Peter Vitale has built a well-respected consultancy, helping small insurance agencies become healthy, vibrant, and growing businesses. Perfecting his leadership skills as an Executive Account Manager for Allstate Insurance between 2012 and 2014, Vitale delved further into this professional sphere. After opening his own Allstate Insurance agency in February of 2014, Peter and his team were awarded the fastest growing agency title in 2016. At this point, Peter realized he could do better for himself and for the industry if he began working as a consultant.
When Vitale is contacted by agencies that are losing customers and growth, he takes an equity stake in the business, re-trains the sales staff, and overhauls their marketing program himself. Through this knowledge transfer and mentorship, these struggling agencies are able to rebuild and recover, thanks to Vitale’s help.
Peter Vitale sits on the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau. Through his commitment to his work, Vitale has been awarded various industry accolades. In November of 2014, Vitale was a “Miami Heat” qualifier at Allstate Insurance. In December of 2014, Vitale was also a qualifier for the North Central Region Honor Ring, an honor that proves agency owners are proficient at growing their agencies, retaining and caring for Allstate customers, and maintaining a focus on profitability.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Since I was already working for Allstate, I knew that this industry was of interest to me professionally. I gained the skills needed to streamline operations, perform well, and create the best possible outcomes for team members and clients alike. These accomplishments sparked the notion that I could be helpful in a leadership capacity. From there, I knew that becoming a consultant was the route for me.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a consultant for small and medium size insurance agencies, I typically spend my day uncovering the challenges of those agencies and working to solve them. Many times, these challenges are related to the following:
-Recruiting, training, and retaining sales staff.
-Developing, measuring, and modifying marketing plans.
-Product changes due to the evolution in the insurance industry or regulatory reform.
In order to stay productive, I obsess over adding items to a task manager I use called Asana. By staying organized, I can focus on the important items I need to deliver to my clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Generally, when developing a marketing or training plan, I start with an outline and usually spend two or three days revising that prior to moving forward. I like to always spend multiple days on the outline for a large project because I don’t want my work to be heavily influenced by any outside factor that may be in my head on any given day. Honestly, I don’t want my mood on any one day to play too much in the direction of a project. By spending two or three days developing, re-reading, revising, and finalizing an outline, I am confident that I have a solid foundation to move forward with.
What’s one trend that excites you?
As I mentioned, I utilize a task management app to keep me organized throughout the day. I find the technology sector very exciting, especially in terms of how technological advancements can streamline everyday processes. Technology is becoming vastly more intuitive and as a result, we are able to trust technology with growing tasks.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
In order to stay productive, I am always taking notes and uploading scanned copies of my notes, or transcriptions of audio recordings, into my task manager. I find that in capturing ideas and organizing them, I have an easily searchable system. This allows me to work much more efficiently when I start working on a new project. This could be as easy as taking a picture of an advertisement that I liked so I can study it the next time I am working on something similar.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The only thing that matters is hard work. Don’t waste time trying to be what other people want you to be – just hustle and you will reach your dreams faster than you ever thought imaginable. Don’t be afraid of failure – fail frequently. Finally, trust your gut. Don’t try to make something work because someone else wants it to work – trust your gut, and if you don’t think the solution is right, just move on. Often, people have a path they want to take to get to the desired outcome, but it is important to remember that the outcome should be the goal and not the path to get there.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is nothing wrong with working eighteen hours a day, and not having any hobbies! I see friends and family members that have many different hobbies. In my mind, these hobbies are an escape, because they don’t enjoy what they are really doing every day. If you don’t like what you are doing, change it! If you love fishing and that is your hobby, why not be happy and figure out how to be a professional fisherman? There is always a path to doing what you love and there is always a path to make a lot of money doing it. Don’t be lazy – figure out how to have everything you want!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Sit and think in complete silence for at least an hour a day. I am not talking about meditating, but just thinking and reflecting about the items that you are actively working on. Do this without any distractions. We live in a world where we can be so easily distracted, and we end up doing so many things over and over without getting anywhere. Think about what is going on, and why you are doing it. Just let your mind go free and see where it takes you. Warren Buffet talks a lot about how the structure of his day is similar to that of “an academic”, and I think that by thinking freely without distractions, you can come up with more brilliant ideas than you might think possible.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The best strategy for me is to engage with a small number of clients, and focus on them with massive amounts of attention and action. I don’t want to be everything to everyone. I think that is the most important thing. Expanding the number of clients I work with is not useful to me, but expanding the amount of work I do for those clients is. Too many businesses are focused on too many KPI’s – find the important ones and stick to them. The fewer the better. Focus and discipline always lead to success. Also, saying “no” to an engagement that you know will not be a good fit is a must. Don’t take on new clients just to make money short term – focus on the big picture 100% of the time.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I tend to try to think of “failures” as mere learning experiences, and opportunities to develop new strategies to avoid similar situations in the future. Thus, the notion of failure isn’t on my radar, and I’ve found that to be a formidable way to move forward professionally. Frequently, I take inventory of my successes, learning experiences, and ways to improve.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Though I’m certainly not going to venture into the tech sphere myself, I truly believe that there is so much left to invent, perfect, and evolve in the sphere of personal technology. From AI to intuitive learning, there are so many apps still left to be developed that can streamline processes.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This is going to sound crazy, but a Cameo video. I purchased a birthday greeting for a friend from a favorite TV personality, and the actor did an amazing job. It is one of the funniest videos I have ever watched, and I play it at least one time per day for the past few months. Even if I am very stressed or not in the best mood, I play this video and I immediately start laughing. I would go as far as saying it was the best $100 I ever spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Zoom has been incredibly helpful during the pandemic, as meeting virtually is the new normal. It is easy to use and I can use it from my iPhone or computer. I use a task manager called Asana. It is web-based and also has an iPhone app. I find this to be the single best program I have ever used. It is simple and easy but is perfect for collaboration between individuals and teams. You can track the entire history of a project using this program and it sends email updates anytime the project or task is updated. It really is fantastic.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins is a must-read for anyone that is working on business operations at a high level. There is a plethora of good information about the basic principles of leadership and business fundamentals. I still go back and re-read this frequently.
What is your favorite quote?
My biggest takeaway from the book I mentioned above is also my favorite quote. Author Jim Collins states: “get the right people on the bus” – meaning you must have the right team to make the organization successful. Recruiting the right talent is the single most important thing for any business of any size.
- Focusing on the comprehensive needs of customers is more integral to long-term success than attempting to capture as many customers as possible.
- Utilizing task management software and technology can help busy entrepreneurs and professionals maintain organization throughout the day.
- Take the time to reflect on the day’s progress without distractions. Focusing on success, and visualizing daily processes, can help you stay on track.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.