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You Know History?

Do Your


IN A QUIET ROOM, A YOUNG GIRL STARES INTENTLY AT THE question before her. She thinks she knows the answer to it, but at first the name escapes her. Buffalo fighters? Buffalo men? And then it comes to her, not from something she learned in a class or from one of her textbooks, but from an old song. “The . . . Buffalo Soldiers!” Instantly, her pride shines through her bright eyes and broad grin. Today’s young people are confronted with very complicated challenges, and minority youth in particular face rather grim statistics: One in nine black men age 20 to 34 is behind bars, and disproportionately higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic students drop out of high school. With the numerous pressures mounting against members of the next generation, their success in life can hinge on a few simple but crucial factors. American Legacy believes that one of these important elements is history education. “If young people know where they came from and what others have achieved before them, they’ll have a better sense of where they’re going and what they can achieve,” says publisher Rodney J. Reynolds. Realizing that his publication has a unique opportunity to fill a potential void in education, Reynolds teamed up with Barry Riley and Rod Ingram of Pedagogue LLC to create the American Legacy Challenge, a black-history trivia game show for teenagers. In three U.S. cities—Cleveland, St. Louis, and Chicago—students from local high schools competed during February and March 2008 for schol-


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arship dollars. The competition was sponsored and supported by American Family Insurance as a way to underscore the company’s commitment to the youth and families in the diverse communities it serves. “American Family Insurance is proud to partner with American Legacy magazine on this important initiative,” says Dwayne A. Maddox, media manager, American Family Insurance (AFI). “Not only was the American Legacy Challenge educational, but it also served as a source of inspiration for high school students who participated and expanded their knowledge of African-American history and culture.” High schools in each city were invited to participate in the challenge preliminary testing, which determined the final nine contestants to compete in the actual game show. Following each pretest round, American Legacy and AFI hosted receptions—at the House of Blues in Cleveland and Chicago and at the Pageant in St. Louis—where all participating students, parents, and educators could mingle and learn more about the upcoming game show. A few weeks later, the nine qualifying students went on to match wits on historical facts and figures, from the everyday (“The full name of SNCC”) to the obscure (“The name of the first AfricanAmerican lawyer”), in topics ranging from aviation to entrepreneurship. Although some questions referred to the remarkable people and eras typically covered in history textbooks, the bulk of the contest’s material was completely new to most school children. Howev-




perts” impressed the audience with their newfound knowledge of black history, and three students walked away with a total of $3,000 in scholarship awards. First prize ($1,500) went to Brittany Vernon, second prize ($1,000) to Jo Gary, and third prize ($500) to Christopher Brabson, all of John Hay High School. The next stop for the challenge was the Emerson Physical Education and Visual/Performing Arts Center at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, where it was greeted enthusiastically on March 15 as local high schools came out to support their participating students. Paris Guerin of Miller Career Acadeer, American Legacy made sure the young competitors approached my won the first-place award; second place went to Mia Simpson of the podium well prepared: Prior to the Challenge, every contestant Tower Grove Christian; and Jasmine Collins of St. Elizabeth’s Acadehad received a copy of the American Legacy Curriculum Guide. my won third place. The guide is also the brainchild of Reynolds. An educational reThe challenge’s final competition wrapped up on March 29 in source, it contains 28 complete American Legacy articles with corre- Chicago at Malcolm X College’s Bruce Hayden Theater. JaVon Smith sponding lessons and activities to encourage critical thinking and of Thornton High School took the first prize, with Leeander Alexander discussion. Mirroring the broad array of time periods and topics cov- of Hales Franciscan High School and Shauntavia Peace of Von ered in the magazine, the guide complements the material that most Steuben Metropolitan Science Center winning second and third students learn in their regular history classes at school: “The Red prizes, respectively. Ball Express” tells the story of the brave African-American soldiers By the conclusion of the American Legacy Challenge, several who drove supply trucks through war-ravaged Europe during World schools had discovered in the American Legacy Curriculum Guide a War II; “Poston on the Post” recounts the experiences of the first new resource to help them integrate black history into their regular African-American journalist at the New York Post. Within these tales history and social studies lessons year round. Perhaps more signifiof unsung heroes and hidden facets of history, students discover not cantly, dozens of young people were encouraged to delve deeper into only stories of African-American history but American history as a their history and discover more about themselves, to find inspiration whole, and their place in it. in the triumphs and achievements of the past. “The wonderful thing about the curriculum guide is that it attachFirst-place winner, Paris Guerin, best summed up the competies to any curriculum,” points out Ingram. “It can be used to show tion’s spirit of fun and enlightenment when she said, “The black histhat black people have contributed to everything.” tory game on March 15 was, to say the least, one of the best times After weeks of preparation, the competition kicked off on March 1, I’ve had in a long time. In the process of both preparing for and com2008, in Cleveland at the Tower City Center with nine contestants peting in the competition, I learned a great deal about inner strength from local schools stepping up to the American Legacy Challenge and the reward of perseverance. . . it will go a long way as I endeavor podiums. Radio station WZAK 93.1 FM’s Kim Johnson hosted the to further my education.” � affair. As family, friends, and classmates looked on, the young “ex-

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contents WINTER 2009


Former NFL player Rob Robertson and his wife Nneka have learned the value of commitment and communication.


Dwayne Maddox...................30 He understands the value of insurance and recognizes that change and hope can’t exist without community.

Jada Pinkett Smith...............42 She’s one of the most beautiful, successful actresses in Hollywood, with a picture-perfect family, a megastar-husband and her very own rock band. Wouldn’t you be smiling too?

Mike Riggs..........................62 The Georgia State Sales Director embraces his destiny.

Tales from Madison Way......74 It’s a place where the insured, uninsured and underinsured collide….this….is Madison Way.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

10 TIPS for Setting Goals 14

Spend time on personal and professional development: Write down your goals: spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial | Madison Way


DEPARTMENTS “Here in Georgia we opened the state with almost 40 percent women [agents], For me, its not difficult at all [to recruit women]. What I’ve found is that the women gravitate towards me. Ninety percent of the women that would approach our booth would come to me.” - Kye Wilson Georgia Woodbine.......................... 14 Motivational speaker Georgia Woodbine is here to help you…really. Dr. Darryl Townes............................ 20 Shares his advice on finding your emotional center. Mark Jenkins.................................. 21 He’s trained some of the biggest celebs in Hollywood--now he’s coming after YOU. Tony Quinones................................ 53 Spreading American Family’s good news. Raymond Graham............................ 59 Supplier diversity administrator shares American Family’s commitment to the community.


80 Mondale Smith............................... 85 American Family Insurance’s farm ranch loss control manager stays techsavvy. Louis L. Besses IV........................... 89 Georgia’s multicultural market developer adapts to the hospitality and warm weather of the Peach State. Helen Taylor................................... 91 American Family’s diversity & inclusion consultant embraces change. Francisca Brown............................. 93 The multicultural marketing director keeps everybody connected. Bernard Uptgrow............................. 81 On the Benefits of Being An Agent.

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publisher’s PAGE

Will You Change? I looked at the person in the mirror–not with my eyes, but with my spirit. As I stared at the person in the mirror, she smiled back at me. I wondered who she saw when she peered at me. Start your day in the mirror, not in primp mode, but introspectively. Take two deep breaths and say goodbye to yesterday, and all the reasons you failed to do what you said you would do. Recite your goals out loud as you gaze deeply at your reflected image. Before you start your daily meditation, allow your spirit to search your visage carefully, deliberately and with sacred expectation. Are you becoming who you were created to be? You may fool others, but you can’t lie to yourself. Your spirit will not be mocked by a torrent of words designed to disguise inadequacy or ineptitude. Artifice and sleight of hand are the dealer’s tricks. To embrace the serious business of change you must prepare to be unremittingly honest. The eyes observe but don’t always comprehend the vision. Is the view real or a mirage? Each day the Universe births a new opportunity to unveil your


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authentic self. When you gaze into the looking glass, hold the image long enough to examine yourself thoroughly. If you are not looking at yourself each day, you can best believe you are skipping something about yourself along the way. Does your reflected image match your internal self, or are you a bi-polar, multiple personality? Listen to your spirit beckoning you to survey and take an honest inventory of yourself. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Know that you can shine no matter what you look like on the outside. The key to happiness and a full life lies well beyond a refractive piece of glass. Live a committed life. Be a good friend. Define yourself. Pray and meditate daily. Meet the challenge to change honestly, your spirit will not mislead you. Take a forthright look inside and be you. Peace. Munson Steed Publisher | Madison Way



munson steed chief operating officer

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melinda r. johnson executive assistant to the publisher

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We all have goals and aspirations, whether they are professional, creative, personal, or spiritual. Sometimes in trying to achieve the summit of one, we ignore the others. Too often, we fall in love and our work suffers or we become so wrapped in our careers that we neglect our spouses and children. There has to be a way to f ind that balance in our lives—that place of perfect synergy, where our careers can f lourish and thrive, our families are strong and functional, and our spirits are peaceful and fulf illed. That place has to exist. Doesn’t it? Contrary to popular belief, that place is relatively easy to find. It’s just with all the noise of the daily grind ringing in our ears and all of the distractions in our line of sight, that place may be hard to see sometimes. But whether taking the time to gather your thoughts and plan your success or just learning to be a better communicator with your loved ones and co-workers, you can begin to clear some of the fog of confusion and frustration and create a more involved, more engaging and more rewarding life for yourself.

Here’s how…. | Madison Way


The Inspiration and Reflection of

Georgia Woodbine “I would have to say the thing that inspires me most is knowing what my purpose [is]…” That declaration is appropriate for a woman whose life’s work has been about helping others find their purpose. Georgia Woodbine is one of the country’s most respected motivational speakers and a best-selling author. She understands how the balance of personal, professional, and spiritual well-being is at the core of happiness— and she’s been sharing her knowledge with everyone who will listen. “When someone comes up to me and says ‘Ms. Woodbine, you have changed my perception [and] how I think about my life,’ that does it all for me,” explains the author. Woodbine has authored the best-selling book How to Make Big Bucks without Selling Your Soul, and Jewels of Inspiration and Reflections: The Journey of Life and has produced the audio CDs Make it Happen and Live By Your Design. “To know that I have been chosen to impact the life of someone


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else in a powerful way by using my gifts, talents and natural ability gives me a great sense of fulfillment.” She continues, “Many times I [endured] obstacles, setbacks, and disappointments, but it feels good to be able to share my lessons and how I was able to turn my failures into success.” Woodbine received the 2008 S’Indie Award for best non-fiction and was honored at the Unlock Your Dreams Conference 2008–recognized as an individual that has unlocked her dreams and helps others unlock theirs. She has been invited as a guest speaker to The Learning Annex in NYC, Time Warner, Georgian Court University, Stony Brook University, Rutgers University, Howard University, Medgar Evers College, and more. She has also worked with other well renowned speakers such as: Dr. Dennis Kimbro, Dr. Farrah Gray and Terrie Williams.

10 TIPS for Setting Goals Woodbine offers easy tips to make sure you can set and achieve your goals: Spend time on personal and professional development: Write down your goals: spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial Set Micro-Goals for Your Life - Where do you see yourself in (10) years (5) years (3) years, (2) years, (1) year, (6) months, (3) months from today? Where do you want to live? Visit? Vacation? What type of friends do you want to have? Set your ‘Dream Scheme.’ Time Management - Reduce or eliminate things that are wasting your time. Remove distractions and avoid constant interruptions. Minimize overindulgence and time-wasters (Television, Radio, Phone Gossip). Meditate - Take a moment (2)x Daily in silence to reflect on your life with no noise and no distractions just total quietness for about 10-15 minutes. Visualize where you see yourself and experience the emotions of how you feel.

Exercise - Regular exercise will keep you energized and builds your self-esteem. Keep A Daily To-Do Checklist - Organize and plan your schedule the night before and arrange your errands geographically to save time. Examine your morals and values - Prioritize things that are important to you. Stay Focused - Find your purpose and discover what activities energize you. Follow Your Passion - Love what you do and know why you’re doing it. Your deepest desires always lead to your success. Be Patient - Learn how to wait—don’t rush everything. Success is about perseverance and patiently waiting for the best opportunity. Patience builds your tolerance and shapes you to be the best you can be. | Madison Way


Resolve to eat better deliciously! 2009 offers a wonderful opportunity for a fresh start on personal and professional goals. Here’s how to eat better without giving up taste. Make calories count. Choose foods that are loaded with nutrition. Fruits and vegetables, especially the most vibrantly colored, are the best bets for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease fighting phytochemicals, so eat several servings from this group daily. Bring on the beans and whole grains! Economically and nutritionally, nothing beats beans (kidney, navy, pinto, etc). Grains paired with beans are a great nutrition partnership, especially if choosing whole grains. Switch to higher fiber whole grain versions of rice and pasta in recipes. Balance it out. Choose a variety of foods from each food group every day of the week. This will keep meals interesting and help meet nutrient needs better. Get creative with condiments. Flavor foods with herbs, spices and vinegars to reduce calories and sodium without giving up taste. Find recipes with herbs and spices for a healthful taste treat. Alter recipes easily. Find foods that are better versions of what the recipe calls for. For example, use whole grain pasta, use olive oil instead of butter when sautéing, use light or fat-free cheese, and use low sodium broth. Most recipes can handle these easy switches without altering the end product’s taste – it just improves the nutrition. Cooking at home is usually easier on the wallet than eating out, too! -by Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, CDE, Jewel-Osco Dietitian.


