NAHU Leadership Perspectives Shift to Embrace the Generations

By Dawn McFarland

In the December 2022 issue, I shared a conversation with two of my favorite mentors, Bruce Benton, past CAHU and NAHU president, and Pat Griffey, past NAHU president. I’m sharing a continuation of that conversation along with commentary by life coach Joe Navarro. Both Bruce and Pat have a passion for our association and its leadership. I was honored and curious to explore their experiences about years of leadership service at ALL levels — from local to national. 

My final question was “what top three pieces of advice be to anyone interested in serving in leadership? Let’s remind readers about that. 

Pat Griffey: First, keep an eye to the future and be open to new ideas. Honoring that WHY was one of the key elements of Vision 2025. I’m not that smart so I had to make a platform available to innovators to share ideas.

2nd – find a mentor and be a mentor. Third, allow time to dig deep and question your own preconceived notions, as opposed to taking the easy path because it is what we’ve always done. That’s not what’s going to get us where we need to be now.  

3rd — be mindful of being extremely patient, tolerant and understanding of everyone you come across. Practice loving kindness and compassion, because we are all in this together. 

I read an article in my research about leadership to see what Google and LinkedIn are saying about leadership. I really liked this article by Jossy Chako, “Only leaders of great courage and vision will intentionally consider the next 100 years and beyond.”

Founder & President of Empart Jossy Chacko poses these questions for leaders to ponder

• What changes are required in your organization or leadership to become truly generational?
• List the names of those in the next two generations you are intentionally investing in.
• What is stopping you from giving at least 10% of your time investing in the next generation?
• If nothing changes, what will be your legacy 100 years from now?
• Make intentional decisions, knowing that you may not reap the benefits from them! This makes me think of the whole student loan forgiveness debate. What are your thoughts?
• In this divisive world we live in, and with light being shone on diversity, equity and inclusion, what do you feel leadership needs to be mindful of?

[Watch the full interview on]

Commentary from Joe Navarro, generational expert and life coach, past marketing guru for Warner Pacific and WellPoint.

Dawn asked Joe if he could provide some thoughts after listening to the conversation

Joe Navarro: Thank you, Dawn, for the opportunity to respond to your interview with Pat and Bruce. Your style is open and encouraging. I enjoyed listening to your conversation. Some of the most impactful comments that stood out to me were:
• Most can tell you what, some can tell you how, not as many can tell you why.
• Bruce was able to visit 26 chapters during his year as president of NAHU. Pat was not as fortunate due to Coronavirus during her year as president.
• It is important to understand both sides.
• Society has stepped away from respect.
• I am interested in what you have to say.
• Respect is important on both sides.
• Meet people where they are.
• Stay away from “we have always done it that way.”
• Be open to new ideas.
• Be mindful of people’s differences.
There is a lot more. I encourage readers to watch Dawn’s video of her interview with Bruce and Pat to learn more:

My focus today as a coach/mentor is to add to these messages

I acknowledge especially important traits demonstrated in this interview — traits that Dawn, Pat and Bruce all have: true PASSION for what they do and the DESIRE to continue making a difference and contributing to the growth and health of the industry through its association leaders and members.

I have been blessed to interact with and learn from agents, brokers, sales consultants, carrier product specialists and association members throughout my career — a special group of people who keep on giving and really care about what they do and who they do it for. I offer my sincere respect and appreciation to each of you for your efforts throughout the years.

Generations in the workplace today:
The 2022 LiveCareer Study of over 1,000+ respondents consisting of all generations found 89% considered generational diversity in the workplace as a positive element of work. The opportunity to learn from each other was viewed as a good thing for their careers by 87%. The study found job prestige was valued by the greatest number of respondents.

The LiveCareer study also found that as a result of increasing inflation and potential for recession, respondents also rated job prestige and job security as the highest priority in their careers.

Understanding that hybrid jobs and working from home is also important to all generations, I would offer that NAHU/NABIP is faced with a huge challenge and OPPORTUNITY meeting the diverse needs of all generations. Through your many experienced and knowledgeable members, you can offer a comprehensive, ongoing mentoring and training program to build future relationships.
[Editorial comment by Dawn: Here’s a shameless plug for the mentorship program NAHU/NABIP has had success with. Not many know about it yet — an example of a members only resource!]

Here are 5 recommendations:

  1. “We have always done it this way” is not what this proud organization, dating back to 1930, should be known for. (Despite your many innovative offerings, some have historically looked at you this way). To open new space I would suggest a more positive and dynamic mantra of “Breaking All the Rules” as you go forward. It can be difficult and even scary at times, but as I have mentored numerous clients, once you start seeing positive results from your new “attitude” you will find it absolutely magical.
  2. All generations are at a different place in life. All have different values and require additional appropriate assistance. Help them grow by meeting them where they are. You, more than anyone, understands them and as a result you will be seen as offering creative tools that will enhance their skills, grow their knowledge and bring out their hidden talents.
  3. A commitment to an “Army of Mentors” that is devoted to spending quality time and experience with all generations creates respect and new appreciation for your organization. News will travel quickly throughout the business community. This can also ease the transition of leadership from more established members by identifying, fostering and appreciating younger leaders that can be worked with. The new NABIP will become the go-to business entity for the future.
  4. Learning from the past gives you so many new choices — if you are open to it. Take a “Leap of Faith” that NABIP can continue to exceed the needs of a changing profession with a vibrant and knowledgeable array of communications and programs that is not found elsewhere. While it separates you from the past it establishes a whole new viable professional group for 2023 and beyond.
  5. Ask those on your team to elaborate on “Who Are You?” “What do you do?” and most importantly, “Why do you do it?” This is one assignment I give all (including myself) each year. Asking these three questions alone will reveal more about you and all others on your team. It sets a tone for how you move forward together.

The following data regarding the generations is offered to clarify Joe Navarro’s commentary.

2001 to 2020, youngest 2 and oldest is 21
1981 to 2000, youngest is 22 and oldest is 41
1965 to 1980, youngest is 42 and oldest is 57
1946 to 1964, youngest is 58 and oldest is 76

As you have read, generations are at different places in their lives. Generation Z is entering the workplace; the Millennials are exploring the choices they have made up to this point; Gen X is entrenched in theirs but looking for ways to improve what they do; while Boomers are experienced and enlightened and because of their experiences feel they can keep contributing. You are capable of reaching out to all.

Dawn: Thanks Joe for bringing the focus back to mentoring! Here is my familiar membership pitch: if you are getting a paycheck in the health insurance industry, you should be a member of the National Association of Benefits and Insurance Professionals (as of January 1st NABIP – formerly NAHU). Even if that is not where you choose to volunteer, the small monthly fee is worth the advocacy done on your behalf and for your clients.
Happy 2023! May we have a prosperous and healthy year!


Dawn McFarland is VP of legislation for CAHU (now known as CAHIP), president of M&M Benefits Solutions in Los Angeles and the vice chair for the Leadership & Development Committee for NAHU (now NABIP).

Pat Griffey Past NAHU president

Bruce Benton Past CAHU and NAHU president, Owner, Genesis Financial & Insurance Services

Joe Navarro, generational expert and life coach, past marketing expert for Warner Pacific and WellPoint