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Archive for July, 2010

Love

July 29, 2010 3 comments

I am in love. Just crazily in love with my best friend in the world. This shining light of a person who has allowed me into her life.

I am blessed for it and underservingof it but i am so happy because of it. Last night was our 9 year anniversary. And it was good. We looked at old pictures, took some new ones, made dinner, watched a movie and spent the rest of the evening entangled in each others arms talking about the future and the past. How we got here and where we are going.

it was a great glorious reaffirming night. Soon(296 days to be exact) we will not have to be apart and these nights will be more frequent. But for now 1 night was enough.

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t grow up too fast.

July 28, 2010 1 comment

I am scared. Really Scared.  A buddy of mine has a son that recieved a text from a girl asking “Where do you like doing it better, the bedroom or someplace else?”. The girl that sent the text was 13 years old. What the hell!!! I cant even tell you even tell you how jacked up that makes life. By 13 or 14 a boys hormones are raging so hard they are testing the lubricating properties of materials most women would find inconceivable. The one thing that stops boys from making woefully stupid mistakes is inaccessibility. The mighty moral wall that woman have can be tough to climb. unfortunately with each passing generation that wall has lowered and been held by fewer and fewer people. But now it feels non-existent. 13 years old should be an innocent time, adulthood comes to quickly and that innocence is lost forever.

I look at my little girl and cringe, fret and worry.

Everywhere I look it seems like the edge between childhood and adulthood gets a little fuzzier. Everything is pushing these kids to grow up so fast. The clothes that are peddled to them, the shows that they are bombarded with, its like hurry up become a adult as fast as you can.  So we take the accelerated aging, add in a portion of reduced morality and that’s how we get to the 13 year old girls that send texts like the above. And its cyclical, if that child has a child at 15 then that becomes the norm for the childs child. And it takes the exception to break the trend. It should be the other way around.

I am a Dad, I guess its normal for me to worry. But I was hoping to have to chase boys off at 15,16 or even later not at 13. 13 seems too young to me.

How can Blogging help in an insurance agency?

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

With time an insurance agencies blog can help retain business and bring in new clients.

There is no better place to put the ideas and ways that you are different from the agency down the street than a blog. A blog that looks and reads well, that provides timely information and  tackles interesting topics can be a valuable resource to everyone. This is an agencies chance to show the world and  local community the ideas and ideals that set them apart.

An insurance agency can describe why a client or prospect should stick with A rated carriers or explain what AM Best ratings are and why one might care. Topics could and should range from coverage issues and new concerns to things that are happening in the agency and community initiatives the agency  partakes in.

Generally the difficult part of the blog is the process.  Who is going to write it? What are they going to say? Can we be sued for it? Are all the checks in place to ensure we are as protected as possible? Answering these questions take time, energy and can be a real pain, but the pay off in the end will be well worth it.

After you have the process down then it comes to content creation. That is as easy as looking into the resources for your individual state or risk specialty. There are tons of new coverages and products coming out monthly, so many that it’s hard for even the agent to keep abreast of everything.

There is a slew of opportunity to use health care reform to educate your current clients with brief weekly or monthly synapses.  Use the blog to write about something cool a client or prospect is doing. Could there be a better way to endear the agency to them?

Blogging can be a great way to educate the public about a new product or risk. Think “Cyber Liability”. Providing a service to educate prospects and clients on the risk and pitfalls of not being covered may open up the chance at a crossell. Of course there is the old guard that will want to hold on to that information and will say “We can’t give that great knowledge away for free! People will come and learn from it and buy insurance elsewhere.” Bah on that. If folks want the information, they are going to get it. But if it is your information they are getting educated on, over time a percentage will choose that it’s  a wise decision to buy from the agency that is unafraid to spread the word.

There are a few keys to a successful blog. First and foremost a blog needs to have a voice. Not some monotonous boring lecturer but a voice that clients and prospects can connect with. The content needs to be fresh, timely and relevant. There is nothing worse than visiting a blog that hasn’t been updated in months and months. Posts needs to be as short and information filled as possible while retaining personality. The information needs to be important to the industries that are within each agencies sweet spot.

There are a few things that dont need to be in a blog. This CSR getting a designation or the cool salesman of the year award to producer x are all better served being spread through different media.  A blog is the agencies time to shine, a time to offer the community a service and access to some of its insights. Through the open exchange of information the agency has a oppurtunity to become a trusted resource. Once that happens the sales will follow.

