Welcome back to another episode of The Insurance Podcast, this time the hosts get a chance to interview the amazing Eric Yaverbaum, an established author and CEO of Ericho Communications.
The conversation revolves around the changing landscape and adaptability of workplace practices with quite the emphasis on fluidity around remote and hybrid working modes.
Eric dives deep as he shares his expertise on building workplace flexibility and teaches his top tricks to attract top talent!
Learn about the transformations workplaces and agencies went through with the shifts and declines in traditional workplace practices.
📻 Tune in to learn how you can bring flexibility in your agency and set your team up for ultimate success with the Insurance Dudes!
The Insurance Dudes are on a mission to find the best insurance agentsaround the country to find out how they are creating some of the top agencies. But they do not stop there, they also bring professionals from other industries for insights that can help agents take their agencies to the next level.
The Insurance Dudes focus on your agency’s four pillars: Hiring, Training, Marketing and Motivation! We have to keep the sword sharp if we want our agencies to thrive.
Insurance Dudes are leaders in their home, at their office and in their community. This podcast will keep you on track with like minded high performing agents while keeping entertained!
About Jason and Craig:
Both agents themselves, they both have scaled to around $10 million in premium. After searching for years for a system to create predictability in their agencies, they developed the Telefunnel after their interviews with so many agents and business leaders.
Taking several years, tons of trial and error, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on lead spend, they’ve optimized their agencies and teams to write tons of premium, consistently, and nearly on autopilot!
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Bio of Eric Yaverbaum
Eric Yaverbaum, CEO of Ericho Communications, boasts over 42 years of experience in the communications and public relations sector. Co-founding Jericho Communications and serving as its President until its 2006 sale, Yaverbaum has cultivated an impressive clientele including Sony, IKEA, Progressive Insurance, and H&M. His influence extends to securing media placements for clients in renowned outlets such as the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Forbes. Yaverbaum is also a bestselling author, notably of "Public Relations for Dummies," and a sought-after TV pundit whose expert commentary has been featured in major publications and news channels.
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Craig Pretzinger & Jason Feltman
The Insurance Dudes
When I'm a kid, kind of new in the business, my agency is representing Domino's Pizza. I'm at the national awards. And I'm sitting at the head table which was, you know, in the presence of greatness. Tom Monahans. At the table. He owns the Detroit Tigers. He's the guy who started Domino's Pizza. This is the head table for I don't know, 5000 people were there. I don't know how many were there, but I'm sitting next to Joe Theismann. This was right after the Redskins had won the Super Bowl. Now the commander's and the waiter is coming around and he takes the tongs and he puts the bread on a little bread plate. He takes the tongs and he puts a pad of butter next to the bread and thighs. Ben turns around to the waiter and says can I get another pad of butter? And the waiter says now, and plasmon does a little bit of a double take and he turns around and says you know who I am. And the waiter says now, he said I'm Joe Theismann. I'm the quarterback of the Washington Redskins, we just won the Super Bowl. I'm the reason everybody's here today. And the waiter without skipping a beat says to him, you know who I am. And 1000s says Now he said, I'm the guy in charge of the butter. And that's all you're getting. It was less than in being humble. And today I am an insurance dude.Craig Pretzinger:
Insurance dudes are on a mission to escape being handcuffed by our agents.Jason Feltman:
How? by uncovering the secrets to creating a predictable, consistent and profitable agency Sales Machine.Craig Pretzinger:
Hi, I'm Craig Pretzinger.Jason Feltman:
I am Jason Feldman. We are agents. We our insurance. Oh, I'm so funny. Wow. I love that he kept with that, thatEric Yaverbaum:
that particular day. And you know, when I was younger, and you know, I've been around fame and fortune my entire career. You know, I'm a little bit starstruck I'm, I'm a kid. That was a big honor for me to be at that table. It was when he started his speech that that particular day, he told the story of literally what had just happened at the table, which everybody thought was hilarious. That'sCraig Pretzinger:
