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What's Inside? A Missing Piece in Many Agencies....................11 Ten Steps to Better Hiring......................................12 Family Business Tips..........14 What Not to Ask During an Interview..........16 Agency Perpetuation, Death and Life.....................18 Winter Get-Away................20 Education Section..............21 New CICs, CISRs & CISR Elites..............................26 New Members.....................27

2018-2019 PIAW Board of Directors

Teaching Employees Customer Service...............28 Closing More Sales.............30 Getting Ready for 2019....34

Digital Editions of PIAW Magazine Available at


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From the

President Matt Cranney, CIC, CRM — President, PIA of Wisconsin

What story will we write for ourselves in this coming year? Happy New Year from me and my family to you and yours, and on behalf of the PIA organization to you and your agencies. I don’t know about you, but for me a New Year always brings a sense of new beginnings, fresh energy and a renewed commitment to our personal success as well as that of our organizations. These thoughts power our business planning, prospecting and goal setting. We are essentially trying to answer the question, “what story will we write for ourselves in this coming year?” For the PIA in 2019 we are at a critical juncture of our organizations story. As I shared with you all a couple of months ago, on April 30th Ron Von Haden will be retiring after a long and illustrious career at the helm of the PIA of Wisconsin. We are so happy for Ron, his wife Barb and the rest of their family as Ron launches into this next chapter of his personal story. To honor Ron, the theme of our convention this year will be “Looking Back, Looking Forward”. We will take time to look back to honor and celebrate Ron’s many accomplishments and successes leading this great organization. We know we are going to have an awesome time together so sign up early to reserve your spot with us at the Chula Vista resort in the WI Dells from Wednesday August 6th for the YPC Golf Outing, through end of day Thursday, August 7th. There is also a second part to that theme, “Looking Forward”, that I am thrilled to share more information about. As you hopefully read in last months “From The Boardroom” article by our Board Vice President, Sean Patterson, your PIA Board

has been diligently working to find our next Executive Director. I am thrilled to share with all of you that effective Monday January 7th, Pete Hanson will be that person. As we ran our recruitment process, in partnership with the QTI Group (a recruiting specialist) we went through a multi phased process and we are beyond thrilled to be able to have found someone to build on the amazing work that Stony began, and Ron continued. There will be many occasions over the next weeks and months to get to know Pete, learn about his background and to understand why your Board of Directors are so convinced that we have the exact right person to lead us into the future. To that end, please see a brief introduction from Pete below, with much more to follow. “Looking Back, Looking Forward” is the theme of our convention but it also is my personal challenge to you for January. Will you commit to take some time and to “look back” into 2018 and to reflect on your successes and celebrate, and to think through your challenges and resolve to work hard to address them in 2019? Will you also commit to “look forward” into 2019 and to plan to make this year your best ever? In doing this, it’s my belief that you will write an excellent story in 2019 for all of the people who count on you: your family, friends and clients. My commitment to you is that your Board is doing the same thing as we “look back” with Ron and honor his commitment, and we “look forward” with Pete to ensure that your association continues to grow and thrive. Here’s to telling a great story in this New Year!

As the newest member of the PIA of Wisconsin staff, I am excited to be going to work for a vibrant trade association in a vital industry. Born and raised in Wisconsin, I am a UW-Madison grad with 24 years’ experience in state politics and nonprofit organization management. I respect and support the mission of professional independent insurance agents and had the pleasure of meeting PIAW leaders during the interview process and at the December Board of Directors meeting. I met leaders with a strong commitment to PIA who are extremely engaged in their association. With this energy and commitment, I feel confident that the future of PIA will be strong.

I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to spend my first few months on the job learning from Ron Von Haden. A lion in the industry, Ron has overseen tremendous growth in PIAW during his career, both as a board leader and as a staff leader. It will be an honor to learn the ropes from Ron! After spending the last two years living in Alaska, my family and I are thrilled to start the new year back in Wisconsin! I can’t wait to start meeting PIA members and learning more about their businesses, issues and goals for the direction of PIAW. -Pete Hanson JANUARY 19 3

Memos from

Madison Ron Von Haden, CIC — Executive Vice President, PIA of Wisconsin

You will be excited about the high commission potential with very little effort! A MAJOR WIN FOR small business insurance agencies was secured by aggressive advocacy on the part of PIA. Proposed regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service specifically state that insurance agents are not excluded from taking the 20 percent pass-through deduction that was created as part of the lax reform legislation signed into law late in 2017.

support, marketing materials and exceptional commission rates make the Hartford/PIA program a must for any agency. Visit to see the details about this great member-only benefit.

Many of PIA’s independent agencies are organized as small businesses, partnerships or Subchapter S corporations. Such small businesses do not pay corporate income tax. Instead, their income “passes through” the firm and appears directly on their owners’ individual tax returns, where it is taxed as normal income. The 20 percent deduction, subject to other limitations imposed by law or regulation, will lower these individuals’ tax bills. The proposed regulations explicitly specify that insurance agents and brokers are not barred from taking the deduction, unlike others, like stockbrokers, for example.

ANOTHER MEMORY of my tenure with PIA occurred in San Antonio, Texas. While we were representing Wisconsin, a western themed party was being planned with boots, hats, BBQ’d brisket and beans. Of course, it seemed only natural that a couple of us would taxi to an authentic Texas hat shop and buy the traditional 10 gallon hat, despite the fact that I have only a 5 gallon size head. The shop was not open when we arrived so breakfast was in order at a quaint little Mexican restaurant on the corner. We were the only non-Mexican patrons in the place and language was a bit of a barrier but we finally ordered breakfast of eggs, potatoes, bread and coffee. When they were served, I noticed that no ketchup was available and only two bottles of sauces sat in the middle of the table. One red and one green. Being a brilliant Wisconsin guy, I surmised that the red sauce would be the killer so I grabbed the green bottle and poured a generous portion on my food. Obviously, the other diners had seen this comedy act before so there were lots of grins and giggles as I stuffed the first big bite into my mouth. As the steam rolled out the top of my head and I was sure my hair was on fire, I realized that green chili sauce is much hotter than the red variety. Gasping for air is not very manly at the breakfast table. Neither water nor coffee helps the burn. I survived with minimal damage to anything but my ego and a new respect for real Mexican cuisine. I wonder whatever happened to that hat!

PIA has been very aggressive in their advocacy for agents since the passage of the tax reform law in December of 2017. PIA will continue to fight for agents and small businesses as they have done throughout history. The tax savings obtained by this victory could potentially pay your PIA dues for many, many years. FLOODING IS THE most common and costliest disaster in the U.S. As we witnessed in Wisconsin last year, you do not have to be in a designated flood zone to suffer severe damage from raging flood water. If you are not proposing flood coverage to your clients and getting a “sign-off” if they refuse to accept it, be prepared for the inevitable E&O claim when disaster strikes. PIA and the Hartford have teamed up to provide simplified flood insurance sales for our members. Dedicated flood sales and transfer teams want to earn your business by making it easy to do business by providing exceptional service for you and your clients’ personal and commercial needs. Sales

You will be excited about the high commission potential with very little effort!

AND REMEMBER…..Sometimes it’s best to sit back quietly and let people assume you are ignorant rather than opening your mouth and confirming it.

PIAW TESTIMONIAL "I have no idea where I would have gained the knowledge other than the PIA of Wisconsin. They are great to work with and no matter what you are working on Ron and the staff either have the answer or direct you to someone that can." Kathy Mulder


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From the

Boardroom Dan Wolfgram, AINS, CPIA, Secretary, PIA of Wisconsin

New Year Brings New Opportunities! Greetings and a Happy New Year to all of you! The New Year always brings a sense of new possibilities and improved results. It’s a wonder why all of the fitness facilities are packed this time of year. Many of us look at the New Year as a time to reflect and to make things better in our personal/professional lives. I am confident that many of you recall the definition of insanity. I believe Albert Einstein had a pretty good take on the word. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. How can we expect to do things exactly the same, and expect different results?

success, then post that somewhere for you to review daily. Better yet, commit to a daily or weekly number of calls that you will make. Post that number everywhere! •

Share that theme or goal with someone who will help keep you on track. Agree to a time when you can meet to discuss your progress. They should be someone who understands you, what makes you tick and be able to motivate and encourage you when needed.

Define how you know if you are succeeding. Give yourself a goal. Maybe your goal is to call 5 clients per week and remind them of the value you and your organization bring to the table? Then you might define your success as better relationships with your clients, more referrals, improved retention or potentially less remarkets since they understand the value of the product you have provided them with.

