Running a marathon has never been a lifelong goal of mine. So in April, when I decided to run the Chicago Marathon, I surprised myself because my original intent was to only run a half-marathon. But as we all know, things change, and after learning more about the training program, I decided to go for it and began to focus on a new, larger goal. During my training, I've experienced many smaller challenges, such as waking up at 3:30 a.m. to avoid running in the heat as well as Chicago Lakefront crowds.My biggest challenge so far has been a 13-mile run along a scenic drive in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. It was hilly and hot, but the scenery was incredible. To accomplish this feat, I had to alter my standard training intervals throughout the run, and increase my mental stamina. I was prepared to experience many of the physical and mental challenges, but as with many experiences, this too required on the fly adjustments.

The insurance industry seems to be experiencing a similar challenge. We may not be training for a marathon, but we are facing our own first-time adventure into unexplored territory. The financial services convergence is a new charter for everyone involved. Carriers, agents, brokers, and vendors all need to accept the challenges this transformation brings. Phrases to keep in mind during this transition include: nimble, plan B, reforecast, calculated risks, and most important, perseverance.

Perseverance is critical in this Internet-paced lifestyle we've been forced to adapt to. As an industry, we no longer have the luxury to "wait and see." For some of us, it's not a problem; for others, you need to take a deep breath and just do it.

Allstate's new agent initiative is a wonderful example-even though the company probably feels like Dennis Miller during his first televised NFL broadcast, feeling the heat from critics with eyes glued on him waiting for the big mistake. Allstate took the plunge and planned for the future, requiring some tough management decisions. Sometimes it's scary being the first one to test new waters, but the long-term payoff to customers, agents and stockholders will be worth it.

In this issue, we cover two big challenges where the industry needs enormous perseverance: call center and e-signature technology. Remember that being the first may be a tough step to take, but being the last will be worse.

During this challenging time, our industry needs to embrace the changes taking place, keep on top of them, keep in mind the long-term goal and remember the word perseverance.

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