Passwords Must Be Shared

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Yes. Everyone needs to share their passwords and logins – for everything. And this especially applies to business owners. Seems obvious right? I’d wager a large number of people have never done this.

I don’t know about you, but between my wife and I alone – not counting business accounts – we documented a bunch; I didn’t count them. Bank portals, computers, emails, phones, etc. They accumulate.

Each password was carefully written out with account numbers, descriptions (i.e. Dad’s iPhone), the associated logins, and organized on a large notepad. There was no Word document. No computer file.

It’s worth noting, this will take time and patience…be prepared. You may even need to reset a password or two, if you have any automatically populating when you log into an account(s).

No excuses. We’ve all got plenty of free time. By now, everyone must have reached on-demand overload and there are only so many news cycles or dog tricks, dances, babies, etc to watch on TikTok before your head explodes. And if you’ve been reluctant to check your weight recently or needed to research virtual AA meetings, I can tell you this password exercise can be healthy. It’s takes time and concentration. Stuffing your pie hole during the process is difficult. (I’ve tried.)

What did I do with my double secret probation hand-written list? I photocopied it. Then, hand-delivered it to my adult daughter who promptly commented, “this is so morbid, Dad.” But it isn’t. It’s Planning 101. And it’ll make everyone’s life a whole lot easier if someone you trust has your list. You’ll even get a sense of accomplishment knowing you did something productive with your free time.

I’m afraid there’s going to be some people who read this blog, think it’s a good idea, but never do it. We’re all procrastinators at some level and this task is boring. Isn’t it more fun to share some useless SnapChat? Mindless entertainment. And with high definition cameras and powerful processors, phones aren’t really phones anymore.

This documentation process is not without risk. If you have any “sensitive content” that could put a blemish on that saintly persona you’ve maintained, you will need to make an executive decision. Choose someone you trust or sleep with one eye open. Or both.

Now stop what you’re doing. Find a yellow pad. Print clearly.

 

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USS Metaphor

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Yes. Most of us are home and trying to stay engaged in our companies. But to escape the incessant CV19 media noise, I became curious about viruses in general. They’re microscopic but must have some kind of mass. Does anyone know how much they weigh?

Turns out we do. http://news.mit.edu/2014/weighing-particles-at-the-attogram-scale-0113

New device from MIT can measure masses as small as one millionth of a trillionth of a gram, in solution.

Another thing I learned is that “weight” is not “mass”. I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to people much smarter than me. But the headline, I’ll remember. https://futurism.com/how-to-weigh-a-virus-2

This year we got hit with a flood of headlines and quickly recognized that something very small can affect something very big. One isolated example is the insurance industry and the tens of thousands of advisors who work in it. I chose insurance because these companies have historically been extremely reluctant to change. But when change is thrust upon them something has to give.

Is COVD19 big enough to precipitate real change? I guess we’ll find out. One thing to remember, this corona illness is 19 (as in 2019) but there were several before and likely more to follow. I believe we’ll be better prepared in the healthcare community but what about in the common sense community. Confidence is low. Pretty soon ventilators and toilet paper will cost the same.

Without trying to calculate the cumulative negative effect on human behavior around the world or the trillions of dollars spent in our country alone, this microscopic parasite spread quickly without legs or wings – and has shaken industries. Is this a result of the uncommon contagion of this germ or the organized messaging of the media? I wonder.

Regardless. How do I wrap my head around the impact? Metaphorically, COVID19 has moved mountains of oil tankers. (One ship fully loaded with crude is about 400,000 tons.) By comparison, a virus weighs a mere 10 femtograms. https://www.nature.com/articles/446994a

Previous demonstrations of chip-based mass sensors include the detection of a single virus weighing as little as 9.5 femtograms (1 femtogram is 10−15 grams) in air (A. Gupta et al. Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 1976–1978; 2004)

The bigger lesson…

Change is here. And no individual or industry is immune.

 

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THE COW’S OUTTA THE BARN

Corona_Cow

Time for a little tough love.

Covid19 has exposed many things. The obvious topics need no more attention. But one subject does merit closer scrutiny because it will continue to impact individuals, businesses, families, employment, and the economy for a long time. Small business.

