The Not Unreasonable Podcast

Dinos Iordanou on Cyprus, Hard Work and Culture

June 03, 2019 David Wright Season 1 Episode 36
The Not Unreasonable Podcast
Dinos Iordanou on Cyprus, Hard Work and Culture
Show Notes Transcript

My guest for this episode is Dinos Iordanou, former Chairman and CEO of Arch, which he co-founded as Arch in 2001 and led from 2003 until retiring last year. In this incredible episode we cover: 

  • Dinos' homeland of Cyprus (who is his favorite Cypriot? Who is the best Cypriot soccer player of all time? Where did a poor, young Dinos vacation and why?)
  • 'Crappy' jobs (and why Dinos loved them all), 
  • What quality Hank Greenberg and Warren Buffett share (Dinos worked with both!)
  • What lessons Dinos learned from Warren Buffet
  • The power of culture to transform firms
  • Philotimo, what it is and why it matters for a leader

An amazing show and my deep appreciation of Dinos for his time. See notunreasonable.com for more!

David Wright:

My guest today is Dinos Iordanou former chairman and CEO of arch which Dinos co-founded in 2001. And lead from 2003 until 2018. He held a variety of executive leadership roles before that at AIG, Berkshire Hathaway and Zurich. Dinos was an engineer by training and moved to the US from Cyprus when he was a teenager. Dinos Welcome to the show.

Dinos Iordanou:

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

David Wright:

So one thing that I hadn't had the pleasure of doing before preparing for this interview was researching Cyprus, interesting little country. And that's where you're from. And I thought I'd open up with some questions on Cyprus. First, who is the Cypriot you admire most?

Dinos Iordanou:

My answer is probably going to surprise you. But the person that I admire most It was my father.

David Wright:

Good answer. Why?

Dinos Iordanou:

He was an individual who with fourth grade education, and an orphan, wow, who why his first pair of shoes when he was 16 years old. He, he was barefoot until the time and he actually borrowed those shoes and borrow clothes, to go for an interview to become a constable in the British police force. And he lied on the application that he was 18 years old, because I was the minimum age requirement. He was only 16. He looked older. So he figured he can get away with it. And he did. And actually, he was selected as one of the constables. And he was a first time. This was in 1932. It was the first time that the British police in Cyprus, Cyprus was a colony. It was a British colony at that time, he was starting to hire locals into the police force. And roll the tape here is, you know, a barefoot a kid, you know, living as an orphan with two siblings and his mom that created a family there, six of us, all of us very successful. And a lot of it, he was his perseverance, and understanding and teaching us great values that propel us into excellence in our future years. I was pretty successful. I have two brothers and medical doctors. You know, my sister has a PhD. My other brother is he was a biomedical engineer from Rutgers University and he had a master's in biomedical engineering. And I'll keep brother he, he has a degree in, in hospitality, and he's an owner of a restaurant. So the entire family has done well. And I think the foundation, the Family Foundation, the principles that my father inspire upon us, the that environment is really gave us the foundation, you know, to achieve in life.

David Wright:

So can you think of maybe a representative story maybe something about your father that you think about like that was the moment that sticks in my head and that's the know, I learned something big from him as a result of that story? That experience?

Dinos Iordanou:

Absolutely, absolutely. I I went to school in Nicosia. I graduated high school I went to the army is mandatory. Once you finish high school, you got to go and serve. I did my two years in the military.

David Wright:

This was was it This was it was it was independent, or was it still under British rule then?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, no, it was independent. Cyprus got his independence in 1960. Okay, I serve in the army from 67 to 69 1969. He puts me on a boat kwinana Maria, okay. And off I come to America.

David Wright:

Wow. His call. He said this is what you do all this is what you're doing. Wow. We are the oldest.

Dinos Iordanou:

I was the oldest. I'm the firstborn. I had 200 bucks in my pocket. And I hope and that was it. So I arrived here after 17 days on the boat, no communication with the family. And the reason I came by boat, he couldn't afford a plane ticket. So it was cheaper to come, you know by boat. So I arrive and I call and I said, Dad, I made it. I made it. I'm here and his first two sentences out of his mouth. Did you enroll in school and did you get a job? And he knew the answers. I just landed so he knew what but basically, I think it was his way of sending the message. You went there for a principal to get an education And the only way you can achieve that is by finding a job so you can sustain yourself. So the first two things out of his mouth. Did you enroll in school? And did you get a job? Yeah. And you know, of course, never asked, Did you had a good time on the boat? Oh, no, it was a principal it was, you're going with a goal. This is your goal. You got to stay focus and tell your truth. You know, I'm, I'm a pretty brave guy. But if I had a 19 year old son, I wouldn't send him 5000 miles away. Yeah, you know, but in subsequent discussions with my father, he says, I knew you already are. You were always responsible as a kid growing up. I started working when I was 14 years old, doing little things here helping the family, six kids. My father was a policeman on a policeman's salary in Cyprus. You know, things don't go very far. I mean, handing down clothes, is he was the norm, I was the only son pretty much I was having the privilege, because I was the oldest to wear new shoes, my shoes that will get passed down the hall away. Even my brothers will complaining, how come he always gets the because He's the oldest. And that's the biggest size and when, when it's time you're going to get his shoe.

David Wright:

So what was this trip to America was a plan for a while Do you remember when you first heard, this is what I'm going to do for you. And you're like, oh,

Dinos Iordanou:

he was he was he was he was not planning, there were two options for me to get genetic education, it was either go to Greece, which universities are free of charge a lot. But you have to, you know, pay your way for room and board. And my father couldn't even afford that. And there are no jobs in Greece, for college students that you're going to go on work, earn some money, and pay your way through school, where it was more appropriate to do that. In the United States. We had a few friends, older people than me who had already have come here, one of them who arranged for my, my my visa, the f1 visa student visa. He came four years before me and he was just graduating from Queens College. And then he went and got his master's at Rutgers University. And he says, oh, I'll do the paperwork for you and all that, you know, get here. I help you find a room, and all of that, and help you find a job. And when I came, you know, I My first job was gas station attendant on Hoyt Avenue in Astoria, Queens.

David Wright:

How'd you get that job?

Dinos Iordanou:

Oh, he says, we're going to go around, right? And we're going to ask people, and it was stasia. He says, you know, my English was challenging, but at least I can understand regular and high test and. And that's all you need. And that's all you need it and clean windows. And, you know, and I, you know, I got the job. And I had flexible hours because gas stations run 24 hours a day. So I was getting our hours where others didn't want to work. And it didn't interfere with me going to school in the morning. So it was it worked. For me. It was a tough job. And,

David Wright:

you know, it was dropped. So I want to come back to Cyprus for a second again, because it's an interesting place I hadn't really looked into where it was exactly it is nestled up right against the Middle East. Right. And it's, uh, in terms of Greek culture and outpost, it's pretty far away from mainland Greece much closer to other countries. There's a lot of let's call it sectarian tension. Right? Yes, yeah. Yeah. So I mean, that's that's a It's a strange environment. I would think to grow up in probably feeling how did it How does it feel? What does it feel

Dinos Iordanou:

Well when I grew up, there was no tension.