Last, commit to “sharpening your saw” in 2019 and beyond. And no, I’m not counting the 24 hours of CE that we all need to earn every two years. Maybe you might consider listening to Ted Talks on your way home from work on Tuesday nights? Or how about learning more about Excel at a local technical college? Could you search out a meaningful topic on YouTube that stretches you? Maybe you want to read a great book on sales, customer service or potentially management? Be creative here since this is for you. How great would that be if something new that you learn, also helps in your personal life?

This year, I am challenging myself to do things a little differently in my professional and personal life. I am guessing that many of you have approaches that work well for you to improve personally and professionally too. A business associate of mine shared some information or questions he is asking himself. Quite honestly, none of these ideas are that difficult. The difficult part comes in the discipline to make sure it happens. None of us would take a drive across the country without having our cars checked out first and have our route picked out. Many would also make sure that the weather looks good before we hit the road. This is the exact reason why right now is the perfect time to plan our year with the same mindfulness that we invest when going on a trip. Why would any of us take a trip for another year without making sure we have a route picked out and a plan? Maybe you might consider reviewing some of these thoughts to see if they might make sense for you to consider as you plan for 2019 and beyond. You don’t need a long and extensive list of goals, just the one(s) that would be the most meaningful for the success of you, your organization and your clients/prospects. •

Maybe you can consider creating your own mission statement, or better yet, your theme. If making proactive sales or service calls is important for your

Take advantage of the calendar moving us to a new year. And challenge yourself to shake it up a bit. What do you have to lose? Happy New Year all! Dan Wolfgram

PIAW TESTIMONIAL “Keep up the great job you are doing as Wisconsin “rocks” when it comes to the National Alliance program opportunities!” Lori Reimann, CPCU, CIC, CRM Sales Training Specialist / Sentry Insurance


OCI Administrative

Actions Ted Nickel — Commissioner of the Office of Insurance

Madison, WI—OCI has taken the following administrative actions. In many of these cases the respondent denied the allegations but consented to the action taken. Any forfeitures paid in these administrative actions are deposited in the Common School Fund which is administered by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. The earnings from this fund are distributed to all public K-12 schools in Wisconsin and are used by school libraries to purchase books. Copies of the administrative action orders may be viewed online at OCI is responsible for overseeing the operations and marketing of insurance companies and agents in Wisconsin. OCI encourages anyone with a question or a complaint regarding an insurance company or agent to contact the office at this tollfree telephone number: 1-800-236-8517.

AllEgATIoNs AND AcTIoNs AgAINsT AgENTs Andrea Aguilar, 2905 N. Fairfield Ave., Chicago, IL 60618, had her insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Jeremy Amstadt, N71W23321 Good Hope Rd., Sussex, WI 53089, agreed to the automatic denial of any future licensing applications as well as a six-month suspension of any other line of authority he holds at the time of application, if required disclosures and supporting documentation are not provided. These actions were taken based on allegations of failing to make required disclosures and failing to provide supporting documentation on a licensing application. Richard S. Beverstein, 5261 Edgewater Beach Rd., Green Bay, WI 54311, was ordered to pay a forfeiture of $300.00. This action was taken based on allegations of making errors on a life insurance application. Tarah L. Brooks, 616 A Pheasant Ct., Lodi, WI 53555, had her application for an insurance license denied. This action was taken based on allegations of failing to disclose a criminal conviction on a licensing application and having a criminal conviction that may be substantially related to insurance marketing type conduct. Mark S. Diamond, 8275 E. Wood Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85260, had his insurance license permanently revoked, was ordered to pay combined forfeitures of $147,746.56, and was ordered to pay consumer restitution of $130,021.12. These actions were taken based on allegations of failing to timely report administrative actions taken by the states of Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska; using misleading advertising; and recommending unsuitable annuity transactions. Travis D. Evans, Sr., 3476 N. Humboldt Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53212, had his insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin 8 JANUARY 19

taxes. Julie E. Hiemer, N109W16298 Hawthorne Dr., Germantown, WI 53022, agreed to pay a forfeiture of $500.00. This action was taken based on allegations of forging a signature on a life insurance application. Colleen K. McCarthy, W7069 E. South Shore Dr., Pardeeville, WI 53954, had her insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Nathan D. Olson, N6872 Tara Rd., Pardeeville, WI 53954, had his insurance license revoked and had all future administrative proceedings cancelled. These actions were taken based on allegations of unfair marketing practices, failing to respond to OCI information requests, failing to notify OCI of a change in his residence or mailing address, and lacking competence and trustworthiness. Ryan P. O'Rourke, 3562 S. 86th St., Milwaukee, WI 53228, had his insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Kimberly L. Perra, N3203 Cty. Rd. K, Merrill, WI 54452, had her insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Emily A. Pfeiffer, 709 W. Olin Ave., Apt. 4, Madison, WI 53715, had her insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Creona D. Scurlock, 737 Vincent Ave., Brooklyn Park, MN 55444, had her application for an insurance license denied. This action was taken based on allegations of having a criminal conviction that may be substantially related to insurance marketing type conduct and providing incomplete

information on a licensing application.

may be substantially related to insurance marketing type conduct; having administrative actions taken by the states of Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi; and failing to provide a federal crime waiver.

Fiona S. Smith, P.O. Box 259015, Plano, TX 75025, agreed to voluntarily surrender her insurance license and agreed to pay a forfeiture of $1,000.00 before reapplying for licensure. These actions were taken based on allegations of failing to timely disclose administrative actions taken by the states of North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

Stanley L. Zurawski, 2015 N. 119th St., Milwaukee, WI 53226, had his insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes.

Barbara A. Villani, 8129 Broadmoor St., Madison, WI 53719, had her insurance license revoked. This action was taken based on allegations of owing delinquent Wisconsin taxes. Samantha K. Wells, 313 E. Columbia St., Colorado Springs, CO 80907, had her application for an insurance license denied. This action was taken based on having a criminal conviction that may be substantially related to insurance marketing type conduct. Scott M. Yager, 116 W. 80th Ter., Kansas City, MO 64105, had his application for an insurance license denied. This action was taken based on allegations of having criminal convictions that

Allegations and Actions Against Companies Allstate Insurance Company, 2775 Sanders Rd., Northbrook, IL 60062, agreed to pay a forfeiture of $500.00 and agreed to pay a consumer claim of $3,222.69. These actions were taken based on allegations of an improper claim denial.

PIAW TESTIMONIAL "PIAW has been and continues to be an important element in our business. The association provides our agency an ongoing and evolving source of information, products and education." Eric Lewison, CIC Don-Rick, Inc.

There when it matters most. with

Commercial Insurance When it comes to the independent agency system, Donegal is all in! Donegal remains 100% committed to using the independent agency system exclusively to sell our products. As an independent agency we realize you have lots of choices when it comes to recommending commercial and personal insurance coverage options for your clients. That’s why Donegal delivers competitively priced insurance products and outstanding claims service. In addition, agencies appreciate our timely underwriting and superior technology that makes quoting and issuing Donegal policies easy. Plus, Donegal’s total compensation package is recognized as one of the best in the industry. A 100% commitment to the independent agency system, another way Donegal is “There When It Matters Most” for independent insurance agencies. To learn more visit or call Connie Jones at 800-242-7698 ext. 2800 JANUARY 19 9