so cool. flipped around and worked in the what had just happened. Yes, it's fantastic. Yeah. Thinking on his feet. You know, I saw Joe. He spoke he was a keynote at an insurance thing that I went to in New York, I don't know, probably eight years ago, but he was really good. He he did this thing about like everything changes in one instant and he snapped his finger. It was really good. I'm sure if you've know him, then you've probably seen that speech. ButEric Yaverbaum:
right now I don't I you know, I don't know him. I just know he beats or did when he played my giants on a regular basis. That's about it besides that meal. Well,Craig Pretzinger:
so. So Eric, for folks who don't know you and haven't heard of you what tell us about a little bit about yourself a little background? And are you kidding? I mean, you know, there's only a couple.Eric Yaverbaum:
I'm Eric Yavar bomb. Nobody's ever heard of me. And you can't spell my last name. I'm Yeah. PR agency for 42 years in New York City sold my first one went to work for Wall Street who bought may didn't really like Wall Street. It wasn't my thing. Left, I worked on the transition team between Bush and Obama administrations. And then I started started the agency that I run now I also write books. I've written seven. I'm a New York Times bestselling author and cool.Craig Pretzinger:
Awesome. I love that. So so I'm assuming a book just released? What's it talking about?Eric Yaverbaum:
I do have a new book coming out. Okay. My biggest book was leadership secrets of the world's most successful CEOs. That book sold over a million copies. Awesome.Craig Pretzinger:
Congratulations. Thank you so much. Super. Our first will drop in January. Ah, so I can appreciate how much effort and time that took to do seven of them. Yeah,Eric Yaverbaum:
I'm never going to stop there is not I thought and I all of my clients, I insist I tell them all, you must write a book. It's the best calling card you'll ever have the amount of attention that you get for it. You know, I've been in the news for 40 years, I believe one of the biggest reasons that I've been I mean, I've done some interesting stuff. But the press in general is always interested in authors.Craig Pretzinger:
And there's a pretty high barrier to entry for that, because it's a lot of work.Eric Yaverbaum:
Oh, yeah. It's a lot of work. I mean, when I was younger, you know, I ran a very traditional PR agency when I sold it. We were ranked the fifth the best agency in the country to work for and I was also writing books when I wrote books while running a traditional PR agency. It was you know, it was a 24 hour a day sort of thing. My day job and then right right my book all night. Yeah, it's a lot of work.Craig Pretzinger:
So, so being ranked as one of the top places to work and obviously be somewhat of an expert in in This whole notion of of employees and moving employees and doing different strategies to bring people on in this crazy world that we live in now. Yeah, what kind of things did you do to create this environment that you would be ranked as one of the best places to work? Well, youEric Yaverbaum:
know, that was before this is now. But if I could get ranked again, it would be higher. Ed, I mean, seriously, the for all that I've done, I get credit for a lot of stuff. I mean, newspapers and magazines, right about man, long podcast, television, and radio shows my whole career. It was never me ever, even though I get all the credit. And so he's my name is everybody that works with me, and trying to create an environment that works for all of us, so that we can actually enjoy what we do for a living, because it's always been important to me. I mean, I learned that as a kid, I've been doing it for four decades. And, you know, fast forward to today, you know, it's a different workplace there. Contrary to what, you know, investment banks would like you to believe, or, you know, even the fortune 500, the notion of the Monday to Friday, nine to five work week is it's over? It's, we're never going to we're not doing that anymore. Right? Oh, you know, while everybody's trying to figure out, so what are we going to do? You know, some companies are doing, you know, hybrid, some companies are operating completely virtual, and some people, some companies are saying, No, you have to come back to work, or you'll lose your job. The companies that are saying, you'll have to come back to work, or you'll lose your job, people are saying, Okay, I'll pass on my job. And that's just literally what's happening. So, you know, what do you do as an employer to make an environment that works for everybody, because this entire new workforce, and you know, my, in my career, you know, I manage kids in their 20s 30s 40s 50s, when they're becoming adults, 60s, and, you know, the new generation, they're not, they don't want to commute to work every day, they don't want to have to get, you know, dressed for work every day, they, and they did find that during the pandemic, depending on what industry you were in, they could actually do their jobs, they could do it. Well, they could do it virtually, and get as much if not more done. And you know, knowing that they're not going to want to come back. And I, to me, that's understandable. And again, it does depend on what industry you're in. Yeah,Jason Feltman:
