Unexpected Stories for Unexpected Times - Malorie Maddox and Michael King | The Level Up Leader | Teams.Coach
Episode - 9

Unexpected Stories for Unexpected Times with Malorie Maddox and Michael King

Malorie is the Chief Marketing, Communications, and Strategy Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Whoever tells the best story wins. There are so many authors and marketers attached to this saying that I wouldn’t dare put a claim of ownership to this for myself or anyone else really. The fact is that this perspective has served me well and has given our clients significant returns.  


Because people care more about your motivation and the story behind the product and services you provide than they do about the services themselves.  

An article published by the Harvard Business Review (linked below) speaks directly to this, going so far as to lead with the headline, “An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction.”

This is where the power of the story ends up in a very unlikely place, with a determined leader to take the risks. 

Welcome to the Level Up Leader Podcast.  I am your host, Michael King.  I am an executive coach and founder of Teams.Coach, LLC. I work with C-level leaders to clarify and expand the vision, elevate performance, and elevate their Leadership.  

On today’s episode, I am joined by Malorie Maddox. Malorie is the Chief Marketing, Communications, and Strategy Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.  She has an extensive history as a reporter for a regional TV station in Omaha, NE.  When the opportunity came knocking for her to make a major career shift, it was a huge decision.

Since taking that leap, she has been able to build a great culture and also shift operational norms to match up with the storytelling convictions that she has honed for decades.

On top of all this, Malorie lost her husband after a long battle with cancer just five weeks before this interview.  Thank you, Malorie, for making time to connect with me.  

Everyone, please welcome Malorie Maddox to The Level Up Leader podcast. 

In our conversation, Malorie shares that one of her best leadership practices is to include her team in an exercise in which they can openly identify the things that are working well, the things that need some adjustment, and the things that they need to stop doing.  

One of the exercises we do here with my company is the “stop, start, refine” exercise as part of the Blue Sky Experience.  The biggest win in utilizing these types of exercises is that you need to hear from your team about what they love and what they think.  

True collaboration exists when you open up feedback for systems and strategies to execute the vision. This is where I see leaders fail. Protect your vision. Refine it. Vision can’t be negotiable. But your systems and strategies can be.  Open up the conversation with your team on the process it takes to produce results. 

A special thank you to our featured Artist, Names Without Numbers, for allowing us to use their music. We decided we wanted to feature music that I produced as a music producer..so that’s pretty cool.  

To find out more about everything we’re up to, check us out at Teams.Coach, and don’t forget to join our Facebook group at Teams.Coach/LevelUpLeaders/


Where to find Malorie:

Connect With Us @

Level Up Leader Facebook Group
Teams.Coach Facebook Page

Share This


Michael King 0:00
Whoever tells the best story wins. There are so many authors and marketers attached to this specific statement that I wouldn’t dare put a claim of ownership to this for myself or anyone else. Really. The fact is, is that this perspective has served me well and has given our clients significant returns. Why is that? Well, because people care more about your motivation and the story behind the products and services that you provide about as much as they care about the services themselves. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, they note that an emotional connection matters more than customer satisfaction. Now this is where the power of the story ends up in a very unlikely place with a determined leader to take the risks. Welcome to the level of leader podcast. I am your host, Michael King. I’m an executive coach and founder of teams dot coach. I work with sea level leaders to clarify and expand the vision elevate performance and elevate their leadership. On today’s podcast. I am joined by Malorie Maddox. Mallory is the Chief Marketing Communications and Strategy Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. She has an extensive history as a reporter for a regional TV station in Omaha. So when the opportunity came knocking for her to make a career shift, it was a huge one, not only for her, but she has been able to build a great culture and also shift operational norms to match up with some of her storytelling convictions that she has honed for decades. Now on top of this, Mallory lost her husband after a long battle with cancer just five weeks before this interview was recorded. Thank you Mallory for making time for me. It’s really meaningful. So everybody, please give your attention and welcome Mallory Maddox to the level of leader podcast. Malorie Maddox. Welcome to the level player podcast. It’s so great to have you today.

