Career Transitions: Sharing Our Collective Wisdom

Rick Bondurant, CAE

One of my favorite quotes about associations is from Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America:”

“In democratic countries the science of association is the mother science; the progress of all the others depends on the progress of that one.” de Tocqueville was struck by 19th century America’s propensity toward creating associations in all aspects of life: social, industrial, political and religious, and he believed that America’s rapid progress flowed from such associations.

That progress continues today and is greatly facilitated by our associations for associations: TSAE and ASAE. Having recently and with mixed feelings returned to the for-profit sector, I can attest to the progress my professional growth attained through my involvement.

I first entered the association world in 2004 after having sold my insurance agency to Frost Bank. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT) was kind enough to recruit me, and I relocated to Austin.  My role as Director of Agency Management Resources was to create and deliver resources to help our members manage and grow their agencies. I soon realized that my own agency experience would only go so far in the pursuit. I needed to be able to leverage others’ expertise and experience to truly help our members succeed. At the urging of my colleagues Cindy Quy, CAE, CMP and Linda Timmons, CAE, I found that leverage at TSAE.

As de Tocqueville would attest, it’s the association’s job to “mother science” by harnessing the collective wisdom of the members. Many of the most innovative ideas I brought to members of IIAT came from programs I attended as a member at TSAE and ASAE. Sessions that stand out to me over the years include “Crucial Conversations,” “Leadership Insights from My Journey as a Prisoner, Monk and Social Entrepreneur” and “Evidence-Based Decision Making and Creating a Workplace Reflecting Your Culture.”

The “mothering of science” was also alive and well at IIAT. Our Core Values were Continuous Improvement, Service Excellence, and Integrity. Our Guiding Principles were Independence, Innovation, Consumer Interests, and Expertise. These values and principles were advanced through innovative management concepts such as Lean Management and Kolbe – concepts I learned from working with our Executive Director, Marit Peters. Helping our members apply these concepts and tools in their agencies paved the way for my own successful transition back to the insurance industry, where I use these concepts and tools to this day on a regular basis.  ●

Author Rick Bondurant, CAE is Market President and Statewide Property & Casualty Leader for Frost Insurance Agency, a subsidiary of Frost Bank. Frost Insurance ranks 67th of the top 100 insurance firms in the U.S. and eighth among all U.S. bank-owned agencies. He served on the TSAE board from 2014-2018.

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