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
Q
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?
A
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

Q
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.
A
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.
Q
What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into insurance?
A
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.
Q
Who were your childhood heroes?
A
I always had a lot of admiration for my parents, where they came from, what they built, what they stand for.
Q
What do you mean?
A
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.
Q
Was your first job at M3 really in the mailroom?
A
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.
Q
You must have impressed. Thirteen years later, you were CEO.
A
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.
Q
How have you coped during the pandemic?
A
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.
Q
What do you miss most about your pre-pandemic life?
A
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.
Q
How would you describe M3’s culture?
A
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.
Q
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
A
More collaboration, less silo.
Q
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
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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