Lifestyle Personal Lines the June 2024 issue

Belen Tokarski

President and COO, Mylo
By Chris Hann Posted on May 26, 2024
You enrolled at Cornell College, in Iowa, as a chemistry major, then switched to political science and then to psychology. I’m wondering if you entered college with a particular career in mind.
No. In fact, the advice I got from my grandfather was, “I really encourage you to go to this liberal arts college because you’ll learn a little bit about a lot of things.” He made me promise—and I did do this—to take a class on art history, a class on music appreciation, and a class on public speaking.

Favorite Vacation Spot: Steamboat Springs, Colorado (“The secret is it’s awesome in the summertime. Lots of great hiking. You can go horseback riding. Lots of great running.”)

Favorite Movie: The Breakfast Club

Favorite Musician: David Bowie

Favorite Book: “That’s hard for me to say. The one that I liked most recently is Radical Candor by Kim Scott.”

Favorite Chicago Restaurant: Monteverde

Favorite Dish At Monteverde: “It’s new all the time.”

It sounds like he was something of an influence on you.
I carry most of the things he taught me, down to the conversations I have with my kids. The favorite joke at the house is, when I would drop them off somewhere, I’d say, “Don’t forget to say hi to the kid in the yellow pants,” which was something he would say to me. It was his way of saying, “Hey, there’s going to be some kid with yellow pants at the lunch table that nobody wants to sit next to. Just sit next to that person. Just because they’re different doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to them.” It was just one of many, many lessons. And I hope I’ve passed them on to my kids. I do see them saying hi often to the kids in the proverbial yellow pants, so I’m proud of that.
Tell me about your perfect weekend.
I’m a runner. So my perfect weekend would require that the sports schedules that I follow for my children happen in a way that I can get a good run in. Then watching my younger son play baseball. And he gets to play second base, and he goes three for four. That’d be perfect. And then I watch my daughter play soccer. Afterwards, we all get together, and my husband’s with me, and we’re making dinner. We cook together as a family.
That sounds perfect. What do you like to cook?
French food. Recently I changed to a plant-based diet, which has sort of gotten me a little lopsided. But I will cook for my family all kinds of things. Coq au vin is something we like to make. My dad’s from Spain, so I have a pretty mean paella recipe.
You told me earlier, with regard to your work, “I like to break things.” What does that mean?
I like to challenge the status quo. I don’t like to be told something can’t be done. And I like to figure it out. When I think about breaking, I don’t mean destroying. I mean breaking for the purpose of improving.
You’re the president and COO, with many duties and responsibilities. What do you consider the most important part of your job?
Making sure that we’re moving toward our key objectives, making sure I’m continuing to develop the talent that we have on the team. I probably spend 50% of my day on calls with my team, asking questions, checking for understanding, teaching, and coaching, which is one of my favorite things to do.
What three words would your co-workers use to describe your management style?
Direct, authentic, and collaborative. “Confident humility” is the phrase that I’m centering on lately.
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
I’d love to see all the key players in the industry come together to solve how we can get insurance to everyone who needs it despite all the headwinds like the economy, pricing constraints, and regulations.
What do you think gives you your leader’s edge in the industry?
I think it’s the confident humility thing. I love that people that have worked for me at other companies want to work for me again. People want to be part of a team, where they’re going to be challenged but supported at the same time.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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