Mike Manes, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership




Mike Manes

Mike Manes

Mike Manes was branded by Jack Burke as a “Cajun Philosopher.” He self-defines as a storyteller – “a guy with some brain tissue and much more scar tissue.” His organizational and life mantra is Carpe Mañana. (His T-shirts say the same.)

His experience includes work as an insurance agency producer, manager, product designer, affinity group marketing specialist, etc. He has been an expert witness and consultant in the risk and insurance industry, executive director of the Louisiana Managed Health Care Association, lobbyist and an instructor of risk and insurance at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA. He was the issues chairman for a 1992 gubernatorial candidate. He is the owner of Square One Consulting and a partner in North Star Strategic Services.

Manes is an author, columnist and speaker on issues of change, its management and architecture, organizational culture, etc. He has written two books – “Gumbo, Cooking Up the Organization of the Future” and “Organizational Planning, Quick and Simple.”

He has facilitated planning initiatives for trade and professional associations, banks, insurance agencies, non-profits, churches, schools, etc.

His ramblings appear now in the Louisiana and Texas Surplus Lines Reporter and in the Let’s Talk column in the monthly PIA magazine. For two years, he wrote articles for the Risk and Insurance blog. He is a periodic contributor to Insurance Thought Leadership. He maintains www.tomorrowbyintelligentdesign.blogspot.com and www.thewisdomofscartissue.blogspot.com.

His life experiences include:

U.S. Army Veteran – Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Heidelberg, Germany
Member – National Security Seminar (2006) – U.S. Army War College
Board Member Emeritus – National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM)
Board Member of the LSUHSC Network
Charter Member of the Louisiana Health Care Commission
Task Forces for the Attorney General, Governor, House of Representatives and DOL
Doctor of Letters – National College of Natural Medicine
Recipient (2 times) of the Boudreaux Award from NCNM (now NUNM)
Being “Poppie” to Edi and Ethan, dad (Slade [Danielle] and Seth), and husband (Sheila)
He is proud to be a Cajun (Swamp People) married to a redneck (Duck Dynasty)

Recent Articles by Mike Manes

When Everything Becomes Different…

It was March 24, 1971. I was on a Greyhound bus headed to the Customs House in New Orleans. I was being drafted. I was a dumb, fat (6’2″, 240 pounds, 40-plus-inch waist), shy and happy boy. I was in deplorable physical condition. In the previous years, I had had serious health issues. I prayed I […]

Are You Prepared for the Future? Truly?

The phrase “WWJD,” or “What would Jesus do?”, became popular in the late 1800s after the widely read book by Charles Sheldon titled, “In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?” The phrase had a resurgence in the U.S. and elsewhere in the 1990s as a reminder to Christians of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a […]

Is It Time to Audit the Auditors?

In early 2007, I was an instructor for three days of risk and insurance training for KPMG. In each class, there were about 30 consultants – everyone from newly minted MBAs, who had not yet worked with a client, to senior partners in the firm. One of the rookie consultants asked for an example of a carrier […]

Chaos in a Post-Yesterday World!

“When one thing is different, it is change; when everything is different, it is chaos!” Yesterday, Corona was a beer. Today, Corona is still a beer but is also a disease, a pandemic. It is the reason I’m at home typing this article, and you’re at home reading it. If the Civil War was the defining event […]

‘Repent, the end is near…’ for Insurance

Have you ever been walking down Bourbon Street late one evening, only to see some street preacher carrying a sign warning you to repent because the end is near? My guess is you have, whether in New Orleans or some other city – you’ve seen him, you’ve smiled, laughed or ignored him and you went […]

Tough Questions for Agencies

It was the ARM Partners Conference in New Orleans on April 18, 2012. I was to speak on change. The attendees, many with bloodshot eyes, were slowly filling the room. The program was the first of the morning. Slow and bloodshot are part of the culture of early a.m. in The Big Easy. I placed […]

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

I raised two boys, or, maybe more correctly, they raised me. I was lucky – at the end of the process I have “two sons” who make me proud and whom I love dearly. I was unprepared to be a parent when I became one, but through trial and error, the grace of God and […]

5 Transformational Changes for Clients

In January 1993, I began preaching the Gospel of Change – its management and architecture. One of my first presentations was to a very successful community bank’s senior management team. I said, “Today, General Motors, Sears and IBM are kings of their respective jungles. I believe in my lifetime (I was 46 at the time) […]

Don’t Risk a Lot for a Little

The speaker walked to the podium holding a large jar filled with M&Ms. She asked: “Who likes M&Ms?” Hands went up. She then asked, “If I offered each of you $10 for each M&M you could eat, how many would eat some?” More hands went up. Finally, she said, “If I offered you $100 for […]

Key Difference in Leaders vs. Managers

About 35 years ago in a political science class, Dr. Campbell stated, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that “plagiarism is copying from one source, research is copying from more than one source.” By the good doctor’s terms, this is the best-researched article I’ve ever written. It has also been the easiest – because most […]

In a Crisis, Will You Be Ready?

