Transcript – Building Trust and Providing Service with Patricia Corrigan Johnston (#15)

FULL TRANSCRIPT – Building Trust and Providing Service with Patricia Corrigan Johnston


Natasha Cary: Welcome to Over the Threshold Podcast, produced by Certification of Delivery Excellence, also known as CODE.  I’m your host, Natasha Cary, owner and president of CODE, where we offer online education for last mile delivery personnel. To learn more about CODE certifications, visit our website: The purpose of this podcast is to deliver the journey of individuals in the Final Mile/Last Mile white glove industry. As CODE is an educational company, we hope through these stories you can learn something new. Maybe we teach you something about an individual you know, or we introduce you to someone you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Above all, we hope we can leave you inspired. Let’s get started.

Natasha: Thank you for joining. My guest today is Patricia a.k.a Patty Johnston. She is the founder and president of Corrigan Johnston Risk Advisors, an agency which specializes in providing insurance products and risk management services in three classes of business: final mile delivery, moving and storage and auto-dealerships. Before founding CJRA in 2006, Patty was senior vice president of National Carrier Relationships for Willis. She began her career after being hired as a temp by Sedgwick James National Accounts for 3 days, almost 30 years ago. Patty, welcome to the podcast.

Patricia Corrigan Johnston: Natasha, thank you. Thanks for inviting me.

Natasha: Yes. I’m so excited to be here with you today. We met at the NHDA forum at the Women’s Council session, and you and I recently moderated a panel for the Women’s Council, which we’ll cover and talk about in a minute. But first, tell me about this temp job and how the world of insurance swept you off your feet?

Patricia: My career in insurance started with three words: Don’t b stupid. [laughter] Not ‘Don’t be stupid, this is the best opportunity that could ever find you! It would be ridiculous to turn it down!’
I was married briefly and badly, and I had been working like crazy for a self-made billionaire in New York City, not in the insurance industry at all. I had gotten married and I said, ‘I don’t want to be working until 22:00 and midnight and take a black-car service home and all the rest of it. I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to figure some stuff out. Maybe I’ll go back to school, maybe I’ll see what the job market is like in New Jersey’, since I’d been working in New York City. I was married to this gentleman and he was being sworn in at our local prosecutor’s office on the same day that I had this offer, to temp for 3 days typing auto ID cards for Sedgwick James. And so I said to him, ‘Shouldn’t I come to the swearing-in ceremony with you?’ and he said to me, ‘Don’t be stupid.’ And I said, ‘Well, who’s going to hold the Bible?’ and he said, ‘It’s not something for families.’ I went to my temp job, he got to his swearing-in ceremony at the prosecutor’s office and they said, ‘Who did you bring to hold the Bible?’ [laughter] So his picture of being sworn in at the prosecutor’s office has some tiny little man who looks like an Italian tailor holding the Bible! [laughter] 

Natasha: That’s awesome! 

Patricia: Now given the brevity of the marriage, he’s probably happy that I’m not in the picture!

Natasha: It all worked out for the best; it seems.

Patricia: You know, it did. So on my first day typing auto ID cards on a typewriter in August of 1992,  another woman and I were hired on the same day, and at the end of the day she said, ‘How many ID cards did you type?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. 870 something? How many did you type?’ and she said, ’12.’ 

Natasha: Oh, wow. [laughter]

Patricia: I was asked back, she was not. My 3-day job kept being extended and extended and finally I said to my boss after about 6 months, ‘You know, I like you guys and you seem to like me, too. So why don’t we make this relationship official?’ My boss offered me $26,000 and to show what a great negotiator I was, I accepted the job and left his office. About 20 minutes later I went back in and said, ‘I want $26,500.’ [laughter] This is all true! And I got it. I am a fabulous negotiator. 

Natasha: They were like, ‘You’ve given us an offer we can’t refuse.’

Patricia: Yeah. So that was almost 30 years ago. The career has lasted a lot longer than that first marriage, but I’ve been in a second marriage now and extremely happy for a long time. I met my husband through the insurance industry and I wound up where I was meant to be. 

Natasha: The insurance industry was your unicorn.