David Wright:

Right. Okay. Oh, really? Interesting.

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah. They the the turkey invaded in 74. Yep. Right. I was already in the United States. I came in 1969. Yeah. I think is outside influence. The the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots they live next to each other. The village My mother was born I had about 300 people, half of them that Turkish half of them they were Greek so you had friends Turkish? Yeah, my both of my parents, my father, my mother spoke Turkish fluently. Wow. And vice versa. A lot of their friends they would speak Greek. Now. Turkey is a big power. Always have ambitions ambitions to, you know, to to get either some of the Greek islands or or part of Cyprus, and they accomplish that in 74 with the invasion, and to this day, nobody's recognizing the North Turkey. The, the, the end, and they did ethnic cleansing, you know, with the approval of the United States. So the thing that really bothered me the most, you know, they move all their ethnic Turks from the south of Cyprus up to the north, and they push all the Greeks on the south divided the island, and now there is pure is no Greeks on the north and no turks on the south. And that was accomplished by you know, by Turkey. With the blessing of Kissinger at that time.

David Wright:

So when when you were growing up in this call it before the tensions began, did you did you travel to other Middle Eastern? Did you ever go on vacations? I mean, I guess I didn't. I did not.

Dinos Iordanou:

go on vacations per se but I did travel quite a bit to Israel, okay. And he was to visit friends I made as a teenager as a teenager I was working in a hotel up in platters which is the the mountainous area in Cypress trawlers platters and Forest Park Hotel. I was I was working I started when I was 14 years old.

David Wright:

Yes, that was

Dinos Iordanou:

your first job and all that and their riches rail is they used to go to vacation in Europe and go poor Israel as it will come to Cyprus. Okay, it's very close. Yeah, it's very close.

David Wright:

How many hours in the ferry? How long? If you leave Limassol at eight o'clock at night, on the ferry, 6am. The next morning, you're in a big distance still, you know, a long time?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, it's about 100. And okay. 120 miles, boats don't go by, you know, so it still takes about 10, 12 hours to get there. Yeah. But so the hotel was booked by the teachers union in Israel. Okay. So as part of their dues, yeah. They will get one week. Stay in Cyprus like a perk. Well, yeah, it was part of the four they do. So every Monday morning, a crew will leave. And Monday afternoon a new crew will come in, they will stay until the next Monday morning. And every week. So I met a lot of friends. And they will invite me to go to Haifa, in Jerusalem and all that. And I was I took those opportunities, you know, to go and visit. So I've been to Israel quite a few times.

David Wright:

Yeah. You know, was that unusual? Did friends of yours do things like this too? Or is

Dinos Iordanou:

that? Yeah, there's some that you will go to Lebanon? You know, Baroud, American University was flourishing at that time. I might. I have three four cousins who are graduates of the American University in broad.

David Wright:

But it wasn't an option for you though going there?

Dinos Iordanou:

Ah, no, because of the same issue. You know, they are I had to pay tuition and also the living expenses. Yeah. So I was the first one. And I came here. My second brother is a doctor. He went to University of Athens, and he finance his stay in Athens by coming in the summers visiting me. Yeah, right. And working two jobs. Oh, he would work as a as a dishwasher. And as a delivery boy, down on Broad Street. in, in, in, in downtown right right over here. Yep. You know, there was a you might remember it. Have you been around here for a kid's coffee shop. Okay. It was in the corner, right by 90 Broad Street right on the corner. So in the morning, he will deliver food into the offices, breakfast and lunch. And then from four to midnight, he'll be the dishwasher and he will save any will save all his money for 10 weeks in the summer that he was here

David Wright:

sleeping on your couch or

Dinos Iordanou:

sleeping on my couch, then that will last them for the full year paying rent and living expenses in Ingres. Yes. And he graduated medical school there and then he came and became the chief resident Roseville sand look. Then he built his own practice with you know, in Astoria, Queens call a story of pediatrics and then they later on they sold it to North Shore University. I For which just retire this year, you know, but that's why I went back to my father. I mean, he instill a sense of purpose. You got to have goals. They're not impossible. They might be difficult. But at the end of the tunnel is a lot of bright light. Yeah. So my brother got his MD, and became a very successful doctor in the United States, all on his own. Not because my father didn't want to help, but he couldn't. Yeah, sure. You know, it's, you're a poor family. You know, you You, too, to this day, my wife says, oh, you're a multimillionaire, and I am. And he says, You You're so cheap. I says, I'm not cheap. I'm frugal, because I grew up like that.

David Wright:

Yeah. Is it possible to instill that kind of value in somebody without that kind of upbringing? Like, can you do it?

Dinos Iordanou:

We tried very hard. Yeah. I think I think my kids, I'm very happy with where they ended up. I have three daughters. The oldest is 34. Have a 31. And a 24 year old. They went to Northwestern, William and Mary and University of Virginia. Two of them graduated cum laude. And one he had a 3.30 make them louder, but not bad. Not bad. This is Northwestern 3.3 is pretty good. And they are very working. And they're very, very successful. As a matter of fact, my youngest one just went back to macdill, the communication school at Northwestern, and he's one of 19 kids, they have admitted into the air. He wants to be a sports communications person, you know, either as an announcer or as say, you know, a sideline reporter of some sort. She was a terrific athlete. She played for the US 17 national team in soccer. She played for the University of Virginia. You played soccer, right? I did I do you play in Cyprus. I played in Cyprus for a protein for three years when I was young. 17 1890. Yeah. And then I play for the New York freedoms here when I came to the US. And you know, I played all the way into my 50s

David Wright:

did you did you ever I looked up a name. Cyprus. Did you ever play with Sotirios Kaiafas?

Dinos Iordanou:

Sotirios Kaiafas?

David Wright:

Yeah.

Dinos Iordanou:

I played against him.

David Wright:

Did you

Dinos Iordanou:

in 1976. We won with the New York freedoms. And he used to play for Omonia.

David Wright:

Yeah, yeah. meant to be the best Cypriot soccer player of all time. Would you agree with that?

Dinos Iordanou:

I I don't I don't think so. In my view, there are others out there. He was very, very good. Yeah. But I think the best I was at name play for a ball and Lima soco, Kristalis,

David Wright:

okay.

Dinos Iordanou:

You know, he was phenomenal player.

David Wright:

When was he active?

