Mariah Langyel is an Inside Sales Manager at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, where she works with jewelers and agents to implement new sales strategies. She talked to Trend Hunter about having the courage to move forward and take risks when innovating.
TH: How do you and your team generate great ideas? Do you have certain rituals to make creativity happen?
ML: I’m new to the company and new to the workforce, but what I’ve been able to do is gain insight from a lot of people on what they’ve done in the past. My thought process from there is to think of the end goal and fill in the pieces.
I work in a team setting, so we do brainstorming sessions and bounce ideas off of each other for that purpose too.
What are some barriers to innovation? How do you get around them?
Where I have issue being creative is taking the time out of what I do day to day as an employee and finding the time to make a new process creative or innovative (compared to just doing it the same old way.) So having the time to really evaluate the steps in my daily processes.
Then being able to find the right people to make that happen. Because I can have a good idea, but if I don’t have the right resources moving forward it’s not going to go anywhere.
In trying to overcome those barriers, I’ve taken on the mentality of "keep moving forward." If I have a good idea then I can ask forgiveness later if it turns out that it wasn’t the right direction. But so far that hasn’t really been the case. Move forward and be innovative, and most likely it’ll turn out well [laughs].
Do you have specific rituals for resetting to be creative?
Something I like to do when I feel like I’m getting stuck or something’s not working the way that it should is an approach called the counsellor salesperson. So we always establish our purpose, our process, and our payoff. If something isn’t working and I’m not sure why, I first go back and ask: what is the purpose of what I’m trying to make work in the first place? It may be that the steps laid out aren’t really aligning with the true purpose. So if what’s not working doesn’t align, you need to redefine what your purpose is, how you’re going to go about it with your process, and what the payoff that you’re looking for is.
Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced an innovation at your company?
On a personal basis, I’ll share an initiative that we’re going with. Our industry is putting more of a focus on technology, but our agents never really had the capability to use any technological resources. I’d worked at a previous company where I was given an iPad with all my resources on it, so I said, "Why can’t we provide this for our agency force?" I’ve been working for the last couple months on a project to get our agents iPads and to equip them with everything they need on this device to do the business they need to do: marketing materials, any applications they need, the Docusign platform so that they can work more efficiently with their clients. So that was something that I worked on recently related to the industry of technology altogether.
What are some examples of things you can do to create a culture of innovation?
At Jewelers Mutual we have new values that have been put into place. It was a large rollout, and there’s been a company-wide effort to keep with these values. One of my favorites is ‘the freedom to act responsibly.’ That means being able to have the freedom to move forward on projects that we want to pursue or to think outside the box.
Another one of my favorites is ‘rethink routine.’ Coming into my position, there were a lot of processes that weren’t new. Having an outsider perspective helped me to say, "Can we rethink how we do this? I think it would be much more effective to do it this way instead."
What’s the craziest thing you have done to get creative inspiration?
Whenever I’ve found myself to be most creative it’s been sitting down, being more solitary with my thoughts, and taking time to organize what’s in my brain. So I wouldn’t say crazy... I mean, Starbucks and Pandora is as crazy as I get [laughs].
Taking Risks to Innovate
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Abandoning Routine in the Workplace
Designing for Everybody
Innovating in Traditional Industries
Seeing Patterns Anew