The Windstorm Insurance Network® held its regional symposium in Atlanta yesterday. I was the moderator of a panel on layered insurance programs. My panel included Harvey Goodman, of Adjusters International and Goodman, Gable and Gould, John Intondi of AXIS and Matt Litsky from Phelps Dunbar. These are some very prominent and experienced professionals. After going over a working breakfast review with them, I felt confident about our presentation despite the dryness of a very complex insurance coverage topic.

Before our presentation, the only thing I had to do was introduce the keynote speaker, Keni Thomas. I thought he would give the traditional motivational speech, and then we could get down to business with something a little more relevant to claims adjusters and insurance coverage counsel; I thought wrong.

Five minutes into his speech, I knew Keni Thomas had a story and message that was going to be remembered long after anything we had to offer. Over the past year, I have had about 30 speaking engagements at various conferences throughout the country, and I have seen some of the best motivational speakers in the United States. Nobody was a captivating as Keni Thomas was yesterday.

The Gainesville Sun reported on Keni Thomas several years ago in From Somalia to Country Star: UF Grad’s Story:

On Oct. 3, 1993, Sgt. Keni Thomas was enjoying a scheduled day off, writing a letter to his mother as fellow American soldiers stationed in Somalia played volleyball nearby. Then, from an airplane hanger, a voice screamed, “Alright, get it on!”

Within minutes, the Army Rangers were on Black Hawk helicopters, slicing through the dust over Mogadishu en route to “kick in the doors” and capture warlords working under Gen. Mohammed Farah Adid.

“You prepare yourself. Train as you fight, fight as you train . . . Once you get the call, you just do it.”…

As a keynote speaker for the National Agriculture Ambassador Conference, the 1989 UF graduate brought students to tears and the room to its feet as he detailed – often with humor – his role in the famed Black Hawk Down mission. And, in keeping with the event’s theme, Thomas hammered home one question:

“If I don’t, who will?”

Thomas was awarded a Bronze Star of Valor for the ill-fated mission in Somalia, which has been detailed in books and the 2001 movie “Black Hawk Down.”

His website carries one of his very simple messages that appies to every one of us:

Use the gifts you have been given. Do what feeds your spirit, because when you do, the world around you becomes a better place. And you have made a difference.

Forensic accountant Bruce Smith expressed the same view as everyone else at the symposium when he wrote in a text to me:

Keni Thomas was unbelievable. His appearance alone made the seminar worth the investment!

The Windstorm Insurance Network® provides some fantastic educational opportunities for those wishing to improve in the property claims business. Yesterday, we all learned some valuable lessons from a person who has no adjustment experience, but extraordinary life lessons which can be applied everyday and to everything we do.