Accountability: A Missing Piece in Many Agencies by Curt Pearsall, CPCU, AIAF, CPIA President – Pearsall Associates, Inc. and Consultant to the Utica National E&O Program Accountability is a key element that needs to be in place for agencies to achieve a solid errors and omissions (E&O) culture. It is also necessary for agencies, or any business, to become a great organization. In the words of author Henry Evans, “a culture of accountability makes a good organization great and a great organization unstoppable.” Can your team look each other in the eyes and convince one another the job was handled in the manner the firm wants and that you achieved the desired results? Can you look yourself in the eye and convince yourself of the same thing? For many agencies, the issue that is holding them back from achieving the “great organization” status is their level of accountability. Accountability in an organization does not just happen. In fact, it is more than each employee looking at themselves in the mirror and convincing themselves they did the job. Many business experts feel that organizational health will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Peer-to-peer accountability is considered the primary and most effective source of accountability on the leadership team of a healthy organization. One of the key issues to begin the process of achieving accountability is defining the expected results. For an insurance agency, there are many expected results. They include various issues involving the pre-sale, sale, and post-sale processes. The issues could involve the completion of an exposure analysis checklist, quality and timely documentation of client discussions, the completion of the application, timely follow-up, confirmation of client purchasing decisions, management of one’s workload, policy review, policy delivery, etc. Staff should not have to guess or assume they know the expected results. The expectations should be documented and periodically communicated to all staff, including producers. This will help to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Nothing will frustrate an employee more than a belief that not all employees are held to the same level of accountability. In some cases, there may be the belief that some employees are not held accountable at all. The frustration level may get to the point where a firm will lose some of their better employees. Many staff probably feel they can walk out at the end of the day and say, “I did my job.” Accountability is more than each person feeling they did their job. The objective is for the firm’s goals to be achieved, whatever those goals happen to be. Achieving a greater level of accountability and becoming a GREAT organization requires teams with a level of joint accountability. This level of joint accountability is essentially the responsibility and the product of management as they are, at the end of the day, ultimately responsible for results. A culture of joint accountability is necessary for the firm’s results to be achieved. Management should not look for employees to just do their jobs. They should look for them to achieve the expected results. An employee’s job is to achieve results and to go above and beyond. Motivating and inspiring the staff to do that should be a key goal of a firm’s leadership. How can an agency measure their degree of accountability? Since a significant part of the goal is to determine whether staff are meeting the firm’s expectations, one way to do this is through an internal auditing process. When a firm strides to enhance their culture of accountability, audit results will definitely shed some light on whether progress is being made or not. If an individual or division is not passing their audits, there is a good chance they will not be achieving the results they are striving for. When the audit results are not at the expected level, the individual (or team) should be required to develop an action plan to improve the audit scores moving forward. This initiative is a positive step in achieving the desired level of accountability. What is the level of accountability in your firm? You might want to ask the staff. They probably know the answer. The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not for purposes of providing legal advice.You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

5-R-1263 Ed. 7-18


The Right Fit Makes the Difference Ten Steps to Better Hiring

By: Kate Zabriskie

I don’t understand what happened. He interviewed so well. But it’s six months later, and it’s obvious. He’s not a good fit. We should have known better. She’s just not detail oriented, and this job requires a lot of repetitive work. She’s a creative, she’s bored, and she’s leaving. I wish we had somewhere we could use her talents, but we don’t. Why do we have such a hard time getting on the same page? We rarely agree on who to hire when we have a new position, and from day one it seems as if only half of us are invested in a new hire’s success. It’s just sad. We could do better. We need to do better. When bad hiring happens, everyone suffers. Finding the right person for a position is part art and part science. While some people certainly have gift for finding good people, everyone can improve their success rate by following a methodical step-by-step process. Step One: Know what you want. First and foremost, it’s important to envision what work will look like with a new person. What will he or she do? How do you envision interactions looking and sounding? What do you expect in terms of quality and quantity of work? What temperament do you envision working best? Does the person need to be creative? Is the work basically the same each day? If this person is going to interact with people other than you, who are they, and what do they want from a new hire? Knowing what you want is essential. Step Two: Create a robust job description. Once you are clear about the kind of person you want to hire, it’s time to put pen to paper and craft a job description. When you list the duties the person will perform, if you begin each of your 12 JANUARY 19

sentences with a verb and write in everyday English, you’ll be well on your way to solidifying your expectations. Step Three: Think about what it’s going to take for someone to be successful. Experience and education are essential to success in some jobs, and for others, they’re not. If education isn’t a deal breaker, do you want to exclude candidates by making a degree mandatory? What you require can widen or narrow your applicant pool— potentially in ways that could hurt your chances of finding the right person. Think long and hard about what’s essential before moving to the next step. Step Four: Create a strong job ad. Just as candidates are selling themselves, you are selling your company and the position you are filling. An ad is your opportunity to attract talent. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or doing the recruiting yourself, spend time creating strong job title, telling your organization’s story, and briefly describing your essential requirements. If you have a great location, solid benefits, or some other selling point, include that information too. Your ad should quickly paint a robust picture of

why you’re great, what you’re looking for, and why they should want to work with you. Step Five: Promote your position. The type of job you want to fill should dictate where you’ll promote it. Many options exist. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to have a plan and to understand how each promotional avenue works. Step Six: Craft your screening questions. In tandem with crafting your ad and promoting your position, you’ll need to develop your questions for screening candidates and interviewing those with whom you eventually choose to meet. This step is essential for several reasons. First, it helps you follow a repeatable process. Second, it helps those who interview to ask relevant and legal questions. Finally, it ensures you are fair and can gather answers you can compare with relative ease. Step Seven: Evaluate candidates and set a phone screening schedule. Once your job closes, it’s time to review the qualifications of those who met your position’s criteria and set a screening schedule. Depending on the number of responses you get, you may choose to screen everyone or rank candidates and screen the top group. Either way, you’ll want to talk to applicants before you bring them in to meet in person. Phone interviews offer several benefits. They allow you to get an initial impression of a candidate without having people’s physical appearance influence your thinking. They are also an efficient way to address some basic questions. Step Eight: Determine who you will invite to interview in person, and prepare your interviewing team.

office. Getting ready is essential. Both you and the prospective employees are auditioning. Your interviewing team needs to be just that, a team. You should discuss the welcoming process, the interviewing order, the questions each person will ask, and how you will close your meetings with candidates and send them on their way. Leave little up to chance. You are on stage. Depending on the position you are filling, you may decide to conduct more than one round of interviews. Regardless of what you choose, you must have a plan. Step Nine: Gather feedback, and rank the candidates. When you’ve finished interviewing people, it’s time to rank them. Because you’ve asked each person the same questions, this should be easier than it could be if you hadn’t. If you find your team disagrees, think before you make an offer. If none of the candidates is exactly right, again, think before you make an offer. The wrong person now is rarely as good as the right person a little later. Step Ten: Make your offer. Assuming there are no obvious roadblocks, it’s time to make an offer. Be excited when you do, and recognize this is only the first step in effectively integrating an employee into the fabric of your organization. So there you have it. Ten steps can make all the difference. Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. The better you are at establishing and following a strong inclusive process, the stronger your results will be. Now go find that candidate! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit

After you’ve concluded your screening process, it’s time to prepare your interviewing team and invite candidates into the


You Want Your Family Business to Last?

Five Tips for Getting There! You may be familiar with the statistic that 70% of family businesses don’t make it to the second generation. The big question is: how can you beat these odds? Family members need to learn some basic cultural attitudes. They need to know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. They need to know that they can’t always be right. They need to learn that being a member of a family business sometimes requires sacrifice. The biggest reason that business families fall apart is that the family hasn’t developed the kind of culture that supports keeping the family business in the family. Families that leave this to chance rarely make it to the next generation. So, how do you create this kind of culture? 1. Know Your Family Stories. We are the stories we tell ourselves, and high-functioning families have heard their family stories over and over again. How much does your extended family know about where the family business came from and what made it what it is today? How much do they understand the sacrifices, efforts and tenacity that went into making family business you have today? Do they know stories about family members putting the good of the family ahead of their own interests? Be intentional about telling these stories. The more stories, legends, myths, and parables, the stronger your family’s culture and the more likely your family business is to endure. 2. Have Family Vacations. Your family vacation could be five people or 100 people, but whether it’s a large group or a small 14 JANUARY 19

By: Mitzi Perdue

one, having aunts and uncles and cousins spending time together greatly increases the chances of building a family business that lasts. A vacation means time set aside to share experiences and to get to know and appreciate each other and to embed the family’s values. It’s a time for all branches and all generations to build the shared stories and memories that lead to trust and caring. This is especially important if family members are geographically dispersed, because it allows extended members to get to know each other. 3. Subsidize a family vacation after you’re gone. All too often when the patriarch or matriarch passes on, family members stop seeing each other. Maybe for the first few years they’re together at major holidays, such as Thanksgiving. And later on, maybe they get together for weddings. But gradually, there’s nothing left and family members have superficial relationships— or no relationship at all. A highly effective antidote to this is, leave money in your will to pay for a yearly get-together. Some families subsidize an annual dinner while others pay for a nice vacation. Either way, having an endowed yearly meal or vacation can keep families together across the centuries. Ideally, there’s even money budgeted for baby-sitters and childfriendly activities. ¬¬Endowed family get-togethers can be a highly-effective tool for helping the family continue across the generations. 4. Write a family newsletter. In a geographically dispersed family, a newsletter can play a huge role in helping the family to maintain a strong and vibrant culture. Include in it interviews with the older family members or employees about the early days and some of the company’s struggles. Maybe interview

