Skip to main content

Q&A With Millennial CEO And Book Author Rick Lindquist

Rick Lindquist

Millennial Rick Lindquist is making his mark in the business world and enjoying the success of his co-authored 2014 bestseller book, The End of Employer-Provided Health Insurance. Lindquist, in his 30's, is the President and CEO of Zane Benefits, Inc. 

He joined Zane Benefits as its thirteenth employee in 2007. He was promoted to Director of Sales in 2009 and took over as President in 2011. Rick received a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Duke University.

Today, he kindly answered questions about leadership, mentors, his book, and Millennials in the workplace.

Q&A with Rick Lindquist, President and CEO of Zane Benefits, Inc.

1.  Which of your leadership skills helped you most to rise through the ranks at Zane Benefits?

Lindquist: Professional will, which is defined in Jim Collins’ famous book, Good to Great. My parents taught me this concept at a young age, and it was reinforced through sports. It’s a simple concept. First, you must do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results for the company, regardless of how difficult it may be. Second, when mistakes are made, you always hold yourself accountable rather than pointing fingers outward. Professional will and general curiosity are two core leadership skills we look for in team members at Zane Benefits. Curiosity is the sign of a world-changing, great, individual.

2.  How much of what you read in books and on Blogs about how to lead Millennials do you believe is good advice. Why or why not?

Lindquist: I just read The Alliance by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn. It’s a terrific book about leading all workers (especially Millennials) in today’s workforce. It emphasizes a framework that ensures continuous mutually-beneficial value creation between employer and employee. Today’s workers are more empowered than ever. In order to attract, develop and retain the best people (especially with respect to Millennials) in today’s job world, you must have a plan to advance your workers’ career opportunities during their time with you. Good advice.


 3.  What inspired you to co-author your book?

Lindquist: It was all about empowering the healthcare consumer and small business owners through education. At Zane Benefits, we help small businesses level the health benefits playing field. Our approach is quite different than the traditional approach to company health insurance where the employer picks one plan for everyone. Instead, we enable each employee to purchase their own individual health plan independent of employment and provide a real dollar defined contribution from the company to cover the cost. Contrary to common belief, everyone wins with our solution because the employee gets choice and lower premiums and the employer saves money and removes a significant administrative burden. The book is about sharing our learnings from eight years at Zane Benefits with all small businesses and educating employees on the advantages of individual health insurance.

4.  What was the most difficult thing about co-authoring your book?

Lindquist: It was definitely the timeline. We decided to write the book in July 2014 and had a deadline of November 2014, which is when open enrollment happens for individual health insurance. That gave us roughly four months to get the project done and edited (while also running a fast growing software company). It was hard, but with the help from some key team members (especially Christina Merhar and Michael Dyer), we got it done. It was totally worth it. The emails we receive from readers thanking us for the content are fulfilling.

5.  What leadership skills did you learn while playing sports in high school and college do you use today in the workplace?

Lindquist: It’s funny. I love hiring athletes because high-level sports teach two core leadership skills: professional will and curiosity. Great athletes recognize the need to do whatever is necessary for the long-term interests of the team. And, the best athletes (the captains) nearly always hold themselves accountable versus pointing fingers at teammates. Also, the most successful athletes have learned the benefits of being curious. Curiosity, or asking why and how, is the shortcut to winning in athletics. The same applies to business.

6.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a CEO in your early 30's?

Lindquist: Not sure there are any disadvantages. I love my job. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m so lucky to be able to lead (and be led by) a team of great people who share my number motivation: Zane Benefits’ mission to level the playing field for small businesses.

7.  How important have mentors been to your career?

Lindquist: Huge. I would not be here without them. There are way too many to list. I’m talking hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Other than my parents, the most influential mentor so far has been my partner and co-author, Paul Zane Pilzer. Without Paul’s mentorship and full support, I would not be here today. That reminds me of a funny story about Paul and my first meeting. When I first interviewed with Paul in 2007, I asked him about Zane Benefits’ company health insurance plan because my father had told me: “A good job comes with good (employer-provided) health insurance.” My father’s advice was ignored when I accepted Paul’s job offer and purchased an individual health insurance policy for $57 a month—I am still with the same insurer today.

8.  What's your favorite book about leadership and why?

Lindquist: Good to Great. It validated my core values with respect to leadership style. The best CEOs are Level 5 Leaders which is defined as someone with both professional will and unflinching humility. It also gave me a framework to better lead people way smarter than me. Here’s our version of the framework as we apply it at Zane Benefits. First, get the right people on the bus, then figure out the what. Second, confront the brutal facts of the business. You must do this together. Third, figure out what you are all deeply passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine. The intersection of these three circles is your BHAG, or big hairy audacious goal, The BAHG forms the basis for your company’s great opportunity. Fourth, create a culture of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action consistent with the big hairy audacious goal. Fifth, use technology to accelerate momentum. And, manage the company toward continued improvement and results.

9.  What's your advice for how best to lead Millennials in the workplace?

Lindquist: First, cancel your group health insurance plan if you have one and give employees money so they can choose, manage and keep their plan when they switch jobs. : ) Seriously though, the best advice on leading Millennials is to recognize that they are not joining your company to be “lifers”. They are focused on building experience and skills toward personal professional goals that develop rapidly as they advance in their careers. The only way to attract them, develop them, and keep them is to “give them the keys” in a structured fashion and work together in a mutually beneficial way. Read The Alliance for more.

Lindquist and his book have been featured on Marketwatch, MSN, Forbes, and Bloomberg. You can follow the him on Twitter.