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Greek Penne and Chicken Ingredients: 1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup chopped red onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces. 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts in water 1 tomato, chopped 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon dried oregano salt to taste ground black pepper to taste Directions: In a large pot with boiling salted water cook penne pasta until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat melt butter, add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped chicken and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Drain and chop artichoke hearts and add them, chopped tomato, feta cheese, fresh parsley, lemon juice, dried oregano, and drained penne pasta to the large skillet. Cook until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Serve warm. Recipe courtesy of

Five ways to beat the WINTER BLUES If you find yourself sluggish, lacking motivation and down in the dumps during the winter months, but feel normal throughout most of the year, you may be suffering from more than just the cold weather blues. In fact, many people who display these warning signs year after year actually experience a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms include fatigue, increased need for sleep, decreased energy levels, weight gain, an increase in appetite, difficulty concentrating and in increased desire to be alone. According to, between four and six percent of Americans suffer from SAD. While the exact cause is not known, many professionals believe these behavioral changes are caused by decreased exposure to sunlight. “During winter months, the days are shorter. There’s less sunlight ... it’s mostly gloomy, and the disorder is triggered by the change of seasons,” explains Len Bowles, linkage coordinator with Behavioral Health Link, the parent company of Georgia Crisis Access Line. “In contrast though, symptoms of the disorder are almost nonexistent during the summer when it’s hot and sunny. In most cases, people don’t even remember the winter depression during the summer.”

1. Light therapy: The most common process in which the sufferer is placed in a room with a bright light box that simulates sunlight. 2. Therapy with a trained professional: “Therapy involves a third person, an unbiased listener,” says Bowles. “A lot of times when you talk about it with a loved one, you’re concerned that what you say may hurt their feelings. But when you’re in therapy, it’s your dime. You’re not worried how they’re going to take it [or] if they’re going to judge me. Your family and loved ones may take it personally.” 3. Proper diet and exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes a day, three times a week, and eating a well-balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals helps increase energy. 4. Understanding and support from loved ones: When people hear about problems, sometimes a person doesn’t want you to give them a solution. They just need you to listen. Listening is the most effective way for loved ones to help.

There are several treatment options for addressing SAD. Depending on the patient, some treatments may be used in conjunction with others. | Madison Way



Reasons to Drink Water

According to legend, the mythic Fountain of Youth rejuvenates the body and restores the luster of youthfulness to anyone who drinks from the fabled spring. Some believe its located here in the States and others believe it’s on some undiscovered island. Me? I believe that it’s in everyone’s kitchen, bottled on grocery store shelves and is even an amenity in some of our lakeside communities. It’s all around us. You probably didn’t realize it was right at your fingertips. Often overlooked, the gift from this legendary fountain flows right into our palms every time we wash our hands and into our glasses when we fill them. That’s right--water, with its crisp and clean taste, is an often neglected natural wonder of the world. Here are seven reasons why water should be a part of your diet. 1.Helps your body to excrete toxins. 2.Improves skin tone. 3.Decreases appetite. 4.Increases blood flow. 5.Hydrates the body. 6.Energizes muscles. 7.Aids in weight loss. About 20 percent of our fluid intake comes from foods. To reap the benefits of water you should add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Their high water content will add to your hydration. Additionally, your body is composed of about 60 percent of water and drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids via digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and the maintenance of body temperature. While drinking water is not solely a mechanism to lose weight, if you’re watching calories, it is a healthier choice than a soda or pre-sweetened juice.


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Walk This Way: Take Steps to Improve Your Health When we were toddlers, taking our first step was equivalent to a miracle for our parents who no longer had to carry us around. It was also exciting for us as we conveyed equal excitement when our parents praised us for this extraordinary feat. We gained our independence and so did they. As we grow older, the familiar is taken for granted. We drive around the parking lot at the shopping center for five, ten and sometimes fifteen minutes in order to get the parking space closest to the store’s entrance. We even drive to the convenience store that is only 10 minutes from our home, when the weather is clear. There are numerous health benefits to walking, which doesn’t require any practice and is a low-impact exercise. We’ve outlined six reasons why you should develop a steady routine and get the most out of walking. 1.It helps trim your waistline. When coupled with healthy eating, walking is the key to weight control, lowering your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. 2.It reduces the risk of heart attack, can cut your risk of stroke in half and lower stress levels. Climbing stairs is an excellent way to strengthen your heart. 3.It elevates your mood, prevents depression and impotence. 4.It strengthens muscles, bones and joints. 5.It relieves arthritis and back pain. 6.It improves sleeps. There is no limit to the amount of walking you can do. For best results, walk briskly, slow enough to catch your breath, and for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. | Madison Way


WELLNESS: Understanding Your Family’s Health History When starting a family, knowing your family history—particularly your family’s health history—is important. More and more, physicians are advising newlyweds and prospective parents to know their family history and be aware of potential hereditary health issues. The findings may spawn frequent or early cancer screenings for some people or behavioral changes—as in a better diet and more exercise--to ward off diabetes and heart disease. For others, knowing your history may lead to seeking formal genetic testing and consultations with specialists. Knowing your history can provide important information about health risks, like cardiovascular diseases that can run in families. If this is the case in your family, you should create a heart health family tree. You, and your physician, can utilize the tree today to develop your nutrition and exercise plan, and it can be a preventive tool for you and your children’s future. Information Must Be Turned Into Action Obviously, you cannot change your family history. But knowing it can help you reduce your risk of developing diseases. Start looking for red flags that might indicate the need for a prevention plan, screenings and genetic counseling and potentially, genetic testing. Heart disease and related conditions are mainly hereditary, so those with a history of such problems will have the most to gain from screenings and lifestyle changes. You may be referred to a specialist, a doctor trained specifically in genetics or a genetic counselor, who can determine your genetic risks. Here are some examples of red flags to be aware of in your family history. Some Red Flags in Your Family’s Health History • Heart disease at a young age—particularly in one or more close relatives (male before


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age 55 or female before age 65). • Heart disease in both parents • Two or more close relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related conditions (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, and/or high blood pressure) • Sudden death in a seemingly-healthy relative • A relative diagnosed with a specific type of hereditary heart disease. Many types of cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease or an enlarged heart), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and aneurysm and cholesterol disorders are hereditary. • Two or more relatives on the same side of the family with a congenital heart defect There are other red flags that exist and can be explored with your doctor or counselor. Understanding risks helps you to take preventive measures that may save your life or the life of your children and loved ones.

Take Charge of Your Life Knowing your family history is one step to maintaining wellness in your family; but here are the behavioral basics to avoiding health problems like heart disease: • If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. • Eat a balanced diet low in sodium and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats. • Get active and exercise often. • Lose weight if you are overweight. • Manage your stress levels. • Take medications prescribed by your doctor to control conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Keep Comedy In Your Life Everyone likes to laugh, right? One would think that would be the case, especially with scientists now lauding the healing benefits of laughter. But in many marriages—particularly in ones well past the honeymoon phase—once happy couples, whose days and nights were consistently filled with laughter, now struggle to find moments of shared happiness. Somewhere along the way, as the pressures of life gained momentum, the humor within those households became non-existent. By simply applying the following “five tips to increase laughter within a marriage,” the afflicted couples could have effectively avoided enduring a bout of “marital laughter malaise.” Helpful Tips to Increase Laughter Within Your Marriage • Search for the funny moments in each day. • Encourage the practice of sharing funny stories at dinner or during other family activities. • Periodically revisit classics sitcoms and comedies that you both mutually appreciated. • Reflect on funny times from your past together.

Visit an amusement park or participate in outings reminiscent of fun times. Maintaining laughter in your marriage takes a concerted effort from both parties. Couples who actively work on keeping each other laughing often see great results—particularly in the area of conflict resolution. Laughter has a way of releasing various forms of negative tension, which can be both physically and psychologically crippling. There are however, added benefits to laughter. The Added Benefits of Laughter • Stress and tension are reduced by laughter. • There is a noticeable reduction in blood pressure triggered by laughter. • Laughter also stimulates the immune system. • Laughter counteracts the onset of depression. • Systemic inflammation is decreased by laughter. • In practical terms, laughter brings couples closer. • Laughter also has a way of keeping the relationship fresh. | Madison Way


Dr. Darryl Townes

On Building A Better YOU and Managing Stress

Dr. Darryl Townes is a licensed psychotherapist who operates in Atlanta. The Brooklyn native was compelled to pursue a career in psychology after meeting a psychologist as a child and he has dedicated his life’s work to helping people. “I love helping people who come in with hopelessness and sadness,” he says. “It’s a joy when you can help somebody feel a little better.” He understands the stress that can come along with your career, family and personal life, and offers some tips to help you find ways to manage those intense moments. Find A Release: “It’s really important to have an outlet for stress. When you become depressed, you typically stop doing the things that you enjoy doing— whether it’s poor time management or feeling overwhelmed and not really feeling like doing anything. You end up cutting out a lot of the joys. You [must] find ways to keep yourself engaged in things other than work—hobbies, working out, etc.” Communicate: “A lot of times, it’s not what you say but how you say it. You have to be aware of your non-verbal communicators: your tone, your posture, your proximity to the other person—those are important when


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communicating to your loved one. Also, couples seem to stop listening to each other. One person is talking, and the other is not really trying to understand what’s being said—they’re focused on what their response will be. Make the effort to actually listen to each other. When you go on the defensive, you can’t receive the message.” Set Realistic Expectations: “One thing that helps interpersonal skills is understanding the expectations of others. We get stressed out with people and agitated because we expect something from people that we really shouldn’t. Sometimes those expectations are unrealistic or we really have no basis for them. Set realistic expectations for your friends and family members and be able to articulate them so that they’ll understand your objective and for you to understand theirs.” Self-Examine: “You really must ask yourself—before you start becoming angry with others—‘What is it about me?’ ‘What am I doing? ‘How am I contributing to this problem?’ ‘What do I need to do to resolve it?’ Start with yourself before really going out and believing that someone else is doing you wrong.”

Fitness trainer Mark Jenkins inspires buff bodies across America The price that megastars Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, and Diddy have paid to achieve their impressive physiques can’t be assigned a mere monetary value according to author and fitness trainer Mark Jenkins, the man responsible for their amazing transformations. As the chief architect behind the amazing bodies of the aforementioned stars, in addition to other clients such as Beyoncé, Busta Rhymes and D’Angelo, Jenkins believes that the physical results achieved by these stars are based on a fundamental idea that everyday Americans are capable of tapping into: determination. He contends that characteristic alone provides the necessary advantage to turn a flabby beer belly into a glorious six pack. I have some people who believe that the only way that these stars were capable of achieving these bodies, was because of their wealth,” he shares. “And while it does help to be able to afford the personal care of a professional, every single one of these people worked hard to achieve the bodies that you see. I can only do so much as their coach and chief motivator, but each one of these people put the time in, and worked extremely hard to achieve what you see before you.” Jenkins puts his money where his mouth is in his new book, The Jump Off: 60 Days To A Hip-Hop Hard Body, where he outlines a systematic approach to achieving a body that you can be proud of. The book, which offers heartfelt celebrity testimonials, gives Jenkins a larger platform to

spread his gift. Below are excerpts from his book and commonly asked fitness questions. Many people find it difficult to stick with a fitness routine. What would you advise them to do to stay motivated? “The best thing you can do is keep going to the gym. There’s no way to get around it. You have to understand that the commitment is long term. You’re going to make mistakes, and if you fall off the wagon get right back on. The most successful people fail a lot, but they just get back up and try again. Don’t quit completely because you stumble. Get back on it.” Some diet books claim that when people experience food cravings, it’s their brain telling the body what it needs. Is it ever a good idea to give in to food cravings? “In a word, no. If that were true, people would be craving milk, because they need more calcium, spinach because they need more folic acid, or whole grains, instead of doughnuts, cake and soda. Cravings tend to be more situational and emotional. In the midst of our hectic lives, we lose touch with what true hunger is. Instead, we rely on external cues, like walking past a fast-food restaurant at noon thinking, ‘That’s what I need for lunch,’ when in fact you don’t, or thinking, ‘Having that hot chocolate will make me feel better.’ Think about it first, and don’t be an emotional eater.” | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Balance You’re a career-oriented corporate raider, and that ambition has served you well. But how do you climb the professional ladder without sacrif icing the love and commitment to family? Motivational speaker Georgia Woodbine has helped numerous people f ind balance in their lives and has some pretty sound words of wisdom for those of us juggling both sides of our lives.