the matriarch or patriarch on such issues as why it’s good to be public, or why our family should never wash its dirty linen in public, or why it’s a terrible thing to be “addicted to being right.” The newsletter can also help people catch up on family news— maybe someone became an Eagle Scout, got into the college of his or her choice, or got a promotion. It’s also excellent for recording weddings, births, or in the case of an engaged couple, telling the story of how they met. Other topics for your newsletter can include what’s going on in the company, including company milestones. Make it short, ideally no longer than one or two pages. You want people to read it, and unfortunately, there’s an inverse connection between how long it is and how many people will read it. If it’s limited to one page, your family members are more likely to read it when they get it, as opposed to putting it aside for later and then never getting to it. 5. Get help if you need it. Fortunately, there’s a whole new ecosystem of family advisors who can help. There’s no such thing as a family business that doesn’t have conflict, and when there’s a serious family conflict, the pain from it can permeate every hour of every day. Not to mention that it can blow up the whole family, and with it the family business. So just as you’d get medical help if you if you had alarming chest pains, don’t put off getting professional help if a conflict in the family is getting out of hand. If you Google “family business advisors” you’ll get more than 45,000 hits in half of a second. Or if you have a financial advisor, he or she is likely to be able to refer you to a professional trained in family business

relationships. Family harmony is so important, that anything you can do to nurture it is a wise investment. Many families don’t stay intact over the generations. This is likely to happen when a family leaves its culture to chance. The good news is, planning is something you can do, and even better, the implementation can be enjoyable and fulfilling. ABOUT MITZI PERDUE: Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman, and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard, and the founder of CERES Farms. For more information on Mitzi Perdue, please visit

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What Not to ask During an Interview By: Sarah Coli, Esq. Government affairs counsel, PIA There was a time—before I was your favorite PIA government affairs counsel—when I was a naïve job searcher fresh out of undergraduate school. Eager to find my place in the workforce, I never gave a second thought to the questions I was asked as a prospective employee. After law school, I am (a little) smarter now. However, I still remember when, as an undergrad, I interviewed at an out-of-town business. During the interview, I casually told the interviewer I wanted to relocate to move in with my then boyfriend. The interviewer said, “That’s great! Are you two planning to get married? This area has some great wedding venues.” She was being nice and conversational, and, being an enthusiastic job seeker, I answered her. Her question is something I look back on and cringe. While the question seemed harmless and was a follow up to something I said, it was illegal for her to ask about my impending nuptials. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Through the years and various other legislative acts, those protected classes have expanded to include age, disability, marital or family status, pregnancy, and most recently salary history. While the federal statute applies to employers of 15 or more employees, many states, and even some cities and counties have granted further protections to employees and prospective employees. As a business owner, you have most likely had the opportunity to interview potential employees for positions within your agency. It is important to know which questions you should avoid during an interview to prevent the possibly of discriminatory hiring practices. Think back to some of your prior interviews and try to remember if you have ever asked this question, whether formally or during conversation: “Do you have children?” What 16 JANUARY 19

about: “What does your husband/wife do for a living?” Did you ever have a conversation with a job applicant in which he or she offered up information as I did? Would you have followed up the statement with my interviewer’s same question? Now that I have you thinking, here is the crux of the matter: What questions should you stay away from during an interview and what questions are appropriate to determine whether an applicant is qualified for the position and a good fit for the company’s culture? To help you prepare for your next round of interviews, here are some helpful hints on what questions to avoid and what you should ask instead. Children/family Avoid asking the interviewees: how old their children are; how many children they have; if they plan on having children; the grade level of their children; who takes care of the children while they are at work; etc. Even if the applicant has shared information about having children, there is no need for a prospective employer to ask these types of follow-up questions as they could be used as evidence of discrimination on the basis of family status should the applicant not be hired. Also avoid questions about whether the interviewee is married; planning to get married; or pregnant; etc. You should never ask an interviewee what his or her spouse does for a living. Do not ask if a woman prefers to be addressed as Miss., Ms. or Mrs., or her maiden name. These questions imply an illegal motive to hire an applicant who will not require time off for a wedding, child birth or care or other family-related needs. However, an employer can answer questions that an applicant

asks. For example, if an applicant asks about a flexible work schedule and explains that he needs one because he is a single father of three, then the employer can answer his question regarding the schedule. The employer should not pursue the topic further once the question has been answered. An employer also may ask applicants whether they have commitments that preclude them from meeting the regular job schedule. Questions like this must be asked of all applicants, and used to determine if the applicant can meet a requirement of the job (i.e., to be present during the hours necessary for the position). Religion When interviewing applicants, you should avoid questions regarding religious affiliations. This includes questions such as: Will you need time off for particular holidays?; Do you celebrate Christmas?; etc. Furthermore, the employer should not tell an applicant that this is a [religious] organization. An employer also should be wary during casual conversation with an applicant not to cross over into gray areas, such as asking what organizations or groups the applicant belongs to outside of work. This could be construed as an employer attempting to determine religion, race, nationality or disability. Age This is a rather new category protected under discrimination laws, so employers may still be asking questions that will reveal applicants’ age, including asking their date of birth on employment applications. Employers should avoid questions that ask what year an applicant graduated from high school; how long applicants’ plan to work before they retire; etc. Any questions that would determine an applicant’s age are forbidden. However, an employer may ask a general question, such as: “Are you 18 years of age or older?,” since it is not aimed at determining the actual age of the applicant. Race/national origin

Racial discrimination occurs when individuals are subjected to unequal treatment because of their actual or perceived race. National-origin discrimination treats applicants unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world; because of ethnicity or accent; or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background. Remember that, when it comes to race or national origin, applicants can argue that they were denied employment based on the employer’s perception that they are a specific race or nationality, whether they are or not. To protect themselves from this implication, employers cannot ask about the applicants’ country of origin; where they grow up; their parents’ nationality; their skin color/complexion; etc. Even casual conversations may be a fine line. As an employer, you cannot comment on an applicant’s accent or ask about an accent’s origin, even though that may be a natural conversation starter. Disability As an employer, you must balance deciphering whether an individual is able to complete the main functions of the position with protections regarding any disabilities the applicant may have. For example, an employer cannot ask an applicant how he or she got a mark/scar/limp or if he or she has any physical or mental impairment that would interfere with job performance. However, employers are able to say, “This position requires long periods of standing and the ability to lift up to 15 pounds unassisted. Are you able to perform these tasks?” Furthermore, an employer cannot ask applicants if they have a drug or alcohol problem or if they suffer from a disease. Coli is PIA of New York’s government affairs counsel. —Reprinted with permission from PIA Management Services Inc.—

Solving Problems Makes Us Attorneys; Anticipating Them, Makes Us a Partner. Our attorneys have extensive experience in the unique legal needs of insurance agencies. We have represented hundreds of agencies, agents and brokers in all aspects of their business. Agency Ownership & Operations • CSR & Producer Employment • Appearances Before OCI • Drafting Contracts • Mergers & Acquisitions • Perpetuation & Succession • E&O Consultations



Agency Perpetuation, Death, and Life Insurance

Jon Persky, CIC, CPA, PHR Every insurance agency needs to have a written perpetuation plan. If there is more than one owner of the agency, it is absolutely critical that you have a valid, enforceable “buy-sell” agreement. In corporations this is known as a Shareholders’ Agreement, limited liability companies have a Members’ Agreements, and partnerships have a Partners’ Agreement. Regardless what you call it, at a minimum the agreement should address death, disability, retirement, involuntary termination of a shareholder, and involuntary conversion in situations such as divorce or bankruptcy. From purely a funding perspective, death seems to be the easiest of these events to deal with. Just buy a life insurance policy and funding is taken care of. However, structuring the insurance incorrectly can cost the surviving shareholders significant money. Classifications of Stock What percentage of the agency do you own? It seems like a simply question but surprisingly, many people answer incorrectly because they don’t understand how stock can have different classifications: Authorized: When a business incorporates, the Articles of Incorporation state the number of shares authorized. This is the maximum number of share that the business can issue without amending the Articles of Incorporation. Issued: The corporation issues stock to shareholders. While the number of shares issued can equal the number of shares authorized, it is usually a good idea to leave some shares authorized but unissued in case the corporation wants to issue additional shares in the future. Treasury Stock: These are the issued shares that the corporation has bought back from shareholders. They can be reissued in the future, just like authorized but unissued shares. Outstanding Stock: Outstanding stock equals the issued stock minus any treasury stock. A shareholder’s percentage ownership is equal to the number of shares the shareholder owns divided by the total outstanding stock. Example: Bob, Joe and Fred start an agency from scratch, and the articles of incorporation authorize 10,000 shares. The corporation issues 500 shares to each of the three partners (1,500 total shares issued) each of whom owns one third of the agency. A few 18 JANUARY 19

