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Rebuilding State Auto: A CEO’s Story

It’s not everyday that an insurance company is willing to throw everything out the window and start over.

But that’s what State Auto did three years ago when CEO Mike LaRocco took over.

He knew they needed to build new technology from the ground up if they wanted to have a chance to make it moving forward.

It’s really a sigh of relief.

Which really wasn’t what I expected, but the more I think about it, was probably the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

I made the drive down I-71 South to Columbus, Ohio this Friday to wander the halls of State Auto and sit down with the man himself Mike LaRocco.

Which you’ll see making its way onto Agency Nation starting this Wednesday.

Whenever I get that close to the tip of sword, I always hope for an insurance epiphany to present itself.

Preferably positive, however negative works too if it serves as a launching pad for constructive improvement.

Guess what? Neither happen.



It ended up feeling just right.

Just right in the sense that the conversation felt like it was where it should be for an insurance company only three years into a dramatic culture shift, both mentally and physically.

Of course, there were no edges bleeding that would make Google or Amazon reach for a bandage.

Honestly, what did you expect? Mike and his crew have only been at it for 36 months.

The attitude was refreshing and the energy palpable.

The level of self-awareness was above average and ego properly positioned.

Maybe we need more than a sigh of relief right now.

Who knows.

However, I’ll take 10 relief-filled sighs over disappointing head shakes any day.

Because, to be honest, we could use it.

Beating the same war drum of despair leads to desperation and desperation unrelieved just turns into depression.

Finding the discipline to do what you can today is what will eventually make those edges bleed more.

Reaching past that will just get you hurt, emotionally and physically.

Kind of like an out of shape dude tossing around a kettlebell while watching reruns of Jerry Springer.

Staying within yourself an executing on a vision that’s ambitious enough to get attention is probably all you need.

Or at the very least, when things stop getting done, you’re either reaching to far or not enough.

Maybe the more alarming part of the experience is that relief feels so noticable.

It stands out because not enough people (companies) are providing it.

Instead the tension continues to get wound tighter everyday that ambitious vision isn’t being pursued.

No one is paying attention, or worse yet, they’re looking somewhere else for it.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I actually haven’t defined what this relief is yet.

Now that’ you’ve passed the 450 word test, here it is.

That relief comes in the form of a company not afraid to make tough decisions that have the potential to make you and your clients unhappy.

That is willing to not always think about what’s best for them, but the industry and the people it’s trying to serve.

And is unthreatened by being wrong or a little disagreement.

Are we getting as much as we need from it?

Probably not.

But that’s probably because the only real question that’s left is…

Where’s the next sigh going to come from?