe was the same thing, intern. But we were talking about recruitment, and they wanted to create an internal recruitment committee.

So we actually do have an internal recruitment committee too that I head up that is made up of our employees. And so we get together and say, "Okay, well what can we do?" But it's also about giving them the tools. So this is what we're looking for, here's the criteria. And the other thing too is giving them a little bit of a boost on here's some gift cards, or here's some things like if you bring in, and they get to send a resume in or something like that.

So I think that's awesome. That is so cool that we have them wanting to take the initiative to really try and help us grow. So the other thing we did, and we kind of stole it from another agency, but-

Brent Kelly:

You borrowed it. You borrowed it.

Allison Hammons:

We borrowed it. I asked to borrow it. They're out of Texas. But we have a business card that we made. And so let's say you are at that restaurant or you are with a banker and they're not happy. And they're just outstanding. And you're thinking, "Man, they would be so great and they would fit within our culture." You give them this business card, and it's got a QR code on it, and they can go click on the QR code. And then it takes them right to our website, and they would put their information in. And then we would send them information to talk to them. And it says, "You're a rockstar." So it's another nice way. And that's a new thing that we've added just recently as well. And a lot of that came from again, the recruitment and what can we do differently in the ALI leadership training.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, that's great. I guarantee you right now Allison, that again, if you're driving, don't do this. But for those that are sitting down and listening go, "Whoa, that's a good idea. That's a tactical idea I could do." So I appreciate you sharing that.

Allison Hammons:

Yeah, absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

Part of that, that is an example of a success. So if you want to elaborate in that, you can in my next question. But obviously in talking to you and what you're doing as an agency, you mentioned some of the things that you're doing. What do you believe? And again, this could be for you, could be your team, maybe even through an industry. But what do you believe? And you can look at this last year, has been one of your greatest successes. Why was it success? And what are you doing to maintain the momentum in that? Because that's something that can happen is you get a success. And the joke we always have in our trainings Allison is it works so well, that I stop doing it. So what have you done that's worked, why has it worked, and what are you doing to continue to make it work?

Allison Hammons:

I would say that we're doing really well with culture. And I bring that up because I think it's really important. Because it's really what defines us as an agency, and who we are, and what we do for the people that we work with. Whether it's a home and auto client or it's a commercial lines client. And everybody really lives it and breathes it when they're here, and they work it. And so yes, we are a 40 person company. We feel like a family though too. And so I think having those in front of everybody and really trying to share with everybody what are we doing, how are we doing it? And that's been really successful.

One of the things that I also added, we use Microsoft Teams of course, which many people probably do since covid. We put in a praise board on Teams. And so now that is anything. Someone completed a class and they received their CIC or they did an outstanding job for a client, and it was outside of the box thinking. Or they did something with our... And I'm looking over here because we have our core values actually on our computer. Something that they did that really just made someone's day. I mean it could just be a kind word.

And so that was something that we've added, and I think that has been just a really nice addition. But it's just a continuation of the success of our culture, I think. And so I think that has been really one of the things this year that I like to highlight.

Brent Kelly:

And it's one of those things you said this. I don't want to say culture's a buzzword, but it's just culture, culture, culture. And I can see it too Allison, and talking and working with different agencies. I think we're all in evolution so to speak, of what want the culture to be. And whether your culture right now as an agency is for lack of better term stinky, or it's flourishing. There's always improvements we can make. The next step, the next step.

And we define culture as the language of behaviors that are normal in your agency. What are people saying? What are people doing? You don't have to make it confusing. That's a culture. But what I love about that, what you said, and it's a huge thing I want to highlight. There's a quote that I share all the time in our trainings, whether it's with account managers or producers. And you hit it in a different way is this.

Silent gratitude is no gratitude at all, right? Silent gratitude is no gratitude at all. And I think sometimes because, and this is not because I think agency leaders or agency personnel are mean or they've got malice. They're just busy and they're distracted, right? That's just the way it is. So it's one of those where, "I really appreciate Allison doing that." But we just move on to the next, and then two days later it's gone.

