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    Mix It Up!

    Hello again. Jill Regester, Director of Marketing Communications with WoodmenLife guest blogging from the second and final day of the American Fraternal Alliance 2016 Annual Meeting.

    This final day did not disappoint and kept with the theme of change. A changing perspective and a changing of the guard.

    Banner 750 x 200My day began with the session Embracing Diversity Among Your Employees and Board Members. What I liked about this session was that the information registered with me as almost commonsensical, and it didn’t feel trite or condescending, like some diversity education can. Rather it was like, “well yeah, duh. I need to think about that, or keep that in mind. That makes sense.” And the discussions centered a lot around the impact a diversified workforce can have on an organization’s bottom line… those with more diversity have 35% higher net assets – not just that it’s the right thing to do.

    My biggest take-away nuggets were these –

    1. Don’t forget as you are adding to and diversifying your workforce…bringing in new ideas, thoughts, beliefs and experiences to your existing culture…that you consider your current teams and make sure they are staying as engaged as these fresh perspectives are being added to the mix.
    2. Make sure you are looking for the voice who is not in the room, who might see opportunities you’re faced with differently and who might have solutions.
    3. And finally (I like this one most) close your eyes and think of a situation when you believed you were not being treated appropriately… how did you react in the moment or afterward? Did you act like yourself? Did you bring your A game? Were you your best self? Probably not – you were REACTING to the situation, and to how you were being treated. Your behavior didn’t define who you were as a person, or what kind of employee you would be…just something to think about.

    Next I headed to the Alliance’s Grow Younger Task Force Innovation Forum. I found this cool definition of innovation – Innovation is significant positive change. There’s that word again – I called it right? The theme this week? Anyway…I really liked the format of this session – each Task Force Member who had something to share came on stage and gave a preview of their innovative concept, and then dispersed throughout the room, after which attendees had the opportunity to roam around learn more about those concepts that interested them.

    Change was the theme in that these concepts all focused on being more member-centric via innovative positive change through such things as – the use of data and better meeting member needs, measuring their engagement to identify opportunities to expand our footprint, better articulating the benefits available to members, expanding our communication channels to fulfill changing preferences, engaging more diverse generations etc.

    My biggest take-away from this session – our industry is RIPE for disruption … and anyone who knows me well knows I like to disrupt, so…

    The last session I attended was the keynote speaker Linda Wertheimer.

    wertheimerWertheimer is a senior national correspondent for National Public Radio. I was really looking forward to Linda – for three reasons –

    1. Because the situation was mixing politics with business (see last paragraph about disruption.)
    2. I wanted to hear her perspective on these crazy political times.
    3. I was curious about what types of questions people would ask her – they didn’t disappoint.

    Linda summed up the times well – we are headed into a very serious final lap of a very serious political race, she said. She called our two presidential candidates “remarkable and unique” – and said in her opinion both would lose to a regular Joe or Jill, but Joe and Jill are not running (Get it Joe J). In her opinion, people like Clinton because she is the most qualified and people like Trump because he is not.

    My biggest take-away from her talk was this – how did we get to these two choices for candidates? How can we prevent an election where we feel like we are voting for the lesser of two bad candidates?… Everyone should participate in the political process any time you have an opportunity to do so…vote in your primary or caucus. Those early on votes are heavily weighted and count A LOT!!

    BTW – I live in Iowa (native Nebraskan, Go Big Red) and caucuses = AWKWARD. Hated it, and I don’t use or like that word, but I did!! However, now because I am sick about this election, I will take the bullet and participate next time around.

    She did the math – 9% of Americans made the choice for us to have these two as our choice for president in the upcoming election. WTHeck!?! I don’t like the idea of that.

    Linda said that change is the biggest issue of this election. Sounds like a familiar theme – hey now!

    On a final note – Linda gave our group, what I felt was a fabulous compliment – she said that we were “one of the most interesting groups she will talk to this year.”

    I think I will end on that note. Along with a thank you shout out to Joe and the Alliance Team for all of their hard work and hospitality. Also to WoodmenLife for their focus and investment in ongoing education.

    I am blessed –

    Jill

    PS> I didn’t share the questions people asked Linda. That was a tease on purpose. You should have attended the event – then you would have gotten to hear the questions yourself. Also, (American political changing of the guard discussion aside) I had to miss the Alliance changing of the guard presentation as I had to catch a flight, but I want to congratulate my boss Pat Dees on his year as Chair of the Board and wish the new Chair, Bill O’Toole, President & CEO of Catholic Financial Life, best of luck!

    2 Responses

    1. Nice work! I enjoy the way you write.

    2. I definitely enjoyed Linda’s perspectives and answers to audience questions. It’s true that disruption and change is at the door. Three potential clients are working on direct to consumer online sales with no agent staff and automated distribution and service. That’s business without heart, which is not the Fraternal way. However, people will never get to see your heart and share in your mission if it’s difficult to do business. Embrace and implement the tools and processes to take advantage of change!

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