Georgia Woodbine’s Tips for Maintaining Productivity Without Burning Yourself Out Start your day with a moment of silence, meditation or prayer. This time should be allotted for you to connect to your spiritual side, even if it means you have to lose a half-hour of sleep at the start of your day; it’s worth it. This will help relax your mind and prevent it from racing ahead of you. Too often, we take our time for granted and don’t do the little things that will make a big difference. The complexities of life continue to make demands of our time. We must figure out a way to make each minute of our day more valuable. Once we reflect on ourselves, then we can re-evaluate the things we need to change in our lives to make us more productive. Before you give yourself to the world, you must give yourself to you. Some of the ways we can handle burn out is: • Learn to say no. • Reevaluate your goals. • Reduce your commitments at work and at home. • Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. • Take “time out’’ during the day. • Take short vacations at least twice a year. • Develop a variety of active outside interests. • Make a list of the things you want to change in your life. Tips for Maintaining A Positive Outlook Through Difficult Times • Surround yourself with positive people that help to boost your spirits. • Read self-help books, watch DVDs, listen to motivational CDs and inspirational music. • Find a support group; speak to others that have gone through it and made it out. • Redirect negative self-talk and focus on the good things in your life. • Exercise to release any tension or stress to boost your energy. • Finds your spiritual center and place of peace in an environment that can heal your mind. • Keep your mind active and find activities you enjoy. | Madison Way



Do Schools Really Care? As the cost of college continues to rise and families pinch pennies to ensure the educational futures of their children, the demand for f inancial aid from the government as well as the institutions themselves has reached an all-time high. While all schools claim to accept “need sensitive” students, some institutions have displayed a much better track record of fully supporting a student’s f inancial needs than others. When determining which schools f it into your family’s budget, it’s best to know ahead of time which schools are more likely to put their money where their mouth is.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009


Which is better: The GRE or GMAT? It’s no secret that the tests taken over the span of your life serve to both advance and enhance your chances at pursuing life’s limitless possibilities. Whether you burn the midnight oil to pass the bar or your medical boards, once the test is successfully passed, the windows of opportunity are forever opened—oftentimes to increased earning potential. While test-taking guidelines are crystal clear for most professions, students attempting to gain access to business school are now faced with a new, daunting dilemma: Which test should I take, the GRE or the GMAT? Pros for the GRE Long used as a test to strictly measure a student’s general acceptability for graduate school, business schools are now looking to accept the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to increase their applicant pool. If that becomes the universal standard, then the main positive attribute of taking the GRE is that it’s less expensive ($140) for students than the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT; $250). The GRE is also a more attractive option as it opens the student up to a wide array of post graduation options. Let’s say that the desire to obtain a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) wanes. Having taken the GRE, the student is still eligible to be accepted to various other advanced degree programs. Pros for the GMAT Considered the standard measuring stick for business school, more than 1,800 top business schools look favorably upon GMAT scores as the test itself was designed by business school deans as a method to assess a student’s ability to pursue an MBA. While there’s little difference in the two tests, schools will often yield to the GMAT scores over the GRE scores as they are more trusted within the business field. The Conclusion If you are 100 percent certain that an MBA is in the cards, then the GMAT is by far the more beneficial test. However, if there are any lingering doubts on your career path, then take the GRE to keep your options open while saving a few bucks in the process. | Madison Way


Certifications That Help You Earn More Money To remain competitive in this ever-changing business environment, you need to utilize every opportunity to stay on top. Earning a certification gives you the competitive edge to be hired, promoted and possibly to keep your current job. If you have a passion for learning and a desire to remain employable, below are some of the certifications you should consider in leading industries. Construction Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professionals is the internationally recognized standard for measuring building sustainability, while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being. It’s commonly referenced as the green initiative. The average salaries are as follows: Project Manager, Construction ($75,149); Project Engineer, Construction ($57,585); Interior Designer, ($42,000); HVAC Mechanical Engineer (($69, 336); Estimator, Construction ($60,646); Mechanical Engineer ($63,455); and Senior Mechanical Engineer ($75,076). Construction trades and related workers’ employment is sensitive to the fluctuation of the economy, but those willing to travel make themselves available to many opportunities. TYPES: Firesprinkler Fitter Mastery Certification, HVAC Mastery Certification, Journeyman Pipefitting/Steamfitting, Journeyman Plumber, Medical Gas Inspector, Medical Gas Installer, Medical Gas Instructor, Medical Gas Verifier,

Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, Drywall Installers, and Electricians. Most employees in this industry work full time, and many work over 40 hours a week. The average hourly starting pay is $14.00. Technology Technical and Computer Certifications still rank at the top of the list. In 2008, the tech environment remained unharmed by the decline in the economy. IT Certifications boost resumes and salaries, and aids in job retention. TYPES: Cisco Certified Internetwork (CCIE), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE), Microsoft Application Developer (MCAD), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Red Hat Certification Engineer (RHCE), Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) 6.0, Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM), Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD), Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) A+, Security+ and Linux+. Though salary is commensurate with experience and job location, starting pay averages $70,000+. ( is the source for the average salaries.)

9 Questions To Ask when seeking Auto, Home or LiFe insurance Here are a few easy questions to make sure you have the right coverage and the right agent in your corner. Always run down this quick checklist: What should you look for in a plan? What should you look for in an agent? How affordable is the deductible/co-pay? What circumstances do they apply? What exactly is covered? Please explain the different kinds of coverage. Are you in constant communication with the agent? What optional, additional, or extended coverage could you purchase? Is umbrella coverage available? How do make sure auto accessories, etc. are also covered by your auto coverage?


Madison Way | WINTER 2009


Success=Family+Progress Nothing means more to people than family. And with any family, you want to progress. You want to progress together and inside this publication are tools to help you reach that goal: Reflections of success, tools and resources to help provide you with various ways to pursue that success, and guides that will help illuminate your path as you seek to rise above the fray and get ahead in the American way. How do you get ahead? Is it what you know? Yes. Is it who you know? Definitely. But it’s also what you know about who you know. How do you decide whose advice to listen to? Check with someone that’s been where you’re trying to go. This is an opportunity to not only grow and evolve as a professional, but to also help you find balance in your professional and personal lives and to help remind you of the many ways you can evolve in your appreciation of life’s gifts. There are museums and plays that you would love to attend with your family; there are some key communication tips that will help you stay in synch with your spouse. Thinking of making a career change or taking that next step in your education? We can help make the transition a little smoother. Opportunities present themselves everyday. Are you willing to take the test to get to where you want to go? Nothing worth having comes easy and in life there are tests that we always must pass. What are the professional tests to unlock your career potential? In Madison Way we’ve assembled some of the most successful, inspiring and knowledgeable individuals in business, literature, and entertainment to provide their perspectives on what it means to ‘make it’ and what has worked for them. They have all managed to stay focused and are sharing their stories and their vision on what it means to be a part of a family--and a company—with a shared destination towards greatness. Enjoy--and continue to talk about the success that is waiting for you. And make that success a little sweeter by sharing it with family. Soon enough, your success and your family will be inextricably intertwined. | Madison Way




Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Stanley Love-Stanley, P.C. The details surrounding the initial encounter between

success model, as well as strategically positioning their firm

William Stanley and Ivenue Love-Stanley are still a hotly

for continued prosperity, the pair couldn’t help but pause

debated topic. “I think it was love at first sight,” William

to bask in the historic rays of this nation’s election of its

shares, turning to his wife for validation. “Don’t you?”

first black President. According to Ivenue, Barack Obama’s

“No it wasn’t,” she responds with a laugh.

election not only benefited the nation as a whole, but his

While the couple, now married for over 30 years, still

marriage to wife Michelle provided a road map for other

debates how long it actually took for their love to materialize,

successful wives and mothers.

what can’t be debated is the impressive track record their

“I’m excited for her,” Ivenue begins. “I think that it takes a

architectural firm Stanley Love-Stanley, P.C. has amassed

very secure woman to understand what her role is right now.

over the years. Currently the second largest African

If you remember all the background on how they met, her

American architectural firm in the South, the pair has

career, and what she was doing at the time, she had to make

painstakingly worked to create a lasting legacy by insisting

the decision to put her career on hold. Since making that

upon the “highest standards of quality in the delivery of

decision, she has been a wonderful mom, and now she is the

professional design services, efficient management, and

First Lady. I mean that says it all. She is the First Lady. I think

socially conscious architecture.”

that we will all look at her as a role model, as it says that you

Having already cast a luminous shadow over the African

don’t have to be everything to everybody. Right now she is

American architectural community with award winning

the First Lady … she’s our First Lady, and we are so excited

work on the Olympic Aquatic Center at Georgia Institute of

about that.”

Technology, as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Stanleys

For William, his take on Obama’s presidency is rooted in

have also been honored with countless community and

the far-reaching implications that it has for all people. “The

professional citations. As the accolades steadily mount, the

example that this man provides is nothing short of amazing,”

pair continues to exhibit a unique understanding of both the

he explains. “He is showing people that you can have a have

business sector and each other, which allows them to operate

a jump shot, but still be eloquent in the way that you speak,

with an envious amount of efficiency. For them, the ability to

and elegant in the way that you carry yourself. I think that

work with each other provides a far greater reward than any

mindset will start to transform other young men. They will

amount of monetary gain.

begin to see that the ‘hood is not the end of their road. It is

“We enjoy working with each other,” Ivenue shares, while

just a powerful image … it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I just think

detailing the couple’s fundamental keys to success. “I think

that we will see enough of his image in the everyday setting

the first thing that has helped us over the years has been

of the presidency over time, that he will not only transform

a division of the work. We know each other’s strengths and

African American children, but all children.”

weaknesses, and have trusted each other’s strengths and

While the couple continues to embrace the impending

allowed the other person to carry the load in that particular

legacy of President Obama, their own work continues to shine

area. Bill is stronger at marketing and design, and I’m

like a beacon of hope within the community. Change isn’t

stronger at getting the job done—I’m a nuts and bolts kind

happenstance, and whether it’s through the skill of their craft,

of person. So, we accept the decisions that the other person

or the compassion of their community giving, let it never be

makes in that area, and that has worked for us.”

said that William Stanley and Ivenue Love-Stanley failed to do

While the couple spends countless hours tweaking their

their part. | Madison Way


youreDuCAtion Career Mission


Maddox The familiar adage holds true that time does indeed fly when

life unfulfilled, Maddox painstakingly sets his daily goals to ensure

you’re having fun. For Dwayne Maddox, the media mix administrator

maximum efficiency. “Professionally, I start with the direction that

for American Family Insurance, the past two years have served as a

the company is going in—what’s important for the upcoming year,”

rewarding whirlwind as he has diligently pushed to fulfill the aims and

he explains. “I then look at what my skill sets are, and what my role

initiatives of American Family. Five minutes in Maddox’s presence is

within the company is, and try to prioritize my skill set and my role

all it takes to appreciate his sincere compassion for the consumer,

so they align with where the company is going.”

and his unyielding belief in the core principles of American Family. Simply put; he believes in what he’s doing.

One of his most important assets in this tremendous undertaking is his impressive knowledge base. According to Maddox, the thirst

That belief manifests itself daily as Maddox transitions from

for knowledge is a vital key to success. “Education is tremendous at

various assignments, doing whatever is takes to accomplish the task-

any level,” he passionately states. “I think that it certainly broadens

at-hand. “You become a Jack-of-all-trades, depending on what’s

your horizons to many different topics. It allows you to take on roles

needed,” he began, while detailing his daily responsibilities. “I’m

that may be outside of your current responsibilities. I think that

responsible for our launch into Atlanta, and all of the advertising

education helped me have a more diverse work experience here

associated with [the launch]. That wasn’t in my job description, but

than I would have had otherwise. So I think the most important

looking at my history of doing work in African American media, and

benefit of education is the ability that it provides for you to take on

my familiarity with Atlanta itself, it’s a role that I took on. It’s one of

different tasks and roles.”

those things where you take on different roles as needed if you have the capability to do so.”

As Maddox continues to accomplish paramount success in the field of insurance, he can’t help but reflect back on three words that

But where does Maddox’s passion for the job originate? The

have come to exemplify his tenure with American Family: change,

answer is easy enough; his passion derives from a fundamental

hope and community. “I think [those words] are all interdependent,”

belief in insurance. “The value of insurance is to protect your assets

he concludes. “I think change doesn’t come without hope, and it’s

and to protect your family,” he conveys. “I believe we all work hard

hard to affect change by yourself. You need the community; you

for the things we have, whether it’s a home, your car, or even more

need a group of people focused on one goal to help affect change.

importantly, your own life. So I think the real value of insurance is

You can certainly have one person lead change, but the change that

helping you put things back together when you have issues with

happens never comes at the hand of one person, it usually comes

your life.”

through the community of people.” Maddox and American Family

Passion without performance is pointless in the world that Maddox inhabits. Therefore, in an effort to ensure he’s not living a


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

looks forward to a continued development of such a community with their consumer base—both old and new.

Education is tremendous at any level. I think that it certainly broadens your horizons to many different topics. | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

must haves Gadgets to Fit YOUR Professional Personality Traveling Executives are go-go-go. Always moving, they’re the guys you see at the airport pacing back and forth while asking loud questions into their headsets and holding the same cup of coffee for a half-hour. A Traveling Executive can’t miss important calls, meetings and memos while he’s in Japan meeting with the distribution director of a multi-national tech company, so here are a handful of handy tools to keep that Type A personality from losing touch. The Entertainment Junkie refuses to sit idly without some type of audible, visual or neurological stimulation. From films to albums, they are sponges of pop culture and the person you want to pair up with during office tournaments of Trivial Pursuit. Obviously, the Entertainment Junkie has the most options when it comes to gadgets. There are several mp3 players, movie websites and online gaming for them to stay occupied for ... oh, about 10 minutes. We’ve gathered a few of the best gadgets for our ADD-afflicted colleagues. When you’re balancing kids and career, things can get a bit tricky. That’s why the Working Mom needs gadgets that can help streamline her day. She has to remember Summer’s piano recital, Mikey’s basketball game, and have her presentation ready for the big meeting with the shareholders tomorrow. Working Moms also need to remember how to fit themselves into their über-busy schedules, so we’ve included some gadgets that can help her take care of her. As a Creative Spirit, you have to have something around you that allows you to express yourself. You need to be tied to the arts and given room to develop your ideas in as free-flowing an environment as possible. A Creative Spirit might not want to be plugged in as often as possible, but you definitely need to share your thoughts. We think we’ve got a few items that can help you tap into your inner muse. | Madison Way



Bluetooth SP700 Speakerphone

Apple Macbook Pro

Apple iPro Projector

Must Haves for…

The Traveling Executive You’re a wheeler and dealer, you can’t be out of communication with the rest of your team for great lengths, and you absolutely have to get that report NOW. Here are a few items that any corporate raider can’t be without: Apple iPro Projector opens up into two sections with icons that are touchscreen controlled and there are three buttons on the exterior casing for further navigation. It also features Input and Output links that can be used to hook up speakers, iPods, computer, etc. It also has three Apple speakers built into the system. It’s an easy to setup projector. The Bluetooth SP700 Speakerphone works great in loud conditions—like on the road or at the airport. So you can be on that conference call, no matter where you are. It also works with a car stereo and comes with a car charger. The BlackBerry® 8820 smartphone is the stylish way to get things done and stay connected no matter where you are. It’s sleekly designed with email, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi support, maps, browser, instant messaging, organizer, media player. And it’s incredibly compact and slim. Apple MacBook Pro features a battery that lasts eight hours in case you have long breaks before you get to a power outlet and a high-resolution widescreen display. The 17-inch MacBook Pro supports up to 8GB of 1066MHz DDR3 memory and comes with a large 320GB hard drive; so it’s perfect for software presentations.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

BlackBerry® 8820


Apple iPhone 3G

Must Haves for…

The Entertainment Junkie Rhapsody membership provides you with millions of downloadable music files and albums and for as little as $12.99/month, you can get a one year subscription. From new releases to old-time favorites, from the mainstream to experimental; indie, hip-hop, classical and everything in between. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it on Rhapsody. With so many artists, songs and genres to choose from, this should be your one-stop-shop for music online. Are you on the road a lot and can’t get around to renting your favorite DVDs? Netflix will deliver the movies to you; and you can even watch movies and TV episodes streamed from on your PC or Mac. The largest online DVD service, Netflix offers plans that allow you to have out as many as eight DVDs at a time, and all plans include the streaming feature. The sleek SanDisk Sansa Fuze has an FM tuner, supports for-subscription-based music services and has a memory card slot. And the sound quality is second to none. The battery lasts about 20 hours and it will work with a Mac. So once you get that Rhapsody® membership, this is the MP3 player for you. Available in 4GB and 8GB of memory. The Apple iPhone 3G makes a great smartphone even better. New software (also available to owners of the original iPhone) adds Microsoft Exchange support for business and access to the iPhone App Store where hundreds of applications for work and play can be downloaded for free or low cost. The iPhone can now use AT&T’s speedier 3G HSDPA network (where available), and is a great multimedia player, and web pages display perfectly.