super interesting conversation, we had a very similar one recently. And it's funny, because it's like, not to the fault of anyone, right? That was one of the topics was like, it's not to the fault of anyone that 2020 20 happen. It's not like, you know, businesses did not decide, hey, we can only work from home for a long time. And then, you know, employees didn't even really decide that then they were stuck in those situations. And now, you know, being back into a situation where, hey, we're coming back into the office, a lot of people got used to that you can't just take that away from somebody, even though the business didn't decide that it is what happened there. And there can't be a finger pointing here. It just is what it is. And how do we move on or create?Eric Yaverbaum:
Well, yeah, it's a, you know, I think it's kind of an under covered an under covered issue, in particular, in New York City, where we have, you know, 40 45% vacancy rates in Cameroon. You know, with commercial real estate, the reason that we have that is because people aren't going back to work. My agency, you know, we had the, I would say esteem honor of working with one Vanderbilt, which is a brand new building, you know, in the city that was, you know, finished construction. During the pandemic. It's 100 Beautiful floors of corporate America, considered the most, it's the most expensive commercial real estate in Manhattan. It's the addresses prestigious, the building is beautiful. And I would just go Florida, Florida, Florida floor and see what what's corporate America building, this is during the pandemic, and they were all they were building spacesuits, you know, office space, like I've never seen before. The vast majority of it was clearly planning for a hybrid, you know, workforce to come in some days not come in some days.Craig Pretzinger:
What what kind of things were you seeing when you said they were building things that hadn't been seen? Well, it'sEric Yaverbaum:
just you know, the Yeah, I mean, look, I grew up in a world where I have a, I have an office with the door and right, a conference room and everything in my office stays in my office when I leave. And it's all there the next day offices, they're not being built that way anymore. Right.Craig Pretzinger:
beanbags and basketball hoops. Wow.Eric Yaverbaum:
I had beanbags and basketball. That I mean, I, I did start a company so I could wear sneakers to work. And that is not an exaggeration, that is literal. But you know, the good thing about it was, you know, in our particular case, I'm running, you know, public relations agency. Its national, we had offices in the west coast and on the East Coast, we did close both offices, and we've been virtual ever since. The interesting thing about that, and the transition in the pandemic, pandemic was crazy. None of us ever seen anything like this in our lives in so many different ways, including professionally. And, you know, working and as an employer, we had to make, you know, some pretty quick decisions, because we got some lady overhead, that can't even be used, what it what do you do with it? In our particular case, and by the way, this is not, you know, not a unique story. But, you know, growing up as an employer in New York, we always had some, we called Summer Fridays, summer Fridays, were basically finished. If your workshop done, you can leave, you know, in the middle of the day on Friday, and go wherever you're going for the weekend. If your works done, you know, cell phones came around laptops came around technology, the proliferation of technology. And, you know, we sort of morphed a little bit into, and we're, you know, my current agency, and we've been doing this for almost 20 years, you had to come in, you had to come in the office three days a week, this is long before anybody was, you know, talking about do you come back to work, you not come back to work. So we were set up to be to do this to do this virtually. And a work. I mean, for my particular agency, you know, we grew and we dropped a ton of rent, you know, from two big office spaces on the east and west coast. But then you get to the issue of what Okay, so productivity, how is everybody do that? Because everybody's, you know, it's, you got to be very disciplined if you're going to, if you're going to work from home. Yeah, that's one issue. And some people are very, you know, driven, they like, a lot, they get a lot