HANCOCK COUNTY – It started with a crash.

Mitch Gibson was driving home from his promotions job several years ago in a cold rain when his new vehicle slid through a stoplight and got hit.

There were no injuries, aside from Gibson’s pride. The experience left the Hancock County native, then in his early 20s, despondent. He was already feeling some burnout and immobility in his work, and now he suddenly found himself dealing with insurance, a system he did not understand.

It got him thinking about the career change he craved, and the invitation he had received from a New Palestine insurance agency to discuss a work opportunity that he initially had no interest in. He remembered being told that the industry was not the dull existence he may have convinced himself it was.

Now, not only is insurance Gibson’s career, but one he’s passionate about. The profession has driven the 27-year-old to create podcasts and nurtured his desire to be involved in his community.

Gibson grew up on the Hancock County side of Cumberland, the middle of six siblings. He went to Mt. Vernon schools before transferring to Greenfield-Central for its radio and television program. From there he went to Ball State University, where he studied telecommunications with a focus in sales and promotions, as well as a business minor. He also played baseball.

His first daughter was born during his freshman year of college, which he said came with challenges, but also plenty of support from his family and the family of the mother.

Gibson worked in promotions for Emmis Communications while finishing college. Working full time in sales and promotions was his goal.

“I love relationships,” he said. “I love talking to people. One thing I tell my daughters every time they get out of the car in the morning when I drop them off at school is, ‘Make someone smile.’”

He thinks his upbringing had an effect on his affinity for relationships and talking.

“Growing up in a big family, being one of six kids – you have to talk loud,” he said. “You have to talk a lot to get what you want. I’ve always loved the relationship piece. My family is the same way.”

He got his job at Emmis because of a relationship, and soon found himself working in promotional tents at Indianapolis Colts events giving away prizes.

“I enjoyed it, but at that time, being married and with a kid, coming home late at night and having to get up on Sunday morning to go downtown for the Colts games to help with that, it was catching up to me really quick,” he said.

HRM Insurance Services in New Palestine had reached out to Gibson about discussing an opportunity, but he wasn’t interested.

“I don’t want to be that guy that sits behind the desk and is wearing khakis and a red polo, right?” he said. “It’s just now what I want to do. I like being out talking to people, building relationships, whatever that might be.”

Then, in the middle of the Colts’ season in 2017, he got in his revelation-inspiring wreck driving home from a tailgate he was working.

“I didn’t know anything about insurance, no clue what it was,” he said. “I was still on my parents’ policy at that point in time.”

The experience got him contemplating his future.

“This sucks,” he remembered thinking. “Car just got hit, don’t even know how a claim works, I’m ready to stop working promotional events, I’m ready for something. And I just kept sitting there thinking what is it that I could do that people are always going to need?”

He recalled the invitation from HRM Insurance to explain over lunch that the profession wasn’t what he thought it was. Gibson took them up on the offer, was eventually hired and is now in his sixth year with the agency.

“I was blown away by how much different it was compared to the way that I perceived it from the outside looking in,” he said. “I think that goes for a lot of different industries.”

He counts it as an important lesson.

“For young people – don’t push an industry or push an idea or opportunity away without having a conversation about it, because you may never know what it entails or if you’d like it or not,” he said. “Just because you have a perception of it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good option for you.”

Gibson was pleasantly surprised to learn that insurance gives him an opportunity to pursue the things he loves to do.

“Being able to help people – that’s a main thing for me,” he said. “I like helping people and making a difference.”

He also enjoys educating clients on having the correct kinds of insurance.

“I love first-time home-buyers, younger people who are buying their first home, because I get to educate them on why it’s important that you have this coverage,” he said.

Insurance also fits nicely into his love of building relationships.

“Now that I’ve built up a book of business in five years, and have kept the vast majority of those clients over the past five years means I’ve done a good job building relationships and having that communication,” he said. “I’m the trusted advisor. I’m the one that they call when crap hits the fan.”

He admires how his line of work is always different as well.

“There’s not a day that the job is the same, ever,” he said.

He’ll likely always feel that way, especially if his supervisors are any indication.

“My two bosses, my mentors, people I talk to on the daily in this industry still learn something every day,” he said. “That’s fun. I don’t ever want to be the smartest one in the room. If I’m the smartest one in the room, I’m in the wrong place. And I think that’s something that I’ve done a really good job of – is making sure that I surround myself with people who want to win, but also have the same core values of taking care of others, making a difference and providing a service that people are going to tell their friends about.”

Just because he enjoys the work doesn’t mean it’s always been easy. Having started in insurance at age 21, his youthfulness posed challenges for him at times.

“It was difficult trying to persuade a 65-year-old manufacturer owner to give me an opportunity to look at his insurance when I’ve only been doing it for a year or two,” he said. “And look, I don’t blame the guy at all. You’re thinking about the biggest assets and what you’ve built.”

