- Change Insurance
How This Simple Plan Can Help You Escape Personal Lines
Jared Bellmund, managing partner at ALLCHOICE Insurance, talks about how he transition from personal-lines insurance to commercial insurance.
Sometimes having a purpose just isn’t enough.
It can certainly take you further than having a passing interest in your career.
But it's the speed to passion equation that really every agency owner should be trying to solve.
The faster you help them discover that passion the more likely they'll be to stay.
Dustyne Bryant, Personal Insurance Academic Director for The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research, talks about her journey through the insurance industry and the impact finding her purpose had.
Joey Giangola: Dustyne Bryant, how you doing today?
Dustyne Bryant: I am doing, is what I like to say. I am doing. I don't know what that always means, but I'm doing.
Joey Giangola: Well, it's best not to clarify anything. I mean, why not just keep it open for interpretation and people can always be guessing. So I like that strategy.
Joey Giangola: Dustyne, before we really go into anything too serious, I want to know this first, is there a job that you think should exist that doesn't? Or maybe you just don't know that exists, but you really would like to create more awareness for the job that you think should exist?
Dustyne Bryant: Within the industry, I assume you're talking about.
Joey Giangola: I'm not putting any classification on it so you can take it any which direction you want.
Dustyne Bryant: Oh, wow. A job that I think should exist that maybe doesn't exist? I really feel like, and maybe this is just the space that I'm in right now, I really feel like there should be either a dedicated role, or maybe more awareness around the importance of mentorship and sponsorship for people within their career path. No matter what it is, like if you've chosen to go into real estate, or your insurance, or restaurantism, whatever it is, that there's somebody dedicated within that organization for pairing you up with a mentor.
Dustyne Bryant: And it's even okay to say, "Maybe this mentor isn't my person. Is there another mentor?" Or maybe you have a rotation of mentors that you put that one person to until that natural attraction just kind of happens and magic happens, in essence. Not even success, but just the magic.
Dustyne Bryant: Because we all know that sometimes mentorships just happen by accident. And you end up thriving and finding new parts about your discovery of that industry, or where you are in that space when you find the right mentor. So I think maybe just more emphasis or a dedicated position for mentorships and sponsorships.
Joey Giangola: That's a very insightful and actually well thought out answer, Dustyne. Mine's way less serious. I would go with a line scientist. I feel like there needs to be more people studying the way people behave in lines and react and the employees. I don't know. I think I was getting a soft pretzel in a mall maybe, which is a weird statement in and of itself, to be doing. And —
Dustyne Bryant: I feel like Disney has that job role down like. A queue scientist. When you say, at first when you said line, I was thinking a lion with a mane. We need somebody —
Joey Giangola: Oh, no.
Dustyne Bryant: Yeah, no. I feel like Disney for sure, or Universal Studios for sure has the science down on behavior within queues.
Joey Giangola: I think you're probably right. And I guess I would like to see it brought into even lower level in companies that aren't really focusing. Anytime people could gather in a way that might be unplanned, I feel like you should have a plan for it. So I don't know, that's just maybe my particular thing.
Dustyne Bryant: Yeah, for sure. Well I guess that's a different perspective, gathering in an unplanned way. Because for sure people gather in a quite meticulously planned way. You decide which line you want to get into.
Joey Giangola: Yeah. And so moving that over to the world of insurance and you maybe hit on it a little bit, but I did want to sort talk about your viewpoint of the industry and the people coming in and out of it? And what you see and? What you think is maybe most important? Some of the areas that we maybe underlook in terms of value within the industry. What sort of excites you as the people that really make it go?
Dustyne Bryant: I think my answer a couple of years ago versus my answer now probably would've been completely different. And I think a lot of that has to do with what's happened over the course of the last two years socially to the entire world. And how we've had more time. As a shift towards work from home has kind of taken predominance, it gives you more time to reflect introspectively on what really matters to you.
Dustyne Bryant: And for me personally, this is, I kind of got lost in the world of working from home and just killing it that way. And just in the last couple of months, I've kind of seen this shift in myself that moves from, I'll start ... Let me take it back just a step to help answer this question. And stop me if I get off the point of the question and reiterate the question, because I might jump down a rabbit hole and totally forget what the question was.
Dustyne Bryant: So I was licensed in life for the very first, a life and health for the first time in 2007. That's when my career journey basically started. And I didn't realize it was a career journey. So that's why the sponsorship/mentorship thing is kind of there in my purview. So first licensed in life and health in 2007, became licensed in PNC in 2008.
