I was a Junior in College at Sac State and needed a Part Time job that would allow me to focus on school. The craigslist ad was looking for an admin assistant; someone to help with the mail and other tasks. It was exactly what I was looking for so I applied. The next morning, bright and early, I got a call from Larry Manning. He said they were looking to close the app but wanted to interview me first and could I meet him at Starbucks in 10 minutes. Well, I was all of 21 years old and wasn’t ready for such an early call time. I was honest and told him I was not ready and he said, “No problem, just throw on some jeans, casual is fine.” The rest is history 😊
You have grown up with the company, from a college student to a married gal with two kids. Tell us about PIIB’s family culture.
This is absolutely one of my favorite aspects of PIIB; the family culture. And the family culture is two-fold; it includes the family you have outside of PIIB and the work family you make within PIIB. Ever since I started with PIIB back in 2004, Larry always preached that family and school came first. It’s such a great feeling when an employer cares for your entire life and not just the 8 hours a day you put in at the office. I was the first staff member in the office to have kids and knowing that I didn’t have to feel the pressure to choose between them and my job when they needed me was such a weight off my shoulders. Now the whole office has kids and we’re used to having calls with each other with Baby Shark playing in the background or having to say, “Hold on please…’Hey, get that out of your mouth!’” or “We don’t draw on walls.” I feel fortunate that these PIIB babies will get to grow up with each other. There are now 7 PIIB kids… possible perpetuation plan? 😉
Also, the team at PIIB is absolutely some of my closest friends. Two of the team members were even bridesmaids in my wedding and the rest attended. I feel so fortunate to work with such amazing women, AND ZACK!
You are PIIB’s most senior sales representative; what is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is building relationships with existing and start-up prospects/agencies. I have to admit, though, I have a special place in my heart for start-up agencies. They’re always so excited to make that leap of owning and running their own agency. They put so much planning and effort into it. It’s amazing seeing them start from scratch and then looking at what they’ve accomplished after 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. I’m always so excited and proud of the ones that are absolutely killing it! We literally get to see them blossom before our eyes. It’s awesome!
You were very close to Larry Manning, working for him for over 15 years. He was a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Describe a lesson you learned from Larry.
Larry taught me many things, but this was one of the very first things I remember. For those that don’t know me, I’m a talker, always have been. I remember when I first started joining meetings with Larry he would sit in silence at times. Sometimes it felt a little uncomfortable and awkward, other times it felt fine, but I remember him saying that if you just asked someone how business is doing and shut up, they will open up. I try so hard to have more silent moments and just listen. I have to admit, it is still a work in progress though 😉
As a sales leader, you talk to agencies every day. What were some of the challenges agencies were facing in 2020?
The adage goes “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I definitely think it’s applicable to what many of our agencies and prospects are experiencing in 2020 and will hopefully rise from all of this stronger. I just wish we had an exact end date on it all. I think that’s part of what is so hard. How long will this go on and what are the long-term ramifications for the industry. I would say the two biggest challenges of 2020 are the pandemic and wildfires. Wildfires aren’t new and we’ve been learning how to adapt and change with them, but unfortunately, that change includes having to remarket many accounts as the carriers try to navigate how to handle such large losses in high brush areas.
As for the pandemic, there are so many challenges under one umbrella. Agencies are dealing with many insureds going out of business or not being able to make payments due to their business taking a hit financially. Others are dealing with working from home, which if you hadn’t done it in the past definitely requires discipline. On top of working from home many have school aged children doing virtual school. I speak from personal experience as I have my 5 year old at home doing virtual Kindergarten. This is not for the faint of heart. Holy Moly.
Even through all of these challenges, though, I see our agents adapting and changing. Finding new ways and new technologies to help their clients. They are each finding their own ways to get through this unprecedented time, and we are here to help them.
Lastly, and surprisingly, and I find this piece quite amazing, but we’ve had a lot of interest from start-up agencies this year. It seems captives and producers are finding the silver lining during this pandemic and using the time to get their ducks in a row to break out on their own.
The PIIB kid club is growing; you were the first of the team to shift to the balance of motherhood and to working full time. Now distance learning adds more to your plate, what is your advice to working moms juggling kids and careers?
Give yourself some grace. I actually have to repeat this to myself daily. I feel like I’m always so hard on myself when I don’t get all the things done, but the truth is, it would be humanly impossible to get everything done that needs to be done. So, take a deep breath, and give yourself some grace. Choose what’s most important and focus on that. Take the smalls wins and don’t let the big stuff get you down when it’s out of your control. This is all very much still a work in progress for me. Finally, after 5 years I thought I was just getting a good handle on kids going to school, working and momming. With the pandemic and distance learning, it’s almost like I had to start over. Also, if you can, find time for yourself and do things you love most. For me, that’s reading books and yoga. I can’t always squeeze them in, but when I can, I immediately feel better.
Rumor has it your goal at PIIB is to hold an event at Disneyland. What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?
Disneyland has always been one of my favorite places. I do find it magical, though I know others find it quite the opposite. I pushed for an event there for so long! Larry was never a fan of Disneyland, but Tiffany is 😉 Unfortunately, now it’s closed due to the pandemic and no sign of re-opening anytime soon, but you bet your britches I’ll be pushing it again when it does. My favorite ride would have to be Thunder Mountain.
We know you love music; if you could see any band or person perform, dead or alive, who would it be?
Oh goodness, this is such a tough question! It would probably be between Tom Petty, Queen or Fleetwood Mac. I’m very fortunate to have seen many of the other classic rockers I love. Ummm Ummmmmmmmmmm eeenie meenie minni mo….. Tom Petty. <3 Hopefully I’ll still get the chance to see Fleetwood Mac someday, fingers crossed.