An interview with emphasis on productivity tips with Angela Adams, President of Angela Adams Consulting.
After working her way up in agency life as CFO and agency owner, Angela built her own consultancy business. With her firm, Angela and her team of 70 people across the U.S. focus on helping agencies leverage technology for better performance. She’s spoken at NetVU and her company was selected to be part of the Vertafore Orange Partner program, advocating for innovative, easy-to-use tools for agencies to improve service and productivity.
Now let’s dig into how Angela maximizes her own performance.
HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY?
My calendar and email are the first two things I check every morning to see what’s going on. Then I take coffee out on the porch and come back at 7am. I like to see what’s there and then take some me time.
WHEN ARE YOU MOST PRODUCTIVE, AND HOW DO YOU MAXIMIZE THAT?
My peak time for writing or presentations is first thing in the morning, so I’ll put those in my calendar. If it’s going to take 3 hours, I’ll schedule three one-hour sessions to make sure I get it done.
WHAT’S ONE TECH SOLUTION YOU’VE STARTED USING FOR YOUR OWN PRODUCTIVITY?
This one is for collaboration more than productivity. I stumbled across a program called Mural, a virtual, multi-user whiteboard. It’s one I’m really advocating for since the pandemic.
I introduced it internally, and now we are using it in client meetings. People that tend not to speak up in meetings have much less hesitation about adding sticky notes to a subject. I have participated in a lot of meetings throughout my career where producers will speak up, but account managers won’t. This tool helps get the best out of everyone.
WHAT’S ONE TECH SOLUTION YOU’VE CUT OUT?
One of the things I’m using much less is OneNote. I used to use it extensively. We’ve now moved to Microsoft Teams, and we don’t use it except for specific things where it’s a good fit.
INBOX ZERO OR 4,000?
I’m at 1000, but I have an excuse. Most of my email messages are there for easy reference, but I rarely leave pertinent tasks unfinished. If I am not going to get to it, I leave it unread and schedule time to address it. The thousand in there are just easy to retrieve if needed.
I use my calendar to an extreme extent. If I have something in my email from yesterday that I didn’t take care of, first thing the next day, I create a calendar event to make sure I finish it.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH DELEGATING TASKS?
My sister will tell you that I’ve been delegating since I could talk. I delegate a lot. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because it’s empowering for others to take ownership. It’s one way I establish a strong relationship with my team. Rather than telling them how they can do it, I trust them to learn or even find a better way! The end results are always a win-win. I get more done, and my team is able to make valuable contributions to our shared success.
ANYTHING YOU WON’T DELEGATE?
Nope, it’s all fair game!
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Know thyself. People try to push themselves into another way of doing things. You’ve got to find what works for you. I realized that with my son. When I’m stressed, I make lists and feel more in control. My son finds listing to-dos more stressful. He prefers to focus on one thing at a time.
BOOK THAT’S INSPIRED YOU LATELY:
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier reminded me that coaching is one of the most effective ways to make a team more collaborative. It’s essential to challenge people to find their own solutions rather than giving the answers. You want to ask questions that engage the team rather than tell them what you think. Ask, “How do you think we should solve this?” Doing that over the long term makes them stronger.
BARRIERS TO PRODUCTIVITY FOR INSURANCE ORGANIZATIONS?
The stereotyping in agencies of producers and account managers as adversaries. If they would work as a team, they could be so much more. One is detail-oriented, one is results-driven. By nature and personality, their strengths are synergistic.
THE FUTURE OF MY COMPANY IS…
Just amazing. We grew at almost 19% in 2020 in a pandemic when we could not travel. It has been a fun challenge continuing to innovate and engage virtually with agencies, despite the fact we cannot travel to their offices.
THE FUTURE OF INSURANCE IS…
Hopeful. People will always need insurance. The question is will independent agents allow it to become so commoditized that they become irrelevant. I love seeing Nationwide join the independent agency system. We’re teaching Nationwide agencies a lot, but there’s a lot to learn from them, too. Nationwide has done a better job making personal lines profitable, bringing new people into the industry, and marketing. There is so much we can learn from each other about succeeding in the independent agency system.
Much more than being busy. It’s important to measure how much you accomplish, not how busy you are.