The Future of Commercial Insurance with Randy Schwantz | Ep. 8

Technology can replace many of the functions of an insurance agent, and Siri and Alexa can find information and quotes in seconds. However, clients will always want an educated human to validate the information they find online, and to have a human relationship they can trust.

Commercial insurance agencies will always have to hire, train, and manage producers, and these basic functions mark the biggest difference between outstanding and mediocre agencies. Producers must be vetted and hired with the utmost care.

Join me as I discuss the future of commercial insurance on my podcast, Uncaptive Agency: The Future of Insurance, with Randy Schwantz, commercial insurance coach and best-selling author of “The Wedge."

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Tony Caldwell:

Hi, I'm Tony Caldwell, and welcome to this episode of the Uncaptive Agent where we're talking about the future of insurance and specifically, the future of insurance distribution. And this morning, I have my guest Ross Thornley. Ross is coming to us from London in the United Kingdom. And so he and I are separated. I'm at the beginning of my day, he's at the end of his day, but we have one thing in common, we just had eggs. So welcome, Ross.

Ross Thornley:

Great to be here. Thanks, Tony.

Tony Caldwell:

I'm so delighted to have you. So Ross and I are acquainted through a strategic coaching program called the Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan is our coach and we're in a program called Free Zone Frontier together. And that's how we became acquainted. And on a call a couple months ago now, we were sharing back and forth through the chat and I thought it'd wonderful to have Ross on. Ross, you're not in the insurance business, but your business is really interesting to me, because you are seeking to find through artificial intelligence and real human intelligence, what makes people tick in the way of being adaptable. Could you talk just for a minute about what that means?

Ross Thornley:

Yeah, sure. Actually, it's interesting when you said, I'm not in the insurance business. And that made my brain think in a few ways. And I thought, "Well, am I in a strange way in terms of our adaptability as an insurance of our future?" And essentially, what we're looking to do is understand how and to what degree does an individual adapt? Why do they adapt? And when, so that we can start to then thrive in periods of uncertainty and change and challenge that we're all going through. As long as we're alive, we're going through change.

Tony Caldwell:

We're all going to change all the time, but boy, this year, 2020 has been one for the record books from the standpoint of change. Everything got completely disrupted from a normal routine in March. In your career, have you ever seen anything like this? What are the challenges people are facing right now? How is it showing up in adaptability, or lack of adaptability? What are some of the symptoms or things that you're seeing?

Ross Thornley:

I think to cover a couple of interesting points there is that many of us has faced interesting challenges in our lives good and bad. What's quite unique about this situation, another acquaintance of ours, Nick Nanton described it, that we're all in the same storm. We're not in the same boat, because we've all got different boats, but we're in the same storm. So what's uniquely interesting about how people adapt, is for some, this is an exciting time, is a time of discovering, a time of innovation, time of opportunity, for others it's an incredible time of fear, of anxiety, of uncertainty. And there's not necessarily black and white that can happen on even a daily basis, let alone weekly or monthly or uniquely to different industries. I think what I'm seeing is an area that I'm describing is like the three Bs, there's burnout, there's breakdown and there's boredom.

And so what generally happens when something is turned upside down, when an environment shifts such as it has, the way in which we conduct business, or the way in which we have gone about our lives, whether that's travel. We used to every quarter see each other in Chicago and now we're transported via Zoom, a lot of the time. Whereas to get one job done, we've had to adapt certain things. So where we have a breakdown for example, is something where an adaption hasn't functioned, hasn't worked. So an environmental shift or a desired goal or change, and then it breaks down because it no longer serves us, it no longer works, it's no longer possible. So it may be for many of us, we had a view of how tomorrow would be and it could be someone's bad day if they go out to start the car and the car doesn't start. So their whole day could be set very different to how they visioned. So in adaptability terms, what's our resilience? Do we bounce back to that very quickly?

Does it take a long time, or are we still talking about it at the dinner table in the evening? Or we dealt with it, we managed to call a taxi and off we went. We got resilience to overcome that. Maybe something for example in adaptability, grit. There's a difference between resilience and grit. This is passion and perseverance over the long term. So it might be that appointment that I was going to have, I was going to come to Chicago, I was going to spend time with Tony and all my friends to develop my business further and the flight was no longer happening. Do I try and find another route or Zoom? Is that good enough? What about time zones? Do I keep going and have a way of thinking flexibly to overcome that challenge to get the outcome that I'm looking for? And I might have to unlearn certain things. So another important aspect is that, "Oh, that's the way always did it." I always got on the plane, I did my preparation beforehand, I used the flight, I did my homework.