SanDisk Sansa Fuze | Madison Way



Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer

Canon PowerShot A470 Digital Camera

Must Haves for…

The Working Mom The Amazon Kindle features a revolutionary electronic-paper high-resolution display that looks and reads like real paper. It doesn’t require any computer, cables, or syncing, so its easy to use; and the wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from the device no matter where you are. It holds over 200 titles and you can buy a book

Sanctuary Charging Station

and have it auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute. If you’re power-walking every morning before you head to the office, you could use the Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer. It has unique dual technology that enables it to be carried in your pocket or bag and accurately measures your steps, calorie consumption and the distance you’ve traveled. The Sanctuary Charging Station’s simple and compact design can help you keep all of your gadgets in order. It’s compatible with over 1,500 devices from most major brands including Apple, BlackBerry, Motorola and Samsung. And you can charge up to 12 devices at the same time; perfect for the Mom who’s been using multiple gadgets all day. Reversible inner tray insert turns this into the ultimate catchall. Sleek and sensational, the Canon PowerShot A470 Digital Camera has everything you need to make shooting fast and fun when you’re with the kids. There’s a 7.1-megapixel resolution, a 3.4x optical zoom Lens, a large 2.5-inch LCD and a full range of performance features, including enhanced Face Detection technology and a DIGIC III Image Processor to keep every image crisp and clear.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Amazon Kindle


QuickCam Pro 9000

iConnex Portable Soundcard

Must Haves for…

The Creative Spirit You may be business-minded, but you definitely have a Creative Spirit. Sure you quit the band to get your doctorate, but you still have plenty of creative juices flowing. You always travel with a copy of SPIN Magazine along with your Wall Street Journal and love thoughtful, cerebral movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Seven Pounds. Here are the gadgets that can help you channel your inner Picasso/Hendrix/Spike Lee. The snazzy UCCTOP XENO is sort of a combination laptop/mixer/video editor that’s great for helping you finish your independent short film while still getting that presentation ready for Monday morning. It has a four-channel video and six-channel audio input and produced VOD files are automatically stored in the media server and registered on a VOD list of ‘My Studio.’ If you’re looking to shoot and document every moment of your business trip to Seattle, we highly recommend the QuickCam Pro 9000. It utilizes the Tessar optical system which produces the clearest images on the market and this camera is capable of capturing video at up to 1600 x 1200 and 30 frames per second. And there are a variety of filters and video effects. The iConnex Portable Soundcard allows you to finish your demo while on the road. It’s compact, with a plug and play USB powered sound card that—when paired with your favorite recording or DJ software--gives you flexibility and convenience. You can add extra outputs for cueing and mixing, as well as a phono/turntable input and pre-amp for transferring your old Vinyl, tape or CD collection. UCCTOP XENO | Madison Way


Spring Time


Hot ticket items

Don’t be afraid to embrace the goddess in you. This spring, expect fuss- free feminine pieces and fresh colors that bring out your softer side.

Bows: Big bow embellishments are daring and fun.

Military Jacket: With a sharply tailored fit and subtle embellishment on the front, the style serves as a great alternative to the jean jacket or blazer. (3.1 Phillip Lim Asymmetric Cadet Jacket ($595.00,

Pastel: Incorporate sophisticated hues in your wardrobe this upcoming season. Alice & Olivia Pleated belted dress ($375.00,

Florals: Brighten up a room with lush, bold, artistic prints. Sophisticate Floral Skirt ($22.80, Forever 21)


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Strappy Sandals: Strappy sandals are always popular when the temperatures climb. DKNY “Brooke” Strappy Sandal ($62.25, Macy’s)

Elaborate Hats: A sure way to get noticed. Classic Straw Hat ($49.50, J.Crew)

Sophisticated Trench: The classic rainy-day essential got an upgrade this season. Shantal Nylon Coat ($34.80, Forever 21)

Zipper Accents: The flirty zipper trim on Phillip Lim’s silk tank balances downtown edge with uptown elegance.

Big Bangles: Slipping on a few big bangles creates an exotic look. Juicy Couture Snakeskin Chain Bangle ($128.00, Nordstrom)

Color Blocks: Aquascutum Persephone Color Block Dress ($100.00 Netaporter) | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Jada Pinkett Smith Is Every Woman Jada Pinkett Smith has always been one of the sexiest women in show business (no disrespect Will). Ever since she first exploded onto the scene in 1991 as independent, sassy frosh Lena James on TV’s “A Different World,” Pinkett Smith has not lacked male admirers. But the actress was determined not to be defined by her looks, nor by her marriage to the biggest superstar on the planet. No, the sweat of her own brow would define her legacy.

“I would have to say the thing that inspires me most is knowing what my purpose [is]…” When Pinkett Smith begins to detail how her work is an exercise in spirituality, it’s akin to listening in on a very intimate, private conversation. “My calling from God is that I’m here to represent for black women in a way that when a black woman looks at me, I want her to understand that she can have it all,” she says. “And when a black woman looks at me, I want her to understand that nobody has the right to stick her inside of a box and tell her how to limit herself. But also when a black man looks at me, I want him to understand the expansion, the power and the potential of the women that are by (his) side. And that the more we offer each other support, and the more that we offer each other love, then there’s no stopping us. The only way that we can be stopped is through not having that unity between us, and allowing other parties to come in and divide us. That’s our history. We constantly had interference in our relationships, because people understood the power of our unity. So people worked hard to keep the black man and black woman broken and separated. But now it’s time for us to work hard and not allow that to be the case anymore.”

Was this a process that you ultimately uncovered as you grew within your marriage? Or was this something that you always knew, and were just waiting for the right man to come along so you could exercise your belief in the power of unity? “This kind of understanding evolved for me,” she replies, leaning forward. “I honestly never saw myself married, because it was so hard. I didn’t know how I was going to work it out with me and anybody. I knew that I was going to have a companion. But a husband? No, I wasn’t trying to do that. I might have shared a child with somebody, but I wasn’t trying to give myself to anybody.” So, if it was something that you had to grow into, when did it change? Did it just happen over time without you really noticing, or did something profound happen that caused you to shift your thinking? Pinkett Smith paused for a moment … began to speak, but then paused once more to gather her thoughts. It became increasingly apparent that Pinkett Smith had been longing for the opportunity to break free from the superficial interview questions that some media outlets have spoon-fed her over the years. It was obvious she didn’t want to waste this opportunity to share her core beliefs. “I just had to grow into knowing how to surrender,” she states, while staring off, apparently conjuring up the memories of her evolution. “And you know what? It’s been a long, hard journey. But I’m here. And honestly, the journey continues. I don’t have all the answers. All I can tell you is that every day, I am constantly working on expanding myself, learning and being better a better person. When I wake up every morning, I want to be more — for Will, for my kids, and for myself. And now that I’m thinking about it, I want to be more for all women, and for all people. That’s my calling. And the minute that I was able to just fall into step, things began | Madison Way


and you know what? it’s been a long, hard journey. but i’m here. and honestly, the journey continues. i don’t have all the answers. all i can tell you is that every day, i am constantly working on expanding myself, learning and being better a better person. to work out for me. I could hear a higher power whispering in my ear saying ‘You have got to surrender to me and follow, because if you don’t, it’s just going to be pain. I’m going to keep delivering the pain, as long as you ignore me.’ So, I wised up, and finally learned how to surrender. That was the biggest obstacle for me.” “If you can’t tell by now, my spiritual walk means everything to me,” she stated while pounding her fist in her hand to accentuate her point. “And I know what works for me. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me. And while some people will only preach [about] ‘Jesus [and] God,’ [as the only path] I’m like ‘OK; that’s your walk and I get it.’ But I just know what works for me. Yeah, God does have us, but at the same time we’ve gotta do some work, too.” But with your position, and your visibility, you’ve never been tempted to push your beliefs on someone else? I’m sure the opportunity has presented itself on more than one occasion to impart your way of thinking to someone else. “I don’t think that works,” she asserts. “I think that one of the things that we have to learn when it comes to being together as a people, is that you have to grant people the space to be who they are. It’s one of the things that I love about Islam, because Islam talks about the path to righteousness. And whether you are a Jew, a Christian, or whatever, as long as you are on the path of righteousness, then you are OK. And that passage in the Koran, gave me such an affinity for that religion. I study all religions, because I just have a love for religion, but when I read that, I said to myself ‘now that’s what I know God to be.’ As long as you are on the path of righteousness, then you are fine. And whatever path you chose to get there, then that’s on you. But just do right. We all just need to do right.” As the interview ended, I stood, and offered my hand along with sincere thanks for our time together. “I appreciate it; you gave me an entirely new perception of you.” “Aww, thank you,” she replied as she took my hand. “I’m just glad you took the time to talk to me about things that are real. When it’s all said and done, most of the things that people want to talk about don’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. We as a people have a lot of work to do, so I can only hope that having dialogue like this can help bring about change.”


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Paulette Siebers

Vice President, Broker Dealer Division American Family Insurance For a business to be successful in

Family [Life Insurance] started selling

such perilous times, it must be conser-

variable insurance products in 2001,”

vative and follow a well-developed busi-

shares Siebers, a University of Wisconsin

ness plan. It must also earn the trust of

Law School graduate. “These products

its customers and not take that trust for

are suitable for customers with long-term

granted. American Family Insurance, an

financial needs, such as retirement, with

80-year-old insurance company based

time horizons of 14 years or more.

in Madison, Wisc., understands and

“American Family Insurance has been

implements such a business strategy.

able to secure our customers’ confi-

“American Family Insurance is founded

dence due to our long history of prudent

on the principles of ethics, doing things

financial management. We have been

right, and providing a good value to our

there to take care of our customers in

customers. Our agents and employees

times of catastrophe in the past. Our

are dedicated and they are honest; we

long tradition of focusing on the needs

have a financially-solid business,” shares

of our customer has enabled us, even

Paulette Siebers, vice president of the

in troubled times like today when the

Broker/Dealer Division for American

economy is a challenge for all busi-

Family Insurance. “We have excellent

nesses and individuals, to be there for

products at a fair price, with top-quality

our customers.”

service to back that up. I really think that

A native of the Milwaukee area, Sie-

our people and their values are what at-

bers is an avid reader of the Chicago Tri-

tract our customers to want to buy their

bune, The New York Times’ Sunday edi-

insurance from American Family.”

tion, and periodicals related to

An attorney by training, Siebers

securities and insurance industries. She

oversees the broker/dealer and serves as

enjoys riding her bike, exercising, and

its chief compliance officer. “American

hiking at state parks with her family. | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

A Story Of

Life, Love & Family L

ove is patient. Love is kind. And for Rob and Nneka Robertson, love is the tie that continues to bind their loving marriage of six years. Having a unique understanding of one another, matched with an abiding spiritual belief in God’s ability to order their steps as a couple has served them well over the years. But when it was time to start a family, they needed more than just a commitment to one another to make it through. They needed a plan. For Rob, a former NFL player who currently serves as the vice president of retail operations for GMFS Lending, the initial step in their plan was adopting the proper mindset. “It was important for us to have kids and to do it the right way,” he began. “We both wanted to be fruitful and rear children one day. And we also wanted to teach and provide for our children in ways that we weren’t able to have growing up.” As parents, the couple has diligently worked to do just that by showering their five-year-old son Bryson and 19-month-old daughter Boston Olivia, with unwavering love and devotion. The process, by all accounts, was relatively smooth adding their first child to the picture. But according to Rob, the real balancing act began when their beautiful daughter came into

the world. “When we had our son, there really wasn’t much of a transition that had to take place,” he explains. “It was really like there was just another person in the house. The real transition came when we had our daughter. I think that I can speak for the both of us when I say that it became more challenging when you have more than one child. It’s just a huge sacrifice. Some of the things that we wanted to do for ourselves, we can’t do anymore, because we had to be there for our children. They come first. I think that most parents can relate to that. My dream was for us to travel the world, and visit different cities. But now, we’ve had to put that energy into our kids, because they obviously can’t travel as much as we would like to. But despite those sacrifices, I definitely think that they [are] a gift. Having children has increased my patience, and I honestly can’t see my life without them now.” For wife Nneka, the universal growing pains of family were eased by the choice to enlist some added help around the house. “We were fortunate enough to have a nanny, which allowed us to have a little more balance in our life,” she recalls. “It allowed us the opportunity to still date, which I think is important for any married couple. We are able to spend time continued on page 49 | Madison Way


I went up to her job, introduced myself and asked if she would join me for lunch. She agreed, and we went to Applebee’s. We even ended up going to the movies later on that night. At the end of the date, I asked her for a hug, and she just looked at me and said ‘I don’t know you like that.’ She wouldn’t even give me a hug. She probably thought I was just this country guy from Louisiana. But I eventually won her heart. 48

Madison Way | WINTER 2009

The devoted couple enjoy entertaining and cooking together as well as date nights out on the town. | Madison Way


This is my little buddy.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

What drew me to Nneka was her strength and independence... with our kids, but also spend time with each other. I always tell my husband that having help is priceless. Having that extra set of hands to assist us makes things that much easier, and more organized.” While the extra set of hands has certainly provided a needed assist as Nneka intimated, the real struggle for any family with children ultimately becomes, “How do we still have a life and preserve our love for one another?” Going into the marriage, the Robertsons were well aware of their changing lifestyle, but the devoted couple was intent on maintaining the harmony within their marriage that existed even before Bryson and Boston Olivia entered into the picture.

