An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)
Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Numbering: Issue 12.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eight)
Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal
Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com
Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2016
Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing
Frequency: Three Times Per Year
An interview with Deb Stone. She discusses: idea for Stone Business & Risk Consulting; tasks and responsibilities with own a consulting company; general advice relevant for those without the expertise in consultation; tasks and responsibilities as the chair of the national board of directors for American Mensa, Ltd.; interest in intelligence tests; interest in high IQ societies; greatest emotional struggle in personal life; greatest emotional struggle in professional life; general philosophy; political philosophy; social philosophy; economic philosophy; aesthetic philosophy; and the interrelationship of the philosophies.
Keywords: American Mensa, Deb Stone, Mensa.
*Footnotes in and after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*
9. How did the professional credentials align with the eventual work as a vice president, actuary, and director, and so on?
I received my designations while I worked for Hanover Insurance, and that allowed me to take on leadership positions there. But the move out to California would not have happened if I was not an FCAS, and the Chief Actuary jobs also would not have been possible without my FCAS. While the designations gave me credibility for the non-actuarial positions, they were not necessary. Now that I am doing private consulting, having my FCAS is an imperative as there are many other actuaries out there. The combination of my being designated and having the broad background in insurance (instead of just the actuarial background) and business help me attract clients.
10. Any advice for those coming into actuarial work?
Sure – look at what you like to do. You will have to decide what practice area attracts you (property/casualty, life, annuities, health) and what your ultimate goal is likely to be. Actuaries can stay in insurance their entire career, or branch out into affiliated or non-traditional roles. Think about whether you want to be back-office kind of person or eventually work closer to the customer. Choose an employer who truly supports you as an aspiring actuary. Many employers offer study programs, and those that offer study time at work are a great help. Think about the timing of the work load at a prospective employer; e.g. consulting firms have a lot of work in the later winter and early spring because of when filings are due. It can be difficult to balance your time between work, study and life in that environment, especially for folks just coming into the field. Big data, predictive modelling and other technology driven applications are becoming more and more important in the field; be open to those possibilities. LEARN ABOUT INSURANCE – don’t be content with just the actuarial stuff. You’ll have many more and diverse opportunities if you really understand the entire business.
11. Now, you own Stone Business & Risk Consulting (since August, 2015). How did the idea for this company come to you?
I had, at the request of my Commissioner at the NH Insurance Department, taken on a role as the Director of Financial Regulation. It turned out not to be the best fit for me; it was very technical but not really analytical. As I became increasingly familiar with the laws and regulations, processes, accounting standards, etc that are part of the financial regulation side, I just started to become a little bored and wasn’t really enjoying my position as much. I decided that it made sense, for the sake of the Department and myself, that I leave. Originally, my intention had really been to take some time off before deciding on a next move, but within a short time after announcing my departure and while still at the Department. I started hearing from some people who were interested in having me work with them. I was not willing to take on another full-time job as I am more interested now in some entrepreneurial possibilities, so a consulting firm seemed like a natural fit.
12. What tasks and responsibilities come with owning the consulting company?
Everything! I am a sole proprietor at this point, so have to do all the work. That includes research, evaluating projects, scheduling of my time, on some occasions acting as a project manager, bookkeeping and tax efforts, legal issues if they come up, data mining when necessary, building spreadsheets, liaising with clients or others involved in the project, writing reports, being available close to 24/7, etc.
13. What general advice seems relevant for those without the relevant expertise to know about consultation?
The best advice I can give someone who is interested in consulting is to talk to people who do that kind of work. As I mentioned earlier, it can be very difficult to pass the spring actuarial exams working in certain environments (because the work loads overtakes study time). Decide whether you are going to be looking for a job in an existing consulting firm or are going to start your own. If you are trying to join an existing firm, don’t meet with just one or more principals – talk to the associates, the people who support the projects. Find out whether the work environment/culture is a good fit for you. What would be your responsibilities for work? Are you responsible for client prospecting? Is there a mentoring and/or peer review process in place? If you are going out on your own, be honest about your capabilities and the amount of time you are willing to spend working for your clients – and how you are going to split your time between finding clients and working. Figure out what you need help with, and find the help. Make sure to keep some time for yourself, and communicate that to the people who are depending on you.
14. In addition to Stone Business & Risk Consulting, you are the chair of the national board of directors for American Mensa, Ltd. What tasks and responsibilities come with this high-level position?
