17 Years and Counting
Full disclosure: I am going to gush a little.
Today is my 17 year anniversary at GreatAmerica. This was my first job out of college and it has grown into a career. Over the years I have held positions from credit underwriter, to sales, to my current position of Channel Training Coordinator. I can safely say I get to do what I do best every day, and for that I am eternally grateful.
In the beginning, compensation was a big piece of why I got a J.O.B., so I wouldn’t have to live with my parents, but it wasn’t everything. Not by a long shot. I needed a good fit, an opportunity to grow, and a purpose. I found that trifecta at GreatAmerica.
Being an offensive lineman in high school and college, I was used to putting the team first and that played right into the team environment at GreatAmerica. Here everyone is a team player. The response “It’s not my job” is never an acceptable answer. Serving our customers and each other is not just everyone’s job, but I’d go as far to say it’s their duty. Collaborating to achieve, holding each other accountable and delivering on commitments is at the core of our success.
On every successful football team I was on, the leaders always led from the front. At GreatAmerica it is no different. My favorite example of setting the standard is Stan Herkelman. Right after 9/11, when there was a threat of anthrax or other toxic powders being sent in the mail, our President Stan Herkelman was down in the mail room, elbow to elbow with our receivables team opening letters. It wasn’t publicized, there were no photo-ops or social media postings, nor would there be. Stan is the most humble person I know. I only know because I happened to walk by the mailroom and I will never forget it. I am a firm believer that character is what you do when you think nobody is watching, and seeing Stan elbow to elbow opening the mail told me everything I needed to know about the quality of character of our leadership.
Attitudes are infectious and a positive, never-quit attitude takes ordinary teams to extraordinary success. Success itself is a habit. In Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit” he talks about keystone habits being an individual pattern that unintentionally triggers other habits. For example, if I go to the gym over my lunch hour every day, this “keystone habit” will get me in the habit of watching what I eat and of making sure I get enough sleep.
I’d argue the keystone habit for GreatAmerica is answering the phone in two rings or less.
When Tony Golobic started GreatAmerica, every time the phone rang it was make or break time. Every call could be a deal that would keep the ship afloat. That sense of urgency, the belief that every interaction mattered translated to the customer on the other end of the line. The phone never rang more than twice. Fast forward to today and GreatAmerica still answers the phone in 2 rings or less, plus we don’t have voicemail during business hours because every interaction matters. You get a live voice of a highly competent professional ready to help. This keystone habit leads to exceptional service by creating the habit of being highly responsive regardless of the medium. Whether responding to emails or picking up the phone, every interaction matters. It’s like a basketball player diving for loose balls. It shows they want it more, their teammates see it, and they start doing it because it is infectious.
As you can tell from the pictures, I not only lost my hair here, but I grew up at GreatAmerica. It is hands down one of the best decisions I ever made. I have been treated like family and allowed to improve and flourish. Over the years, my family elders always used words like honor and loyalty in the highest regard. In return I have prized those qualities above all else. At GreatAmerica, there is honor in the work we do and the way we go about it, and the loyalty I give is always returned.
So in looking back over the past 17 years, my wish is to end my career the place I started it.
Thank You GreatAmerica!
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