I was at a hotel bar, when two guys struck up a conversation with me: the typical, “Where are you from and what do you do?”

It turned out they sold commercial insurance. They in fact had insured this very building, the W hotel. They’ve insured billions of dollars of property across the state. I asked them how the seemingly increasing number of catastrophic hurricanes and other events is affecting their industry. How could you possibly build the impossible into your risk model?

They told me about how they build their portfolios to minimize risk, and how they insure very specific things; now a thing called “Terrorism Insurance” exists. They told me a lot of what they deal with are “stoppage of work” claims, ie if your supplier has a fire and can’t deliver your raw materials, you are now out wages of employees standing around, lost employer contracts, etc.

I now know 200% more about a topic I knew very little about.

“You know what?” this guy told me. “In all my years in commercial insurance, nobody has ever taken that much interest in learning what I do.”

I took that as the highest compliment that I could.

“Well, that is what I do. I spend all day talking to people about their jobs and understanding what it is they really do and what it is they really want to do. It’s a level of people-watching you don’t get any other way. That’s why I love my job.”