Dustyne Bryant: In 2007, my perspective of insurance was setting up 125 cafeteria plans. That it was paperwork. It was going in and establishing a checklist that you had to get through. That's not insurance. It took me a while to establish that insurance is a relationship business and relationships are tricky and awkward and hard. And that's where the mentorship kind of really was needed for me. Because I am more of an introverted extrovert. So I needed somebody to help me figure out the relationship piece of it, because I was really good and still am at the checklist part of it.
Dustyne Bryant: So then in 2008 when I transferred to PNC, got into an agency rather than doing an independent contractor thing, which is not my jam at all. I'm not the outside producer type, because again, the relationship piece was the hard piece for me. So transferred into the agency and got more into the check-listy stuff. The account manager, CSR, check-listy type stuff.
Dustyne Bryant: And that's kind of where I found that I had an interest in insurance. It was the education piece for me. It was the knowledge base information for me. So I found insurance in 2007, and then I found my purpose in insurance in 2014 because that agency wasn't the right place for me. There was not mentorship, there was not sponsorship. There was not a way for me to find a path other than focusing on the education piece for me, which I found through The National Alliance.
Dustyne Bryant: I'm not promoting who my employer is at this point, but that's where I found it. Those faculty members. There's one particular faculty member, Dr. Bratton, is here local to Arkansas. Well he's not in Arkansas anymore, but he was at the time. Professor at UCA and I saw whether he knew it or not, like I want to be him. So I kind of attached myself to him as my passive mentor. He's got no idea who I am even.
Dustyne Bryant: So I attached myself to that and was like, "I want to work my way through the CIC." And Dr. Bratton was the education consultant my entire way through my CIC. So I was just like, "Oh, it's Dr. Bratton again. Oh, it's Dr. Bratton again." And just kept learning from him along the way. So he was my mentor in an essence until I discovered that this agency wasn't my place. There was no mentorship or sponsorship there for me. And I'm discovering that I need to find a different way.
Dustyne Bryant: So I found another agency and through that, that magic happened. It was an accident, kind of thing. I found a mentor there. He happened to be my leadership that was there. But there was no discussion of, "I'm going to be your mentor, I'm going to help you find your way," kind of thing. It just naturally happened.
Dustyne Bryant: So I found my purpose for insurance there. I found insurance. Next I found my purpose in insurance, and that was about 2014. So about seven years after I was first licensed, found my purpose.
Dustyne Bryant: And it wasn't until I came here to The National Alliance, as like a total leap of faith, that I've discovered a passion. So yes, I was passionate about my work and finding my purpose, but now in the industry, I'm truly figuring out my passion and my place and where that goes.
Dustyne Bryant: So again, I've already forgotten what your question was and I hope that answered your question. So if you want to restate it, go ahead. Or if you have a follow up, let's go.
Joey Giangola: There's no judgment here and I think that was perfect. And the question that comes up next for me, and like you said, "Finding the purpose and then the passion." How much do you think agencies are even aware of those two things? Because I don't think —
Dustyne Bryant: They're not.
Joey Giangola: When an agency brings in somebody, they're not looking to do that for their employees.
Dustyne Bryant: Right.
Joey Giangola: And I'm assuming you've seen it across the board here. How do we maybe get that on the radar to help introduce that to their people?
Dustyne Bryant: So you asked if agencies are really aware of that. No, they're not. If they are, kudos, because then they've done a lot of homework to get there. And I think this kind of led into my answer two years ago and my answer now, would be two totally different things because agencies aren't aware of that. And there's been this shift over the course of the last two years where people are really introspectively looking as to what does my career mean to me?
Dustyne Bryant: Once I've found my purpose or my passion, there's been this shift in me from work/life balance, this backslash thing. There's work, there's life. There's work, there's personal stuff. That's not there for me anymore. There is no work/life balance. There is life balance because I've recently discovered that I've found my passion within insurance. So to me, this isn't work anymore. This is everything for me.
Dustyne Bryant: My whole entire life. Not that work is my whole entire life, but how all of it works within my life is now a passion. So there's no work/life balance. And a lot of people, and maybe agencies will focus on that work/life balance. "We give you work/life balance because you can work two days from home and three days in the office." Or vice versa, whatever that split is. Or, "We've given you flex time. That's how you can figure out your work/life balance."
Dustyne Bryant: So there's no focus on just the balance. "We want you to find your passion either within the industry or here within our agency." No, they're just worried on whether or not you're spending enough time with your kids versus at work or whatever. So no, they don't know that that's there. And I really don't even think, and I would love for somebody to comment on your podcast and be like, "We've established purpose and passion."
