- Agency: The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers
- Website: www.libertycompany.com
- Owner: Chairman Bill Johnson
- Number of employees: 400
- Address: 5955 De Soto Ave., Suite 250, Woodland Hills, Calif. 91367
- Specialty areas: Personal lines, commercial, professional liability, benefits
The esteemed director Francis Ford Coppola once said that movies and magic are one and the same. But for Bill Johnson, chairman of The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers in Woodland Hills, Calif., the real magic in life and work comes from rock-solid relationships.
“True happiness in life is in giving service and in relationships and connection,” says Johnson, a longtime insurance man who returned to his company three years ago after taking a lengthy hiatus to produce movies in Hollywood — a period in which he hobnobbed with stars and worked on box-office hits. But Johnson still missed the insurance world. “There’s a lot of opportunity in this community and in this company to bring (service and relationships) together.”
The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers is one of three winners of NU’s 2021 Agency of the Year Awards.
Johnson is a proponent of the idea of the “servant leader,” which is in line with the eight core values at The Liberty Company: Integrity, excellence, caring, kindness, fairness, teamwork, good feeling and fun: “Our goal is to help our employees grow and thrive on all levels — mentally, physically and spiritually as well as in terms of education, training and career development,” Johnson wrote in his Agency of the Year nomination form. “Liberty is a culture that just so happens to operate a business!”
One way that Liberty has established an insurance business rooted in employee vigor is by hiring a chief wellness officer who trained in both neurolinguistics and indigenous healing work. “He has deep
knowledge in many areas of holistic physical and emotional wellbeing and is available to work with our employees and partners to help them become happier, healthier and more vibrant,” Johnson says.
The Liberty staff volunteers for the IICF Week of Giving.
Liberty’s wellness officer also is responsible for fostering the company’s “Dream Circle” in which small groups of employees work together to manifest their individual personal and professional goals. “It’s been a really wonderful tool to help bring our company closer together,” says Johnson, who also leads regular staff meditation sessions.
“I’ve had 30-plus years of practicing yoga and meditation, and it’s been very foundational for me and who I am,” says Johnson, who started his career working for Farmers in the late 1980s. “I felt an urge to share that with anybody who might be interested.”
His group meditation sessions became especially popular during COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns when everyone was working remotely.
“The idea is that the first and most important thing each of us can do each day is to put ourselves into a state of feeling good and feeling joyful,” Johnson says. “Then, we can move through our day in that state and share that feeling with other people.”
Back to Business
How does this outlook translate into concrete insurance-business transactions? In that regard, Johnson favors the book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” by business advisor Jim Collins. That’s where he learned: “Companies that made the leap from ‘Good to Great’ did not do so through technological innovation. They did it by assembling the right people with the right mindset in a special culture that enabled great results to occur.”
Digital tools, however, are a key part of the service mix at The Liberty Company. The firm’s client concierge team, which is tasked with providing education and training, leans on such resources as Zywave, ThinkHR, AMS Client Portal, Modgic, Nurse On Call and GotSafety risk management training. “This has not only created a much more enjoyable client onboarding experience, it also relieved the training burden from the producer,” Johnson says.
Managing Partner Tom Moody and his team let off some steam at an axe-throwing party.
The Liberty Company also believes that data curation and analysis is now an essential aspect of the insurance value proposition and supply chain.
“We can provide custom reports for each department detailing any data points that management may need,” Johnson says. “Additionally, we’re making investments in AI and other products that can aggregate and summarize claims data in real time for use in managing our exclusive insurance programs, illustrating claims performance for a client, or identifying claim trends with a particular carrier that may or may not be performing as we expected.”
The proof of this approach to fostering business success through a clearly-defined and executive employee-centered company culture is in the pudding. The Hales Report has recognized The Liberty Company as one of the fastest growing privately held insurance brokerages in the U.S. for three years running. And Liberty recently made the successful leap from being a local California brokerage to one in which more than a third of its business is written in other states.
Not to be forgotten are two known pillars for winning in today’s business world: philanthropy and diversity initiatives. The company raises money for charitable causes through its eponymous foundation. And, Johnson says, roughly two-thirds of the staff and leadership team are women or people of color. He concludes: “This inherently creates the greatest opportunity for open-minded, holistic and creative thinking.”