We are able to spend time with our kids, but also spend time with each other. I always tell my husband that having help is priceless.

“What drew me to Nneka was her strength and independence,” Rob thoughtfully reveals. “I just knew that I would want to spend the rest of my life with her. So when we got married, all I could remember from back in my football days was a coach telling me that he didn’t want to see my highlights. He wanted to see my lowlights instead. He wanted to know what it was that I didn’t do well. I’ve taken that same philosophy, and applied it to our marriage and to raising our kids. We’re not that perfect couple, and will never pretend to be. We’ve definitely had our downs. But we’ve experienced far more ups than downs, and have managed to balance out each other’s faults and weaknesses. When I’m down, my wife picks me up; and when she’s down, I pick her up. You will rarely ever find a time where we are both down at the same time. And when that does happen, we just pull together and push our way through the situation. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in my wife.” What the pair has come to know and appreciate is that their relationship comes first, which in turn positively affects the lives of their two children. An unhappy marriage always has a way of spilling into a child’s psyche, and neither Rob or Nneka intend to add any negative relational imagery to the minds of their young children. As long as there is love in the household –regardless of finances – they will be just fine. | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

yourMoneY | Madison Way


yourMoneY Embracing the Consortium Since 1966, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management has served as a useful alliance between many of the leading educational institutions and top national corporations. Their aim has been to enhance the diversity of the business world by directly addressing the lack of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans both in business schools and management positions. To combat this unfortunate phenomenon, the consortium recruits talented minority candidates and offers a graduate business education in an effort to balance the playing field. Participating Universities Carnegie Mellon University Dartmouth College Emory University Indiana University-Bloomington University of Michigan-Ann Arbor New York University University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University of Rochester University of Southern California University of Texas at Austin University of Virginia Washington University in St. Louis University of Wisconsin-Madison Yale University

No. 1:


Learn more about The Consortium by visiting

Four Things to Consider When Pursuing an M.B.A. It’s always a big decision whether or not to pursue an M.B.A. The competition is significant when applying to the best programs and the cost can be significant. But with the right foundation, you can maximize the opportunity and reap the benefits of having an M.B.A. To get into the best programs, there are four basic factors that you need to consider: GMAT score, work experience, academic history, and personal qualifications. The GMAT Your Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) results are required for admission to most business schools. Minimum requirements don’t exist at some schools and test scores are generally not the sole criterion to gain admission into a graduate business program. Make no mistake though; they are a significant part of the process. Work Experience Many of the most selective business programs will require full-time, professional work experience prior to enrollment, generally four to five years. This experience provides a context for most of the material in the curriculum, and also helps you to contribute to discussion and projects in a substantive way. Career success illustrates that you have potential for managerial leadership. Academic Profile Obviously, this is the best way to showcase your intellectual prowess. If you excelled as an undergraduate student, then it stands to reason that you would be successful on the graduate level. However, your undergraduate specialization doesn’t mean a whole lot when it comes to admission to B-school. It’s advisable to master the basic courses: economics, calculus, and statistics. They prepare you for most business graduate studies programs. Personal Attributes Graduate level business programs seek students who exhibit organizational leadership ability. Demonstrating communication skills, initiative and motivation is an important aspect of the admissions process. Personal qualities set the tone during the review of the application and in most cases compellingly distinguish a candidate.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

brand building

Tony Quiñones Multicultural Marketing Developer, American Family Insurance


F a st F a c ts : On his bookshelf: Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, from Wall Street to Dubai by Ben” Mezrich Ben. He also enjoys reading the Financial Times.

“We are like family to the community. We’re about family and the value that we offer in terms of the sponsorships demonstrates that. Our agents even integrate themselves into the community and take it in as their own.”

s Tony Quiñones diligently studied religion in college, the thought never crossed his mind that the good news he would one day spread would be that of insurance. As the multicultural marketing developer for American Family Insurance, Quiñones leads the “Hispanic initiative for the company, which encompasses everything from exploring different opportunities in product development, to interacting with our marketing and advertising departments on how we can better serve our customers,” he shares. Quiñones’ dedication to the community is evidenced by the 60 to 80 hours a week he spends traveling throughout Chicago speaking to grassroots and community-based organizations. “I talk about the importance of the products that we sell,” he explains. “In turn, I hear their stories and learn what is important to them and bring that back to our corporate meetings to develop best practices to benefit the community.” The messages shared within those meetings come through loud and clear, as Quiñones and American Family both strive to put the customer first. “We are like family to the community,” he proudly expresses. “We’re about family and the value that we offer in terms of [our] sponsorships demonstrates that. Our agents even integrate themselves into the community and take it in as their own.” The marketing guru also takes strides to entrench himself into the local community by supporting organizations like the National Hispanic Corporate Council, whose vision is “to be corporate America’s premier resource on effectively maximizing the diversity of the Hispanic market.” He recently formed a relationship with the University of Chicago and offers, “We are going into our second year of educating individuals on how to grow and expand Hispanic businesses.” With Quiñones leading the charge, American Family’s outreach towards minority communities and middle America continues to set a shining example for other corporations to model.

Music Preference: Loves Cuban music, soul, mellow and old music … a snare drum, a trumpet and a beautiful singer.

Buena Vista Social Club by Cooder, Ry (Audio CD - 1997)

Mind, Body and Soul: Reading is the spiritual release that I need to have. Meditation, prayer and attending church keep me vibrant and whole. I like to get at least two to three hours a week on my bike or at the gym. | Madison Way



No. 2:

Starting Your Own Business

Six Steps to Entrepreneurship You don’t always immediately see what you need to get a business up and running. Sometimes you don’t realize what you need until you actually begin developing your business, and as a result, mistakes could be made along the way. To help you avoid some of the common pitfalls, here are some solid tips to utilize before you launch your business. 1.Build your cash reserve. You will need to start saving money for your business a few years before you actually start your business. Any extra money that you get, i.e. a raise, bonus, or stock options should be put in a fund for your business. The amount will depend on the location and type of business, and it’s a good rule of thumb to save twice as much as what you will actually need. You also want room to be flexible. 2.Know your credit score Get a copy of your credit report and credit score. Pay off as many bills as possible. If your score is good, a 720, make sure you manage your credit to protect it. If there are any inconsistencies or possible mistakes, correct them as soon as possible. 3.Know your financial risk It’s been said that any entrepreneur should be prepared to lose money in the first few years of business, so know how much you can afford to lose. If the business isn’t immediately profitable, will you still be able to cover your personal expenses and other goals? In your efforts to stay committed to your burgeoning business, don’t lose sight of your other financial goals. Know your financial situation. 4.Use debt wisely Starting a business typically requires a combination of your own money, assistance from friends and family, credit cards, bank loans and other forms of financing. Be sure that you understand the terms of various types of loans. Home equity loans, lines of credit, and credit cards have interest rates, which could increase substantially over time. 5.Open a business bank account The best way to know how much cash you have, how much you’re spending ,and how much you’re earning is to separate your personal and business finances. This helps ensure that you don’t get funds crossed. You should be mindful of how your finances flow. 6.Be prepared to work hard If you’re not fully committed and prepared to sweat for your business to succeed, then don’t start a business. If you treat your endeavor like a hobby, it will make about as much money as a hobby.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

executive desk

Lisa Bacus Talent and leadership

Lisa Bacus Vice President of Marketing, American Family Insurance Favorite Business Books: Blue Ocean Strategy and Good to Great Favorite Magazines: Time and Brandweek Hometown: Nogales, Ariz. Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking, Bicycle Riding


he quiet moments of life are meant to be savored. At least, that’s what American Family vice president of marketing Lisa Bacus has come to both understand and appreciate. As the pace of the corporate world continues to rumble along at a maddening clip, it’s the solitary moments—Bacus is seated in a quiet auditorium—that prove to be the most effective when making the tough decisions. A master motivator and articulator, Bacus has come to find a home with American Family after previously serving 22 years at the Ford Motor Company. In her mind though, the past is far less important when her job is all about predicting what’s next on the horizon. “Change is interesting because it happens all around you,” she explains while flashing a high wattage smile. “As a marketer, it’s important for me to understand the type of change that is happening in the environment, to make sure we’re delivering the best products, services and experiences that meet the evolving needs of the consumer.” Gauging the needs of others and adapting accordingly can be a frightening undertaking for some. By contrast, Bacus finds the process to be exhilarating. “Personally, I think change is exciting,” she says. “I look at change as an adventure. I have moved with my family 11 times in my career, and am always looking for a new challenge and a new opportunity that will allow me to take my background, my knowledge, and my skills and apply it somewhere else for the benefit

of others.” That skill set includes an MBA in International Business from Duke University, and the priceless lessons gleaned from both motherhood and marriage. The latter has perhaps done more to directly influence the leadership style of Bacus, who guides her team with optimal transparency. “My leadership style is open,” she reveals. “People can probably read me like a book, [and] that’s good and bad I guess. I am very hands-on. I like being a part of the business and like learning regardless of the position.” Such an enduring quest for knowledge continues to push both Bacus and American Family to new heights in the coming years. With positive leadership in place, a healthy work environment secured, and a strong core of employees steeped with family values, the future indeed looks bright for all parties involved. From Bacus’ vantage point, the ride continues to be thrilling. “American Family Insurance is a wonderful company,” she concludes. “The culture is rooted in sincere values, helpfulness, fairness and integrity. From a values standpoint, the company lives everyday [to make] life easy and convenient for our customers and our employees.” This point conveys the loyalty mutually shared between Bacus and American Family. | Madison Way



No. 5:

Custom Building Your Home

5 Tips to Achieve Your Dream You’ve been searching and can’t seem to find that dream home; so, you’ve decided to build it. There are a few basic factors to consider before you break ground and draw up the blueprints. Here are five fundamentals to ensure your dream house doesn’t become a nightmarish disaster. 1. Budget Determine how much you can afford to spend. You will likely need a bank loan, so it isn’t too early to find out the amount and type of loan you qualify for. It also helps you to develop a building plan that fits your budget. 2. Recruit Your Team Unless you’re a homesteader, you need a team of experts to design and construct your house. Key players are a builder, an excavator, a surveyor and a home designer or an architect. Many homeowners begin by selecting the builder or contractor. That pro in turn recommends other members for the team. However, you may also opt to hire an architect or designer first. 3. Choose Your Lot No matter if your planning to build a sprawling estate in the country or a suburban hideaway, you need to pick the land before you decide on floor plans or any other details. You and your team will need to investigate soil condition, drainage, zoning and building codes before you move forward. 4. Pick a Floor Plan While a builder or home designer will often make minor modifications to a room’s size, windows or other details, many new homes are built using stock plans from a catalog. However, a custom-designed home is created specifically for the family that will live in it. Generally, building code requires that custom-designed homes are built by a licensed architect. 5. Contract Always secure a notarized and written contract that is signed and dated by both the builder/contractor and the architect/designer. A new home construction contract will describe the project down to the smallest details. And, don’t forget to amend the contract if you or your team makes any changes to the project later on.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

community minded supplier diversity administrator, American Family Insurance

Raymond Graham Explains Why Investing in Minority Communities is Vital


he economic strength of the minority community and America as a whole continues to ascend on the wings of corporate America’s increased insistence for minority inclusion. American Family embraces this philosophy and upholds diversity as a key tenet in their ongoing commitment to service. Raymond Graham wholeheartedly agrees with the company’s position, and tirelessly works to ensure the realization of this mission as American Family’s supplier diversity administrator. “The company has made a concerted effort to [show] the minority community that we believe you are important,” he shares. “We want to write policies for the fastest growing population in this country, which is the minority community.” Since joining the American Family team four years ago, Graham’s

results oriented approach has proved effective throughout the company’s collective push toward minority and women owned business empowerment. “I attend opportunity fairs put on by the National Minority Supplier Development Council and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council,” he explains. “I meet with them to try and understand their capabilities, as well as work to identify potential suppliers.” The financial lift that Graham and American Family continues to provide the minority small businesses community cannot be understated, as those generated dollars bolster the foundation of an ever growing community. For Graham, a husband and father of two, such an investment is key. “I think American Family shows its commitment by investing in communities. We have not wavered in [our] commitment to supplier diversity [and] are unrelenting in saying it’s important to us.” The community certainly appreciates such unrelenting support from both Graham and American Family. | Madison Way