Malorie Maddox 2:12
Thank you so much, Michael. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Michael King 2:15
Well, as we kind of get going on United, we’ve chatted a little bit in our in our pre show conversation, you have a very, very interesting history. And you’ve made some pretty big transition shifts and things like that. Once you tell us a little bit about yourself, what makes you tick.

Malorie Maddox 2:29
I started out a Farm Girl. So I grew up with an incredible work ethic from a very young age. And I’ve always been driven by being successful at work whether well actually, I think it started more in elementary school, I still keep in contact with two of my elementary school teachers because they were mentors to me from such an early age. So I think as you move through your career, I got a great piece of advice from my aunt a long time ago, and she said, pick up people and put them in your pocket and carry them with you there. They become your army. And so I started out at University of Kansas a Jayhawk, and was going to school to go to pre law and then completely switched careers, and decided to be a broadcast journalist. And what I loved about it was it was something new every day. And I just truly believe in the power of a story. I grew up watching news and my family, my mother watched every ounce of the Oliver North trial. I remember watching extensive coverage of the OJ Simpson trial and, you know, really being inundated with those long stories and those investigative stories that you started at the beginning and you watched it come to fruition. And so I was fascinated by that. I ended up getting hired. Out of my fourth unpaid internship I had to I had to go back to all the internships at KK e TV in Wichita, Kansas. And at the time I was hired there, I got to work with the best journalist I’ve ever met. And to this day, they all have huge careers, and they’re all over the United States. And I’m forever grateful that I got that learning experience from them because it forever shaped who I wanted to be as a journalist. And also, the reminder that the story is king, it is never about yourself. And I think that that is something that has transformed and translated across every single career I’ve had, when you’re out in front of clients, keep in mind, it’s about them. It’s about your audience, and it’s never about you and so I was thankful to learn that lesson. I ended up in Joplin, Missouri for four years and then moved to Omaha to work for wo W t, fell in love with the city fell in love here and got married here and ended up working for WWE for 13 and a half years with just a tremendous family. They’re more than co workers, their family. And then about five years ago got a call from Blue Cross Blue Shield. They were really looking to transform communications and their message externally out on the market. And I met an incredible leader, their new CEO and I knew within five minutes of our interview, I was going to work for him. So I walked away from a 20 year career, and I’m still there today.

Michael King 4:56
That’s incredible. We’re gonna we’re going to talk a little bit about Your role is in communications and in marketing and and currently your SIR, you serve as one of the VPs of communication. Is that right?

Malorie Maddox 5:10
I lead Marketing and Communications and I’m also their chief strategy officer now.

Michael King 5:15
Yes, fantastic. And that’s so that’s so important. And amazing that you’ve you transitioned the way that you did. I love some of the things that you just mentioned to him as well, it reminds me of some some big leadership principles that we lead from here. One of those being that whoever tells the best story always wins. And so I like that I liked that you that even even like the fact that Blue Cross Blue Shield got innovative, and they started thinking outside the box of what they were going to do to to reach their community in a different way. I love that. So tell me a little bit about so now you’re in this You’re the chief strategy officer.

Malorie Maddox 5:54
It’s a long title. But yes, I strategy is one of the departments. I’m not very good at corporate titles, Michael, that’s one thing. I’ve had to really learn that my technical title is chief marketing, communications and Strategy Officer. So a little bit of everything. I like to fix things. That’s what I like to do.

