Accountability, integrity, commitment. These values provide the lens through which ALPS realizes its vision. To live these values requires a culture of authenticity, a place where people can be true to themselves. In this episode of ALPS In Brief, ALPS President and CEO David Bell meets with ALPS Risk Manager Mark Bassingthwaighte to reflect on how the company navigated the pandemic, the success of which David credits to the company’s healthy culture and its ability to remain transparent. Join them as they discuss the implications of 2020 and their effect on ALPS in 2021.

Transcript:

MARK BASSINGTHWAIGHTE:

Hello and welcome. I’m Mark Bassingthwaighte, and you’re about to listen to the next episode of ALPS In Brief, the podcast that comes to you from the historic Florence Building in beautiful downtown Missoula, Montana. Over the years, David Bell, the CEO of our company and I have got together and chat periodically about what’s happening internally, looking at vision and just trying to share some things.

And the point of it has been… I think it allows you as the listener and our insureds to learn a little bit more about us each time. And I also hope to have the discussion of vision and what ALPS does, in this regard educate lawyers as to the value of, and a little bit about the process of creating a corporate or a firm vision. So before we jump into it, I’d like to spend a little bit of time here and introduce David a little more formally than I have in the past.

David Bell is the president and CEO of ALPS Corporation and ALPS Property & Casualty Insurance Company. David joined us here at ALPS in 2012. Prior to that, he was previously with Allied World Assurance Company, and that’s a publicly traded global reinsurance company. David was a founding executive and served as the chief operating officer. After graduating from the University of Montana in 1996 with a degree in finance, he began his career with the Chubb Corporation.

David also co-founded and serves on the board of Grateful Nation Montana, a first of its kind in the nation organization that provides tutoring, mentoring, and college education for the children of Montana soldiers killed while on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also appeared on NBC Nightly News, Fox & Friends, and numerous other television and radio outlets talking about the need to make funding education for the children to fallen soldiers, a national priority. And that’s just an outstanding and excellent organization David has been involved with you.

I’d also like to share that that David has recently been appointed chair of the board of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center. This is a center that promotes better understanding of Asia and of U.S. relations with Asia. And we’ll talk about that a little bit here shortly. So David, always a pleasure. Welcome to the podcast.

DAVID BELL:

Thank you, Mark. I appreciate you taking the time. I always enjoy our conversations about life and business.

MARK:

It has been fun and I’ve been surprised, pleasantly surprised and I’m sure it’s… these visioned podcasts have had a lot of attention over the years, so it’s always a pleasure to get back into it. I thought I would start out. In a prior podcast we set up 2020 and going into 2020, we had a vision and a strategic plan and things were rocking and rolling. And then, the rest of the world, we got hit upside the head with an unexpected global pandemic. I would… Let’s start out. How did ALPS survive? How did we do in terms of how did this impact the vision? Let’s just explore the impact of all of this.

DAVID:

Sure. Well, certainly 2020 was not what any of us envisioned. As we began the year, this time, last year, the year threw us a lot of curve balls and the nation and families and everyone, curve balls. And it’s been an interesting, at times tragic example of what can happen unexpectedly. But in terms of the company, 2020 was and is closing to be a very good year both in our strategic objectives, largely having been accomplished, not withstanding COVID and our financial objectives as well.

And so I think it gave us an opportunity to put some of our core values into practice. They look great on paper and they were fun to talk about when they’re not being tested. But a lot of what COVID included necessitated really leaning on those core values as our employees had unexpected needs, as our insureds had unexpected needs and how we had to kind of plan for those and around those and line up in partnership with our different stakeholders. So it was definitely an interesting year. Now, I certainly feel grateful and for us as an organization, that we are not in the type of business that would have been directly in the cross hairs of some of COVID more problematic after effects. And that’s frankly… it has as much to do with luck as it hasn’t to do with anything else. So, 2020 almost saying with the tone of guilt was a really good year for the company.

MARK:

Did it impact where we go in 2021? Did it make some changes in terms of how you approach the corporate vision, the strategic plan?

