By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
Dustin Ng isn't a big, imposing man and is a relative newcomer to his sport, but the actuarial analyst with Integro can make clear connections between the work he puts in on the ice and his challenges in the insurance brokering industry.
Ng, a short-track speed skater, has been at the competitive level for the past three years and races with the East Penn
Ice Speed Skating Club in White Hall, Pa., and a sister organization, the Garden State Speed Skating Club in Morristown, N.J.
He's not at the Olympic level yet, but he does compete regionally in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, traveling to meets in Connecticut, upstate New York and as far as Virginia.
Ng is soft-spoken, but when he talks about the connection between sport and business achievement, you can tell he's learned some toughening lessons.
"To be honest, when I first started doing short track, it was probably my third session on the ice that I felt I wasn't getting anywhere. I wasn't learning like I wanted to be, and I actually wanted to quit," said Ng.
"But there was a voice in there that said, "Stick with it because people weren't born to do this stuff, they have to learn it," and I stuck with it and overcame the initial hump and am still doing it now," Ng said.
In short-track speed skating, you can't just nestle into one distance. Skaters in that discipline will compete at 500, 1000 and 1,500 meters.
"So, you don't have too much of an advantage for the skaters that are good in short distances or longer distances. You pretty much have to be good all around," said Ng.
Same thing goes in his work with Integro and in the brokerage world in general, as we have heard many times.
"Being on the brokerage side, we see many different kinds of clients and different kinds of businesses, so it's not like you could take a cookie-cutter approach. And it's the same thing with short track," he said.
He said the will he found to break through walls of physical resistance in the rink is well brought to bear in his actuarial work.
"I don't know if it is as much connected to the sport as it is connected to my attitude about the sport," he said.
"What I do on the brokerage side is very analytical. There will be a lot of situations where I don't know what to do and I want to throw in the towel, but that persistence that I have in the sport, that sort of carries over."
Certainly Ng's brokerage benefits from his individual persistence.
BROKERING WITH SPORTS BYPRODUCTS
Brokerages can benefit from other types of byproducts from sports and athletic experience as well.
Back in the day, and we mean pretty far back in the day, John Laskowski, a Park Ridge, Ill,.-based vice president for Marsh U.S. Consumer, found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
And we mean the cover of Sports Illustrated. This was the cover of Feb. 3, 1975, well before the magazine featured, as it does now, different covers for different regions on the same publication date.
As the first man off the bunch, or "Super-Sub" as he was known, for one of legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight's best Indiana Hoosiers teams, Laskowski knew at a very young age what it was like to perform at a very high level athletically.
In Laskowski's sophomore year, Indiana went to the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament, a rarified place to be indeed. In Laskowski's senior year of 1974-75, Indiana put up a record of 31-1 and made it to the Elite Eight. It was the following year's Indiana team that went undefeated and won the NCAA championship, the last NCAA men's team to accomplish that incredible feat.
Laskowski played two seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. One highlight of his pro career could be when he put up 29 points against another basketball legend, Aliquippa, Pa., native "Pistol" Pete Maravich and the New Orleans Jazz.
He was also elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, he is in his 32nd year moonlighting as a television play-by-play analyst for the nationally televised Big Ten Network.
These days, Laskowski doesn't do much in the athletic department. He hits the treadmills in the hotels on business trips, but that's about it.
But what Laskowski learned under Knight and on the basketball court has stayed with him. He wishes he saw more people in the insurance world--and in the business world in general--that were similarly educated.
In Laskowski's estimation, many people in insurance talk a good team game but very few actually walk that talk.
"I look at guys that have not been in a team atmosphere ... and they struggle sometimes with the concept. They try to be more of an island if you will," said Laskowski.
He said that type of personality won't reach out for help or assistance from a co-worker when a situation might call for it. His experience on a high-performing athletic team, on the other hand, taught him that there are going to be bumps in the road and that relying on teammates can be one of the best ways to ride out those bumps.
Laskowski also learned that you have to be flexible and adjust. You can draw up a game plan in business and in sports, but nothing's going to play out the way you planned it.
Being a true team player has also made Laskowski unselfish. He won a sales award from Marsh a few years ago, and he shared the bonus with his co-workers.
And Laskowski is still producing. This past year, for instance, he worked out a seven-year contract extension for a Marsh client, a Midwestern alumni association, earning his company around $7 million in revenue.
February 1, 2010
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