My Most Important Noticer & Mentor

I have been reading The Noticer and it has caused me to think a lot about mentoring. By the time I was 21 years old I had been in the insurance business 3 years, but I had no idea where I was going or what a career was. I was so very fortunate while looking for a new job to find Mr. Russell Grace, owner of Russell Grace Insurance.


I had no idea what a mentor was, but I had just met the most important mentor of my life. He was a tough interviewer. He made it clear from the beginning that he would not put up with any nonsense and while I was at work I was expected to be working. However, I was so very unhappy at the agency where I was working and this seemed like such a nice place I took the position.

On my first day Mr. Grace explained the rules:

1. The customer was our first priority as that was how Russell Grace Insurance made its income.
2. Never bind coverage without the premium or a downpayment and signed premium note agreement.
3. I was here to be working, not visiting with other employees or having personal phone calls.
4. And a few others. You get the idea.

For the first few months I learned the ropes in the agency, did my job and stayed out of trouble. I earned a raise after my ninety day probation period and just kept my nose to the grindstone. One day Mr. Grace and the other employee in the agency came to a file cabinet in my office to discuss the up-coming quarterly billing of the physician’s malpractice policies that the agency wrote. She had a negative approach to almost any discussion. Her comment that afternoon was that “these doctors are more trouble than they are worth”. Now I did the deposits and I saw the amount of money these quarterly billings generated and knew that this book was growing by leaps and bounds each month.

That afternoon after she left, I went to Mr. Grace and told him that I would be interested in learning the physician’s program and take over the quarterly billing and certificate renewals as it seemed the other lady was too busy. For the next five years I handled this program, our hospital malpractice program and supervised the other specialty lines as well. When I left we had 1250 physicians and 250 hospitals in the State of Texas as well as a full fledged managing general agency. In this time I had developed a career in the insurance industry in the special risk arena. My noticer, taught, coached, mentored and let me grow in knowledge and confidence to move ahead in life and my career. I will forever be grateful for his confidence in me.

Do you have a mentor? Do you actively mentor others? Do you think mentoring is important. Let me know.

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  • Been selling professional liablity insurance since 1988 more than half of my total insurance career and love it. Wish I could only do that. Thank goodness company takes care of billing now days.

    • I loved selling professional liability coverages. Some days I miss the thrill of negotiating the coverage and pricing with the markets. It is fun to specialize so I understand what you mean.

  • Pat, I got so carried away talking about Med Mal that I forgot to mention that I found “The Noticer" to be a great book as well. You are doing what the book said to do: “talk about someone who was a mentor to you in your life” Great thing to mention a previous employer.

    I need to do the same thing.

    Today I am realizing how much I have grown personally and professionally in this crazy 2009 from people like you and would have never been able to do so without Social Media e.g. facebook and twitter. Truly it brings us closer together.
    Keep up the great writings and doings.
    Your Kentucky buddy!

  • NIbby, It has been my great pleasure to meet you this year and get to know you in person and through twitter and FB. Thanks for all your comments and support. I'm looking forward to 2010 and new opportunities.

  • cindy donaldson

    I too had a few mentors in my career – I'm just now finding my insurance ones! I'm a tad behind you and Nibby!!!
    Mentors are such a vital part of any person's success. Hopefully the "youngsters" I'm trying to lead to the next level will one day write about me!
    Cheers to all of our successes in 2010!!!

  • Cindy, I feel certain the youngsters you are leading to the next level will write about you one day. I love your positive, can do attitude. I'm sure your are behind Nibby and I. I have help to rely on to get my blog where it is and provide other Web 2.0 support to me.

    Take care and a very successful 2010.