Lifestyle Personal Lines the May 2021 issue

Michael Victorson, CEO, M3 Insurance

I miss people and human interaction and working on things and seeing the expression on people’s faces when they break through or win a deal or solve a complex problem for a customer.
By Chris Hann Posted on May 2, 2021
Not many CEOs will admit to proudly sporting a feathered mullet in high school. At what point did you outgrow that particular phase of personal grooming?
When I realized I was the only one still wearing a mullet. I quickly changed to adapt to college life.

Favorite vacation spot: Maui (“You can hike, you can swim, and you can play golf all on the same day. There’s something magical about the place.”)

Favorite golf course: Bandon Dunes

Favorite movie: The Godfather I and II

Favorite actor: Al Pacino

Favorite musical group: Rolling Stones

Favorite authors: Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell

Favorite Madison restaurant: Tornado

Favorite dish at Tornado: Bone-in Filet

Favorite Wisconsin cheese: Cheddar

You majored in political science and speech communication at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois, which sounds like you were envisioning a life in public office.
For a while I was looking at law school. When I was a young man and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would often say I wanted to be president of the United States. I certainly don’t want to be that anymore.
What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into insurance?
I would have gone to law school or become a pastor. I’ve had the opportunity to be really involved in some different ministries in the last 20 years. There was a stretch where I was preaching about 20% of the Sundays at my church. That was fun.
Who were your childhood heroes?
I always had a lot of admiration for my parents, where they came from, what they built, what they stand for.
What do you mean?
My father left home before he graduated from high school. Mom helped him get his GED almost 20 years later, which was the first moment I remember being proud of my dad and understanding working for something. He built a nice business as a barber. My parents both came from a very modest background, and they built a great life for their family and gave back a lot to their community, so there’s a lot to be proud of there.
Was your first job at M3 really in the mailroom?
It truly was. It was before email and DocuSign and things like that. I literally drove my car to and from local insurance companies and delivered policies, submissions, etc.—the mail—to people in the office.
You must have impressed. Thirteen years later, you were CEO.
That was as much a product of luck and timing and some generational opportunities. I’m not a boy genius. I didn’t go to MIT. Insurance is a tremendous industry that rewards effort and focus and hard work.
How have you coped during the pandemic?
Not very well. (Laughs.) My idea of how to come out of a bad day is find a good cocktail party with people you don’t know. This industry is a contact sport. The fact that we can’t do that has really strained the industry. I’m just looking forward to when we can get back at it.
What do you miss most about your pre-pandemic life?
I miss people and human interaction and working on things and seeing the expression on people’s faces when they break through or win a deal or solve a complex problem for a customer. I miss that tremendously.
How would you describe M3’s culture?
Generous. Connected to team. We like to win the right way, and we’re not afraid to compete. I think our culture is absolutely “Do the right thing.” One of the great lessons my father, who never made a lot of money himself, taught us at a very early age: “If it’s about money, don’t sweat it. Do the right thing. You can always make more.” You know what? That’s great advice.
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
More collaboration, less silo.
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
I help build people and their potential, so what it creates is people and teams that like working with me. It helps me foster a team that people want to be on. My leadership style may not translate into every industry, but it fits this one pretty well.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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