Patricia: It absolutely was, who knew? I have achieved every little girl’s dream: I own an insurance agency. [laughter]

Natasha: What made you want to open your own agency?

Patricia: I don’t play well in other’s sandboxes. I was in a unique position, to be honest. I was senior vice president of National Carrier Relationships for Willis, which is one of the largest brokerages in the world, and I just wasn’t happy. I just wasn’t fulfilled and because of my husband’s support, emotionally and financially, all of it, I was able to walk away from a nice paying job and go out and say, ‘I think I’ve got something that I want to do and I think I’ll do it differently from other people.’ It’s turned out to be a really great success. I think in the insurance industry these days, you have to specialize. You have to bring something to your clients that either they don’t have or as a compliment to what they have already. Companies are running leaner and learner, so the days of having a full-time risk manager are going by the wayside unless you’re talking about a Fortune 500 company. We bring those sorts of services to our clients. We work as an extension of them; we sit on the same side of the table. We bring services and expertise and knowledge to them, always being mindful that we’re not running their businesses for them. We are there to assist them in running their businesses. 

Natasha: Your niche is in the final mile, moving and storage and auto dealerships…

Patricia: Yes.

Natasha: …were you involved in that with Willis or did you realize that that’s what you wanted to do when you founded your own agency?

Patricia: I worked for an agency that had a lot of speciality in wheels kinds of business. I had worked on a number of wheel sorts of businesses over the years and what I found was I liked them. It really is a niche market for both insurance agencies and insurance carriers. I already had those kinds of relationships, so why not expand upon those. Why not use those relationships? And from the webinar that you and I moderated a couple of weeks ago, we found that being a woman in a male-dominated industry and typically when you’re talking about trucking, or those sorts of things, you’re talking about more men than women. As a woman, you’re memorable. The interesting thing there is when I think about my clients, past and present, I have had the pleasure of dealing with a lot of women in management roles within final mile or moving and storage companies. Women who are heads of compliance, safety, claims, risk management, CFOs, VPs of admin who run the whole show… it’s probably not as male-dominated as you might think it is. But there’s still a lot of men hanging around there.

Natasha: Yeah. Speaking of the webinar and we can talk about the Women’s Council, which you helped organize and start within NHDA along with Luisa Solana. I did find it fascinating that on the webinar that we did, a lot of women had very positive feedback, which I love to hear, that they had positive experiences being a woman in a male-dominated world because that’s not the case in a lot of other fields or industries. I hope that we can dive into that more. What made you want to start the Women’s Council at the NHDA and how did you and Luisa discover that there was a need for something like that? 

Patricia: When we went to the NHDA annual forum, there were about 200 or 220 attendees, maybe. And of that there were probably only 20 women. We were there, we had a presence but not a large one. I knew Luisa from one of my former clients and she and I had developed a professional friendship relationship. I had not interacted with Luisa a lot and I did not know her very well. But when you’re traveling and when you’re traveling alone and you’re at a seminar and there’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners, you kind of want a buddy. At least, I do. I want somebody next to me. I don’t want to be introducing myself and making small talk at every single meal. Sometimes I just want somebody that I know. So Luisa and I gravitated toward each other and then this natural relationship just started. The company that Luisa was working for, my client, had been sold. She was trying to find her footing within the new organization and was just looking for a sounding board. Somebody who didn’t have an emotional stake in what she was doing. Somebody who she could speak to honestly and would just say, ‘Let’s talk about the good points and the bad points. Let’s talk about what you’re getting out of this.’ and I was honored that she chose me to talk to and I think I gave her some pretty good advice, and just acted as a sounding board and a friend. We both said, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to have this?’ Being a little bit retrospective, we thought about earlier in our careers. Wouldn’t it be great to have somebody who you could go to who is somewhat of a disinterested party but understands where you’re coming from, who will just talk it through with you, hash it out and isn’t going to run the risk of it reflecting negatively upon you within your organization or being used against you? Wouldn’t it be great to have, not so much mentor-mentee, but just to have what we called an industry buddy? Somebody who you can call up and say, ‘Hey do you have 5 minutes? I have this problem, this issue, this thought. I’m trying to think it through. Please help.’ 