Know What You’re Buying

Buying a home in today’s market can be a challenging prospect. Not only are there a variety of financing options including: fixed rate, adjustable rate, interest only, balloon payments, FHA, and combination mortgages, there are also several types of properties that may be best for your next address. Depending on your housing needs and personal preferences, you may want to consider single- or multi-family homes, condos, co-ops, or a combination commercial/residential properties.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

A single family home, considered the most traditional form of home ownership, comes with many advantages including: increased privacy, more (though not total) autonomy over how you paint, decorate or add on to your property, your own backyard where you can plant a garden or place swings and slides for children, and will generally be larger than a condo or multi-family property. The interest on your mortgage may be an annual tax deduction and is one of the major benefits of homeownership. Based on the type of financing you arrange, you can anticipate the amount of your monthly payments and not simply be at the mercy of a landlord. Along with the benefits of ownership there are also the responsibilities of property taxes, sanitation fees and insurance that you must pay in addition to the principal and interest on your mortgage. Be aware that most newer residential subdivisions have a homeowners’ association with by-laws and homeowners’ fees. The association is responsible for the upkeep of subdivision signage, clubhouse, pool, and tennis courts as well as other areas of common use. The mandatory monthly homeowner association fee represents your share of the cost of maintaining the above mentioned areas. It’s important to realize that some homeowners’ associations can be quite restrictive regarding the paint colors you use, modifications to your home, and the type and height of fencing. There may even be specific rules limiting the number of cars allowed in your driveway specific periods of time. You are responsible for your front and back yard, as well as appliances, electrical, plumbing etc. If your home is less than 10 years old you may have a builder’s warranty that covers certain defects in your home and of course your appliances are covered by warranty the manufacturer provided. Condominiums (condos) are individual personal units that you receive a deed to, but are located in a common building or complex with other units. Condo ownership gives you tax advantages similar to a single family home with a much lower level of exterior maintenance required on your part. There will be a homeowners’ association that is responsible for the upkeep of all common areas and the roof if it is a one building, multiple unit type of condo (the most common type). You are responsible for paying a monthly fee that represents your share in the cost of everything the association is responsible for. It is important to realize that in most cases nonpayment of association fees can actually place your condo in foreclosure. A co-op unit (most common in New York and San Francisco) is very similar to a condo and both are considered a common interest development, but there are some differences. The most significant is that rather than receiving a deed to your unit, you become a shareholder of the co-op (cooperative housing corporation) which owns the entire property and all of the units. From a day-

to-day standpoint, living in a co-op has the same advantages and responsibilities as living in a condo. Multi-family properties can range from a two-family structure (often referred to as a duplex) to a large apartment-like complex. We’ll only discuss the two-family unit here. Buying a two-family unit can be a great way to get some of the benefits of a single family home, while enjoying an opportunity to receive income to offset your mortgage cost. You do sacrifice a little privacy, but not as much as living in most condo units because there is only one other family adjacent to yours. Of course as a landlord, you are responsible for the upkeep of the property and appliances for both units. Normally each unit has its own utility meters and are the responsibility of that individual or family. There may also be tax advantages to being a landlord, but you should check with a CPA who is knowledgeable about the specifics of what is deductible to help you formulate a budget prior to deciding to purchase. One of the most important rules in this scenario is to find a dependable tenant that pays rent in a timely manner and is likely to properly maintain the property. Commercial property offers an uncommon alternative for those interested in working and living in the same locale. A good example of this living arrangement is occupying a loft unit above a retail or storefront business. Depending on the type of business, this can be an ideal investment. There are also a number of benefits to mixed-use living not the least of which is the daily commute. You won’t have a landlord to answer to, nor will you have to worry about increasing lease rates when you own your own retail space. There are however a few major risks in this setup, the most severe of which is that a struggling business may hinder your ability to make mortgage payments, in which case you stand to lose your residence along with your business. Of course you are also responsible for the upkeep of the building, the HVAC, plumbing, parking and surrounding areas that are a part of the property. All entrepreneurs believe that their businesses will succeed or they wouldn’t open them; but the United States Small Business Administration estimates that in 2007 that while 637,100 new businesses opened, 560,300 business closed and 28,322 filed for bankruptcy. If you do not already have a profitable existing business with great prospects for the future, this could be a very risky proposition. There are many considerations when buying a new home. Plan ahead and have family discussions to determine what type of property best suits your family’s lifestyle. Decide what area you want to live in, how much mortgage you’re comfortable with paying (considering all the additional costs involved), and then compare mortgage alternatives. Once you determine these issues, you’re ready to find your next home. | Madison Way



business scope

Michael Riggs Embraces His Destiny


s a regional sales director for American Family Insurance, Michael Riggs has exhibited an impressive leadership style, which seamlessly fits within the company’s structure. But the personality of Riggs is far from that of a “Stepford employee,” as his passion and zest for customer outreach continues to fuel his drive to enhance American Family’s standing as a compassionate corporation. As he reflects back on his time with the company, Riggs appears to be a man at peace, boldly embracing his destiny. The fortuitous path that has brought Riggs to this particular juncture in his career has been filled with both twists and turns; triumphs and admitted failures. Through it all though, the one constant in Riggs’ life has been his earnest belief that he was doing the right thing. “I believe that insurance was a calling more than anything,” he explains. “It definitely wasn’t something that I had planned on doing. I think from my perspective, the major thing that drew me to this field was the ability to help people. Of course, this is considered ‘just sales’ to some, but our relationship with customers is different because we are truly helping people, consulting them, and educating them. So it provides a myriad of opportunities to be of service to your customers. They view you as a trusted advisor, whereas with other forms of sales, you are viewed as merely selling a product. People trust you, and trust that you will lead them in the right decision.” Gaining the trust of a potential customer requires more than a sound presentation. According to Riggs, some people are dealing


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

with past prejudices that can affect the way they view insurance agents. “There can be a negative stigma at times, but that usually comes as a result of an unfortunate incident that an individual may have had where they didn’t get paid what they expected during a settlement,” he shares. “That is unfortunate, but that mindset usually changes once people begin to trust you and feel like you have their best interests at heart. This usually happens through your track record. Insurance has always been a referral based business, and the people that you end up doing business with are referred to you by someone who knows that you will do the best possible job.” As Riggs continues to press towards the mark of greatness, his reputation as a result has exponentially expanded as a dedicated leader who understands the value of both colleagues and clients. And while Riggs seeks to be viewed as a consummate professional, the love and devotion for his family are virtues that he doesn’t want overlooked. “Well, during the company’s transition to Atlanta, there was a significant amount of time that I had to be outside of the family,” he reveals. “So I had to almost schedule that time to ensure that I was spending quality time with my family. From a spiritual standpoint, I also had to make sure that as a family we stayed spiritually rooted in our church, and for myself that I was taking the time to meditate. All of that was important to me. When it’s all said and done, insurance is what we do, not who we are.” For your insurance needs contact Riggs at (770) 916-3600 ext. 43002.

Determining Your Insurance Needs While building the family’s budget, it’s important to account for every dollar spent and to choose the right insurance plan and deductible for you. Homeowners/Property Insurance It protects the owners and occupants of dwellings (house, condominium, townhouse, or apartment) against financial loss. Flood Insurance The big question is do I really need it? It’s important to consult with an agent to make this determination. American Family Insurance is working with the federal government to bring flood insurance to those who are at risk of incurring substantial losses due to flooding. Auto Insurance Most states require auto insurance and the amount of coverage needed varies state by state. Be sure to ask your agent about discounts for good student, airbags, anti-lock brake systems, multiple vehicle coverage and crash test ratings. Life Insurance It protects your family from financial loss in the event of your death. It can cover your mortgage, rent and outstanding loans. To make a determination if whole, universal or term life insurance is a better plan for you, contact an agent.

Individual Health Plans Comprehensive Major Medical Coverage, Short-Term Protection, High Deductible Health Plan combined with a Health Savings Account, and Medicare Supplement Plan are the various options to consider when you are out of work but wish to keep your family covered. Commercial Lines Insurance coverage for a small or large business: American Family Insurance Group offers several types, including Businessowners, Business Key, Workers Compensation and Employers Liability, Employee Benefits Liability, Condominium Directors and Officers Liability, Umbrella and Business Auto Policy. Farm/Ranch Insurance It provides coverage on your home, buildings, equipment and animals. Additionally, there is coverage for liability and medical expenses. Contact American Family Insurance and arrange to have an insurance review to protect you against unexpected losses. Preserve your lifestyle and economic security by making that call. Visit or call 1 (800) MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326). | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009


An Awakening Of Your Senses The mundane travel experiences of the past are long gone. As you settle into 2009 and beyond, attempt to implement vacations that awaken all of your senses. Here are some favorable suggestions. | Madison Way


yourtrAveL The Touch of Rome As you run your fingers across the worn columns of the Pantheon, or playfully dip your hand into the historic River Tiber, the feel of Rome is unmistakable. Even more remarkable are the things you can’t touch, namely the priceless treasures found within the sprawling museums of the Vatican City.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

The Tastes of Venice The Carpaccio Classico Con Salsa from the famed Cipriani Hotel is simply divine, and should serve as the appetizer to an amazing culinary exploration. Few places on earth can match the edible delicacies native to Venice. | Madison Way


yourtrAveL The Sights of Paris From the iron wrought elegance of the Eiffel Tower to the cultural pulse of the city located at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the visual pleasures that encompass a trip to Paris are both striking and enduring. Â


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The Sounds of London The chime of Big Ben is just as unmistakable as the silence of the Palace Guards is ironically deafening. The aural intricacies of London provide the soundtrack to a once in a lifetime adventure.Â | Madison Way


yourtrAveL The Smell of St. Lucia So what does paradise smell like? As you stroll along the beaches of St. Lucia, gazing out into the wonderment of God’s creation, the air that you take in is infused with an unmatched peace and tranquility.Â


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The Sixth Sense of the Bahamas Psychologists have often argued the validity of a person’s ability to foretell the future. Often labeled as a “sixth sense,” that very ability is ingrained in the culture of the Bahamas. How, you ask? With its rich culture, breathtaking beaches and welcoming natives, you begin to “know” that you’ll make a return visit in the not-too-distant future. | Madison Way



Higher Learning Are You Suffering From Jet Lag? Now that you’ve invested in your dream vacation, the last thing that you want is to waste your entire f irst day walking around in a lethargic daze f ighting the symptoms of jet lag. Never fear, as these four tricks of the trade are guaranteed to stop jet lag dead in its tracks. 


Take A Supplement


Ignore The Time Change

3 4 72

Melatonin is always helpful in quickly adjusting to your new sleep schedule. Just take some right before your newly scheduled bedtime, and the rest will fall into place.

Let’s say your trip is only two nights or less. If that’s the case, then there’s no need to bother adjusting to the new time change. Just continue to operate on the same hours as if you were home, and your body won’t skip a beat.

Change Your Routine Before You Leave

For extended vacations, it’s always helpful to switch to your destination’s schedule a few days before you leave. Stay awake during the hours that you are usually asleep, and vice versa. That way, your body will already be adjusted to the inverted schedule.

Drink Caffeine, Then Lights Out

A common misconception is to avoid caffeine if you’re tired. But in order to maximize the fullness of your trip, try drinking a cup of coffee and immediately following it with a 20 minute nap. By the time you wake up, the caffeine would have kicked in, and you will be raring to go.

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Have Gadgets, Will Travel

Travel Entourage It’s obvious you’re the boss when you whip out your Garmin nüvi. This sleek, widescreen GPS navigation device provides door-to-door directions so you’re never lost. It even provides travel information, weather information and local gas prices. (; $149.99–$649.99)

What’s the point of hitting the road if you’re not equipped with the right gear? Successful travel takes the proper outlook and these gadgets will certainly get you in the right frame of mind.

Six Deep Hammacher Schlemmer’s six-device power charger accommodates cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, phone headsets and MP3 players. It includes an AC charger and a DC charger for the car. (; $99.95) Candid Camera Aiptek 1080P HD digital camcorder is great for capturing memorable moments. You can record your favorite shows and watch them on the road or listen to music. (; $169.99)

Say Cheese

Float On When you take a dip in the pool, take your iPod with you. Frontgate’s waterproof, portable iPod stereo system keeps you afloat while the waterproof click wheel navigates your playlist. (; $99.00)

The “Take It Anywhere” camera is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, and can clip on your backpack, belt loop or keychain. The 100k pixel digital camera also records video sans the sound. It’s PC-compatible and stores up to 64 images. (; $44.95) | Madison Way


Advice for Young Couples on Financial Matters After a romantic Christmas Eve proposal, “House of Payne’s” star Lance Gross and actress/model Eva Marcille immediately set their sights on building a healthy and happy life together. As they anticipate their future together, each one has an idea about what needs to be in place before they say, “I do.” Lance: “We are definitely going to receive premarital counseling before we get married. It’s mandatory in order to have a traditional Catholic wedding, but even outside of that, we both know that everyday isn’t going to be sunny. We have to be prepared to make it through the hard times together.” Eva: “Outside of the things that we have to work on as a couple, I know that we have to work to improve ourselves individually as well. I know that we love each other, flaws and all, but we still have to work on bettering ourselves.” In addition to these helpful hints laid out by Lance and Eva, here are three tips to assist young couples—particularly as it pertains to the area of finances. Tip 1: Talk About Your Finances and Set Goals


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Now that you’re familiar with one another and planning to spend the rest of your lives together, it’s important to develop a plan to handle your finances. This includes: paying down credit card debt, financing a home, managing child support payments, filing income taxes, strategically planning retirement savings and simply paying bills. It’s OK to have separate banking accounts as long as you have one together and there are no secrets about your income and finances. For tips and a sample budget, visit Tip 2: Check Your Credit Reports Request credit profiles from the big three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. is a centralized site that allows you to request your free annual credit report, which you are entitled to under federal law, from all three agencies. Tip 3: Know Your Credit Score Request your FICO score ( The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is a credit score that uses all of your information for your credit file. It is the most commonly used measurement or formula to determine your credit risk. If you plan to apply for a mortgage or auto loan, most lenders will use your FICO score to determine 1) if you qualify for the loan and 2) what your interest rate will be.