And equally when I was flying back, that's when I let it resonate, when I let myself reflect, how can I unlearn those processes that I had to think about doing that experience in a different way? And so what we're seeing, the sort of breakdown of expectation and a breakdown of things that did work before and having to find new routes, new ways, new pathways to overcome them. And one or the other, just quickly components talking about hope. And we actually measure hope. And our original thinking was this was a trait, a characteristic. Someone is either optimistic or pessimistic, or they have hope. But actually, the more we're getting involved in it, the more of the science and psychology behind it is that this is trainable. This is something that you can improve your level of hope.

And so that you have this kind of freedom and agency and willingness to act, you have this sense of a pathway, a strategy in order to have hope. And without hope, generally, there is no future. So I think what we're seeing that breakdown is when something doesn't have a future taken away from us, or we choose it, we say, "I'm not going to do that anymore." And in terms of burnout, burnout is an interesting one because the sense of overwork, overwhelm as a system, we've had many things at breaking point. And then there's been a burnout, a burnout for individuals. And we're seeing right now, whilst our work environment has shifted, burnout might not be the way we're doing work, but it could be the context now that we're homeschooling and we're having to deal with family around, we're having new situations and new things happen, where our plan for our wealth, our plan for our future is suddenly come into question.

And therefore, am I going off in lots of spirals working in all sorts of different areas, my social life that might burn out relationships, that I'm suddenly in the same home as my family day in day out when I used to go to the office. How are we dealing with that? So I'll just take a pause there, because there's lots of... I'm so passionate about this subject, I can talk for a long time about it.

Tony Caldwell:

Well, as I was listening to you talk, obviously, adaptability, or the lack of it has a lot to do with your success in your personal life, not to mention professional life. So I'm really seeing that and I appreciate you sort of breaking down some of the legs, if you will. And I want to come back to hope, because I'm really curious about that in just a minute. But I'd like to just explore or ask this question. So I think everybody's heard about emotional intelligence, we all know about technical knowledge or excellence, we know about the value in terms of work, let's say, of hard work, of perseverance and long hours, and all those kinds of things in terms of contributing to success. And then there's luck, of course. But in your research, how important is this idea of adaptability to long term success in business?

Ross Thornley:

I think a lot of the information is showing that this is one of the most important things for success in all areas, whether that's mental health, social or workplace achievement, because it's the ability to take in new information and data and respond accordingly. So, the opportunity is that which present themselves by either discovery and curiosity, or by the slap in the face. What we do at that point describes our future. And it's very interesting that having high IQ and adaptability isn't about always being adaptable. We see this sort of phrase, "Oh, it's being flexible. It's going with the flow. It's being the water." Well, sometimes you're the rock. Adaptability is about the environment around you, but the water goes around you. So you might need to adapt your industry or adapt a behavior of a community to a better way, rather than you necessarily adapting to it. And that's where... It's where all change comes from. Was it George Bernard Shaw? All change comes from the unreasonable man.

You have to consider something unreasonable in order to desire to change it. So it's both intrinsic as an individual and extremes it in terms of our team, our organization and our industry, which is trying to adapt to what point? So our success to influence that externally and internally is what future is about and prosperity and wealth in terms of being able to effectively do that.

Tony Caldwell:

So a lot of businesses are undergoing change, not just because of corona, but because of technology and just general advances, everything's faster, more virtual, the insurance agency business, and I'm sure it's true in the UK, just as it is true in the United States, is undergoing a lot of fundamental change. It's really an industry that's probably 125 years old, independent insurance agents representing many carriers taking care of clients based on relationship and choice and all that kind of thing. And really not much has changed in a century other than we went from handwriting to typewriters to word processing equipment. But the fundamentals of the business really haven't changed. So today, those changes are coming very, very rapidly. Technology is speeding everything up, but it's also making people who were really focused on transactional business, doing things over and over again quickly, they're going to be out priced in the marketplace by algorithms, at the same time tools like Zoom, I mean geography doesn't have the limiting impact that it once had, so there's a huge opportunity.

