A RISING ENTREPRENeur
Dr. Hold was born in Montreal, Canada. His parents immigrated from Lebanon and Germany. Once in Canada, his family started small businesses and instilled the spirit of entrepreneurship in Dr. Hold at a young age.
“My family taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. The idea of pushing forward undeterred by failures and setbacks were lessons I learned as a child.”
In 1967, Dr. Hold became an Associate Professor of the Graduate School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. A group of insurance agents, including James K. Ruble, approached Dr. Hold to discuss policies, procedures, and opportunities for Texas insurance professionals. They wanted his help creating curriculum to ensure agents received the most current industry knowledge.
“We began with hardworking people and simple ideas. We didn’t have money, a plan, or any participants. It wasn’t until I asked who they wanted to lead and run this endeavor that I realized I had been chosen to do it.”
To lead the CIC Program, Dr. Hold would need to earn the CIC designation and pass an oral examination in front of the Board of Governors. Dr. Hold would be the first person to earn the CIC designation.
The CIC curriculum was developed in 1969 as a result of the partnership between Dr. Hold and ten insurance agents. The first CIC institute was held the same year in September. The CIC Program continues to serve as the foundation of The National Alliance.
“Everyone thought I was nuts to leave The University of Texas. They wondered why a tenured professor would leave a stable academic career for some concocted agent education program they didn’t think would succeed.”
the biggest challenge
Dr. Hold worked nights, weekends, and holidays to develop the CIC Program along with his colleagues. The Program began with Agency Management, Personal Lines, Commercial Casualty, and Commercial Property institutes.
“The biggest challenge we faced was establishing a following and a culture. Prior to the CIC Program, there wasn't a lot of discipline in insurance education.”
The CIC Program successfully grew its number of participants. Dr. Hold and the Society established industry relationships, and the program expanded with Minnesota and Florida as the first partnering states in 1974.
Responding to participant needs, Dr. Hold brought before the Board the idea of adding a Life & Health Institute to the CIC Program. At the time, the primary goal for the Society was mere survival. At first, there was some reluctance to add a Life & Health component to the curriculum because the company was focused on strengthening the initial parts of the program.
In 1980, the Board approved the addition of the Life & Health Institute to address the demand for the program and respond to the industry’s need.
After graduating high school, Dr. Hold secured a job as a factory worker at the Miami International Airport.
“I worked at the factory for a short period of time. You couldn't get a cup of coffee unless the whistle blew at break time. I asked myself if I wanted to live that way. What freedom did I have? I decided to enroll in college.”
In 1959, Dr. Hold enrolled as an undergraduate student at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
“When I was a junior in college, one of the professors noticed I made pretty good grades . They asked if I would be interested in a scholarship. Of course, I wanted it! I asked what I needed to do to get it. They said I needed to be an insurance major.”
In 1963, Dr. Hold graduated from Florida State University with cum laude honors and earned a Bachelor of Science. He majored in finance with a concentration in insurance and risk management. He then received a fellowship to continue his studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Dr. Hold earned a Master of Business Administration in 1964 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1967.
“Florida State University took an interest in me because they had a genuine interest in supporting students. I was fortunate to meet the right people. Nobody does any of this alone.”
Dr. Hold earned his CIC designation in 1970, an important step needed in order to lead the company from an agent’s perspective. The CIC Program was created with the goal of providing high-level practical insurance education followed by a rigorous exam process. In 1974, the Society recognized the new CIC designees at the first Conferment Ceremony—a formal affair.
“We introduced a whole new discipline. People were skeptical; they thought participants would not come back if they failed exams. They were wrong.”
next level success
“There are two things that motivate people in life. One is the desire for success and the other is the fear of failure. I am more motivated by the fear of failure. I never wanted to disappoint the people that supported us.”
Dr. Hold believed the educational opportunities provided by the Society should be continual, comprehensive, and rigorous in order to support participants’ lifelong growth and careers. Through those values, he spearheaded new programs that positioned The National Alliance as the industry leader in education.
Dr. Hold was instrumental in taking the Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) Program nationwide to support customer service personnel in 1986. As the industry continued to evolve, Dr. Hold and the Society added new programs such as James K. Ruble Seminars, Dynamics of Selling, William T. Hold Seminars, other designations like CRM, CSRM, CPRM, and online courses. Thus, the organization took on a new name in 1993, The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.
Dr. Hold and The National Alliance continue to enhance programs and the participant experience. Millions of professionals across the nation and worldwide have built successful careers with the support of The National Alliance and its programs. Currently, some 125,000 participants from across the United States, Puerto Rico, China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines attend courses offered by The National Alliance.
“Maintaining business relationships with people for 10 years, 15 years, 25 years, or 30 years is rare today.”
Dr. Hold has been included in the Insurance Newscast’s annual list of the 100 Most Powerful People in the insurance industry six years in a row. In 2012, he was included in the list of 25 Living Legends in Insurance by Property Casualty 360. Dr. Hold was inducted into the Florida State University College of Business Hall of Fame and the insurance and risk management program at FSU has been named the Dr. William T. Hold/The National Alliance Program in Risk Management and Insurance.
passing the torch
“Back when we started the CIC Program, it was a very small ship. Now we've got a big ship to turn and changes involve many people.”
The Board of Governors appointed William J. Hold, M.B.A., CRM, CISR, Chief Executive Officer of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research in September 2018. Dr. Hold has shared expectations for his son to take The National Alliance to the next level while maintaining standards for quality programs. Will looks forward to building on the foundation that Dr. Hold and many others have laid for the organization.
“I'm not leaving the ring. I'm just changing gloves. I'll continue working with The National Alliance Boards and our Licensee associations in a different role.”
“I'm very fortunate to be able to look back and see how people respected what I did as a professor. Today, people still respect what we're doing in the business.”