Dinos Iordanou:

He was active right before him. He was in the, in the, in the early 60s, mid 60s. And he played for Ike, Athens, he went to Greece and played, you know, and in those days, there's a lot of plays now that they play all over the place overseas. But it was unusual for him. But you know, he was recruited in play for Ike Athens was a big big club in Europe. And then he came back, you know, to Cyprus to play but, you know, I enjoy the game and my daughter's played my oldest played for Northwestern. And my young one play for University of Virginia. She was starting with that left back, she went all the way to the college cup. And now she played pro for a year didn't like the environment is not a lot of money in pro soccer she played for she was drafted by the North Carolina courage. She didn't want to stay here. She went overseas to play for medela in Norway, and then she play for a bond on ladies in Cyprus. And then she came back

David Wright:

so important obviously an important part of your own kind of life and your family. The sports do you think that it Do you think that that's an is that a necessary I saw as an observation? I find that it's common for people let's call it people who work hard have that kind of ethic. Successful people too often have a real passion about a lot passionate about sports. Do you agree with that? Do you think that's a is it?

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah. Listen, young, young kids. I don't care for the boys or girls. They have quite a bit time on their hands. Yeah, sure. Right. So So now how do you how do you challenge you know that energy and how do you challenge you know, the the teachings of, of really playing a team Sport, learning how to, you know, play with others, and share and try to make others better. The best soccer player is not the guy who is the superstar, but he's the guy who elevates the play of every player on the field. You know, Pella was like that he will make everybody playing around him better because of new one to pass the ball, he knew when to keep the ball, etc. but also is the camaraderie of you know, on these travel teams, you travel, I stayed tomorrow motel six, you know, in my life with my daughters as they were growing up. But you mix rich kids with poor kids with different ethnicities, we have Spanish kids, we have black kids, we had white kids, you know, and that creates a great environment for the kids to be brought up. In addition, you just created a discipline, they have to go to practice. They have to manage their time well, because they still have to do homework, they still have to do well in school. So there is less time to be hanging around the neighborhood corner or going down to the mall at the theater wasting their time, and associating themselves with bad actors. You know, so I, I've used boards, as part of the upbringing and an important ingredient in creating structure with purpose. You know, you're achieving things, because you're competing, you're trying to get to the next level, let me make the travel team, let me make the state team let me make the original team, let me make the national team. You know, not all my girls to have done that. But my my youngest one has done that. My my oldest daughter got on our way to state she made the state team, you know, would you sign a contract serious, you know, and, and then she got recruited, and she went to play for Northwestern, you know, which is division one big 10 you know, sport, and I think that helped quite a bit in a lot of different respects as to how you deal with other people, how you become a team player, which is very, very much part of the success individuals have in businesses. Very, very few people in my 45 years in insurance have done well as individuals, okay. If that if you're not a team player, if you're not sharing, you're not going to do well. You can be a good manager, you can be a good colleague, you know, at the end of the day, you know, team performance is it's been discovered now it's the new password. buzzword, you know, but you know, to me, teamwork. I discover way back that I knew when I had cohesive teams that they were working together, not only their productivity, but their solutions that they will come up with. They were so far superior. That very bright individuals working on there. No.

David Wright:

Did you like have you liked all of your jobs? I loved every single one. Right, right from the hotel to the gas station.

Dinos Iordanou:

My father used to say a job is like a prayer. Yeah. So you Yeah, did I do jobs I didn't like it? Yeah, I was a dishwasher. Hot sweating you know. But at the end, you got a paycheck. And when you went to the person who offers to pay your tuition, you had the money to do it. Yeah. So the people in the job, right. Yeah. I mean, I at the end, you know, you have to do what you had to do for survive. Failure was not an option. Yeah, I mean, at the end, you know, remember that towards my father said, Did you get a job yet? And did you enroll in school? Yeah, yeah, you went there with a purpose. You went there to get an education and you went there and you can get an education unless you can pay your bills, and you better get a job. And, you know, to me work out and I was never ashamed. I'm probably as the only CEO is the best grill man, ever. So I work in Greek diners, as a as a as a grill man. I'm the best breakfast guy.

David Wright:

Can you really crack four eggs?

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah. Who told you that?

David Wright:

I have my sources. Can you crack them at one? Four on the grill?

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah.

David Wright:

How quickly does it How long does it take to make a breakfast order does a single short order cooks it's like I mean, I used to go through a case. A case of eggs in a diner is 36 dozen. Okay,

Dinos Iordanou:

I used to go through one case an hour.

David Wright:

Okay. Wow. 36 dozens, right? That's a lot of eggs, man.

Dinos Iordanou:

Right? Yeah.

David Wright:

So you're in the zone.

Dinos Iordanou:

I mean, I was in the zone. I used to work at Toomi's diner.

David Wright:

Okay,

Dinos Iordanou:

across from the Ebbets fields in Brooklyn. Go, you know, when they demolish the stadium, the big project, the diner was across the street, of course, used to be a very famous diner and then a Greek Cypriot bought it. You know, it was in a very, very poor neighborhood. You know, all my customers there were African Americans, they were black, you know, guys, and you see, they eat, I had wars. You You know, you I had orders like for overeasy right for you know, grits and Bagan I knew how to make grids, because, you know, they they love grids, you know, you know, you don't find that in a lot of diners. Right. You know that you get home fries? You get but yeah, yeah, it was it was fun. I, I will work Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. And when I was in engineering school at NYU, and believe me, I was making enough money to pay my tuition, pay for my room, and even afford to have a junky car to get me around.

David Wright:

When did you stop working? When did you stop working more than one job?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, I was, well, I was working throughout, you know, my college years, I was working multiple jobs. Yep. My main job was he was presumably, you know, but if, if a friend of mine he says, would you would you do eight hours tonight on a cab, I will go out and do it. Because, you know, if, if I did my homework, I didn't have anything. I'm gonna go to school the next day. And the guy says, Hey, you know, I got the car sitting there. I'm not gonna take it out. We used to, we used to get 40% cut. Right? Wow. Right. So to get to the medallion, or 40% goes to the drive. So if I went out in a night in those days, and I make, you know, a couple 100 bucks, that's a lot of money. Yeah. You know, and, you know, we'll get to JFK wait for Yeah, and all of that.

David Wright:

So you but you graduate University, you get a job in the engineering business for a little bit. You still working two jobs there?

Dinos Iordanou:

No, no,

David Wright:

stopped that.

