Thought Leadership

Ask yourself, “How do you want to feel?” vs. “What do you want to be?”

February 8, 2023 | Brown & Brown Insurance | Thought Leadership

Ask yourself, “How do you want to feel?” vs. “What do you want to be?”
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance

I’m confident that rarely, if ever, is the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” answered with “An insurance agent.”

I know that wasn’t my plan.

In fact, growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. (Don’t tell my attorney friends.) 🤫

On the surface, insurance is not very sexy or glamorous. But a career in insurance can be impactful, meaningful and noble.

In honor of February’s Insurance Careers Month, I’d like to challenge the traditional — and outdated — perception of insurance professionals to reveal the wonderful and meaningful side of the industry.

What’s so great about working in insurance?

At its core, insurance is about helping people. It’s about helping to protect the people and objects we love and value the most. Besides medicine, what other industry can tout anything close to that? There’s not much in the world that is as meaningful.

Simply put, insurance is about relationships — building them one meeting, one policy and one claim at a time. One of the most satisfying things about working in insurance is that all types of people from all walks of life need it. You meet them, build trust and become a part of their world and vice versa.

I have dedicated my professional career to the insurance industry, and as you know, I couldn’t dedicate my life’s work to something that didn’t allow me to show up for others. My personal values led me down a path where I could make a positive impact on the people around me.

You wouldn’t think innovation and flexibility could describe the industry either. But we’ve seen insurance evolve to meet the new and emerging needs of the general population time and again. New products are always being created, or existing products are advanced to support growing risks. For example, we have doctors and psychiatrists on our staff at Brown & Brown Insurance who help us build out new health and benefits products and evolve our thinking about how to structure wellness programs. We’re constantly evaluating loss and claims information to provide best-in-class solutions and knowledge that our customers can trust.

This ability to change and strengthen, alongside its necessity across public and private markets, gives insurance its longevity. Insurance will always be around. Of course, there will be iterations in the future and within your career, but the industry itself is anchored in securing your life — and that will never go out of style. Career security can be a gift in an economic environment like the one we’re currently experiencing.

Could insurance be for you?

Today’s insurance professional is not the Richard Gilmore type. The umbrella of insurance spans all industries, so even if you’re interested in a particular discipline, you can move between industries and markets — yes, all within the umbrella of insurance! — to grow your career. Here are some of the primary roles you can pursue:

  • Analysts: For the people who love problem-solving and details. Claims technicians are skilled at understanding contracts and policies and balancing the relationships between customers and carriers. There’s a great opportunity in these roles to build long-term relationships with carriers and become trusted advisors around bad risks.
  • Producers: I always joke that I’m not sure how many other industries there are in which you can go from making $0 to six figures in just a few years without working 80 hours a week. But it’s not really a joke. These commission-based roles give you more control over your income through new contracts and renewal revenue. And depending on how good you are at relationship building, you can see your income soar when referrals start coming in.
  • Specializations: At Brown & Brown, we have specialists in various industries and products. For example, specialists in cannabis, beekeeping, and entertainment (i.e., clowns and magicians) are all needed to inform our products, support businesses in these industries and drive innovation in how insurance helps to protect each of these industries. You can be niche and own a market within your firm. The complexities of some businesses are incredible and require deep knowledge that is invaluable to customers and employers alike.

Advice from this industry veteran

With age (and experience) comes the responsibility to share one’s wisdom. So whether you’re looking for your first job out of college, hitting the restart button or searching for more meaning in your career, here is my advice to you:

Play the long game and do the work to determine what you really want out of life. Maybe you don’t know what you want to be, but do you know how you want to feel when you engage in your life’s work? It can be easy to take the highest-paying offer or jump at the first opportunity you see. But that won’t guarantee happiness. Rather than thinking about your career in one- to two-year increments, give yourself the grace to consider long-term investments in your success and how you can engage those today.

Reach out and make connections. I cannot stress the value of informational interviews enough. If someone has the lifestyle you want, who better to learn from? If there is a company that catches your attention, the only way to get its attention is by meeting people who already work there. If someone called Brown & Brown today and said, “I’m interested in insurance and looking to meet a few people in the industry,” we’d say, “Of course!” Even if there isn’t a job available, the connections you make now can come back to help you down the line.

BONUS: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Most people don’t enter the profession they choose as a child. If they did, we might not have any insurance professionals but a bunch of superheroes trying to secure your home. I didn’t choose insurance; insurance chose me. When I asked myself 20 years ago how I wanted to feel and how I wanted to live my life, insurance met all the requirements.

It just might be the same for you — if you give it a chance.


PurposeFULL Leadership
How Personal & Professional Growth Can Help You Lead A Fullfilled Life
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance

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