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Mar 21
Get Real: The secrets to sales success during uncertain times

​By Kathleen Black​​, Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting Inc.​, for IA magazine

027.jpgAn uncertain economy brings uncertainty for customers, sales reps and team leaders. When both sellers and buyers feel shaky ground, closing deals slows to a crawl. 

So, what is the answer? How do insurance sales professionals keep moving forward?

By facing the challenges and embracing solutions.

While that doesn’t mean rejoicing over the uncontrollable, neither does it mean denying it either. The key is to take control with more knowledge than ever before. We need to arm ourselves with a 360-degree grasp of what is happening today and what may be ahead for tomorrow.

It’s important to recognize that economic uncertainties and challenges are impacting all of us. As professionals, we know that business never goes on as usual when there is something very unusual going on, and so do our customers. That is why "getting real" has become so vital in every phase of the sales pipeline and in team training.

To move through each selling phase—from prospecting to closing, and hopefully land a referral or two—we need to shift our mindsets from selling and servicing to teaching and nurturing. The most successful sales leaders and high performers already bring this dynamic to their client relationships, but now it’s more important than ever that everyone takes this approach.

Agents need to study and fully understand what customers are facing and how that relates to what they’re selling in a backdrop of current economic trends. Sales without context just won’t happen. To be successful in today’s world, we must reach a higher level of professionalism. This means providing guidance to customers through every step of the journey, leading to calm decision-making during chaotic times.

Successful producers have perfected the art of being proactive and approach each opportunity with a sense of urgency. This strategic sensibility must be paired with tools and mechanisms suitable for the current economic conditions and concerns.

Leaders also need to shift incentives from rewarding the close to rewarding the steps achieved along the way. Pipelines can be too long to only recognize reaching the end of the tunnel because fast and instant deals are few and far between. In fact, tracking the speed of sales, or even the volume of transactions, can no longer be how we measure success. It is time to shift motivations by celebrating the thoughtful-and-deliberate approach with incentives that acknowledge new systems and honed skills. Essentially, focus on client education and relationship-building versus behaviors that only feed adrenaline-soaring risk and fervor.

Moving further into this decade filled with ongoing uncertainties, a changed mindset will set you apart from competitors. Being able to clearly and precisely communicate how your offerings are a match to their solution in the context of these turbulent times won’t just be nice but necessary.

By not being afraid to identify and face obstacles instead of ignoring and pretending them away, we will create a pathway forward. A shared lens becomes a shared opportunity for us and our customers to look through together. Educating will be the biggest factor to serve us in establishing the trust and confidence required to advance the process.​

Mar 21
7 Hiring Trends to Expect in 2023

​By Shelby Palmeri, from the CareerPlug Blog

AdobeStock_337587442_edit.jpgAs an employer, keeping up with ever-changing hiring trends can feel nearly impossible. But staying up to date is crucial if you want to make the right hires for your team. 

The tight labor market of 2022 meant that employers had to compete for top talent and continue to evolve their jobs and workplaces based on the changing demands of job seekers. It seems that this is one trend that will continue through 2023. 

What else can employers expect to see this year? 

In their blog post, CareerPlug breaks down the hiring trends that will be most prominent in 2023 and shares recruiting advice that will help you this year and beyond. ​Click the links below to read more!

  1. Employers are hiring faster. 

  2. Pay transparency is becoming more popular.

  3. Creating a positive candidate experience is vital.

  4. Flexible work is more important to job seekers.

  5. Increased DEI efforts.

  6. Gen Z continues to enter workforce.

  7. Employers embrace technology that makes hiring easier.

Every IIAN member receives a free CareerPlug account that comes with a branded careers page, pre-built job templates and a configured hiring process. ​Connect with the greatest amount of job seekers by upgrading to CareerPlug Pro. This investment can help you find the right staff to maintain and grow your business!   ​
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Mar 21
FREE Workshops to Help You Advance Your Agency Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

BigI-diversityandinclusion.pngDo you want to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion for your agency but aren't sure where to start? 

According to Glassdoor, 63% of employees think their employer should do more to increase the diversity of its workforce, and more than 3 out of 4 job seekers and employees (76%) report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.  

How do you continue to advance your agency through diversity and inclusion? How do you keep the momentum going? 

Fortunately, the Big "I" has your back with resources to help you and your team thrive now, and in the future. 

