Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 May/June IFAPAC

In the late 18th century, Catherine the Great of Russia announced she would tour the southern part of her empire, accompanied by several foreign ambassadors. The governor of the area, Grigory Potemkin, desperately wanted to impress these visitors. And so he went to remarkable lengths to showcase the country’s accomplishments.

For part of the journey, Catherine floated down the Dnieper River, proudly pointing out to the ambassadors the thriving hamlets along the shore, filled with industrious and happy townspeople. There was only one problem: it was all for show. It is said that Potemkin had assembled pasteboard facades of shops and homes. He had even positioned busy-looking peasants to create the impression of a prosperous economy. Once the party disappeared around the bend of the river, Potemkin’s men packed up the fake village and rushed it downstream in preparation for Catherine’s next pass.

Although modern historians have questioned the truthfulness of this story, the term “Potemkin village” has entered the world’s vocabulary. It now refers to any attempt to make others believe we are better than we really are.

It is part of human nature to want to look our best. It is why many of us work hard on the exterior of our homes, our offices, our personal appearance. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful. This temptation to appear better than we are is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our professional endeavors as well. Sometimes we fail to look outward, to look ahead, to prepare the way for others. And we spend more time and energy on our “Potemkin village” than we should.

The job of the IFAPAC Chair is to “Cry Wolf” at the appropriate times, to call us together for a noble cause, especially when our industry is under siege. We are about to enter a new era in our profession. Catherine the Great is looking at our industry and the minions with her are salivating at the rich resources they envision as being ripe for the taking. Take a few moments to read this -- AALU: Life industry facing a 'bloody battle' over DOL's fiduciary rule and ponder the future. The wolves are at the door of our village and they are not going to go away quietly in the night.

Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the industry. If you have years of business ahead of you, if you have a desire to see the immense benefits of life insurance continue for generations, then get involved! IFAPAC needs your support now. We urge you to contribute monthly and help fund the lobbying efforts in Olympia and in Washington DC.

Richard Ek

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