And at some point, I'm just using you as an example. You're going to go, "Man, I've done a few things. It would be nice to be acknowledged for some of that." And just little things. It's amazing.

And I'm sure you see this at Knight when you guys do this. But it could take literally five seconds, and you just change somebody's day. And then it goes back to, and obviously being consistent. And we don't do this to manipulate. It's because we truly care about the people, and want to acknowledge them, and share their success. And I love the praise board, to make it visible. The people can see that.

But just think about dropping the pedal in the pond and the ripples. That analogy, those things build. And then you wonder why is my agency or why is our agency more excited to bring in other cool people where some agencies aren't? Well could have been because of a simple thing like praise, right?

And we have a lot of acronyms, I don't know if you remember this Allison. But one of our acronyms is art, the art of communication. And it's just, is there a level of appreciation? Are we doing things to respect the roles that we have within each other? Because the same goal, different roles that we have. And are we keeping our word that honors and builds trust, like ART. And things that people hear all the time. But man, we can forget about them if we're not careful. So I love what you guys are doing. I love what you're doing.

Allison Hammons:

Thanks. Yeah. I think it's just a nice addition to what we're already doing. But you're right. So many times, it gets done and nobody ever knows about it. Because you're so busy. And it's just like we should let people know that this person did this. Whether it's this teeny little thing, it could be huge to that person. So I think it's really important.

Brent Kelly:

Well, and I know we were talking before we started recording, about getting out, and seeing people, and doing that. Which I think most people, I won't say everybody like that, I'm glad we're doing that. But especially with some of the virtual stuff still, there's a lot of things that go on. We typically look at the negative of things, which is fair. There's truth to that. What aren't people doing? There's also what are people doing that sometimes no one ever notices, or ever appreciates. And those are things that can definitely cause animosity and frustration over a period of time. It's like, "I'm working my tail off here. Not saying you have to, but boy, it'd be nice to be acknowledged for some of those things that I've done behind the scenes," so to speak, or whatever it may be.

All right. So I want to ask you specifically, you mentioned a few things. I'm curious to get your perspective because as we met each other through this Agency Leadership Institute, ALI, and Cincinnati, and Reagan, and Sitkins being part of that, what was your biggest takeaway? I know there was a lot of different things and I had to interject my question here because I sat by you at the table. I always appreciate note takers, and so here's Allison. She's just lazing down notes, then she's got stars and circles and then you're categorizing. I'm like, "I love this." She's just thinking about this. So of all the stuff you wrote down and did, what's your biggest takeaway from that program?

Allison Hammons:

Oh gosh, my biggest takeaway. The first thing that pops into my head is that we're all in this together. There was so much that you could take from other people. None of us are perfect. Nobody's doing everything great. Everybody has an avenue that they want to grow in. And I think we're doing some really great things. But we're also not doing other things that great.

And so being able to be there and hear what another agency's doing, and be able to also help each other. Why would you try and recreate the wheel? There really is no reason to, especially if people are willing to help you. And I know you got to think about competition and whatnot, but none of these people were in my realm of competition being in the same state or whatever. But, I just think that we're all in this together. If you need help, it's there for you.

And I knew that, but I think it even just became even a little bit more visible and I think just credible for me too. I learned so much from that training. So it's really hard to say what was the one big thing. But I think just being able to be a part of that and see that we are in this together. If someone contacts me and says, "Hey, can I talk to you about this?" I'm like, "Yes, absolutely. How can I help?" So yeah, I think that's probably one of the biggest things that I-

Brent Kelly:

I love it. I know it's a hard question because you put all the days together and all that.