The corona virus has successfully slammed the door shut on confidence and prosperity – at least for now. And while business owners sit home wringing their hands over what to do next, they’ll scramble to look at their insurance policies to see if business interruption is covered by a biological event. (I’m taking a huge leap here and assuming they can find the document.)

Hmmm. Business interruption with zero physical damage to property. No damage to any structure, vehicles, equipment, etc. But the company is shut down. Here comes a big bucket of cold water, soaking most with added anxiety as individuals realize there’s no provision for a virus. But why did it take a worldwide disaster to prompt a policy review? Three reasons:

  1. Nobody likes insurance and they avoid it as much as possible.
  2. Nobody reads their policy, why…please see #1.
  3. Few professionals make policy reviews a priority and perform a risk analysis to identify exposure.

This is not exclusive to Property Casualty. These three issues apply to Life & Health. Different industries sharing the same problem.

Unfortunately, my company has come up short in this endeavor as well. In 2010, we produced video content to educate on BI and uploaded it into our video library. A resource we created (many years ago) to help professionals educate their clients on a wide variety of topics. But, the content got little attention – or distribution. Awareness is something we are continually trying to improve!

If you’re an advisor and/or business owner, you are at home with time on your hands… take a couple of minutes, watch two samples and you’ll understand the frustration:

https://goodadvice.info/?video=YWlkNYTSbCvnssVdPs&subid=AYsn7TjZye01mWy&id=Fk48iac32jWdv2G&t=y

https://goodadvice.info/?video=U0LqWAIfB4b3SAaaf2&subid=AYsn7TjZye01mWy&id=muhPKUa1N3zFWku&t=y

If a business owner watched either, presuming the advisor had taken the time to send them, would they be in a better place today? (By the way, every video plays in a unique, branded page each sender creates.) Perhaps. And would the advisor have differentiated himself/herself in the mind of the client? You decide.

Even the best solution will be ignored if the problem isn’t apparent. Where have I seen that before?

So, what will change moving forward.

People begin to like insurance?

No. They’ll be more jaded. Convinced companies collect premiums and look for any excuse to deny claims. And that animus will likely spill over onto the producer. (Side question. What percentage of life insurance or disability policies lapse before any claim is paid?)

Advisors change their business practice?

Doubtful. In P&C and Life, advisors are educated on product. They fully understand, to make more money they need to sell more product. Insurance companies are manufacturers. They drive their field force to sell those products. FYI, products are commodities – easily replaced. Same goes for the advisor. But… a proactive professional, focused on helping individuals identify problems and mitigate risk is something quite unique. Remember, the buyer does not care about product. They see no difference. They ONLY care if they are properly protected.

I wish I could offer the solution. Right now I can only point to the problem.

Routine is a powerful pathogen which infected us long ago.

 

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January 26, 2020

index

“Today, I’m going right back to what I did yesterday and will continue with that same behavior tomorrow.”

This is the internal dialogue of the vast majority of people but my fixation is with business owners. And this subconscious conversation is the main reason why it’s so difficult to get their attention – even when critical issues are punctuated, acknowledged and remain unattended. Their business does not “share well” and consequently consumes all of the owner’s time and attention. Demanding would be an understatement.

To find proof of this, look no further than January 26, 2020.

That day we learned of a horrific accident. Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Southern California. When “celebrity” collides with tragedy, people pay attention. And every media outlet flooded the nation with details for days. Perhaps weeks. Everyone knew Kobe Bryant, figuratively at least – even people who had zero interest in basketball. His death was sudden. Unexpected. Tragic. It drew a lot of attention. We received numerous accounts of the accident and painful details about the families involved; we can only imagine the impact. A difficult start to the new decade.

I am certain there is not a business owner in the US who didn’t see, read, hear, and/or talk about this terrible event. Everyone was shocked, saddened and once again reminded that unexpected things happen. Sometimes very bad things… and lives are affected forever. Nothing will be the same for the families and friends directly impacted.