Michael King 6:10
I love it. So what type of team do you currently serve in your organization,

Malorie Maddox 6:15
I would say on comms and marketing, we have about 20 team members. And that also includes diversity, equity and inclusion, which I lead and I’m very passionate about after working in newsrooms, where people came from all over the United States and getting to see the different backgrounds, that’s always been a passion, I think people should come into the office and feel wanted and feel welcome. And so that’s just amazing that I get to be part of that as we infuse it into our brand and our messaging and corporate social responsibility. So a lot of the communications initially were focused internally, we have 1200, roughly 1200 employees. And it was a very strong and very welcoming culture. And it’s one thing that sets BlueCross apart is that we are local here, as you know, an insurance company and as providing those financial security and people’s toughest moments. And so really tapping into that when I started at Blue Cross. A lot of the feedback I heard was unbelievable company whatsit story out in the market. And so to be able to have that opportunity to say this is what we’re about. This is what we stand for. I wrote a commercial in my office at 130. In the afternoon on a Sunday. I love working on Sundays, because it’s really quiet. And I feel like I can always get a lot done on that day. And I was just sitting there, I worked out at the gym and thought I’ll try writing my first commercial. And so we ended up taking a more news like lens, but featuring some of the remarkable stories and people I’ve met along the 13 and a half years here in Omaha. And so we featured grant, who’s my neighbor and you know, 11 year old champion weightlifter, which is awesome. And were identical triplets, Charlotte, Sydney and Savannah I had met on their first day home from the hospital when I was back at W wt. And Bob and Jerry, who we traveled out, you know, to greater Nebraska and sat on their front porch and interviewed them and to a nurse who was pregnant and worked in the ICU during COVID. And you see the circumstances during a health pandemic. And it was just amazing to be able to tap into our real members. And the campaign we launched is called thank you for letting us be part of your story. And we ended up having a full blown campaign. We even have sweatshirts now with it that my entire family wears, which makes me really proud. But to be able to just take that real connection and remind all 1200 of our employees, this is who we serve, this is why we do what we do. I think the most successful companies really never lose sight of their why. And so that’s been, you know, really one of the biggest challenges, but also the most fun I’ve ever had in my career and to see my team take it and really run with it. They’ve loved having this vision and being able to expand upon it and some of the ideas they’ve come up with. It’s just remarkable. And then I also lead government and association accounts. And I lead some of our largest ASO clients across the state and then market solutions, which is all of our customer touch points. And then our product team and strategy as well.

Michael King 9:11
What a what an impactful and then purposeful opportunity that you have there. I love you know, we talked about that some of these things about we you know, whenever you make visible or the things that you replicate, with you being a, you know, this person now you you said that on this Sunday afternoon, you find yourself getting into this space where it’s like, Okay, I’m gonna dial in, I’m going to actually write my first commercial and he and then you go to a place to where it’s like, I want to create something that’s built out of meaningful moments. I love that. I love that. And I also love that you’ve, you’ve taken these things. So because vision, mission and value, the only way that you’re able to create culture within an organization is if you actually creating visible moments of the things that are most important to the leaders into the organization and whatnot. What a phenomenal job you’ve done of taking these things that are actually valid. You centric to you as a leader, and to your organization, and then making sure that you’ve given them platforms and some cadence of visibility. So really well done. And that’s powerful, really good.

Malorie Maddox 10:11
Well, thank you, I have to be honest with you. It was a humbling experience. Going through this, I got pushback from our ad agency who necessarily didn’t agree with the approach and felt like we should be safer and not do a minute long spot, which is very rare to err, as I know, you know, in the broadcast space, and the, you know, several points of pushback, and maybe we should go this direction. And I give our CEO credit, because he had his marketing degree. And he’s probably my biggest challenge in presenting marketing ideas, because he understands it. And he’s been at the company for over 19 years. So he knows what we’re about and how that should be portrayed. And so there, there were some moments and the first day that first commercial aired, I sat on my couch, I had never been that nervous in my life. And so it always sounds good after the fact when you can say, we’ve won awards, we have sweatshirts, everybody’s bought into it. But there are moments where you have to go with your gut, even when other people may be telling you this may not be the best approach. And so I will tell you, I was stretched through it. And there were moments I was incredibly nervous. But I’m so proud of where we can drive by 72nd and dodge and see our real members because they deserve to be on the billboards, they deserve to have the limelight when they have overcome these tremendous health challenges.

Michael King 11:29
Amazing. What did you learn from that experience?

