October 3, 2017
A Reflection on the Las Vegas Slaughter
The tragedy is senseless and irreparable, but on days like this I'm proud I chose a profession that will help restore so many shattered lives.
You just never know.
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1991. I was on a flight to the West Coast when Desert Storm started. The pilot came on and told us about President Bush’s speech. He asked us to pray for our solders in harm’s way and for our country.
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. I was at a conference in Disney World when a trickle of news reports quickly turned into the media tsunami that forever changed the trajectory of our culture. We gathered in the hotel ballroom to address questions as a group. Over the next couple of days, I had customers and friends melt in my arms, overcome with grief. We comforted one another as we struggled to try and make sense of the terrorist attacks, making arrangements to get people home, renting cars, vans and buses.
Friday, July 20, 2012. I was driving to a speaking engagement when I received a panicked call about the shooting in Aurora, CO, where our son and his wife live. They were safe, but he had to report to the scene immediately because some airmen in his charge were in the theater.
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Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. Hurricane Irma cut a wide swath of damage and flooding through central Florida, where we live. Our normally quiet small town is still abuzz with electrical and phone crews feverishly working to restore normal operations, making permanent repairs. Many homes in our area are a patch quilt of blue tarps. FEMA contractors are still removing debris as a convoy of trucks and equipment rumble through neighborhoods.
Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Today, I’m in Las Vegas only to be awakened to the horrific news that we know all too well. I’ve received numerous messages over the entire spectrum of electronic communications, asking about our safety.
In these and other events, we will want to learn as much as possible. We want to know the who and struggle with the why. Much will be uncovered over the next hours and days. There are so many open questions waiting to be answered. There is so much that we don’t know.
But there is one thing that I know for certain, and I say this in all seriousness and respect. Insurance will play a vital role in the coming days, weeks and months, helping to rebuild lives, families and businesses devastated by this heartbreaking and senseless tragedy.
Working in insurance since 1972, I’ve been humbled over and over again to be part of an industry that helps people. While my career has been on the technology side of the business, there is a quiet assurance, knowing that what we do will help restore lives.
At the tender age of 19, I had my first “data processing” interview. It was for a junior terminal programmer trainee position at a large insurance company that no longer exists, paying an exorbitant $7,500 a year. After the interview, I walked to the bus stop and wondered about working for an insurance company. I replayed all the jabs and jokes that we know all too well in my mind that surround the insurance industry. Was I somehow going to be tainted by being a part of a profession that had a reputation equal to that of gas station attendants (true statistic)?
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There have been opportunities to leave the insurance industry over the years. But I kept coming back to the reality that there are precious few professions that can have such a direct, positive effect on the lives of so many as insurance.
Yes, we have our problems and detractors. Yes, we can sometimes be our own worst enemy when it comes to public perception. Yes, we could do a better job at communicating to and servicing our customers and the public as a whole.
But I count it a personal honor and privilege to serve in the insurance industry. I hope you do also.