It certainly wouldn't do much to increase your chances of sticking around and figuring things out.

Certainly, after all that, finding your place and calling it your own with comfort doesn't seem all that difficult.

Patience Noah, Owner of Patience Noah Insurance, talks about how she did just that and rebelled her way to a fulfilling career.

Joey Giangola: Patience Noah, how you doing today?

Patience Noah: I'm good. How are you?

Joey Giangola: Patience, I'm doing all right. I'm doing all right. I want to start here before we really get into anything too serious. Have you ever come across something you had no idea how it was made and then once you figured out how it was made you were relatively surprised?

Patience Noah: Yes, there's been quite a few instances. One recently that I discovered was how fingerprinting came about. Yeah. And I was reading, I have this app that talks about interesting things around the world and I was reading how fingerprints came about because two identical individuals that were in prison together and they couldn't identify which one of them were which. And that's how this whole fingerprinting thing came about because they looked identical. Everything about them was identical, so they couldn't tell the difference between the two of them in jail. So that's how it came about. So for me, I thought that was really profound because I just never thought that was what started the whole thing.

Joey Giangola: Well, you're setting the bar for learning things pretty high already within the first few seconds, so I don't know if we're going to get over that, but we're going to try. For me, Patience, it's candy canes. I saw video of somebody making a candy cane. I thought it was an end table. I wasn't really sure what was happening, but it ended up being a bunch of candy canes and 'tis the season, I guess. But I want to move this over to the world of insurance and I guess talking about your sort of journey and the things that people may or may not know. What do you do when you're sort of looking to approach a new area of the business, learn something new that you maybe are unfamiliar with? What's generally that approach that you take to tackle something that you maybe had no idea about before?

Patience Noah: Because our industry is always changing and there's always something out there to learn, I usually try to find somebody who has some sort of knowledge in that. For me, I always say, "Yes, I can read an article, but at the end of the day I'd rather talk to somebody." So I usually reach out to either an underwriter or someone that I've met at a conference, or somebody on LinkedIn, or I can pick up the phone and just call a random person that I've found online or something to say, "Hey, can I pick your brains on this?" So for me, it's always learning from people. I prefer learning from people and hearing about people's experiences and things like that because people have different way of putting things that will make you understand.

Patience Noah: You might read an article and understand it a different way, but I always say that people, especially with our industry, it's one thing to put out a product and it's another thing to be on the sales end of it. So usually I like to talk to people who are hands-on every day with something that has to do with the industry for them to educate me on it.

Joey Giangola: Well, and that's interesting because I think maybe people have a hesitation sometimes, like I'm bothering them or they don't want to hear from me. But at my experience, people are generally pretty excited to talk about something that they're really knowledgeable about. Has that been sort of your experience as well?

Patience Noah: There's never been anybody that I reached out to and tell them, "Hey, I want to learn about this," and they've told me, "I don't want to talk about this," or, "I'm too busy," or, "Why are you bothering me?" Like you said, a lot of people out there are willing to teach people or to talk to people as long as you approach them and they have the time. They can make time available to educate you on anything that you need. And I've always been one of those curious people that's always asking people questions and things like that, so that works in my favor because I'm always asking people questions.

Joey Giangola: We've got a couple of questions, but you talked about your curiosity. And how did your curiosity lead you to the world of insurance? I mean, what got you in this even looking this direction in the first place?

Patience Noah: So for me, after I graduated college, I couldn't find a job. And I went about asking people, "Hey, do you know where I can find a job?" And I had studied marketing in school. I went to UMass Dartmouth. I studied marketing and after graduating with marketing, I didn't really know anyone in the marketing industry or in the advertising. I wanted to go into advertising. I didn't really know anybody in that field. So although I had a couple of internships, I still couldn't secure a job after I graduated. And I was speaking to a mentor of mine and he was like, "Hey, why don't you try looking to the insurance industry? I think it'll be good for you." And at the time, I had no knowledge of what insurance was. I had just gotten my first car, so I only thought about, "Okay, you pay a premium above auto insurance."

