Industry the Jan/Feb 2024 issue

Admitting I Don’t Understand

This year I’m leaning in to two themes that confound, terrify and engage me.
By Ken Crerar Posted on January 24, 2024

I am beginning 2024 with excitement and renewed focus on some of the key themes that emerged for me last year. Two of those themes are talent and AI.

I’ve gotten quite stuck on the talent issue. I keep coming back to the younger generation of folks I encounter here at The Council, as well as through The Council Foundation and our Leadership and Management Resources programs. Oftentimes, I am confounded by the way they live and work. They think differently than I do, they consume information differently than I do, they interact differently than I do—and all of this is facilitated by technology.

I’m not alone; I know that. I recently watched an interview with well known author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek titled “This Is Why You Don’t Succeed.” He discussed the millennial generation and underscored the fact that leadership in general doesn’t know how to handle them. One of the characteristics Sinek pinpoints as defining this group is impatience and the need for instant gratification, and he goes on to say that job satisfaction and strength of relationships do not come in instant gratification. This really stuck with me, as these are both crucial elements to building a solid brokerage business. Admittedly, I have wondered how millennials and Gen Z would ever really be able to collaborate with Gen X and boomers.

This year, The Council will begin using AI in some internal processes to help us better organize and understand our members’ needs. But we are also researching the use of AI in some of our external-facing tools.

But for me, 2024 is going to be about admitting the things I don’t understand and engaging with them anyway. No, I don’t really understand what it’s like to grow up in a world where I could have whatever I want instantly. Nor do I understand the desire to find a job in which I don’t feel intense pressure or stress—I became a CEO in my early 30s, and it was trial by fire—but that’s how some very capable, very talented young people feel. I am determined I am not going to let my initial reaction—which may be negative—drive my decision-making.

The same goes for AI. The possibilities of this technology are both empowering and terrifying—terrifying especially if you don’t really understand it, which I admittedly don’t. But as I pointed out last year, I am not backing away. In fact, I am convinced that there is a connection between our talent needs and AI.

This year, The Council will begin using AI in some internal processes to help us better organize and understand our members’ needs. But we are also researching the use of AI in some of our external-facing tools. Specifically, within our Insurance Professional School. This program is targeted to the youngest, most recently hired members of your firm—the young talent we so desperately need to recruit and retain. We want to employ advanced technology to meet them where they are comfortable and where they learn best. We know we have a top-notch curriculum. Now we want to make sure it meets the newest generation’s knowledge-consumption needs.

Will we make mistakes and go through multiple iterations of this project? Most definitely yes. But will we turn away from this empowering (but somewhat terrifying) tool and these confusing generations? Most definitely no.

Ken Crerar CEO, The Council Read More

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