But for those of us who were simply spectators, did anything change? I recognize make-shift memorials popped up with flowers and messages of sympathy, sporting events had moments of silence and large memorials are also planned; but beyond that what happened for the vast majority of us? Nothing. Life goes on.

Routine. That’s where the danger lies. And individuals who were consumed in the horrific news of the helicopter crash did not stop, acknowledge the risk in their own lives and act on it.

I will wager 99.5% of business owners (who have not properly planned and protected their family or company) took any action after January 26 to identify and mitigate their own risk. They drew no lesson from the people who died and the obvious reality that accidents happen all the time. No one is immune.

Change… It’s only done quickly when forced upon us.

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Google Medical School

Emergency medical serviceIt’s one of the schools on the Alphabet Campus and there are countless students matriculating.

IN ALL, 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That’s up from 62 percent of Internet users who said they went online to research health topics in 2001, the Washington research firm found.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3077086/t/more-people-search-health-online/#.XiN8myNOlPY

Everybody does it. You get an ache or a weird pain you’ve never felt before…and out comes the phone, Google and you enter your symptoms. Bam! In a few seconds you’ve got a bucket load of diagnoses. “Ahhhh, is that what I have? I’ll be dead by nightfall.”

Most (real) physicians will tell you, stay off the internet. The human body is a very complex mechanism and whatever your feeling or seeing or touching, likely is not what your currently reading about. Delete that common sense advice. You’re now feverishly (pun intended) clicking on link after link – you’re panic stricken, it’s getting worse – and you’re ready to grab your car keys and head off to the Emergency Department. I’m dying!

Not poo pooing a real medical emergency but somehow you have to know the difference. Trust your common sense and act accordingly.

That same scenario does not follow for business owners. Their experience/reaction to any problem is quite the opposite. Slo-motion at best. They may feel something or hear about someone not properly protecting their company and what do they generally do? NOTHING. No internet search. No Google. No nothing. Here’s the internal dialogue that immediately kicks in:

  • Her (or she) should have seen that coming.
  • That kid wasn’t qualified to take over…everybody knew that.
  • He didn’t exercise.
  • He/she was old. Of course they got sick.
  • I have plenty of time for that.
  • That will never happen to me.
  • I’ve got too much going on as it is…
  • I do not want that insurance person in my office, I don’t even know what they’re talking about. They just want to sell something.

And on and on and on. Until the problem jumps up and bites that owner right in the ass. Now the fire drill begins and there’s almost nothing anyone can do to help – even the best of us.

We’re right in the early stages of a $13.1 Trillion transfer of wealth in the business owner community. Google it. This will never happen again in anyone’s lifetime. How much bigger does that number have to be to get somebody’s attention?

The sale and or succession of a business is one of the six most emotional events in a business owner’s life. Yet they avoid it. Can somebody (some professional in advanced markets) find a way to motivate these folks?

This could be a matter of life and death.

911 cannot help.

 

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Once In A While

I never owned a dog, but I know many who have/do. Often times these animals are so much more than a pet; they really are (regarded as) part of the family. It’s deeply emotional for sure.

Now I understand.

I had the opportunity to witness unfiltered joy last night when my daughter brought home her puppy, Rusty. He’s an Mini American Shepherd https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/miniature-american-shepherd/.

About the Miniature American Shepherd

The Miniature American Shepherd shares many physical traits with its forebear the Australian Shepherd—only on a smaller scale. Females stand between 13 and 17 inches at the shoulder; males range from 14 to 18 inches. Despite their size, Minis are every inch a true herding dog: energetic, versatile, rugged, and extremely bright. The eye-catching coat comes in black, blue merle, red, and red merle. (The merle will exhibit in any amount marbling, flecks, or blotches.) Minis move with the smooth and agile step of a dog built for hard work on punishing terrain.

Really cute of course, but I was more taken by the immediate emotional bond between that little fur ball and this young woman. Yes, once in a while, money can buy happiness.

The bigger picture in my mind is… in a world constantly “dirtied” by greed, violence, tragedy, possessions, deceit, etc, it’s wonderful to witness something happy and near perfect. Oh, I’m sure they’ll be the usual training, curiosity and mischief than many puppies exhibit but I honestly believe no one will mind. And the bond between dog and owner will flourish.