Patience Noah: So there was really no knowledge of how vast the industry was. So he was just like, "Why don't you go do some research on it?" And again, me being curious, I went on Google, I went to the library and I started doing some research on the insurance industry. And eventually I got my first job in sales and I really took an interest to the sales aspect of things. And that's where really launched my career, starting off in sales.

Joey Giangola: So I have to ask, you're going to certainly get some bonus marketing points from me. I certainly appreciate that. From a person that was coming into the industry with a marketing background and we don't get a lot of credit or we're not looked upon favorably for our marketing prowess, I guess, if you will, what was your opinion of what did you sort of experience from how we present the products and talk about them and communicate? What did you think and how are you maybe looking to change that a little bit?

Patience Noah: I think it depends on which side of the industry that you're in because I feel like the carrier side, marketing might be a little bit different than if you're on the agency side. I mean, now I've been on two sides, so I've worked for carriers and now I work for an agency. Putting my mind back to 2013 when I was just fresh out into the industry, for me at the time I felt like insurance was completely being marketed wrong, especially trying to get younger people in the industry. And I think at the time, me coming into the industry at the time, I was always one of the youngest people in the room. I was just fascinated about the lack of diversity at the time in the industry. Not just in terms of minority, but in terms of gender lack of diversity. I was like, "Okay, well, then why are people not on campuses?"

Patience Noah: Because I was like, "Okay, well, on my campus, I didn't see any insurance companies trying to advertise on my campus that this is a great career for students to transition into or anything like that." So from that standpoint, I felt like people were doing something wrong in terms of where they were advertising or where they were trying to recruit from. And then once we got to now we're advertising to consumers, at the time my knowledge of it was you come and you pay a premium. And if you don't pay a premium, you get canceled, but I just didn't understand that there was so many layers of insurance at the time. Maybe when you think of insurance at the time, it was just life insurance. So I felt like, "Okay, well, why are they only advertising one component of this vast industry without the other components?"

Patience Noah: And there was a lot of people, and still until today, a lot of people have no knowledge of what the industry is unless you talk to somebody who's directly been working in it for some time and they tell you about it. There's still a lack of understanding of the industry. And I always say regardless of how rich you are or how old you are, insurance is a language that not many people speak. You'll never find a doctor that probably knows anything about insurance. You'll never find a PhD student that knows anything about insurance or things like that. It's a unique area of its own, but I think sometimes we get lost in the marketing of how we market it to people.

Joey Giangola: There's definitely a lot there, but I have to ask this question. And being somebody that walks into a room, as you said, and doesn't see a lot of common ground, it takes a certain kind of somebody to say, "Yeah, I'm going to stick around a little bit and see what's going on." Where did you find the courage to say, "I'm going to be comfortable here," or, actually, what got you comfortable maybe to say, "Yeah, let's set up shop?"

Patience Noah: Yeah, I think there was several things. For me, I'm somewhat rebellious, so I wanted to go against the current. So in my family, everybody is doing some sort of healthcare. We have nurses, we have home healthcare folks, we have folks in pharmacy and things like that. And then I have an uncle who's a lawyer, so for me, I wanted to do something different, completely different from what everybody was doing. Me being a first-generation immigrant from Liberia, my mom, she would always say, "The only way you can succeed in America is doing something that's in the healthcare field because there's a lot of money in it." Because that was what she was exposed to and that was what everybody was exposed to. And in my community, when one person is doing something, everybody wants to do the same thing. And I was like, "What happens if I do something different?"

Patience Noah: Success doesn't necessarily mean I have to do something in the healthcare field, so what if? And I don't know where the courage came from, but I think it was that sense of trying to prove to them that there's other areas to succeed in America. I think that's what kept me hanging on. And I think once I was in the industry and I heard the conversations that was going on in the field because at the time when I first started there was really this yearning for them to recruit younger people in the industry for them to ... The conversation of diversity was coming about back in 2013. That's when that conversation was starting. So for me, I saw it as an opportunity for me to set up shop for me to say, "Hey, if I start now and work hard, maybe within the next 10 years or within the next 12 years this could be a profitable career for me or this could be something that could be long lasting for me."

Patience Noah: And then also as I was walking down the street, every time you've spoken to an agency owner down the street, "We've had this agency for 20 years. We've had this agency for 30 years." Or, "My father started it and I took over and things like that." So those were some of the things that inspired me to sort of hang on because I knew there was longevity in it and I knew that eventually the rewards and things will pay off in the long run. So that's what sort of had me hanging on.