DAVID:

In terms of the strategic and financial milestones and our vision of where we’re taking the company, I really don’t think that it played a meaningful role in any detours.

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DAVID:

I think it did forever change the landscape of a lot of aspects. Internally, I think the way that we had to rearrange our business, where we did it from-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… to how we handled the various different circumstances that our employees had and have had to co-exist with. Some of those changes will be permanent and so I think that it certainly wasn’t a business as usual year by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think we will emerge better in a lot of ways as a company. And I can’t really think of any ways that we would come out of 20 and into 21 weaker.

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DAVID:

And that was… Again, I attribute a lot of that to the fact that we just aren’t in the many types of businesses that have had such a profoundly problematic impact.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

And I think our employee base… I’d like to believe that our employee base is stronger in 21 than in 20, because we experienced some pretty profound things together. And I think for evidencing that core values comment, when people have an opportunity to see some of those values put in action, I’d like to believe that they emerged from the other side of that with a stronger bond with one another and more confidence in the organization that they work for.

MARK:

Well, let me comment about that because speaking as one of these employees that has gone through all of this, I absolutely agree with you. My own personal experience was such that, this transition to the remote work setting for all of us for quite a while, we had to accelerate new tools, using Microsoft Teams as an example, and the communication ability and in terms of just being able to see each other talk. I felt closer now to everybody in the company than I have in… I’m coming up on 23 years here. So it really is… I do want to underscore that it’s been a good thing. Initially my response was, everybody’s coming. Wow, this is… We’ve got to get used to it. I used to walk into our world as some of us there have been remote all along, but now it’s, I truly do, I feel much closer as part.

Okay. Maybe a quick moment, since we’re on the topic, do you want to share a summary of your own observations about what we saw in terms of the population we ensure that we are in service to? Any thoughts about that?

DAVID:

Sure. I mean, we’ve seen the results of COVID impact our insured firms at both ends of the extremes. For some firms they have seen overall, the COVID dynamic result in more business and more growth.

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

On the other end of the extreme, particularly when the courts are closed and the economy is frozen up, there is not the commerce occurring that creates billable hours. And it has created significant challenges in… and has created a great deal of fear financial and otherwise by particularly some of the smallest firms. And so we’ve had to… We’ve reacted based on what our insured partners are coming to us with. We came out for example, for those that that found a reduction or virtual for time, virtual elimination of billable hours revenue, right? We came out and had opportunities to postpone premium payments. And well before the state regulatory bodies entered the scene and started to require insurance companies to do that, we did it. I’d like to think because it was the right thing to do.

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

Right away when we saw that it was going to be necessary, it was clear in the very early stages of COVID, that this was going to create a problem for blocks for lawyers and a problem paying premiums, both because of financial constraints and because of just the tactics of being in a whole office and not being worried, your mail comes and all of that type of stuff, so that part of it was interesting. And I think the survey results that we’ve gotten back as we survey our insureds based on their experience that they’ve had with us each year, would suggest that our folks here who bring a great deal of compassion and empathy, many people, and I hope so lawyers themselves, had been in the shoes of our insurance. And so, I’m pleased that by all accounts, it seems we’ve done that well.

On the landscape of what our insureds are seeing from a claims perspective, we definitely saw what I call a significant reduction in the volume of claims.

MARK:

Yes.

DAVID:

And we’ve actually seen a reduction in the severity of the claims that we did get. And so, that will clearly be a temporary phenomenon, right?

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

When commerce has stopped and the courts are closed, then it’s… You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you’re going to have at least a temporary lull in claims activity. Now the big question is, as this thing ramps up, will it hockey stick up? And as businesses fail coming out the other end of COVID, and tragically as marriages and other institutions fail, we effectively “make up” for lost ground on the claims picture. I think that there are pretty reasonable predictions on both sides of that ledger but it’s an interesting dynamic to be looking at-

MARK:

It is.

DAVID:

… and talking about.

