Guest Post By: Thomas Rhodes – John Hackney Agency of Rocky Mount
I started off my insurance career in 2010 as a claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual Insurance and moved to the agency side in January of 2014 as a producer. I could elaborate further about the many lessons I’ve learned in my young insurance career and about how Young Agents has molded me into a better producer, but this blog post really has nothing to do with insurance. The story I’m about to tell just happened to occur at an insurance convention …
I attended my first Young Agents Conference in Myrtle Beach the summer of 2014. Though I’m generally a very outgoing person, I was definitely a little nervous about the trip simply because I had no idea what to expect. Also, a “girl” was accompanying me on the trip, and I was really hoping she wouldn’t be bored to death. The girl’s name is Danielle; she and I had been steadily seeing each other for several months. Everything was going great, and I didn’t think twice about asking her to come to Myrtle Beach for the Young Agents Conference, despite Danielle’s zero involvement in the insurance industry. I figured she could just lay by the pool while I was in the sessions and then we would rendezvous after to go out to eat, etc. At this point, we hadn’t labeled our relationship anything. It never really crossed my mind that we hadn’t formally branded our relationship or made it “Facebook official” as the “younger” Young Agents call it. However, all of this was about to change.
If you’ve been a part of a Young Agents event, you’ve heard people say that they’re involved partially for the friendship and camaraderie with fellow agents. To be completely honest, I was very skeptical of these claims going into my first conference. I was pretty confused as to why my agency principal would send me on a trip with a bunch of competitors. However, my initial feelings were proved absolutely wrong.
At the first event on Thursday night, Danielle and I felt like fish out of water. There were tons of people there, and we didn’t know anyone. Heck, we still didn’t even really completely know each other! The awkward “we don’t know anyone here” moment quickly passed when Sydney Jamison and Mary Catherine Benson from Bagwell & Bagwell introduced themselves to us. We made small talk for a while and then went our separate ways. The next morning when I got to the convention hall, I spotted Sydney and told her good morning. It didn’t take long for her to prod me about what Danielle and I “were”. I explained to Sydney that we really hadn’t had “the conversation” about our relationship. Sydney quickly responded with, “Thomas, you don’t bring a girl to an insurance convention unless she’s your girlfriend or wife”. Well, truer words probably couldn’t be spoken. I guess it never really crossed my mind that asking a girl to an insurance convention was such a big step.
So that Saturday night at the reception banquet (after I traded in all my drink tickets to the bartender for some liquid courage), I reverted back to elementary school behavior and asked Danielle to be my girlfriend. She said yes. Fast forward to the following May and Danielle said “yes” again. We attended the 2015 Young Agents Conference as a newly engaged couple. We’re getting married in April of 2016 and in a very interesting way, have Young Agents to thank for it.
Moral of the story: Not only will you make lifelong friends by being involved with Young Agents, you may even get a girlfriend out of it.
Thomas Rhodes, CPCU, CIC, AAI, AIC, ARM, AU, CBIA joined the John Hackney Agency of Rocky Mount as a producer in 2014. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010. After college, Thomas worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance as a commercial casualty claims specialist in Charlotte for four years. Thomas is very active in the local community, including serving on the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Committee. He has served on the IIANC Young Agents Committee since 2014 and is a board member of the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the CPCU Society.