Dinos Iordanou:

I stopped working, you know, any was a short period of time, I only work in engineering for about a year, okay. And then I couldn't get top clearance. And then my career was pretty much over. It started. But I went back to my advisors at any UI, you know? And they said, Listen, you have so much math in your background. Why don't you go and get a job done on Wall Street as an analyst somewhere, either with an investment bank, you got a good degree, it's NYU School of Engineering and Science, you know, or an insurance company, or a money center bank, you know, then give it a try. You're pretty good. You know, you're, you're very you have a very analytical mind. And then go and get an MBA and then well, first job I got offer was at AIG, they wanted me to help underwriters underwrite satellite launches. Okay. On it was when their communication satellites. They were were talking about mid 70s. Yep. Right. And I got discovered by Hank Greenberg. And what does that mean? It's discovered, how did he discover the there was an incident that there was some bad underwriting, and they ignore my recommendations. In the report, I wrote a report about, you know,

David Wright:

some technical flaw,

Dinos Iordanou:

well, not a technical flaw, but I said, the probability of failure is should be around 14 15%. And in essence, if you're going to price this business, you got to be charging a rate of 18 to 20. Because you got to put expenses, and the going rate was like 6%. And they wrote the risk at 6%. And, of course, you know, even the probability of failure is about 15%. One in six are going to fail, and it happened to fail. So he wanted to see who did the evaluation. Right and, and they, they eliminate my report from the file, who did they know? And then he said, to the head of the engineering department, I thought I asked you to hire somebody who knows anything about this business. And I says, I did. He says worse his report says I don't know. But I have a copy in my office is gonna get it. And Cliff stone was the head of the engineering department got the report because your boss, my boss, yep. The engineering department. So he took it up. It says I want to meet this kid.

David Wright:

Oh, yeah. Okay. And you go, you're How old? Are you there? I was. 27 How old is Hank at that point?

Dinos Iordanou:

Oh, well, Hank. Let's go. It's he's 25 years senior to me. Mid 50s. It was early 50s. Yeah, yeah. So

David Wright:

and before that meeting, what did you know about him? Oh, he was living legend already living legend already. And he you know, so, bit of a tough guy.

Dinos Iordanou:

Very tough. Very tough. You know, so he, he, he says, I'm gonna, I'm gonna put you on the fast track program.

David Wright:

Okay, they had a fast track. So he liked what he saw when you when you walked in them?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, he talked about my background. Okay, well, different interview that you're doing with me? Right? What was your father? How did you come here? Yeah, you know, he says, You're smart, and hungry. And I like that is I'm gonna put you on the fast track program and see how you do. And the rest of his history. 1982. I was 32 years old. I made civvy stock partner. Yeah. Cool. Yeah, that was, you know, and one of the hottest weeks in my life is when I left AIG. Yeah. You know,

David Wright:

how and why and

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, they he introduced me to Warren Buffett, because we're gonna do a transaction and that transaction didn't happen. And the Berkshire people, you know, Mike Goldberg and the group that including Warren, they were impressed with our negotiations, my knowledge of the business, etc. So six months later, they came and they said, Would you come and join us? And I did. And that created a little bit of a tension between Hank

David Wright:

Yeah, sure. So it was that conversation like with Hank?

Dinos Iordanou:

Oh, he used to throw my resignation. You lost your mind, you know, right? No, this is your house. This is where you belong, or you want to go work for some guy who doesn't know anything about insurance? Yeah, that was his, yeah.

David Wright:

I've heard before that that comments from Hank Greenberg, about how people don't understand insurance. What does he mean by that? What is it that people don't understand about insurance?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, they don't understand, you know, that it's a risky business, right? I mean, you, you, you, you're managing risk, you got to price it appropriately. And there is many pitfalls, you know, is getting easier today, than 50 years ago, because the flow of information is so much better. You know, the Google is being the biggest invention in underwriting. Now. companies, they can hide, they will not lie about their past, but they're not going to come and I says, I've seen and I've seen and I've seen sure what you don't know what hurts you. So. So the old craft, the broker is in our early days, they won't tell you the bad thing. So we'll always present the risk with the most positive light. Right? And it was up to you to find out

David Wright:

what was really going on? What are the skeletons in the closet and, and, and the tools, they were not as available then as they are today. Now, you know, as and it's been many years since I was a disc underwriter. But I can tell you, the job has become a lot easier for those who want to practice great underwriting because underwriting is good analysis of information, making judgments and putting an appropriate price and you have to be disciplined in the way you do it. And if you're not disciplined, if you're not patient and discipline, you're not going to do well. archers done well because they always insisted in certain existed in collaboration. I wanted people to talk to each other. Pricing actuaries with the claims people with the underwriters as a team, because each let's face it is simple math. One mine is not as good as two minds is not as good as three minds. I take three minds working together in collaboration to make a good decision. Because when you step back, what is the insurance business What do you manufacture? I asked that question to a lot of people, what do you manufacture? you manufacture decisions? It's no different than the investment business, the investment business, what do you do, you don't make widgets, you don't make cars, you don't make chairs, you make decisions, you analyze a company, you analyze the strategy, your same thing with underwriting, you look at the company, you look at the risk that they're facing, etc. And you make a decision as to what is an appropriate price for you to take that risk and give them the protection that they need. So collaboration is very important. Working as teams is very important. And not taking shortcuts, meaning you have to do the analysis, there is no, you know, shortcuts. And as technology has improved the ability of information to flow freely, and you find it, you can go Google and log a little paper. And if they have a plan in, in timber two, you will find out if they had an explosion five years ago, and even if the broker didn't tell you, it's up to you to find now. And it's easy today to do it when it was not easy. 40 years ago. So one thing that is, I guess famous about the AIG kind of classic culture was that it was actually pretty competitive. Right? So people advance and, and he picks people and pulls them out of the pack and says, you know, and then have divisions, which legend has it, I don't know, a whole lot better directly, but competed against each other. And so you're emphasizing a lot of collaboration, but then from what I hear about AIG is a lot of competition. Is there. Am I understanding it right? or me? There was competition, you know, there was always competition between the Lexington people in American Home, right, because we're and there wasn't as much between a IU and because they were most of the foreign division, etc. But there was some comp internal competition, because, you know, is this account a standard account and go to the standard market? Are these account surplus lines account and go to the surplus lines market? Yep. And, you know, but but, but that doesn't, because there was internal, you know, competition, the way Hank viewed it, it was no different than the other 50 competitors you have on the outside? Right? What's the difference? Why create barriers? If If a unit has better ideas, and they can, you know, take a product and be more successful at the expense of some other division within AIG, so be it because there is another 5060 100 insurance companies are trying to do the same. So by eliminating one internally, you haven't eliminated the other 50 or 60. So what differences? So does that mean that there's like a limitation to how many minds can be focused on a single problem it productively right. So one better to better than one, three, better than two, but 50? Not necessarily better than 15? Or no, because then you get to analysis paralysis, at some point in time is bringing, it's a cultural thing. You know, everybody's busy. You know, but if you have an open mind, and you have collaboration, you know, with the right number of people, I think, you, you're in the business of manufacturing decisions, right? So the quality of the decision that you make, will determine the ultimate outcome. Right. And if you eliminate defects, because people don't try to make the wrong decisions, wrong decisions get made, because you're trying to do something, right. But by eliminating a lot of wrong decisions, the company will go and forward and succeed. And I want collaboration to happen all away with this simplicity of risks, down at the bottom, all the way to the big decisions that they get all the way to the C suite, because you got to have that team, you got to have that team, you know and the collaboration. And once you once you achieve that you have something culturally, that really is very powerful, you know, within you know, the organization. There is residual positive effects on that culture too. In the insurance business, even though we have more universities now, St. John's University School of risk management, that they teach the basics, you know, a lot of the art of underwriting happens through practical experience and the more A company collaborates the transfer of knowledge both inwards and outwards, accelerates significantly. So how do you get the younger generation to learn from the old craft the underwriters? by collaborating? Yep. Because And believe me, young people sometimes will come with ideas than the older people will not even think about because culturally, they were not brought up in in that fashion. So I'm a big proponent of collaboration on any business, that is decision make a decision making business, what does that actually do? He makes decisions every single day, right? You sit there you analyze, you analyze, you analyze and you make decisions, talking to claims, people talking to underwriters, etc, eat enhances, you know, your ability to make a better judgment. I asked on this podcast, I interviewed Paul Ingrey, a colleague of yours for a long time, was one of the founders of arch. Yes, it was Bob Clements, Paul Ingrey, and I, yeah, he worried a lot about companies getting too big. So he would say, I, I get nervous when I forgot the number he picked, you know, maybe it was like 25 or something like ridiculous, the smaller people because then I think his point there was that you lose some of the intimacy, I guess of the collaboration once once organization gets large is a very reinsurance kind of thing. Right. Insurance companies are different. They're bigger, right? Much bigger, doing harder things. You move from AIG to Berkshire Hathaway, though not a big company, Berkshire Hathaway, that type large balance sheet but small team? That's correct. Yeah. What do you think about that transition? Well,

