combsandco


Feature Friday – Did You Know That?

We all pretty much know the names and stories of the entrepreneurs who made it big (just check the list of the world’s richest people). But do you know the story of the person who started that dry cleaner’s down the block? How about your favorite non-chain coffee shop? That pub you frequent way too often? The graphic designer for the at-home workout app you’ve been frequenting?

If you think about it, entrepreneurship has been around since that first multi-cellular organism ventured off on its own to find a better source of food. Not much has changed in the intervening few billion years. (OK, maybe a few things.) Being an entrepreneur is still a risky, fulfilling, exhausting, invigorating, difficult, inspiring way of life, and my next guest on Did You Know That? has experienced it more than most.

Adrian Miller has been a successful entrepreneur – many times over – for 30+ years. She’s juggled multiple businesses for more than a decade now, all while being a mom, wife, world traveler, and fount of knowledge. If you’re thinking of taking the leap, or are struggling to keep your fire going, then this is the episode you don’t want to miss.

To learn more about Adrian’s fascinating history, check out her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amillersalestraining/.

Music: “DuDa” by Ian Post via Artlist



Feature Friday – Did You Know That?

Host: Sean C O’Rourke

Guest: Paul Zambrotta

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”  Annie Leonard

I’m not a terribly nostalgic person, but have to admit, this episode took me back to show and tell in grammar school.

Have you ever heard the term wish-cycling?  No, not the practice of wishing for the same thing each time you blow out birthday candles.  This is the practice of throwing an item into a recycling bin in the hopes it can be recycled.  While the intention may be good, in practice, this act of hope has real negative consequences – it can turn good recyclables into trash.

My next guest on Did You Know That? is Paul Zambrotta, Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Hi-Tech Resource Recovery, Inc. & Scholes Street Recycling Corp., and Director of Safety at Mr. T Carting.  Paul’s grandfather, Tom Toscano (aka, Pop), started Mr. T Carting with one truck in 1947 and the family of companies has grown with the city to better address waste and recycling efforts.

The chat with Paul is broken into two segments.  First, we discuss the overall status of the recycling business and market, with an emphasis on where we, the consumers, are falling short on proper recycling.  The real fun begins with part two, where Paul and I go through many common household items to determine what can go into the recycling containers and what should hit the trash.  I think you may be surprised by some of his answers.

To learn more about Paul and his work, check out his LinkedIn profile, CLICK HERE

To learn more about plastic recycling, visit Waste4Change by CLICKING HERE

Music: “Urban Drummers” by Mike Kirin via. Artlist



Feature Friday – Did You Know That?

Host: Sean C O’Rourke

“It’s about focusing on the fight and not the fright.” Robin Roberts

In 2019, two scientists presented evidence of a malignant tumor in a turtle bone that was 240 million years old.  In 2016, a published paper identified cancer in a hominid – one of our ancestors – toe bone from 1.7 million years ago.  An ancient Egyptian medical text, dating back at least 3,600 years, details cancer and removal procedures for breast tumors. 

So what’s this have to do with anything?  Well, first, it helps explain why cancer remains such an intractable disease, even with $200 billion spent in the last 50 years (in the U.S. alone).  Second, it provides context as to why I think my next guest is such an inspiring badass.

Not to give too much away, but what should have been one of the happiest days of Morgan Mitchell’s life was overshadowed by a lump she found in her breast.  A couple weeks later, at 28, Morgan was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

If this interview was about Morgan’s work, or our previous exploits on the football field, or a hike she just finished, you’d never know she was being treated for anything other than being too positive.  It’s this strength of character I wanted to bring out during our conversation, in the hopes it might inspire others, and kick off Breast Cancer Awareness month on a positive message.

Morgan’s professional side is highlighted HERE

If you’d like to learn more about the organizations Morgan mentions, visit:

5 Under Forty: https://5under40.org/

American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/

Music “Early Morning” by Borrtx via Artlist

Per Angusta Ad Augusta translates to “Through difficulties to honors.”



Episode 1: Did you Know That?