S___ happens! Fifty years ago, Rock, David and I were at Pelican Aviation’s hangar listening to several seasoned pilots talk about their most terrifying experiences in the air. One said, “The engine made a loud noise, the plane shook violently and suddenly I couldn’t see a thing.” One of us innocently asked, “What happened – […]

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words!

In the name of simplicity, I’ll be brief. 1. Decades ago in the Louisiana legislature, a contentious debate was raging over a law requiring motorcycle drivers to wear helmets. Representative V. J. Bella stepped to the podium in the Louisiana House with a stool, a sledgehammer and a watermelon. He placed the watermelon on the […]

Goliath Was Goliath — Until He Wasn’t

What follows is disjointed and confusing. It is just like the marketplace is going to be in the future. Don’t dismiss this as “all wrong” until you at least consider the impact on you and your organization if any of this is right! Remember, the dinosaurs were “big and bad” until they weren’t! John is […]

Lessons Learned: Wisdom of Scar Tissue

It’s what you learn after you know it all that is really important. This often includes scar tissue gained when things don’t go as planned. In 2009, I was asked to present at a conference and was struggling to find a topic that would engage a bunch of folks smarter, more experienced and richer than […]

With Innovation, Keep It Simple, Stupid

I wrote a column nearly 10 years ago about people and organizations and their reluctance to change. The title was: “Innovation – Incubator or Graveyard?” The first two paragraphs of the article follow: “Dale Dauten in his Sunday column got me thinking with the closing statements: ‘If you have an idea you want to nurture, […]

Wisdom From Some Very Smart People

I’d bet that most of you would be excited to learn that the factory of the future was being built in your hometown. Probably your enthusiasm would be driven by your knowledge of factories of the past. Unfortunately, the difference between the factory of the past and the factory of the future is change – […]

A Contrarian Looks ‘Back to the Future’

A recent week started with reading a page by Paul Carroll from his Innovator’s Edge platform. The title question was: “Will Apple enter insurance? Google? Microsoft? Amazon?” His opening statement was, “Apple’s market value crested $1 trillion last week, and its big tech brethren Google, Microsoft and Amazon aren’t far behind, all are valued north […]

Play With Dolls, and Be a Better Leader

Don’t just play with any dolls; play with a Russian nesting doll! Imagine you are observing a speaker standing at a podium with the five nesting dolls displayed on the podium. She picks up the smallest doll and begins: “This is you – who you are and as you are – your values, personality type, […]

Existential Threat to Agents

It was 1975. While completing an application for malpractice insurance, a dentist told me his address was 12345 Main St. I commented on how simple it was. He shot back, “So simple even insurance agents can understand it.” In 1994, while speaking about managed care to a conference for librarians, I mentioned the rising cost […]

Gravity Is Real — You Can’t Ignore It!

For 10 years, I was an instructor of risk and insurance at LSU in Baton Rouge. I’d occasionally be invited to testify before legislative committees as an insurance expert. Often, some of the pending legislation was designed to solve real problems that were not fixable with insurance. In these cases, my testimony was simple. I’d […]

2018: A Look Back, Then Forward!

Feb. 14 will be the 45th anniversary of my first employment in the insurance industry. I’ve enjoyed the ride. Here are two memories from my first three years in the business that I think personify the best and worst of our industry and, more importantly, suggest a path for differentiation and prosperity for those willing […]

The Planning Process in a Twitter World

I’m an analog dinosaur in a digital world. In the 1970s, I participated in an organizational planning process that lasted for nearly a year, concluding in an excellent document with many dozens of pages that came to rest on the “bottom shelf” and not the “bottom line.” Then, ours was a Father Knows Best World […]

Don’t Lie to Yourself About the Future

Most folks accept that their funeral is not a good place to do a deal. Nonetheless, they don’t plan! Twenty years ago, at a PIA convention at the Grand Hotel we were having a discussion about the future of agencies, maximizing their value, planning for contingencies and timing an exit strategy. I was being provocative. […]

How Not to Make Decisions

Nancy Newbee is the newest trainee for LOCO (Large Old Company) Inc. She was hired because she is bright, articulate, well-educated and motivated. She is in her second week of training. Her orders include: “We’ll teach you all you need to know. Sammy Supervisor will monitor your every action and coordinate your training. Don’t take […]

Change Management Is Not About Change!

