Tabitha Pennington is an insurance agent licensed by the states of California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona in auto, fire, life and health insurance. She joined State Farm in 2017 and formed her own team in 2019.
What do you enjoy selling?
When I get a phone call informing me that one of my customers has passed away, I immediately check whether I had provided them life insurance. If I hadn’t, a moment of silence falls over me, my heart sinks and I can only respond with, “I’m truly sorry.” This is my “why.” It can provide a crucial financial safety net for your loved ones in case of your untimely passing. It offers peace of mind by ensuring that your family’s financial needs are met for a specific time. It can pay off debts including mortgages. It can also serve as an inheritance for your beneficiaries, helping secure their future. Knowing I helped a family face mourning someone without financial worries puts a smile on my face.
What motivates you to go to work every day?
The opportunity to be someone’s hero for the day. I serve as the intermediary between the company and the customer. I never know which customer will need assistance, but I relish the chance to advocate on behalf of my customers. I’m also driven by the excitement of progress and growth. The chance to contribute to my team, community and family brings me great joy and fuels my passion. Knowing that my efforts are shaping a better future and enabling me to pursue my dreams keeps me motivated to embrace each day at work with enthusiasm and purpose.
Why are you considered a go-to person in the South Bay community?
Being considered the “go-to” person in my community comes from being reliable, approachable and having a willingness to help others without expecting anything in return. Helping someone without needing something in return gives me the highest level of satisfaction.
How do you push for systemic change?
Educate, educate, educate! I try to use clear and compelling awareness about the issues we face in our industry, which are many currently. We use this time to improve our roles and get better at what we are not so good at.
How do you foster a positive work environment?
There’s nothing worse than one person undoing all the good we’ve accomplished. It’s a reality that I acknowledge. It doesn’t necessarily make someone a bad person; it simply indicates they may not be the right fit for us. Ensuring we don’t have individuals like this on our team is one way we maintain harmony in the workplace. We also foster empowerment and professional development, and team building is huge.
How do you rally your team to take on a big goal?
I am an incremental goal person. The big number our agency needs to reach takes time. If we are not going backward, I consider that a win. Every quarter I take my team for a sound bath in the Riviera as a small-goal accomplishment, which means we’re growing. It doesn’t matter how much; it matters that our customers are happy with our services and there is growth. I also offer numerous monetary awards to my team.
What challenges have you faced in business?
Like many, I have faced challenges these last few years from what we have all been through collectively, and I am much stronger today because of it. I would like to share that 2020 was the biggest challenge I faced in recent years, and I have managed to keep all my same team members from before COVID-19. I consider that a triumphant accomplishment.
What are the key qualities for women in leadership?
I would say it’s effective communication, adaptability, empathy, resilience and the ability to empower and collaborate with others. These qualities can help women navigate challenges and inspire their team to success.
What’s the climate like in your business right now?
We are currently undergoing some changes. We are navigating a period of transition, which comes with challenges and opportunities. While there might be some uncertainty, we are dedicated to adapting, learning and getting good at “vector” changes. It is a time that requires teamwork, resilience and a proactive approach as we work toward ultimately thriving in this evolving landscape of our company.
What advice would you give your younger self just starting out in business?
Get involved with the chamber, networking groups and a nonprofit you believe in. Volunteer until you become a board member at the earliest age possible, as this will help you focus on building strong relationships. Become adaptable to change, as it is not as hard or scary as it seems. Believe in yourself fully. Stay motivated by reading self-improvement books and following business moguls you respect. Keep pushing through, and do not sell yourself short!
Photographed by Lauren Taylor