Malorie Maddox 11:33
I think just that reminder of gut instinct, the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career and I have made, we’ve all made mistakes, is when I didn’t listen to it and kept trying to force it or didn’t let it come to me. And I think that when you have those incredible gut instincts, you have to listen to them. I grew up volunteering in new shelters and working with at risk youth and students. And I saw some tremendous moments. And I learned so much. Also being a waitress and a server. For many years, I learned to watch people and to read that and to really listen to God. And so the times I’ve gone against that, or the times I’ve made the biggest mistakes in my career.

Michael King 12:14
What are the things that I’ve learned over the last? Well, first and foremost, I think the marketplace is changing, too, with the things that really work when it comes to how we communicate, and how we how we serve our audience, the marketplace in the crowd, the communication audience, I think there’s just this general feeling that they want to be attached to something they want to belong to something, not just always be just the audience to be sold something so. So I think that I think that the the way that you’re kind of going about it, are you seeing a massive shift in how you communicate and how you serve the audience, audience through marketing, communication.

Malorie Maddox 12:52
Absolutely. And when you look at really, you know, we have four different customers, our members are just one of our customers, others are group leaders, those businesses, we work with brokers, a lot of our business goes through brokers, and then providers, we have to really partner with the providers out in our community. And so I think through COVID, which obviously changed all of us, I don’t know anyone who’s emerged from the pandemic, and said, nothing about my life changed, or my perspective didn’t change, or I didn’t face new challenges. And when I look at the group leaders, and HR executives and HR, you know, co workers that we work with, they have more on their plate now than they have ever had. They’re dealing with mental health challenges from their own employees or keeping up morale in their organization, or Michael to your point, reminding their employees of their value and reminding their employees of their mission and really ingraining that in them when they may not be in the building and have some of those more powerful moments that we’re all used to. So I’ve seen a shift there, I’ve seen a shift back across many industries, back to good old fashioned storytelling. I think there’s always power in a story if it’s authentic to your company, or to who you are. Because the moment it’s not authentic, or it’s not really reflective of what you’re about people know it, they know it, they see it, they feel it. And so, to me, that’s been the biggest shift. I also think and I learned this in news and this isn’t necessarily a positive. people’s attention spans are not what they used to be our news stories went from roughly a minute 30 down to can you get that to 45 seconds, and it became harder and harder to tell those powerful stories in a shorter amount of time. And I had to work for years and I still work every day to hone content and better substance into shorter periods of time. This works for PowerPoints too, when you’re communicating to clients or to your team members or to leaders of your organization. Keep in mind they appreciate they know good substance. It takes a lot of work to get good substance in a shorter period of times that for the first year I was at Blue Cross every PowerPoint brought to me, I would say, let’s start by cutting it in half, and then we’ll go from there. And that was alarming for many, because, you know, we were used to really, really long PowerPoints and telling our story through data, and telling powerful data stories is challenging. But when you have the facts and the substance, and the story wrapped around it, you went every time.

Michael King 15:21
One of the things that you just within that I walked away from, from what you just told me, was just coming along the lines of like your audience has always sought, and they’re really, really smart. They, they, they know what they they can connect with and know what they don’t, one of the things we’ve noticed as well is that people can quickly recognize the things that they don’t belong to a lot faster than then they can recognize the things that they do belong to. So by communicating you outlined it so so flawlessly, is that is that people are really, really quickly to connect to disengage the things that they don’t feel like are organic, or our home base for them. So that’s really good. Now, shifting on that just a little bit. So you mentioned this the communication methodology and how you are making a bigger impact by making sure that you’re you’re adjusting, you’re being flexible, you’re being innovative, what are some of the best leadership tips that you have, as far as when it comes to making an impact within your organization that you’re currently using right now,

