October 1, 2014

The Changing Swamp


At the recent Innovational Advisory Council meeting of ReSource Pro, change and the management of change was the theme.

Mike Manes, the “Cajun Philosopher”, opened everyone’s eyes with his keynote presentation, based on 38 years of experience in the insurance industry and what he calls “the scar tissue of change management”.  Rather than focusing on changes driven by new and evolving automation and digital tools, or hard/soft markets, Mike cited the changing world, culture, and consumer.

His analogy was the newly built Morgan City, Louisiana tourist center.  People in that area know how to build in the swamps and the tourist center was built in accordance with best practices in engineering, architecture, construction, permitting, and inspection.  Yet shortly after its completion and before its opening, the building sank into the swamp.  As Mike explained, no one had noticed that the swamp had changed and the best practices of yesterday were no longer viable in today’s swamp.

That analogy drives home the fact that the world in which insurance is sold is changing.  The best practices of yesterday may not sustain you in today’s world and market.  Some changes on the horizon, for instance, center on mainstay concepts such as product, delivery, underwriting, knowledge, relationships, compensation, and philosophy.  Are you prepared to manage the changes necessary for success into tomorrow?

Meet Nancy Yu, Team Leader!

Today we bring you another ReSource Pro employee profile! Nancy works as a team leader in Qingdao, overseeing the work of multiple processing teams for some of RSP’s oldest clients.

Nancy visits the office of Paul Hanson Partners in California

Hi Nancy! What attracted you to RSP?

It was the work environment. After I graduated I worked for an appliance group; there was too much pressure there, because we received no training and there was a lot of forced overtime. Everybody at RSP was very friendly and this made it a much more appealing place to work.

At the time I applied it was a very small company and I was interviewed by the founder Matt Bruno, who told me that I would receive a lot of training about the American insurance business so that I could become an experienced member of the staff who understood what I was doing at work.

What are your future career plans?

The company is growing very quickly and I want to grow with it. I would like to move up to a management position. I would also like to receive more training so I can become a stronger team leader.

[Read more...]

Meet David and Linda!

Today we bring you more ReSource Pro employee profiles! David works with clients in the Qingdao office and Linda performs administrative duties in Jinan.

David in the Qingdao office

David Zhang, Client Specialist

Hi David! What are your future career plans?

I’d like to stay with this company and become a Management Specialist.

Why do you want to become a specialist in Management?

I prefer management over processing because I like to deal with people face-to-face every day and help my team serve our client. I would like to be a leader at ReSource Pro and I think specializing in management work is the best way for me to do that.

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Ling’s China Diary Part 2: Two Cultures Meet

Ling admires the Tao

Ling brought a very unique perspective to the ReSource Pro office this past summer. More than any of our other interns, she is familiar with both Eastern and Western cultures. In her second entry, she comments on the ways in which working for an American company has changed some of her friends:

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Neil’s China Diary Part 2: Another Day, Another Mountain

ReSource Pro's Neil and Sherry Climbing in Qingdao China

Neil begins his hike

Neil’s summer internship with ReSource Pro involved working with the IT team, making new friends, and hiking. Lots of hiking.

He writes: “My last entry was all about how much I love scaling the hills around Qingdao, so when some of my co-workers Sherry and Kelsey wanted to climb Laoshan – the area’s tallest mountain – I literally jumped at the opportunity. We didn’t check the weather before we started, but we quickly found that conditions were far from ideal: the temperature was 90 degrees, and the air felt like about 90% humidity. After climbing for 5 minutes, we were all drenched in sweat.

Hiking LaoShan in Qingdao China

About 45 minutes into the trip, we came upon a tiny little village made up of quaint brick houses set into the hillside. The trail we followed went right past the home of a woman who I wouldn’t hesitate to call the nicest lady I’ve ever met. She was at least 70 years old, and by all appearances lived by herself on the side of the mountain. She invited us all into her house without even a moment’s hesitation, and then she pulled out a bunch of chairs and told us to sit down before giving us water to wash the sweat off our faces.  When it came time to leave I tried to help her put the chairs away, but she kept taking them out of my hands and repeating a phrase that I could only guess to mean “put that down.” Don’t let anyone say that the Qingdao locals are not eager to help outsiders; she was definitely the most generous host I’ve encountered in quite a while.” [Read more...]