Kids

July 9, 2010 6 comments

I so enjoy being a father. It is my most important and satisfying job. I have a responsibility to my child to help her define how the rest of her experience will be tinted. That blows my mind, its an amazing thing to watch the transference of knowledge and perception to the only legacy that will matter on that last day.

We are very open-minded. We teach acceptance, it is a core principle. We try and teach logic and understanding-but an understanding that the current perception is transitive and based on personal experience, as experience changes so does perception. That seems heavy for an 8 year old but we observe the effects pretty commonly. She likes certain age-appropriate songs I find objectionable and she will advise  “We all have our opinions, Dad, and in life, their will be differing opinions”, cool, that’s good logic.

We try and base our decisions on what is right and fair. We try to listen and understand the story before reacting.We try and teach that everything a human does is based on perception. Men kill men because of differing perceptions. You have to figure out your own truth to things. We teach action reaction, make a choice, good or bad there will be a repercussion. We try not to get angry when she chooses poorly, it is her cognizant decision to do something-she understood she was agreeing to the risk of punishment when he made the choice. There is the occasional disappointment with the choice that she made although the decisions themselves are relatively trivial at this age but the logic behind the choice is what I want her to understand. We use each incident as a learning experience.

When we pick D up, first thing she tells us  is if she got in trouble for that day and if so why? What choices did she make?  We discuss it, what was she thinking at the moment she made the decision. Then we figure out severity. The thing we cant abide is cruelty- so that is straight to bed no dinner, lay in your bed for 8 hours, write a letter describing why you did what you did and what you were feeling, etc, etc kinda infraction. Misbehaving, acting out, doing the occasional prank; some of that we chalk up to being a kid, some of that she gets in trouble for.  We handle each situation independently.

Often i wonder if this stuff will last with her and if it is sinking in, but i think it is. I remember this time we were at a restaurant and Dorothy was two. We were nagging her to say no sir, yes ma’am, excuse me and so on and if you have met D, you know how that has worked out, she is very polite. But I remember someone giving us a hard time about her being to young to understand, that it was better to wait till she was older. All Sarah and I could think was, well if not now, when, what age do we start teaching our principles? This is how we have chosen to raise our daughter. And it’s cool. Sometimes I feel so over the top happy just girlishly giddy because I know her and have helped shape her.

We wont really know if any of this worked until much later down the road. But we have made conscience decisions to raise her in this manner. And we just really enjoy it.

I hope you enjoy your kids, cause does anything else matter? Really?

Categories: Drivel, Family, Just about me

Our take on Christmas Recitals

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I actually forgot we made this Video and never posted it but was doing some house cleaning and happened apon it. I watched the vid and thought it was cute. Our little movie about Dorothy’s Christmas Recital. Hope ya like.

Categories: Family, Video

How I learned to like gays and country music

July 6, 2010 3 comments

I was talking to Sarah about prejudice, how idiotic it is and how could it still exist in this day and age with all the science and information we have and I thought of two articles I had read recently.

The two are not related but I see a relationship in them that I would like to explore. The first was brought to my attention by @etherielmusings(twitter poet) -Its a New York times article by Errol Morris, about not knowing what you don’t know. The second article by blogger David McRaney was found by @newmediajim. It is about Confirmation Bias – the human phenomenon where we tend to agree with the things that are known in our lives and certain conclusions are drawn because of what we have been previously taught or know.

I believe that we don’t know what we don’t know because we allow confirmational bias to create preconceived notions that thinly  answer  questions. If those answers were not available the questions would remain but with the answers provided to us they are no longer needed.