The Big “I" Diversity Council is pleased to release a four-part training series for YOU – independent agency leaders! ​

The Inclusive Agency Training Series

FREE to Big "I" member agency professionals
Begins on March 15

  • Sessions are go-at-your-own-pace with follow-along online training
  • Download the PDF workbook to create your plan of action as you move through the sessions
  • Earn extra credit with recommended readings and video elements 
  • Participation is not limited to leaders, anyone on your team can participate
  • Complete the session with a custom roadmap to a more inclusive agency culture ​

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Mar 17
Celebrate National Ag Week March 19-25

​​​​nationalagweek2023.jpgWe have a lot to be grateful for and celebrate during National Ag Week in Nebraska! ​

This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Ag Day, organized by the Agriculture Council of America. This year’s theme is "Growing a Climate for Tomorrow."

Agriculture is more than just a business for many Big "I" Nebraska member agencies and company partners. 

From your agency's roots to your many clients who today actively manage farms and ranches, it’s at the heart of everything you do. 

So as we celebrate National A​g Day this year, it’s more than just a single day of annual reflection. The day, all of its activities and the spotlight it shines on agriculture is a high point in our everyday commitment to preserving the heritage of agriculture and securing its future. ​​​

​​​Our Industry Partner, Nationwide, shared a blog post on what agriculture means to the insurance industry and how you can show your support.​​

Mar 15
2023 Spring Conference Young Agent Scholarship Recipients Announced

springconf-background-2-withtranspadding.pngBig I Nebraska is awarding five scholarships to young agents to cover their registration fees for our Spring Conference, April 19-20.

From those who submitted applications, the following young agents were selected: 

  • Kiley Connealy - Connealy Insurance (Tekamah)
  • Robyn Garvin - Beef State Agency, LLC (Crawford)
  • Brooke Janssen -  First Insurance Group, LLC dba FNIC​​ (Alma)
  • Peter Rasmussen - INSPRO,​ a Marsh McLennan Agency (La Vista)
  • Mason Zimmerer - Insurance Associates (Norfolk)

Congratulations to these winners! We’re excited to provide an opportunity for young professionals to learn, network and grow. 

Will you be joining them a​​t Spring Conference? Click he​re to register! 

Mar 14
Why Google Reviews Matter

​By Meghan Hardy, Levitate, from the Levitate Blog​

With all of the hats that insurance agency owners wear, it can be hard to find the time to do everything – and, unfortunately, high-return marketing efforts like gathering Google reviews can fall to the wayside.

Levitate is here to share some insight into why you should prioritize getting Google reviews – and how we can help you get them easily.

But really - why are Google Reviews so important?

A Majority of People Use Them Regularly

More people are using Google Reviews to research businesses than ever before–81% of them, in fact–up from 63% in 2020. That means that if you don’t have a strong presence with a good number of reviews and high star rating, people may not only skip over your business entirely when searching, they will likely choose a competitor with a higher rating. It’s even been shown that people trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, so having a robust presence isn’t a nice-to-have any longer–it’s necessary for the health of your business.​

They Pack SEO Power

Your website was designed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics in mind. Google’s algorithm uses that, plus other factors like reviews, to give searchers the most relevant results. Translation? Having good reviews shows Google that you’re a reputable company that offers a good experience to its clients; in turn, it will boost your rankings when people conduct searches. Best case scenario, it elevates your business above your competitors. ​

One of Levitate's customers, Susquehanna Insurance, saw a 470% increase in organic website traffic as a result of the Google Review campaigns they sent through Levitate. ​

⭐Their first campaign in July 2021 netted a 186% increase in 5-star Google reviews. 

⭐Their second campaign in July 2022 netted a 94.3% increase in 5-star Google reviews.

⭐These two campaigns brought their total number of reviews to 239. ​

Bringing in those additional 5-star reviews gave their website the boost it needed, resulting in a large increase in organic traffic. Not bad for two email sends, huh?​

They Build Connections 

Aside from SEO and awareness, Google Reviews are a great way to receive genuine feedback from your clients. You can easily see what your clients think you do well and incorporate those things into your marketing efforts as selling points. When you receive negative feedback, it can be an opportunity to learn and help inform improvements. ​

Reviews provide another avenue for connecting with your clients. When they take the time to leave a 5-star review, you can reply with a thoughtful response, further building trust and rapport. Responding to negative reviews allows you to fix issues with one client AND demonstrate to potential clients that you really care about service and will work to make things right. Both of these instances give you a great opportunity to show the kind of authenticity people are looking for.​

Now that you know the importance of Google Reviews, you may be wondering: how can Levitate help you generate more?