Joey Giangola: Well, it's an interesting thing. The things that you mentioned, the things that are obviously commonly referenced, are more transactional, tangible things that can be seen and felt. Versus more what you're talking about, of there's more of an emotional side of things. Where it's like the mental state of your constant in the day to day, right?
Dustyne Bryant: Right.
Joey Giangola: Again, there's probably not a good answer for this. I don't know if there's a question in here. But how much of it would the industry be served if that got on the radar? Because like I said, we're just starting to talk about the balance of where and how we're working, let alone sort what we're thinking about while we're doing the work. Is this something that maybe feels like we're a little early on this? Or is this something that we should at least be contemplating now?
Dustyne Bryant: Oh Lord, no. We're not early on it at all. If anything, we're way behind. If anything, if you look at the medical field, they quickly find a passion. They do the checklists as they go in with their nursing or their doctors. They've got to hit certain points to make sure they're evaluating that whole client or that whole patient. But they quickly and often sometimes even enter the medical field with their passion.
Dustyne Bryant: And that's grueling work. In terms of everything that happened over the last few years within the medical industry, the people that stuck are truly the people that had the passion for doing that. And I think the industry is behind. The insurance industry is behind on that. Because there's a lot of focus really early on in terms of new insurance into our industry. Growing your book to X number of dollars. This is the marker that shows you're successful, this is the number you need to hit.
Dustyne Bryant: Marketing reps come in and they set your sales goals. You have to do this in order to maintain this level of contract. Or they might even have various levels of contract in order for you to get VIP concierge service with our carrier, or with this carrier for your agency, for you to be able to not stay on the phone for an hour. You can have this special number, if you hit this special number.
Dustyne Bryant: And I've experienced that. And it was great to be a part of an agency where it was like we had a dedicated line to an underwriter that would answer our questions within five minutes. Versus another smaller agency that might have to stay on the line for 45 minutes waiting for that underwriter or claims rep or whatever, because we were part of a bigger organization. That's a huge barrier to small agencies.
Dustyne Bryant: But those new people, in terms of new entrants that come in, they see the numbers because that's all they're being told. Is, "This is what it takes to make you successful." And when they don't hit that numbers, they're not finding their place in the industry. They think they don't fit in, which means they can't move from finding a place or a purpose onto a passion.
Dustyne Bryant: So no, I don't think we're ahead of the time in talking about this today. I think we're way far behind. And what that means for the industry, if it could shift, if people could focus in any industry, honestly, between the checklists of I went from CSR to a CSR number one, number two, account manager. Those title levels. Or a producer to executive producer, to partner or owner or agency principal, whatever your next step in terms of title is, or even in compensation. You're not finding your purpose, you're not finding your passion, you're checking the list.
Dustyne Bryant: And that is not what's going to keep you within an industry, any industry, not just the insurance industry. That's just going to keep you going, "What's next?" And I think that's been a huge shift for me is that I've always been of the goal setting mindset, "What's next? What's the next step in the checklist of things? How do I know I'm being successful?"
Dustyne Bryant: Well, it's because my retention numbers have gone up. Or it's because I went from CSR to account manager, from account manager to account executive. From this to a department leader, to personalized department leader. That's how I measured my success. And it was only within the last, I think I've only discovered it honestly within the last couple of months, that I've gone beyond finding my purpose in the industry, which was climbing whatever ladder you want to look at, to finding my passion.
Dustyne Bryant: And that's a different shift in mindset that I wasn't ready for, but started figuring it out. And once you find that passion, I feel like anybody, in terms of where it would take the industry, it would take us so far. Not only for the talent pool, which is a huge conversation.
Dustyne Bryant: There is no talent gap in my opinion. There maybe has been. And that maybe there is, I don't want to say there isn't. But it's because we're not helping people get from checking the list, to finding their place, to finding their purpose, to finding their passion. So they're leaving.
Joey Giangola: Well, and I think the interesting thing that stands out to me is that my math accounts is that it took seven years for you to get to that purpose and another seven to get to the passion, give or take.
Dustyne Bryant: Right.
Joey Giangola: You would seem to be an exception to the rule of somebody. That's a lot of time to be there.
Dustyne Bryant: It is.
Joey Giangola: And to be fulfilled enough. And I think most people sort of follow that same trajectory. And we lose the ones that don't, that don't have that patience, right?
Dustyne Bryant: Right.
Joey Giangola: I guess the question that I have is, looking back on that experience, just being a person that sort of did it regardless. So what stood out to you as the thing that always kept you curious and looking for those things? And how did you get to where you are along the way? To help somebody else maybe repeat that similar process? Or accelerate it even?
