It’s billed as the “world’s largest gathering of insurance leaders and innovators.”
So, of course, as an insurance leader and/or innovator you will be one of the 6,000 attendees at the ITC—the InsureTech Connect Conference at MGM Grand in Las Vegas Oct. 2 and 3. You would not want to miss the two full days of more than 50 sessions with more than 250 speakers. That’s about three speakers per minute. If that’s not enough, there is a pre-conference day of invitations-only presentations as well.
Last year the start of the ITC came right after the tragic Las Vegas shooting. Here’s hoping no new tragedy awaits—in Las Vegas or anywhere.
If you are in the insurance industry and you have not yet been to an ITC or other insurtech gathering, you may be in for a shock.
It’s important to be yourself at ITC. But it never hurts to try to fit in with the crowd. You know, when in Rome… In case you are at all worried about embarrassing yourself or the industry, relax. Here are some tips on how to act, dress and speak around the cool insurtech people. As insurtechs take over the world, this may serve as a guide to the new normal in conference behavior.
You want to be judged for your brain not your beauty. The goal is to dress like you don’t care how you look but spend a lot of time and money dressing that way. Casual dress is a must. Leave the business attire at home. No power suits. If you are still wearing a tie, stop. Blazers and vests are cool for men and women. Also for women, something called a moto jacket. Untucked J-Crew shirts or white V-neck, black or pastel T-shirts. Black or blue skinny jeans or other black slacks. No khakis.
Footwear. Men, the best fit would be expensive running shoes or sneakers (wool is popular) or black leather boots. Socks are optional but if you wear them they should be striped. Women, in addition to sneakers, options include flats, boots or very expensive hand-painted heels.
Accessorize your platform.
Some suggestions for accenting your attire:
- Your tattoo doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be at least partially visible, like on your neck or wrist.
- Hair. Generally speaking, the more, the better. For men old enough to grow it, facial hair is mandatory.
- For women, a statement necklace.
- Knapsacks, not briefcases.
- Business cards should be made from a recycled material. It’s best if your card serves a double purpose such as a seed pouch, comb, candy wrapper or mini-keyboard.
- Wearables. Track, transmit or tune into something, anything.
Be your nice self.
Yes, some of the most successful and iconic hi-tech entrepreneurs have been arrogant jerks, cutthroats and incompetents, but insurtech leaders don’t fit that mold. Most are nice, engaging, smart, talented and open. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, except to the rule that everybody in insurance is nice. Just be yourself.
Speed it up.
If the insurtech people brush you off, it’s not because they are jerks or arrogant. They are in a hurry. They are always in a hurry (hence the running shoes). They talk fast and multitask. This frenzied approach is reflected in the ITC format where sessions and speakers are booked on top of each other. Everybody is late for a meeting or anxious about trying to be in 10 places at once. Try to keep up.
Shake, prattle and stroll.
Certain behaviors will show you really belong:
- Develop a special handshake; learn the fist bump at a minimum but get creative if you can.
- When speaking about partnerships or investments, do not under any circumstances mention revenue or profits.
- Practice speedwalking while speedtalking on your smartphone and with a real person by your side. Avoid eye contact.
Drop some names.
Some celebrities to add to your LinkedIn network: Caribou Honig, Jay Weintraub, Guy Goldstein, Ilya Bodner, Becky Downing, Tim Attia, Tony Kuczinski, Dan Ariely, Jian yang, Daniel Schreiber, Jeremy Lin, Matthew Wong, Sabine Vanderlinden, Reid Hoffman, Matteo Carbone, Marc Benioff, Andy Rear, Chris Cheatham, Max Chee, Ted Devine, Max Drucker, Mike Fitzgerald, Garauv Garg, Denise Garth, Ty Harris, James Hobson, Jonathan Matus, Matt Miller, Keith Moore, Dan Reed, Brian Hemesath, Scott Walchek, Jay Sarsen, Jamie Yoder, Dustin Yoder, Brad Weisberg, Michael Albert, Todd Kozikowski, Susan Joseph, Kirstin Marr, John Swigart, Grace Vandercruze.
Brush up on your insurtechabulary.
Pie is a digital workers’ compensation carrier, not a dessert. You already know Lemonade and Slice are not drinks. This is a reminder that there are terms and buzzwords to know and they may not be what they seem. Beyond the obvious such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, culture, blockchain, API and bot, here are some others you may hear (and want to Google):
Front end, back end, stack, full stack, burn rate, growth hacking, user flow, influencer, sales funnel, data mining, hybrid app, unicorn, gamification, vanity metrics, crushing it, agile, slack, hockey stick growth, zombie startup, dogfooding, bootcamp, accelerator, FOMO, deliverables, freemium, Tinder binge, and Zuckerberging.
Go now and soak it all in. If you can only catch a few sessions, be sure to catch Caribou Honig, Dan Ariely, Matthew Wong and Daniel Schreiber. Once you have absorbed the insurtech essence, being sexy and cool will come naturally. But behave yourself. While what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, you will be expected to share whatever you learn at ITC back at the office.
One more thing. Plan ahead. If you really want to share, submit a bid to speak at next year’s ITC. Speaker applications for 2019 are being accepted now.
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