Host: Sean O’Rourke

Guest: Stavros Michailidis

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

I’ve always loved this quote. To me, it speaks volumes about how difficult it is to be “creative.” I actually referenced this quote during my very first conversation with Stavros Michailidis, my guest on this edition of Did You Know That? While my point was one of doubt that creativity could be learned, you’ll discover during this discussion that it was more my definition of creativity was too limited. Humans demonstrate creativity everyday – usually without all the blood – we just have a tendency to not recognize it, and thus, not apply it to future endeavors.

Music: “Naked Memories” by Assaf Ayalon via Artlist

About Stavros Michailidis:

Stavros has been facilitating KI events since 2009 and today he focuses on leading KI’s operations. He brings to KI his experience as an entrepreneur, having co-founded a design build firm, a disaster recovery not-for-profit and an eco-friendly dry cleaning business. Despite his business background, Stavros knew Science had captured his heart when he found himself preferring to read Science News over Harvard Business Review while stuck at airports between flights.

To learn more about his company, Knowinnovation, CLICK HERE

#didyouknowthat #youtube #creativity



What’s the good news, ladies? August edition

Original Post: BenefitsPro Broker Innovation Lab

By Susan L Combs | August 14, 2020 at 06:58 AM

Guess what’s next week?! It’s BenefitsPRO Broker Expo time! This is one of my favorite conferences every year and this year we are doing the Fast & Furious Session from the main stage! So if you haven’t already registered, make sure you handle that ASAP! Since it is virtual this year, if you are a broker or agent, you can get in on the fun for no charge and learn what the rest of us already know about this great show!

In July, we kicked off our Wonder Woman Mastermind group, which was the brainchild of this series. We had a wonderful first meeting, where we shared some excellent marketing ideas with each other. If you are looking to be inspired by more women in our industry, please meet Bobbie and Deidre. Both women are breaking down barriers for women in our industry with personal impact and mentorship.

Bobbie Shrivastav, Benekiva

“The past 12 months have been focused on growth, speaking and mentoring! Due to all of our recent exposure and hard work, Benekiva was invited to participate in Mass Challenge FinTech Accelerator. We were selected out of over 300 applications globally and are proud of this recognition! Our impact in the industry has also increased as we’ve grown the number of carriers we work with from three to nine over the past 12 months. Personally, I was invited to speak at over 25 events in the last year, on topics such as InsurTech, innovation, customer experience, digital transformation, Blockchain, startups, women in tech, and diversity and inclusion. I’ve meet so many dynamic people along the way. Lastly, we have been able to mentor many startups and logged over 250 hours to help the startup community nationally.”

Deidre Wright, Strategic Stories

“I constantly think about the legacy I want to leave. My goal is to diversify the C-Suite and change the image of what a leader “looks like.” While companies promote diversity and inclusion, data shows the existence of pay disparities and glass ceilings amongst employees. Last December, I took the leap to become a full-time entrepreneur, providing personal brand coaching to ambitious but undervalued diverse talent. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. The biggest surprise has been, that in the midst of a global pandemic, unstable economy, and racial unrest, my clients are winning. For example, Uche, a first-generation African American woman, just landed a new job making 20% more pay and with the dream title we planned together. Why am I celebrating this as a personal win? It debunks the myth that top-notch diverse talent doesn’t exist. So. I encourage us all to mentor, hire and promote diverse talent.”

Know a great rockstar woman in our industry who’s doing amazing things? If so, I’d love to connect! You can just shoot me over an email with their information or feel free to make a virtual introduction to me at scombs@combsandco.com. Stay safe and mask up my friends. Hope to see you August 18th-20th at the BenefitsPRO BrokerExpo!



Dynamic Identification

By:  Sean C. O’Rourke, Cyber Liability Consultant, Combs & Company, LLC

How often do you think about the information contained on a state-issued identification document (such as a driver’s license)?  How about your passport, which is internationally recognized?  The data on your credit card’s magnetic strip?  Pretty sure most people would answer never or infrequently to any or all of these questions, which is why there are folks like James (Jim) Mottola.