In 1993, my business cards included the tagline: Risk, Insurance and Change Management. When asked for a definition of change management, I would explain that change was the transition from today through tomorrows (the “s” on “tomorrow” suggested it is a process not an event). Management was about solving problems and capitalizing on opportunities as […]

Right Answers to the Wrong Questions?

A few weeks ago, I spoke to about 20 professionals attending a program about their future and the future of their organizations. I talked about tomorrow. They were more worried about today. I wanted to venture into tomorrow and look back to today. They just wanted to get through today. I discussed purpose: Why? They […]

Agency Succession Plans: Do It Now!

Bill was a 40-something-year-old son in his 70-something-year-old father’s agency. I asked about the agency’s succession plan. He said, “Mike, I’m already running the agency by myself. When Dad dies, nothing changes.” He assumed too much… See also: 3 Ways to Boost Agency Productivity   With a smile and good intentions, I hit him with reality. […]

Could Your Agency Pass a Risk Audit?

2017 is here. Are you, your agency and your clients ready for the future? Are you managing your risks for the future like you have in the past? Are your advising your clients about managing their risks like you have in the past? Will this work tomorrow? Our industry is very good at “managing” static risks (those unchanged by society). […]

Healthcare Reform IS the Problem

Our healthcare (HC) and healthcare financing ( HCF) systems are not sustainable. To think about why that is, find a picture of a rainbow (or draw your own). There are seven bands of color. Label your rainbow from the bottom to the top: Soul/Mind/Body/Wellness/Primary Care/Secondary Care/Tertiary Care (healthcare from specialists in a large hospital after referral […]

Insurance is Not a Commodity? Hmmm

I was scanning the Insurance Thought Leadership site, and saw the Most Popular Article today is Insurance is not a commodity, by Chet Gladkowski. Number 10 on this same list was Lemonade – Insurance is changed forever, by Rick Huckstep. Both articles were well written and thought provoking (for us folks in the insurance industry). […]

You Must Break Free of Your Culture

By my definition, culture is the house rules. An edgier definition comes from David Balestracci: “Quite simply, culture is created by what is tolerated….Your current processes are perfectly designed to get the results they are already getting.” In any case, culture is the most powerful force in your organization. It can bring greatness, or cause […]

What Trump Means for Best Practices

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, the majority of a major minority of the people in this country opened the window, stuck their heads out and yelled just as Howard Beale instructed in Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The rest will be history. Power to the people! As […]

Destination 2020: Adventure or Disaster?

Today, GPS makes getting directions easy. A successful trip, however, is much different and a greater challenge than just good directions. Today, as a passenger on Planet Earth, you are heading to 2020 with more than 7 billion other folks. Our destination is known – what we’ll find when we get there, is not. Your […]

26 Most Important Words in Business

The second edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. Many, if not most, of these words have been used in the thousands of business books now in print. Our alphabet includes 26 letters. The popularity of Twitter shows how much can be […]

Are You on Your Game, or Is Your Game Over?

Weeks ago, Jim and I met for coffee to solve all the world’s problems. We didn’t, but he did hand me an article about Sudoku and said, “There may be a story in here.” He was right. I just didn’t realize how quickly it would appear on my computer screen. Later that day, when I was […]

Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?

If you’re raking ashes in California or ripping out sheetrock and carpets in Louisiana (where I live), you are disaster-wise. We grow through adversity. If you have never lived through a disaster, you are probably – with all due respect – dumb, fat and happy. This article is written with one intent – to make […]

Hard Lessons From the Louisiana Flooding

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” On Aug. 12, 2016, it was the best of times in Denham Springs, (Livingston Parish) LA. By Monday, Aug. 15, 2015, it was the worst of times. Denham Springs was a community of 10,000-plus people in […]

Get Used to It: We’re Not One World!