MARK:

Yeah. Well, time will tell on that one. When I think about how ALPS has survived or navigated through the pandemic thus far, and seeing wins and losses in terms of some of our insureds from struggling in some ways, and profiting very much in other situations, I really start to believe that the… One of the ways that we navigated this so well, was because we had a solid strategic plan. We had established core values that people understand and live by. Our culture is important. And so to the degree that sharing some of the insights about what we’ve done, I guess I’d say… How do I say, I’d like to talk about some of this stuff as a tool, as a way to give firms that may be struggling a little bit, one path to try to move forward and come out of this.

So if we could take a little bit of time, just briefly, let’s start with this whole concept of core values. Can I just… What does that mean to you and where do they come from? And perhaps let me share,folks, the core values that drive us, that David has talked about already here today, as are driving some of this conversation. We ask, is this the truth? Is it fair? Does it benefit our people and the company? And does it help us make a profit? So, those are our core values. So again, David, how do we get to them? Why are they important to you?

DAVID:

Sure. Well, I think the core values are kind of the went through, which we all hope everything else that we’re doing is filtered. And we didn’t hire consultants to-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… I’m sure these could be worded differently. I’m sure there are core values that could be added and there are ways that we could word the ones that we have better. I’ve been in the learning sessions that many people listening to this, have been with great companies that have come up with very different ways to approach this and I’m convinced that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. I felt like there was a lot of the golden rule kind of baked into this.

MARK:

Yes.

DAVID:

And our stakeholders include the people inside this company who labor every day on our common mission. It includes the people who we insure, right? We make a promise to transfer the risk of something bad having happened, the financial risk of something bad having having happened from their balance sheet to our balance sheet, right?

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DAVID:

And so we need to make that promise clear in the contract. We need to represent it accurately. We need to fulfill it justly when our claims attorneys are working on the claims. And we need to have the financial stability to be able to fulfill the promises as well. And then of course we do have shareholders too, and so we have kind of different stakeholders. But I think these four points which we’ve repeated so many times, I think most people probably know by memory. But is it the truth? It’s kind of self-explanatory-

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

… a bit self-evident. I do believe that relationships are the headquarters to everything, including financial and business transactions. Without a healthy relationship, it’s very difficult to get anything else constructive done. And without truth, it’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship. If you have reason to believe, but the person on the other end of your negotiation or discussion is being dishonest.

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DAVID:

I mean, I can’t imagine how you can have anything constructive come out of that. And so we have to ask ourselves, is it the truth? Is what I’m telling my employees the truth? Is what our people are telling our insurers the truth? Right?

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

And so that is in some ways, so obvious that it could be glossed over, but boy, is it essential in just everything that we do. The second one is, is it fair? Is it fair? Is it equitable? That’s trickier because it’s obviously a subjective question, right? Fairness to one is not seeing the same as fairness to other, and so when I look at that is, it’s kind of thinking about it from my own perspective, as a leader, as a flawed human being who brings the bias of my experiences that I’ve had in my own life, into my decision-making. Many of those biases being unconscious, right?

And so, the question that I ask for me and the decisions that I’m making, and then I would ask others is, are you in pursuit of fairness and of equality? And it doesn’t mean that you’ll be perfect all the time. It doesn’t mean that everybody… When you feel that you’ve done something fair, it doesn’t mean that everybody else will feel that way.

In fact, I think a truism of leadership and arguably one of the ways that you can know whether you’ll be successful in leaders, if you’re comfortable with the fact that something that you believe is the right thing to do, will not be shared by other people who are important to you.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

We’re just going to have people who believe differently about this. But I think if we say, Hey, look, I’m trying my best, I’m going to be truthful and transparent. I’m happy to explain the reasoning for what I’m doing. And I’m using my best efforts to seek fairness and equality. I think if there’s a genuine, recognized effort to do that, there’s room for shades of gray, as people have their own interpretations.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

That’s number two. Number three, as you pointed out, is, does it benefit our people and the company. By the company, obviously it means our insureds-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… and the various people, right? But we don’t want to do something to serve people outside this company that hurts our own people. And we don’t want to do something that helps or enriches our own people at the expense of folks externally, who we serve as well. And that’s also a prioritization question, right? I mean, there’s a lot of things to distract us. There’s a lot of places that we can spend time and money. And I think sometimes we just need to ask ourselves, is what we’re about to do going to benefit our people and the company? Because if the answer isn’t an unqualified yes, maybe that’s not the best allocation of time or financial resources.