Jim spent 26 years at the Secret Service, thinking a lot about identification documents and the information contained – and not contained – on them.  To law enforcement, identification is a vital part of the job.  But with COVID-19, questions about identification data have taken on new forms and urgencies, beyond law enforcement and the ability to get on an airplane or drive a car.  A great many of those questions revolve around health ID’s; documents that could confirm a person has the COVID-19 antibodies, or never tested positive for the virus, or received the proper immunizations before traveling to other parts of the world.

Would a health ID work, especially here in the United States?  If so, how would it work and most importantly, how would you protect the data?  “Dynamic Identification” is a conversation I recorded with Jim to discuss these questions and others.  It’s a topic that touches on every citizen and business.  If interested, just click on the video below.

 



Cyber Insurance 101

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By:  Mitchell R Ledven, Insurance Advisor, Combs & Company, LLC

The current landscape of the U.S. workforce is quite different than it was six months ago. In a world once consumed by daily human interaction, we now find ourselves spending most of our days sitting in front of a screen and talking behind a keyboard. Some may say that this is just a short-term solution to the problem at hand, while others say it will be the way of life moving forward. While we don’t know for certain which answer is correct, we can agree that one thing is for sure and that is every day you log into a computer, there is a risk that someone is out there trying to take advantage of you. That person could be your next door neighbor or a 12-year-old hacker sitting in their parent’s basement on the other side of the globe.  The point of this blog isn’t to shake you out of your boots, but it is to inform you about a way to protect your business and its assets. Enter Cyber Liability Insurance, a coverage that helps protect data and operations of your business if you find yourself the victim of a cyber related attack. Here’s how it works:

Cyber Liability Insurance helps protect your business from losses resulting from online threats. These breaches can be suffered on a 1st and/or 3rd party basis. This is a responsive coverage to help soften the blow due to a cyber-attack.

What it Protects Against:

  • Username and password theft
  • Phishing emails
  • Ransomware/cyber extorsion
  • Defense costs, fines, and penalties
  • Business interruption after a cyber related incident
  • Breach response
  • Funds transfer fraud
  • Crisis management/PR
  • Website is hacked

In a Nutshell: If you store data or have systems connected to the internet, you are exposed to cyber threats.

Is it required?: No. However, all states have laws regarding breach notification. Some states have laws dictating cyber protocols. For example, NY has DFS rule 500 and the SHIELD Act, while California has the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

 



Feature Friday: A Human Resource Leader’s Guide to Corporate Messaging on Racism – Mike Veny

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Click Here for the original post on The SHRM Blog!

 

As a mental health speaker, much of my work is focused on supporting HR leaders around mental health initiatives. This usually involves addressing the mental health stigma. I’ve learned having uncomfortable and awkward conversations is the critical key to transforming this stigma.

We don’t usually like to have these types of conversations. But they help us reach a place of understanding.

The same is true for navigating racism.

We will only make real and lasting progress in this area when we focus on empathizing with people who have different perspectives than us. It’s important to understand that we’re never going to fully understand someone who is living in a different set of shoes. But we can do our best to have empathy so we can reach a place of connecting better. And ultimately be able to get more done together.

What you need to keep in mind as an HR leader

  • Many people of color are angry, sad and scared right now. Those are difficult emotions that make it hard to focus, communicate and respond to everyday situations. They often stem from not feeling listened to or feeling a lack of control over what’s happening in life.
  • Company words right now need to be more authentic than ever and backed up by action. Your initiative cannot be about meeting the status quo to avoid being a victim of the “cancel culture”.
  • Diversity and Inclusion training needs to be an ongoing, regular part of your work. This will ultimately lead to increased productivity and profitability. You may need to use this angle when talking with your C-level executives about your initiative.
  • Learn to ask the right questions and then listen. Here are some examples:

○    “What do you see happening that I don’t see?”
○    “How do you think you are perceived by the leaders in the company?”
○    “What do you feel we need to be doing that we’re not doing?”
○    Or simply say, “Help me understand.”

Creating effective messaging

Right now, people want to hear what your company stands for. Let them know that you don’t support racism. Share your policies and what the company is doing to prevent it. Then, BE LOUD with your actions showing the follow-through. The more public you are, the more trust you will build if you follow it up with action. Don’t get caught saying one thing and doing another!

