Delivered Sept. 13 at the NAIFA 2011 Career Conference and Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
Well here we are in Washington, D.C., where so much of the fate of this country, and our industry, is decided.
Many of you who know me understand my penchant for utilizing unusual analogies to convey my inner thoughts and concerns.
Let me start with one from Lewis Carroll. In his book, Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire cat proclaims that everyone down here is mad, or they would not be here in the first place.
When I think of Washington these days, I have the same feeling.
For some reason, I always think of Bill Clinton in the role of the Cheshire cat. Maybe because he always seems to have a smile planted on his face. I will leave it up to your imaginations as to who should play Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
In the story, the characters smoke hookah and eat some pretty strange mushrooms resulting in them growing, shrinking and hallucinating – all of which lends a certain phantasmagorical feel to Wonderland, and altering the perceptions of the characters.
Maybe members of Congress should be eating and smoking a similar diet in order to change the tenor of the relationship in Washington between Democrats and Republicans. At the very least they should learn to see the issues from the perspective of the other side.
And for SEC regulators, please take note: There are hookah bars right here in Washington, D.C.
It is in this confluence between the surreal and the absurd that NAIFA finds itself practicing its trade... as it has done for the past 121 years.
I see us as Gary Cooper in High Noon ... standing tall and upright, shoulders back, head held high, fighting for our members and the future of the insurance industry.
Of course this is also an illusory fantasy. Life is relative, not absolute,and the hurdles thrown at Mr. Cooper were Hollywood scripted to allow the strong to overcome the cowardly and good to prevail over evil. Today, NAIFA is faced with both external and internal challenges that are not scripted from the imagination of a Hollywood screenwriter.
NAIFA finds itself navigating a vitriolic and toxic political landscape that has left little or no room for compromise and tolerance on both sides of the aisle.
This polemical climate has even crept into everyday life. If you need further proof, try convincing someone who does not agree with you politically to change their thinking on any major issue of the day. It isn’t likely to happen.
The point is, that as individuals we have many frames of reference, and each one is valid, but if as an industry we don't come together we are like confetti tossed to the wind, riding a breeze, until landing softly on the ground... with no discernible impact.
Tomorrow we assemble on Capitol Hill and our message is pure and straight forward... that our industry is part of the solution for America.
We are the only professional advisors who offer what is needed most in the event of an untimely death or disability: the opportunity to buy time in order to help the living move forward with dignity and grace. This is reality, and this is the story we must share with every legislator and regulator until they understand who we are and the importance of what we do to keep America strong.
I thank each and everyone of you for your dedication to NAIFA and your unswerving commitment to our profession. I am honored by the trust that you have placed in me and I look forward to serving as your president over the coming year.