Co-author and mentor to Lindquist, Paul Zane Pilzer

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sample Of Solid Business Guiding Principles

I really like these  10 guiding business principles  that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA has lived by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them. Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book,  1001 Ways To Energize Employee s .

6 Ways To Seek Feedback To Improve Your Performance In The Workplace

Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear.  “Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of the new book,  Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be . As today's guest post, Van Rooy offers these  six tips for how to get the feedback you need to improve performance at work . Guest Post By David L. Van Rooy 1.       Don’t forget to as k :  One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve. 2.       Make sure you listen :  Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus the

Good Sample Business Principles

I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA  lives by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees .

Effective Listening: Do's And Dont's

Here are some great tips from Michelle Tillis Lederman's book, The 11 Laws of Likability .  They are all about: what to do and what not to do to be a leader who's an effective listener : Do : Maintain eye contact Limit your talking Focus on the speaker Ask questions Manage your emotions Listen with your eyes and ears Listen for ideas and opportunities Remain open to the conversation Confirm understanding, paraphrase Give nonverbal messages that you are listening (nod, smile) Ignore distractions Don't : Interrupt Show signs of impatience Judge or argue mentally Multitask during a conversation Project your ideas Think about what to say next Have expectations or preconceived ideas Become defensive or assume you are being attacked Use condescending, aggressive, or closed body language Listen with biases or closed to new ideas Jump to conclusions or finish someone's sentences

How To Discover Balance As A Leader

  In his highly authentic, sincere and personal new book, Balancing Act , author Dr. Andrew Temte, CFA , shares candid insights and timely lessons about the balance needed to succeed as a leader. “I wrote this book in the hope that others will learn from my triumphs and failures. Those who can recover more rapidly from periods of imbalance will have an advantage over those cannot,” says Temte. He firmly believes that leaders who strive toward balance can more readily identify and curtail organizational entropy, facilitate a culture of trust, and foster diverse organizations and cultures that inspire everyone to bring their “whole sell” to work . “Success without balance is often more disastrous than failure with balance,” explains Temte. “When the unbalanced achieve victory, it often serves to further destructive habits. When the balanced suffer defeat, resilience and perseverance grow.” Tempte further explains that leaders today often struggle for balance between : Strength

Experts Offer Advice For How To Lead During 2021

  Today, the following expert business and leadership book authors shared their advice for how to effectively lead during 2021 . My question to them was:   What is your advice for leaders as we enter what is surely to be a challenging 2021 for most businesses? Fred Dust -- Author of   Making Conversation: Seven Elements of Meaningful Communication “There’s been a surprisingly joyful outcome of 2020—quite simply, leaders are seeing those they lead as humans. They’ve seen them wrestling with children, in trying to manage personal and professional challenges at home, more Zoom gaffes than we can count, etc., which has given employers a deeply humanistic view of those they manage.  “The converse is also true. Mangers, leaders, and CEOs are grappling with the same—noisy toddlers, spouses who are also navigating unprecedented schedules, faulty technology, etc. This recognition of humanity is significant—I myself paused a team meeting yesterday when I noticed one of my coll

Top 12 Ways To Be An Effective Leader

  Author  Melissa Greenwell  interviewed many top business executives while doing research for her book,  Money on the Table . When she asked them to list characteristics of their best leaders, those who work well as a team,  collaborative  was almost always first and foremost. The full list is: Collaborative Good listener Asks thorough questions and seeks new information or is curious and innovative Risk taker Sense of urgency or takes action Subject matter experts Not afraid to challenge Participatory Intuitive Wants or seeks feedback Empathetic Respectful

How To Make Better Decisions

  These  eight decision-making tactics  from  David Lahey ’s book,  Predicting Success , are helpful to me and hopefully useful to you as well: Deep breathing , to clear your mind. Researching , to feel confident that you have all the information in front of you. Listing your options , in either verbal or written form, to keep the whole picture front of mind. Following through on the possible outcomes , complete with likely predictions and acknowledgement of whether they’re negative or positive (or design yourself a decision tree, that lays out every possible consequence visually). Testing your intuition , by imagining a committed decision and then gauging the corresponding feeling it inspires in your gut. Taking the time you need , so long as it doesn’t become an overly indulgent distraction. Evaluating your decision , an after-the-fact exercise that engages a conscious inventory of the lessons learned. Coming to terms with your pick , always cognizant of the reality that no decision

Seven Ways To Create An Effective Company Culture

Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective company/corporate cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective: Leaders led by example on a consistent basis  and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times. Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference  and how their contributions made the organization more profitable and/or more effective. The workforce included a blend of  long-term  employees  with a rich company, product/service and customer history; employees who had been at the company for five to seven years; and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players. Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision  for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace. Employees were challenged and rewarded  through growth opportunit

Six Critical Leadership Moments

The book,  Step Up , shows readers how to step up to the plate during  six critical leadership moments . Readers learn how to: Use anger intelligently in the workplace. Recognize and deal with terminal politeness. Make decisions when no one else is making them. Take ownership when others are externalizing a problem. Identify and leverage pessimism. Inspire others to take action. And, before you start to read the book, you can take (via a QR code in the book) a  fifteen-minute online Step Up Leadership Assessment , which will give you instant feedback on your  leadership readiness  and point you to the most relevant chapters in the book. The book's two authors awhile back shared these insights with me: A Conversation with Henry Evans and Colm Foster, authors of  Step Up What is a “leadership moment”? These are moments when leadership is required in order to see a problem solved, opportunity seized, momentum changed, relationship(s) built, or when the intelligent expression of emotio