Easy. We have a couple different options to get those coveted 5-star reviews going…​

First, we have a survey feature that makes it super simple. Designed with small businesses in mind, our exclusive small business surveying tool will help you keep a pulse on every client. The best part? Levitate will share industry benchmarks so you can take advantage of lessons learned from peers in your industry.


The survey feature automatically prompts clients who give you a certain star rating and above to leave a review online. Getting them to take the extra five minutes to leave a review when they’re already willing to answer a quick survey (and hopefully gushing about how great your business is) will only lead to more great reviews.


The second option for gathering reviews quickly is using one of the tried-and-tested templates in our content library–all of which can be sent at the push of a button. You can also create your own or have Levitate's content team write up a custom email tailored to you.

We hope this has shed some light on how important Google Reviews are for your business and will motivate you to prioritize gathering some additional stars on your profile. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you’d like to learn more about how Levitate can make it simpler for you, drop them a line! They’d love to help.​

Discover more about Google reviews! 

Levitate is hosting a free webinar on April 25 at 12 p.m. CT just for Big "I" members. 

The session will cover the importance of having a local presence to help generate leads for your business.​ Mark your calendars!​

Mar 14
3 Ways to Double-Down on the Human Touch

​BY ELYSE ARCHER, for independent agent magazine

​​elyse archer Recently, I had two strikingly different customer service experiences. The first, a bad one, occurred when I hired a marketing firm that promised huge results and delivered none of them. One of their team members even admitted that she never thought they could deliver the results they promised.

Even after terminating the contract, I continue to get automated social media messages from the CEO trying to engage me in a conversation as if I am a new prospect. Not a good experience.

My other experience, a good one, occurred when I ran into an issue while booking a flight through an airline's website. I called customer service and Jennifer enthusiastically answered the phone, even though she was working on a holiday. She asked me about my son and our holiday plans. At the end of our conversation, she triple-checked all the details of the flight. She made me feel seen and important.

In “Human to Human" by Bryan Kramer, he says, “Businesses do not have emotion ... Humans do. Humans want to be included. Humans want to feel something."

One of the biggest challenges for today's agents is how to stand out, retain customers and attract new ones. 

There are countless shiny objects, automation platforms and tools to help you do this, but at the end of the day, these tools aren't the main difference-maker.

The way to win in today's increasingly automated, impersonal world is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing—go human to human. Focus on the person, and your agency's revenue goals will be met as a byproduct.

Here are three ways to do it:

1) Audit your customer experience. Make a list of the areas where you can improve the experience for clients. Also, think about the natural emotional lows in your customer lifecycle and inject a “surprise-and-delight" moment, such as a handwritten card or a call to thank them for being a client.​​

2) Deploy “Secret Service." John DiJulius, owner, president and chief revolution officer of The DiJulius Group, recommends using what he calls Secret Service to exceed expectations throughout the customer journey. You can do this easily by spending some time online to find out about a client's favorite foods, sports teams, alma mater, likes and dislikes, and more. Then, strategically plant this information in surprise-and-delight moments throughout the customer lifecycle to ensure they feel appreciated and valued.

3) Do what you say you're going to do. “Acknowledge when someone sends you an email, even if you don't have the answer for them yet," says Amy Kniseley, vice president at Highland Capital Brokerage who credits much of her success to this simple habit. “People just want to be seen and acknowledged," she adds. “But then make sure you get the answer and get back to them, always following through on what you say you're going to do."

Remember: One of the most basic human needs is significance. 

Your clients are human, and they just want to feel important. Succeed in doing this, and you will win in every economy, every time.

If you're looking for a new client communication approach that feels less like marketing and more like, well, a real back-and-forth relationship, take a look at Levitate. They’d be thrilled to show you around.  


Mar 14
Policy Checking and Artificial Intelligence

​By Tara Mitchell, from the Catalyit Blog

Screenshot 2023-03-14 093346.pngAs the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, industries such as insurance are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline processes and improve efficiency. 

One area where AI can make a significant impact is in the insurance policy checking process, where it can automate many of the time-consuming and error-prone tasks involved in policy reviews. In this blog post, we’ll explore how AI can help insurance professionals improve their policy-checking process, saving time and improving accuracy.

