I had a feeling I would not get an Uber. I knew I would have to walk to the office. But I did not mind, even on this chilly, drizzly evening.
It had been a year into the pandemic at that point, and few Uber drivers were still working in my area. Although I do not drive because of my visual impairment, I have not needed rides because I’ve been working from home, and everything I need is a short walk away.
I had tied up all the other loose ends on that Friday. I just needed to drop off a few things at the office and take a last look to ensure I did not leave anything. I planned to get an Uber back, so I could lug anything heavy home.
The streets on the way to the office were the same that I had been traveling for 12 years since I started at InsuranceNewsNet. I was INN’s first editor in 2008, managing this magazine along with the website and newsletters. We were up against some titans of insurance news back then, many of which have since faded.
The story I had been telling myself was that I had no business doing this job because I didn’t know anything about the industry, and it was just little ol’ me trying to do all this stuff.
But I reminded myself that the story of InsuranceNewsNet is that we are a scrappy company with the drive to do things differently. We had to be creative to compete directly with the legacy industry news business.
During a walk early in my tenure, I realized that I had to change my own story to be all about telling stories. Sure, other news organizations might have had a wider array of articles, but we could dig deeper into a few key issues and explore them from our readers’ perspectives.
Pretty soon we were able to raise our profile and win a few awards along the way. We eventually brought on a couple of other editors: Managing Editor Susan Rupe and Senior Editor John Hilton, both news veterans who have firmly established themselves in this industry.
Along The Way
This month’s magazine features the annual installment of what we loosely call the “Estate-Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous.” That yearly series was inspired during a walk when I was thinking about the estate mess left by the recent death of a celebrity. I don’t remember who the celebrity was, but I do recall thinking the story would make a good cautionary tale.
That idea turned into an article about the stories agents can tell clients to convey the lessons contained in these compelling estate-planning disasters.
One of the people from this month’s main feature, Tony Hsieh, had made a brilliant career out of changing stories. He is most known for having developed Zappos shoes into an internet superstore. People were reluctant to buy shoes online because they wanted to try them on first. Zappos did the unthinkable by offering no-questions-asked returns and free shipping.
Hsieh changed the story about shoe shopping when he helped start Zappos in 1999, the same year Paul Feldman started InsuranceNewsNet and helped change the story about life insurance news and marketing online.
At the end of my walk, I entered our offices, passed the meeting room with the clipboard showing the schedule for March 17, 2020, which had been our last day before going remote. I dropped off my keycard and credit card before checking my office.
I scanned the room for anything I left behind, marveling at the blaze of light from the setting sun. I gazed at a large circle on the wall for a few moments before realizing it was a mirror reflecting from behind me and yelling, “Don’t forget me!”
No Uber drivers were available, so I had to trek back with this hefty, 50-year-old mirror under my arm. As I walked, I remembered the thousands of trips home in every weather condition with nothing but my thoughts night after night.
One of the stories I had been thinking about lately was my own at INN. It has been a fulfilling run, but I realized that after 12 years it was time for me to move on with my own story.
INN has an exciting future ahead of it that others can pursue with fresh energy. I expect to contribute content to INN, but no longer as a staff member. I thank Paul Feldman for his enduring faith in me and for more than a decade of adventure.
I was aware of the significance of this last walk home as an INN employee. I wanted to appreciate that this was a definitive end to a chapter. Most of us rush from one job to another or from one home to another or from one stage to another, stumbling out of one story and into the next.
I opened my apartment door, put down the mirror, took off my hat, and thought, “This is the end of that chapter.”
Picking up the mirror, I said, “and this is the next,” as I walked into my home office.