Malorie Maddox 16:24
one of the ideas I frankly stole from our CEO is to do a keep start stop list. And I remember he emailed his team and said, I would like three things that you want me to keep doing three things you want me to stop doing, and three things you would like me to start doing. And I remember feeling that pressure, this is your leader asking you to be honest with them. And I can go back to that day of sitting in the executive room with you know, my peers, and our CEO, being willing to share those things and bring them up and say, these are things I’m willing to work on. If you see me do this, call me out. And I thought that that was such a brave way of opening up conversation. And so I tried it with my team. And the first time, apparently, there were some instant messaging and chat. And they were all nervous, and nobody knew what to do with it. And so I just went out there and said, Let’s all sit down. And let me tell you why I’m doing this, and let’s talk through it. I really want to know what’s in your head, I really want you to share this honest feedback. And I do listen to you. And so they ended up all submitting them. And one of the common themes that came out is let us do more of the work, trust us with more of the work. And I was really surprised because for so many years, and that and that was a shift for me at corporate. All of a sudden, I had this wonderful executive assistant, I had never had that. And my first year there, I can remember her saying to me, I’m here to help you. And asking for help was just so incredibly difficult. Because in the newsroom, you were in a car with a photographer for sometimes nine hours a day. And how you treated them was how your story would, would come out. And I always knew that it, I would do the work, I would carry the tripods, I would do do the work with them. Because it was a partnership, I could land the best story. But if they didn’t put passion and soul into writing it and editing it, it wouldn’t have mattered at the end of the day. And so transitioning into the corporate world, it was very hard for me, I wanted to write everything because I’ve written my entire life. And finally one of them wrote, you’ve written more than any boss I’ve ever had, we’re here to help you. And it was just this aha moment. And so we went out, we all had a conversation. And I said, What things would you like, and they, you know, they started telling me, the other thing that really surprised me from that is they said, keep giving us direct feedback. We’ve never had anyone give us such direct feedback. And I didn’t know how they would take that because I had a lot of direct feedback in my career and got very used to it, I can accept very tough feedback because ours in the broadcast world was both the skills of your job, your writing, what stories you got, what the audience thinks of you, your scores, but then it was personal appearance and sitting in a room with somebody critiquing your appearance, going shopping with you, telling you how to look watching your facial expressions. That’s a different level of feedback. But I learned early on to accept that because I saw the news anchors and investigative reporters who would listen and enact that feedback. And then I saw the ones that would shut it down. And the ones that shut it down more often the ones that remain stagnant and and checked out frankly, and ended up not having great careers. And so it was a good lesson to learn so to hear they were okay with the direct feedback and thriving because of it. I really appreciated that and then some of their other feedback was better work life balance. I grew up on a farm like I mentioned, I was used to working long and tough hours and so really learning to slow down and focus on what’s what’s first what’s the top priority and and spend Enough time at home as well. So that’s been, that’s been challenging.

Michael King 20:04
The fact that you have a team that feels comfortable of saying, Hey, these are the things that we’d like to see change or some adaptations we’d like to see. So obviously, there’s a certain level of approachability and trust ability within your team, that they feel comfortable to even say, you know, this is what we feel. How do you respond to that, when you when you’re getting this type of feedback,

Malorie Maddox 20:24
that’s the most important piece of the puzzle, I think, because if you want them to fail to your, you know, to your point that they felt safe enough to give this, if you want them to feel safe enough, they have to know first you’re paying attention to it. And second of all, that you’re going to take action on it. And so I remember, you know, the feedback and give us more being able to watch one of our young team members now grow to where she’s doing all of our board of directors materials, and she’s comfortable sending out company wide personal communications. And she’s just taken the reins on so many different projects. And she’s unbelievable, I cannot wait to see where she grows in her career. And it’s just it’s so rewarding to watch that and to see them say, Okay, thank you for this project. And, and then a couple of times along the way, and giving some of my team members more, they’ve said, We had no idea how much work this was until we got into it. But thank you for trusting us with it. And being able to coach through that and make them know you have their back. I always say that a leader is really the sum total of their team scores. So when you look across your team, how are they doing, because that’s how you’re doing. It’s not personal about your success. It’s really how you stack all of them, all of the departments up and all of the people that you choose to lead those departments is a reflection of you,

Michael King 21:42
you yourself are the sum average of your team’s identity, and also your team’s health and performance value. That’s so good. Now, now as you’re kind of navigating all these pieces, we’re talking about, you know, internal communication strategies, we’re talking about building culture and building value. One of the things that I’m taking away from this conversation as well is that I know this is that the most valuable asset that a senior leader can have within their organization is their bandwidth. And but by you having a team that is operating in their in their best seats, they’re they’re feeling valued, they’re actually moving towards the mission and vision of the of your department. That really opens up your bandwidth as you have the right team in place. Would you agree with me on that?

