This blog post is based on an interview with Edwige Ligonde, Executive Vice President at Nielsen Benefits Group. It has been posted with his approval and permission.
Note: AB denotes AgencyBloc and EL denotes Edwige Ligonde
Continuing with our Expert Series blogs, we had the opportunity to ask Edwige Ligonde, Executive Vice President at Nielsen Benefits Group and 2021 Benefits Pro Broker of the Year, about what it means to be in the "people" business. Thank you, Edwige, for your time and contribution!
AgencyBloc: You’ve said you’re not an insurance broker; you’re in the people business. Explain what you mean by that.
Edwige Ligonde: A broker is the middle man of a transactional business. What we do is partner with organizations by listening to them, anticipating their concerns, and providing solutions to help them enhance the lives of their #1 assets: their people. Ultimately, this is a people business, and our impact as advisors and solution providers is far-reaching.
AB: How does being on a soccer team translate to working with the team at Nielsen Benefits Group?
EL: My years as an athlete, specifically a soccer player, have taught me roles and team dynamics. Each player on the team has a specific role. Each player also needs to learn how to manage when those roles intersect. Being a part of a team helped me build strong camaraderie with my peers in the professional world because it is all about trust. Your soccer teammates need to trust you; that is no different in the professional world. You have to have each other’s backs.
AB: What’s your advice to other insurance professionals looking to stand out in the noisy market?
EL: Don’t be afraid to disrupt! Early on, I was taught that this industry was archaic, and the way to be different was to offer more services. Now, offering more services is becoming obsolete. It’s about you as an individual and focusing less on the logo on your chest and more on your passion for employee benefits. Some find a passion in the delivery, and some find passion in lifestyle benefits. Whatever it is, let people know what your passion is because you’ll work with clients who believe what you believe. The synergy you create with clients who believe what you believe will be the fuel you’ll need to stay motivated.
AB: What advice do you have for others on networking with other brokers or insurance professionals, even if they may be technically competitors? What value do you look for in these types of partnerships?
EL: I believe this is a great idea! You can’t be friends with everyone; however, if you have a common goal, connecting with like-minded insurance brokers can only help your game. Everyone has a different experience, even if you “specialize” in the same arena. What you can learn from each other could be pivotal.
AB: What are your strategies for surrounding yourself with smart, driven people?
EL: This is one of my favorite principles. I shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room. Fortunately, there is no shortage of knowledge and exceptional talent in the benefits industry. I want those people in my corner. When I can learn more and surround myself with smart people, my team, my clients, and my community are the beneficiaries.
AB: What advice do you have for young insurance professionals just getting started in the industry?
EL: Find your personal why, find a mentor, and try your best not to allow the fear of failure to stop you from excelling. Fail forward. There were many times I had ideas or intentions that completely failed, but I learned from them, and it helped me grow personally and professionally.
AB: Which insurance industry websites and publications do you recommend other insurance professionals follow for the best educational resources?
EL: Employee Benefits News & BenefitsPro are two of my favorites so far. I’m also a fan of NextGen Benefits Mastermind and how they are disrupting the status quo of traditional healthcare purchasing and delivery.
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