So my thesis is that the next three to five years are going to be radically transformative for many people, and then others who don't transform will have to exit the business, or be faced with a shrinking future rather than growing future. So all this means that one way or another, you have to change and adapt. And so if I'm an insurance agency owner and I'm looking at this future, five years and saying, "Hey, I've got to make some changes." And you say, Some of this is environmental and I'm the rock, some of it I've got to deal with myself." But how do I make sure that the team around me has the right adaptability quotient, as you described it, so that we can make the journey together and come out the other side successfully?

Ross Thornley:

It's a really key point, Tony. And I think... I'm not an insurance industry expert, but this transcends many industries, in terms of the technological displacement. And what generally happens that we've seen is inset of the immune system to protect. This is how individuals, teams, organizations in the 20th century have grown. They will do a development of innovation and then every innovation thereafter, is about productivity and efficiency. It was about how do we extend the life of that proposition, either over time, or by scope and geography? So we're doing the same thing, but more of it. And we're doing it leaner. And a lot of the systems, the governance, the risk protocols for how to adopt change, how to leverage change was set up for that. What we're facing now that you described is this exponential world, where we have algorithms that can do underwriting, that can do risk analysis, that can do payouts instantly, more accurately than individuals can. It's been coming a while, but now it's super accessible.

You have companies that I've seen and been exposed to, companies like lemonade.com for example, where the shift of the human interface versus getting the job done, what is it that I'm after? And it's of course, nuanced depending on whether it's something as transactional as insuring an inanimate object to life, to all of the other aspects. And I think what I've seen and to answer your question about what does your team need to be thinking? How do your team need to be behaving to make sure you're the one that adapts and survives, not the one that dies? Because it truly is adapt or die time. And it's not slow death either, it's sudden. The difference was it might have taken years or generations for that slow death. Now we're facing a period where death can come very, very quickly for a proposition, for a company, for an organization if it doesn't respond. So understanding this recognition of the immune system that comes up and says, "That's not the way we do it here.

That's not how we've done this." Whether it's adopting this new software piece, this new piece of technology, this new way of thinking, but that hasn't helped us be successful, we didn't need it in the past, why do we need it before? When it comes in, we're trying to predict, we're trying to protect the system. Kodak trying to protect their film business, their paper processing in terms of that business versus digital. What we need to encourage within our teams is curiosity. We need to encourage rapid experimentation. And so that when we're doing these experiments, we're open to getting a result that will be different to perhaps the one we got yesterday, so that we can take on that new information so that we build in this culture of team support to say, what have we tried in the last 72 hours?

What are we going to try again next week? What did we try last week? What's changed? What's still the same? What could we do differently, so that we have this kind of balance between a business as usual, team that is about protecting, and what we're trying to think about now is companies of saying, "We want those same people to think about the Moonshot Innovation, to think about what's coming next, horizon two and three. And it's very different, the mindset, the structure of those sorts of things. So my encouragement is to give your team phases where they can have that playground. It used to be called the sandboxes, where radical innovation was done. That now is no longer good enough. It can't be an innovation department, it can't be someone else, everyone has to be involved in looking at ways that they can experiment and improve what they're doing by imagining new things, not necessarily just looking at productivity and efficiency, imagining how they might show up in the future.

Tony Caldwell:

So insurance agencies are typically relatively small businesses. They're not 1000s of people typically, right? Sometimes they're half a dozen people working in a small team, or maybe a couple of dozen people in an exceptional case. And you have really three kinds of people. You have administrative people, you have service people, and you have sales people. And increasingly what we're seeing is that, for agencies to be successful they really need to be sales organizations, which means that a big chunk of the employees who have historically seen their role as nurture, taking care of client relationships, nurturing, have to shift into a more of a sales role where they're also responsible for revenue creation. So this is very uncomfortable for nurturers. And what it really means is that there's a group of people who probably have a limited future in the business just by virtue of their own skill set in orientation.

And what I'm hearing you say is that, in addition to that, this idea that I have to be adaptable, I have to be imaginative, I have to be risk taking to be successful in a role, whatever it is inside of business for the future, that's a whole new set of skills or hard wiring. And so I'm setting up a question here, which is, we're really used to in our industry, using assessments, personality assessments, skill assessments, all those kinds of things to help put people in the right spot. But if I'm a small business guy, entrepreneurial, I want to have adaptable people on my staff, interviewing folks, I don't think I can get that in an interview. So how do I figure that out so I get the right person the first time?

