I Don’t Sell Insurance, I Tell Business Stories

Ugh, this might seem like a sales pitch. No, I don’t sell insurance. I tell stories. This one, about insurance, might be helpful for other people building their own businesses.

It was about 10 or 12 years ago. Palo Alto Software was a small but rapidly growing company with 15 (or so) employees. My wife and I worked shoulder to shoulder with the others in a small office. It was a happy and hard-working group, with a lot of shared values. Those times produced a lot of good memories. We had no outside investors, though, which means no deep pockets. The money we spent was our own.

surgeryOne day, one of our employees had a serious health problem requiring four to six weeks in the hospital. We were very worried about him. So one of the first things we did was make sure he knew we’d be paying him his salary until he got better.

Just about a month later, another of our employees had a heath problem requiring several weeks out of the office. She was a great person, a friend, great in her job, tireless, and loyal to the company and all its values. So we told her not to worry, and paid her salary while she was out.

Shortly after that, somebody pointed out that if we were going to provide de-facto disability for our employees — which is exactly what we were doing — then it would be smart to buy disability insurance. As in a cartoon, you could see the light bulb appearing over our heads. Buying disability for our employees was the same as buying it for ourselves.

And so we did. And to this day, many years later, we still provide disability insurance for our employees.

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