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Beyond Insurance

Brand identity

Your leap to greatness

By F. Scott Addis, CPCU

At the age of 12, I watched—and now vividly remember—the drama and excitement of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The Games were preceded by the Tlatelolco Massacre, in which hundreds of students were killed by security forces in Mexico City. The games also were the first time athletes from East and West Germany were members of separate teams. And, the Games of the XIX Olympiad will also be remembered for the raised, black-gloved fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos as a symbol of “Black Power.”

The high altitude in Mexico City took its toll on many competitors. The Summer Olympics had never been held at a location anywhere near as high as Mexico City (7,349 feet). Although the high altitude hindered the performance of many of the world’s best-performing athletes, the thin air also was credited with contributing to several record-setting sprints, jumps, leaps and throws.

The world record in the triple jump was improved five times by three different athletes. James Hines was the first man to run the 100 meters in under 10 seconds (9.9). Bob Beaman shattered the long jump world record with an amazing leap of 29 feet, 2½ inches—a world record that stood for 23 years. And, American discus thrower Al Oerter won his fourth consecutive gold medal in that event to become only the second athlete to achieve this feat in an individual event.

The highlight of the 1968 Olympics, however, was the performance of a 21-year-old high jumper named Dick Fosbury. Coaches, competitors, the Mexico City audience and the world shook their heads in disbelief each time that Fosbury approached the bar with his innovative backwards style jumping technique now known as the “Fosbury Flop.” His unorthodox style gained him the gold medal with a jump of 7 feet, 4¼ inches.

As a young high jumper in the early 1960s, Fosbury had trouble mastering the more common high jump methods: the straddle and the western roll. Instead, he began doing his high jump by approaching the bar with his back to it, performing a modified scissor-kick and going over the bar head first, backward and horizontal to the ground. His jumping technique took great precision. The essential moves of the Fosbury Flop were the backward and lateral somersault motions.

After he had won the NCAA title in 1965 at Oregon State University, coaches and competitors looked for flaws in his “goofy” technique. They found none. Four years after his historic jumps in Mexico City, 28 of the 40 competitors at the Munich Olympics used the Fosbury technique. By 1980, over 80% of the finalists used it. Today, it is the most popular jumping technique in high jumping. Dick Fosbury revolutionized his sport!

What does the Fosbury Flop have to do with the business of insurance and risk management? Everything!

Please consider the results of a six- question survey (above) administered by Addis Intellectual Capital (AIC) to 100 CFOs in September 2008:

The results of the survey indicate that it is time to revolutionize the “sport” of insurance and risk manage­ment. The traditional methods of delivering products and services are not endearing agents and brokers in the eyes of the consumer. Our ratings are dismal. The survey results substantiate the following:

• Consumers do not enjoy the process of procuring insurance.

• CEOs and CFOs do not have the time and/or technical expertise to identify the exposures facing their business.

• Consumers do not believe that agents and brokers have a process in place to uncover and address their exposures.

• Agents and brokers are viewed as transactional, not consultative or diagnostic.

The insurance transaction dominates the perception of agents and brokers. The “bid” has become king. We must communicate to the public our unique value proposition if we are to reach beyond the insur­ance transaction.

In coaching and mentoring agents and brokers, AIC uses an exercise titled the “Diminished Value Snapshot™ to enable agency principals, producers and account managers to see the pitfalls of traditional insurance delivery techniques. Please refer to the chart below.

The Diminished Value Snapshot provides evidence of the sad state of affairs for the average, well-intentioned producer. It indicates a diminished value of seven weeks per year. This is unacceptable. It is no wonder that producers experience frustration, anger and a loss of confidence. A radical change is needed!

Your leap to greatness

Your leap to greatness will begin when you acquire answers to the following three questions:

1. Is my performance memorable in the eyes of clients, prospects, carriers and staff?

2. Does my current style of delivering products and services give me a competitive edge?

3. Do my techniques create raving fans?

Is your performance memorable?

It has been 41 years since I saw Dick Fosbury perform the Fosbury Flop. Yet, his remarkable jumps are still fresh in my mind. Why? Because his technique and style were radically different. He was memorable.

I suggest that you and members of your team analyze each component of your client, prospect and carrier delivery system. Are your strategies unique? Are they memorable? If not, you are caught in the “Commodity Trap.” The Commodity Trap results when the consumer believes there is little or no distinguishable difference between the products, services and resources delivered to them by you and your competitors. When the marketplace sees little or no difference, price becomes the differentiator.

Does your style give you a competitive advantage?

A competitive edge exists when the client, prospect or carrier is able to distinguish you from others in the marketplace. Achieving your competitive advantage actually starts with the development of a process focused on the identification of the exposures facing your customer. If you do not understand the issues facing your customer, your leap to greatness will never take place.

Does your technique create raving fans?

A raving fan is one who loves your performance. These adoring people are able to differentiate your techniques from those of your competitors. They are the reason you go to work each day. They are the reason for your professional existence! The book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles states that we must “create a vision of perfection centered on the customer.” Your leap to greatness will be found whean you understand the customer’s vision.

The Fosbury Flop gave Dick Fosbury a competitive advantage. It put him at the top of his game. It won an Olympic medal for the United States. It revolutionized a sport.

Please consider adopting the Fosbury Flop for your business. The results will be amazing. It will represent your Leap to Greatness!

The author
Scott Addis is the president and CEO of The Addis Group and Addis Intellectual Capital, LLC (AIC), a coaching and consulting company for insurance agents, brokers, and carriers. He can be reached at or (610) 945-1019.


It is time to revolutionize the “sport” of insurance and risk management.





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