Dustyne Bryant: Yeah, that's a great question. Because I think about what industries I've been in before, as you ask that question and why I didn't stay there. I did start in the medical field and that was kind of like a following my grandmother. I didn't know what I wanted to do.
Dustyne Bryant: I was really young out of high school. It was a thing. I got a scholarship out of high school because that's what you're supposed to do is go to college. But I didn't want to go to college really, but I did want to find a passion. And so again, medical people are generally very passionate about what they do and helping others. So I did start there.
Dustyne Bryant: The learning piece I've really gravitated towards. I loved being in nursing school and everything that entailed. I loved the little Petri dishes and coming back the next morning and figuring out what was going to grow in them. There was just the curiosity of that.
Dustyne Bryant: I didn't find a passion within it that kept me there. I found a passion more so that was detrimental to me, in that I cared so deeply about people that the passing away of people affected me in a negative way. And there wasn't a mentor again that would step me to the side and go, "That was really tough. Let's process this," or whatever. There wasn't that. Because medical field is so fast paced. So again, even they can benefit from the whole mentorship and not just training process. To step someone aside and just really say, "How did that feel? What are you thinking?" Whatever.
Dustyne Bryant: So then the next industry I went to was kind of like a floundering thing. It was the restaurant industry, the hospitality industry even greater, if you will. Because that moved from being a server at a restaurant to, again, I have a more analytical brain. I ended up establishing or helping, not even helping, just really forming their training program for new servers.
Dustyne Bryant: And then that developed into a corporate, "We need you to open a store for us in another whatever. You've developed a great training system, let's do it again." So there was that. I was the more analytical checklist, step by step process kind of thing. And then interjecting the fun into it kind of situation.
Dustyne Bryant: To where that got noticed by a hotel manager that was at that restaurant and was like, "I need you. Come over to the hotel." And it was a four star or four diamond, four star five, it's been a minute. It was a big hotel. It's not just a Marriott or whatever. So started as the concierge there and then moved back into the restaurant to help them develop the training program once again.
Dustyne Bryant: And I remember that HR person there, I take it back to Disney. Disney's kind of my favorite place. She had trained in her college days at Disney. And the whole thing was like once you cross that boundary between back of house to front of house, you're on. This is a show, we're putting on a show for our guests. Whatever you have in your personal life, it stays in back of house. And when you're in front of house, you are on.
Dustyne Bryant: So I kind of adapted that similar scenario. But I still, again, I didn't stay. It was really grueling and there wasn't a mentor to be like, "You're killing it. How does that feel? What is the next step for you?" Or there wasn't somebody there that helped me unpack whatever success or trauma happened in that day. So I didn't stay.
Dustyne Bryant: Then there was a person, it just like if somebody pulls me out of one industry to another, it seems to be my progression into things. There was a person there for a conference that was like, "Hey, you might be interested in this." And so I started learning more about insurance and that's how I got into insurance.
Dustyne Bryant: What made me stay, of course, through the process, I think was just my constant seeking of knowledge. And honestly, if I hadn't found The National Alliance and the educational path that took me through, I don't think I would've found a purpose to stay. Because at the same time, I was going through college. At that I still don't know what I want to do or be when I grow up. So I need to go back to college while I'm working full time.
Dustyne Bryant: And I was on the path of law enforcement. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. So obviously still not dedicated to the insurance industry because I'm taking law enforcement classes and looking towards a law degree. That's not insurance.
Dustyne Bryant: So once I found The National Alliance, it was those instructors, it was those courses, that I was like, "They're like crazy. They're nuts. They're talking about education like it's something that's tingly and exciting." I was like, "How can I?" I don't know if they had a purpose or a passion through that, but teaching will, you'll find your passion through teaching.
Dustyne Bryant: But it was like, "Oh, I think I want something like that." So for me, I thought that what I'm doing now was more like the end of my career. I've got to work my way up to that passion, to that level. So that kept me going. And I started with my CISR. That was the first designation that I got. So it baby stepped me in. When I got to my next agency, where I found my mentor, it was the CIC. I had to go through the CIC. He wanted me to have that because he had that and it was that.
Dustyne Bryant: So I did that and that's really what kept me going, was like, "There's obviously more to learn here." And I never felt disenchanted by the industry. I never felt hurt or traumatized by the industry. Honestly, it was like a comedic relief for me because clients are what they are, and sometimes what they do is hysterically funny. And as are claims adjusters and underwriters from the agent desk, sometimes what they do is hysterically funny. And you just have to come back the next day and see what else is going to happen.