Please understand that it’s important to embrace not getting it right. No matter how much you “perfect” your message, there will be people who think you’re saying it wrong or not saying enough. We’re not going to get it just right. But the important thing is making sure that we do our best to understand and empathize with others’ perspectives. It’s really that simple.

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The Lessons I Learned From COVID-19

Original Post:  NAIFA Advisor Today

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“I need to hear something good.”

This is what a friend of mine said to be about 4 years ago, when we were having a trying time in our industry and just needed an influx of positivity.

Fast forward 3 years and some odd months later, I found I was the one who needed to hear something good.  My husband and I both tested positive for Covid-19, and although the symptoms for us were mild, I found myself being the one that was bummed out.  Days upon days of seeing emails about Covid-19 and what to do and what not to do, and suffering from information overload , and I just needed to hear something good….

This made me hit pause and remind myself, “Innovation is born from necessity.” What a bold statement that just rings so true today!

I’m in New York City, the epicenter of Covid-19, and it is definitely not business as usual.

But we have found new ways to connect with family, friends and clients and also support them in ways we never thought possible.

After doing some brainstorming with my peers, these are the things we started to do to feel more connected:

  1. We did not actively sell.  If people come to us and need coverage, we help them.  We got so many calls at  the  beginning of the quarantine from people who had been laid off and were in need of Individual Insurance. – New York City doesn’t pay brokers for their advice; so, instead of our normal $185/hour, we are dropping it down to $100 flat. But we are finding out that we are using more leeway on just answering some general questions from people and pointing them in the right direction without their retaining us.
  2. We reached out in kindness.  We had a lot of prospective clients who were in the process of setting up new group plans or business insurance policies and we reached out just to check on them, tell them we know things have changed, and want them to know that we can pick things up whenever they are ready
  3. You know those 4,712 emails all of us received about Covid-19?  We pulled out a lot of important information from them , put it into one blog posting, and reached out to all our clients with just a “Checking In” email. – We got a positive response from this email and our clients shared with us what they are going through and what they are doing. One client is writing a new book, one is shifting their cooking classes to online classes, and some have created disaster relief funds for their own staff.  So, what we did with these responses was to ask them to share with us links or information, and then we passed that information on to others.
  4. Whenever a client reached out to us about a fund they have created, we made a donation and shared the information on our Social Media accounts.

One of the things I learned from all of this is that you have to let people do things for you, too.  When my brother was sick with cancer when we were kids, the Chaplain at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told my mother, “You have to be a gracious receiver.” So, I have eaten a little piece of humble pie and let people do for me.

I can’t tell you how many industry friends have reached out to me just to check on me and offer support.  I have had people send us masks, go food shopping for us, and just “Face Timed” with us to see how we are doing.

It’s been amazing to have Zoom dinner parties and Happy Hours and be able to feel connected when we felt like we were on an island.  There are truly so many incredible people in my life, including many men and women in our industry.   These peers of ours are working hard to make an impact on our industry during this difficult time.  They all serve as a shining light in such a dark time, and I am grateful to all of them.

Stay strong, my friends.

Bio:

Susan L Combs, PPACA, ChHC, is president of Combs& Company, LLC, a full-service insurance brokerage firm. She is a past recipient of NAIFA’s Four Under Forty Award, and past president of Women in Insurance and Financial Services.

 



Small Business Exemptions for Paid Sick Leave Explained
Looking for an easy digestible explanation of the exemptions for companies under Paid Sick Leave? Check out this great video from colleague, Chelsea Whalley of J Donovan Financial.
DOL Clarifies Exemptions to Coronavirus Paid Sick Leave Laws
– Less than 50 employees
– Leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons
– An authorized officer of business has determined that at least one of the 3 conditions described below have been met:
1) The provision would result in small business’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and cause business to cease operating at minimal capacity
2) The employee requesting leave has a specific set of skills and knowledge that without it, the business’s financial and operational health is severely threatened
3) There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing and qualified to perform duties of person requesting leave and this would not allow business to operate at minimal capacity.
DOL is encouraging employers and employees to work together to find a solution during this time that allows the business to be maintained as well as the safety of employees.