years later Fred retires and the corporation buys back Fred’s shares. The status of the stock at this point is: Authorized: 10,000 Issued & outstanding 1,000 Treasury Stock 500 Bob and Joe still each own 500 shares but now they each own 50% of the corporation since treasury stock is not factored into percentage ownership. Life Insurance Ownership Depending on how you have structured your Shareholders Agreement and Life Insurance, you either have a stock redemption agreement or a cross-purchase agreement. Stock Redemption In a stock redemption agreement the corporation owns the policies, is the beneficiary of the proceeds, and uses those proceeds to buy back the stock of the deceased from the estate of the deceased. This stock then becomes treasury stock. Assume the corporation is worth $2 million and the corporation has a $1 million life insurance policy on Bob and a $1 million policy on Joe. Joe dies. The $1 million life insurance proceeds go to the agency which then pays the $1 million to Joe’s estate. Joe’s 500 shares now become treasury stock. Although Bob still owns 500 shares, he now owns 100% of the agency since treasury stock is not outstanding. A few years go by and Bob sells the agency for $3 million. The entire $3 million is taxable. Cross Purchase In a cross purchase situation, the shareholders (not the corporation) own the policies on each other. When a shareholder dies, the proceeds go to the beneficiary, i.e. the survivor. The survivor uses the proceeds to buy back the stock of the deceased. Again assume the corporation is worth $2 million but now Bob and Joe each have a $1 million life insurance policy on each other. Joe dies. The $1 million life insurance proceeds go to Bob

who pays the $1 million to Joe’s estate. Bob now owns 1,000 shares of stock and 100% of the agency. In both of the above situations Bob ends up owning 100% of the agency. So what’s the big deal? A few years go by and Bob sells the agency for $3 million. Only $2 million of the $3 million is taxable. Since Bob paid $1 million for the stock the IRS deems that he has $1 million in basis. (Basis is what someone pays for an asset less any depreciation expense, or amortization in the case of an intangible asset, that has been claimed on his/her tax return), By structuring the deal as a cross purchase rather than a stock redemption, the surviving shareholder enjoys significant tax savings. In the stock redemption situation, Bob has no basis since he didn’t pay for Joe’s stock. Number of Policies If there are only two shareholders you only need two policies. But what if you have more than two shareholders? If you have three shareholders you need six policies. Four shareholders need 12 policies. The formula to determine number of policies needed is: Number of policies needed = X times (X – 1) where X equals the number of shareholders. If you have six shareholders you need 30 policies, or do you? Once you go beyond three shareholders you should consider setting up a separate trust that does nothing but hold the policies and distribute the proceeds on behalf of the members of the trust, (which are the shareholders). That way if you have 12 shareholders you only need 12 policies. Not only do you need fewer policies, it’s easier to manage. Existing Policies What do you do if you currently have a stock redemption situation and existing policies? If the policies are term policies, the answer is simple. Change your agreement to a cross purchase agreement and change the owners and beneficiaries of the policies. If the existing policies are not term policies and they have significant cash surrender value, you have a problem. If the policies are transferred from the corporation to the individual shareholders, the cash surrender value becomes taxable income to the new policy owner. If want to switch to a cross purchase arrangement in this situation it is usually best to get new term policies issued, assuming everyone is insurable at a reasonable cost. How Much Insurance? Most insurance agents say you should purchase as much life insurance as you can comfortably afford. But how much is enough? Go back to your Shareholders Agreement. Does it address the value of the agency? If it states a formula, you know the “value” of the agency. If the Shareholders’ Agreement doesn’t state the value of the agency, you should get the agency valued by a qualified professional to determine the fair market value of the agency.

In either case, the value of the agency will fluctuate over time. Therefore, buy more than enough insurance to cover the current value as well as any reasonably expected increase in agency value. Who Pays the Premium? Ideally, the shareholders should pay the premiums personally. The funds can come from them personally or the agency may issue a bonus / dividends / etc. to give the shareholders the funds to pay the premium. Another option is to have the agency pay the premium in a cross purchase situation. In either event, the policy premium needs to be included on the beneficiary’s W-2 and documented properly. Whether it’s a cross purchase or stock redemption agreement, under no circumstances should the premium payments be taken as a tax deduction. Doing so will result in the proceeds being taxable to the beneficiary. Too Much or Not Enough? If a shareholder dies and the life insurance proceeds on the deceased exceed the purchase price of his/her shares of stock, the excess is retained by the beneficiary of the policy unless the Shareholders Agreement states otherwise. But what if the value of the deceased’s ownership in the agency exceeds the proceeds of the life insurance policy? Unless the Shareholders’ Agreement states otherwise, the surviving shareholder will have to find a way to come up with the shortfall. If he/she is unable to do that, it could force him/her to sell the agency. A well structured Shareholders’ Agreement will address shortfall situations and provide the surviving shareholder with the option to pay off the balance due the deceased’s estate over some period of time at a reasonable interest rate. Conclusion Properly crafted Buy-Sell Agreements are critical for the agency to survive the death of a shareholder. Failing to properly structure such agreements can result in lawsuits, additional taxes, and the potential “death” of the agency itself. If you don’t have an agreement or if you haven’t reviewed it recently, it is wise to engage a professional to assist you in this “life and death” situation. About the Author Jon Persky, CIC, CPA, PHR Jon is the president of Optimum Performance Solutions, LLC (www., an insurance agency consulting firm providing valuation, merger and acquisition, agency perpetuation, strategic planning, and marketing and retention services to insurance agencies nationwide. Jon is on the national faculty of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors and lectures on agency management topics throughout the United States. He can be contacted at 813-835-7337 or jon@ (Jon will present “Agency Perpetuation & Acquisition” on March 21, 2019 in West Bend. Register today at JANUARY 19 19

10th Annual PIAW Winter Get-Away


Registration Fee Only $119.00

Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2019 The Waters of Minocqua $59.99 Two Queens Includes Deluxe Continental Breakfast 715-358-4000

Wednesday & Thursday Education Todd Davis, CIC

Friday Education Patti Gardner, CIC, CRM, CPCU

Fee Includes

Two Dinners, Lunch 10 WI CE Credits, Prizes & More!

Wednesday, January 30 2:00 – 5:00

“For a Few Dollars More-Endorsements”

(3 WI CE)

5:30 – 11:30 Get-Away Fun at Island City Lanes Buffet and Free Beer, Wine & Soda to 7:30 Fun, Games, Live Music 10:00 Pizza Shuttle to and from Hotel

Thursday, January 31 8:00 – noon

“E&O – It’s Not My Fault”

(4 WI CE, Utica Approved)


Buffet Lunch at The Waters


Minocqua Pub Adventure Bus to downtown / Walking Pub Fun / Prizes / Beverages on Your Own 4:30 bus options to return to hotel or directly to Whitetail Inn

6:45 – 7:45

Buffet Dinner at beautiful Whitetail Inn 6:30 bus from hotel to Whitetail. 1st return at 8:00. Cash bar.

Friday, February 1 9:00 – noon 20 JANUARY 19

“Insurance Decisions & Ethics

(3 WI Ethics CE, Utica Approved)

Visit for details and registration!

Visit the Education tab at for a complete list of topics, descriptions, webinar demo and registration. Several approved for Utica credit. Ethics is offered each month. Fee per Webinar: $55 PIAW Member, $70 Non Member – Includes WI CE fees.

January 2019 Webinar Schedule TITLE & WI CE




On Ethics: Data, Dilemmas, and Knuckleheads 3 WI Ethics CE # 6000018541 Utica Approved



Kevin Amrhein, CIC

Certificates of Insurance and Additional Insureds: Making Sense of it All 3 WI CE # 6000023796



Catherine Trischan, CPCU, CRM, CIC, ARM, AU, AAI, CRIS, MLIS

Worker’s Compensation Issues: Common Provisions and Rating 3 WI CE # 6000004677



Jerry Hargrove, J.D., CIC, CPIA, SCLA, FCLA, PICS, LICS

Bonding: Or How Our Insured Went Bankrupt 3 WI CE # 6000023798



Robin Federici, CIC, AAI, ARM, AINS, AIS, CPIW

Insuring the Building Project: Builders Risk & Installation Coverage 3 WI CE # 1012638



Catherine Trischan, CPCU, CRM, CIC, ARM, AU, AAI, CRIS, MLIS

New Technologies, New Risks: Drones, Home and Ride-Sharing 3 WI CE # 6000023761



Jerry Hargrove, J.D., CIC, CPIA, SCLA, FCLA, PICS, LICS

The Things Kids Get Us Into 3 WI CE # 1012440



Kym Martell, CRM, CIC, CRIS, AAI

Home Business vs Home Insurance 3 WI CE # 6000004680



Nicole Broch, CC, CISR, PLCS

Health and Disability Insurance: Just the Facts 3 WI CE # 6000022214



Karin Klaassen, CLU, LUTCF

Hope I Die Before I Get Old 3 WI CE # 6000022417



Chris Amrhein, CIC

Register online at or call 1-800-261-7429. Contact Brenda for in-house webinar opportunities.