And then fourth, which I include unapologetically but also intentionally include last, is, does it help us make a profit?

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

We’re a for-profit business. Our ability to fulfill the promises that we make now and in the future, is entirely dependent upon us being a profitable company that is financially strong. But that being said, it’s not profit above all else. There are clearly numerous ways that this organization could have, and could today make a lot more money than it is making. And if this were number one, there might be an organizational temptation to do that. Profit is important. It is not the most important.

MARK:

Right. Yeah.

DAVID:

And I think if you do everything else well, profit will come. It might not come as much or as fast as some people would like but it is a function of where it sits in your order of priorities.

MARK:

What I like about this, and it’s something I’ve learned as a result of my experience as an ALPS member. I think a lot of companies, when you sit down and they talk about core values, and they list, these are the things we value and it becomes this thing you put on the wall and you want to advertise, and sort of pound your chest a little bit. These are not things that are symbols. What I like about these values, I’ve transitioned from a list of things that we value, to a list of things that enable us. They become the lens if you will, of how we view the vision, how we view who we are, how we view what we’re trying to do. And I think that distinction, at least for me was very, very important.

And I just share that with all of you listening, to approach core values from this perspective of, how do we want to set the view of where we are going? Of who we are? That’s what core value is. It’s defining us, not defining what we value in the sense of making a profit or… and that’s important but we value diversity. And again, I’m not trying to dismiss any of that as relevant, but in my mind, there’s a distinction there, I’ve set up the food for thought. Culture, let us just take one or two minutes. How is culture important in this process from a CEO perspective?

DAVID:

I’ve actually evolved as I’ve gotten older in years and had more experiences, made more good decisions and made more poor decisions, and lived with the consequences of both. I’ve always been a very metric driven person and would probably define my default management style as in a kind of a KPI terms, right? Key Performance Indicators. I’ve recognized over the years that if you had to pick, culture is frankly not only more important than the financial metrics, but the financial metrics are more dependent upon a healthy culture to produce them over the long-term, then the people realized that, then I probably appreciated it in the early chapters of my profession. And I’m really… We’ve hired quite a few people in the last year or two as the company continues to grow and expand in different parts of the country and write more business and in States all around the country.

Culture, I think is sometimes the most misunderstood word that’s commonly used. And people say, well tell me about your culture. And I say, I can give you kind of my culture speech, but if you want to know what the culture… If people have the opportunity to come to the company, we’re not all but most of the employees are based and you walk around, the question that I’ve asked people to observe for themselves without any ability by me to influence it, is walk around, look at the way that people engage with one another, do their mannerisms show that they are genuinely interested in the discussions that they’re having? Are they smiling? Are they able to have a little fun? Are they self-deprecating? Is their energy… Is it a library or look at where it feels like a professional salt mine? Or is it a place where there’s vibrancy and laughter but it’s also professional and it’s very intentional.

And so I think that if you have an organization where people feel safe, which has a lot to do with these core values, right-

MARK:

Right, right.

DAVID:

… They feel safe because it’s not politicized, there is an expectation that what you hear is honest. Then I think it gives people the ability to be their unguarded cells and be comfortable. And to me, that’s culture, that’s the culture you want. Because that’s where you start to get true performance out of folks-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… because they feel that they can spread their wings, take some risks. And sometimes the risk for somebody who’s just putting themselves out there to suggest something, where that might be not in their default picture.