Your Success Equals More Public Speaking. Are You Ready? As you elevate professionally, the public’s desire to hear your thoughts oftentimes increases as well. With that in mind, you should really consider polishing up your public speaking skills. Hey, you never know when you’ll be asked to make the big presentation or accept the employee of the year award (fingers crossed.) Here are 10 steps to becoming a better public speaker as outlined by Toastmaster’s International. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.

Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment. For more tips on public speaking, visit Toastmasters International

Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm. | Madison Way


Fonzworth Bentley Tackles Manners, Confidence and Style


Madison Way | WINTER 2009


onzworth Bentley, born Derrick Watkins in Atlanta, is a

“When I wrote the etiquette book, they came to me and wanted me to write a book about myself,” he shares. “I wasn’t interested in that. But people would always come up to me and ask, ‘How were you able to move from Atlanta to New York without knowing anyone? How were you able to survive? How did you meet people?’ I could attribute all of that to three simple things: manners, confidence, and style. So I wanted to make an etiquette book, because I think it’s the little things that hold so many of us back. My whole mind-set was

difficult man to get a bead on —at least that’s the way society

that if I mentored 10 kids, then that was not good enough. But if I

has made it appear. Groomed to be a man of distinction from his

wrote a book, then I could possibly touch hundreds of thousands of

formative years, this genteel television, music and literary magnet

lives. Now with this television show, we were able to touch 60 million

has always been surrounded by an aura of mystery. “Who is this guy

people last year — and [that] was without any big promotion behind

working with Diddy,” people wondered. Moreover, “Why is he always

us. So not only did we survive … we won. Integrity is winning. I

flawlessly dressed in suits, ties and suspenders while everyone else

think that’s one of the exciting things about this time. This whole

is rocking the latest Sean John gear?” Over time, those questions

idea of change is a very real thing. As a result, young folks are now

and the false assumptions that followed began to define how

becoming aspirational.”

society viewed him. “He must be lame or searching for attention”

Where Bentley’s life journey will ultimately take him continues

became the retort for those in need of something to feed their inner

to be uncovered daily. And while industry experts try to convince


him that the only path to success is through mimicking what’s

Those who knew Bentley intimately, however, had a far different

already popular, that option has never been very appealing to him

perception. That private Bentley came to the fore after authoring

— especially when it comes to his music. Bentley, an aspiring (and

an etiquette book, and hosting the wildly popular MTV show “From

highly talented) rap artist, believes that his success will ultimately be

G’s to Gents,” and then the world began to really understand the

born through authenticity. “I’ve always been successful by just being

makeup of this man.

me,” he explains. “But a lot of times, my colleagues will tell me

The shoot was scheduled to take place in a quaint nook carved

that I have to say stuff in my rhymes that ‘white T-shirt’ dudes can

out at one of Atlanta’s highly respected salons, Studio 501. By the

get with. But I’m like ‘no, white T-shirt dudes respect me when I’m

time all parties had assembled though, the focus had become less

doing me 1,000 percent.’ At the end of the day, everyone respects a

about the location and more about the message to be conveyed.

hustler -- period.”

“Can I talk to you for a second,” Bentley requested. “I was really

As we concluded the interview, Bentley seemed to percolate

hoping that you and I could have a talk beforehand about what we

with an unbridled optimism about the future. It wasn’t displayed

will be discussing. What did you have in mind?”

or articulated in a way that could ever be perceived as arrogant,

When it was explained that we wanted to focus on his impact

though. Instead, his demeanor hinted at a man who had endured

on young men, Bentley was visibly relieved. “Well that’s perfect,

the vicissitudes of life, only to discover the real meaning of his

because that’s exactly where I’m at right now,” he offered. “I just


want to encourage our young men to press forward and be all that

“I have experienced some real difficult times. There was a point

they can be. I think that people perform at the expectation level that

when the [Bad Boy] checks stopped coming, and my parents came

they are given, and it’s time to raise that expectation.”

to me and suggested that I [might] need to consider giving up my

In retrospect, the interview was dangerously close to never happening due to numerous scheduling conflicts on both sides.

place in L.A. That’s when I learned how to just keep the faith,” Bentley affirms.

But like many things in life, events occur precisely when they are

That faith continues to be rewarded in grand fashion. But even

meant to take place. The same could be said for the evolution of

still, there were moments when doubt crept in, as was evidenced by

Bentley’s career. After experiencing maximum exposure during his

the nerves that ate away at him during the first season of “From G’s

Bad Boy days as Diddy’s assistant and stylist, there were numerous

to Gents.”

opportunities to capitalize on the goodwill created from that time in

“I was extremely stressed out during that first season,” he

the spotlight. Bentley had a specific idea about how to make the

revealed. “I was in prayer a lot. Because if it didn’t work, think about

most of his good fortune. His first step in a detailed plan to change

all of those millions of people out there who would be like ‘I don’t

lives was to pen an etiquette book, Advance Your Swagger: How to

need that stuff in my life.’ [Thankfully] it worked,” Bentley says.

Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead.

Thankfully indeed. | Madison Way


Black Organizations

That Everyone Should Know In order to reach our full potential and grow professionally and personally, it’s imperative that we expand our social horizons. This means that we must meet new people, develop friendships, cultivate current relationships and share experiences. Devise a blueprint and outline three reasons why networking works for your business, your expectations and what you have to offer. The relationship you develop with your contacts should be based on a give and take relationship, never one-sided. In addition to exploring online social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, here is a list of black organizations that everyone should know and become a member of at least one to expand their list of contacts and to network to grow professionally.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

100 Black Men of America, Inc. 141 Auburn Avenue Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 688-5100 Intellectual development of youth and economic empowerment of African Americans

National Dental Association 3517 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20010Â (202) 588-1697 Forum for minority dentists to advance their rights

Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. 5355 Hunter Road Atlanta, GA 30349 (800) 753-9222 Dedicated to eliminating the disparities related to cardiovascular disease in all people of color

National Medical Association 1012 Tenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 (202) 347-1895 Promotes the collective interests of physicians and patients of African descent

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 4805 Mt. Hope Drive Baltimore MD 21215 (877) NAACP-98 Ensures social, political, educational, and economic equality of rights of all persons

National Society of Black Engineers 205 Daingerfield Road Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 549-2207 Leadership training and professional development of African American engineers

National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. 1925 Adam C. Powell Jr. Blvd., Suite 1L New York, NY 10026 (212) 222-5660 Empowers black women and facilitate their access to mainstream America National Council of Negro Women, Inc. 633 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20004 Telephone: (202) 737-0120 Educates and empowers women of African descent National Black Chamber of Commerce 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 405 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 466-6888 Empowers and sustains African American communities through entrepreneurship

National Urban League 120 Wall Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10005 (212) 558-5300 Empowers African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream National Association of Black Females in Music and Entertainment, Inc. (NABFEME) 59 Maiden Lane, 27th Floor New York, NY 10038 (877) 622-3363 Empowers women of color in recorded music, the media and related entertainment industry fields Toastmasters International P.O. Box 9052 Mission Viejo, CA 92690-9052 (949) 858-8255 Improves communication and leadership skills while fostering self-confidence and personal growth

National Black MBA Association, Inc. 180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400 Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 236-2622 Business and social networking, career development and promoting the economic wealth of the African American community | Madison Way



American Family Insurance District Sales Manager

Kye Wilson Opportunity Knocks

Sometimes your career can take an unexpectedly welcome turn. Just ask Kye Wilson. The Georgia-based American Family Insurance district sales manager wasn’t planning on becoming—well, a Georgia-based district sales manager. Her career path took many twists and turns—starting with a chance meeting in her native Illinois, where she was recruited by an agent. “I was purchasing from her,” Wilson says, smiling. “At the end of our interview, she asked if I had any interest in becoming an agent. So I told her to give her manager my number.” That decision led Wilson to Las Vegas, Nev., where American Family was breaking new ground. “We were a new company in Nevada—we only had the management team,” she explains. Despite being the trailblazers for a new market, Wilson and her fellow agents quickly learned that American Family was committed to their success. “Although there weren’t a lot of people residing in the state, they still shared a lot of tools,” says Wilson. “They gave us books, tapes, DVDs—we had access to everything we needed to be successful.”

“Here in Georgia we opened the state with almost 40 percent women [agents], For me, its not difficult at all [to recruit women]. What I’ve found is that the women gravitate towards me. Ninety percent of the women that would approach our booth would come to me.”

And Wilson was definitely successful. A committed self-starter, she quickly established her client base and was enjoying the lifestyle of an agent. But, once again, unexpected opportunity came a-knockin’—in the form of a management position. She couldn’t deny the opportunity. “I was asked by manager, Michael Riggs, [who] I met previously. He’s a very hands-on manager with an open door policy. I felt like working for


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

him would be a good stepping stone.” Following her instincts to move to the Peach State proved to be the right move for Wilson. “I accepted the position and moved to Atlanta and he’s been there and I don’t want to let him or myself down. Now it’s corporate management versus self-employed independent management.” And she has been an invaluable part of the company’s success in Georgia. “Here in Georgia we opened the state with almost 40 percent women [agents],” she says. She looks to be a mentor to female agents who join American Family. “For me, its not difficult at all [to recruit women]. What I’ve found is that the women gravitate towards me. Ninety percent of the women that would approach our booth [at events] would come to me.”

And she doesn’t take that lightly. She understands how important mentorship can be. “I’ve had other female agents that I’ve mentored under and there have been [many.] I’m one that finds mentors—it’s much easier to learn from someone who’s done it. I didn’t have aspirations to be a manager, [but] when the position came up, another agent who had been a manager talked to me [and] made me want to apply. It increased my interest.” For your insurance needs contact Wilson at (678) 526-7790 ext 41301.


Independent Agent American Family Insurance

Bernard Uptgrow Aiming Higher Bernard Uptgrow read Steven Carroll’s Prospect Or Perish and understands what it takes to be successful in business and sales. Uptgrow is an agent for American Family Insurance, and the job fits him like a glove. He was attracted to the freedom of the business. “What inspired me was the opportunity to work independently,” he shares. “That’s what I really enjoyed--and at the same time, I’m helping people.” Uptgrow knew that to grow his business, he had to start at home. He initially networked with his family and friends to get the word out about his insurance products. “I started with my ‘warm market,’” he explains. “I contacted all of them and tried to get at least 100 people.” From there, Uptgrow has been able to become a successful agent through hard work and no small amount of diligence. He shares his experiences—and the benefits of being an agent. Easy to Get Started: “First, you have to attend a 40 hour class. For that week, you need to put things aside and study insurance. Purchase the manual and take the practice test before you take the state exam. It can be done in as little as two weeks. Take it seriously. Insurance is great because you don’t have to have a lot of upfront capital to get started. You’ve just got to have the mindset to say, ‘OK, it’s a numbers game

and I’m gonna have to contact and meet a lot of people.’” Residual Income: “The income potential can be unlimited and you can sell a variety of products. The residual income is the livelihood of the business. It adds up over the years. We call it ‘building a book of business.’ Having that residual income takes the pressure off of you. If you’re desperate—people can see and feel it. But if you have that residual income, you’re comfortable and you’re not dependent. You can live off the residuals and everything else you write will help grow your staff and business interests.” Flexibility: “You can set your schedule, and at times, choose the clients to work with. You can choose the area you want to work in. You can be right there in the community that you live in. The harder you work, the more income you can make.” For Uptgrow, his job allows him to interact with people on an up close-and-personal level; and that’s his greatest joy. “[I love] being a true professional,” he says. “[It’s] about helping people with something that you believe in—and that’s rewarding.” For your insurance needs contact Uptgrow at (678) 323-7750. | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

The weekend has arrived and you can spend the entire time with your family—what do you do? Sure, there are theme parks that you can visit—but do you really want to bake in the sun for hours on end? You could go to a movie—but there are only so many f licks with singing rodents and talking Chihuahuas that a person can stomach. What are some other affordable, family-friendly and convenient excursions? The arts provide a number of options for everyone to enjoy. From museums and art exhibits, to plays and musical concerts, you and your family can think outside-the-box and find something cultural and entertaining to engage in. Museums have passes that are moderately priced. There are different touring productions that offer family deals on shows. For example, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry stimulates your senses with its interactive, hands-on approach; and celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with its unparalleled history and unique display of dance, has performances that are a feast for the eyes. Also, our nation’s cultural epicenter, the Kennedy Center, offers some of the best symphonies and jazz performances in the world. These are only a few of the treats presented by the fine arts community that typically cost a lot less than a trip to the amusement park and are less likely to cause motion sickness. | Madison Way



Explore & More Museum Designed for youngsters, New York’s Explore & More Children’s Museum offers 5,000 square feet of space filled with hands-on exhibits to explore. Its program schedule includes activity days and celebrations for the general public. The museum ensures that all children have access to the wonderful learning opportunities with its free admission fund and discounted programming. Opened in 1994, the museum was a grassroots effort started by a group of parents, educators and designers with one goal – creating a museum just for kids. By 2000, Explore & More had grown exponentially and moved to its current location. With three times as much space, exhibits were added and unique programs became the backbone of the museum’s growing education program. The “Let’s Figure It Out” exhibit features puzzles, brain-teasers and fun challenges that are great for the whole family. The “Cultures for Kids” feature allows young people to learn about the diverse cultures around the world. (


