Paying it Forward
| Connections Editor | Jan 30 2020
This past fall, W.E. Walker-Lakenon Operations Manager Patricia Talley graciously sat down with the camera crew for an interview during Applied Net 2019 to discuss the importance of paying it forward and her personal altruistic experiences as an Applied Client Network (ACN) member.
Talley began her insurance career at LaSalle Business College, which turned into a lifelong vocation. Approximately 15 years ago, her company joined the ACN community and, since that time, Talley and her colleagues have made the most of ACN's unlimited resources.
"When I came [to W.E. Walker-Lakenon], the agency had just gone onto Applied and they weren’t really doing anything with it. Applied helped me a lot, but I kept looking for more help and thought that there had to be more out there," noted Talley.
"Once I got us into ACN, I found what I was looking for. I found people who want answers and who were looking to move forward in their agency. [I saw that] ACN positioned itself as a [user group that] helps agencies get started with Applied software. I wasn’t always talking with someone; sometimes, my questions were answered in written forums. I [often] see conversations out there [in the forums], and I see attachments that people put out there for everyone to use. I think about how much time it took them to put those resources together and how much time it took to get it right, but there they are just putting those resources out there for others to use. They’re so willing to help all the time."
Talley is no stranger to paying it forward and understands the importance of sharing knowledge with fellow insurance industry professionals as everyone looks to advance in their career.
"If I’ve got something that I can share, whether it’s knowledge or contacts, I don’t need someone to do something for me before I’m willing to help them, because at some point, there is going to be some individual or some agency that is going to help me with something. So, why do I need to hold onto information when I could give out to someone? To me, that’s paying it forward; being able to help someone and not expect anything back."
Recalling her Applied Net 2019 interview, Talley discussed a period of transition within her agency and how ACN facilitated this growth period.
"When I first decided to go paperless in accounting, I read and read and was having a hard time figuring out where to start. You hate to start off and find out six months down the road that there are a lot of things you could have done better. I ended up with our user group in the St. Louis chapter, and I got lucky because I was given someone’s name. I called and chatted with this woman, and she offered to come down and help us for the day," said Talley.
"She didn’t ask for payment or anything like that, but of course we paid her. She spent the day here, she looked at everything I had ready and went through and gave us feedback. At the end of the day, we had a plan of how we were going to tackle the accounting side moving forward in the paperless environment. She told us to contact her at any time. What she gave to me that day was invaluable to get us started, and six months down the line, we weren’t wishing we had done things differently. She’ll probably never know how grateful I was that she helped us put all that together."
ACN's rich tradition of cultivating an environment conducive to members supporting members has continued to inspire insurance professionals to help others whenever possible. Talley, of course, is among the inspired ranks.
"At Applied Net, I have offered to help with some panel discussions. I like those panel discussions because we aren’t just standing at a podium talking. The people in the class all have the same goal and want the same thing. Once you get the discussion going, even if I’m a panelist, I learn something every time," said Talley.
"Every agency is set up a little bit differently. Whether you’re in a metropolitan area or a rural area, between the size of your business or the type of clients, nothing is really the same. Software has evolved to where there are so many options. So, how do you figure out which is the right one for you? In the Connections newsletter, there is always someone with an interview about how certain software types work and they offer advice."
Talley also made a point to elevate ACN's role as an overall, forward-thinking business guide for member companies.
"Every time we would get a little complacent in what we were doing, I could read about what other people were doing and say that we need to leave our outdated ways behind. I always felt guided toward the future by learning about what other people were doing in the community," said Talley.
In essence, the ACN community stands on a foundation made up of professionals who are looking to lend a hand and help fellow agency members take the next step in their careers.
"I think there are a lot of people out there who think they don’t have anything to offer or that they’re not an expert. That isn’t true. It’s not all about the software and the knowledge. A lot of it is just working every day in the industry and figuring out what your agency or brokerage needs and when you put that into place, why not push it out there? Someone else will be looking for that information," said Talley.
"You’ll have opportunities [through ACN] to be on a panel or do a webinar, so go ahead and do it. There will be times when people reach out to you afterward to thank you for that information, and you might not have even realized other people needed it in the first place. And, to me, that’s paying it forward. Maybe you spend a lot of time and effort learning how to do something, so go ahead and tell other people. Many people have knowledge that other people could use, so I would encourage everybody to move forward, and if you’re given that opportunity, take it."
Tags: Insurance , Commentary , Paying it Forward , ACN Community