Malorie Maddox 22:27
Absolutely. Because you feel it when you have someone in a position who’s not driving results, or their team’s not healthy? It it ends up landing on your desk. Absolutely agree with that.

Michael King 22:38
That’s so good. That’s really good. So now you as a leader, I mean, you didn’t you didn’t pick up on these these principles on your own. I mean, naturally, like for me, it’s like, I can go back to my first leadership book of leading reading Jim Collins, Good to Great and recognizing chapter four when he talks about like having the right leaders in the right seats, and who’s on the bus and me going, okay, that’s my problem. Like, I’m actually just allowing the things to happen in just taking things a status quo. But you’ve picked up some things along the way where you recognize that you yourself, have to level up your leadership. Do you have a moment that you had an aha thing happening in your world?

Malorie Maddox 23:18
So many, so many moments? I, I think making the transition to Blue Cross, I would say initially was so incredibly challenging, and I knew I would run into it, but it was immediately your news, anchor and journalist, what do you know about insurance, the corporate world communications? And I mean, I had some people almost boldly say that to me. And I think that one of the biggest and greatest pieces of advice going through that is to remind people of the why. So if you have to say no, give them the why behind it, if you are pushing them to start a new project, give them the why behind it. I got to learn from a CEO who believes in investing in executive coaches, and my executive coach, and Michael, you know, this, you’ve probably seen this many times, and working with clients. And by the way, I love that you look for leaders who aren’t just the loudest in an organization, they’re the ones that may be doing things people don’t notice, or they’re these incredible culture champions, because they really deserve the spotlight. So thank you for mentioning that. That’s your passion, kindness. That’s incredible and very inspiring. That I think that working with the executive coach, our first day he just said what has made you successful in your past will not necessarily make you successful in your future. And I’ve just remember thinking, How do I navigate this and how do I leave behind a 13 and a half year work family who I had, I had their respect and I loved working with them and we were close to walking into an environment where so many people are telling you you can You can’t do it and questioning your abilities. And it was it, it was a very tough first year it was. But I learned from having two mentors that I identified inside of Blue Cross. And I just went to them, I was humble, and I told them what was going on. And they helped me. And they helped me because they knew that I wanted success for Blue Cross and not for myself. And they knew I was willing to listen to their tech feedback, even if they told me you didn’t handle this situation correctly. Here’s, here’s why it’s political. Here’s what I would recommend. The other thing that I really admire with our CEO is with his team, I have never seen him say, we would never go to him and say, well, this team member did this. Because his first response would always be, did you go talk to them about it? And I think, you know, having that approach of my biggest stretch was learning to go, go sit down with my harshest critics and not be afraid of the conversation. Go sit down and say, You said this about me, you question me? Why do you feel that way? What can I do better and listen to them? And there were some tough conversations.

Michael King 26:11
Was there a massive cultural shift difference between the newsroom and going over to the insurance world?

Malorie Maddox 26:17
Yes. Yes. And, you know, I think that in a newsroom, it’s just adrenaline, you know, your results every 24 hours by how many people view the story or, you know, in quarters of what your ratings are, and success of, you’re the only one with that story. And so it was instant wins all the time. And it was also a very, you didn’t have a lot of team members. And so if your story fell apart, I wouldn’t call my news director and say, my story fell apart, what are you going to give me? Because the first thing they would say is, what do you have for me? What are your story ideas go out and find one, I think switching to it was Blue Cross has had such a great reputation for so many years that they’ve earned and deserved. And they had their members at heart, that I think just being more external with that message, and being okay, focusing back on the customers and being able to take that message outside of our walls was probably the biggest switch. There were also, you know, despite the hardship, there were also a dozen people there, that would have done anything for me to be successful, too. And so you find your people and you just trust that it’s all going to work out and you trust that you drive results, and you build your team, others will, you know, they’ll want to be part of that. And they’ll they’ll want to be part of that success. And they’ll want to be part of a team that has winning results, but also that you sit down at a table and have a cup of coffee with and learn about them. And so, you know, I think you learn more through the hard moments than you do the best moments. But maybe that’s just because I’ve had quite a few hard moments over my career.

