by Julie Furst
Something pretty special happened this week. Some meetings. Wait, what? When hearing the word 'special,' meetings rarely make even the bottom of the list. But hear me out.
Agent volunteers from every corner of the state headed to Albany. Big I team members came in. Let's face it, January in Albany is not 80 and sunny. But though there for business, the rooms we shared were warm from the relationships built and a shared purpose. What makes these gatherings powerful are the people and each life experience they bring with them. I felt that strongly this week.
A peek at what I saw:
Strategic Planning Meeting - Through small breakout discussions and a large group conversation, we worked through what an independent agency will look like in 10 years and what our association needs to do to help you. Will IAs still be relevant? Yes, we predicted, but it will be different. We drafted supports to build or expand upon. Tools and one-on-one support for tech, attracting talent, helping perpetuate to the next generation, advocating for agencies with lawmakers and carriers.
Board meetings always begin with insights. Something thought-provoking to set the stage for our work together. Ted Walsh shared a pretty incredible video to kick us off this time. I loved the sentiment as much as I loved that this very successful man chose this message for the group. Positioned around a horseshoe table, the board is engaged in constant discussion. This agent board steers the direction of the association. I'm happy to say they're proud of what we do and wish more agencies understood all the fantastic resources available to them.
Our Legislative Meet & Greet was...magic. Filled with lawmakers, we put faces to the people we advocate for. And they listened and asked questions. When you hear the word 'insurance,' we shared, don't just think of it as all big companies; remember, our industry is full of local businesses trying to do the best for their community. We learned about the lawmakers too. Some are new in their positions, eager to understand, with hopes to make a difference. Every time I'm there, I still feel wowed looking at the capitol building.
View from my room
Meeting us for dinner were two past board chairs, Andy Kaufman and Chris Brassard. They were greeted like great friends you hadn't seen in a while, with big hugs and huge smiles. The connection clearly doesn't fade. 30 of us were gathered around three candlelit tables in the loft of a small Italian restaurant steps from the capitol. We shared stories of families and beginnings, passions, and laughter. There were stories of survival and triumph, challenges, traditions with grandkids, and adventures. We were authentically interested in each other. It showed as I looked around the room.
These people, meeting together, form our community. Your community. And when we share space, share thoughts, and build on each other's ideas, it's special.
Every week you experience different collections of people. Many different little groups through work, hobbies, family, or friends. Take a moment as often as you can to see each individual you encounter as a person, as the sum of many unique experiences, talents, and fears, and try to connect.