One Of America’s Longest-Serving CEOs Has Advice On Humor And Risk

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Aflac CEO Dan Amos Reveals His Strategy To Lead In A More Polarized And Personalized World.

By Diane Brady, Forbes Staff


To understand Dan Amos’ attack to leadership, see nan first domiciled he took astatine Aflac aft graduating from nan University of Georgia successful 1973. As boy of cofounder Paul Amos, 1 of 3 brothers who founded nan security institution successful 1955, he could person hung retired successful nan caput office. Instead, he started successful sales.

“I wanted an nonsubjective job, not a subjective job,” says Amos, 72, who went connected to go nan apical salesman of nan supplemental wellness and life security company—and its CEO successful 1990. “Goal-setting ever intrigued maine and was thing I liked.”

That attraction connected results has helped Amos turn Aflac (AFL) from a marketplace headdress of $2 cardinal to $48.5 billion, pinch a banal that’s up 18% this year, closing astatine $82.97 connected Nov. 27. Revenue has grown from astir $2 cardinal successful 1990 to $19.44 cardinal past year.

But maintaining that maturation is nary easy task. Volatile liking rates and ostentation tin wreak havoc connected nan carefully-calibrated equilibrium of payouts, premium prices and finance income. Aging populations create much request for products and payouts, not to mention much title and attraction from policymakers. That creates unit to present caller products and processes while maintaining a dependable way grounds and recognized brand. In short, it helps to person a duck.

Saved By The Duck

Amos says his company’s deficiency of sanction nickname and nan industry’s deficiency of joke inspired him to backmost a trading run successful 2000 starring a achromatic duck that quacked nan connection “Aflac” — nan acronym that nan American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus had utilized since 1969. “It was scary successful that we’d ne'er made nosy of ourselves,” says Amos. But pinch little than 6% sanction nickname astatine nan time, he adds, “I was consenting to do thing that’s tasteful.”

More important, enthusiastic feedback from attraction groups helped nan duck clear nan barroom connected what Amos says are nan 3 halfway principles of consequence guidance successful his industry: “Don’t consequence a batch for a little, don’t consequence much than you tin spend to suffer and see nan odds.” Within 3 years, Aflac’s sanction nickname had soared to 90% and income much than doubled. And nan marketplace for supplemental security continues to grow.

Rising Cancer Rates Under 50

“We’ve seen a jump successful crab affecting younger people,” says Amos, citing a statistic showing “there’s been a 79% summation successful crab betwixt 1990 and 2019 successful group nether property 50.”

Longer lifespans person besides accrued nan fame of products for illustration crab insurance, which is Aflac’s top-selling security successful Japan—where 1 successful each 4 households is insured by Aflac. Its spot successful that marketplace became a situation erstwhile a weaker yen impacted nan bottommost line.

Amos said pinch Forbes astir his activity philosophy, nan effect of caller technologies and navigating a polarized governmental climate. When spot is low, he argues, relationships matter. “Ultimately, consumers want to talk to individuals astir their healthcare needs,” Amos says. “People don’t want to springiness each their accusation to a computer.”

Click connected nan video supra for nan afloat interview.

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