Dinos Iordanou:

I mean, different kinds of organizations. It is, I think Paul was right. You know, the larger the organization, the more challenges in maintaining the cultural, collaborative attitude, but you can do it, you can do it is he, if you view each profit center, if you organize a company into a profit center, there, you know, the small modules, you know, it's if you have 1000, seal teams, they're going to be as effective as any SEAL team that has 1215 members, okay. And now, you got 15,000 of them, and they do their core Special Forces. And Sam is the Delta Force. And Sam is the CFO, but their culture, tough training, ability, and working collaborative with each other. It's all there. And then you got to take that and translate that into an organization now, tougher insurance. Because you got to create all these teams and allow them to operate in the marketplace without stepping over each other. And but I wouldn't do it any other way. That collaborative culture within an insurance company, he will directly affect the results.

David Wright:

What was your what was the the role you had at Berkshire Hathaway, what do you get?

Dinos Iordanou:

When I went there? I was running their commercial insurance operation. Okay. And then at Ajit Jain was running the reinsurance operation.

David Wright:

Okay. Right.

Dinos Iordanou:

And then based in Stanford, where you were, you know, we were here at 84 North America, okay. 84 William Street, and we used to go a GTI. We had a floor, I had an a floor, and then we used to go to Omaha once a month.

David Wright:

Okay. Yeah. And and How'd that go? I mean, that was a very hard market that kind of late 80s

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah, what we did well, not as well as I want it to do, why not? We had an individual who reported to Mike Goldberg, and he was very risk averse. So he was holding us back. He was holding us back. That's the reason I left Berkshire. I stayed there for five years. And then, you know, I moved on to Zurich to be the chief executive of Zurich, North America, because I knew that he wasn't going to be, you know, a big operation. Once I left, I think, Warren recognize that with Mike in charge of all insurance operations. At that time. People were leaving, etc. So he moved him and then he put a jade in charge of it. And Jade has done extremely well and you gave him more of I have the leeway to do things that Mike will never do.

David Wright:

So Warren Buffett, and Hank Greenberg, in my conception of it radically, radically different people.

Dinos Iordanou:

Yes.

David Wright:

Is there anything in common? What do they share?

Dinos Iordanou:

They, the thing that they share that is common is they make decisions based on a lot of analysis and a lot of knowledge. Both of them. They're Warren reads, enormous volume of information. And he has a sixth sense. That is what I'm thinking logical counting happened yet. And Hank always made decision based on at least my interaction with him, when you went to see him, you better have all the facts in order, yeah, don't go by guessing go by having the appropriate information. He was at both of them, there were tremendous focus on detail. And they liked the detail, different minds, different attitudes, etc. But if I had to say, what, what was both a secret ingredient to both in their decision making, if they will base it on a lot of facts and knowledge,

David Wright:

anything in particular about your own leadership style, you might have learned from from from Hank.

Dinos Iordanou:

Both ,I learned from Hank first, and Warren reinforced it,

David Wright:

right? That was it,

Dinos Iordanou:

they they pay attention to detail. You're not going to get every decision, right. But the likelihood of getting the decisions, right starts by having a lot of detail. And, and pay attention to it. And I and I did with through my entire career. And is it is it just an intuition, you have to because you can get overwhelmed by that.

David Wright:

Right. One of the one of the things that I noticed about about actuaries is to be the case for many different kinds of people, but is that they use the phrase paralysis by analysis. And I think that that is a common thing where you just want to have it be perfect. Right, and so endless detail, and this is probably not a great question. But how do you think about that? You know, I've had enough I know what to do now?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, perfection is the enemy of good enough for sure. Right, right. At the end of the day. And at some point to make you It depends on on your risk appetite and all that as to how good is good enough? Yeah, you know, because you, you know, the lesson I learned from, you know, my Goldberg, which I worked for, at Berkshire Hathaway, I wasn't reporting to Warren, I will report to my Cobra, who were reported to Warren Buffett, he was for my good enough, was never he wanted perfection. Yeah, you know, and he over learned this lesson. Right. And, and, and, and at the end. You if you're trying to achieve perfection, you don't go anywhere. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I champion in time, you know, there is the opposite, that, you know, people will make decisions with very little information. And, you know, it's it's not the right approach when you're in the risk business. But, you know, you know, you're taking risk. The question is, is it priced appropriately? And, you know, the other big lesson that I learned from Warren Buffett is that if you're making a decision that he will be catastrophic to the company, even though the probabilities of that happening the very small 1%. Right. Don't do it. never bet the farm never bet the farm if, even if the probability is very low, and it was a few other lessons that I learned from him, worry. Spend 80% of your time worrying about the downside protecting the downside, and only 20% about the upside. And believe me, at the end, the upside will take care of itself. And and the best one, he says give you don't rush Your mind, give yourself the ability to think things through. And he says, when you're going to make a good decision, listen to different people. But at the end of the day, put your feet on the table, lean back, think it through. If it's logical to you, and you think you're making a good decision, go ahead manufacturing a good decision. On factor that decision, take it and go.