Lets take prejudice as an example and kinda run it through this little test I have been devising in my head using these two arguments. So lets take a gay person. Good ol homosexual, easy target for anyone. And truly one of the last minorities to earn the respect they deserve. (How crazy it is that gay people cant be married! It drives me nuts. We have heteros getting married, having babies, beating wives, cheating on each other, getting divorced, leaving their kids and we dare dictate to someone else how they can love. What the hell.) So Lets say I was brought up thinking homos were bad. That they were sent by someone sinister to make me gay. That they were unnatrual and all that other  hogwash I hear. So lets apply our two conditions above. First the confirmation bias kicks in and answers any questions I have about the origin of gays. I know they were sent from a bad place, I know they are unnatural and that’s all there is to it. So I don’t need to ask anymore questions. And any that come up will be discarded easily by my bias.  So I kind of enter into a self-induced “Not knowing what you don’t Know” condition.  Now, take confirmation bias and reapply- Everything I have been taught about gays, I see in them. I was taught they are femmy and flamey, so I see gays that may be more flamboyant. I was told they all want me, so if I happen to see a gay on the street I feel he is ready to pounce on me. I was told they break up families, so I knew a guy that knew a guy that was gay and left his wife. All the things I perceive strengthen and confirm my already prejudiced beliefs. These two conditions feed on each other. Until a life-changing moment occurs this cycle will continue.

These phenomena apply to more than just personal prejudice. Ever since I read those articles I have tried to become more aware. I didn’t like country music, it was weepy, sad and whatever else. But then I really sat and thought about it and could find no logical explanation why I would totally cut off a genre of music just because I didn’t like a few songs. Maybe I would have liked them had my own confirmational bias not kicked in. So I went back and listened to some country music and it’s not all bad. I have plenty to learn about it and am excited about a new option I have added to my musical repertoire.

At work I have attempted to look past the I “don’t know what I don’t know” rule. Trying to see the things that I don’t know but only don’t know because I have already answered a half-heartedly-asked question with answers from my preconceived notions that originated with my own confirmational bias. In every experience we have, these conditions hold some sway over us. Looking at the way people feel about race, religion, music, video games or even food I find them at play time and time again.

I now know that I must take a longer glance at situations both new and old to understand more, listen better and judge less.

Twitter in an Insurance Agency

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Most insurance agencies have heard of Twitter, but few I know are utilizing it. Unfortunately Twitter is not as tangible a service as Facebook or Linked-in, meaning it can be more difficult to understand and the return the agency receives  might not be immediately felt. I believe that in an intangible product market such as insurance that Twitter can be extremely powerful and impactful.

Agencies have producers, clients, insurance products, value added services and competitors and are constantly looking for ways to make themselves stand out. Using this new media to secure current clients and hopefully gain new ones from prospects with products and value adds seems like a no-brainer.

What happens when the agency that provides insurance becomes much more than that, what if it becomes a huge proponent of their clients brand? What if on the weekends individual producers were using the product, service or other offering and talking it up on Twitter? What does that turn the relationship into? Does that make it more difficult to fire an agent if a competitor comes in with a slightly lower price? What if Twitter were used to ensure that clients and prospects were aware of the gamut of value added services that are offered or kept them up to date on the latest risk that might affect them? Inversely, if a competing agent has been lauding the accolades of a client or prospect on Twitter and both agencies offered similar coverages and VAS, is there a chance if losing the client? Is that something an agency wants to chance? Twitter creates and strengthens relationships, but it takes time just like any other relationship building process does.

Another advantage of Twitter are the insights into happenings of the client or prospect. It is criminal if your a producer in this day and age and your client has a Twitter account that is not being followed.  It needs to be mandated that this happens throughout the agency. What better way for a competing agent to get a toehold on existing clients than utilizing this burgeoning market?

I have a scenario in my head where a producer goes through his client and prospect list and finds out who’s on twitter and starts talking them up. Beginning to build or strengthen relationships utilizing this new avenue. Who ever is on the other side of that twitter account has some connection with C-level folks, they are obviously getting direction from someone. In most cases we are not talking fortune 500 clients we are talking 20-80k revenue accounts looking for any advantage they can get. If those clients are not currently utilizing Social Media wouldn’t it be neat if their trusted insurance advisor could increase word of mouth exposure by showing them the goodness that is Twitter.

What happens to that producer in the eyes of the client when a competing agent comes in offering similar coverage at 5-10% less. If the producer is on twitter always talking them up do they risk losing him as a source of free advertising. Do they risk alienating him? Do either of these 2 questions come in to play when the decision is made? I think yes, for mid market accounts  depending on local referrals and word of mouth advertising twitter will be a huge source for them in the future.

So if you are a producer or know a producer, show him Twitter, show him a prospect he is working on or a current client and what they are posting. It doesnt matter if you believe in this or not, its happeneing. We have to get our heads around it to start to take advantage of it. I can promise you that if you are not  figuring out how to use this to your advantage someone else is using it to theirs at your detriment.