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

business dynamics

Mondale Smith

offers tips on leadership, staying healthy and leveraging technology

recommended reading: Brand Me by Melissa Dawn Johnson Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell Take the Risk by Dr. Ben Carson

Every successful organization has to have a goal-oriented team with a unified vision. For American Family Insurance, it is imperative to find individuals that can make sure everyone is operating in perfect synergy and connectivity—and Mondale Smith is one such individual. An attentive listener and focused professional, Smith understands that when everyone is in-sync, the brand can achieve success.

relevance of insurance: “Insurance minimizes the cost of worry.”

five skill sets needed to adapt to change in corporate America: “I am an analogous thinker. One, you have to have keen listening skills. You have to be able to hear what is going on around you. Two, determination. There will be obstacles, [and] there will be setbacks, but you have to be able to move forward. Three, you have to have willingness [and ability] to learn. Four, cockiness. I say that not in a negative way, but you have to have a certain level of confidence to move forward. Five, humility. You have to be humble enough to know when you don’t know something and to let others take the lead.”

leadership philosophy: “I don’t have a monopoly on great ideas. I am able to rely on and see the value of other people. Involve everybody, give people the opportunity to voice their opinions. Capture all of the ideas that are presented and see which ones are the most viable or feasible approach to utilize.”

impact of physical fitness: “Physically, you need to stay in shape. If your body is not in tune and you are ailing physically, your mind won’t be able to process things, think as fast on your feet, [or] have the mental fortitude. A healthy balance– physically and mentally is essential.”

technology and innovation: “Utilizing technology enables me to be in constant communication with my team members in other states. Technology is huge. I have a BlackBerry; it allows me to peruse emails, keeps me current on meetings and can listen to my voice mail. I [also] like the iPod—Apple has done a phenomenal job.”

role model: “I model my career after Jamie Foxx. He is a comedian, actor and singer. You can’t typecast him in a specific career. If I can be proficient in public speaking, help people in safety, [and] can understand insurance, [then] I can move back and forth. Don’t be afraid to take assignments outside of your comfort zone.”

native: Chicago education: Bachelors in Communication – Loyola University Chicago and Bachelors in Spanish – Elmhurst College occupation: farm ranch loss control manager, American Family Insurance job objective: “At the end of the day, my job is to help people sustain their normal operations and not incur losses.” | Madison Way



Museum of Science and Industry Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is the largest museum of its kind in the Western hemisphere. It offers live science experiences that give participants a chance to experience science firsthand. Among its diverse and expansive exhibits, the Museum features a working coal mine, a German submarine (U-505) captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) model railroad, the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr), and a NASA space capsule used on the Apollo 8 mission. (


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

The High The High Museum of Art in Atlanta has become the leading art museum in the southeastern United States with its renowned collection of classic and contemporary art and renowned architecture by Richard Meier and Renzo Piano. Collections consist of more than 11,000 pieces and include 19th and 20th century American and decorative art, significant European pieces, modern and contemporary art, photography, African art and folk art. With a curatorial department devoted solely to African art, the High’s collection has grown to encompass the dynamic diversity of African art forms from ancient to contemporary. The High also has an extensive collection of photography, which includes more than 3,900 prints, with a particular strength in mid-20th century American photographs and large format contemporary works. Also, the Museum features a wealth of exhibitions from around the world, including “Louvre Atlanta: The Louvre and the Masterpiece.” This exhibition explores how the definition of a “masterpiece” has changed over time and features 91 works of art drawn from all eight of the Musée du Louvre’s collection areas, spanning 4,000 years. ( | Madison Way



Alvin Ailey The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from the now fabled performance in March 1958, at the 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Photo by Andrew Eccles

Today, AAADT has gone on to perform for an estimated 21 million people in 48 states and in 71 countries on six continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa, under the leadership of artistic director Judith Jamison. The company has earned its reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the AfricanAmerican cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance. (

key player

Louis L. Besses IV How to choose a mentor? 1.Internal mentors – Follow the folks who are the leaders and influencers in the company and sometimes mirror their style. 2.External mentors - Look for people who are influencers in the community. 5 Best Practices Learned from Mentors: 1. Be persistent. Keep trying and keep pursuing your goals. 2. Surround yourself with positive people. 3.Keep learning and always ask questions.


ouis L. Besses IV commands attention. The dapper, tailored businessman is always shaking hands and chatting with people around the city of Atlanta at social and community events. As a recent transplant, he has friends to make, Blackberry contacts to add and business to conduct. He’s American Family Insurance’s multicultural market developer for the state of Georgia, so he spends a lot of time networking in his new city. The Cleveland-born Besses adapted to the warmth and charm of the South easily. And he always had a knack for good timing. “The day after I moved to Atlanta, there was a blizzard back home,” says the Buckeye State native. Besses joined American Family Insurance soon after he earned his Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Business Administration at Ohio State University. The eight-year-veteran’s first job was in the mailroom, and he later moved to claims before landing a job in the marketing department. After scaling the corporate summit, Besses understands the advantages of surrounding yourself with positive and influential people. “In my role, it is very important to be engaging, to network, and to understand the consumer,” shares the budding executive. “Being involved in organizations like the 100 Black Men and the Urban League helps [me] to understand the community, and that’s important.” Becoming involved in the city has proved to be beneficial for Bess-

4. Challenge yourself. 5. Present yourself in a professional es—and American Family Insurance. manner, if you want to be like the January 1, 2009 vice president of the company, dress marked the first day like the vice president, carry yourself that the 75-year-old like a vice president and talk like the company’s insurance vice president. products were made available to Georgia residents. Besses spent a year trying to “understand [the] consumer, touch, feel and breathe the community in Atlanta. Being involved in the social circle is very important—including its Hispanic, Asian and women centered organizations, and the gay and lesbian community.” In today’s ever-changing economy, consumer confidence is dwindling. Besses realizes that change is constant and must be embraced. “It is really for the better, as it makes the company stronger,” he concludes. “Demonstrating to our community that we are a stable and strong company and that we are going to continue to support the community is very important. Knowing that we are staying involved in the community and understanding change is important to our policy holders … being able to share that with [American Family] helps us to develop better products and services. Our marketing initiatives and campaigns focus on the needs of the community.” | Madison Way



The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center, located on 17 acres overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., serves, not only as America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, but, also as the nation’s cultural center, presenting more than 2,000 performances each year. Touring Kennedy Center productions and its television, radio, and Internet broadcasts reach millions around the world. The Kennedy Center also regularly presents world-class ballet companies such as American Ballet Theatre, The Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, and The Mariinsky Ballet. The Kennedy Center also presented Ballet Across America, a celebration of ballet companies from across the country, and the successful Protégés: The International Ballet Festival, a biennial showcase recognizing rising ballet talent from the world’s leading ballet academies. In recent years, the Kennedy Center has dramatically expanded its education programs to reach young people, teachers, and families throughout the nation. Each year more than seven million people nationwide take part in innovative and effective education programs initiated by the Center, including performances, lecture/demonstrations, open rehearsals, dance and music residencies, master classes, competitions for young actors and musicians, and more. These programs have become models for communities across the country, as educators and government leaders recognize that the arts can unlock the door to learning for young people, fostering creativity, teaching discipline, improving self-esteem, and challenging students to think in new ways. (


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

business dynamics

Helen Taylor

Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, American Family Insurance The only constant is change…. This may sound like a cliché, but for Helen Taylor, it’s a reality. Taylor has been with American Family Insurance for 13 years. But her career with American Family has been extensive, and now, as diversity and inclusion consultant, Taylor can appreciate the value of being adaptable to change. “I think change is good and inevitable,” she says. “ “I am usually proactive in preparing for change; I make sure that I’m continually developing my skills and preparing myself so that I am able to help others and be a part of the change. “Annually I do a self assessment of my achievements and where I want to [go] in terms of personal growth and development,” Taylor continues. “This is where I might tap into my board of mentors for perspective. Also, I identify education programs and development opportunities that I want to be involved in.” Relying on mentors and consistently seeking educational opportunities are two key resources that have helped Taylor climb the corporate ladder—and a good rule of thumb for anyone seeking professional success. “I have had several mentors throughout the years—actually, I have a board of mentors. It’s a group of people that I have identified who have the skill sets and experiences that I want to learn from. I tap into those resources as needed.” The Milwaukee native is a mentor herself, as a member of the Board of Directors member for Teen Approach Inc, a Milwaukee-based non-profit organization that engages children ages 8-14 in unique learning experiences through innovative programs designed to build character and promote a healthy spirit, mind and body. She is also an active member of the Madison Area Diversity Roundtable whose mission is to work together with other local area businesses to strengthen

our organizations and communities through diversity and inclusion. A Closer Look At Helen Taylor Taylor’s career path: “I started my career with American Family in the marketing division 13 years ago this April. I helped establish our first I created our first training and development department that focused on our field force. I’ve served in what was our improvement resources area where we provided tools and processes to divisions to improve their business. From there I moved into human resources as an organization effectiveness consultant, subsequently organization effectiveness manager, and later took on the role of talent management manager. I’ve been in my current role, with a focus on workforce diversity a little over a year.” The importance of education in her career: “It plays a huge role. I received most of my continuous learning at American Family through the special assignments that I have received on my job. Leading projects within the company and just through work experiences that I have had; I think those are the most effective educational experiences that I have had.” The best professional advice that she’s received: “When you want something, ask for it up front, and provide the data to back it up. Our leaders in the company, regardless of the proposal, want to know how is that going to help the company move toward its objective and how are we going to profit from that proposal?” The role that culture plays in her life: “I love music and art. I am a single parent; my daughter and I often attend cultural events. We love plays; we are up on all of the latest movies.” | Madison Way



The Joyce Theater The Joyce Theater offers a unique opportunity to get closer to the art. Experience a wide range of movement styles and traditions in the renowned Joyce Theater, an intimate, 472-seat venue in Chelsea, Manhattan. You can also visit the Joyce SoHo, a more intimate and unique dance venue in Lower Manhattan. The Joyce Theater Foundation’s mission has always been to serve and support the art of dance and choreography. The foundation promotes the richness and variety of the art form in its fullest expression. The Joyce Theater was created by dancers. Today, The Joyce is considered one of the premiere performance venues for dance and attracts an annual audience of more than 140,000. Since its inception, The Joyce has welcomed over 270 New York City-based, national and international dance companies to its stage. It would be difficult to imagine the dance world today without The Joyce Theater. (


Madison Way | WINTER 2009

Multi-Talented. Multi-Faceted. Multi-Tasker.

Francisca Brown A

nyway that you choose to phrase it, Francisca Brown knows how to examine multiple objectives and plot a course to achieve them. Brown is the multicultural marketing director for American Family Insurance and 15-year industry veteran. The Chicago native has been a champion for diversity, and she leads and encourages her team to develop new opportunities for women, African American, Hispanic and Asian communities. She also works hard to make sure she has a capable team supporting her and that everyone is on the same page. “I think it’s really about building a team, building autonomy, and allowing them an opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” says Brown. “I am always pushing them into action and leaving them alone so that they can determine what to do to [be] successful. I am there if they fall or if they need assistance so that I can back them up.” A tech savvy go-getter, Brown can’t live without her BlackBerry® and iPod®; and she understands that being a high-powered exec in the new millennium means staying connected, and she maintains connectivity with her entire staff. “My staff and I are in constant communication and a lot of times it is after hours when we are not busy networking and doing events. That’s when we talk on the phone. We are on LinkedIn, [and] on Facebook so that we can stay connected. Technology is a major key—[even] texting,” says Brown. “I have a staff of 10—eight are out in the field. We actually operate in 19 states; my role is creating relationships in the community so that our agents have a link and a network. The customers want relationships with agents, so we create those opportunities for them. Our business is all about referrals.” She keeps her team current on trends by meeting six times a year in Madison and having reading clubs every other meeting. While she acknowledges that some people may say her leadership style is ‘controlling,’ she understands that communication and cooperation are essential to team-building. “I have a coach, compliments of American Family Insurance. I believe in achieving results, and [I] understand how to build a team,” she says. “You have to let change flow. We always think about how those changes will impact us and what we need to do to mitigate concerns.” Brown has her BA in Finance from Iowa State University; and MS in Information Resource Management from Central Michigan University. And when she’s not guiding her team through transitions and empowering them to succeed? How does a high-powered exec power down? “On an island/beach--with no responsibilities!” she says with a laugh. “It’s nice to go where the BlackBerry doesn’t work and I read purely [for] entertainment.” | Madison Way



The Journey

t looks like we’ve come to the end of our inaugural edition of Madison Way. But the end of this keepsake, certainly doesn’t signify the end of your journey. In fact, consider this final page as a bright new beginning for you. This fresh start should be filled with the hope,

promise, and security that served as the emotional core of Madison Way. So how important is security? Simply put, security is invaluable. As you continue working towards building a better life –both personal and professional—think long and hard about the security and assurances that you currently have in place. Life is a journey filled with a veritable assortment of vicissitudes. When the good times come, embrace and cherish them. But when those inevitable storm clouds roll in, make sure that you and your family are protected, and prepared to rebuild … just in case. Now I know that these aren’t the types of conversations that we enjoy having, but they are necessary. So as we move forward from this shared time and space, we wish you nothing but continued health and prosperity. And if you need a friend to walk with you along the way, then the American Family Insurance community is ready to be just that—a comforting friend to accompany you on your life’s journey.


Madison Way | WINTER 2009 | Madison Way



Madison Way | WINTER 2009

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