David Wright:

So these strike me as really deep important skills and and practices for being good at insurance. That what these lessons you learn from Warren, why did Hank think Warren wasn't good at insurance? Oh, anger. Just thought nobody was good at insurance. If your name wasn't Hank Greenberg, you weren't good insurance. Warren Buffett is brilliant and insurance. Yeah, he understands that. It's the game that you'll create your own rights. Yeah. Right. Sure. insurance? Is you borrowing money without implicit interest rate? And you determine that? Is it going to be, you know, 123 4%? Or is it going to be minus one minus two minus three minus zero, and that's where he talks about the float. And if you're successful in underwriting insurance business, under 100, so in essence, you borrowing money, which you're going to keep for a long period of time, and eventually pay out, but, you know, your cost of funds are less than zero. That's a wonderful business. And basically, we were very, very focused on that. When we worked for Warren Buffett, you know, to make sure that, you know, that's exactly what was happening. You know, on the other hand, you can take undue risk, and all of a sudden, your borrowing cost, you might be 10%. Yeah, and then, you know, I don't care how good you are, as an investor, you won't be able to make it and that's when you start losing money. And their culture is the same way. We would do business with them now. And they say the same thing. So obviously, that that's something that's deep about Berkshire Hathaway thinking like that

Dinos Iordanou:

you Well, I mean, in it is. And I did ask Warren as to when did when did this idea that the insurance business a great place to be and he says when he was a very, very young kid, he went to Vegas with his father, who was a Congress, Senator. And he says, they were walking the casino, and he saw all these rich people in nice suits and all that, playing games that they knew their odds, they're against them.

David Wright:

Nuts, really,

Dinos Iordanou:

right. And basically says, When I grow up, I want to be in a game, decide that I'm the house, my the odds, they're with me, and the insurance business gives him that ability. I mean, you Geico sends the odds, they set the rates, etc. And they want to have a certain margin. And if they do it, well, they get that margin, I don't care if it's three, four, or 5%. You know, whatever it is, you know, it's a good business to be in same thing with, you know, their insurance division or the insurance divisions that they have, as long as a you know, a jade peruses quite a bit of float and float costs less than zero. It's a wonderful business.

David Wright:

So you go from having maybe not directly reporting to but having enough personal contact with to the probably most executives, successful insurance executives of all time, right? I mean, number one, and number two, which ones which I'm not sure. But yeah.

Dinos Iordanou:

Warren is number one. Yeah. You know, you know, Hank, yeah, Hank, he probably won't listen to this will. Hank took some risks. Sometimes. I wouldn't have.

David Wright:

Yeah, Warren wouldn't have. And so you leave and go to Zurich. Now, I don't know too much about the Zurich organization, partly because it's based out of Switzerland. But there doesn't seem to me to be as much of a kind of legendary leadership at the top of that organization. And am I wrong about that? What What made you what prompted me to you said that you were leaving a situation that you felt like you wanted to do more? You felt constrained at Berkshire but going to Zurich, wiser. Well, Zurich is an opportunity to be a chief executive.

Dinos Iordanou:

You know

David Wright:

become the leader

Dinos Iordanou:

become the leader, not of the holding company. But for the North American operations.

David Wright:

Yep, biggest division probably was not originally when I one day I because I only I was a CEO of Zurich, America, which was the The the branch of the parent in the US for they own a lot of other operations universal underwriter sample farm Marine, Maryland casualty fidelity and deposits are a candidates error. And they will not. They were underperforming units. Right not. And they asked me to consolidate all that. And I did and I created Zurich, North America. Okay, geez, now their biggest division within the Zurich world, you know, especially since they bought farmers, yeah, you know, later on, but consolidating, and that means you're merging divisions of a company, that must be really tough work.

Dinos Iordanou:

Very tough work. Very tough people not liking that. I imagine. But there were a lot of inefficiencies there were, you know, we had 14 underwriting systems, I mean, 14 claim systems, seven, eight underwriting systems, each company had their owns, and some of them they had to, so I, you know, I, I try to, you know, consolidate it by groups and get efficiency. Not Not, not easy to do. But I had a great partner, you know, in doing that, which I think is, is, who's more clients, okay, more clients work with me at AIG. Then we live together, we went to Berkshire to, then we left to go to Zurich together, and then we came to arch. And he left arch when I retired. And he's the CFO of AIG. Now, yeah, he's the chief executive, back to AIG working from Ryan dubeau, which is also a good friend. And I have way back Yeah, yeah, all these years. But, you know, that was, that was a very, very challenging assignment. And I would have stayed at Zurich, because I was the designated heir apparent. And then Rob foobie, wouldn't want to give me the job. And I had all these opportunities, people calling me to, as I said, we got this wonderful opportunity to do a new call and start arch, you know, and I left I wasn't going to stay with zorich waiting for. And then when I left, within three months, they fire who would be?

David Wright:

Oh, really?

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah,

David Wright:

I want to come back to this this moment, when you show up, and then you probably know, in your mind or in your heart that you're going to have to fire a lot of people. I would think when you come to Zurich, do you expect that? When do you realize how do you do that? I did I did. And and because that's difficult, right? I mean, the emotional toil,

Dinos Iordanou:

very, very difficult, especially if, to me, I have these belief that employees is the most valuable asset of the company, yeah, capital, you can always get an old if you have great employees, you're going to get customers, you're going to get distributors, so is. And then there should be a balance between the professional aspirations of these employees and also their personal obligations. So you can create a company with a culture that will respect both. We don't want employees to feel that they're slaves to the company, and vice versa. And, and I try to promote the culture everywhere. You know, I went including Zurich, which was difficult because there were companies in different places with different cultures, you know, etc. And it's hard when you have 15,000 employees, and you know, that you probably need only 10. Right? So how do you do it? Of course,

David Wright:

because everyone's asking you, you show up and they're like, are you going to fire a bunch of people? What do you say?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, I mean, it's the, the beauty of the insurance business, you know, and also the anathema of the insurance business is that the turnover is pretty high. Okay. Usually, in most companies there I have about in the companies, I run our turnover, it was around 910 percent, but in the business as usual, around 15 16%. So, if you're a little patient, and you're willing to talk to employees and says that you might want to try to protect as many jobs and we're gonna eliminate excess unnecessary jobs through attrition. You can do it all through attrition, but you can do a lot of it. Don't forget 15% On 15,000 people, there's 2000 people come in and out of the company every year. Yeah, sure. So maybe you replace 500, because a critical but the other 15, you don't, and you're like, within two, three years, you get to equilibrium. So, we try and Mark was phenomenal in, in, in helping me, more clients. Making sure that we were a little more patient, instead of, because you can injure the organization, if you go into the analysts like to hear that, Oh, I'm gonna cut 3000 jobs. Yeah, I'm gonna explain more numbers. Yeah, you don't want damage culturally? Yeah, then if you do it in a year, and I'm not talking about people who they're not, they're pulling their own weight within the company. If it's performance issues, you create an organization that says, hey, if you're not a good performer, we're going to ask you to leave because you're not fair to the guy sitting next to you. Because he is pulling extra workload to cover for you, which you're not doing your workload.