I know that earlier in my career in insurance, I have had two mentors: my first mentor was female and was my old boss, my second mentor is still somebody who I consider just this side of family, I’m still so close with them. I think when you talk about a true mentor-mentee relationship, it’s something that should happen naturally and organically. I don’t think it’s always so successful when it’s an assignment. But that’s where Luisa and I went. Let’s put this out there and have people sign up and say ‘I’m interested in connecting with other women. I want to be a sounding board. I want someone who I can sound off to.’ That’s how it all happened. 

Natasha: I love that. There are so few women and having an industry buddy or knowing that there is a safe place that, if you need to reach out to someone, you can reach out and ask your question. If the person you reached out to doesn’t know, then you’re a part of a network that you’ll find somebody you can connect with. 

Patricia: Yes.

Natasha: I love that. And speaking of what you might want to reach out and talk to somebody about, as a business owner, what have you found to be challenging about running your own business? You said earlier that you figured you could do it better or that sometimes it’s easier depending on your personality, right? You might think, ‘I’d rather be in the driver’s seat.’ So how has that served you? Have you done it better or what kind of challenges have you faced running your own business? 

Patricia: Being in the insurance industry, the thing I would say I’ve always struggled with the most is being offensive and defensive simultaneously. That’s the hardest thing that I find. We are very, very fortunate in that because we really, truly try to go above and beyond and be proactive in helping our clients think of ways to be better. Everybody hates insurance. Everybody hates paying insurance premiums. We’re somewhere on the chart with used car salesmen and ambulance chaser attorneys. 

Natasha: Oh no! [laughter] 

Patricia: Everybody hates insurance. And with my husband, both of us being in insurance, we’ll be at somebody’s party and someone will hear that you’re in insurance and they either run to the either side of the room thinking that you’re going to try to sell them a life policy or they’re like, ‘You know, my son hit a deer the other night…’ and they want advice. [laughter] But we really try to sit with our clients, anticipate their needs and help them. I think what that has done for us is that it’s a differentiator. We’re very, very fortunate in that we don’t have a lot of client turnover. The clients that we have we tend to have for a long time. We have long, strong, deep relationships with our clients. They’re not only clients – we’re at the weddings and the funerals. We become an extension of their business, they become an extension of us. Over the years, they come to us for advice on a lot more things than just insurance. I’ll say to them, ‘That’s really a question for a labor attorney. That’s not a question for me.’ You always know, too, that there’s somebody nipping at your heels, trying to take that business away. And that’s where I struggle playing offense and defence at the same time. 

Natasha: Right. And it sounds like your methodology makes your clients feel very connected with you and become trusted advisor, that they’re coming to you for other things.

Patricia: We hope so. That’s why when I was coming up with a name for my business, I named it Corrigan Johnston because Corrigan is my maiden name, Johnston is my married name. Immediately I seemed like I was twice as big as I was! 

Natasha: Very smart!

Patricia: So this is a true story. I had someone call in one time and they weren’t getting the answer that they wanted, and they knew that they were talking to Patty Johnston. They thought, I guess, that because my name came second, I was the junior partner. So they said, ‘I want to talk to Corrigan.’ [laughter]

Natasha: That’s awesome!

Patricia: I said, ‘Okay, hang on a second.’ I picked up the phone again and said, ’This is Patty Corrigan Johnston.’ ‘Wait a minute, I was just talking with you!’ ‘Yes. I am both.’ But when I was coming up with a name for the agency, I used risk advisors. I wanted to incorporate that specifically in there. It’s a little bit of different name for an agency but because we do much more than sell insurance; we advise on risk, on how can we sit on the same side of the table with you and help you run your business better and protect your business, that’s how we view ourselves. Different from just selling you insurance products. 

Natasha: In the last mile world, what do see as the most frequent area businesses are leaving themselves open to for liability or claims?