Paul Harvey used to say, “We’re not one world.” He was right. When I started in the business, it wasn’t one world. But that didn’t matter to the old guy who owned the place. The only opinion that mattered was that of the owner, and, if you didn’t like it, you could leave. That’s the way […]

Differentiation – Real Advantage or a Lie?

In 1965, as college freshmen in the Deep South, we were oblivious to the cultural revolution that was starting to sweep campuses around the country. We were tradition-bound and institutionally managed by a dress code. Our hair could not touch our shirt collars (shirts with collars were mandatory) or cover our ears. Our shirts had […]

Are You Still Selling Newspapers?

“Who is that guy, and what’s he doing?” Shaun called me, laughing. He explained that he had just heard about a teenager who was at his friend’s house. As they walked through the den – he saw an older man reading a newspaper in a recliner and asked the question above. The man’s son said, […]

Change at the ‘Speed of Life!’

In my career, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words on change. I was preparing another article for your consideration, when three articles, one invoice and one memory made my ramblings about speed unnecessary. Consider the following, then decide – is the market being transformed? The memory – In 1978, I represented the Famex Insurance […]

Healthcare Reforms Aren’t Sustainable

A recent NPR program celebrated the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The benchmark was that many really sick people finally had coverage and that many poor people were now obtaining coverage because of subsidies or because of the expansion of Medicaid. If measured by participation, the healthcare reform under ACA is a success, […]

Decision Dysfunction in Corporate America

Nancy Newbee is the newest trainee for LOCO (Large Old Company). She was hired because she is bright, articulate, well-educated and motivated. She is in her second week of training. Her orders include: “We’ll teach you all you need to know. Sammy Supervisor will monitor your every action and coordinate your training. Don’t take a […]

Agents: What’s That Spot on Your Face?

In December 2008, a spot appeared on my face. It looked like a large freckle. I ignored it. In March 2009, Floyd and I were having breakfast. He asked, “What’s that spot on your face?” I answered, “A freckle.” He then responded, “What are you going to do about it?” My reply, “Not a thing […]

The Need for ‘Price-Driven Costing’

In 1973, I began my insurance career as a claims’ adjuster. We handled some of the first claims in the new NFIP Flood Program. There was chaos. A year later, I was hired by Cumis Insurance to staff a new sales office in Baton Rouge,LA. The market hardened dramatically, capacity was limited and our office […]

Getting to 2020: the Right Way to Lead (Part 4)

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Walt Kelly, Pogo To conclude this four-part series on setting your agency up for what it needs to be in 2020 (the first three parts of which can be found here, here and here), I asked a longtime friend to describe the surprise he experienced when […]

Getting to 2020: Redefining the Culture (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of four articles that offer a “road less traveled” to Agency 2020. The first article focused on your agency in the marketplace’s current reality. The second article considered the world as it might be in 2020. Today, we address the processes necessary to ensure you have the “seed […]

Getting to 2020 — Defining the Unknown (Part 2)

Today’s exercise focuses on the best concepts you can dream up so your organization can thrive in the future. You’ll then need to perform a reality test on those ideas, using research you’ve developed. This article follows up on my first, in which I argue that now is the time to prepare for what I […]

‘Agency 2020’: Can You Get There? (Part 1)

It’s been 45 years since astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said. Many consider this to be mankind’s greatest adventure. Today, you should begin planning for the greatest adventure in your agency’s history. Now is the time to prepare […]

Look Up, Look Out, Think New!

“The stalking weasel has its nose to the ground. It never hears the descent of the hawk.       Until. . . ”   -Andrew Vachss, author Are you like the weasel? Are you so focused on what you’re doing that you don’t hear the hawk that will soon take you out of the marketplace? You may […]

The Revolution Is Coming! Be Ready

The world, the world of risk and risk in the world will be as different in 2020 as the original 13 colonies were from the U.S. as it is today. The bad news is that Paul Revere won’t ride through your town alerting you. So you'll have to settle for me — and I am, in fact, giving […]

A Real Checklist for Real Disasters

In a fraternity, they’d call this hell week. At your agency, this is the one week each year when you deliver renewals to your four largest accounts.  Renewals might be a misnomer this year because you are moving all of the accounts to a market that is better for you and them. Two of the accounts were being […]

A Primer on Leadership: the 26 Most Important Quotes

The starting point  “The absolute of leadership is followers.” — Peter Drucker, management guru and author of dozens of influential books Defining reality “The first role of the leader is to define reality.” — Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller and author of Leadership Is an Art Verifying reality “All the well-meaning advice in […]

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