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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2020

An Interview with Bill Johnson, The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers Chairman: ‘We’ve built this business around our Culture - the foundation of which is our Mission and our Core Values. Culture is paramount at Liberty. Nothing is more powerful than an engaged and passionate team who are all rowing in the same direction and who genuinely care about each other along with the rest of the stakeholders of Liberty that we work together to serve.’

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“We are certainly not shy when discussing goals and data with staff, as we believe they are privy to the information.”

Data has always been at the heart of the insurance industry. What has changed in our current reality to create massive disruption is the amount of data generated daily and the speed at which machines can process the info and uncover insights. We can no longer characterize the insurance industry as a sloth when it comes to innovation and technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are transforming the insurance industry in several ways.

Strategically applying these exciting new technologies fuels growth at The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers (TLCIB)and improves its bottom line costs through improved efficiencies.

The company provides insurance services to businesses, non-profits, and individuals. It covers the spectrum of commercial, personal, employee benefit, and surety lines.

TLCIB was incorporated in 1987 and is headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA.

Bill Johnson, The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers Chairman, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. How does a casual day at Liberty Company look like?

We have a saying at Liberty which is Remember to do your J.O.B. and J.O.B. stands for ‘Joy of Being’. The idea is that the most important thing each of us can do each day is to first put ourselves in a state of feeling good inside and then we can share those good feelings outward – first with our family, friends, and co-workers – the people closest to us – and then further outward from there to the clients, carriers, vendors, the community – all the stakeholders of the business. So, in effect, Liberty’s innovative growth strategy has been to create and harness the power of a happy, grounded, and connected workforce culture where people first focus on creating good feelings within themselves and then sharing those good feelings outward through the act of service. It turns out that this is a good business strategy as seen by Liberty’s growth and success, but more importantly, we believe that feeling good and sharing good feelings is the best way to spend our limited time on this planet when we are doing this good work that we’ve chosen to do in the world.

Q. Many claims take time to process because insurance companies need to assess the damage and determine an accurate accounting of loss. How can the process be less time-consuming?

The claims process starts before a claim occurs by making sure that our clients have the proper insurance for their exposures. When a loss occurs, we help them through the process by gathering the pertinent information reporting it to the proper carrier(s) right away. We follow up with the carrier(s) to make sure that an adjuster is assigned right away and aware of the exposures. We keep the client informed of the status of the claim throughout the life of the claim. We do this by staying in touch with the adjuster and negotiating the best plan of action for our client. If there are any potential delays, we identify them beforehand and address them immediately. Our goal is to get our clients’ claims resolved quickly and efficiently.

Q. Tell us about your data management system and compliance.thesiliconreview-the-liberty-company-insurance-brokers-image-20

Proper management of client information and data is of utmost importance to Liberty. Our clients trust us to keep their information safe and accurate, and we take every effort into ensuring we do so. Liberty has policies and procedures in place throughout the agency for each department to ensure each individual complies with our guidelines that were thoughtfully put in place. An in-house auditor position was even created to reaffirm the compliance of these policies and procedures.

Q. ‘When people are having fun, they work together better and they produce better work.’ How do you interpret this saying?

Our mission statement: ‘promoting peace of mind with great care’. Now ‘peace of mind’ is not something you can give to another person – that feeling can only come from within each individual. But you can certainly ‘promote peace of mind’ and that is already inherent in the work we do in insurance – helping people to sleep easier at night knowing their lives are protected. But ‘promoting peace of mind’ is more than that – it’s also how you treat your fellow man/woman that can help to create and promote peace of mind. And you can certainly promote peace of mind with great care in the way that we go about providing our service – the passion, thoroughness, persistence, and attention to detail as examples.

Likewise, with the values, we re-examined them and settled on eight core values – we like eight becauseit’s the sign of infinity!

The first is integrity – that trust is integral to our business. But integrity is more than trust – it’s how you operate in the world each day.

Next is excellence – constantly striving to do our work with greater levels of excellence each day.

The next three go together in our minds because they are feeling-oriented -- caring, kindness, and fairness – you can feel all of those.

And the next three go together in our minds as well because they are people-oriented and all we have at the end of the day in this business is our relationships – and they are teamwork, good feelings, and fun.

Q. A good workplace stresses teamwork while still encouraging individual achievement and creativity. Does your company follow the same strategy?

Liberty offers a robust ‘Training and Development Resource Center’ program — a detailed resource page on Liberty’s intranet that all levels of employees have access to. This is a detailed resource page aimed at an employee’s self-development, insurance knowledge development, and leadership management.

Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?

Liberty has worked hard to maintain its ‘open door policy’. Our executive and management team truly believes in openness and communication amongst everyone. An example would be quarterly town hall meetings; Liberty puts together where we discuss the projection of the agency, our goals, and how far into our yearly goal we are. We are certainly not shy when discussing goals and data with staff, as we believe they are privy to the information. Besides, Liberty solicits feedback from our staff whenever possible. An example would be our phased approach to reopening during the pandemic. We sent out a survey (with the option to remain anonymous if they choose to) and work to establish guidelines, policies, and procedures around their needs. We believe our transparency is evident with our employees, and trust is built upon it.

Q. What does the future hold for Liberty Company? Are exciting things on the way?

Exciting things are the new normal for Liberty! Continued growth and expansion throughout the country is in development as we speak, including many new partnerships on the horizon. Liberty has managed to go from a California-only based company to expanding its footprint throughout the nation, and we’ve met some amazing people along the way that we’re proud to call our employees. The sky is the limit for us!

Bill Johnson: A Leader with a Passion for Culture

Bill is a native of Chicago, IL and lived in northern California before attending California State University Northridge (CSUN) where he was an All-American tennis player. After graduating college in 1986, Bill began his insurance career as a farmer’s agent and shortly thereafter founded William J. Johnson Insurance Brokers Inc. (which later became The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers). In 2002, in addition to running Liberty, Bill decided to pursue a new venture in the film business and has since Produced over 30 films including working with stars Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, The Rock, Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman and many others.

But after a 2017-18 year long trip around the world with his wife and 9 year old twins, Bill returned to Los Angeles and realized that his passion for building a special Culture was drawing his attention back to Liberty on a full time basis. Since that time, Liberty has exploded with growth and expects to end 2020 with north of 45 million in revenue – but more importantly, with a happy and connected team fueling that growth. On the philanthropic side, Bill founded a public charity called ‘The Enlightenment Network’ which has the mission of supporting the arts within disadvantaged youth communities around the world. Bill is a yoga and meditation enthusiast and currently lives in Pacific Palisades, California with his wife Leah. They have three children, Skyler, Jett, and Jade.

“Proper management of client information and data is of utmost importance to Liberty. Our clients trust us to keep their information safe and accurate, and we take every effort into ensuring we do so.”