Patricia: What I think is…and I get it, because everybody’s insurance budget is only so big…right now, we’re in what’s called a hard market. Insurance companies, no pun intended, are in the driver’s seat. Rates are high, paucity is down, and people have been cutting limits because they just don’t have an endless well to go to in order to pay insurance premiums. I absolutely understand that, but you’ve got to find that balance between what the risk is to your business and what you are going to pay for insurance. And what we’re seeing is a lot of what we call nuclear verdicts: verdicts that are unimaginably large, ridiculous, lottery winning sort of verdicts. That’s a concern because if a company has $10million in excess coverage but a verdict comes in for $20million, and $20million isn’t even that large these days, where does that additional $10million come from and does it put that freight forwarder, motor carrier, independent contractor out of business? 

Natasha: Mhm.

Patricia: So that’s where we get into managing cost and managing risk. It’s a scary place right now. You have to see what you can afford. You have to do the best in terms of training company drivers, if you have company drivers, and being selective with the independent contractors you choose. Don’t just take any hiney and sit it in your truck, make sure you know who these guys are. On a country-wide basis, claim severity has been way up. Frequency has been down, but severity has been up, caused by things like distracted driving. I’ll tell you a story. Several years ago, my husband and I were on a highway here in New Jersey. It was a Saturday afternoon and we were on our way to City Field to see a Mets game. We’re driving and I see a moving and storage truck and it’s got the company name painted on the side and I said, ‘Oh, that’s one of my guys!’ and as we’re driving past them, going down a highway ay 75mph, the guy driving the truck is texting. 

Natasha: Oh my god. 

Patricia: I literally, from the passenger seat of our car, I called the owner of the company and said,
‘I want you to know I’m on Route 78 east at mile marker or exit’ …whatever, it’s New Jersey. We don’t say mile marker. I told my husband to slow down, got the license plate number. ‘I’m at exit 54 and your truck driver is texting. What are you doing to do about this? And don’t tell me you’re going to call him!’

Natasha: Yeah! 

Patricia: He didn’t think it was a big deal.

Natasha: Wow.

Patricia: He said, ‘Yeah, so?’ I said, ‘So? That’s illegal! And you’ve got a 26-ft box truck traveling own the road at 75mph. What are you going to do?’ I spoke to the owner again on Monday and shortly after that we decided that he wasn’t the right client for me, and I wasn’t the right agent for him. It’s things like that, seeing distracted drivers, more fatalities…there are severities up in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. 

Natasha: Interesting. 

Patricia: And now that it’s been legal for about 6 years or so in Colorado and other places, we’ve got credible data where we can compare Colorado pre and post, but we can also compare Colorado pre and post to what their neighbors are doing. So what did Utah and Nevada and other surrounding states look like before marijuana was legal? What do they look like now? You can see the problems that are emerging.

Natasha: Right. So they’re being affected as well because they’re driving into Colorado…

Patricia: Sure.

Natasha: Interesting.

Patricia: So severity is up and verdicts are larger, but there’s another thing that’s happening that’s really interesting, too called social inflation. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about it maybe 4 or 5 months ago and a lot of people are not familiar with the term. But especially in litigious metropolitan areas, I’m talking about New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, plaintiff attorneys are getting very crafty and they are delaying. They’re using legal tactics to delay something going to trial or to mediation or whatever. You literally have a claim that occurred in 2012 that delay tactics have been used on for 8 years, so you’re not getting a verdict based on what was going on in 2012, you’re getting a verdict based on what’s going on in 2020. And there has been a tremendous increase in jury awards. The nuclear verdict thing is probably something that started around 2016 or 2017. It’s a problem, too. When a claim happened in 2012, maybe that claim was worth $3million. In 2020, it might be worth $15million…

Natasha: Wow.

Patricia: That’s all dollars that are coming out of the insurance company’s pockets that weren’t necessarily contemplated in the rates back then. Obviously, they’re on the hook for it. But the residual affect is that rates increase today. You’re seeing insurance companies across the board in all segments of the industry, not just final mile or moving and storage or general trucking, but across the board you’re seeing all sorts of rate increases to try to recoup some of this craziness that’s been paid out. 

Natasha: So most hired drivers are independent contractors in the industry. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to carry their own insurance because of the rates and they’re just trying to make a dollar. You mentioned that companies need to make sure they know who’s in the driver’s seat. How do they ensure that there’s proper insurance? What do they do to make sure that they’re covered?