Dustyne Bryant: So I think that's what kept me going. And fortunately for me, unfortunately, for others that might be listening, it just happened organically. There was nothing. There were a couple of traumas, if you will, along the way, but there was nothing that really made me want to say, "I quit. I can't do this anymore."
Dustyne Bryant: There were points where I got to that. Where I was like, "I'm not sure if I'm still really fitting in here." But the importance is I had a mentor that I didn't even have to tell that to. We were so in sync that he would just see it's time to take a new step. It's time to check in and see what else can I have this person do?
Dustyne Bryant: And that might even be more of a sponsorship. It developed more from a mentorship to a sponsorship. To go, "I'm not promoting you in terms of a title, but I am promoting your drive. Let's see what else you can do." And in other podcasts, and even my own, and if you just talk to me, I'll even say I had a leader that would come in and say, "I need you to do this," and then walk out.
Dustyne Bryant: And I'm sitting there like, "I don't know how to do that. I've never done that before." But I had to do it because he thought I could. And so he would push me outside of my comfort zone that way. And I think that was his style of sponsorship. And seeing the drive to be like, "Let's see what else she can do." And there was no fear of failure for me because it was always like, "Well, you said I could do it when I've never been trained to do it. So honestly, if it fails, it's your fault, not mine." No, there was always that kind of safety net for me, whether or not that was true for him. But yeah.
Joey Giangola: All right, Dustyne, I've got three more questions for you.
Dustyne Bryant: Okay. I'll try not to be so wordy next time.
Joey Giangola: That's all right. The first one, really simply, what's one thing you hope you never forget?
Dustyne Bryant: One thing I hope I never forget is how to listen to others. Just pure and simple, how to listen to others. Because once you stop listening, you're not going to change. How you felt, like I said before, that one question you asked, how I would've answered two years ago versus how I answer now, is totally different.
Dustyne Bryant: Because you need to keep yourself open enough to listen to others' perspectives. And shift your mindset based on how you feel. Not how they feel, but how you feel. If you identify with anything that somebody has said, you can take pieces of that in listening and shift.
Joey Giangola: Now on the other side of that, what is one thing you still have yet to learn?
Dustyne Bryant: How to keep my mouth shut. I think podcasting has perpetuated that for me. I still have not learned how to keep my mouth shut. But I am more conscious of listening to others now than I ever have been before. And more conscious to stay within my head to say, "Okay, wait, don't speak yet. Wait." So yeah, I'm still working on that one.
Joey Giangola: All right, Dustyne, last question to you. If I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to reshape, change, alter, speed up, really any part of insurance, what's that thing? Where is it going? And what's it doing?
Dustyne Bryant: I would say speed up going beyond the deck page. I've had several conversations with newer people in the industry, and even more experienced people within the industry, that are more geared towards just renewing their license off of basic CE and the sales dollars. That perspective of growing my business to X number. And there's not as much focus on the renewal, the retention, the relationship piece with the client.
Dustyne Bryant: When you start saying, "Well, how do you do your renewal reviews? Or how do you do your initial advisement review for a new client?" It's so focused on the deck page. And yes, that's a starting point, but there's so much more with inside the policy, that if you don't truly know how to read or compare and understand various different policies together, you could really be stripping a client of a coverage that they might need.
Dustyne Bryant: And I'll just provide one example of that. It had to do with a water claim. And the verbiage, broad, versus special or basic type language. Where it was like, "Water damage is excluded if there's been an ..." And don't quote me on verbiage here, I'm pulling it out of my head, out of the air. It's like, "Water damage is excluded, particularly when it's been an ongoing or reoccurring situation for a period of weeks, months, or years."
Dustyne Bryant: It's the weeks, months, or years. That's very broad language to interpret in terms of like if you ended up in court, what does that mean? Right? Well then this other carrier that denied the claim, very sadly, their language was very restrictive and said, "Ongoing water leakage, seepage, whatever, for a period of 14 days or more." Just being able, they don't put that in the marketing material. They don't say, "Oh, we exclude water damage if it's been occurring over 14 days. And this carrier excludes it if it's been occurring over a period of weeks, months, or years." Very broad interpretation.
Dustyne Bryant: Knowing the difference there, and seeing that those two products may only be a couple of dollars apart, is the difference between a client that's crying for not having a water damage claim covered, and a client that's not. So if I could really speed something up and wave my magic wand on any new agent or client service person that's in the industry, it's to like, "You really need to focus on understanding policy language versus just the deck page." Because those ticky little differences and knowing where to find them can make or break the difference for your client.
Joey Giangola: Dustyne, this has been fantastic. I'm going to leave it right there.
Dustyne Bryant: Thank you.