Allison Hammons:

Yeah-

Brent Kelly:

All that, a lot of stuff. But I think you really hit on something important. I know I've shared this at different people or different episodes of this podcast. But I mean what I wrote down is the power of the collective genius. It's the term that we use all the time. And again, this is a bit of... Again, this is a different question. And there's other places that do it as well, but what we do in our Sitkins network and a big part of that is we align people to have conversations where they go, "I'm not the only one dealing with this," right? And whether it's through a coaching call with me for example or having a direct conversation with someone that's part of the network, they're going, "Not only am I not the only one. But there might be other people that have potential solutions for things that I'm struggling with. Or I may have potential solutions for staff they're struggling with." We all have our chinks in the armor. I think you said that as really, really well.

And here's another thing that's interesting too. Just like with our network and ALI, there were agencies from a variety not only of geographical areas, but size of agencies and things they focus on. And what's interesting is that whether it's a $3 million revenue agency or a $100 million revenue agencies, yes there's differences obviously. But there's a lot of similarities in some of the frustrations and challenges they're dealing with. So I love it.

And to me, what's really cool, my last comment. And if you have anything else you want to add Allison, please do on this. Is that not only is there a collective genius in groups like that of committed growth agencies. But problems are addressed, but the discussions around the solutions. And there is a difference. I mean there are some groups, I'm not naming a group, but just groups of people so to speak, that it's more about a venting session than solution seeking. And when you get abundance thinkers who know there's real issues, but they're going to talk about solutions to it, there's some pretty magical stuff that happens.

Allison Hammons:

Yeah, that's so true. And I think you mentioned in the beginning too that I'm a pretty open book. I just feel like being vulnerable. And so I think when you do that too, then you can be open and people, I mean they might have something really great to give you. Because sometimes we have our blinders on. It's just like we're that horse that has the blinders on, and you can't see outside of it. And so to be able to be in part of that group and then like you said, not just be like that session of just get it all out. There's some really great feedback and some help that can come out of that.

Brent Kelly:

And the vulnerability thing is a big issue. And Allison, I'm going to go ahead and say this. This is going to be a shock to you when I say this. There are more males in the industry in those positions than there are females. Am I okay to say that? Is that true?

Allison Hammons:

Yep, that's very true.

Brent Kelly:

And I will tell you. It's interesting because obviously I'm passionate. We want more females in leadership positions. And I think it's happening slowly, and maybe we can have a separate discussion on that.

But one thing again, maybe I'll just talk from the male perspective. Sometimes males don't like to share weaknesses, because it feels like we're giving weaknesses. And I would never tell someone about what we're not good at.

But when you get in the right room, and it's certainly smaller groups. That trickle effects of, "Wait a second, this person shared this. I guess I can share this." That's when you actually get to solutions versus masking everything. "We're good here, and this is good, and we're fine here." You're lying to yourself. When you go, "The truth of it is we're really struggling with this. What could I do?" I don't know where I was going with that other than you were very vulnerable and open to different stuff, and it really opened great conversation.

Allison Hammons:

It did. Yeah, absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

Thank you for that. All right, last question. I know we're going a little longer. If you have to, I'll be brief here. But my favorite question is this. And I try not to put a timeline on this. But because you mentioned you started at 18 as a receptionist, right? And now you're where you are today. So let's just say in this imaginary world I'm making up here that, the 18-year-old Allison runs into today Allison and the 18-year-old Allison says, "Experienced. Awesome Allison." If there's one piece of advice you could tell me right now as I begin this career, it would be what?

Allison Hammons:

To have mentors. To have mentors. It helped me tremendously. Because especially when you're young and you're new, you don't know. You're learning a business. You're learning the education even behind the business. And so to have those mentors that you can lean on that can help you, guide you, give you advice, coach, mentor, I mean all of those things. But also maybe opening doors for you too. Being able to help with that as well.

And it gives you that person too, to go to. But they're not just going to be like your friend. They're going to give you some constructive feedback and say, "Look, why did you do it this way?" But again, it's all about how to help you get you to that next step in your career. So yeah, I think mentors are huge. So that's one of the things now I'm in this part of my career, I love to be able to help other, especially young women in the business. Because there is not a lot of women that do commercial sales, especially. But for me in general, it doesn't have to be insurance, it could be anybody. But yeah, I think mentors. In the business and out of the business.