done, I could see productivity go way up. But what I can also see, which has always concerned me, you know, isolation, and, you know, the whole notion of nobody's we're not hanging out at the, you know, the water cooler, can't just drop in the office of, you know, you can't stop by my office, you can't have a 10 minute conversation with me, that might be construed as me being a mentor, which I actually believe mentors are very important. So how do you make up for that, and most importantly, is, you know, people's mental well being and then that nut project that I mentioned, the one Vanderbilt, um, that was being they finished construction of that building. In the first year of the pandemic, we helped to open a project called Summit, which everybody, Google it, anybody come into your checkout Summit, it's cool. So, so that we were there every day. So we did get out. And we do a lot of events. So we do get out. I think if everybody who worked for me was at home 100% of the time, it wouldn't be great for their mental well being I think I think it is important to get out I think it is important to socialize a little bit. And I think it is important to be around other people. But it doesn't mean that you have to go back to the you know, the old days in the traditional, you know, workspace, which there's not represent a lot of developers in Manhattan, nobody will love that. I said that. Because everybody we want to bring people back. I mean, cities get hurt. I mean, my city definitely gets hurt. When you have 40% Less people commuting in every day to buy their coffee to maybe shop before they go home and have lunch go to a restaurant, or that's 40% down because we got you know, less people in the city. And you know, we got a lot of vacant, office space, trafficCraig Pretzinger:
There's no button. Nobody in the history of New York ever said traffic was better.Jason Feltman:
Well, what are some of the antidotes to say that? Well, IEric Yaverbaum:
do think, you know, I look to me what we have, which is unique, just gonna be different for every single solitary company. I think what we got is magical. I mean, my people love it. They are more efficient, the business has grown, the clients get more done for them. Everybody's happy. But you can't do that. You know, in every industry. There is an issue of attract that you want to attract the best and the brightest, the best and the brightest. A lot of them are like me. Yeah, I'm not coming into an office five days a week. So if you want to appeal to them, you better have some flexibility built into your workplace. And some people do I think that more people have Uh, I have no intention ever of opening offices, again, it works this way for us. But you know, I think the vast majority will have some sort of hybrid, you know, come in a couple days a week, two, three days a week, so that there is a touch base, but I go into these big offices, you know, that, you know, in the old days, everybody had their fancy offices, all the senior executives, and it's not like that anymore. You're, you're sharing a desk, because you're not, you know, you pack up your laptop, you go home, right? Pictures of your family, or, you know, whatever it is, offices look different than they used to look, well, it usedCraig Pretzinger:
to store all your stuff to and now all your stuffs on that laptop, it doesn't matter, right? Like all you move to a different. So it's pretty interesting how like, that's, you know, there was no computer at one point, and you probably could do the same thing, then there was a computer, but you're kind of anchored. Now. It's well,Eric Yaverbaum:
I mean, well, I mean, we were out, you know, for for as long as I've been in business, I've always been, you know, we're Mac based except for accounting. And as you should be. Yeah. Everybody's has laptops now. And I even remember, like, you know, September 11, which was, for me, that was our view. We watched, we watched it all. But I remember while that was all going on, you know, trying to figure out okay, Damn, what what do I do? I'm responsible for everybody here. I got terrorist attack going on down the street. What do I do with my people? And I won, but I mean, we came up with, you know, our own little system. So we could make sure that we were taking care of everybody and everybody could get home. But I remember thinking one by one, as people would walk out of the office, is it really counseled me to say, take your laptop with you? And I didn't I because I did feel that way. I mean, you know, right. It was the end of the world that bringCraig Pretzinger:
the deck hurry, you gotta finish.Eric Yaverbaum:
But it you know, in Manhattan, they closed the southern part of the city for a long time. My agency is two blocks north of where they closed, we got to go back in. I mean, after give or take a week, if if we were if we had been south of Canal Street, everything in my entire company, I would not have been able to get to nobody would have been able to get their computers. And we would have been. So no, I mean,Craig Pretzinger:
