If you've engaged with this series, it's probably safe to say that you are an "ideas person" -- you see the world for what it could be rather than just what it is. You possess some degree of clairvoyance, perceiving gaps to be filled and needs to be met before others. You aren't just an inventor -- you're a reinventor. But it takes more than forward thinking to succeed; it takes opportunistic timing as well. Don't they say, after all, that "timing is everything?"
Most people would tell you to figure out what you do best and stick to it -- that it was the only true recipe for success. But what if what you did best was "evolve?" What if it wasn't about reinventing yourself into something completely new, but was about reinventing yourself into something better?
We ought to be asking these questions to the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, who has made the long-term commitment to continual improvement. As they put it -- "what began as a simple Car insurance company for farmers has become a multi-line, multi-company insurer and financial services group with a solid reputation for doing the right thing for the right reason," and beyond that, making the right changes at the right time.
The reality is that Farmers Insurance has found a way to embed itself into all of our lives. Whether it be simply to provide us a good laugh (they produce my favorite commercials), or to legitimately protect and insure us, Farmers Insurance has figured out how to appeal to more than just the farmer. Starting in 1928 just before the greatest economic depression in American history, Farmers Insurance has evolved into a thriving household name.
If you take a look at "The Farmers Story," you begin to note that almost every decade this company figured out a way to leverage the momentum they were already generating to reinvent themselves into something better.
As we all know from their commercial sign-offs, Farmers Insurance stands by the claim "We are insurance." And while that has technically been true since their inception, the details have certainly changed. Starting as an auto-insurance firm, Farmers then reinvented itself to incorporate truck insurance (1935), home insurance (1942), coverage for inland Marine, robbery, burglary, personal lines, plate glass, selected bonds, and floaters (1950), mutual fund and variable insurance products (2000), and eventually non-standard auto insurance (2007). Talk about succeeding and patiently growing your capabilities! With a portfolio of offerings like that, it becomes easier every day for Farmers Insurance to make that claim. Their new commercials should end "No seriously. We really are insurance."
Not to mention that along the way they reinvented not only what they were offering but how they were equipping those offering it, developing a best in class training simulation that earned them the top training honors in Training magazine's 11th annual Training Top 125 awards program. This isn't the first time they've demonstrated a "best in class" attitude. In 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Farmers Insurance reorganized and revamped its catastrophe response space operations to create one "unequalled in the industry." They ultimately created a Mobile Command Center, a 45-foot bus fully equipped with satellite communications and GPS.
Some might say that this insurance powerhouse does work out of this world, and they'd be correct. Farmers Insurance has even been a player in virtual worlds, partnering in 2010 with social-marketing agency 15miles and interactive-gaming Zynga to provide farmers on Facebook's FarmVille virtual protection for their crops through an Airship named 'Eureka.' From the Great Depression era farmer to Facebook's newest grower, Farmers Insurance is truly in business to help anyone and everyone.
With 85 years of experience under their belt, and the willingness to try something new, the leaders at Farmers Insurance have mastered reinvention without ever wavering from their larger commitment to continuous improvement.
Is It the Right Time For You?
Take note that Farmers Insurance didn't tackle the entire insurance landscape in a single day. Frankly had they taken on one of the challenges too soon, they may not have been anywhere near as influential. Remember, timing is everything, and it is all about waiting until you've done your due diligence and have created as much momentum as possible before you think about what's next. Master today, then master tomorrow. Or as my long-time mentor once advised me, "dig your stake deep."
Watch the video to see how other highly successful people reinvent themselves when they are at the top of their game, using the trust, momentum and energy that come with rapid progress to lay the foundation for their next journey.
Once you finish watching, ask yourself when would a good time for you be to start laying the foundations for what is next? Have you been trying to squeeze every last drop of value out of your current project or profession to the detriment of what you are really passionate about or want to do next?
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Peter Sheahan on the topic of Making It Happen in Small Business, focused on turning those with the ideas into those with the influence. To see all of the posts in the series, click here.