Taking Risks For Customers

By Allen Uyeda
Wednesday - May 18, 2005
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First Insurance Company of Hawaii’s executive team of Peter Junker,
Allen Uyeda, Tony Abad and Jeff Shonka review the 2005 financial
plan

People ask me why I’ve chosen to swim with crocodiles, drive a racecar or take a helicopter to ski in remote locations. “Risky behavior” for an insurance guy, isn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t just for the thrill, and in the right environment with the right instructors, it’s not very risky. Believe it or not, though, these adventures help me view my life and business from a new perspective.

Challenges in life, both business and personal, can cloud our senses and make us lose our focus. In racecar driving, the instructor tells you to keep your eyes on where you want to go. If you look at the wall, you’ll crash. It’s a lesson that applies off the racetrack as well. Instead of focusing our energy on obstacles, whether real or imagined, we must keep our eyes and energy focused on the goal and achieving it.

By taking yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things, you can learn to confront your fears. Sitting in a conference room and making tough decisions can be daunting. But you can’t be afraid to make them. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but taking that jump can pay big dividends in the long run. By trying new things, you may find something you like. Growing up I hated golf. But when I came to Hawaii I finally tried it and now I’m hooked.


First Insurance Company of Hawaii hosts many programs that aren’t work related, such as knitting, calligraphy, healthy cooking and yoga. These activities help employees take a breather from work, which provides a fresh outlook on life and the tasks at hand. When employees live a balanced lifestyle they are happier and accomplish much more.

The main goal of any business is to provide a product or service that makes daily life a little better or easier for its customers. Insurance is really something that provides a safety net so you have the financial leeway to take more chances than you normally would. A business may be looking to branch out and take a financial risk. Insurance is there to mitigate that risk. Customers come to us with their needs. We listen and look at things from their perspective. That’s how we grow business.

Running a business is like being in a horse race. Each of your competitors occupies a different niche. You can learn a lot from a competitor’s approach to business by watching how they react to new trends. In the mid- 1800s, insurance companies would have laughed if someone came in asking for coverage on tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters, which are considered “Acts of God.” But such coverage has since become standard because we’ve had to “evolve” with the growing needs and demands of customers. Businesses willing to step out of the box to serve a need can thrive.

Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of identity thefts. We decided to offer Identity Theft Insurance to help mitigate financial losses our customers face because of this alarmingly escalating crime. It’s a new product – by no means a standard in the industry — and we’re facing our fears to take a risk. But we’re listening to customers and offering it as a solution to make their lives a little easier.

If we stay in our safe bubbles and don’t “swim with the crocodiles” — at least metaphorically — we’ll never learn how to take a chance to make things better. We’ll never see the world from a new perspective.

Next week: Mollie Sperry, Head of School of the Academy of the Pacific

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