Joey Giangola: Sorry, I'm going to take a guess, but you maybe look forward to the family gatherings to where you can be the one that gets to talk a little bit differently about the careers? Maybe just a little bit of different flavor in the conversation?

Patience Noah: At first, it was fun. At first, it was fun because I was on the agency side of ... I mean I was on the carrier side of things, so I wasn't directly selling to people. But then when I became an insurance agent and you are just looking to have a good time. You don't want to think about work, you don't want to talk about work. And then you are trying to have a beer with somebody at 11 o'clock and they want you to talk to them about, "Hey, did you get the payment that I made on my bills?" Or you're in church trying to pay attention to service and someone is like, "Hey, can you check my policy?" I'm like, "No, this is not the place for that. Call me Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 6:00 PM." Those are my office hours, but, like I said, in the beginning it was so much fun because I wanted to educate people.

Patience Noah: A lot of people didn't have any knowledge about the industry, but now that I'm on the other side of things, it's just sometimes I'm just like, "No." Right now, CEO hat is off. I'm just regular patients. I'm just here to have fun. I'm not here to talk about business. I just want to be in this moment, so yeah.

Joey Giangola: It's definitely hard to be an off-duty insurance agent, that's for sure.

Patience Noah: Yeah.

Joey Giangola: So what's next, though? I mean, what do you have your eye to next? You said you bounced around a little bit in the industry, you're always looking for something new, you're always curious. I guess what's sitting on top of your curiosity list at the moment? You might've let a few things slip before we started. What are you working on? What are you excited about?

Patience Noah: So I'm at the phase with my agency that I'm definitely looking to scale because coming into the agency, there's something that they always say: the first five years is the tough years. Carriers may say, "Okay, we may not be looking at this person until maybe they've been three years into the industry or five years within the industry." There is some level of truth to that and that's because in the beginning, unless you come with an insurance knowledge into owning an agency, there is some validity as to why somebody may need to have these years of experience before you can take them on as an agent into your company. I'm at the point where the first two years have now come and gone. I've gotten to the point where I understand the business. Not only do I understand the sales of insurance, now I understand the business of insurance. And now I know I guess the different pillars, what I need to help my agency move forward and grow a profitable agency.

Patience Noah: So for me, I'm at that point where I'm like, "Okay, I've encountered this level of customer. I've encountered these types of customers, so now I'm going to focus on these type of customers." These are the people that I want to put my energy towards now, so I'm more focused and I'm targeting more of the target market that I want to go to and be more intentional. And even I would say two or three years ago I was everywhere. I was everywhere because I wanted to be seen everywhere, but I think now going to 2024 I'll be more intentional as to which events that I go to, which rooms I want to walk into and things like that versus just being everywhere because I want to be seen by everybody. No, I just want to be seen by the right people. And that's next to my list now, being seen by the right people.

Joey Giangola: Well, I got to asked then. Who do you want to be the right people then? What's your crowd? What's that market you're trying to get into now?

Patience Noah: I am at that stage that I'm looking to target mostly the mid-size business, small to mid-size businesses. I'm not saying that those who are just opening their companies I'm not going to go after them anymore, but I'm certainly going after those who've been in business for at least three to five years or more. Those are the people that I'm targeting more now because ... And I had to take my own business experience into consideration as well. The first few years of business, you really don't know what you're doing. Certain things are not priorities and things like that. And believe it or not, most people don't take their insurance policies as priority. My agency has always been a commercialized agency. We're commercial lines focused, so I've always had those people that from the moment a consultant starts the EIN number, they send them over to me. I work on getting their policies.

Patience Noah: Now, the risks of that is sometimes within the first 12 months or the first 24 months there's a possibility that business might not succeed. So if it's not succeeding, more than likely they're not going to make their payments on their insurance policies. Insurance is the last thing on their list of things that needs to be kept afloat. So now that I've had that data, now that I've understood this market, now I'm like, "Okay, well, maybe they're not the people that I need to go after." However, those who've been in business for three to five years, now they're getting their balance and things like that. So they know that there's certain things that is really important to them. And their insurance policies, now they're looking to scale and things like that. They're looking more at their risks and things like that. Their understanding of insurance is a little bit more different.