MARK:

The way I describe this as again, a member of the ALPS family, culture in my mind… A healthy culture encourages, enables, allows, et cetera, mutual investment so that all of us regardless of position, are able to increase to invest in what we’re doing as a group. But the organization also invests in us. It’s a two-way street. And perhaps it’s another way of saying, I think, culture when it’s really working, is the… So I’ve talked about the lens. Core values is the lens that we look at vision, all this. The culture is living the vision. It is walking the talk of what our values say at our… and it is moving towards something, a common goal. Now, I’d love to hear your comment on vision planning in general. ALPS is a corporation. We don’t all sit down, all of us and get together. And what’s the vision. How do we get to our vision? Can you just give a brief overview of the process? What does that look like?

DAVID:

Sure. I mean, I think in order to have a vision that you can communicate in order to get the people who you depend upon to make the vision a reality on board, you first have to have a very clear and honest reckoning with where you are right now, right? You can’t portray yourself as something other than what you are, or other than the state in which you are in. And so when you say this is who we are, this is where we are. And then this is where we’re going. And this is why, right? Because I think, in private enterprise too often, the objective is more.

MARK:

Yes.

DAVID:

More is a lot of things, but sustainably inspiring to an employee population. It is not, right? People need to understand what’s in it for me? Why, should I be as excited about the vision casting and where we’re going? You’ve told me where we are, you’ve shown me where we’re going. You’ve outlined some way station milestones in between here and there. Tell me why I should be fully bought in to this pursuit, because it is easier to just do what we’re doing right now. Well, and not really venture out with all of the risks and work that are involved with going out onto the vision timeline. And so, I think one of the key approaches is to bring clarity to what those points look like and bring transparent explanation for the reasons, because you are asking people to do more and, or do different than what they are doing right now.

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

And people need to know why they should do that.

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I can also share, it includes, sort of measurable metrics. It’s one thing to say, well, my vision is to be the most profitable family law firm in greater Montana or something. But if you don’t have a pass, we need to sit down and I can assure you folks, we do. That’s part of this strategic planning process. David, I want to give you a little bit time, if we still have some time to talk about the Mansfield Center. But before we get to that, can you just… Share what you feel comfortable sharing. What does the future look like for ALPS?

DAVID:

Sure. We are-

MARK:

In terms of your long-term vision?

DAVID:

Yeah, well, so ALPS, it’s got such a great three decades of history.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

It started in the wake of the S&L crisis, when there was a genuine crisis of a complete lack of availability for legal malpractice insurance, particularly for the smallest firms.

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

Right? ALPS was one of a handful of kind of white Knights that were created by State Bars in order to solve this problem. Obviously the market has evolved in different cycles over the last three decades. The crisis went away. We’ve had times when it’s been very, very competitive and at times where has been very problematic from a loss perspective. And so, what ALPS has always been is, a direct carrier, a direct insurer of legal malpractice, the GEICO or Progressive, of lawyers malpractice. And it’s far more common to have these commercial lines of insurance traded through brokers or agents.

And I do believe that brokers and agents provide an important value proposition-

MARK:

Oh, yes.

DAVID:

… for midsize and larger commercial risks in general. But they add a very significant cost as a percentage of the full transaction. And so I think one of the reasons why we’ve been as successful as we have been particularly in the last five to 10 years, is because we’ve been able to take the economics that traditionally go to brokers and agents, and share those economics between insureds and the company, really more to the benefit of the insurance. We didn’t make this up. It’s how Progressive and GEICO-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… permanently disrupted the Personal Lines Industry several decades ago. So, we are not pioneers, I think we’ve done things differently-

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

… and in many ways done things better as it relates to Commercial lines. But that’s been our journey. So, in brief, Mark, to answer your question, the States that we are not in, we need to be in, now there are only a very small number of States that we have no appetite to be in, right? But for the 47 States where we do have an appetite, the States that we’re not in, we need to be in. The States that we are in, we need to have critical mass in.

MARK:

Yes.

DAVID:

There are States where we’re in, but we’re not a substantial player. I mean, there are States where we are the undisputed largest-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… LPL carrier by policy count in the state. And there are multiple States where we are that. But there are also a lot of States where we have a very small market share. We need to have critical mass. And then eventually, as we gain more critical mass in places where we don’t yet have it, we can start to look laterally and offer products other than legal malpractice.

