Called to the Dean’s office

Monday this week rolled in with a little more spite than usual.

A trio of angry voicemails barked at me from the speakerphone. At least half a dozen emails expressed similar – more poorly punctuated denunciations of my integrity. Oh, and I sloshed coffee on my right leg sitting down to face all this orchestrated outrage. I felt like I’d stumbled into Occupy Storey.

And the source of all righteous indignation? Well, politics, of course.

You might have heard – since, you know, we’re actually promoting it – that left-wing bullhorn Howard Dean will be a featured keynote speaker at Benefits Selling Expo in San Antonio in May.

Now, wait and hear me out before you pick up the phone or start clacking away at the keyboard.

  • In the past, Benefits Selling Expo has featured such right-wing luminaries as Pat Buchanan, Karl Rove, and Fred Thompson. Dee Dee Myers had been our only speaker from the left side of the aisle (and, yeah, I got calls about her, too). So, in the interest of fair play, we’re long overdue for someone from the left.
  • Cue Howard Dean. As a physician, he’s a nationally recognized expert on – and advocate for – health care reform. Now are his solutions maybe a little Draconian for the broker community? Probably, but we’re all grownups here, and if we can’t sit and listen to someone we don’t see eye-to-eye with, how in the world did you ever make it in sales?
  • He’s an educated, entertaining speaker who’s also been featured at similar industry events, such as AHIP’s annual conference a few years back.

And our goal’s always been about educating and challenging our audience, not coddling them. It’s all too easy these days to isolate yourself in a vacuum of like opinions and never venture out into the cold light of reality or even suffer the harsh torrents of disagreement.

I think it was Stanley Crouch who claimed that “All of us are made up of the stories that we listen to, the ones we disagree with and the ones that we agree with.” And the best stories are those that take unexpected turns. I mean, who likes to read the same thing over and over?

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.


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