Whenever someone mentions social media and insurance agents, Carrie Reynolds from Alan Galvez Insurance always springs to mind first. Carrie recognized social media as the perfect place to be personable and build relationships online, and she's been successful at it.
If you read trade publications or are involved in the industry, chances are you've heard of Carrie. Or, at least her alter ego... the Insurance Goddess.
Carrie created the Insurance Goddess as part of her blog, previously named 'Confessions of an Insurance Goddess.' She wanted to bring fun and personality to her blog so people would read it.
Now, seven years later, the Insurance Goddess is still around and makes the occasional appearance at community events. Carrie's also brought the Insurance Goddess to insurance industry events to emphasize the power of a personal brand and to share her story.
Though she grew up in the industry (her dad started their agency in 1971), Carrie didn't intend to be in insurance. It started as a job to get experience out of college, and then she never left.
Carrie loves her family, her small town, and this industry. I talked with Carrie about how she handles the many hats and responsibilities that come with being an agency owner. This is the way Carrie Reynolds works.
Agent co-owner, producer, chief marketer, HR. Small business is like that. I have to wear many hats. If you ever hear I'm bored, then you'll know something is VERY wrong!
One word that describes how you like to work.
Current mobile device:
Work computer is a PC. Laptop is an HP. I have a computer guy for the office, and my husband is an IT director, so I leave it up to them to make sure my stuff works. As long as it does, I don't need to know the details.
What is it you like about the industry?
The potential. The opportunity. The chance to be a hero. To help others. It's really limitless. This industry has been good to me. I've met amazing people, both customers and peers. Many customers have become family. The relationships I've built with my industry colleagues are priceless. This industry is so full of genuinely good, selfless, caring people it boggles my mind. And I'm extremely proud to be associated with it.
Project(s) you're currently working on.
Preparing for a large community safety event sponsored by our local police department. It's our first time at an event like this, so I've been busy ordering tradeshow materials, creating marketing campaigns and putting together a marketing follow up sequence for those that enter to win prizes. I can only handle one big project at a time.
Accomplishments you're proud of.
Writing and publishing a book. Writing an article for Indiana Insurance News magazine. Being featured in National Underwriter Property & Casualty, Independent Agent and Ohio Insurance Agents magazines. Creating my Insurance Goddess character. Being a speaker at ITC Agent Conference. Writing an article for PIA National Agency Marketing Guide. Sticking with this crazy industry for 20 years and still being able to laugh and smile. On a personal note, my kids are truly the best thing I've ever done.
What do you like most about your job?
Flexibility. Getting to meet lots of amazing people. Being able to work with my parents. Yes, it gets tense at times, but it's an experience that is unlike anything else. Getting into the community and lending the agency name for a good cause. Helping others. Providing light bulb moments to people- that is the most satisfying thing I do.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Continually improve our processes, update our referral program for 2017, set production goals for 2017 (and achieve those goals), get a new employee licensed and trained to begin our account review process. Get back to writing blog posts weekly or bi-weekly at most. Write my next book. I think that's enough.
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?
iPad. I watch a lot of streaming video, and it's a treat to be able to sit in bed and relax with a few minutes of Netflix each evening.
What's the most recent app you've downloaded but have yet to use?
There isn't one. I only keep apps on my phone that I will use. Otherwise, it's too cluttered.
Describe your workspace.
We have a circa-1900 building in downtown. There's a main reception area that houses half my service staff and then partitioned offices (no cubes here!) for everyone else. The envy of most people is my desk. It's a huge Mission-style dining room table my dad bought at Sam's Club. I could lay flat on it if I wanted to. I have pictures of my kids, my husband and a collection of my grandparents antiques scattered about. And then of course, my computer, printer, scanner and about 100 other things I think I need.
How do you manage your to-do list?
I'm very old school when it comes to this. I use paper and pencil. I write it down and check it off as I complete it. I try to end each day looking toward the next day, and I plan which of the items on my list will be tackled. If I don't have my important tasks written down, they're forgotten.
The key with a to-do list is recognizing it's never completely done. You just create a running tally with timelines and mark each task off as you go along. I also try to complete the easiest or quickest tasks first, so I have a sense of accomplishment. It's just better time management.
When you finish a project do you immediately jump to the next one? Or, do you take time to revel in what you accomplished and let your mind wander without worrying about what's next?