Ross Thornley:

Yeah. I think they're really important points to note. The question in a moment, because you covered a couple of really important points there, in terms of people are already facing the need to change. Whether, "Oh, I'm a nurturer and now I'm under pressure to go and be a hunter." And I'm feeling that, I'm anxious. So it's not who I am. It's not my identity. It's not my character. But do I have to do that in order for me to survive or my company to survive? And the answer for me is quite an interesting one, because it depends on your goal and on your context. If you're ready and done and you're just wanting to come to an endpoint, then probably not up for the fight. So look for a route out that gives you a thank you and move on. Let room for others. If you're up for the fight, realize that you're going to have to train. You're going to have to retrain, because whilst you played sports on the field and you were great, you had all the skills and you were winning it, that field has now turned to water.

So all the kit, everything you were wearing, all the tools you had, aren't going to serve you anymore. So where you are great at nurturing, all of those sorts of things, even nurturing in water is different. Sales in water is different. So rather than trying to think everyone can rapidly and radically shift overnight to that. Chris Voss piece, low risk stakes practice. So give the people the opportunity, maybe when they're thinking about those experiments and various bits too, be a salesperson for the day, be a hunter for a day. In a five day week, try it on. Learn from those experiences, not saying you have to be this right now and everyday being a salesperson. Use your nurturing for the four days and put one day into that and slowly move that transition. But know that if you're not starting and not supporting or providing the environment at which they can do that, the likelihood is that your choice will be taken away, death will come for you not on your terms.

So the point is, is to make this on your terms. And to come to your point of how do you know who can do this and who can't. First of all for me, I have a fundamental belief that everyone can adapt, is just a level at which they can and how they approach it. So if I don't know, Tony, that you may be motivated by a burning platform, or a burning ambition, my communication to you in my team might horrifically miss the mark. "Oh, Tony, we're going to do this new initiative, because we're going to have all this gain." And yet you're motivated to play not to lose, you're not motivated to win, you're motivated play not to lose. And that's very different. "Ah, we're going to do this new initiative because it will help maintain what you currently like, Tony." Wouldn't that be great? Rather than... And so just simple things of knowing someone's motivation style to the way in which they adapt, can help you communicate with them. The same way when you're assessing people. So we built this assessment tool to measure adaptability. We do it across 15 dimensions.

And each of these are scientifically looking at what's the emotional health, what's the level of stress, what's the environment? We talked about it earlier, hope. All of these things are components of our adaptability quotient, when we know it, we can then start to talk about the language, we can understand it and we can improve it. So a key difference to perhaps they might have experienced other personality assessments that categorize people. Put them in a box and it never changes. We love Colby, our strategic coach six, four, seven, three, they're my numbers, and it never changes. The difference with AQ is it's like you're weighing scales, I can stand on the scales and it shows me where the needle is. And I can say, "Oh, I'm 30 pounds, or I'm 300 pounds." Until you know other information, you don't know whether that's good or bad. Am I a two year old baby, am I a 40 year old woman? Am I wanting to do this? Am I a sumo wrestler? Am I a long distance marathon runner?

So in the insurance industry and in any job, what's your context and where are you at? What level of adaptability is required for you to thrive? For your team to thrive? What is the period of disruption? Are you in this deceptive phase, or is it all hell's broken loose and you need to really get with the program or risk being irrelevant? So understanding the context, the goal of where you want to be in that, and then that can start to uncover well, who do I need on my team? Who's already on my team? And how can I help them evolve to be the people that I require to play the new game?

Tony Caldwell:

So this is a coaching tool, as well as a selection tool.

Ross Thornley:

100%. Yeah. The selection process, it's more of an awareness to then improve. Like I said about weight. You might select it only knowing the goal, like height, but playing basketball, or doing Limbo, the same is true. Within your business know where you want to be and what you want to do, what your goals are, and select accordingly from within and externally to be the set up for what you need to achieve. And it's this ability to maybe realize what got us here, won't get us there. And I don't mean just people, I mean the way people behave.

Tony Caldwell:

Right. So are there people that just aren't adaptable that just won't, can't adapt?

Ross Thornley:

I think there are, and they exist in the morgue. The reality of people not adapting are dead. If you're alive, you're adapting. The level of your adaptability is then in truth. So I don't think there are people that aren't adaptable. We can hear a bit of music, changes the way we feel, think or behave, we can meet somebody, we can read a book, we can see a film and we'll adapt our way of thought. Some of it might be deeper set and harder to do and some of is about timing. For many, oh, the world is flat and they need certain information to tell us the world is round.

