Kitty Ambers was a DOB, daughter of the boss. She got her insurance license to help her family agency implement their first agency management system in 1985.
Since then she has worn many hats in the industry, including owning her own consulting business and facilitating professional development programs in the areas of agency management, marketing and sales skills. Her personal goal is to help agency owners reduce E&O exposure and increase profit by improving their processes and procedures.
Kitty finds what agents do best – putting people, things and businesses back together when something bad happens – to be the most rewarding part of this industry. I spoke with Kitty about her experience. This is the way Kitty works.
Irving, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia, and anywhere there’s an insurance conference!
Chief Growth Officer at AVYST.
What do you like most about your job?
Helping agencies increase productivity and profitability using AVYST tools. eForms Wizard is our current in-market product with more on the way.
One word that describes how you like to work.
What’s work? I love what I do so I don’t really differentiate much between life and work. It’s a part of me. If you’re looking for an adverb I’d have to say efficiently.
Current mobile device:
Hmmm….Google Pixel, Microsoft Surface
I have several – most are Dells.
Project(s) you’re currently working on:
Expanding the awareness of AVYST in the insurance industry through speaking, writing, and training the users of our software on new approaches to new business development. I’m enjoying offering webinars and seminars on two key topics: Change Management and Putting the Insurance Back in Insurtech.
Accomplishments you’re proud of:
Being the mom of two amazing young men – Jordan and Corey Ambers. Making positive contributions to our industry in whatever capacity I may serve in.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
At AVYST, we have a very deep and broad spectrum of industry partners. I am focused on finding ways to help them be successful while growing our adoption and brand. Personally, I am working on taking better care of myself – sleep, exercise, healthy diet – little things like that. I’m also taking more time to smell the roses…especially if they’re on a golf course somewhere!
What does a typical day look like for you?
When I’m not on the road, I’m up before six to coffee already made. The first hour of the day is spent sharpening the saw – reading, journaling, planning. A 30 to 45 minute workout followed by a shower. In the office by 9:00.
Days are packed with a variety of activities. I am working at no email before I eat three frogs. Otherwise, the day gets totally away from me. Typically, I leave the office by about 6:00 p.m. and spend the evening walking, reading, or catching up on email while enjoying a glass of a new or favorite wine. When the weather is good, I try to get out and play nine holes of golf one or two afternoons a week. That’s the normal day. Throw in travel times, and I do what I can to stick to this schedule. I tend to use airplane time as project time and really prefer not to use the airplane internet so I can stay focused. Unless there’s a business travel need, weekends are sacred for family.
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
My corkscrew! In all seriousness, I would have to say my headset. I try to use any drive time to make calls and it helps.
What technology, apps or tools can’t you live without?
OneNote, the American Airlines app, and our CRM system which allows me to see our customer activity from any device easily, and my Calendar, Outlook.
What’s the most recent app you’ve downloaded but have yet to use?
AARP (ha, ha!) – Lots of great stuff out there! Plus, the various event apps for industry conferences I take part in. It’s helpful to connect with attendees in advance.
Describe your workspace.
I have several offices, but I work from mostly anywhere. For reading and creative work, my favorite is the big leather chair I have in both my homes. Otherwise, each of my desks have dual monitors, which is a must for most of my big project work. I travel with and do software demos on my Surface – Love it!
How do you manage your to-do list?
Over the past year, I’ve been putting Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus course into practice and am using his Full Focus Planner. It’s a return to an actual paper planner, but it’s so rewarding to focus on the daily big three which spin up to real tangible goal accomplishment. It also has disciplined me to not scribble on anything else. Everything goes into my planner at a high level, detail then goes into my Outlook calendar or a OneNote notebook. This combination of a good old fashioned planner, an electronic notebook and my Outlook calendar, both of which sync across all of my devices, reduces stress while allowing me to be agile because everything is cataloged as it comes up so nothing gets overlooked or forgotten. The weekly list sweep that is part of Free to Focus allows me to catch anything before it falls between the cracks, and it reminds me of any ideas I had that didn’t get fleshed out completely in OneNote.
What are your biggest professional challenges?
Staying current with industry news. There are so many great sources of content, and so much going on, it’s hard to absorb it all.
What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?
I try to have a theme for each day of the work week so that when things arise, I can schedule to follow up on them on the day that is most appropriate. That way, I find I’m grouping tasks together and it makes for more efficient use of my time.
What is your best everyday habit?
1. Taking an immunity booster. With the schedule I keep and the amount of time I’m around people, getting sick is simply not an option.
2. Taking a moment before I fall asleep at night to be thankful for all of the blessings in my life. Not all days are peaches and cream, but I am very fortunate to have a loving family, wonderful friends and for my career I get to do something I love. Remembering that keeps me positive.
What do you listen to while working?
The local country music station.
What are you currently reading?
I typically have several books going at one time. Right now, I’m reading an Olen Steinhauer spy novel for fun, and Robert Schuller’s If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up To Me for personal development. I also read many of the insurance trade publications and industry blogs regularly. I’ve begun listening to several different podcasts regularly while at the gym. My new favorite is The Learning Leaders Show with Ryan Hawk.
How do you decompress?
I enjoy being outside whenever the weather cooperates, so long walks with my favorite music, and golf are among my favorite activities to forget about work and decompress.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I need sleep! When I don’t get enough, I become very scattered and everything seems hard. So, on a normal day, I’m in bed by 10:30 at the latest, and usually asleep by 10:32. When I’m on the road, I tend to stay up later and then need some catch up when I get home again.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Because I tend to craft my daily big three the night before, I wake up excited to get started on whatever it is that I’ve planned for the day. My dad always told me that if I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning excited about what I was doing, I needed to do something else. I listen to my Dad.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
I have adopted my college motto which is UT PROSIM, that I may serve. My goal is to make someone’s day and have a positive impact on at least one person daily.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working at AVYST?
I would be helping my husband more with our real estate investments!
Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?
Marc Still, CEO at AVYST
Keith Savino, COO at Broadfield Brokerage
Jen Rous, fractional CIO, Rous Consulting
Mike Becker, CEO at PIA National