Yes, this Christmas will indeed be extra-special. And the mobile phones that I often rant about will be put to very good use. Here comes the avalanche of pictures, videos and posts as Rusty settles in to his new home. Family paparazzi will be in full force no doubt.

On the runway, center-stage… eight pounds of innocent energy and a whole lotta love.

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Business Owner Mascot

ostrich

The Philadelphia Flyers, the pro hockey team in this city, recently had a coming out party for their Mascot. Gritty. https://www.nhl.com/flyers/fans/gritty. Instant “fan favorite”? I’m not so sure. I heard somewhere the NHL told the franchise, you have to have a mascot. Can’t confirm that.

The Philly Phanatic is another story altogether. https://www.mlb.com/phillies/fans/phillie-phanatic. Great persona and a fan favorite at every baseball game and likely in the entire league.

But all this (local) attention to the introduction of Gritty lead me to speculate about a mascot for the business owner. My nomination, Struthio camelus. The common ostrich. They are big, have lots of feathers, funny looking, strong, and can kill a man with a single kick. But when people picture this oversized bird they generally imagine it with its head buried in the ground. Scared. Hiding. Trying to avoid danger.

None of that is true. An ostrich does not bury its head; it would suffocate. Although the bird surely does exhibit this type of peculiar behavior, it has a useful purpose. The ostrich digs a hole for it’s nest and several times a day, turns the eggs with it’s beak.

Still, the image and metaphor persist.

When people say someone has their head buried in the sand, they are claiming that the person is ignoring obvious facts or refusing to accept advice, hoping that simply denying the existence of a problem will make it go away.

https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-ostriches-really-bury-their-heads-in-the-sand/

Business owners bury their heads. Figuratively and frequently. But, there’s no nest. No useful purpose. No succession planning. And surely no productive outcome. They are hiding. Ignoring risk. And that (repetitive) action is not nurturing in any sense of the word.

Failing to take the proper steps to protect their business, family, employees, lifestyle… is not a misinterpreted behavior. It’s a serious and persistent problem.

Yes, the ostrich fits the bill. (Pun intended.)

We just need a name.

 

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Place Your Bets

table-poker-chips

Shame on me. I made a mistake.

Although it has been corrected, this oversight cost my company a lot of money, too much time and a fair amount of sleep. It consumed creativity, manpower that was assigned to other business, rattled confidence, and delivered a huge distraction. The launch of our new program has been delayed several months.

The advanced markets world needs to be reminded. It is imperative to help business owners identify risk. They have to recognize the potential impact and take (intelligent) proactive steps to mitigate the fallout. A recurring theme in this blog has been focused on trying to help business owners do just that. Protect what they have worked so hard to build. But I can say with confidence there’s still much to be done.

What happened?

A software application was conceptualized and in development. We spent years in the planning stages and knew this endeavor would require a small platoon of creative and technical people. Everyone had to be vetted. Thankfully most had been working with my company for decades.

Proven. Reliable. Supremely qualified. These folks are the cream of the crop. So I assumed, with a bit of bravado, we were good to go. Everyone was energized. There were two well-qualified leaders for each of the primary teams. My partner and I (who lead the project) stopped flying on the same jet.

To make the program work as designed, automated data extraction was/is a key capability. However, the lead programmer assigned to this task had no true back up personnel and no history with our company. She was bright. Painfully skilled in her particular “world” and came with stellar recommendations. It was love at first sight and we were anxious to have her participate.

Months into a successful development cycle we were confident. But after a post-op complication from a routine surgical procedure, our new team member contracted pneumonia. Her illness progressed rapidly and she subsequently died. Disbelief blew through our company. It was a shock to everyone and a tragedy for family and friends. This woman was not old, not sick and full of life. She had a great sense of humor and we laughed on the phone just days prior to her passing.

Life is fragile. We take it for granted. I hope I’ve learned the bigger lesson here.

P.S. I know what you’re thinking. “That will never happen to me.” Of course not. What are the odds.

