“Relax into the groundlessness of your situation.” Natalie Burge, the newly named AVP of Customer Experience at NFP, claims this Pema Chodron quote to be the mantra that guides many of her personal and professional choices. Ms. Burge explains that trying to gain control over every little aspect of your day is an exhausting reaction to the fundamental uncertainty that each day brings. Learning to relax and let go is an acceptance of the uncertainty and allows us to discover our true nature — our personal and professional authenticity. This mantra, along with creative curiosity, guided Ms. Burge through NFP’s brand revitalization and the continual evolution of her own brand as a communications expert. NFP is one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States, with more than 4,200+ employees across 150 U.S. locations, including Puerto Rico, and offices in Canada and the U.K.
Adaptability is the Root of Creativity
“Professional success is largely dependent on experiences and adaptability,” which Ms. Burge explains is one of the greatest lessons she has learned throughout her career. Natalie began her academic journey at the University of North Texas, where she studied journalism, communications and business. This foundation in storytelling has helped her excel at NFP in various creative roles, including design and writing. These positions required both the understanding of business objectives as well as an ability to produce creative solutions that appeal to the target audience. Ms. Burge went on to further explain, “Creating something that resonates with the audience, but also aligns with the goals of the business, is where adaptability comes into play. You have to think outside of your everyday box in order to be effective. I’ve spent eight years at NFP in a series of creative roles, all of which required me to step outside my ‘creative’ comfort zone to gain insights and an understanding of the business in order for my work to be adaptive and effective.” Tuning into both the rational and creative aspects of herself has allowed Ms. Burge to become an innovative problem solver.
Ms. Burge’s beliefs about embracing uncertainty as a path to authenticity also extend into her passion for storytelling, specifically in independent films. Nine years ago, Ms. Burge co-founded the Hill Country Film Society, a nonprofit organization that hosts an annual film festival for independent filmmakers to share their stories with the masses. Ms. Burge explained that her appreciation for independent film is a result of the genuine way independent filmmakers relay their relatable stories. She mentioned, “Independent filmmakers are often reflecting back to us our own life experiences, helping us not feel so isolated or marginalized in the world. I love indie film because it’s affecting. The narratives challenge us to think differently, or they engage us in an arresting way. I think it’s important to champion and foster this art form.”
Storytelling from a place of authenticity is the exact approach NFP utilized in order to rebrand itself a few years ago. Ms. Burge explained that in order to unearth its true identity and personality as a company, NFP turned inward and interviewed internal stakeholders and clients in order to “draw out the DNA of the company.” Ms. Burge further elaborated, “Through that process we [NFP] discovered that we have a certain ethos that is embedded in our company’s culture, which is that we put people first in everything that we do. This is the cornerstone of our brand.”
A Brand is a Collection of Experiences
When asked, “What are some key steps young women should take to begin developing their own personal brand?” Ms. Burge advised that individuals should be cautious about promoting themselves as a product. She delved into the notion that creating one’s personal brand should be created organically and that an individual’s whole story is important when developing a sense of identity. She expressed, “We live in a time when our digital lives demand that we develop a ‘brand’ that shows the world who we are as an individual as well as a professional. If we’re curating our personal and professional lives to only show our best selves through lifestyle choices and thought leadership, is that an authentic picture of who we are as a person? Where are the stories of struggle and failure? There needs to be room for transparency and vulnerability in crafting an authentic narrative.” Like the independent filmmakers she champions through the Hill County Film Society, Ms. Burge encourages young women to “slow down” and “allow for the narrative of your life to emerge to get a sense of who you are and who you aren’t. Don’t rush intro trying to establish a brand for yourself without a collection of experiences to draw upon to identify how you align your work and life.”
The Brilliance of Boredom
Another one of Ms. Burge’s favorite activities is solo travel and getting bored. She expressed her firm belief that allowing oneself to get bored is “the ground floor for new ideas.” Allowing your mind to wander and be free of distractions is healthy. Ms. Burge believes that when we make time to dive into our unfiltered thoughts, we are giving ourselves permission to explore and evolve as people, which is a crucial part of recognizing and developing our authentic selves.
For more information about pursuing a career at NFP, please visit https://www.nfp.com/careers
Contributor: Ally Massimi