Michael King 27:59
You mentioned just some hard moments. What are what are you feel like are some really big challenges that you’re having in leadership, like right now today, and we were coming out of COVID? All these different things, I’m kind of getting tired of talking about coming out of COVID. But it’s something we can’t really necessarily avoid. Right. So what’s the challenge that you’re working through right now?

Malorie Maddox 28:20
I think probably the biggest challenge is similar to what a lot of leaders are facing is how do you keep employees connected and not just connected, but really connected to your mission and your values as they come on. And especially those new employees, you’re bringing into the organization, they didn’t have those days where we were all on the same floor. And outside of my office, we have an area called campfire where we all went and would just sit around and brainstorm ideas, I did something called walking club with my team where we would just kind of page over the system and say, Whoever has their, you know, walking shoes here, let’s go for 10 minutes around zarbin village, and the only rule of walking club was you could not talk about work during it. And I miss those kinds of moments. Because you can’t make those up, we would laugh so much in that 10 minute walk of just getting everyone outside and, and hearing about what’s going on with their families or you know, some of their challenges or some of their funny moments. And I always came back to the office feeling like a new person. And so to see those go away, I think is really challenging. I also think as a health insurer, the largest health insurer in the state of Nebraska, we’re looking at utilization and claims and we’re looking at numbers we’ve never seen before coming out of a pandemic, there have been so many unknowns. And so navigating that with our customers and making sure we’re doing everything we can to keep costs down and partner with providers and provide the best health care because we all learned how important health is, especially the past couple of years. And I think that that is our bigger mission across the state and also serving Nebraskans who don’t have insurance. We instituted flu shot clinics during the pandemic that remained today that we offer to all families all over the state whether or not they have insurance, we have families showing up and saying this is the first time I’ve ever been able to get my child a flu shot or myself one, those are the moments that that matter and that people remember, remember you for,

Michael King 30:12
but you have this unbelievable impact that you you might not even be currently aware of. But sitting in the seat that you are as being somebody that is responsible for marketing and communication and strategy, working with this team that really really gets the impact of okay, what are my marketing efforts going to look like, but also internally, whatever culture that you’re creating, and that internal communication strategy between you and your team, and how you’re empowering people, making sure that your leadership values are coming to the surface, but then how they’re being projected out outside of your building, into your community to, to your clients, to your partners, etc. Your impact is absolutely massive. And do you feel that Do you feel the return of the type of change that you’re bringing to that space?