how many hundreds or 1000s of companies did that? And you know that that did happen to the wild? Yeah.Jason Feltman:
Yeah. That is crazy. Yeah. When when the pandemic hit, you know, I'm in California. So definitely different situation. But when it when it was the day to go home, that's what we did. But it was a totally different situation than than yours. Well.Eric Yaverbaum:
We did have, I mean, on the day that we said, Don't come in, or how I don't even remember how that exactly work. Everybody didn't have their laptops, we needed to get the laptops to everybody, because I knew that I didn't know for how long but I had a pretty good, you know, idea that it might be a while. So we had to make, you know, we had to figure out ways to get that meant somebody had to go in somebody had and you know, nobody wanted to see anybody everybody was, you know, camping out in their own space. But so you know, it, it didn't come without its challenges. And you know, we had a lot of people sick, including May, but we made a work. And what I always say, you know about that time, but it wasn't a matter what the time is that? You know, if ever there was a time to figure out how to make it work as a good time to figure it out and make it work if you wanted to get paid.Jason Feltman:
Yeah. Yeah, I remember we, as soon as they told us we literally I told my old staff, like 15 of us we're all going home and I said take your laptop or take your computers. And we'll just work from home I in to your point. Yeah, they said two weeks, but it was like you're they're not shutting down football stadiums. And then two weeks later, go you know what, right? Let's cool. We can go back.Craig Pretzinger:
There was a money pit two weeks.Eric Yaverbaum:
Yeah, I had a pretty good idea that that was going to last for a while then. Yeah, yeah. No idea. It would last as long as it did. Right. have any idea how, you know, how many people would be down in my office? You know, getting COVID when everybody was? We were all pretty freaked out in the beginning. I mean, I had a bad case of COVID. Right. Getting when nobody knew you know, was that? Yeah, doCraig Pretzinger:
whatever build it when they say Putting the structures up around all the like cashiers with wood and bolts and plexiglass. I'm like, this is this is not a temporary deal. Yeah,Eric Yaverbaum:
but you know what? I mean? Look, we made it through, you know, I don't want to curse all of our luck. But in retrospect, we got through it. I mean, in the beginning, you know, that when they were asking everybody to stay at home, I was like, I can, I could stay at home in my nice place sitting on my couch. I mean, I'm not going. I'm not going to combat in a war. I'm going home. Right? I still have air conditioning, I still got a frigerator. So leaked on what it seemed to me to be not such a not such an awful thing, you know, to be doing. What questions in everybody's mind about? So how are we going to make this work? Now, we didn't really have them because we had been doing, you know, we we've been using technology for so many years to be able to work remotely. To us, it wasn't such a big deal.Jason Feltman:
Yeah, and it's a good, it's a good thing to look back. Because I mean, going forward, that's not going to be the only time that something's going to happen. So I mean, I think going forward in the future, especially with AI and everything else that's coming into play, it's like, how do we get better? How do we move fast, like we did during that time and, and equip our teams with the tools to be able to handle any situation? Yeah,Eric Yaverbaum:
you also have a lot of companies that, you know, that were born, you know, in a pandemic, and so they were born a lot is like, you know, I was born in, you know, in a traditional nine to five, or, you know, in my case, more like 7am to midnight environment. But, you know, that not the whole notion of that's not an ally companies were born. I mean, if you're, if you're running a company or started a company, and you're under five years old, you were born in a different era. So you know, it, you know, it's like the generation you know, we were joking about technology before we went on the air here. A whole generation that was born digital, I wasn't born digital, I need I need all the kids around to help me figure out how to do use all the technology, but as long as we use all the technology, you know, then then we can work this way and it is appealing. You know, it's one way you attract people definitely and it's also can be, you know, kind of a buzzkill to somebody who wants to go and work somewhere and you say, Well, you got to come in Yeah,