David Wright:

Yeah. He's cracking four eggs, you're cracking one.

Dinos Iordanou:

Exactly. Correct.

David Wright:

So what was it that mark brought that that that helped you so much? What was his quality? That the compliment your

Dinos Iordanou:

compassion and intellect at the same time? Okay. Yeah, he was very compassionate, you know, he, he understood that there is ways to do it. And he view employees as people not units. And, and he has tremendous amount of intellect, you know, so he knew long term, and also the short term, you know, benefits as to how to do it, I'd rather have the extra expense for another year or two, and do it in a smoother way. And then you gaining the confidence of the employees when you tell them, you know, because later on, you're going to ask managers not to have a staff, I always in my speeches, you can probably Google a lot of them. I always said, What, very rarely, in the insurance business, who has grown on average, three 4% a year. Right. And he has a 10 to 15% turnover over staffing is the problem of management. Because there is enough in and out of the company, for you to manage and have the right workforce for the workload that is necessary. And don't blame the employees for overstaffing. Blame the managers, you know, and what I instill upon all managers and employees is as when you're making a decision that I need another person, make sure you need that other person for the next 10 years. Not I needed for the next year or so. And then oh, we'll get rid of it. That's not a way to run a company. If you're going to give somebody a job, look him in the eye and says, that's a permanent job. As long as you do your other job, well, you don't have to worry about your job. And that's a strong message. And the CEO got to live it breathe it. And it has to permeate through the senior management and all the way down.

David Wright:

But what do you think? What was the part of being a CEO that you'd like to at least? That was most difficult, but the part you're like, I hate this part of the job?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, I mean, the hardest, the hardest part of the job. He was, you know, you got to make the ultimate decisions. And, and, and sometimes, you know, I felt that I was making a decision. And I wasn't 100% sure he was the right one, but you had to make a decision. And in that, I used to agonize about that quite often.

David Wright:

Is there is there an example that you can come up with a time that that you felt that way? It could be you know, back in history or?

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah. We had a company call universal underwriters, okay. And he was a direct writing company, okay. When I consulted the Zurich, he was a company that every other company Maryland casualty, etc. Universe, with the exception of universe and underwriters. There were distribution. It was agents and brokers. Okay. And I was getting a lot of pressure. Yeah. From the brokerage community. Oh, we like To be able to submit to Universal underwriters. And I agonize a long time. At the end, I think I made the right decision to keep them separate and independent and have their direct sales force. But I came close to making the wrong decision. Yeah. And now I step back and I say, you know, thank God, I was lucky, it was a flip of a coin. Not because because you you feel the pressure from one side, and you got great relationships with all these brokers marchais on you, and Willie's and you go all the way to Gallagher and so and then it says, Hey, we you know, we got auto dealerships, why don't we submit it? But he says that companies that direct rating company, they have a culture of their own I didn't want to do. I was big on culture. I didn't want to destroy the culture, and the direct sales force and the relationships they have with the local dealers. I think he was part of their success, you know, because they knew their customers intimately. Which is the beginning of the underwriting process. Who am I doing business with? Do I trust them? What is their track record? If you heard our sales people go up and down, auto dealership Boulevard, which every town has it, and you see one dealer after another? And they knew this a good one. This is a good one. This is a guy we don't want to right? This is a good one. That was the beginning. You're Of course, you got to make the financials work, right, the underwriting process, and you got to agree on coverages and prices. But at the end of the day, that's the beginning of selection.

David Wright:

Yeah, there are we're kind of running out of time. But there's two topics I want to cover, I'm gonna come back to culture, because that's so important. But before we get there, there's one other thing that I wanted to talk about, which was the interplay between, let's call it quality of strategy and market opportunity. Again, back to the conversation I had with Pauline gray, he more or less said, and this is my word. So I don't want to put him in his mouth. But he basically said that the market drives the opportunity to market will give you the opportunity and is there or it is not. And if it is not just wait for the market to give you an opportunity. So the hard market underwriting kind of style. And that's obviously the opportunity in which arch was founded, and exploited to great success. But that's not the case everywhere and all the time, there isn't always a hard market somewhere for you to exploit to great success. What do you think about this idea that, that it the hard market is really the time when an insurance company can shine in other market cycles? It's there aren't they aren't as good, just fundamentally aren't as good

Dinos Iordanou:

in principle is absolutely correct. But, you know, it depends how you see the world and where the opportunities are, right. Because if you if you remain narrow in your thinking, you will not find the opportunities in underwriting the two principles you must have is discipline and crisp execution. So, in any market, if you discipline and you have good execution, you will, you will still find transactions that you can do not maybe not in the volume that you will like that it will give you good profitability. That means you're willing to lose volume. But when you lose volume, you know not in one area, you always have to look in other areas. A great example, with arge. When the financial crisis happened, we saw opportunities in the mortgage space 75% 80% of our earnings today they're coming from mortgage insurance. That's amazing. Right? I gave a transition he was he was pivoting from less reinsurance less insurance, more mortgage insurance, and new line of business for us, a new world for us, etc. And I don't I can't tell what the future will bring. But I'm sure my grandson, you know, running the company. He believes in that philosophy. You know, he worked for Paul, he worked for me for all these years. That if the opportunities are in reinsurance, we're going to allocate capital there if they opportunities in the insurance space we're going out. And the insurance space is broad is, you know, different products, different distributions is a wholesale channel. There's the retail channel is all these products, from professional liability to directors and officers liability to their traditional auto GL and workers comp. And then you get customer groups within where you specialize and how do you access business. So you always have to be looking. But you got to fall back to that original two principles. You have to be discipline. And you have to execute well

David Wright:

Why do you think? Why do you think arch is so me and as a spectator and student of the business, haven't noticed arch being mentioned in a lot of m&a? At least as a as a target as a seller? Why do you think that is? I mean, seems like everybody else from time to time gets brought up in the conversation.

Dinos Iordanou:

We we get some calls. Yeah. And they were, but they always they always, you know, felt that were expensive.

David Wright:

Yeah. Okay. Right. helps a reward for good execution.

Dinos Iordanou:

Yeah. And but but but but at the end, you know, at the end of the day is you pay for what you get. And is there is a difference in price between a you you go and an a Bentley or a Rolls Royce. You know, I think arch is a Bentley, Rolls Royce, you know, type of an example versus a, you know, a Yugo. Yeah, right. Now, there is you've seen more transactions, because people think they buy something cheap. Right. The only one that I've seen that it was significant size. And he paid a paid very good price for it is a is when they bought shop. Right?