Insurance policy checking is an essential process that ensures policyholders have the coverage they need to protect themselves and their assets. However, manually reviewing policies can be time-consuming and prone to errors, especially when dealing with large volumes of policies. This is where AI comes in.

AI can be used to automate many of the tasks involved in the insurance policy checking process, making it faster, more accurate, and more efficient. 

Here are some ways in which AI can help with this process:

  1. Policy data extraction: AI can be used to automatically extract relevant policy data from various sources, such as emails, PDFs, and other documents. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors that can occur when manually entering data.
  2. Policy comparison: AI can be used to compare policies against each other to identify similarities and differences. This can be useful when reviewing multiple policies for the same client or when comparing policies from different insurers.
  3. Risk analysis: AI can be used to analyze policy language to identify potential risks that may not be covered by the policy. This can help insurers and brokers identify gaps in coverage and recommend additional coverage options to their clients.
  4. Premium optimization: AI can be used to analyze policy data and historical claims data to identify patterns and make predictions about future losses. This can help insurers and brokers optimize premiums and reduce the risk of losses.
  5. Customer service: AI-powered chatbots can be used to provide quick and accurate responses to policyholder inquiries. This can help insurers and brokers provide better customer service and improve customer satisfaction.

That’s great, but where do I even start?

With all that information, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “How do I start to look for solutions in these areas to help my agency streamline?” Glad you asked! Here are a few AI tools that can be used to help with policy checking:

AI-powered policy analysis tools: These tools can automatically extract and analyze policy data to identify coverage gaps, exclusions, or limitations. They can also compare policies from differ​​ent insurers to identify similarities and differences. Some examples include Insurify, Chisel AI for policy comparison, and Policy Pal for analysis and coverage recommendations. Check out some of the additional resources on Catalyit’s Data Analytics Guide.

Chatbots and virtual assistants: These AI-powered tools can provide instant responses to policyholders’ questions, reducing the need for manual interaction. They can also gather policy information and provide policy recommendations to customers. Examples of these tools include Podium and EchoSage.

Predictive analytics: These AI tools use historical claims data and other sources of data to identify patterns and make predictions about future losses. This can help insurance agents optimize premiums and reduce the risk of losses. Examples of predictive analytics tools include Aureus Analytics, Zest AI, and Foresight.

Natural language processing (NLP): NLP is a type of AI that can be used to analyze policy language and identify potential risks that may not be covered by the policy. NLP tools can also be used to extract relevant policy data from various sources, such as emails and PDFs. Examples of NLP tools include and Ayasdi.

By using AI tools, insurance agents can perform policy checking more quickly and accurately, freeing up their time to focus on providing value-added services to their clients. AI can also help agents identify coverage gaps and recommend appropriate coverage options, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Overall, AI can help independent agents, insurers, and brokers streamline the insurance policy-checking process, making it faster, more accurate, and more efficient. By automating many of the tasks involved in policy checking, AI can help insurance professionals focus on providing value-added services to their clients, such as risk management and coverage recommendations.​

Big "I" Nebraska members get a FREE basic subscription! Click here to activate your account and get started. 

Mar 08
The Forecast for Solar Panels and Homeowners Insurance

​BY ANNEMARIE MCPHERSON SPEARS, Independent agent magazine

solar panel insurance.jpgResidential solar power use had a record quarter in the third quarter of 2022, with nearly 1.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. 

And with last year's Inflation Reduction Act that expanded the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to provide a 30% tax credit to those who install a PV system before 2032, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, many more homeowners may be considering making the change.

Even after taking the federal solar tax credit into account, a residential solar panel system costs approximately $20,000 on average in 2023, according to an Energy-Sage study, which is less than half the average cost of $50,000 in 2013.

“With the tax credits that are in place, I think that this is a great time to get solar—the cost of solar technology has come way down," says Michael Giusti, analyst at, who made the leap to get solar panels on his own house last year.

On the most basic level, “anything that's permanently attached to your home is covered by homeowners insurance, so homeowners insurance should cover solar panels," he says, also noting that installing solar panels increases a house's value and therefore will increase the premium. 

“Some policies say, 'Not so fast—solar panels are this new thing with these unknowns, so we're going to specifically write them out of the policy.'"

“Just make sure that you're communicating with your insureds so no one's surprised after they've already made the investment," he says.

