Life Insurance Insights

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Since the early 1960s, I have enjoyed a long and satisfying career in the Life Insurance industry. I have served as an expert witness before the California State Senate Committee, as a licensed Continuing Education Instructor, and as president of several industry organizations. I remain active today as a consultant.

Here you will find regularly posted articles designed to educate individuals and families about the value and importance of Life Insurance today. I welcome your feedback, and invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

- Mike (

6 November 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 12

11-04-2014 LII BlogContinuing with the importance of empathy as a part of People Skills for the leader.


Leaders understand the importance of empathy in dealing with others.

To have empathy you must be a good listener.  Empathy is the ability to know what others want and to comprehend why they want it.  It does not require that you agree with what they want or that their motives coincide with your values.  But having empathy does require that you be able to visualize yourself in the shoes of others.  You must attempt to understand why others are acting as they are.

Obviously, then, in order to be empathetic you must listen.  More importantly you must probe and then listen.  People are usually not reluctant to talk about themselves.  They may be reluctant to provide you with personal information if you start your probing with personal questions.  But, if you ask what they want, or how they feel, and then follow with a question of why they want that or why they feel that way, you will likely get the history you are looking for. It will be so much easier to motivate others when you understand what it is that motivates them. More…

4 November 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 11

11-06-14 LII BlogGetting the most out of those who are helping requires special attention from the leader.

Recognize Subordinates and Peers

Employees won’t work without pay.  Pay is one form of recognition, but a basic wage won’t get you much more than 8 hours—potentially an uninspired 8 hours.  Paying more for outstanding performance might work:  performance bonuses, commissions, profit sharing.  But that’s not what this is about.  This is about non-compensatory recognition.

Leaders need to get the most out of their followers.  They can accomplish this by using two techniques: fear and reward.  It’s the carrot or the stick quandary.  Not much of a quandary as far as I’m concerned.  When you have an opportunity to use a carrot rather than a stick, do it every time.  Occasionally a stick may be required when the carrot method has failed.

Recognizing people can start with the use of a very simple tool—the smile.  Upon greeting someone—smile.  When you walk into your workplace each day make it a point to greet everyone with a smile and warm “Good morning!”  When you greet people on the phone, smile.  A smile can be felt in your voice.  The smile is to communicate that you are glad to see them and you actually know who they are.  People will work harder for you if they believe that you care for them.  A smile is so simple to give, yet so often withheld. More…

30 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 10

10-30-14 LII Blog

Delegation is important, but there are advantages for a leader to get personally involved.

Make Yourself Available—Be Helpful

If people are to follow you, they must have access.  No, don’t hover, but do let them in.  With this said it is also important to respect a chain of command and to realize that time is a non-renewable asset. So there will be occasions when you must restrict access.

Following the chain of command need not preclude a leader from speaking with a person down the organizational chart.  In fact, leaders who allow—even encourage—easy access often learn much that is going on within their organization.  As a leader you can listen with empathy, but must always involve the person’s immediate superior at some point in the process.

When you do open yourself to your staff it is important to follow through on commitments—real or perceived—that are made as a result of this contact.  A few years ago I witnessed a situation where an executive was hired from the outside to take over as CEO of an existing entity.  He decided to meet with every employee.  He wanted to learn about his new organization from the ground up.

Every employee was interviewed and asked many questions.  The executive made notes of their answers.  It was a relaxed interview perceived well by the employees. One of the questions he asked of everyone was what they would like to see changed to help them perform their job and help the firm.

There was an upbeat reaction from the employees immediately following these discussions.  But, the executive never initiated the recommendations of a single employee and never provided them with any feedback.

It wasn’t long before the euphoria of having a new commander who cared enough to ask for their opinion turned into a catcall of comments about the ineffectiveness of their new leader.  If you ask for the advice of an employee or other follower you must always thank them; tell them how you plan to act on their recommendations and, if you choose not to use their ideas, explain your reasons.

Coming up…recognition for those who help the leader.

28 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 9

10-28-14 LII Blog

Why don’t leaders delegate and what are the consequences?

Failure to Delegate

Leaders who fail to delegate usually do so for one of the following reasons:

  1. They are afraid that if they don’t do it themselves, it won’t be done right.
  2. They are afraid of being shown up.
  3. The people to whom they can delegate are truly incapable, incompetent or unqualified.

If you want to be a leader and have difficulty delegating, it’s time for some self evaluation.  Which of these rationales are you using?  It could be a combination of these factors.  Let’s take a look at each of these points:

I’m the only one who can do it.

