Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reflecting on 40 Years, and Staying Relevant

Cornerstone Connect: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Bob, and congratulations on your 40 years with Northwestern Mutual! I am excited to learn more about you and your career, and also how you keep your future looking bright! But first, please give us a little background. What was life like before starting with Northwestern Mutual?

Bob: I guess you could say my life before NML was quite similar to what it is now. Busy. I was a college student working 2 different jobs, all while being a musician in a rock ‘n roll band. We were a popular 6-piece cover band, sometimes playing up to 6 nights a week. It wasn’t until after my fourth year in the business that I gave up the music gig.

Cornerstone Connect: Rocker to Rep, that’s awesome. How were you introduced to NML?

Bob: I was recruited right after I graduated from Dominican College by an outside recruiting firm who was working with NML. Although I didn’t score as high as they would have liked me to on the aptitude tests, managing partner at the time, Jack Formella, believed very strongly that I could overcome those results with a strong work ethic and more exposure to the insurance industry.

Cornerstone Connect: At what point did you realize that this was the career for you?

Bob: Once I started in the business, I kept setting 6 month goals for myself to see if it was something that I was really cut out for. At first, I don’t even think I ever realized the potential of the career I had begun, until looking back at what I accomplished in the first 4 years. That’s when I really started to see how rewarding of a career this could be if I continued to pay attention and work hard.

Cornerstone Connect: What is it that’s so rewarding about what you do, that keeps you going?

Bob: The most rewarding things in this career are the relationships you are able to build with people, and also having the flexibility to be able to plan and manage your own time. I am very motivated by the continued evolution of this business and the growing opportunities within the marketplace. It is also the respect I’ve earned and been shown from my clients and other business professionals that psychologically keeps me in the game.

Cornerstone Connect: What advice would you give to new reps?

Bob: Really look at your work schedule each week, and make sure you are working towards “high-life” activity. The bigger premiums will come as your clientele ages. As you more fully develop your skills through education and joint work you will gain confidence. Challenge yourself to larger prospects because it will help you learn and grow faster. Always listen to your prospects closely and make note of their feelings, not just the facts. Always deliver on your promises and service.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hiking for Hunger & Feeding America!

Check out Maria Roloff, Kate Napientek, Ashlei Peckels, & JoAnn Klandrud as they finish the 5K Hike for Hunger on Saturday, September 25th, benefitting the Feeding America Foundation. GREAT JOB, LADIES!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Celebrating 45 Years in the Business!

Cornerstone Connect: Bob, congratulations on 45 years with Northwestern Mutual! How did you join NML in the first place?

Bob: I was with Lincoln National Life right out of college and my prospective father-in-law back then asked me what I did for a living. I told him I sold insurance, and he said with whom. I said Lincoln National Life. He then asked me why I was not with Northwestern Mutual, the finest insurance company in America. And I had no good answer. He was a banker in Madison for 40 plus years and knew about these things. Shortly thereafter I called the only Northwestern rep I knew, Mike Holden. I set up an interview with his then district agent, Harold Pritchard, in Whitefish Bay (now the Formella Agency in Mequon). When I met the people in the office, I knew that's where I wanted to be. The rest is history.

Cornerstone Connect: What do you like most about the business?

Bob: What I like most about the business is making a significant impact on people's lives by the work that we do. I also like the freedom on the back-end of my career to continue to work and enjoy my freedom.

Cornerstone Connect: Any advice for new financial reps?

Bob: I spoke at the friendship lunch at the Chicago regional meeting several years ago, and the title of my talk was “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later: Hang in there; it really does get easier.” That would be my advice. As I've said to a lot of new reps, it is “Top Gun” school. Everybody thinks they're pretty hot stuff coming in, but it takes a special person to survive in this business.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Congratulations on 20 Years!

Jim started working for a property and casualty insurance company when he graduated from U.W.-Whitewater in 1977. After 12 years, he had been promoted several times and was a Regional Underwriting Manager. He didn’t find middle management in a large company rewarding and was looking to make a career change. In 1987, he received his CFP designation. In December of 1989, Jim's boss resigned from the company after philosophical differences with the President of the company. His boss had previously worked at Prudential for 10 years so Jim called him to get a referral to talk to someone at Prudential. He told Jim he should look at NML and not Prudential. Jim thought that to be rather odd as he had spoken very highly of Prudential. He asked him why, and he suggested to go to the library(no internet back then) and research the two companies. Jim took his advice and it was clear that NML was far better than Prudential and the best in the industry. Jim took Friday afternoon off and came down and knocked on the door of the Goris Group and asked to talk to someone regarding a career with NML. He met with Mark Gmach and shortly after that left corporate life to start in the insurance and investment industry in 2/1990.
Jim's advice to new representatives is to follow the activity plan that your management gives you. It’s a numbers game and it all starts with phoning and introducing yourself to prospects to help them identify their needs and helping them solve their problems. Don’t try to fight the system, just execute the activity goals. Also, work towards professional designations early in your career. It helps to build your confidence and make you more professional in the eyes of your clients.

Congratulations on 25 Years!

Marge started her career as a buyer for Kirk, Meyer & Kahn in Evansville, Indiana. When she decided it was time to move from Indiana, she interviewed in Seattle Washington with Tom O'Brien who was the General Agent (Managing Partner) at the time. She was eventually connected with Tom Sr., contracted, and started her career in Milwaukee. Marge worked out of the Milwaukee office for 15 years then made a move west, so she could be closer to clientele. For all 25 years at NML, Marge has worked with her husband Cliff who Marge calls, "the brains" of the operation. Marge refers to herself as "the braun!" Marge is a life-qualifying MDRT member, has received the National Quality Award, and Sales Achievement Reward. She is the proud grandmother of Amelia and Ian. Marge's advice to new representatives is to service clients the best you can, because 20 years from now, they will be your good friends; and what you do now, will affect you in 25 years.

You Asked, We Delivered!

Several of you requested to have access to Tom Jr. pages as well as his book list, and we have given you just that! Tom's blog can be found at You can also access it from this blog by going to the links list on the right hand side and clicking the image. The pages are listed chronilogically and you can access the actual page by clicking on the link below the image of the Tom Jr. page.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

HuNgRy To HeLp?

Please join us on Thursday, April 1st in the GA lobby for our annual bake sale. This year, all proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross. If you would like to donate desserts, please contact Jamie Joyal. Remember, donations of $25 or more are eligilble for Tom's match program. We hope to see you there!