Carriers' concerns include hail and wind damage, but Giusti points out that solar panels are engineered to take some damage, with most certified to withstand 140 mph winds. And thanks to the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, solar panels undergo extensive testing, including shooting ping pong-sized ice balls at them at 70 miles per hour, according to

 “The quirk is that it's probably less risky to have the solar panels," Giusti says. “Shingles and tar paper are just put on by a roofing nail, whereas solar panels are bolted to the roofing rafters with lag bolts. It doesn't take an engineer to know that a lag bolt beats a roofing nail in a windstorm."

As solar increases in popularity and carriers gather more underwriting data, “we're going to find that some of these exclusions are going to fall off," he says. 

“Right now, though, it's certainly worth talking to your carriers and reading that policy really closely if an insured wants to get solar panels."

Looking ahead toward residential energy-efficient trends, Giusti highlights lithium-ion battery storage for solar panel systems. 

“They're not widespread yet, but I think they're going to become a bigger part of these solar installs," he adds. “When people begin to attach a 10-to 20-kilowatt lithium-ion battery to their house, there's a natural fire hazard. With this young technology, will insurers take that fire hazard into account? Is this an unknown that they aren't going to like? Or will the batteries be Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed and everyone will be happy? We don't know yet."​

Mar 08
5 Practical Ways to Create More Leadership Opportunities for Women in Insurance

​By ​CRISTA WALKER,  vice president of agent engagement & technology at Liberty Mutual Insurance​​

International Women's Day 2023.jpgI have worked directly for men for the vast majority of my career. I recently counted more than 20 consecutive years under the largely capable leadership of men. This held true while I was in the military, in tech and in insurance—up until three years ago, when an organizational shuffle at Liberty Mutual Insurance put me on a team with a woman as the senior executive leader and women as four of six of my senior leadership peers.

To quote my Generation Z daughter, that change just “hit different." Our level of collaboration and innovation felt distinctly empowering, and our team did some of the best, most connected work of our careers. 

Fast forward to today. As part of our commitment to be the champion of the independent agent, my team at Liberty Mutual is digging deep into the unique experiences and challenges women in the industry face. This work began with comprehensive research exploring the state of women in independent agencies and grew into the RISE Conference, an International Women's Day event designed to connect women in insurance from all over the country and empower more women to step into leadership and ownership roles.

From that research and from talking to women in agencies across the country, I can tell you this: More women in agencies are ready to be leaders. They are hungry to share their expertise and are uniquely positioned to connect with customers and transform their agencies.

So why aren't more women leading? Our research shows that while 85% of women who work on the frontline can picture themselves as a leader at an agency, fewer than one-third of agency principals and owners are women. There is a disconnect here.

Let's explore the data, the opportunities, the ways we can help more women ascend to agency leadership, and why that's a smart idea. 

Here are five ways to empower women into leadership roles:

1) Acknowledge why it matters. One of the things I hear most often about women in agencies is how much they contribute to great work cultures. Women in agencies are often the first to remember someone's birthday, the first to offer support for things both work and personal, and the first to build strong personal relationships with clients.

This doesn't come as a surprise, with 2019 research by Harvard Business Review showing that women outscore men on leadership skills, such as inspiring and motivating others, acting with resilience, building relationships and so many more. And women aren't just outpacing men in “soft skills"—the bottom line reflects their professional prowess as well.

2020 report by McKinsey showed that companies with greater gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies. Furthermore, companies with more than 30% women on their executive teams were significantly more likely to outperform companies with fewer women on their executive teams.

When there are women in the room—at every level but especially at the leadership level—companies thrive. And with women making up more than half of agency employees, that points to a lot of opportunity for independent agencies.

2) Actively mentor and help develop the women around you. While many women express enthusiastic interest in becoming a partner at their agency, they often lack the mentorship and support to get there.

According to Liberty Mutual's latest report on the state of women in independent insurance agencies, women are significantly less likely than men to say their manager is developing them for agency leadership. Among millennial employees in particular, 55% of men say their manager is actively developing them for a leadership role, as opposed to 38% of women. This gap is made more significant by the fact that these women are at a pivotal point in their careers for leadership development and growth into more senior roles.

The data is showing us that there is a big opportunity here to be more active in our support of developing women for leadership. My experience is that women often put themselves last in line in asking for this support. It doesn't mean they aren't interested or worthy. In fact, arguably, women need this more than their male peers to overcome the gap.