There're still people alive today that believe the world is still flat and not round. So each person needs different triggers and different information in order to adapt. So we might say, "Ah, this is the future, Tony, AI is the future." For you it might be that AI is completely irrelevant like some people believing the world is round, or the world is flat. So I think everyone is adaptable. As soon as we start to know and report and measure, then we've got a benchmark to work from. Otherwise, it's just a dark room and we're stabbing in the dark.

Tony Caldwell:

So I want to come back to hope. Thank you. You mentioned that earlier, and you said that hope isn't static and you implied that hope can be nurtured, developed, trained, coached. I had a conversation recently, yesterday with a young man who has a pessimistic look, in view of life. Life has reinforced that for him. He isn't... I wouldn't say hopeless, but he's not very hopeful. And it was interesting, because he would bring something up and I would say, "But that's not right." And give him examples where other people have overcome things. And what it rapidly became clear to me was that he had a mindset issue. His mindset was fundamentally pessimistic and negative, based on his experience. And so inspiration was what was required to help him think differently. We've actually had a conversation now over a period of days, and he's coming back and he's going, "Wait, you made me think about this." And then he asks questions. So what it tells me is that he can change his mindset.

And I believe that. And if that's what hope is based on, well, that's incredibly powerful, because people who are hopeless, really aren't ever going to go anywhere and probably don't have any adaptability. So how do you coach hope in the people on your team, knowing that there's a lot of homelessness right now in the world? Corona was supposed to be... We were supposed to have solution months ago, and it was supposed to be as bad as it is, and it's coming back, who knows how long it's going to last. And many people have lost their jobs, lost their future, or they think they have. They think they have. So how do we do that as leaders? How do we coach hope?

Ross Thornley:

It's a great, great question. And one where I think there's a huge opportunity. So without getting too sciency to cover off a couple of bits. So the optimism and pessimism piece is different to hope. And optimism, in one sense is looking at information and saying, I believe something or not. That's one component of hope. So that agency component of hope, is about having the belief, but also having the will and also having this freedom of choice. Hopelessness is you've removed the freedom, you've removed the choice. I feel I don't have a choice in that. So I'm lacking the agency component of that. What can happen over time is that our corrosion of belief, of choice, of freedom, of willingness can be corroded through external inputs. Take the media for example. A media is something that feeds the amygdala, it feeds this desire for negativity. It's how we're hardwired. And it gets a response.

So constantly bombarded by fearful negative kind of information that drives a society that's more pessimistic than optimistic. So the first thing we can do to train and coach hope, is to give information of optimistic information that will feed our agency and willingness and belief that something is possible and give us the permission to choose some of those things happening. Then we have another component, which is about some of the capabilities that we have in order that we've got this vision of something, we've got agency, and then we've got another component there, which is the kind of capabilities in order to do this. And for me, what we can do is share success, we can share gratitude and we can also do small, little exercises built in one way similar to resilience. And this is about doors closed, doors opened. So when we face a situation, often the first thing we see is the door that's just closed. And we're not able to perhaps in that moment, realize that another one opened.

So if we list out, what's all the things that have now changed, what's all the things that have stayed the same? What door has closed? What door is open? So if I come back to the story of traveling, coming to see your coach every 90 days, that door closed. Flights were said no longer possible. So, "Ah, am I now got no hope? Am I hopeless? What's happening?" The doors that opened, I've just gained 10 hours of in flight time. Each way.

Tony Caldwell:

Right.

Ross Thornley:

Let alone the travel to the airports, all of those sorts of things. So a door open for me is now freedom of time in between those moments that we spent time together. So whilst the door closed that I can't physically be there, I can't do all of those things, door opened of, "Hey, I can get a decent night's sleep. Oh, I don't have to eat airport food. What do I do now? I'll spend an extra bit of time with my wife." And so I think about all the things that have opened, start to give me positive thought and hope of about a better outcome. What the challenge is for the team is to link it back to that initial vision. So I might go, "Oh, great, I've got loads of great time, I'll go on a dog walk instead of doing it." That's not helping me to my vision of spending time with Tony and working on my business. So I need to look at not only doors that are open that are nice, but what ones are now open that still help me make progress to my vision.

And sometimes we need help with that. So this is where the team support comes in. So when we do a doors opened and doors closed exercise, do it collaboratively, do it with others. Say, "Ah, this has happened. This is the situation, this is how I'm seeing these things, can you help me see some other doors that have opened or other pathways to solve and get closer to my vision?"

