It’s hard to believe it was 2003 when Ken Crerar and I sat down to map out a plan to launch a new magazine for commercial insurance brokers. It was an audacious idea, what with so many insurance business magazines in the market, yet it was difficult to believe there wasn’t one targeted exclusively toward commercial brokers.
Instead, our readers back then were reading Business Insurance, whose target audience was and continues to be commercial risk managers.
Ken decided we should fill the void after I became available when the Independent Insurance Agents of America fired me during a management shuffle. Previously, Ken and I had talked briefly about The Council’s maybe someday starting a magazine, and he had even sent me a couple of notes while at the Big “I” complimenting changes I’d made in Independent Agent magazine.
So when I was let go, he offered me a job within 24 hours. My first day, I flew to Dublin, Ireland, to present a proposal for the new magazine at the board of directors’ midyear meeting. Not a bad beginning, I thought. After the board approved, Ken gave me six months to pull it all together.
We made our first deadline and have been making them ever since. It’s inconceivable, now that I look back, that this end of the industry was overlooked for so long. There are so many interesting stories out there, so many issues, yet no publication had ever seen fit to focus just on commercial insurance brokers. I mean really, you’re the driving force in this industry. Sure, there are fewer commercial brokers than small personal lines independent agents, but our impact and our part of the market is where all of the commercial power resides. We drive the engine, and insurance carriers have always known that, even if publishers didn’t.
So I was heartened we could shine a light on the real movers and shakers in the industry. And I appreciate everyone’s cooperation in letting us tell their stories. We’ve watched the Obama administration rip into health insurance only to experience whiplash with the Trump administration. We’ve watched flood insurance dangle on a dead vine, knowing it could not die. We’ve weathered a great recession together only to come out on top. And we’ve witnessed a technological leap in our sector. This was no evolution. It was one giant leap for brokerkind. We are now riding the wild wave of a rapid, roiling revolution.
And who can forget our favorite former New York attorney general who thought using us as a political pincushion could somehow whip up enough voodoo to launch his presidential ambitions? Well, we’re still here, strong as ever, and who has heard from him lately? We don’t just survive. We thrive.
There are no victims here, only those who see opportunities. I love that attitude. The tech world may be getting all of the headlines, but commercial brokers are truly the great business innovators of our generation. They are reinventing an industry that so many outsiders see as stodgy and stale. Little do those outsiders know. I envy the college kids who are just realizing what’s going on and see all of the future opportunities. Their timing is perfect.
Timing, sometimes, is everything. And I’m no different. So this year we begin a transition to new leadership for Leader’s Edge. I’m retiring at the end of the year, or as my wife Cherie likes to call it, a reboot. That sounds better than retirement, which makes me acknowledge my age, not my state of mind.
I will be turning over the helm of this publication sometime later this year. Magazines inevitably take on the personality of their editors, so you will begin to see a change in the magazine as a new leader takes over and moves it in a new direction. Exactly when that will be, we don’t quite know. Ken wants a smooth transition, so I will be kicking around a while longer.
And if I get lucky, my byline may appear during this transition. It’s been a while since I’ve written a magazine or newspaper story, so I look forward to that. The only long-form writing I’ve done in recent years has been novels—political thrillers. My first, Naked Ambition, was published in 2016 and did well enough to hit the Amazon bestseller list. My second, The Apprentice, was published in December. A third, Naked Truth, a sequel to Naked Ambition, will be coming out this spring.
Of course, turning to fiction means I put up with a lot of jokes about how this shouldn’t be much of a transition for me since I’ve been writing fiction my entire career. No one is happier about my extracurricular writing than Cherie. For some reason, she’s convinced herself my second career will keep me out of her hair in the future.
And I’m not done with journalism just yet. The transition promises to free me up to interview some of people I’ve wanted to talk to for years. And I hope to write about some of the interesting things I’ve witnessed during the last 15 years.
So there’s a lot more to come in 2018 and a lot of changes to boot. Or in my case, I guess, reboot.