Mentorship doesn't have to be so complicated. To start, pay attention to the women at your agency and offer them your support. Notice where they're particularly strong and where they have room and potential to grow. Talk to them about it, point these things out and ask them what they want to achieve both in their career and in their lives. Many women don't aspire to leadership simply because nobody ever helped them see it was possible. Be that person for the women in your agency.

3) Recognize and reward women's contributions. One of the reasons leadership feels so unattainable to women is because the culture tells them their work and efforts aren't as valuable as men's. The gender wage gap is a very real thing, and the financial services industry is one of the biggest offenders. In insurance in particular, female producers make 67 cents on the dollar compared to male producers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Pay inequity impacts women in countless ways that make it harder for them to advance. It makes it harder for them to pursue opportunities for continuing education, have better access to childcare, afford high-quality health care and so much more.

Most women in insurance agencies are acutely aware of this, with 64% of women in frontline roles saying they feel they are paid somewhat less or significantly less than their male peers, according to the 2022 state of women in independent agencies research. When asked what they would change about working in insurance, many respondents mentioned equal pay.

Women pointed out that, often, the things that go unnoticed are the things that keep the agency running and make it a great place to work but don't necessarily result in big sales numbers. It's never a “good time" to consider pay equity. But considering that women leaders are driving more success in business, perhaps we can't afford not to think about fairness in pay.

4) Address disparities in caregiving. It's no secret that women have to navigate complex relationships between caregiving and career. Women are far more likely than men to be responsible for most or all of their family's housework and caregiving, according to “Women in the Workplace 2022," a study from McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn. Fifty-eight percent of women in entry-level jobs, compared to 30% of men in entry-level jobs, are responsible for most or all of their household labor.

Meanwhile, men's responsibilities at home steadily decrease as they get promoted. Twenty-one percent are responsible for most or all of the housework and childcare when in first-level management, dropping to 13% in senior management and up. However, most women don't get that privilege. Instead, 58% of women in first-level management roles and 52% who are senior managers or higher are still responsible for their family's housework and childcare. 

With many women who work outside the home also serving as primary caregivers at home, this gets tricky … and frankly exhausting. When compared with men who have young children, women with children are less likely to agree they have a healthy work-life balance, less likely to aspire to lead and less likely to be actively developed for leadership, as shared in Liberty Mutual's 2023 State of Women Outlook. Perhaps that's why we see female principals and owners much less likely to have young children (11%) than male principals and owners (22%).

It seems that for women specifically, as caregiving responsibility trends upwards, career advancement can stagnate.

Now, employers aren't in a position to tell people how to divvy up responsibilities at home, but they can certainly do more to help women navigate this reality at work. Flexible scheduling and paid leave are important first steps to leveling this playing field for women. For the most part, insurance agencies are already setting a great example of this, with more than 80% of women in insurance saying their job allows them work-life balance and 92% of women in frontline roles saying they receive flexibility when they need it.

When you offer a robust set of benefits that includes, among other things, parental leave and childcare assistance, you send a message to women that you understand the reality of their lives. You remove an incredibly high barrier to entry and a new pathway to leadership emerges.

5) Let women redefine what it means to be a leader. Leadership isn't just a role to be filled—it's a whole-self process to embark on. I noticed tremendous growth in myself when I had the opportunity to step into a leadership role, and that had a cascading effect on the people around me. I would venture to say that being a leader has made me more myself. More women need to have this opportunity.

Research shows there are reasons to be optimistic about the progress being made to uplift women within the independent agent system. The percentage of agencies with at least one woman in a principal or senior management role increased by 7% between 2018 and 2020, rising to 42%, according to the 2020 Agency Universe Study—and between 2020 and 2022, that number rose to 47%. Our collective and dedicated efforts will make the difference in pushing this number forward.

And as more women have these opportunities, it's important to step back and let them redefine how to show up as a leader. Women have unique life experiences and career journeys that position them to offer something special in a leadership role, to offer a unique approach that may be really different than what has come before. This is something to be celebrated. 

Women need to know they not only can be successful and still be who they are, they can be successful because of who they are.

Despite the many challenges women face, they are more excited than ever to step into leadership roles and carry independent agencies forward. And agencies are poised to continue offering great careers to women, including the flexibility and job satisfaction women want and need.

Women are already prepared to lead—they just need agencies to give them opportunities to do so. And when they do, the future is brighter for all of us.

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