For Andy Jordan, insurance is a fascinating financial product. The insurance marketplace is brutally Darwinian. No one company enjoys an advantage of having a product others don't have or can't figure out. Plus, the marketplace is fundamentally commoditized. The reality of having to win and having to keep winning or face death feeds his competitive nature.
But Andy is not one for working in a quiet corner of the insurance world. He loves the competition and how well GAINSCO's culture and auto racing ties fulfill this need for him. I talked with Andy to learn more about how he works in this industry.
Our home office is in Dallas, Texas, in a neighborhood called Uptown. It's a great place to work; honestly, it's even a better place to work for our young employees in their first job. I live far away in the suburbs, but I am told there is night life...
Well, my title is senior vice president of corporate marketing and business development. I do those things, but everyone wears a variety of hats at GAINSCO, and I have my share. We have a very collaborative work environment (the exact opposite of the silos you might find at a more traditional insurance company), and it's not unusual for executives to work together on projects and initiatives between departments. In addition to pure marketing and developing relationships with our partners, I work with our sales teams, on long-term IT planning, and with our HR department on our internal culture to name a few.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the people I work with and the mission we are pursuing together, but I'm not sure that really answers the right question. I think that answers the 'Why do you like GAINSCO' question. Let me try again.
When I started working, I liked to be the person with the big idea - that thought that helped everyone break through the problem. Marketing, especially at a company our size where we do almost everything in-house, is such a creative space that I get that big idea itch scratched constantly.
Over the years, either because I've gotten to do that so much or because I'm just getting older, the big idea has become less and less what I like the most about my job. Instead, I like putting other people in a position to succeed. I love to facilitate, help people develop their ideas, shape and consult. I'm very fortunate that our environment allows me the opportunity to do that, almost every day.
One word that describes how you like to work:
Current mobile device:
The lightest Dell I can find. Honestly, I'm standing at the edge of the pro-tablet decision, wishing I had the courage to just jump in.
Project(s) you're currently working on:
Developing our Alternative Distribution footprint across the emerging consumer online comparison marketplace. Planning for our activation efforts around the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season which will feature GAINSCO's new McLaren 650S GT3. Developing and implementing a new customer feedback process. Continuing the implementation of e-sign capabilities throughout the organization.
Accomplishments you're proud of:
GAINSCO is an absolutely unique organization; it feels more like a family, more full of energy and passion, than any place I have ever experienced. We are also a small company (depending on how you measure these things, but we think we are) who has built a well-known brand in our marketplace and whose brand is known worldwide in motorsports. I am most proud of my part in developing our culture and our brand over the last decade.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
You know those projects I listed above? Gettin' 'em done!
What does a typical day look like for you?
The best part about my job is how varied it is. A typical day involves some heads down work on sales or marketing development, some meetings helping people come to decisions and move forward on projects, and hopefully a few moments of having a laugh. Almost every day includes a combination of creative work, analytical work, facilitation, and coaching and development. Employing such varied skill sets, hour by hour, is very challenging. It absolutely feeds my probably certifiable ADD. And it's why I love my job.
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?
My iPad is not connected to my work life at all. I have it stuffed with everything I read on my Kindle app, a couple of games, video content, and my news reader app. Even though I suppose plugging into an iPad is not really disconnecting, it's how I disconnect from work.
What's the most recent app you've downloaded but have yet to use?
A mind mapping app that looks really cool. I'm still drawing out what's in my mind on a whiteboard though!
Describe your workspace.
I like my office to have the smallest amount of desk space that I need to work, and I do not like my desk to be in between me and anyone who comes to visit. I consciously try to make my office a collaborative space that feels comfortable to talk, work and plan in. So, lots of chairs that can move, a table than can be configured different ways and a whiteboard everyone can access. We had a remodel this year and I was able to get exactly what I wanted.
How do you manage your to-do list?
Head-down and deadline-driven work in the morning. Short blocks of time for meetings when a decision is necessary. Constant organizing and re-organizing of the most critical to-do items. Make sure that every item has a next step (a meeting scheduled, time blocked, email sent to the other party, or some other real marker than moves the process forward). Most of my work is collaborative, but when I am required to individually contribute or when a group of people absolutely must get something done and distraction is likely but must not happen, I don't hesitate to work from home or take people offsite.
What do you do when you finish a project?
Move on to whatever is next.
What's your best time-saving tip or hack?
Pre-Meetings! When you are part of a team that will be presenting information, make sure that group of people has met first and is absolutely prepared, rehearse, role-play objections, and make sure each person is clear on the desired outcome. When you are having a meeting where you are not sure of support, meet privately with stakeholders or smaller groups informally beforehand and help them understand what's coming, get conceptual buy-in and look for objections. So many meetings fail because people aren't prepared, objections aren't anticipated, and it's so easy to just say 'okay, everyone go back and regroup and let's have another meeting'.
What is your best everyday habit?
Reading... every day
What do you listen to while working?
Silence! I'm an only child and I grew up in a quiet house. I can't plug into music and tune out at all. I need a quiet environment to really go heads-down. On the way home though? It's a pretty eclectic play list.
What are you currently reading?
'Misbehaving' by Richard Thaler - a history of behavioral economics that is excellent. Should be required reading by anyone who is in charge of any kind of incentive program. I just finished 'Lafayette in the Somewhat United States' by my favorite author Sarah Vowell, and 'Dead Wake' by Erik Larson about the sinking of the Lusitania.
How do you decompress?
I love golf, and it's my main pastime. I love that it takes real time to play and you can be disconnected when you do it. I don't think about work or anything else when I play; just the shot I have to play next.
What's your sleep routine like?
Horrible, I stay up too late and get up too early.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
There is stuff to do! It's not going to get done if you just lay there.
Who are your business idols and why?
Honestly, Glenn Anderson our CEO and Bob Stallings our chairman. I've been fortunate to have some great mentors, but I'm really fortunate to work every day with the two best. Glenn's organizational style is extremely collaborative, and it's made our company so much better than we could have possibly achieved with everyone working in silos. Bob understands more about the psychology of sales, and he communicates it more inspirationally, than anyone I have ever known.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Hmmm, I think I will give you two quotes I quite like instead:
This is America. Pick a job and then become the person that does it.
Mad Men, Season 2
I'd rather be nine peoples' favorite thing than a hundred peoples' ninth favorite thing.
[title of show]
What would you be doing if you weren't working at GAINSCO?
I would be consulting for someone or working for a non-profit.
Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?
You guys should profile our driver Jon Fogarty.
The This is the Way blog series asks ITC employees, agents, carriers and other people in the industry how they work and to share their tips. Is there someone you want to see featured or questions we should ask? Tweet us or leave it in the comments below.
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder