PayneWest Post


By Steve Smelley

Look outside your window.  Please get up from your computer, go to the nearest window and look outside. How’s the weather?  It seems like the topic of many conversations right now starts with the weather. For as long as humans have had “small talk”, the weather is a safe and connecting conversation starter.  You’ve heard it all.

  • “It’s -9 in Helena but feels like it’s -30 with the wind chill”.
  • “We got a foot of snow last night in Spokane and have another foot coming today”.
  • “We’ve only closed schools twice in Billings in the past 30 years due to snow”.
  • “I love the winter white in Idaho”.
  • “Snowpocalypse hit Seattle and is headed to Portland”.
  • “People here don’t know how to drive in the snow like we do back home”.

As I travel our footprint, I’ve seen every bit of the weather offerings our beautiful Northwest offers and I’ve heard the perspectives of what it’s like in “our community”.  The weather is something we have no control over.  We all experience it and we all talk about it.  We live with it.  We love it.  We hate it.  We enjoy or suffer its impact. We react to it.  We compare and contrast. We have opinions.  We share them.

Last Friday, on a visit to my local grocery store, under the mere threat of snow in the greater Portland area, every grocery cart was in use, the store was full, the lines were long and the bread, milk and firewood was all sold out.  Like a preview of Game of Thrones, it was apparent that “Winter is coming”.  Since Friday, we’ve had a few flurries on the west side of Portland and other than the hills, we’ve enjoyed rain and wet pavement.  No need for panic. No reason to close schools.  Laughable really as I have traveled through Washington and Montana over the past two weeks.

What’s my point with all this weather talk?  There are things we all experience that we take as fact and the way the world works.  Our experience and our perspective often influence the way we interface with the world around us.  We have the luxury of choosing to narrow our focus or expand our view.  We choose our perspective.

I wonder what would happen if we all took the time to ask our clients or our colleagues about what’s truly important to them.  What if we inquired of others as often as we talk about the weather?  What if we challenged ourselves to truly understand the perspective of others as well as our own?  What if we made informed and thoughtful decisions that truly make an impact and difference based on a perspective broader than our own? It speaks to our Core Value of Respect. It touches on our belief that Everything Counts.  I believe it is the right thing to do.

On a very personal note: On January 3 this year, I lost my mother.  Well, I didn’t really lose her, I know where she is, but I lost the ability to see her and talk to her the same way I was able to for all of my life.  My perspective changed. I have been blessed with an outpouring of kind words, thoughts, deeds, love and support from so many.  It’s humbling.  It’s an honor.  I’m grateful.  Thank you.

In honor of my mom, I wanted to share with each of you some of her perspective that has shaped my life. My mother always told me that life is about choices. She gave me the confidence to do and try anything that was important to me. Two things she would often say were, “You can do anything you set your mind to” and “when you wake up in the morning, you can choose to be happy or unhappy, what will you choose?”

So I leave you with this as you stare out the window and ponder the weather; what is important to you? How will you make a difference? What is your perspective that others need to know?  How can you gain the perspective of others?  When you wake up in the morning, will you choose to be happy or unhappy?  I have confidence that you will do great things.  I have confidence that WE will do great things together!

Earned Designations and Completed Programs

  • Rachel Cook, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Casey Galloway, Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS)
  • Corby Guse, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Garrett Hall, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Laurie Larson, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Matt McGowan, Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)
  • Jessi McCort, Commercial Liability Coverage Specialist (CLCS)
  • Mike McWhorter, Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)
  • Guadalupe Navarro, Associate in General Insurance (AINS)
  • Jennifer Neil, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
  • Heather Schlauch, Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)