Right now we do legal malpractice, Cyber and EPL, Employment Practices Liability. But our attorneys who buy from us, arguably, the most important risk transfer product that they buy, they trust us directly with. And so we can bring to them offerings of other insurance products whether or not our balance sheet specifically is protecting or not, that’s a step. And then eventually, we have ambitions to get into other lines of commercial business beyond legal malpractice. It could be accountants, it could be miscellaneous errors and emissions. I mean, we are now… What I’m describing now, I would put in the intermediate to long-term time horizon-

MARK:

Yes, right.

DAVID:

… not in the short to early intermediate. But those are… When we have vision, I have a timeline illustration that I’m sure both of you and I are picturing in our minds right now, because we’ve both seen it, that shows for the purpose of employees. These are the steps along our path, going to this place, here is why we’re doing this. This is why we think it’s important. And I think just as important as that, and I guess, I think the next observation that maybe the final one that I’ll offer will kind of wind in almost all of your questions.

For me, I think it’s important to acknowledge what we are and what we aren’t. I think some companies love… And I’m not criticizing this, it works for them. They create almost a cult like atmosphere right there, where you just bleed the color of the company. And I think that that’s great and cool, and for some companies. I don’t believe that for what we do, right? We are a lawyer’s malpractice insurance company, right? So we are not ending homelessness, we are not feeding-

MARK:

Right.

DAVID:

… hungry kids, right? To be sure, the money that we’re making enables us to be generous to others-

MARK:

Absolutely.

DAVID:

… and that is a significant priority for us. I think we’ve had the ability to do a lot of really wonderful things-

MARK:

Yeah, yeah.

DAVID:

… with that, but our core business isn’t digging wells in impoverished nations. And so, I think it’s not only okay to me, it’s important to say, this is a job, a career, it’s a place to labor alongside of people who you trust and hopefully who you enjoy. And I think the reason why people at ALPS, why we have so little turnover and why by all of our measuring techniques, people seem to have a very positive perspective of being here, because they can get up and look in the mirror and whether or not legal malpractice was necessarily the job they dreamt up when they were a wee lad, they can nonetheless look in the mirror and say, “We’re doing great work.” Right?

MARK:

Yeah. Yeah.

DAVID:

We create our product honestly and ethically, we sell it transparently. And the instructions that we get from the top on down is, if we owe it we pay it, if we don’t know we fight it. We don’t really have to get much more complicated than that, right?

MARK:

Right, right.

DAVID:

If we’ve made this promise, keep it. If we haven’t made this promise, then we have a responsibility to the other stakeholders to dig in. And so we do dig in and do battle, on occasion. So, that I think is an important aspect of who we are, because it lets people feel… It lets people contextualize the purpose of their role here. I tell people often that I view, I love my job, I love the people who I work with. I look forward to it every day. It is not my life. I take vacation.

I largely view the time that I spend here as giving me the means and the ability to do other things, and with other people who I care deeply about.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

So, if you are here 24-7, and on the weekends, you should not be-

MARK:

Yeah, I agree.

DAVID:

…right guys? This should not be your life.

MARK:

Right. Yeah.

DAVID:

It should be an important part of your life because of the hours we spend together. But it should not define who you are and it definitely should not be your identity. So, those are kind of, some of the aspects of life under the ALPS umbrella.

MARK:

Yeah. We’re kindred spirits in this regard. If we have a little bit of time and if you need to go, David, you need to go, but I would love if you have a few minutes, you were sharing prior to starting lists, the Mansfield Center. And I suspect a lot of people really have no clue what the Mansfield Center is, and what incredible stuff is happening here in Montana. So, I would love if you could just give a few minutes and share what you’d like to share and fill us in a little bit about what’s going on with the Mansfield Center.

DAVID:

Sure, sure. I mean, I’ve been on the Mansfield Center Board for probably 15 years. Mansfield Center was created… Mansfield Center and the Mansfield Foundation was created by an Act of Congress, actually.

MARK:

Oh, wow.

