Lifestyle Personal Lines the Jan/Feb 2023 issue

Rich Stephens

North American Health Solutions Chief Broking Officer, Aon, Ponce Inlet, Florida
By Chris Hann Posted on January 17, 2023
Q
You have served as the national chairman for Blessings in a Backpack, which provides food for kids on weekends. Tell me about the organization.
A
When kids leave school on the weekends and go home for that two-day stretch, sometimes two and a half days, there’s a huge population of kids—somewhere in the area of 14 million kids—who have food insecurity. Blessings in a Backpack was founded almost 11 years ago to try to address that through bringing food to the same children through the school system.

Favorite vacation spot: Napa Valley (“For the wine and the experience of the winemaking process.”)

Favorite vineyards: Ehlers Estate and Silverado. (“Silverado is also tied back to the legacy of the Disney family. Walt and his wife found this little piece of property in Napa Valley, and then their daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and her husband, Ron, decided to start growing grapes.”)

Favorite actors: Robin Williams and Al Pacino

Favorite movie: Scent of a Woman

Favorite musicians: Sting and Bruce Springsteen (“I don’t really have New Jersey roots, but I like to claim them when it comes to Springsteen.”)

Favorite restaurant in Ponce Inlet: Off the Hook (“It’s right on the intercoastal, so the views tend to be very amazing.”)

Favorite golf course in Florida: Ponte Vedra

Favorite golf course anywhere: “That would be one where I can actually shoot a decent score, because they’re all very different in the way that they approach the game.”

Q
Speaking of children, I have to ask: the two oldest of your three children—a boy and a girl—are twins. What was it like raising twins?
A
I’m sure others would say the same thing: it’s interesting, it’s a challenge, and thank God I was able to travel a lot during that period. (Laughs) But, yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard when you have two young people who have independent souls and decide they want to do their own thing.
Q
You told me your hero is Walt Disney. Why Walt Disney?
A
His bringing an idea to life when others doubted him was one of the reasons I always admired him. Walt was a pretty dynamic guy, and he understood the value of good storytelling, which we all now have brought into our lives and business.
Q
Do you apply storytelling in your work?
A
I probably do. I think storytelling is a huge way of keeping interest and helping people to connect to a concept. If you can’t tell a story that is meaningful and drives toward an outcome, I think you’re wasting time.
Q
Who else would you count as a hero?
A
The other one I would bring to light would be Robin Williams. I have a bit of comedy in my blood, plus a desperate desire to be on stage someday, as people who know me will understand. But he’s a guy, I think, who is masterful in his approach to comedy, because he gave the illusion of always being in an ad-lib situation. But it was very well understood why he got there: because he practiced and knew exactly where he wanted to go with his comedy.
Q
Very important question: do your kids think you’re funny?
A
Probably not today, but go back maybe 15 years, I was hilarious. And then it sort of degraded over time. Now I’m just embarrassing.
Q
You told me that, as a child, you visited 47 of the 48 continental United States by car. That’s a lot of driving. How did that happen?
A
My dad’s idea to take the family on vacation was to drive and see the world. So that was our vacation when we were kids. We would get in and just drive across the country.
Q
You’ve been in the business a long time. What’s kept you in the business?
A
As you become an expert in something over time—and hopefully I’ve become somewhat of an expert, just in terms of tenure and experience—you tend to become accustomed to that opportunity to share your knowledge and, at the same time, train those who are coming to the process. So those are two of my drivers: helping folks that we engage with and being able to pass on the knowledge I have.
Q
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
A
I would remove the layers and layers of complexity that surround the delivery of care, especially in the health solutions area.
Q
What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
Hopefully, it’s a combination of knowledge and humor. Going back to our storytelling notion from before, if we’re communicating, let’s make sure it’s interesting and make sure it has a little bit of fun. And then also make sure you remember and respect the people you’re talking to and try to view their needs as well in the process.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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