I take a little time to revel in the accomplishment, but that darn to-do list gets me every time. I'm a very focused person, so I tend to gravitate toward the next project pretty quickly after the first one is finished.
What's your best time-saving tip or hack?
NOT checking email every 5 minutes. I check it at specific times during the day, because continual checking is distracting and makes me lose focus. You'd be amazed how much you can get done when you're able to focus. Trust me, if there's an emergency, your customers will not email you. They'll pick up the phone and call you.
What is your best everyday habit?
Taking a few minutes to be grateful when I wake up. For my family, our health, having a roof over our head, food on the table and a business that provides us a good living. It really sets your mood for the day and puts a lot of things in perspective.
What does a typical day look like for you?
After dropping the kids off, I get to the office around 8:30. I use that half hour before the office opens to finish up anything from the day before, or handle administrative tasks like paying bills or answering outstanding emails. There is no typical day really. Most days I'm doing any or all of the following: quotes, applications, meeting with customers or prospects, editing content on our website, posting content to our Facebook page, writing a blog post, planning an event, shooting a video or hosting an event. No wonder I'm so tired.
What do you listen to while working?
I always have music on via my phone. I love all kinds of music really. My playlist includes disco, Madonna, classic rock, 80's artists, Broadway musicals, hard rock. If it's good music, it's good music. Makes no difference to me what time period it's from.
What are you currently reading?
Unfortunately, if it's not something I can pick up and put down easily, it doesn't get read. So magazines are a popular option.
What's your favorite blog and/or podcast?
I'm a reader, not a listener, so I enjoy reading blogs from my colleagues. My good friends Ryan Hanley (Agency Nation), Jason Cass (GROW program) and Brent Kelly are all top picks. I also enjoy Kelly Donahue's posts as well (Agency Performance Partners). I tend to stay with industry-specific articles. They're most relevant to me. Plus, I love to support my friends.
How do you decompress?
I love to ride my motorcycle. Funny story: I bought my first motorcycle without even knowing how to ride because it was a good deal. I learned of course.
I play in a community concert band during the summer. I've played clarinet since I was 10 years old and am glad I still get an opportunity to do it. Many people put it up after graduating. I never did.
I scrapbook. It's therapeutic when I get a day to tell a story through pictures.
I'm a flower junkie. I have several gardens at my house, and have spent countless hours digging, planting, and enjoying the view. They make me happy. It truly is excellent therapy.
A few cold beers and a tasty dinner never fail to relax me. And if it's with friends for a fun evening- bonus!
What's your sleep routine like?
As mentioned, I either sit in bed with my iPad or a book about an hour before bed. I try to get to bed by 10:30 since I'm up around 5:30 every morning. After a busy day, I have no trouble collapsing in bed and going right to sleep!
Who are your business idols and why?
Steve Jobs. His singular vision was nothing short of amazing and he refused to let anything get in the way of that vision.
Madonna. She is one of the most brilliant marketers ever. She has created an empire and fiercely loyal fans (I'm one of them) based on her personal brand. She lets nothing get in her way. Just an awesome personality.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
If you have a hard decision to make or difficult situation to resolve, sleep on it. Many tense situations look differently when you have a chance to calm down. Otherwise you may regret your knee-jerk reaction.
What's your most memorable face-palm moment?
Dear Lord, just one? So here's a personal one. My daughter was probably two or three, and she stuck an M&M up her nose. I panicked and told my husband we had to take her to the emergency room to get it out. So off we went. When the doctor looked up her nose, he said 'It's not there. It melted and went down her throat.' Your first kid turns you into a fearful, paranoid parent. Thank God I had the second one so I could chill out a bit.
If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
I'd switch jobs with a Broadway performer. My dream has always been to perform in a Broadway musical. Singing, dancing, the stage, the applause. I believe I would be in heaven.
Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?
I'm all about supporting the other ladies in this industry, so I would love to see Linda Rey of Rey Insurance (NY), Claudia McClain of McClain Insurance Services (WA), or Donna Hosfeld of Hosfeld Insurance (PA).
The This is the Way blog series asks ITC employees, agents, carriers and other people in the industry how they work and to share their tips. Is there someone you want to see featured or questions we should ask? Tweet us or leave it in the comments below.
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder