I have a friend who used to work as an actuary for a large insurance firm. He would joke that in his world, he was a rare breed: an assertive actuary. His observation was that actuaries tend to be introverted by nature, and would thus look at their shoes whenever they engaged in conversation. In contrast, the assertive actuary would boldly look at the shoes of the person with whom they were speaking.

I have reflected on this humorous and somewhat exaggerated depiction of actuaries at various times in my career. Indeed, I have encountered physician anesthesiologist colleagues over the years who might be more inclined to engage in “eye-to-shoe” rather than “eye-to-eye” contact while conversing with surgeons, administrators or fellow anesthesiologists. I recognize that our specialty indeed may draw disproportionately from the more introverted end of the spectrum...

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