Moving to MacBook Pro

I have been thinking about a new laptop for awhile. My current one is 4 years old and giving me a good deal of grief. When we visited with our granddaughter in September she had acquired a MacBook Pro. She is studying graphic arts and the classes require that she use Mac software. I enjoyed using her MacBook and added this to my list of considerations. I have spent a great deal of time researching what I want. I am tied to a windows computer in order to work with certain programs used by my clients. So who says I can’t have two laptops? Here she is all dressed up and ready for the party(ies).



What I Learned Setting Up A New Blog

Moving to a self administered blog has been a challenge and a learning event.  First there was learning how to administer the site itself.  I still look around for the function I need.  I am not fully up-to-speed in this piece of software yet.  But with frequent use I am getting there fast.

Next the learning involves researching and deciding what widgets and plug-ins one might need or want.  I have to tell you this is an endless list.  Without the help of articles I have read by other WordPress users and the help of a very special WordPress administrator, I would be totally lost.

I feel a lot like an employee of an insurance agency would when they are learning a new system.  I still have real work to do, clients to talk to, yet I need to spend time learning this new software and develop it as a tool for my clients.  I know I will get through this learning and development curve and cruse along in an effective way soon.

One of the areas that I have spent a lot of time researching is a tool for blogging offline.  I went through several recommended softwares before settling on Windows Live Writer.  This software provides all of the functionality of writing direct in the blog plus a few plug-ins that are actually easier to use outside the blog.  Like in implementing agency systems, I am spending a lot of time upfront for a payback in the long term by having the best, most efficient software in place.  This will allow me to respond normally to my clients and support my website and blogging.

So if you are implementing a new system or updating the way you use your system, remember that the time invested upfront will pay off in the long term.

Real Time/Download Webinar

I highly recommend this webinar.  I have heard very positive feed back from the agencies I know that have attended.  Independent agencies are deriving major benefits from implementing Real Time as well as Commercial and Personal Lines Download today and I encourage you to attend this highly regarded one hour webinar being put on by the Real Time/Download Campaign on Wednesday, June 3 (1:30-2:30 PM eastern time) and on Wednesday, July 1 (1:30-2:30 PM eastern time).  ACT has gotten great agent and carrier attendance at previous showings of this Webinar, averaging 390! I encourage you register for this webinar today.

Zywave Brokerage Builder Conference – May 09

This week I attended my first Zywave Brokerage Builder Conference.  Wow am I on overload.  For my property & casualty friends, this product is an agency management system built for and used by those agencies writing benefits coverages.  I have watched this product grow over the past several years and it has been impressive.

The conference was a very fast paced two days.  A balance of keynote speakers, product how tos, networking, user panels and of course socializing.  There has to be some fun at the end of those long days of sitting in meetings and piling your brain full of information.

I really like the approach Zywave takes in teaching their users about set up of activities and attachments.  They use the best practices approach of minimizing the number of activity types, matching the attachment types to the activity types and defining the conventions for descriptions.   Consistency is the key to being able to quickly retrieve information from your agency management system.  Consistency is also the key to successful reporting from your agency management system.

For me the most fun session was “Embrace Your Inner Technology”.  My impression of what this session would be about would be the technology of Zywave.  However, it was far more than that.  The session covered, web conferencing, social networking and wikis in addition to the  Zywave technology.  The exercise for each group was to determine what technologies they would use in transacting a particular business scenario with their client.

Blogging for Insurance Agencies

Over the past couple of months I have been having my website re-done into a blog forward site.  I want to share my thoughts and experiences on:

  • Best Practices for insurance agencies.
  • How to integrate and maximize your technology.
  • Discuss issues relating to agency culture and attracting and retaining the next generation of staff.
  • And other subjects of interest to you.

I want to hear from you about the subject that interest and concern you.  I am using Intense Debate for comments.  You will find this a more interactive format for comments and discussions.

Testing BlogJet

I have installed an interesting application – BlogJet. I I will be trying it out to see if it’s a cool Windows client for my blog tool (as well as for other tools). Get your copy here:

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein

Website Re-Decorate

I have been working with Media Contour for the past few weeks to update my website to WordPress.  This provides me with a blog forward sight in which to better communicate with clients, colleagues, friends and others interested in what I have to share.  (Hopefully, there are people interested in what I have to share.)

As with any project, it has been fun, frustrating and challenging all at the same time.  The comments section of the blog is using IntenseDebate.  I think you will find this a great format for comments.  I hope that you visit my updated site, subscribe to the RSS feed and provide comments often.

I am interested in what you have to say, what you have to ask and what I can provide you to improve the operation of your agency and the technology used or being considered.  We have been debugging the site the past two days, but should you find something not working, please let me know.

Thanks for visiting.

Kindle Replaced

I finally broke down last week (October 13, 2008) and ordered a new Kindle to replace the lost Kindle.  Somehow I could not imagine traveling to China and back without reading material.  And, I am certainly not using precious clothing and shoe space for carrying books.  Anyway, the replacement Kindle has arrived, been matched up with it new pink gel, old publications loaded and new books purchased. 

The Lost Kindle

The life of a road warrior gives you many opportunities to lose your stuff.  Over the years I have been extremely fortunate.  The lost sweater at the hotel in San Antonio was recovered same day it was left in the room.  As far as I can remember that is the only thing of value that has been lost or almost lost over the years.  I mis-place things all the time.  I don’t always carry the same equipment on each trip or always use the same brief case, therefore, I sometimes forget what is where, but the stuff always turns up.  I occasionally have this problem with clothing and accessories too. I am now traveling with one of the “real” books that I had before the Kindle so that I have reading material. But what am I going to do about China?  Adding heavy books to my luggage will be taking up part of the precious limited weight limit for my clothing. Reading material is mandatory for such a lengthy trip. What a dilemma.  Another event in my life of travel that I call The Glamour of the Road.

I recently received an gift certificate for my birthday.  I have been wanting a sturdier cover for my Kindle.  So just before I left for Fargo I ordered the cover of my dreams and decided to also add a gel to further protect the devise from abuse.    When I was packing for my trip to Albuquerque last Sunday I discovered the Kindle was not in the bag I had carried to Fargo.  I checked by the bed to be sure I hadn’t taken it out when I got home and just forgotten.  No such luck.  I knew contacting the airline was in vain, but I had to give it a shot.  After going through the process, the Kindle has not appeared.  Now I have accessories for the Kindle but it seems the Kindle is gone and I am having Kindle withdrawal.  So you ask, “Why don’t you just order a new one?”

Many blogs say Amazon will be releasing Kindle 2.0 in October 2008, however, Amazon is saying no.  Of course they are saying no.  They still have inventory of the current version to sell.  What is a girl to do?  If a newer, better model is just a few weeks away, why buy the old model?  If the new verions doesn’t come out until sometime next year, can I really wait that long for my reading companion?  I have come to depend on my Kindle for travel, doctor’s office visits and bedtime reading at home.

Legal and Ethical Outline Revisited

When one decides to become a faculty member of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors you get recommendations, you get approved and you write outlines.  Your outlines are submitted to the Society and they are approved.  The Society schedules faculty members a least a year in advance.  So a new member to this group often waits a year or two to begin to get in the mix.  Thus is is not uncommon for an outline to be a couple of years old before you have the opportunity to present it.  Such was the case recently at an Agency Management Institute in Denver.  I was scheduled to do present the Legal & Ethical Responsibilities portion of this institute.