Neil’s China Diary Part 1: Taking in the Sights

Neil on the beach in Qingdao with a new friend

ReSource Pro summer intern Neil is a student pursuing a degree in Business and Project Management at California State University. During the summer of 2011, he worked with ReSource Pro’s Management Information Systems (MIS) department to help test software and coordinate tech replacement initiatives. In his spare time, he often found himself drawn to the natural beauty surrounding urban Qingdao and took comfort in the ways it resembled the Pacific coast that he calls home.

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Kelsey’s China Diary Part 4: A Different Culture

Qingdao Software Park

There’s no doubt that some of the practices in Chinese offices are a little different than those found in traditional Western businesses. Kelsey, a London native who spent her post-graduate summer interning for ReSource Pro in Qingdao, describes an unusual fire drill held in the Software Park building that houses the company.

She writes, “We recently had a fire drill at the RSP office. Maintenance staff gave each of us a bottle of water and a flannel cloth in preparation, which seemed a little odd: I wasn’t sure how these things would protect us. We’d been told ahead of time to expect a morning announcement, and at ten o’clock a voice came over the loud speaker telling us to leave the building.

Kelsey on the Qingdao Pier

As we opened the door to the outside corridor, smoke flooded the office (just so you know, it was fake smoke used exclusively for the drill). I tried to move toward the stairwell, but I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, let alone any doors, walls, or people around me; the smoke may have been fake, but the coughing that followed was very real. We were then told to wet the flannel and put it over our mouths to help us breathe. After all this instruction, we started to feel our way down the flight of stairs and out of the building.

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Meet Icy Xu, Client Assistant!

Today we bring you another ReSource Pro employee profile! Icy works in Qingdao as a Client Assistant, dealing directly with RSP clients and helping them make the most of their dedicated processing teams.

Icy loves the natural beauty of Qingdao

Icy Xu, Client Assistant

Hi Icy! What do you think would surprise Americans about modern China?

I think they would be surprised to discover how fast Chinese infrastructure is developing and how many different career opportunities young people have in China today.

Why do you think RSP clients should visit Qingdao?

It’s a very beautiful seaside city. I came here for university because I loved the weather: it’s not too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. I love spending time on the beach. It’s also a very international city compared to others in this country.

[Read more...]

Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 2

Mike Natalizio…and we’re back with part two of our interview between your trusty editor and HNI Risk CEO Mike Natalizio (check out Part 1 if you missed it).

Here’s the thing: Change is hard. Even if you’ve decided to move toward a new tech-heavy business model, you’re still going to face significant challenges in achieving employee buy-in and turning your big plans into reality on the ground. And yes, there will be risks. Companies that stray too far from their comfort zones might even face some backlash from customers (hello, Netflix). But in Mike’s view, you might just have to hold your nose and take the plunge once you’ve done your relevant research. Chances are you’ll thank yourself later.

RSP: We’ve discussed your “office-less” model and your use of social media tools to encourage internal dialogue at HNI. How have your employees responded to this project?

Mike: Well, we’re relatively new to this. We first started using an internal Twitter-style tool called Yammer to share what was going on with the team. It wasn’t really collaboration, but it was a step into the social business space. We weren’t just writing “its my bday I have cookies,” we were updating each other on business stuff with lines like “just met w/association leader, he said our company is great,” etc. It was meaningful to our business as a soft way to stick our big toe into the water and to start talking about the business more openly. Now that our internal culture is more social, we’re more comfortable participating in social media interactions with our clients, prospects, and business partners.

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Are You Ready for the Virtual Office? An Interview with Mike Natalizio, Part 1

Mike of HNIWe all know that the insurance industry is changing, but can you imagine a day when your company won’t need a file cabinet, a desktop computer system, or even an office building? Believe it or not, that day is fast approaching, and a few trailblazers are now pioneering the models that will shape the industry of the future.

HNI risk services CEO and longtime ReSource Pro partner Mike Natalazio is one of those forward-thinking executives. He works from a single laptop, he has no office, and he’s managed to free himself from many of the roadblocks and productivity killers (redundant emails, planning meetings, endless stacks of paper) that take up so much time in the traditional business world. He regularly travels with James Carlson, CEO of the business advisory group Bucket Brigade, to spread the message on leaner, more efficient business models driven by the power of social media and new technologies.

Mike spoke at the most recent meeting of ReSource Pro’s Innovation Advisory Council, where he presented his “office-less” model to a group of the company’s most trusted partners. After the event, your editor interviewed Mike to gain further insights on putting the newest tech tools into action and dragging the insurance business into the new digital century.

[Read more...]