It was 1994, and Gary Fisher was presiding over an elegant dinner in Kalamazoo, Mich. He'd recently taken charge of the Farmers Group of Insurance Companies' Southwest Michigan sales district, and he was meeting the region's 22 multi-line insurance agents for the first time. Fisher rose, enthusiastically introduced himself, and declared his paramount goal: "We will be one of the top- producing districts in the country." Silence enveloped the room, followed by some cynical snickers and weak ...

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