Patricia: What we do with our clients is we have a template of insurance specifications which we then take and tailor specifically to the various nuances of our clients. We may have a lot of final mile clients, but it doesn’t mean that motor carrier A operates exactly like freight holder B. But we’ve got the basic framework. Then we understand the nuances, the specifics of their company and tailor, adjust, change and discuss with them and say, ‘Okay. Here’s what you should be looking for.’ And then we will put together a sponsored insurance program for our clients. A sponsored insurance program means that we set up an insurance program with a carrier. It is completely compliant with our specs or whatever specs they adopt. They can offer this to their independent contractors. It’s paid, it’s typically built to the motor carrier or freight forwarder. They pay the premium as admission deduction from the independent contractor. What that does is it allows them to know that they have compliant coverage, they’re fully with their status. It also allows them to know that they’re paying the premium, so the policies are enforced, which decreases their hired non-owned exposure and contention exposure dramatically. Because we know coverage is in place and haven’t been canceled. The independent contractors can’t mandate if they come into this insurance program. For the ones who don’t, we can monitor their coverage, and we do. We are reading certificates, policies, endorsements all the time on behalf of our clients to confirm that people who are not in our program do have compliant coverage and then typically motor carriers or freight forwarders will contract with a DOT monitoring service. That service will let them know if a carrier has been pulled out of service for violations or for failure to comply with the DOT audit. So that’s how they determine. I look at most certificates that are issued by various agencies, and certificates are not worth the paper they’re printed on. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Patricia: They do not construe any rights. They are evidence of coverage only and if the coverage that is evidenced on them is incorrect it still is going to revert to the policy language, the actual policy is what’s going to be the determining document for coverage. Not a certificate. Something that you have to be aware of is people will look and say, ‘Oh. Well they’re with Progressive or they’re with State Farm or they’re with some known company’, right? An insurance carrier name that we all know because they’ve got commercials ad nauseum on television. What you have to look at behind that is the writing company. So Progressive may have dozens of writing companies. It can be Progressive Insurance Company of California. Progressive Insurance Company of Florida. Progressive Insurance Company of New York. There will be different nuances in each of those policies depending upon the territory and where they are. So when you look and say, ‘Oh, Progressive. Check. That’s a great company’ Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. An example of this is State Farm. State Farm has a company that’s just filed in Florida. It does not provide the same coverage as a standard State Farm policy, but State Farm wants the ability to pull out of Florida in the event that they have high losses due to hurricanes or something like that. So they can take that company and pull that one company out very quickly. It’s not just as simple as saying, ‘Oh, it’s the travelers. I know the travelers. No problem.’ You really have to pull back the curtain and see what’s going on behind them.

Natasha: I imagine the fine print can get very tricky.

Patricia: It can. 

Natasha: Now besides the way that you treat your customers with white glove service, what else would you say differentiates you from your competition? It sounds like there’s a lot of competition in the insurance world. What would you say differentiates you? Why would somebody go with you?

Patricia: I think it is our level of service, that’s out biggest differentiator. Not only do we have strong relationships with our clients, we have strong relationships with our carriers. I think we have earned a lot of respect from our carriers and we respect our carriers as well. We work well with them to try to do the best things for our clients and we spend a lot of time arguing with them! We’re not just taking what’s given to us. We’re constantly negotiating. A great example of that is, I probably spent the first 2 months of Covid doing nothing but talking to my clients. We didn’t know what was going to happen with the final mile world. We thought despite the fact that trucking was still considered an essential business everywhere, we really didn’t know what was going to happen. Were people just going to go into caves and the wheels were going to fall off the bus? Was business was going to be down 80%? I started talking to my clients and I said to them, ‘Let’s talk about the things that we can adjust. Let’s talk about your estimate of the gross revenues were going to be $100million. Is that true today based on Covid? Let’s adjust the things on your policy that you can adjust. You have furloughed employees, or you’ve laid off employees. Let’s adjust your recomp payroll estimates so that we can get a little premium relief now.’And then we’d monitor very closely all of the suggestions, mandates, everything that was coming out and changing on a daily basis from all of the states as to what people could do. Where people could request premium relief and we took advantage of all of that. Whether it was premium relief, whether it was payment deferral of premium without risk of cancellation. We spent the first 2, 2.5 months of Covid doing nothing but that. Let’s rewrite. Let’s adjust. Let’s get a little bit of relief for you as soon as possible. I think clients really appreciated that. Then we went to our carriers and had very frank and honest conversations with them. Most of our carriers said, ‘We get it, we understand’ and gave us premium relief. Let’s talk about what last year looked like compared to this year. We could see exactly when the country went into shutdown and our carrier partners worked really well with us. We brought in premium savings mid-term, 100s of 1,000s of dollars back for our clients…

