Love the product you work for — It’s important to not only enjoy what you do but believe in and love the product you work for.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Berkemeyer.
Lauren Berkemeyer is VP Marketing at YuLife, the tech-driven insurance company on a mission to inspire life. She was previously VP of Marketing at LifeWorks, and has harnessed her many years of experience in marketing to promote innovative technological products which promote everyday health and wellbeing. She is a qualified health coach who uses her insights from the world of wellbeing to inspire businesses to support their people with products they value and love.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’m an ex-pat (New Yorker in London) with a passion for people, places and new experiences. ‘Stuff’ isn’t important to me — adventures are. I’m always on the hunt for new things, unique people, far-flung places and spaces. This drive has led me to over 20 countries, from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the peak of Kilimanjaro.
I kick-started my marketing career as the producer of a comedy variety show on Broadway — at 22, I was responsible for packing the house each week with 1,200 guests for unknown and up-and-coming acts. The adrenaline of each successful performance fueled my 18-year romance with events and marketing: marketing Fortune Magazine’s global conferences, joining a luxury design magazine start-up and moving to the marketing director role with Metro newspaper and The Wall Street Journal.
I’ve always been passionate about health and wellbeing and after completing my health coach certification and fitness qualification, I started looking for high-growth opportunities where I could apply my commercial marketing experience to the employee engagement and wellbeing industry. I discovered LifeWorks, a global health and wellness platform, and was part of an exciting journey of transforming a traditional employee assistance service into a total wellbeing proposition enabled by technology. I joined YuLife in March to disrupt the group risk insurance market by changing how people value and use insurance. This is a new era of insurance that is about providing the tools for people to not only live healthier lives but to be protected financially in the future.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
At YuLife, we’re fundamentally changing the nature of insurance, transforming a decades-old adversarial model into a highly engaging, highly relevant product which benefits both the insurer and their members. When it comes to life insurance for example, we are upending the focus on death to make it into a product about life. Typically, a customer signs up to a life insurance policy and doesn’t have any interaction with their insurer apart from renewing their policy once a year. Under this model, life insurance is little more than death coverage. We looked at that tired status quo and thought that life insurance has so much more potential than that. Life insurance can be a tool to inspire healthier, happier and better lives every single day. When an employer signs their employees up to YuLife’s income protection package, members can access YuLife’s exclusive, game-like app, which offers them vouchers and discounts from leading brands in return for completing everyday wellness challenges, such as walking, cycling, meditation and mindfulness. By rewarding for healthy lifestyle choices, we’re creating a tangible incentive for leading better lives. Employers come to us and are amazed to hear that we’re offering the financial security package that comes with life insurance while also helping employees be more healthy, happy and productive on an everyday basis.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was 26 years old, I was a moving truck away from escaping New York City to live and work in Las Vegas to work for the comedy variety show that I had co-produced when I was 22. This was the ultimate sliding doors moment for me and my life would have been very different. I think rather than a path of helping people to live their best lives, I may have been on a path of helping escape their lives.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I feel very grateful to have worked for Jamie True, the previous CEO of LifeWorks. Jamie taught me so many great lessons about how to be a truly great entrepreneur. Jamie showed me first-hand how technology can be used to create positive change in our world today. He recognised the importance of mental health support but also saw that the Employee Assistance Programmes were archaic and only utilised by 2–5% of the workforce. By creating an app that people loved to use, one that recognised, rewarded and supported people’s wellbeing before crisis point, 100% of the workforce was supported and not just the 5%.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
The key word for us is engagement. In the 21st century, if a customer is not engaging with a product, they won’t see its value and will rapidly discontinue use. Life insurance policies have incredibly low retention rates because policy-holders don’t see the everyday value of insurance products and so don’t renew their policies. Consumers today expect to be able to access any service or product they use at the swipe of a smartphone screen, and if they can’t do that, and they’re relying on excessive bureaucracy and paperwork, the chances that they’ll invest in analogue products is low. Disruption isn’t always essential, but in industries which are totally out of date and aren’t attuned to today’s realities then it most definitely is.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Love the product you work for — It’s important to not only enjoy what you do but believe in and love the product you work for.
- Be inquisitive — Keep learning and asking questions. Communication is so important.
- Be persistent — Never take no for an answer. Think solutions not problems.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
One of the benefits of the way we use tech is that we’re constantly generating AI-based insights from the YuLife app, which feed vital anonymized user data back to us, enabling us to understand which wellness activities are truly popular and to tailor our products to our customers’ needs. We’re very big on meditation and mindfulness as these are very trendy at the moment, but of course new wellness activities could easily emerge and we want to be on top of those trends in order to offer our members tips for leading healthy lifestyles in the way they want. Ultimately, we want to transform the entire insurance industry and broaden the use of advanced tech and behavioral science, so that the focus will always be on what’s good for customers and what’s easy for them to use.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
To take a page from Sheryl Sandberg’s book, women need to “lean in” much more than men to be heard. As Sandberg says, “We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hand, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” We, as women, need to be proactive, assertive and communicate our point of view.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
Eat Sleep Work Repeat by Bruce Daisley is my go to podcast of the moment. One of my favourite episodes was Reinvent your Culture with Seth Godin. It talks about how you can you change the culture in organisations by the way you engineer choices available to people from a behavioural scientist’s point of view.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I read this quote once and it really resonated with me, “You are the CEO of your life. You have the power to stage and compose in the way you want it to be.” — Nethra Murali
I firmly believe that I control my own destiny and have the ability to shape my life. This is not only about your own career path but the actions you take every day to be healthy and happy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The mobility movement. I would make it a life requirement that everyone takes a 20 minute walk every morning to start their day just like brushing your teeth.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!