When Bigger Is Better

Tim Leman
By Tim Leman - Nov 16, 2018 6:30:00 AM

When Bigger Is Better Collage - FullAbout seven years ago we were putting the finishing touches on a new vision for Gibson. Like everyone else, we were emerging from the fog of the Great Recession. Even before the economic downturn we had misfired on a major multi-year plan. To say we were a little gun-shy about verbalizing some new grandiose plan would be an understatement.

Yet aiming for something that seemed out of reach to most of us was exactly what we needed. It pushed us to be better, to be more. We had a financial target in mind that would have us more than doubling in size over the next decade. From a math standpoint, while not a given, it was certainly achievable. We needed to average about 7 to 8% net growth per year. But after years of economic fear, this goal caused much angst among our management team. We wondered if we could really afford to fail again in the eyes of our employees. To our fragile team, to double in size seemed unthinkable.

Thanksgiving Lunch

More than just a plan and a number, we painted a picture of what that future growth looked like and why it mattered… to them, for our clients, and for our future. We also spent a lot of time discussing how we would do it. All of this culminated in something I simply called our “vision paper.” A statement or a paragraph wouldn’t cut it, yet it couldn’t be too long. We needed to keep it simple and in front of our team. We captured all the pertinent information into a flowing two-page “story” that hit on what and when, and also how and why.

Fast forward to this year, when just a few months ago, we hit that big revenue goal. We’ve more than doubled the size of our organization in seven years, not ten. Beyond the numbers, it’s interesting to note that many of the other things we set out to accomplish are in motion as well such as creating an HR & benefits administration practice and opening an office in southwest Michigan. Likewise, there are a few things we still don’t have fully solved or have pivoted away from. We’re not perfect, but we’re continuously on a journey to be better.

Thanksgiving Lunch Indy

It seems like a fitting time to pause for a minute and appreciate just how blessed our organization has been. We’re an amazing group of 160+ fellow employee-owners. We’re moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, and brothers and sisters. We’re spouses and significant others. We’re neighbors and friends. We’re trusted advisors. We’re hard workers. And we are caring leaders – in our communities and in our industry.

With the growth has come new trials. Just like the world around us, things in our business are moving and shifting all the time. Our clients face new challenges that require we adapt and think differently than we have in the past. The bottom line is that we asked a lot of our people over the last seven years and they rose to the challenge. They are so dedicated to our clients and each other. It’s an honor and privilege to work alongside such amazing human beings.

What’s The Risk?

In shooting for something bigger than you think is possible - or more than you’ve ever done - you might come up short. But the preparation, the change in mindset and attitude, and of course the journey forward, will all be worth it. And in the process, you’ll begin to fulfill the promise and potential that’s just waiting to be tapped.

With deep gratitude and appreciation for your resiliency, your can-do attitude, and your unwavering belief in who we are and where we are going, I want to say ‘thank you’ to our team at Gibson! You are the best.


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Tim is Chairman and CEO at Gibson. He joined Gibson in 2005 as the Director of the Employee Benefits Practice. He led a major overhaul, transforming the division into one of the leading employee benefits practices in the Midwest. In early 2007 he became a principal and later that same year was appointed Chief Growth Officer. In 2009 he was named President, in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer, and in 2014 Chairman of the Board.

With Tim’s leadership, Gibson has been selected as a Best Places to Work in Indiana, named to Principal’s 10 Best list for employee financial security, maintained its status as a Reagan & Associates Best Practices Agency, recognized as one of 20 Indiana Companies To Watch, and named to the Inc. 5000 list. Read Tim's Full Bio

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