Natasha: Wow.

Patricia: …to individual clients. One of my clients said to me one day, she and I were talking on a Friday afternoon, she’s terrific. I think we brought them somewhere between 5 to $600,000 back, and she said, ‘I really appreciate all of your efforts and all that you’ve done. But tell me this: what does this do for you?’

Natasha: Mhm! 

Patricia: She’s the only one who asked me that and I said to her, ‘I appreciate your asking. I never would’ve said anything but since you asked, I’ll tell you. We’re commission based. Every dollar of premium that’s returned, I’m returning commission. But that’s okay, because this is my fiduciary responsibility to you. You entrust me with your insurance program. This is my obligation. I’m a commissioned-based business, I don’t have any guarantees of income. Nobody’s coming in and spending $100 on a sweater in my store. I have no guarantees. That’s okay, I’m not salaried. This I the right thing to do.’ I really appreciated her asking. But I really feel good about what we did for our clients during really tough and uncertain times. The good news is most of them did not fall down as low as they thought they were going to and recovered more quickly because what people realized interestingly enough being home was, ‘Okay, we’ve been locked in the house for 6 weeks. There’s no end in sight. I hate this couch. I want a new one. Or the restaurants aren’t open, we’re cooking. My refrigerator broke.’ There’s a shift in the final mile industry now where there’s a lot more drop deliveries. That may continue, at least it will certainly continue in the near future. I don’t know if it will have a permanent impact. But there are a lot of people who said, ‘That’s great. Bring the couch to the front door or front porch, I’ll handle it from there.’ Ultimately, what that does for our clients is it reduces their exposure. And for our carriers, because our completed operations under general liability, which is the installation of the furniture, the appliance, whatever, is reduced because they’re doing a delivery, they’re not doing the installation… 

Natasha: Mhm.

Patricia: …in some cases. It’s been an interesting time, I think for everyone in the country, it was very stressful. It might be getting very stressful again as things tick back up. But we partnered with our clients and our carriers and I think we came out with some really good results during a difficult time. 

Natasha: Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. I think that it sounds like you did the right thing for your clients. You were not motivated by money and I believe in karma. I think that by doing the right thing that will come back to you, right? It’s not always about the money, especially when you have your own business. Yes, making money is a good thing, but how you run your business will then have an impact on the money or the opportunities that you create for yourself. 

Patricia: I think so, too. You know, you have to wake up and look at yourself in the mirror everyday and feel really good about who you are and what you do and how you serve. Because we serve our clients, we are a service industry.

Natasha: Absolutely. What has been the hardest lesson that you’ve had to learn? 

Patricia: I think the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn was probably is the ability to say no. I am the fifth of six children. I am by nature, a pleaser. I want everyone to be happy, to feel good, to have the best. And to say to people, ‘We’re not going to be able to do that, here’s why.’ or ‘I can’t do that, here’s why.’ has been hard for me because it goes against my nature. I want to make people happy. 

Natasha: Have you got better at it? 

Patricia: I have gotten better at it. I think part of it is confidence. It takes confidence to say to somebody, ‘No, that’s not going to work and here’s why.’ or when you don’t know something to have the confidence to say, ‘Hmm, I’m not sure about that. Let me find out and get back to you.’ But it’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve fought is not feeling like I’m failing because I can’t do something. It’s just not possible or I don’t have the answer. So I think it’s just experience and confidence and the first time you do it, it’s really scary and then you realize that the sun still comes up tomorrow and you still have the business, you still have the accounts and you still have people who like you and choose to do business with you. And they know that you’re doing the best you can for them and so it gets easier, but it’s still fighting against my nature. 