New Topics! Each Approved for 3 WI CE Credits. Live. No Test. No Proctor.

H oT T opIc s EMINAR


ANYONE CAN ATTEND! NO DESIGNATION REQUIRED. 7 WI CE, 3 of 7 Ethics This William T. Hold Seminar is an approved CISR update option. FEBRUARY 20 TH ToDD DAVIs, cIc

Holiday Inn - Waukesha 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.

• • •

Cyber Liability Basics of Life & Disability Insurance for the P&C Agent Ethics for Today

$170 - Includes Lunch Register at or call 800-261-7429

For an upcoming schedual and to register, visit the Education tab at or call 1-800-261-7429. 22 JANUARY 19



Open to Anyone!

AGENCY OPERATIONS 7 WI CE Credits, 1 of 7 is Ethics. Course # 69356 / Utica Approved • • • • • • •

Legal & Ethical Requirements The Insurance Agency The Insurance Industry and Marketplace Communication Agency Workflow Account Management Errors & Omissions

February 21 – Madison


COMMERCIAL CASUALTY I 7 WI CE Credits. Course # 69334 • • • • •

Essentials of Legal Liability CGL Introduction Commercial General Liability Coverage Parts CGL Other Provisions Additional Insureds

March 13 – Green Bay ToDD DAVIs, cIc

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY 7 WI CE Credits. Course # 69332 • • • • •

Fundamentals of Commercial Property Insurance Building and Personal Property Coverage Form Causes of Loss Forms Basics of Time Element Insurance Basics of Commercial Inland Marine Insurance

April 10 – Rothschild pATTI gARDNER, cIc, cRM, cpcU


Instruction 8:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. Group Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Optional Exam 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

$170 Per Course Includes Lunch

Register at or call 800-261-7429 JANUARY 19 23


NEW! Certified Insurance Counselor Institutes Each Approved for 16 Wisconsin CE Credits AGENCY MANAGEMENT


April 9 – 11, 2019 Conducted at West Bend Mutual Insurance Company West Bend, WI Sleeping rooms at Hampton Inn 262-438-1500 or online at $102 PIA rate through 3/10/19

February 27 – March 1, 2019 Red Lion Paper Valley Hotel – Appleton, WI 920-733-8000 or online at $102 PIA rate through 1/29/19 Approved for 16 WI CE

Approved for 16 WI CE (3 of 16 are Ethics) and Utica Approved •











Day One 8:00 – 5:15 / Day Two 8:00 – 5:00 / Day Three Optional Exam 8:00 – 10:00

$415.00 per Institute Register at or call 800-261-7429


Gives You the Credit You Deserve! The following PIAW education classes are approved for the Utica premium credit. • Any CIC Update • CIC Agency Management • CISR Agency Operations • Dynamics of Service • Select PIAW Webinars • PIAW Conducted E&O Seminars (classroom or in house) To register online and view upcoming CE courses visit Please contact Heidi Hodel, CIC, Member Benefits Coordinator or 1-800-261-7429 to find out how you can benefit from Utica’s E&O Loss Control Program.


Education Committee Spotlight I am excited to kick off our new series, “Committee Member Spotlight”, by sharing my story about how I ended up with a career in the insurance industry. Like just about every other insurance person I’ve spoken with about this topic, I ended up in insurance by chance. I studied at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and earned a degree in Spanish and International Business. I then moved to Minneapolis, MN in 2001 to work at Northwest Airlines headquarters. When I moved back to the Madison area in 2007, I was looking for a role in a stable industry at a company that had a positive culture. Although I did work at a State Farm agency one summer during high school, and my grandfather was an independent agent, those were somehow never topics that I brought up during my interviews at M3 Insurance. However, I still convinced Matt Cranney (yes – the same Matt Cranney who is the current PIAW Board President!) to hire me into an entry level position on the Property and Casualty client services team. Once I started at M3, I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing in insurance. I asked several people what I could do to gain a deeper understanding of the industry while demonstrating a level of credibility that showed I knew what I was talking about. One thing they encouraged me to do was pursue my CIC designation – so that’s what I did.

I’ll never forget my first class: Commercial Property. After only about six hours into the course I had convinced myself I had no business being there. How could I possibly pass a short-answer exam when I was just hearing about some of the topics for the first time? But somehow, with a stroke of luck, I managed to pass that institute. Then I passed the other four, and as I spent time in each, I realized what a treasure we have with the PIA because it's so focused on helping people like me gain entry into this amazing industry. My positive experience while pursing my CIC is just one of the reasons that I joined the Education Committee a few years ago. Another is how I get to pay it forward with others new to the industry. I can encourage them, similarly to how others helped me along the way. I’m now heading into my second year chairing the Education Committee, and I love being part of this team. I’m sure that my story is not unique and may look familiar to a lot of you, which is yet another reason why the PIA is such a great organization. We all have similar experiences and goals for being the best possible advisors to our clients, and the education provided by the PIA helps make this happen! Stay tuned for stories from others on the Education Committee in the upcoming issues of Wisconsin Professional Agents magazine, and if you have any questions about the Education Committee, please feel free to contact me! Lacey Endres, CIC P&C Client Services Director - CUNA Mutual Group Program M3 Insurance 608-288-2874 /


Save the Date - March 21,CE) 2019 (6 WI

Whether you are looking to buy an agency or sell your agency at some point in the future, you must attend this class! All agency owners need to consider what will happen to the agency in the event of their death, disability or retirement. Should you sell it to a family member, an employee, your partner, or someone else? How much should you expect to be paid? What’s the process and when should you get started? What are the tax implications? Do you have a comprehensive Shareholders’ Agreement?

Jon Persky, CPA, CIC, PHR Optimum Performance Solutions, LLC Tampa, FL

If you are thinking about buying an agency, you need to understand the seller’s perspective, the items you should consider in making an offer, and what data you need to collect. All these issues and more will be addressed in this informative session. PIA Members $100 Non Members $120 Fees Include: Extensive Handout, 6 WI CE, Lunch, Break Items

March 21, 2019 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. West Bend, Wisconsin (6 WI CE)

Register today at or call 800-261-7429. This seminar will fill up! Hosted at West Bend Mutual Insurance Company. JANUARY 19 25


Hello PIAW!



The Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) Program has been the insurance industry’s premier, proven source for practical, real-world education since 1969. For insurance professionals everywhere, the 20 hour Institutes represent a thoroughly rewarding learning experience, led by accomplished insurance and risk management speakers. Are you ready to challenge yourself?

Michael Herodes, CIC, CPCU Farmers Insurance Group Brookfield, WI

Erin Konkol, CIC, CISR Vizance, Inc. Hartland, WI

Cayden Janse, CIC Spectrum Insurance Group, LLC Fond du Lac, WI

Mary Beth Kurth, CIC, CISR The Starr Group Greenfield, WI

Samantha Kiley, CIC,CPCU,ARM,AU West Bend - A Mutual Insurance Company West Bend, WI

Abigail Ryskoski, CIC, CISR M3 Insurance, Inc. Wausau, WI

Wesley Worth, CIC, CPCU, AIM, AIC Society Insurance Fond du Lac, WI


The CISR Program empowers outstanding individuals to provide exceptional customer service. Join the many thousands of insurance professionals who have already experienced the benefits.

Brittni Baker, CISR Bob Schuchardt Insurance Fond du Lac, WI

Rebecca Hahn, CISR Church Mutual Insurance Co. Merrill, WI

Keena Flora, CISR Church Mutual Insurance Co. Merrill, WI

Sadie Heitschmidt, CISR Church Mutual Insurance Co. Merrill, WI

Brittany Grosskurth, CISR Church Mutual Insurance Co. Merrill, WI

Ben Hellenbrand, CISR WEA Property & Casualty Ins. Co. Madison, WI

Linda Raith, CISR Church Mutual Insurance Co. Merrill, WI


This new status is for CISRs who aspire to be more, and passed all nine CISR courses.

