RevRev Ep. 10 – Jamie Ahern

December 23, 2020 | Written by Dave Duke

A hedge fund trader turned SaaS tech leader turned next-generation insurance company COO, Jamie Ahern has taken an unlikely path to becoming one of Chicago’s rising executives. I sat down with Jamie to hear his story and learn about how he turned a passion for math and data science into leading marketing, growth, and product teams on his journey to landing a place in the c-suite a Kin Insurance.

Episode Key Takeaways

1. Maintain long-term foresight to get in front of issues – Jamie believes it is essential to always be thinking about the problems that the business could encounter in the next year. Think about the things you can be doing now to get in front of the issues today to minimize negative consequences. This can apply to all who are looking to improve a business in any role. Anticipating future issues and proactively taking action can pay off big in the long run.

2. Talking to customers constantly is essential to gaining deep understanding – Jamie makes a point to talk to 5-10 customers a week to ensure he is staying close to customers. He highlights the importance of committing to getting a deep understanding of the needs of the customers to ensure the right products and services are being made by the company. He also points out that it is very important to understand why a potential customer didn’t buy. What happened that turned them off? Having these discussions is key to figuring out how you can improve and service the market better and/or in new ways.

3. Doing too much ‘mission-critical’ work is a sign of poor planning and execution – Jamie has a well-crafted perspective on how executives should think about their day to day role in a company. He asks powerful questions of himself to ensure he is putting the business in the best position to succeed. His three questions:

1 – How much mission-critical work am I doing?
2 – How can I make myself replaceable?
3 – How often am I surprised?

He asks these questions to ensure he is delegating correctly, he has created the right level of trust with his team, and he is forecasting properly.

4. Simplicity is the key to unlocking a great customer experience – There are some tremendous customer experience lessons to be learned in the insurance industry and Jamie notes that making things simple is absolutely necessary to create a great customer experience. Sometimes there are products that aren’t the sexiest, i.e. insurance, so it’s important to consider how the customer thinks about the exercise of solving the problem that your company and products solve. Customers don’t want to exert a lot of effort or brainpower to solve problems so suppliers must make it easy and painless. It’s the path to creating a loyal customer base.

5. Leadership isn’t given, it is earned – For those that aspire to hold c-suite roles in their career, Jamie stresses the importance of understanding that leadership is influence in the end. Think about how you can flex leadership muscles in your current role to show you are capable of bigger and better things. Manage your time to create space for new projects that will create opportunities for acquiring new experiences and learning. The titles will come but only after you earn them.

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