October 18, 2016
After nearly eight years on the staff of the National Federation of State High school Associations, I accepted the challenge of leading an effort by a private business to consolidate the insurance needs of high school athletic associations and to control their coverages and costs through a self-insuring pool. My assigned goal was to assemble at least half of the 50 states in this fund. The need was so great at that time for comprehensive general liability and directors and officers insurance tailored to the unique needs of state high school athletic associations, that the group was quickly assembled and launched.
My time leading this effort was brief. In spite of the program's immediate success and continued growth, I became uncomfortable. The discomfort was born and grew in the fact that while I was out meeting with states, decisions were being made back at the home office that I was not involved with or aware of. I began to feel used ... my credibility was bringing in business, but changes were being made without my input; and I feared for my reputation. After a year of this, I resigned the position. That was 1981.
Nine years later, the companies' CEO was terminated when it was discovered that he used the construction of a company headquarters office to build himself a new house at the same time, burying his home construction costs into the books of the companies' capital expenses. Seven years after that, the companies' founder and namesake went to jail for operating from 1984 until at least 1993 what was determined to have been a Ponzi-like scheme.
I listened to my gut which, long before my head, knew something was not right. In fact, my gut seemed on alert well before things went wrong. This has happened at other crossroads and dozens of less dramatic moments in my professional and personal lives.
In this time of increasingly complex and difficult decisions, both personal and professional, the gut may be a good guide for us all.