Renee Hein, CISR Elite, AIS, AINS Burns Insurance Agency, LLC Marshfield, WI

Jessica McDonald, CISR Elite Sheboygan Falls, WI


Exciting update options for CICs, CRMs & now CISRs! 16 WI CE (Includes 4 optional Ethics) February 13 & 14 / Graduate Ruble / Crowne Plaza – Milwaukee, WI May 8 & 9 / Graduate Ruble / Crowne Plaza - Madison, WI Visit or call PIA at 1-800-261-7429 26 JANUARY 19

NEW Members

Please be sure to check out all of the member benefits you now have access to at

AGENCY Ademino & Associates Inc. Kimberly, WI

Insurance Solutions Plus Inc. Wind Lake, WI

Alternative Risk Resources LLC Delafield, WI

Interstate Insurance Group Inc. Lake Geneva, WI

American Advantage – IMC Milwaukee, WI

Ixonia Insurance Agency Ixonia, WI

Bob Andrews Insurance Agency Necedah, WI

John Wickhem Agency Janesville, WI

Bossert Insurance Group LLC Mineral Point, WI

Kettle Moraine Agency Kewaskum, WI

C4 Insurance Madison, WI

Kickapoo Realty & Insurance Inc. Readstown, WI

Dawn Stewart Insurance Services LLC Burlington, WI

Lauer Insurance Agency Inc. Altoona, WI

Goebel Insurance & Financial Inc. Fond du Lac, WI

Luedtke Insurance Agency Fond du Lac, WI

Green Bay Insurance Center Inc. Green Bay, WI

Mosher & Associates Insurance Services Inc. Monroe, WI

Harms Insurance Group Sun Prairie, WI

Nolan Anderson Agency Waunakee, WI

Hartlage Insurance Agency, LLC Union Grove, WI

North Country Insurance Services Inc. Birchwood, WI

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Teaching Employees to Execute Customer Service Magic: The Four Aces to an A+ Rating By: Kostya Kimlat A sale, like a great magic trick, occurs inside the customer’s mind. And it is there where it is replayed, remembered, and redefined continually after. The mind is the final battleground. Because magicians are masters of perception, they understand how to get into the heads of their prospects better than anyone else. That’s why the principles of magic can be so helpful in a business environment. The following four tools and techniques are used in magic to create the perception of magical experiences. These four words begin with the letter 'A.' So we'll call each of them the proverbial "Ace Up The Sleeve." They're not just a part of a winning hand. When executed together, they are a part of a winning strategy of customer service. Here are the four aces from a magician’s tool set of perception: 1. 2. 3. 4.

What assumptions are your customers making? How are you acknowledging them? How are you building anticipation to heighten emotions? And what are you doing to surprise, delight, and ultimately astonish your customers?

#1: Assumptions People are constantly making assumptions. Magicians use the assumptions that the human brain naturally makes “against” you. Assumptions are the reason why it’s so fun for magicians to fool other magicians. That’s because a prepared magician will know what methods his magician friend knows, and use those very assumptions to pull off his trick in a way his friend won’t expect, leaving him dumbfounded.

client or patient, and understand what they're assuming is going to happen when they interact with you. Perception is a two-way street: people see you and you see them. It is therefore imperative to first become aware of the assumptions that you make about others. Then it's equally as important to consider how others see you. This will help you have an influence over the impact of perception on your relationships. #2: Acknowledgment A human interaction can only be successful if the customer’s assumptions are acknowledged. For example, the sophisticated magician who encounters a spectator oozing with negative assumptions about magic must first acknowledge those assumptions in order to move forward. “You look skeptical,” the magician might say. “How about I show you the fastest trick I do, and if you enjoy it, I can come back later and show you more?” Acknowledgment communicates authenticity. For businesses and brands, it can be the saving mea culpa that redeems a company from a mistake. For individuals, it is a way of clearing the air before being able to move forward in a relationship. What are the assumptions—true or false—your prospective customers most frequently make about you or your business? What can you say or do to acknowledge each of those assumptions, in order to proceed with the relationship?

Assumptions impact every interpersonal interaction and can be helpful or hurtful. First, consider what assumptions you are making about your customers. Are you assuming they like you, your brand or your product? Or are you assuming they're skeptical of you?

#3: Anticipation Once you’ve identified your customer’s assumptions and then acknowledged them, you’re ready to build anticipation.

Second, think about what assumptions they are making of you. People perceive what they expect, so before you can deliver on any customer service, you need to get into the mind of your customer,

Studies have shown that your mind is in a constant state of anticipation, making predictions about the future, and then rewarding or punishing you for being right or wrong. This is what makes magic


so much fun to watch—your brain is constantly making predictions about how a trick might end. And when your brain guesses correctly, it’s rewarded handsomely. There are many ways a magician might increase your anticipation levels. Sometimes, he’ll tell you exactly how the trick will end (“all of the cards will disappear in 3...2...1…”). Sometimes, he might even create anticipation through tension, by feigning an error (“I swear this worked earlier…”)—before successfully completing an effect to the delight of the audience. Master magicians know how to raise the level of anticipation— and ultimately the astonishment that is about to come. Creating anticipation is an ultimate tool of perception, a masterful tactic that can create intrigue and heightened emotions, leading to a better payoff in the end. Like a magician, you can raise anticipation levels in a sales interaction by painting a picture of how the customer’s future might look. What can you say to get a customer excited about a future payoff? What emails could you send to heighten this sense of anticipation? Is there a way you can create anticipation through generating tension? Think about how you can build anticipation so that when a customer finally makes her purchase, she feels like it’s a cause for celebration! #4: Astonishment Have you ever been amazed by a magician? Have you seen or experienced something that made you take pause? Your eyes widened, your pupils dilated, your mouth got dry. For a brief moment you couldn’t explain what just happened. This positive and pleasantly surprising moment has an eerie way of zapping your brain like nothing else does. Magicians refer to this as the moment of astonishment. Excellent customer service comes down to how well you’re able to astonish your customer. Sure, a customer might have assumptions that you may have acknowledged, and you might even deliver on what she anticipated would happen. But unless you go an extra step, providing something she previously

thought unlikely or impossible, she will not walk away feeling astonished. Astonishment taps into your customer’s emotional brain, and it’s in the emotional brain that brand loyalty becomes rooted and repeat business generated. Astonishment is what leads to 5-star Yelp reviews and unsolicited Facebook posts singing your glories. Just like an astonished audience member might excitedly request that a magician “do that again,” or demand a magician share a performance -- “show that to my friend!” -- your customers will want to experience your business again and share it with friends if you leave them truly astonished. So how can you add moments of astonishment to your interactions? What surprises can you plan? How can you take things a step beyond meeting their anticipated expectations and deliver something they wouldn’t have imagined possible? Stack the deck to win the game A competent magician will understand the assumptions his audience is making about him. A good magician will acknowledge them. A great magician will build so much anticipation that the audience creates an expectation for the successful conclusion of a trick. But an excellent magician will not just bring a trick to its successful conclusion—he will go an extra step, not only delivering on the promise, but exceeding it and surprising the audience. Excellent magicians have all four “aces” up their sleeves. You don’t have to be a magician to use these tools, you just have to Think Like A Magician™. Teach these tactics to your employees, and they'll be masters at delivering magical customer service. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kostya Kimlat is a keynote speaker and corporate magician who fooled Penn & Teller on their hit TV show, “Fool Us”. Kostya speaks to businesses about how to Think Like A Magician™ to improve sales and customer service. For more information about Kostya Kimlat, please visit





For most of us, what we learn first sticks with us for a long time, often throughout our lives. Nursery rhymes, along with what we consider right and wrong. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. It happens to salespeople, too. Because our early training is indelible, it stays with us to guide us. But new demands and expectations call for strategic changes to keep up, stay relevant and close more sales. Here are five of them: Change your thinking about what you know Salespeople are known for being sure (sometimes overly sure) of themselves. Although it takes self-confidence to keep going, it also has a risky downside. It can lead to believing we know more than we do. And nothing kills sales faster than arrogance. A website designer’s creativity gave him an initial edge with a prospective client. In spite of his obvious talent, he lost the job. His presentation was his downfall. It was obvious he had not taken the time to understand the organization or its services. He was so focused on what he was selling, he didn’t have a clue as to what his prospect wanted to buy. In other words, he didn’t know what he didn’t know. Unless salespeople consciously challenge their thinking, they hand sales to the competition. We all benefit by asking ourselves these questions: What am I missing? What don’t I know? Are my assumptions correct? Change the way you prepare presentations Do you think you’re at a place where you can “wing it” or all you need to do to get ready for a presentation is to make a few notes, a quick outline, or go over it in your mind? If so, you’re deluding yourself and short changing your employer and your customers. You may be good, but you’re not that good. Like it or not, here’s the truth: If we don’t write it, we only think we know it. This is what happened to the arguably brilliant 30 JANUARY 19

Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance when he went for job interviews at a prestigious Washington, D.C. law firm while at Yale Law School. The last interviewer asked me a question I was unprepared to answer: Why did I want to work at a law firm? It was a softball, but I’d gotten so used to talking about my budding interest in antitrust litigation…that I was laughably unprepared. I should have said something about learning from the best or working on high-stakes litigation. I should have said anything other than what came out of my mouth: “I don’t really know, but the pay isn’t bad! Ha ha.” The interviewer looked at me like I had three eyes, and the conversation never recovered.

