combsandco


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!



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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Feature Friday: Business As (Un)usual?

Business as un-usual

Business As (Un)usual?

Guest Blogger:  Kevin Trokey
Original Post:  Click Here

I recently posted an observation on LinkedIn. In one 24-hour period . . .

  • We entered a bear market.
  • A significant travel ban from Europe was imposed.
  • The NBA suspended its season while the NCAA announced March Madness would be played in empty arenas (talk about surreal).
  • And, what may have been at the top of the surreal scale on any other day, a former vice-presidential candidate (Sarah Palin) sang “Baby Got Back” on “The Masked Singer.”

Of course, that surreal 24 hours has grown into an exponentially more surreal week with no end to the escalation in sight.

The questions are endless, personally and professionally. In that post, I offered some suggestions to maintain SOME level of personal grounding. I suggested we all . . .

  • Sit in 10 minutes of meditation
  • Go for a walk
  • Read something for pure enjoyment
  • Call a friend and have a nostalgic conversation (i.e., nothing about current events)
  • Just do something to restore a sense of sanity and control to your day

I encouraged us to all – Be safe. Be smart. Be balanced.

I feel these suggestions are still solid but, given the events of the 72 hours or so that have transpired since then, they only begin to touch on the significance of what we are experiencing. This is a much more significant health crisis than we knew even that short time ago. It seems clear we still don’t just how significant it will prove to be.

It cannot be denied; we are all being impacted personally.

But, what about professionally?

At the risk of seeming impersonal and insensitive, what about our businesses? What adjustments do we need to be making?

We see many government-imposed changes. Restaurants and bars are being closed or put on restricted operations. Schools are being closed or moved online. Gatherings of more than 10 (as of this writing – it was 50 when I started) are being canceled or postponed.

Beyond the government-imposed restrictions, many businesses that rely on “social proximity” (I know, not necessarily the right use of this phrase, but I mean the opposite of social distancing) have chosen to close on their own.

I understand the need to protect health and life at all costs, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about the long-term business implications of these decisions. How many businesses will fail? How many employees of closed businesses will never recover financially? Again, these aren’t life and death questions (in most cases), but they’re still very real.

A business “gray” area?

And, what about businesses that are either already virtual and remote in their operations or are capable of performing at least some activities without threat to others? By maintaining some “new normal” level of business operations, do they run the risk of appearing insensitive? Or, is it maybe their responsibility to continue operations?

Before I share my thoughts, you should know that our entire business operation runs virtually and remotely. Each of our team members works individually in their own office space. We are among the “socially-distanced elite” in that regard. While this arrangement does present limitations, it has prepared us for where we are today. Over the next few days/weeks, we’ll be sharing some tips that have helped us build a successful business this rather unusual way.

Here’s my perspective and opinion.

  • If a behavior puts anybody else at risk, it needs to be changed. The physical health of everyone has to be our number one priority.
  • I believe our mental health has to be a very close second to our physical health. For me, that means maintaining daily activities that are as close to normal as possible. Sure, we may have to work from home instead of going into the office but, if that’s possible, I feel it is way healthier than not working at all.
  • Finally, we will come out of this and, when we do, we need businesses to be as strong as possible. That can’t be the case if we bring everything to a complete halt.

So, what will I be doing personally?

  • I will be aware of my physical movements and the effects they have on others.
  • I will be respectful of the decision others may make to more drastically curtail their business operations.
  • I will continue to work/live as much of an uninterrupted daily life as is responsibly possible.
  • I will be understanding of those who have a different opinion than mine.

What about us as Q4intelligence?

Our role is to help our clients build stronger businesses, and we’re finding there are a lot of needs right now to that end. We’re helping our agencies make decisions and take actions in the best interests of their own businesses and the lives of their clients. So, our work isn’t slowing down.

  • We hope you aren’t offended when you see us active on LinkedIn.
  • We hope you aren’t shocked when you see our blog posts pop up in your inbox on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • We hope you don’t mind when we respond to your inquiry.
  • We hope you understand the spirit in which we will be working for the foreseeable future.
  • We hope you know how much we are thinking about you during this unprecedented time.

Above all else, we hope for your health, safety, and balance.

Photo baranq.



Feature Friday! Managing Remote Employees: Key Insights and Advice

For this edition of #FeatureFriday check out our guest blog by The Jacobs Group, the leading provider of talent to the insurance industry.  We greatly appreciate their keen insight to the subject matter and contributing to our blog this week, this content applies to anyone that is managing employees remotely during this time and beyond.

As the insurance industry adapts to a workforce that is primarily – if not completely – remote, many managers are finding themselves overseeing work-at-home employees for the first time. At Jacobson, many of our corporate employees and temporary staff work remotely on a regular basis. We asked a few leaders across our organization for their key insights and advice on effectively managing remote staff.

Prioritize communication.

video-chat-iconDave Coons, Senior Vice President: Stay engaged! Host regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings and team meetings over Skype and Zoom. Video is great because it creates a more personal connection and gives you the ability to read people’s non-verbal cues.

Salil Shenoy, Controller: My open-door policy remains the same whether we’re in the office or working remotely. Making time to be actively engaged and available is crucial. This entails scheduled and ad-hoc one-on-one and team meetings with clear agendas to ensure the time is focused and productive. Communication and trust are key! This is even more true when individuals on your team are dependent on other employees they no longer see in person. Open and honest communication helps create a collaborative and positive environment that is proactive and preventative, rather than reactive and corrective.

tasks-iconSet clear expectations.

