Obviously, being offensive is NOT my intention. But as the cliche goes, “Sometimes the truth hurts.” So, no, I’m not pulling any

My sisters and my brother

punches on this post. I respect my insurance peeps too much not to tell the cold, hard truth. When I started this consulting business, my older and “Wise-r” brother, Richard, (see his Blog) gave me perhaps the best advise: “Mike, there’s not a big market for bullshit consultants.”

So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from a year of running Social Tech Boot Camps for Insurance Executives.

The Good

  1. I held Public Boot Camps in Columbus, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia with 55 total attendees. Dallas is in two weeks, 4 seats left. I also held Private Boot Camps in Chicago, Des Moines, and Red Bank, NJ with 64 total attendees. Lastly, I facilitated sessions three times at industry conferences in front of a combined group of about 200 people. That’s a good start. Hope to ratchet all that up in 2013 as Social Tech moves closer to mainstream in the insurance vertical.
  2. Several Compliance folks were in attendance at various times. I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive they were. One in fact has become one of my favorite compliance exec’s in the business. Marketing folks would do well to drag along their compliance leader to one of these Boot Camps, or better yet, hold a private session for both the marketing/sales peeps, together with the compliance folks. Money well worth spending – on several levels.
  3. While there is ROI all over the place, the Private Boot Camp sponsored by the Insurance Company for its top distribution partners seems to carry the biggest bang for the buck. One of these companies said to me recently, “Our marketing partners are all overSocial now, so that’s a good thing. But we need to be feeding them content…” That’s a happy problem.

    Private Boot Camp

  4. The thing attendees comment the most often about is the “idea sharing”, “getting idea’s from the group”, “being in the same room with industry peers”, the “presentation style” – all comments that in general say that one of their favorite aspects is that the session is not didactic but encourages participation. As a result, the closing “Take-Aways” are often very specific and well-organized.
  5. Crowdsourcing is BY FAR the most popular subject. I wish Rivers of Information were more popular. Note to self.
  6. People GREATLY appreciate the hands-on session where we actually Log-in to Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and publish a Blog right from the session. It’s time-consuming and sometimes difficult to manage a group of left-handed, ADD, Type-A, insurance executives (just kidding). But the immediate application of the strategic concepts learned in the morning is normally a class favorite.

The Bad

  1. Telling the God-honest truth, I only had one participant say they would not recommend the Boot Camp. The reason he gave was that it covered too much information he already knew and did not offer enough small group interaction exercises. It’s a legitimate comment and one I take seriously. Others also mentioned a desire for small group activities. As a result, I am currently developing a “Special Ops Boot Camp” for 2013. More on that later.
  2. Another Bad was the experience of hosting the Camp at a hotel. Blech. I won’t be doing that again. It’s a total rip-off, fraught with tech issues, and quite unnecessary. There are ample Board Rooms at insurance companies and larger Agencies. And the insurance companies have nothing but good reports from attendees who get free seats in exchange for the room, the technology, and the food for the campers.

The Ugly?

Well, this is the sticky wicket and where it might get offensive.

  1. Executives who should have been the ones to attend the camp but instead sent their staffers alone. “Let me know how it goes…” That’s just not a good idea – on several levels. Suffice to say that, no matter the topic, if an executive is not at least somewhat savvy about the essentials, it’s hard to expect that they will be effective at managing the people who are.
  2. Even worse, an executive that organized the session, stayed for the first 45 minutes, and then left, to return for lunch, and then at the end of the day. And his direct report sat through the session with the worst body language you could imagine. Yuck. Needless to say, the amount of information that was shared amongst the group was minimal. My guess is that the retention and implementation levels were among the lowest of all the camps – at a company that is struggling the most with growth, margins, retention, recruiting, and relevance.
  3. Companies that are still blocking Social Media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc. Help me understand how the sales and marketing staff will become savvy about how to leverage these tools if they can’t use them at work. Mind-boggling and totally the wrong strategy.
  4. Blackberries. Nuf said. Completely ineffective tool in the context of Social Business. Droid. Yes, it takes getting used to and you will want to throw it across the room the first couple weeks. But once you click in, you’ll never go back. Bare minimum – iPhone.
  5. Speed.Here’s the deal. Right now, the ocean is drawing away from the shore line. Some insurance executives are

    Samoan Tsunami

    quietly picking up their beach chair and getting off the beach. A few others are noticing those guys, wondering what they are doing, but are still sitting there. Most are either loudly cavorting around with their buddies, or heads-down digging castles in the sand, both happily oblivious of what’s going on around them, of people leaving the beach, of the tide going way out. Of course, I feel like the guy that’s running the beach yelling, “The tsunami is coming!!” And everyone’s looking at me saying, “Oh, that Mike. He’s such a character…” A lot of executives are going to drown because they are either moving too slow or not moving at all?

What are your thoughts? Does any of this resonate? Am I nuts?? Do you have any questions or Comments? What are YOUR biggest obstacles? Please don’t lurk. Please take a minute and share a thought. Thanks in advance.