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Passing

He “passed” away. No one likes to say died. I’m not sure why.

But when a life is taken suddenly or fades away over months or years (who’s knows which is worse); it’s a very sad day for the people left behind. So many can be affected. The spouse, kids, parents, extended family, friends, even pets. I remember when my grandmother died. The dog next door (she lived in a row home) laid with his head down on the porch for weeks. Right next to the lawn chair she occupied on many warm afternoons with him at her side. Both families commented about how sad Boots was… He genuinely missed her.

In the case of a business owner there can be additional emotional (and financial) fallout. Consider the employees, partners, customers, vendors, they too may feel the pain. Death plays no favorites.

There are no words from clergy or anyone else that can truly soften the impact, many of us don’t even try. What do you say? I’m sorry…? Everybody says that. No. We generally spectate at these uncomfortable affairs. Look around to see who showed up, who’s conspicuously absent and once in a while quietly contemplate our own impermanence. I guess that depends on your age. And after the service/rituals are over and the obligatory luncheon concludes, it’s the immediate family members who go home and quietly shoulder the loss. One thing is certain. Nothing will ever be the same.

It’s seems crazy to call it “luck” but I will, because for the fortunate among us, that individual who died made their mortality a priority. At some point in the past, they took the time to plan and protect who they loved and what they had worked so hard to build. And mixing inside the grief and tears, the survivors begin to recognize the value of life insurance. It can provide the most precious commodity. Time. Time to focus on the emotional impact of the loss and helping each other cope. And for the business owner, his/her company may survive. Even flourish. With no collateral damage to the employees, customers or anyone else. That’s a good thing.

Death can bring the hammers of hell upon us and when lives get turned upside down financially…it only adds insult to injury.

I will assume no one was very happy when the policies were issued and premiums had to be paid. Regardless, the advisor was prudent to make sure the estate plan was sound, applications were submitted and underwriting got done the right way. Still, nobody likes life insurance.

But that aversion changes in a heartbeat.

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This One Goes to 11

Need a break from the contemporary flood of special effects movies? Check out This is Spinal Tap. There’s plenty of memorable scenes; one of my favorites is the interview with Nigel Tufnel in the studio. He explained how his rig was unique. The amplifier was modified to make it the loudest, with special volume controls that went to 11. (Conventional amplifiers stop at 10.)

Lots of things are measured with volume, not just music, liquids, and books. I sometimes like to measure the volume of “quiet.” Silence can be hard to get. Harder to appreciate. Until you find yourself remarkably aware of its unexpected arrival. What a treat.

Good things happen in that space and it’s certainly no secret. People sign up for meditation classes and retreats probably more now than in the past. They recognize the value and will book themselves (for days) to participate in organized activities – at secluded retreats – and surround themselves with silence. Maybe it’s their path to rejuvenation. Calm. Sanity.

Has there been a growing departure from the “popular” airport, resort, restaurant, hotel getaway? To get away from what? Let’s go to the map. Orlando. Take a quick look at adults with children visiting Disney World. (If you’ve been there you’ve seen them.) It’s supposed to be a very happy place. Fantasy land. Does everyone look happy? Full of wonder? Not so much. People often say they need a vacation – after their vacation. What’s missing?

I work with professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping business owners. One of the biggest challenges they have is convincing these folks to take a break. Many don’t get much time away from work and even if they do, their mind generally doesn’t follow. Too many things to think about. Too much “noise”. They may not have roadies, guitars or a bus, but they’re always touring with their amplifier. It’s small but very loud and never unplugged. It’s a battle of the bands right in their palm with no audience and no applause.

Ever been to an industry conference and watch the horde assault the exits during the obligatory bathroom break? Every phone is out, cell towers are inundated with signals…so many rush to take out their mini-computer, turn up the volume and check messages – even in the stall. (At least they’re not driving.)

Maybe for the next business owner summit I co-host, I’ll suggest to my team that we include time devoted to mindfulness. Yes. I want to improve the experience attending an off-site meeting with a session of silence.

I’d like it to go to 11.

#putdownthephone

 

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