But it got better over time.

“I think once I started understanding that the more I became a professional, a student of the products, coverages, and the language on the policies, being able to show them – that executive officer – why I know my stuff, and show them from the beginning, I got a better opportunity,” he said.

Growing a beard didn’t hurt either, he said with a chuckle.

Back to his radio roots

In 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gibson was working from home brainstorming different marketing possibilities. He reached out to a mentor who owns an insurance agency in Alabama and set up a video call, during which Gibson brought up his education in radio, television and telecommunications. The mentor urged him to start a podcast highlighting local businesses.

Gibson wasn’t receptive at first, not realizing how it could be beneficial for him from a marketing perspective. But, just like the insurance industry, the idea grew on him once he realized he could use the podcast to not only highlight local businesses, but generate potential business for himself as well. The podcast – Inside Hancock County – was born.

“What business owner doesn’t want to talk about their business?” Gibson said. “What person doesn’t like to toot their own horn? I do. We all are proud of ourselves in some way, especially a business that we built. But I didn’t just want that. I also wanted to make an impact. So however I structured my questions, I wanted to make sure that I could get adversity that they faced and how they overcame it. Everyone loves a winning story.”

The podcast helped give featured businesses exposure during the pandemic by reminding customers that they were open and how they were adapting to the way the virus was changing everyday life.

Gibson shot the podcast on video as well at a local real estate agency, giving the firm exposure and getting him referral partners in his insurance job. Bill McKenna, his high school TV and radio teacher, saw him posting the episodes and referred them to NineStar Connect, which played them on its local television channel.

Inside Hancock County has been dormant for a while, but Gibson continues an insurance podcast he started that’s tailored to younger agents he interviews from all over the country. Called The MVP Podcast, the program releases new episodes every Wednesday on the Agency Intelligence Podcast Network.

“I try to build relationships with younger agents, people that are new, young, under the age of three years in the industry with experience, because I like hearing their stories,” he said. “It gives them a chance also to use their voice. … I want young agents to feel like they’re heard.”

The importance of involvement

At the end of 2019, when Gibson set objectives for the coming year, none of them were sales-related.

“I had two goals,” he said. “One was get involved in the community, two was become better with my marketing.”

He encourages other young people to get involved in their communities as well.

“There’s so many nonprofits that need help, that want volunteers,” he said. “Dagonnit, quit playing the Xbox for 10 minutes, and go help.”

Gibson recently wrapped up three years as board president for Hope House, a Greenfield-based organization that offers living quarters and sustainability programs to the area’s homeless. It also operates a thrift store.

“That place is very near and dear to my heart, and I love the mission and the passion behind that facility,” he said.

He added it offers many things that many people may take for granted, like having food to eat and a comfortable place to sleep and get clean.

“That’s positivity,” he said. “That puts fire back in someone’s rocket ship to push them down the right path. Something small. I think we forget about those little things. Shower, brushing my teeth and getting clean clothes – something we do every day. A lot of people take that for granted, and I do too sometimes.”

Gibson joined the Rotary Club of Greenfield last fall. Again, it was something he didn’t think he was going to like at first, and was pleasantly surprised by how much he did.

“The great thing is the things I’m involved with are involved with people that I look up to, my mentors, people that trust me, that refer me business, best friends,” he said. “…It’s just cool to see a community come together, and that organization does a really good job of that.”

He also coaches a class of 2024 high school graduates in Indiana Nitro, a travel baseball program.

Gibson said much of his positivity comes from his parents and their support, as well as his motivation for providing for his two daughters.

“I’d be lying if I said I was positive every single day or every single hour of the day,” he said. “But it’s the little things that make you stop and think it’s not that big of a deal, move on, let’s go on with it, there’s worse things out there in the world going on.”

His firstborn’s premature birth and lengthy hospital stay also have an impact on that outlook.

“It just kind of makes you realize that you have it good, and I think that’s something I try to every day realize – I’ve got a lottery ticket by having a life,” he said.

Gibson loves traveling. He went to 16 states last year, many of them to speak at insurance conferences.

But he loves home too.

“You would never be able to catch me (living) in a big city, just because I like familiar faces,” he said. “I like seeing someone smile. I like someone holding the door for you, you holding the door for them. We don’t realize how good we do have it in this town and in this community. And it’s growing – that’s very fun too. It’s growing, and I’m anxious to see how it continues to expand and how it continues to grow. And by golly, I hope it continues, and I hope it attracts more young people. … This community, in my opinion, is a great place to start a family.”

Gibson describes his future as bright.

“I’ve got a vision to do other things in this community,” he said. “That time will come sooner than later. … This is where my name hopefully one day will leave a legacy, and that’s what I hope to be able to do. The foundation was already set, just go make it happen.”