David Wright:

Yeah. shocking one. I mean, nobody saw that coming. That was amazing.

Dinos Iordanou:

Oh, and, and it's the attitude of Evan, who's a good friend of mine, that, you know, I don't mind pain. When I'm getting quality. Yeah, yeah. Nobody has stepped up to pay for the quality of Arch. But it doesn't mean it might not happen, you know, at the right price. You know, I think everything is for sale. Right. And, and vice versa. We looked at Universal underwriting. So I had my eyes on it for three, four years before even we bought it from AIG. But I, I didn't like what they were asking the price. And then when the price got to the point that he was attractive to us, we made the transaction, we bought it for a little over 3 billion at that time. And, you know, he is a company who is producing 800 million a profits he? Yeah, that's good deal. Yeah, it's a terrific deal.

David Wright:

Yeah. So the source of arches, let's call it defenses is, maybe you would say culture, it is culture,

Dinos Iordanou:

being disciplined. spending a lot of time to make sure the execution is crisp, you know, and more importantly, attracting and retaining talent, because in their business, that is a decision making business, that quality of the, of the people that you have, is, is it's not measurable, right? But it makes the difference. If you don't have good quality people, if you can have the best rules, you can have the best, you know, processes, etc. It's not going to happen,

David Wright:

how do you get them?

Dinos Iordanou:

its culture, you develop it and starts from the, from the head, the CEO, and it goes down to and it's how you treat people. And, you know, if you, if you treat people as professionals and you do respect, you know, that they have both professional needs to grow and get to the next level and, you know, promote from within and give people opportunities to achieve and also you're accommodating a, you know, the, their, their family obligations, you know, for example, at odds, we will never stop an employee to go at three o'clock in the afternoon to see a play because their kid is playing in the local high school. I told managers, you know, you put that prohibition and I'm going to fire you. Yeah. Because that employee is going to give me productivity in spades when he does that because you're respecting, you know, his ability to go and see his child. You're either on a soccer field or in the theater, and it only going to happen that one time at that moment and if he's not There he is missing that moment. And I don't want him to miss that moment. And if he has a report to write, or if he has an analysis to do, he can get home from a to midnight and do it. And the next day, everything is hunky dory, he is happy and the company is happy, because he believes that we respected him. And believe me, most employees, they will give you that much back, you know, for appreciating, you know, what you do for them.

David Wright:

Now, what you're saying there isn't controversial, I don't think, oh, why don't more companies do it? Why why why do you think that you're able to distinguish yourself from the company's evil that in that way, and others can't?

Dinos Iordanou:

Because? I don't know. I mean, is that, you know, there is this, the Greek word called philosophy, okay. You can Google it. It doesn't totally translate, but it says, it's the love Philo's meaning love. And the me means Honor, I want people that they have a lot of philosophy. They love honor. And if you honor them, they will honor you. And if it permeates from the CEO down, I think gets embedded into the organization. They know that it's not words, words don't mean a damn thing. Right? It's the actions is you leading by example. You know, and, you know, of course, as the company gets larger and larger is back to the difficulty that Paul was sharing with you, Paul ingri, that it gets harder and harder to keep that coheres because that cultural cohesion is going to come from the leadership team, and also the local leadership teams, you know, and not every person will believe I'm totally committed to it. And I was a big proponent. But you get a lot of people. Yeah. their worst cancer in in a company is politics. What does that mean? What is politics? Politics is, oh, I am going to undermine my colleague, because, you know, get him out of the way because I want to get his position and, and that's a cancer, that aids company's anti collaboration. It's anti collaboration. It's backstabbing, it's knifing and all that you'll get that in a company is a cancer that eventually destroys it.

David Wright:

Want to bring it back to Cyprus to close? So you open an office? in Cyprus? Well, it's a it's a service office, right? It's a small Yes. Still probably the only insurance company in Bermuda based or US based insurance company with an office in Cyprus, I must think, tell me about that. Well, obviously supporting your homeland. I mean, that's an important part of my work.

Dinos Iordanou:

I felt that I felt that certain Thai type of employees, yeah. well educated, high degree of intellect, but a strong desire to go back home and live there. Yeah. Could have been a good asset for us. And these are actuaries, mathematician, some accountants. And that work can be done with electronics today, anywhere in the world. Of course, again, Archie has almost 600 employees in the Philippines. Wow, that's for it work and backroom work, etc. And it's because of course, that Sarah, the side, the Cypress office was more about quality. Can I get high end? personnel at a low cost, and because I'm a superior, I can arrange for that. Yes. And action is being accessible. I'm surprised they haven't grown. If I was the CEO, now that office would have been 5060 people, instead of I think we have 20 people there. Because you know, the quality and the cost is so much superior. We get a fully accredited actuaries for 3000 euros a month, that's 36,000 a year. And it's the same kind of quality of actuaries we get here which we have to pay probably 150,000 more you know, so, there is is part is outsourcing and part of it is let me get the quality at a much lower cost.

David Wright:

And, and I think that you get people so when you make that decision, you wind up generating an enormous amount of appreciation because they get to they get to do the work, right the high quality work, but live The lifestyle, you know, you had to leave, not everybody necessarily needs to leave in this day and age,

Dinos Iordanou:

exactly a lot of them, they want to go and live back home. And I'm on the board of directors of verisk, you know, the old ISO, you know, which became a for profit company and is very successful. And we just open and in a big office in Romania, for the same reason, we're going to have a lot of analytics done there, because we can get high quality individuals at a much lower cost than in the US. And now this is a global world, you know, and more and more students come and get educated in the US or in the UK, and they want to go back home. international corporations should give them the opportunity to work, and that was the idea behind it. And it's been successful, very successful. Right.

David Wright:

Any closing thoughts on? You know, your What are you doing right now? How are what opportunities you're looking at? What are you excited about in the insurance industry or outside?

Dinos Iordanou:

Well, I, I think the market is moving into a positive territory, and I think it will be it will be good for the for the business over the next few years. And it will give opportunities for Archie and others to grow in that. Me personally, I'm joining a couple of boards, you know, and is there is a few calls for me to take SEO jobs. But you know, I can't do anything that is competitive with our so I have I have, I have to find the right opportunity. On the other hand, I'm 69. So I don't know if I want to get back into the trenches. You know, part of me says yes to it. And part of me says, mostly my wife says don't do it. You know, it will depend on the opportunity. You know, but you know, I, you know, I have a lot of knowledge of 45 years in the business. So, for the right opportunity in the right company, I think I can contribute quite a bit. And if it comes, I'll take it if it doesn't, I'm still happy with what I'm doing.

David Wright:

Well, thank you for your contributions today. My guest today is Dinos yordano. Dinos thanks for joining me on the show.

Dinos Iordanou:

You're quite welcome. Thank you.