Nikki St.Martin, Vice President, Marketing Communications: It is more important than ever to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding everything from work hours to deadlines and production levels. Schedule a weekly call with your team to share the department’s priorities for the week and address workflows and any challenges. Continue to provide regular feedback, both positive and constructive, so employees know if they are performing at the expected levels.

Karen Aiello, Assistant Vice President, Account Management: I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and it’s important to stay in constant communication. Make sure there is a good understanding of priorities, expectations and performance/quality goals.

Alison Wetmore, Assistant Marketing Manager: Coach your team for your communication style. Be sure to spell out the level of communication you expect. For example, if you want individuals to confirm they have received emails about new projects, be sure to let them know.

Focus on trust.

Kylee Lacson, Assistant Vice President, Life: It’s important to trust your employees and let them do their jobs. Micromanaging will have a negative impact on productivity. If you are seeing a dip in work product or quality, approach them from the angle of “How can I help?” versus “Why didn’t you do X?”

Tanya Rinsky, Senior Account Manager, Health: Come from a place of support, always assume positive intent and respond quickly, even if it’s just to say you’ll get back to them when you know more. When communicating by phone and body language can’t be used as a guide, it’s important to ask lots of probing questions to ensure you fully understand what the person is trying to communicate.

desk-iconRecognize different work styles.

Abbe Sodikoff, Senior Vice President: For people who prefer to work alone, it can be challenging to get them engaged with the group as a whole. Finding ways for those individuals to lead a discussion or participate and contribute without feeling put on the spot can be challenging. However, taking extra time to meet those people at their comfort level is well worth it.

Judy Busby, Senior Vice President, Executive Search and Corporate Strategy: Each employee has different needs. You must adapt to each employee to maximize team contributions, company culture and professional development.

Set boundaries.

Kylee: Set boundaries around availability to help people unplug for the day. If an email isn’t urgent at 9 p.m., then use the “delay send” feature so your employees can feel comfortable setting boundaries with their time. People who are new to working at home tend to be challenged with turning off work. Small adjustments can help with that.

Leverage technology.

communication-iconBeth Roekle, Senior Vice President, Talent Delivery: Leverage technology wherever you can. For instance, we use group chats, video conferencing and emails to help keep people connected. In addition, we prioritize our regularly scheduled communication as much as possible to ensure adequate opportunities to connect.

Alison: As our team has grown, we’ve needed to find ways to best manage multiple people working on different aspects of a project. Technology such as Basecamp and Trello can help track where projects stand at any given time, as well as who is responsible for each part of a project.

Connect on a personal level.

Dave: I believe that you don’t manage “people,” you manage “personalities.” What I mean by this is not all people are the same, and they have different needs when it comes to being supported and managed. It’s important to realize this and tailor the way you manage your employees using different means and techniques to get the best return on your investment.

Nikki: Small talk happens naturally in the office, in the lunchroom, passing in the hallway. When everyone is working remotely, maintaining a connection takes intentionality. Many of your employees are juggling more than they are used to in the game of life. Take a few moments at least once per week to just call (or even better, Facetime or Skype video) and see how they are really coping. Use group messaging software to say good morning, share a funny story in the afternoon or ask about employees’ plans for the weekend.

checkin-iconJudy: You need to make room for personal interactions, especially since people are now at home with their kids, cats and other distractions. This requires a relaxing of norms for all to feel comfortable videoconferencing. I’m learning so much about team members’ families, interests, pets and more and think it will bond us for many years to come. There’s typically so little time in the workplace to talk about these things, but it’s now integrated into everyone’s work day. As a high-performance leader, this is a great time to grab insight about someone to better lead them.

Catherine Prete, Senior Vice President, Operations: It can be easy to slip into “all business” mode when you don’t see the person. Be intentional about connecting differently in communications that don’t involve seeing your staff. For instance, start calls by asking about personal matters and express appreciation. Now that all of my staff is remote, I have learned that not only can we easily survive in this environment, we can thrive. Everyone has been diligent to keep the human connections in lots of unique ways.

About The Jacobs Group: The Jacobson Group is the leading provider of talent to the insurance industry. They offer executive search, recruiting and temporary staffing services at all levels across all industry verticals.

Click Here for the original post!



Staying Healthy During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Just some quick tips to stay healthy during the Covid-19 Pandemic!



WIFS LeadHER Blog – Finding Your Tribe

Tribe

Growing up in a town of fewer than 1,000 people in the northwest corner of Missouri I always had a sense of who I was and where I was from. Yet, when I moved to New York City, fresh-faced and fancy free right out of college, the realization that there were more people on my subway train each morning on my way to work than in King City, Missouri was a little daunting at times.

 
My father encouraged me to “find my tribe” and look up the University of Missouri Alumni Chapter in NYC after getting settled. He explained to me that I would have an instant connection with these people as we had a common bond of the University, and that we would just “get” each other without having to explain a whole lot. And they would also know that Missouri is in the center of the US, something that New Yorkers still seem to have trouble locating when I tell them where I’m from.

 
Fast forward about five years when I became fully immersed in the insurance and financial services industry, one that I feel has incredible opportunities for women, yet we still hover around 14 percent of the industry. It was very apparent that I needed to find a new “tribe,” one that would just “get” me in this aspect of my life. I found this with WIFS.

 

Click Here to read the rest of the story!

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