Malorie Maddox 31:02
I think being a news, it was always what’s coming next. And so when we start to see by the time the results start rolling in, on the last project, I’ll be honest, I feel like my job is to say what’s coming next and drive us to the next one. So I probably feel them less than my team does. But I know my team does. And I have seen them, especially with the your story campaign, circle back and say, here’s our next iteration of ideas. And here’s what we want to go, you know, here’s where we want to go with it, that we think really have an impact. And I’ve seen them shift and think differently. I spend most of my time now out in front of our clients having direct conversations. So my biggest impact I feel is through market solutions, which is a department we created to make, make all of our customers lives easier. Insurance is complicated, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s ever going to be an easy process. It is heavily regulated, it is very siloed. And for reason, because we have very unique departments that are pieces of the pie, but we can make it better for people. And so in the last year and a half, we developed a customer scorecard. And we developed a thematic goal and defining objectives. And we drove our company towards improving our customer scorecard. And the first year, we saw improvements across every single line of our customers. And then we just got our first piece of information back from one of our customer bases. And we saw our trust shoot even higher, I mean, we’re talking a 19 point jump, and other things just grow up ease of doing business. And so those are the moments I probably feel more because I spend so much time out in front of our clients now. And I like to hear, I’d like to hear when you go through the insurance process what that experience is, and I spent the last two years and this is, you know, personally impacted, I lost my husband to colon cancer. And we went through 15 months of 100, doctor’s appointments and 16 I think 16 rounds of chemo, five trips to the emergency room, hospice, home health care, the whole nine yards. And when you go through something that personal, it is a reminder of why I do what I do and why Blue Cross is so important to the state of Nebraska. And so I carry that journey with me now more than any journey I’ve ever carried. Just because I got to experience I have a very intense experience with the healthcare system. And I know that financial security, it provided my family in a time that we were facing the hardest year and a half of our lives. And so I I know that’s our purpose. People want to feel financially protected when these things happen, because the stress of health diagnoses and the challenges when families face cancer or face life changing diagnosis, it’s very heavy. And so I’m proud that I get to be part of that for other families

Michael King 33:57
first and foremost to is that I’m really sorry about your loss to of your of your husband. Wow, thank you, you’re really really intelligent, you’re smart, you’re cognitive of like how your team is doing and how they feel your impact, you’re just starting, I mean, the the level of impact that you’re actually going to have post COVID and even in this space right now. It’s you’re, you’re heading into the best seasons that you’re ever going to have. And I think you’re dialing in on some things that are just so meaningful. And when it comes to creating the right culture and amplifying the team, you’re a good leader, you’re a good person. And so credibility really matters when it comes to the type of position that you have. I want to make sure that our listeners have an opportunity to be able to network with you. If they want to do that. How would you recommend that they connect with you?

Malorie Maddox 34:44
I think LinkedIn is really the only platform. I’m still out there and somewhat active on I ended up you know, when I left the public, the public realm on my last job ended up taking down those accounts but I love LinkedIn and connecting. I’ve been able to meet a lot of stress Big officers from all across the United States, a lot of marketers that have, you know, ended up inviting me to coffee or we have a team’s call. I love listening to other leaders and the challenges and the successes they have, I was able to attend a CMO Academy at one point sponsored by Deloitte down in Texas. And I remember leaving so humbled thinking, I have so much you know, so much to learn, still are so many more goals I want to accomplish when you get to see the best of the best in their field. And so always open to connecting with others. And LinkedIn, I think is usually about the best way or call me at Blue Cross. I’m available that way as well.

Michael King 35:37
All right, fantastic. Thank you for making time for us and the level of leader podcast. And we’ll make sure that, that we connect with you and we get all your information out and keep you up and posted on things happening in your world. Okay,

Malorie Maddox 35:50
Michael, thanks for the interview. And thank you for what you do. I can’t wait to see your other stories.

Michael King 35:55
Thank you for joining us today on the level of leader podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, consider leaving a review on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts. It helps to get the word out and make sure to like subscribe and to follow so you get all of the episodes, Malory showed one of her best leadership practices is to include your team in an exercise in which they can openly identify the things that are working well. The things that need some adjustment, and the things that they need to stop doing. One of the exercises we do here at teams that coach is the stop start refining exercise as a part of our blue sky experience. The biggest win to utilizing these types of exercise is that you need to hear from your team what they love and what they think. true collaboration exists when you open up feedback for systems and strategies to execute the vision. This is where I see leaders fail. Protect your vision, protect it with all you have, refine it, Vision can’t be negotiable, and vision cannot be compromised, but your systems and your strategies can be open up your conversation with your team on the process it takes to produce the right results. A special thank you to our featured artists names without numbers for allowing us to use their music, we decided that we wanted to feature music that I produced as a music producer. So that is pretty cool. Thank you so much guys. Now to find out more about everything that we’re up to please check us out at www dot team dot coach. And don’t forget to join our Facebook group at Teams.coach/levelupleaders/