Brent Kelly:

First of all, there's never a bad or wrong answer to that question. But I always have to... It's just my favorite question to ask because I learn a ton, and then I think about things in different perspectives.

Because I agree. There's so much with that. And I think sometimes with younger people, maybe there's a level of fear or hesitancy. I'm nervous. I'm not worthy. But I think you expressed it really, really well. So if you're listening here and you're a young person getting in the industry or ... I don't care. You can be experienced in this as well. To me, I'm always looking for people that are 5, 10, 15, 20 years ahead of me. And sometimes it could be not even age. It's just other walks of life as you have mentioned. And just surround yourself with this.

Because I will tell you this is not 100%. But when you find the right people and you seek the people that are successful, successful people are generally successful for a reason. And it's not because they were just lucky. They approach things the right way. And again, there could be people that are great mentors in relationships, in business, in finance. Find different scopes of this.

But generally if you're 18 years old, just using your example. And you come to someone and say, "Listen, I'm really looking to grow and develop. I really respect what you've done in this particular area. If I can find some time either just to kind of see what you do, or how you do it, or ask you questions." There are very few true mentors that won't give some level of response to that to help you.

Allison Hammons:

So true.

Brent Kelly:

You agree with that?

Allison Hammons:

Oh my gosh, it's so true. But you're right. I think that younger individual, they're nervous. They're like, "They're busy, they're so successful. They don't have time for me." But we all choose how we spend our time. And so most of the time, someone's not going to say no. Like you said, you can't say 100%. But yeah, majority of the time people are going to say, "Yes, I would love to help. How can I help?" And it's a coffee, it's a breakfast, it's a lunch. Whatever it is it, they usually are saying, "Yes, let me see how I can do. Let me see what I can do."

Brent Kelly:

I think back and I had a conversation with an agency we worked with. And there was five young producers at producer academy. And we did two days and we're talking about some different stuff, and sometimes their eyes are rolling back in their head. You try to slow things down. There's a lot coming at them. And I said, "Listen, we can sit and have this conversation again, and again, and again." And we will. I said, "We'll follow up because it's important." I said, "But the most important thing you can do is you're at an agency with some really cool people. To connect with two, three, four, five of them. Be open, be transparent." And say listen, if you truly desire this to grow and develop in this realm of business for example, and you approach that with vulnerability and honesty, they're going to help you in some capacity.

And by the way as a mentor, and that's kind of where I'm at on both sides of this, just like you were talking about Allison. I'm still a mentee in many, many different areas where it's books, podcasts, people, relationships. And I'm also a mentor now. It's kind of that middle.

You learn a ton by mentoring too, because sometimes you get zeal or a zest back that maybe you've taken for granted, because you've been in it so long. So it really is a win-win.

So my last take on this from an agency, I know you guys do a great job at Knight, is have conversations with people that can be mentors and say don't miss that opportunity. Talk to the younger people and say please reach out to that. Foster that mentorship environment. Because the 18-year-old Allison is there somewhere, and can really benefit from that. So Allison, any final comments before we wrap up here? Thanks so much for being on here today.

Allison Hammons:

No, I don't think so. I think this was so awesome. Thank you so much for asking me to be a part of it.

Brent Kelly:

Well I knew you would bring great value. And you did not disappoint. You exceeded expectations, which were already very... I didn't tell you that because I didn't want to put any pressure on you.

But thanks so much Allison. I know we will stay in touch. And for the agency leaders out there listing, again, thank you for being a listener. If this podcast, whether it's this episode or others have helped you, inspire you, giving you some tools, love a rating and review, or share it with other agencies out there. Again, is our mission to make an impact, to build clarity, consistency, and a commitment to be that best version possible. And if you are a growth-committed agency that wants to see what we're all about, please schedule a strategy call. There's a no obligation, just so we can get to know more about, you get to know about us, and see if there's a long-term fit. So with that, thanks for being a listener, and wish you all the best in your success.

 

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