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Know Where Your Customers Are Going and Beat Them There

SheahanKnown around the world for his innovative business thinking and thought leadership, Peter Sheahan believes an organization will only go commercially where its leaders first go personally. After decades of standing in the fire with leaders of high-performing organizations, Sheahan believes that an organization will only go commercially where its leaders first go personally. He has helped clients such as Apple, Chick-fil-A, DeBeers and AT&T transform themselves and accelerate growth.

Speaking to more than 1,000 attendees at ALTA ONE in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sheahan said the journey to growth requires leaders to have the courage to tell themselves the truth, take intelligent risks and assume ownership for driving the alignment necessary to build an organization.

“I think it is an incredibly exciting time for the (title insurance) industry,” said Sheahan, who is founder of the global consultancy firm Karrikins Group. “Investments in proptech have set in motion forces of modernization for the industry, which have been accelerated significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. A business built on relationships and shared values is morphing into one built on relationships based on value, ease of experience and integration—underpinned by technology and, of course, shared values.

Sheahan shared what happened to the grocery industry after Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017. One executive at a grocery retailer told him “We never saw it coming.” Was this a reasonable response? Sheahan concluded it was not because there were several indicators for a decade prior to the acquisition, including Amazon launching Amazon Fresh in 2007, Amazon Go in 2016 and its Wickedly Prime brand in 2016. In 1999, Amazon purchased 35% of homegrocer.com.

“Analysts were saying if Amazon could get distribution closer to their customers, they would be unstoppable,” Sheahan said.

Sheahan said leaders should embrace change, not resist it. He added that change is slow, until it’s not. Companies that get behind the eight ball, often find it hard to catch up.

“Resisting change that has already happened is like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies,” Sheahan said.

He added that it’s not the companies that transform, it’s the leaders. The ability for title professionals to drive growth is a psychological journey first and a strategic one second. To stay ahead of the curve, Sheahan shared a quote from Wayne Gretzky that shares a similar message. The hockey great said, “The key to winning is skating first to where the puck will be next.” Business success is similar. Companies want to go where the greatest profits will be—but by the time many get there, the “puck” has moved on.

“Companies need to know where their customers are going and how to beat them there,” Sheahan said. “You need to ask what the future of the customer experience will look like. What are the opportunities to take repetitive tasks out of the process. Lead your customers to the future, rather than following them. The best way to protect the industry is to be the driving force of innovation.”

Sheahan said the impact of leadership is the most important driver to success and that performance of a team is a direct reflection of a leader’s behavior.

“If you want to protect your industry, the most important thing to get in alignment is your behavior. Be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t wait on your customers,” he said.


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