Sr. Vice President at J. Smith Lanier & Co.
60 Seconds with Todd Browning
by By Clay Neely
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?
I’ve been in this business since 1992 so I’ve had my share of challenges. Probably the largest challenge I’ve faced, and definitely the most recent, is the implementation of Health Care Reform (ObamaCare). Not only could it impact the ability to make a living in my profession but it has created an environment where employers must continually access their short and long term strategies and tactics with regard to their employee benefit offerings and benefit administration. Employee Benefits is now a major “C-Suite” discussion and a highlighted topic in the board rooms of medium and large size employers. The downstream implications of Health Care Reform can have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line so developing and implementing strategies have never been more crucial. With all of the delays and rule changes the implementation of Health Care Reform has been confusing, at best, for benefit consultants, employers and employees. That confusion just enhances the challenge of developing and implementing a long term strategy. I tell my clients that we are all “pioneers” with this… me (the consultant), you (the employer), your employees, and even the insurance companies. This is a new trail we are all traveling down.
Who has played the greatest influence in your life?
My dad is the obvious first person. He was with Eastern Airlines 30-plus years and I can’t remember him missing any of my sporting events growing up. He taught me loyalty, the importance of a strong work ethic, and to always strive to do the right thing. A close second runner-up though would be Coach Pete Fritz, Sr. from my years at Woodward Academy. Coach Fritz coached me on about 11 different teams from grades 6 – 12 and was someone you definitely did not want to make angry. He was my second dad growing up in the 1980s. Coach never accepted less than 100 percent effort and made sure you were fully prepared at game time when the whistle blew and the clock started.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
I’ll try to keep this short but there are three main pieces that come to mind. First of all, my dad told me early on when I was beginning to mow yards for money and doing odd jobs that “If you are going to take the man’s money, you’d better give him 100 percent of your effort.” In more recent times a mentor told me to strive to differentiate myself, always provide value, and become a trusted advisor to my clients. Lastly, and this is simply “attitude” advice from one of my favorite Texas singer/songwriters Ray Wylie Hubbard: “On the days you keep your gratitude higher than your expectations you’ll have really good days.”