Natasha: Right. Which is when we need to get out of our own way, sometimes. 

Patricia: Yes.

Natasha: What do you think is the most important trait in a business leader?

Patricia: To respect people who you work with, for and who work you and to provide clear communication and direction. 

Natasha: Oh yeah, communication will make you or break you, in all sorts of ways! 

Patricia: I started in truly, the lowest level position in an insurance agency: I was on a typewriter, typing ID cards. So I have worked my way up through the ranks. I’ve done every job along the way and I understand the unique pressure of each job and I try to always remain cognizant of that, about the folks who are pushing out the certificates, who are pushing out the applications, because I was there. Treating people with respect and making everyone feel or having everyone know that they are respected, valued and are an important cog in the wheel in the whole machine that makes this run, is very important.

Natasha: Absolutely. It gives them purpose, right? When you know that you have purpose in what you’re doing, it gives value. It gives passion and excitement; it makes you want to do what you’re doing with the people that you’re doing it with because you know that you’re being valued. That’s totally important, 100%.

Patricia: Yes.

Natasha: Now you fell into insurance, it chose you…

Patricia: It did.

Natasha: …if you were doing anything else today besides insurance, could you see yourself doing something else or do you think you would’ve at some point found your way to insurance?

Patricia: My goal was to be an interior designer and my mother told me that that was not a career, I would never make a living doing it and that they were not going to pay to send me to school for a degree in interior design.

Natasha: Aw.

Patricia: Then… [laughter] my mom walked into the first house we built. I had all the rooms, the whole blueprint and everything else and so we furnished the house, and my mom walked in and said, ‘Yeah, you should’ve done that.’

Natasha: Oh my gosh. And this is how many years later?

Patricia: Yeah, it was a number of years later. However, my life would be entirely different, and I love my life, so interior design and decorating is something that I enjoy doing with our homes. I enjoy helping my friends when they are redoing a bedroom or a kitchen or a whatever, I’m the person who’s brought along. In our homes, I splurge on some custom bedding in the master bedroom just as a treat or creative outlet for me. But I love it and I will go to any house tour when we travel, or storable homes that we can go through, I will do any of that just because I love to see all that stuff. For me, it’s a passion.

Natasha: I love well-decorated homes. I don’t have that creative gene that can do that, so I appreciate anybody who can do that well! So that’s awesome. What would you tell your younger self?

Patricia: Don’t be scared. Enjoy the journey. You don’t know where your life is going to take you but it’s going to be great. 

Natasha: I think when we’re younger, it’s hard to see the future and we don’t realize how much time we really have, you know? Then when you get older, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is going to work out. This is going to be okay.’

Patricia: It’s true. The old adage of ‘Youth is wasted on the young’…

Natasha: Mhm.

Patricia: …the older I get the more I think that that’s really true! You reminded me with your lovely introduction, I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years and I’m saying, ‘My gosh, where did it go?’ I haven’t enjoyed every single day, but I’ve overwhelmingly enjoyed my days in this business.

Natasha: That’s amazing. I have truly enjoyed talking to you today. I loved our Women’s Webinar that we did and hopefully we’ll do another one soon and hopefully things will get better in the Covid world and we can see each other in person sooner than later.

Patricia: Absolutely. We all need to get through this. We will get through it together. People just need to be smart. Thank you so much for having me on. I can’t wait for us to moderate on our next Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History webinar. I think we’re planning to do that in January, so that’s going to be terrific. This has been terrific, I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Natasha: Fantastic. Thanks again, Patty. Talk to you soon.

Patricia: Thanks Natasha, be well.


Natasha: Thank you so much for listening to the Over the Threshold Podcast. If you liked what you heard on this episode, I’d love it if you’d subscribe, leave a review or share with a friend you know who would like to hear it, too. To learn more about CODE certifications, visit our website