It may be possible that you are the absolute best at performing a specific task.  If this is the case you must decide whether or not you can continue to perform this task by yourself and still be able to accomplish the goals and lifestyle that you desire.  If this is possible, then don’t delegate.  Do it yourself. More…

23 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 8

The third trait of Leadership is People skills.10-23-14 LII Blog FB

People Skills

The first element of people skills is to select the right people to help you toward your goals.  Select the brightest, most capable people you can find.  Select people who will challenge you.  Find those who want your job.  Don’t be afraid that your subordinates will look better then you.  Others will measure you by how good your subordinates look, so if they look good, you will look good.  If they really are so darn good that they could take over your job, that’s alright because they probably won’t stop at your job.  They’ll move right on by you and you’ll have a good leader to follow about whom you can say, “I helped get him there.”

Picking good people to assist you in attaining your goals employs a combination of available resources (aptitude test, background checks, etc.) and following your gut instincts.  More…

21 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 7

10-21-14 SQ Blog FB

More on the aspects of Positive Attitude required of leaders.

Maintaining a Positive Image

Making decisions is part of a leader’s responsibility.  Som

e will be popular; others will not be.  When those tough decisions need to be made it must not affect your positive attitude.  The leader must move forward in a totally positive manner.  To do this they must research all facets surrounding the matter and then proceed with a passionate, positive approach that spurs on their followers.

Leaders must stay the course believing that their plan will work.  They must not waiver.  They must believe that they will succeed.  At the same time they must be flexible.  They must also be prepared for defeat…as hidden as that preparation might be.  They must reevaluate their position as events change over time.  More…

16 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 6

Continuing on the importance for leaders to have a Positive AttitudeLII Blog 2

Feel Good About Yourself

Come on!  You do have good qualities.  What are they?  Make a list.  Are you smart, caring, understanding, well educated, well connected?  Do you smile a lot?  Are you a good public speaker; capable writer?  Do you look good when you dress up?  Do you have good health?  Are you good with numbers?  A good lover?  Are you dependable; show up on time?  Are you creative?  What about your organizational skills?

Work on this list and make it as long as possible.  While you’re at it, also make a list of your weaknesses.  If you are able to improve or eliminate weaknesses, then work on that.   If you are incapable of overcoming a given weakness, then don’t dwell on it; work around it and find ways to push your strengths to the fore while finding ways to cope with the other areas.  Delegation might come in handy here and I’ll cover that when I discuss People Skills. More…

14 October 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 5

LII Blog

Moving on in this discussion of leadership to the second trait:  Positive Attitude.

Golden Retrievers are wonderful creatures.  They are great tail waggers.  It doesn’t matter how bad their day might have been.  You may have left them alone all day.  Maybe you forgot to feed them before you went out for the night.  Perhaps you just gave them hell for chewing up your new shoes.  Maybe you feel lousy, so you just didn’t say good morning to them.

Positive Attitude (Or, How to Wag Your Tail)

It doesn’t matter; Golden Retrievers always wag their tail at you—and—smile in a doggy smile only possible from a dog. That’s the nature of dogs.  They are always happy.  What a great way to go through life! Wag! Wag! Wag!

Leaders of the world—the human ones—also wag a lot because they have a way of looking at things in a positive light.  Positive attitude is a trait shared by most great leaders of history. More…

11 September 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 4

shutterstock_197903279Concluding the elements that go into Presence in a leader.


Don’t you wish this was a trait that all of our leaders possessed?  Wouldn’t it be great to turn on “Meet the Press” one Sunday morning and actually have a politician answer a question with a simple “Yes” or “No” when that is all that is called for?   But that seldom happens with politicians. They go on and on and on and in the end very often don’t answer the question that was asked.

Leaders in business do a much better job at being succinct than do politicians.  But many striving for leadership in all walks of life often feel that the merit of an answer is measured by the number of words used.  In today’s need for instant answers, the overly verbose responder runs the risk of being “deleted” before their words end. More…

9 September 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 3

Continuing with the elements of Presence found in a leader.shutterstock_82371157

Eye Contact

This hardly seems like a topic that requires comment.  When you meet someone, when you’re talking to them, look them in the eye.  Simple enough.  But that’s not always what happens. A few years ago I was conducting a class at a local high school on how to present yourself in a job interview.  This wasn’t your everyday high school.  It was an Alternative High School that catered to young people who had special challenges in keeping to a regular school schedule.  Gangs often had a major influence on their lives.

One of the things I talked to them about was the importance of eye contact with the person conducting the job interview.  I tried some roll playing, but wasn’t having much luck in getting across my point to one young man.  He just wouldn’t look me in the eye.  After the class, the school principal told me what the problem was.  Looking at someone square in the eyes in a gang related incident can be viewed as a threat or challenge.  This teenager was taught not to have eye contact unless he was looking for a confrontation. More…