It happens when to us all when we’re under pressure. We lose control and “default” to whatever comes to mind. Before we know it, we’re talking jibberish. And, like J. D. Vance we can believe why we did it. It happens when we don’t prepare; when we don’t write it down. Change the way you present While presentations may have several objectives, they all have one overriding goal: engaging the participants. Unless that happens, a presentation may be interesting and informative, but it’s not a home run. Something is missing. For a presentation to be a winner, it must be interactive— participatory. To invite the participants to interrupt you by raising their hand to ask a question and then to pick up the thread and continue takes confidence. But it also sends the message that the participants shape the presentation. This may sound dangerous but it’s well worth the risk. Change your persuasion strategy There are still salespeople who say, “If I can just get in front of prospects, that’s all I need to close them.” If you want to give it a name, call it “the power of persuasion.” They build their case in a way that leads prospects to the logical conclusion that their only

reasonable response is saying yes. Such a sales strategy is still popular; however, more and more of today’s consumers and business buyers don’t buy it. They push back, feeling they’re being “set up,” “manipulated” or “pushed.” Today, push is out; pull is in. To influence buying behavior today takes a sales environment in which customers can decide if they want to do business with you. It’s one that gives them the opportunity to find out if they can trust you, if your messaging makes sense, and if you are reliable and responsive. Change how you relate to customers Even though companies continue preaching a customer loyalty message, they may be deceiving themselves. For example, Accenture’s research indicates that 99% of retailers claim their loyalty programs perform at or above expectations, even though 71% of shoppers argue that such program do not result in loyalty.

What counts today are consistently good customer experience, convenience, an easy payment process, new and innovative products, customer service (phone, in-person or online, according to a Blackhawk Network study. Even if they are an Amazon Prime customer paying $99 a year, customers don’t think twice about buying it for less elsewhere, particularly if there’s free delivery. Clearly, performance-based relationships trump everything, including loyalty. They say change is inevitable. If it’s true, then there’s no better place to start than with ourselves. John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at jgraham@ or

The trend is toward “tentative” or quid pro quo loyalty. “As long as you give me what I want, I’ll be loyal. If that changes, so will I.” This is the message. “These days, more and more consumers see their relationships with companies as an open marriage,” say authors Itamar Simonson and Emmanuel Rosen in their book, Absolute Value. Clearly performance-based relationships are taking over.

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Not all Optimism is Helpful Nobel laureate Paul Romer (economics) talks about two types of optimism. “Complacent optimism is the feeling of a child waiting for presents,” he says. “Conditional optimism is the feeling of a child who is thinking about building a treehouse. ‘If I get some wood and nails and persuade some other kids to help do the work, we can end up with something really cool.’” Why is complacent optimism so widespread? It’s cheap, undemanding, and makes us feel good. Mostly, however, it fosters “great ideas” that go nowhere. There are those in marketing and sales, for example, who readily agree to meeting goals, whether it’s numbers for the year, completing a project, or being prepared for a meeting. Some of them develop a plan, a “road map” for getting from here to there, but many do little more than glibly agree. While a few make their objectives, others make excuses. [Source: GrahamComm]

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By: John Graham

Getting Ready for 2019 Crack The Prospect Code And Win More Sales Why do so many meetings with prospects fizzle out and go nowhere? Is it just the way it is, so we should just accept it? Or, is it possible that our “this is what went wrong” explanations are merely excuses for failing to turn prospects into customers? As sure as Friday is pizza night, salespeople are drawn to prospects like kids to puddles of water. No argument. But what about the other way around? How much thought do salespeople give as to whether or not prospects are drawn to them? Is it possible that the drive to make the sale blinds them to the possibility that prospects may reject them? The key to getting prospects to buy what you’re selling starts with getting them to buy you. It requires cracking the prospect code and here’s how to go about it: Abandon the urge to impress Sure, you want prospects to like you, but efforts to impress them can make the wrong impression. It sends the message you are overly impressed with yourself. In other words, you come across as being less interested in understanding their situation and more interested in selling yourself. All this occurs when salespeople use confusing terminology, dominate the conversation, speak too fast, and make prospects feel inadequate. It’s the perfect prescription for rejection. Set the stage for success Productive sales calls don’t just happen. They are carefully choregraphed to give the salesperson an edge in getting the 34 JANUARY 19

order. The first step is disarming the customer, neutralizing a prospect’s natural reaction to become defensive, to clam-up, or even to get away. The task is to figure out and focus on what customers want, what they are looking for, and what satisfies them. Why is this important? They are trying to decide if the salesperson cares or just wants to make a sale. Issue a challenge It may sound odd or strange, but this is what it takes for prospects to clarify their thinking and commitment to making a prudent purchasing decision—and avoid experiencing buyer’s regret. It’s time to ask what some may consider a risky question. “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” is a necessary question, one that helps prospects clarify their thinking. If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” then it’s time to stop and probe until the concerns and doubts are explored and resolved to the prospect’s satisfaction. This is how trust develops and what it means to be a sales consultant. Stay with them No one wants to feel ignored, abandoned, or rejected. Yet, this happens when a salesperson makes an “exit” after deciding a prospect isn’t going to buy. When this occurs, prospects react negatively and get even by badmouthing the salesperson and the company. Even so, it’s easy to avoid. Let them know you appreciate

the opportunity to help them, but you also recognize it doesn’t always work out. Do it correctly and there’s a good chance should they leave they will be back or refer others. Second guess yourself It’s tough to recover when you’re put on the defensive while making a sales presentation. Even if you’re fast on your feet, it’s difficult to think clearly, let alone to organize an effective response. The way to avoid getting caught with the unexpected is to second guess yourself. Lay out possible objections and anticipate possible responses and disagreements that could undermine your proposal. Show their deficiencies and why your position is the best solution. Focus on why, not what Salespeople like to talk about what customers get when making a purchase—long lasting, the latest, solid, fashionable, popular, convenient, and so on. But that’s changing. Today, it’s the why that motivates customers. Here’s are examples of how to make why work for you: • A solar energy company says its installations do more than lower energy costs. They help reduce the carbon footprint. • A janitorial services company builds its case for clean facilities: reduces lost time due to illness, increases employee satisfaction, and helps improve productivity. • British engineer James Dyson, who invented the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, sells a cordless version. In a TV ad, Dyson explains why: “It’s right to do something better.” Ask the right questions Salespeople don’t set out to alienate prospects. Yet, it’s easy to “trip” during the “sales dance.” To avoid making a misstep that can turn prospects off, it helps to have them talk about what customer satisfaction means to them and what they expect from a salesperson. Besides providing helpful information, it lets prospects know you want them to become satisfied customers.

Urge them to be candid. The more a salesperson knows, the better. Don’t leave feedback to chance “We need your feedback” or the various versions of these over worked words are tacked on countless marketing messages. Some call it the electronic “complaint box.” But feedback is too valuable to be left to chance. Nothing is more important than making sure you and your prospects are on the same page, that there’s no misunderstanding. This is why it’s helpful to think of presentations as an opportunity to ask prospects, “Is something not clear? Am I missing something that’s important to you?” Rise to the occasion It’s inevitable to get bored with what we do every day, including those who say they love their work. Even salespeople, who take pride in being “always up” get bored. But that’s the challenge. The test is our ability to push aside the “dark stuff” and meet the expectations of others. If there’s one quality prospects (and customers) look for in a salesperson, it’s vigor—an alive feeling. It’s catching and it moves prospects to action. It should be as much a part of a successful sales presentation as the words said. What it takes to turn more prospects into customers is cracking the prospect code. Get them to buy you before trying to get them to buy what you’re selling. John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at jgraham@ or

It can also help to ask what’s bothersome about salespeople.

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