Tony Caldwell:

One of the things we've done in our company is what we used to have, monthly or sometimes every other month, company meetings and we would always start with a positive focus and talk about the good things that have happened and why and celebrate those things and talk about gratitude. And with the arrival of COVID and retreating to our homes and not seeing each other every day, we began to do this weekly. And it's been really interesting in terms of the culture shift, or the deepening of the cultures, what I would say because of the reinforcement. And so the intentional effort to create hope. I remember back three or four months ago, when the massive layoffs were happening all over the world. We were able to say, "Look, our business, that's not going to happen. And here's the reasons it's not going to happen. And so don't worry about that, set that aside so you can focus on what's next."

And so it showed me the real value of immediacy, repetition in terms of inculcating or putting into people hope not even knowing where their level was individually. It's like, "Okay, feed it, feed it, feed it." And so I guess the corollary to that would be that if as leaders we don't feed hope, we should assume it will starve.

Ross Thornley:

Completely. And nobody wants hopeless people. When our usefulness goes, we start to look for solutions to that, that are potentially in dark places. They end up in severe mental health challenges, depressions, and potentially choices that are not constructive to a positive future. So, as individuals of captains of our future self and also of the people around us, it's our absolute responsibility to feed hope. And what you mentioned about positive focus, that's feeding hope, that's looking for things that give people hope. Having gratitude focus, are a great thing to overcome when we feel uncertain, when we feel fear, when we're facing the business that might have changed, oh, this industry is shifting so quickly, how can I keep up? This is the way I did it and now that's no longer working anymore. And I've got to go and do sales. And I've got to do... As you mentioned, these various different activities. Is that sometimes it might be that you're not the person to do that, but you might be the person that could identify who is and it comes to another Dan Sullivan piece of who, not how.

Tony Caldwell:

Right.

Ross Thornley:

Who might we need to collaborate with in our businesses? It might not be just one of our team or getting another team person? Who could we collaborate with in terms of adjacent industries, or other capabilities? Who could we collaborate with that will help us solve some of these things so that we can thrive in this new environment? And think even beyond an individual. It could be that that who is a piece of software.

Tony Caldwell:

Ah, yeah.

Ross Thornley:

Is a provider that, "Ah, that was the enemy. That's the thing our immune system was protecting against the AI because it's taking this from us?" What if it was thought of as your new team member? What if it was thought of as something you could then leverage as part of your collaborations for you to do what you want to do in your vision. And it's just that subtle shift that might then give you hope, that your future is possible.

Tony Caldwell:

So let's just talk about that for just a moment, then. Because that's really, as I understand it, foundational to your business, which is the use of artificial intelligence to help coach, leaders and ordinary people alike, to improve their adaptability, their helpfulness, all these component pieces. So how does that work?

Ross Thornley:

So, it's a great thing isn't it? That we recognize that there's this huge technological disruption. And we're facing high, high levels of unemployment. Corona being one cause of that, but technological disruption being another massive cause of employment change. And not just about up skilling to get better at what we do, but needing to rescale and retrain and have different careers than we had before. So we face not having maybe multiple jobs, but having multiple careers. And what we've looked at within this is... Our assessments are done via a conversational chat bot. So it's quite technically advanced in its use, than having this sort of survey fatigue, "Oh, it's another survey, another set of questions." If you go and have a conversation with an expert, it's a conversation with your doctor, with an insurance broker, you're having conversation, you're picking up all the bits of data and information from your years of experience. What we wanted to do with adaptability was be able to pick up all of these little subtle pieces through conversation that can form an accurate reflection of an individual's current state, where they are at the moment.

And we do measure their environment because our environment has a huge impact. I might be highly adaptable in this environment, or go into another team, or another organization, I might go up or down. It's a bit like, with the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Same is true in our adaptability. I can influence people's adaptability by changing their team, changing who they're around, the company that they're in. They might be highly adaptable at home or not. No, dinner's always at six o'clock, children in bed at nine o'clock. Or it's their flexibility there but not at work. "No, this is the process that we have." So we adapt in different environments in different ways. The way we want to leverage artificial intelligence is to do a couple of things. One is to predict what will happen when. So if we know currently, there's this level of mental flexibility, there's this level of unlearning, this level of helping somebody, we can start to predict what their change readiness is, and maybe what their rescale indexes.