DAVID:

Senator Mike Mansfield was, I think still to this day, the longest serving Senate president in U.S. history. He and I actually probably don’t share ideologically many of the same priorities, but that’s the beauty of this whole thing. I mean, Mike Mansfield was… He had kind of epitomized the good old days of bipartisan friendships, deep lasting friendships with people who felt very strongly in opposition politically to aspects of Mike. I recently became the chair of the Mansfield Center Board. Mainly I had a ton of time for the Executive Director. She’s wonderful. And I believe that we’re in a very… We all know that we’re in a precarious time in our country. We all know the dangers that are around us.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

But I also think that there is a national yearning for bipartisanship, for civility, for cooperation. And the Mansfield Center is an ideal national and regional too in the Rocky Mountain West, but national vehicle to channel those types of things. So for example, we have, Dr. Fauci coming up in event that we’ve planned. We’ve got the chair of the Problem Solver Caucus, chairs. And if you’re not familiar with the PSC which goes under “new labels” sometimes, it’s worth a Google. PSC, Problem Solver Caucus, 50 Republicans, 50 Democrats in the house. They are a force now, four key legislation really needs to involve the Problem Solvers Caucus.

And you have… It’s just such an under-reported wonderful example of what is actually going on, which is, the two chairs, a Republican and a Democrat, who probably don’t agree on anything politically, but when you listen to these two people talk, it’s very clear that they definitely trust one another, that they, I think soundboard and value the opinions of one another as much, or in some cases more than the members of their own party.

And so, they are opportunities, I think to harness this yearning. I just did a call with the U.S. Chamber. I’m also on the board there, and the Mansfield Center. And so, my hope over the next 24 months, is to try to play some small role in tethering together organizations like the Mansfield Center and the Chamber and the Bipartisan Policy Center. And these organizations who have this, we have to work together mission, because I think there is an opportunity right now even where people, even who aren’t interested in politics, recognize that we have to start to treat one another better. We have to start respecting the opinions of people who we don’t agree with more. We have to talk about things. And so, that’s why I’m currently kind of somewhat jumped in the deep end of Mansfield Center activities. I think that there’s a good opportunity, and I’m privileged to be a part of it.

MARK:

Well, I’m really pleased that you shared all of this. I absolutely agree with you in terms of the political situation we’re in and the amount of discord is going on just crazy. But just hearing this, it brightens my day. I mean, it so does, it’s just… I can just speak as a citizen at this point and say, it’s hard, it really is hard, to find the bright spots of hope. And this is one, so I really appreciate.

DAVID:

Yeah, hopefully we’ll see more example. I believe that media, social and mainstream, is the greatest threat to our nation’s mental health that exists today. And so I just, I hope that there will be more and more opportunities to witness the current examples of healthy bipartisan dialogue that’s going on and more, perhaps just as important, lots of opportunities to create, make, and be a part of new ways for people who have been camped for a long time to extend a hand, to be friends. It doesn’t mean you have to agree.

MARK:

Right. Yeah.

DAVID:

Right? It just means that you have to just listen for a bit and maybe a little give and take, negotiations. Everybody listening to this podcast, they’re likely in a profession where negotiation is a central part of what they do. And give and take is an absolute essential ingredient. We need more of that-

MARK:

Right, right.

DAVID:

… political discourse as well.

MARK:

Yeah.

DAVID:

It should not be whoever’s in control when the pendulum swings that way, as an absolute. So thank you, Mark for that.

MARK:

Well, you’re welcome. And thank you. This is where we’re going to need to leave it folks. I know David has got quite a busy day. David, it truly, it’s always a pleasure to get together and spend a little time chatting. I thank you for fitting us in today. Folks, I hope you found something of interest and value in this podcast. And as always, if any of you have any additional thoughts about podcast topics or something you’d like to hear about, someone you’d like us to try to visit with, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You may reach me at MBaaS, M-B-A-A-S @alpsinsurance.com. So that’s it folks. Bye-Bye. Thanks again, David.

DAVID:

Thank you.

 

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