The American Mensa Committee (AMC) is the national board of American Mensa. The chair runs the board meetings and the annual business meeting. The chair is a member of some committees, and may be (I am) an ex officio member of all other committees. The chair of AML is also an ex officio member of the Mensa Foundation board, a member of the Mensa International Board of Directors (IBD) and a member of the IBD Executive Committee. The chair writes an (almost) monthly column for our national magazine (the Mensa Bulletin) and an occasional column for the international publication. As an individual with prior board experience, I have tried to provide as much guidance and as many development opportunities to our board members as I can. Of course, the Chair sets the tone of the board. I also try to follow the various Mensa Facebook groups and other social media. I work with the appropriate board members, committee members or staff on anything that comes up that needs direction from the board or executive committee. I attend Mensa events around the country when I can, and most times will be asked to speak. I make presentations at other forums on occasion as well (and I do interviews sometimes J). I know there are other things, but it’s impossible to remember then all at once!
15. Where did interest in intelligence tests originate for you?
Honestly, I didn’t have any real interest in IQ tests per se. A teacher told me my IQ when I was 11 years old, because “I had the highest IQ in my class.” It didn’t impress me much. In 1983, I was on a business trip and read a short blurb about Mensa in an airline magazine. It included a 10-question sample test, and I was able to complete the test in less than half the maximum time and with all 10 questions complete. The article suggested I take the Mensa admission test, and I did so. I qualified and joined. But I think that most Mensans actually don’t care so much about IQ in and of itself. I have yet to ask another Mensan, or be asked by another Mensan about an IQ score. It’s enough that through IQ testing, we have formed this community.
I care about IQ tests because they are the way people can qualify for Mensa and so I want our test(s) to be good ones.
16. What about high IQ societies?
Well, as a 32+ year member of Mensa, and a pretty active one at that, I’m in favor of them! Seriously, I appreciate Mensa for the benefits and relationships it has provided me, and for what are now life-long friendships. I was a member of another High-IQ society (Intertel) for a few years, but didn’t feel like I was getting much real benefit from that membership. Many of the members were also Mensa members, and the number of members in my area was quite small – so there weren’t really a lot of opportunities to get together.
So – I guess I would say that High-IQ societies are what we find in them and what we make of them. If the benefits and community that they create is of value to one, great! That value means different things to different people, and that’s great too. They work for some people, but not for others. I would love to see us grow our membership – because I think there are so many great things that Mensa provides – and so I value IQ tests as the means to that end.
17. What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in personal life?
For me, that would probably be conquering my own insecurities and shyness – still sometimes with me, despite all of the years.
18. What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in professional life?
My greatest professional struggle has always been managing my own expectations about people. There are a lot of things that are obvious to me that aren’t obvious to other people – and that surprises me constantly. When someone just doesn’t get something, I can have a tendency to appear to be impatient, irritated or intimidating. I’m better at managing it than I was when I was younger, but I have to be constantly aware.
19. What general philosophy seems the most correct to you?
Don’t do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
This is a paraphrase of something Hillel said: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah.”
20. What political philosophy seems the most correct to you?
I don’t identify with one party or one platform. Philosophically, I believe in fiscal responsibility, personal freedom accompanied by personal responsibility and letting people live their own lives. I guess maybe a combination of deliberative democracy, some measure of republicanism and the capability approach.
21. What social philosophy seems the most correct to you?
I’m not sure how to answer this question. Social philosophy to me is too broad to summarize here, but I think you if you read the other questions related to my philosophy you will see a pattern to them. Respect, hope, personal responsibility, personal accountability, giving back to the communities in which one takes part, providing support in any or all of its aspects to those with a true need and contributing in a meaningful way.
22. What economic philosophy seems the most correct to you?
I’m a capitalist and a Yankee. I believe in competitive markets, and I believe that value isn’t measured only in dollars.
23. What aesthetic philosophy seems the most correct to you?
I would say my aesthetic philosophy is a combination of the music aesthetic and the mathematics aesthetic – very broadly interpreted. There is, in my mind, a clear link between mathematics and music (patterns & symbols) but there is music in more than just music. Beautiful prose and poetry have their own music, as does art like paintings or sculpture. And nature as well. I guess I believe we should look for the beauty in all things around us, and appreciate how they fit into a grand pattern of life.
24. What interrelates these philosophies?
I guess I can only repeat what I said at the end of my response on social philosophy – the same things contribute to and inform all of my philosophy: Respect, hope, personal responsibility, personal accountability, giving back to the communities in which one takes part, providing support in any or all of its aspects to those with a true need and contributing in a meaningful way.
Appendix I: Footnotes
 Chair (2015, July), AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa; Owner (2015, August), Stone Business & Risk Consulting LLC.
 Thompson River University (1986-1988); Douglas College (1984-1986); Kamloops Senior Secondary.
 Photograph courtesy of Deb Stone.
Appendix II: Citation Style Listing
American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two) [Online].September 2016; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, September 15). An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A, September. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.
Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A (September 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.
Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)‘, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 12.A (2016):September. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.
Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two) [Internet]. (2016, September; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.
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