Patience Noah: Now, price is still the main thing for them, but however, they're looking for someone who's going to advocate for them. They may have had audits and things like that. There's a lot more things that they need help with within their practice and I feel like that's where I can be more useful or my agency could be more useful. So those are the people that I'm going after. I actually came across a study that was done by Hiscox recently that I think about 70% of small business owners are underinsured. For me, those are the underinsured group are the people that I'm looking to go after because education is part of what we do in the agency. So those are the people that I'm going after, finding out where I can fill in that gap.

Patience Noah: Yes, you've been with your agent for a long time, but can we find these gaps to see if we can fill those gaps? And if it makes sense, we can do business together. If not, if you're not ready to switch over, can you refer somebody to me? Can you refer somebody to me? So yeah, so that's the stage that I'm at now in my agency.

Joey Giangola: I have to ask this question before ... If I don't, I guess I'll regret it. Going back to that comfort level, and if you're not a rebellious person, would you have a piece of advice for somebody that might not see exactly what they want in the industry at first glance? But outside of knowing you're here, what else type of advice would you give them to maybe stick around?

Patience Noah: I think in an industry in the beginning is tough. It's tough. You have to want it. I always say with the insurance industry, you have to find something within the industry that gives you joy. For me, what keeps me in it is I find joy in the fact that people have no knowledge of the agency. So every time I get in front of somebody, it's my chance to educate them. So my passion for education is what holds me to the industry. Now, maybe you're one of those people who love to help people. That's definitely something that you can attach to the industry. So I feel like if you want to last long in this industry, your passion has to be attached to something within the industry. And once you attach your passion to it's easier now. It doesn't become this ocean of things that you cannot figure out.

Patience Noah: You just focus on what you love. And every role now leads you, your passion leads you, to that role and you find your passion within that role. And from there, onto the next one, onto the next one and onto the next one. But I feel like if you're just here just to make money and things like that, yes, the money is good, but this job can get overwhelming. The industry can get overwhelming, so you need to find something that even during those overwhelming season you can really sit down and just be like, "You know what? Although things are overwhelming, at least I'm helping somebody. At least I'm educating somebody. At least I'm helping families protect themselves at least." So there's got to be that at least for you. And if you haven't figured out that at least for you, then maybe start doing some research to find out what that at least for you is and try to connect it with the insurance industry. And that's what's going to make you stay in the industry and hold on. If not, then maybe you might need to go somewhere else.

Joey Giangola: All right, Patience, I've got three more questions for you.

Patience Noah: Okay.

Joey Giangola: And the first one is what's one thing you hope you never forget?

Patience Noah: I guess I hope I never forget where I come from. Yeah, I hope I never forget where I come from.

Joey Giangola: All right, fair enough. Now, on the other side of that, what's one thing you still have yet to learn?

Patience Noah: There's so much. There is so much. I mean, every area for me I always find myself as a student, wherever I am. This is just the beginning. I feel like I'm just in the beginning stages of my life right now. I'm in the beginning stages of being an agency owner. And I think as you grow, like I said, there's always so much to learn in this industry. I've yet to scratch the surface of what it means to be an agency owner. And for me, I'm open to it and I think for my passion for education is what's going to lead me to want to learn more. And I think, again, the more I get in front of the right people and I ask the right questions, that would lead me to learn those more that's out there. I just hope the doors opens as the years go on, as the journey goes on for me to learn more about this industry because I feel like there's just a lot more that I'm not privy to here as of yet.

Joey Giangola: All right, Patience, 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's it going and what's it doing?

Patience Noah: Well, right now, I would change these rates. Right now, I'll change this whole rate thing that's going on, especially in the auto industry. I mean, not just in the auto industry. That's what I would change right now. If we're speaking of now and if I had that wand, I'll just go to every company and just sprinkle a little over all of them. Yeah, but that's what I'll change right now.

Joey Giangola: Patience, this has been fantastic. I'm going to leave it right there.

Patience Noah: Awesome. Thank you, Joey. Thank you so much for having me.