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On the Job with Jay Kimbro

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job With..." is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today's Q&A session features Jay Kimbro, owner and agent with Jay Kimbro State Farm Insurance.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. I would take every opportunity to get real-life experience in whatever field you hope to pursue. I would try to gain as much experience as possible. I have interviewed a number of people in the past six months and my advice has been consistent. Travel to gain perspective. Immerse yourself in the industry that most interests you. Take the opportunity, because of limited jobs available, to further your education. Give the economy a chance to straighten itself out.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My first legitimate job when I was 12 was in a butter bean operation in Shingler. I stood at a conveyer belt and picked out the trash as the butter beans went down the line.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. I probably spent it on something completely useless. Maybe baseball cards.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Ultimately, I try to select a staff that compliments my weaknesses and shortcomings. You need two things: You must be passionate about what you are doing and have a willingness to learn.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I did several internships with various commercial line insurance firms to get some perspective. I was lucky enough to get enough experience to decide what direction I wanted to take in the insurance industry. I relished the opportunity to meet new people and provide them with something they desperately need. When I started at Georgia, I was a pre-vet major. It took about three days in chemistry class to realize North Campus and the Business School is where I needed to be. I love the business world.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. I could rattle off 10 to 15 names, but I might leave somebody out. They know who they are. I have been fortunate in Albany to have people take me under their wing and exhaust a significant amount of effort to help make me successful. That is what makes you want to call a place home.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Don't bet what you don't have. I see people all the time risking money they don't have to lose. And, perseverance. I tell my staff we have to choose not to participate in the recession. We have to perservere.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. Most days I would have said my Blackberry, but I just got a headset for my phone and I love it. It's given me an opportunity to eke out about another hour out of the day. I used to spend too much time sitting down while I am on the phone. Now, I can be mobile and active while on the phone.

Q. What was the last book you read?

A. The last book I read is actually one my wife is writing. She is finishing and editing something she wrote in college, her second novel.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I am up by 6 a.m. and exercising by 6:15 or 6:30. I am at the office by 8 or 8:15 and have a cup of coffee in my hand by 8:16.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Dealing with people, plain and simple. I have an opportunity to learn something new every day because my job requires a relationship with my policyholders.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. I've never not wanted to go into the office and I'm extremely thankful for that. I guess the worst thing is being limited on who I can write insurance for.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Without fail, my extracurricular activities. I had opportunities to be part of organizations that lent themselves to opportunities of networking and polishing my social and interpersonal skills. The most valuable thing I learned in college was not taught in the classroom.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. A business consultant for a Fortune 500 company. If I couldn't do my job, I'd love for somebody like Microsoft to come to me and give me access to whatever information I needed and ask that I provide some ideas on how to run the business. Money does not motivate me. Running a successful company motivates me.

Q. Finish this thought: "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. Working. I wouldn't want to stop doing some type of work, but I might do it from a remote location either consisting of a white, sandy beach and blue water or a ski slope.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Humility. Never get to the point where you think you know it all. I'm pretty confident in what I do know, but I also know there are many things I need to learn.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. I am an eternal optimist, but I'm a realist. I'd say three to five years.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. All kinds. I like oldies, love 80s music, R&B, country. Anything and everything.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. I take it every year. A ski trip to Aspen, Colo. It's a ritual with my best friend. He and I have been doing it for four or five years. We alternate paying to prevent the other from backing out. It's the most beautiful scenery.