So how much support they need, how much time they might need, in order for them to go through that change with a positive outcome. So we're starting to take the information using AI and machine learning to do that predictive analysis of what their rescale index might be in their change readiness. The next part of where we're using AI, Tony is kind of imagine Iron Man's Jarvis, we've seen lots of Sci Fi, where we have the personal assistance. And the current experiences of AI in Siri or Alexa or various things is we're asking questions and getting almost fact information. "What's the weather? Play me this music. Set this alarm, do these kind of basic things." If we all had a personal coach that understood how we learn, when we learn, how we adapt, what motivates us, it could then give a new level of personalized coaching in the moment in micro learning.

So it can take information that this is happening either in your environment, in your team, in your organization, and be able to feed you with, "Ah, this is going on, the team are all suffering from high stress, their resilience is low, I need to feed them for this hope. Here's a positivity TED Talk piece." So it can proactively start to influence you like a good friend would. "Hey, Tony, I see you're a bit down today." And you have a conversation and you then start talking about your children and a great holiday you had and all of a sudden, it's a tonic and you feel better. So for us this opportunity where giving coaching at scale is traditionally hard, what happens is it is for the elite, get it one to one with the experts. Next layer down, we get access to that digitally. And it might be digitally on mass or digitally static. So it'll be a video version of that person, but I can't interact with it.

If I want to interact with Tony Robbins, I can pay a million bucks and be one to one with him, or I can subscribe to some of his video stuff, or I can pay a few $100 and be in an old school in a massive theater with 30,000 people. But what if AI could then allow me to get, say a 60% version of Tony, that I could interact with and it responds in a Tony esque way to the questions to this has happened, what do I need to do? That's what we're using technology to try and scale coaching, so that it's personalized for everyone.

Tony Caldwell:

Gotcha. Okay. What is the one thing that I should do first to make sure that I'm helping my people be as adaptable as they can?

Ross Thornley:

I think the first thing is know your numbers. Know where your benchmark is, get an understanding of where they are. Because we're not all trained psychologists, or counselors to know what's going on for somebody. Even in the same room it's hard, let alone now where most people are working via Zooms and things like this to know are they covering up their level of fear, of anxiety, of their mental well being? Are they just one step away from being in a serious situation? And it's our responsibility as a leader to know truly where people are at. So get it assessed, whether it's with our assessment, or anywhere, start to ask questions in a safe environment. We've built it in a way that it's not trying to come across of, "Oh, are you emotionally stable?" Oh, lots of change going on, are you reaching for sharp objects?" This is a way of introducing it that is a positive one. Were going through change, we recognize that, we want to support and help you through it.

Tony Caldwell:

Okay. Okay. So obviously, if somebody is watching this and they want to learn more about adaptability quotient, we have a book, Decoding AQ, which is available on Amazon, I think and all the different media. But if somebody wants to reach out to you directly to say, "Ross, I would love to talk to you about how your company might help me get that baseline you're talking about," how would they do that?

Ross Thornley:

So there's a couple of ways. Connecting with me through LinkedIn is Ross Thornley on LinkedIn, our website is aqai.io, lots of information on various things in there. What we might be able to do, Tony is set up, if someone's curious and they want to do their own AQ assessment, we'll set you up with a special code, so that we can do that at a discount. It's like 65 bucks for an individual, but we'll be able to do something so that they can at least start their curiosity and see is this something that they feel is going to be helpful for them and their team? So we will do that, because for us our mission is to leave no one behind. That's what matters to us. It's not about the elite getting even better innovating and adapting, it's about everyone having a better future than they have today, so that we can all... All boats rising in the tide.

Tony Caldwell:

I love that vision. And I appreciate you letting everybody know how they might be able to just get their baseline and get started. I think the future is much bigger than the past. But obviously, we're going to all have to adapt in one way or another to reach that future. So, Ross Thornley, thank you so much for joining me today. It was fascinating, I've loved our conversation and look forward to following up even more as we are together routinely now on our coaching program with Strategic Coach. So I look forward to seeing you soon.

Ross Thornley:

Thanks, Tony. It's been a real pleasure.

Tony Caldwell:

I'm talking to independent agency owners about this all the time. If you'd like to have a more personalized conversation, click on the button or the link in the description and we'll make that happen. You can also reach out to me, @tonycaldwell.net/contact.

26 minute read

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