Biking to work gives me the gift of time

Gavney_DaleMost days, I bike to work. By bike, I mean the motorless kind. In addition to saving money on gas, reducing wear and tear on my car, and having a greener footprint (I now drive about 5,000 miles less per year), I’ve discovered my bike is also my personal time machine.

First, my bike saves me time.

Riding to work blends my commuting and workout time. By blending exercise and commuting, I actually get about an hour back in my day! How’s that for quantifiable impact!

Second, my bike gives me time.

Being on a bike twice a day gives me more time outside, feeling the sun (or rain) on my skin, smelling the grass, the trees, or farmers’ fields. I also hear birds and frogs that I can’t hear when I’m in a car. This outside time is precious to me.

If you practice mindfulness or other kinds of meditation, you know being attuned to your senses is important. Riding a bike like I do is a gold mine for the senses.

I also get more time to connect to others. On a bike, it’s easy to pull over and chat with anyone including neighbors, fellow bikers and even the crossing guard I see every day on my way to work.

Third, my bike itself is from another time.

Heavy, solid and with a smooth ride, my Reagan-era mountain bike is “more Harley-Davidson than Trek,” according to the guy who sold it to me.

bike_rackFinally, my bike takes me back in time.

Bike riding is making me younger. Maybe not literally, but riding has changed my appetite to be more in line with a person half my age. On really challenging days, when the wind is strong or snow is on the ground, I get an awesome workout and lots of fresh air. On those days I feel like I’m 20 again.

And on those nights, I’m asleep in no time.

Dale Gavney is a Business Performance and Planning Administrator for American Family.

I find problems before they occur

LossControlFor many people, getting an insurance policy is pretty straight-forward. You have something you need insured, you call an agent, he or she takes your application, calculates your payment, the company issues a policy and presto! You’re insured.

That works in some cases, but in many others – especially farms and businesses – it’s more complicated.

LossControl.1I’m one of 13 loss control specialists for American Family Insurance. My job is to go to a farm or commercial business we insure (or want to insure) and assess their current level of safety. After I inspect a property, I’ll go over my findings with our customer – or potential customer – to explain how they can reduce their potential for accidents, injury, and property damage.

I actually do two very important jobs for American Family.

The first is to consult with our largest accounts and help them reach the highest safety level possible in their operations. I look for potentially dangerous conditions and recommend ways to head off a problem before it occurs. If I see something that’s dangerous, I can suggest ways to correct the problem, or, if necessary, suggest replacement equipment that is safer. I can also train a customer’s employees in proper safety procedures and show them how to do their job with safety in mind. This creates a win-win since it reduces their likelihood of a loss, but also bolsters our retention and profitability.

My second job for American Family is to look over a property or business we’re considering insuring. An agent or an underwriter might ask me to see if there is anything that might be unsafe, dangerous, or could cause an injury. My safety review not only benefits the company, but is a real help to a prospective customer. LossControl.2.In some cases, I’ve seen unsafe equipment that presented a fire hazard. When I explained it to the prospective customer and told them everything in the building could be destroyed if changes weren’t made, (in one case, the building was filled with antique tractors!) they were very grateful since they never realized the risk was there.

Many times I point out something a prospective customer sees, but didn’t realize was dangerous such as a missing machine guard or hand rail on stairs. I often hear, “I’ve seen it that way for years and never thought it was unsafe. Thanks for pointing it out.” Hopefully, by pointing out an unsafe condition or piece of equipment, I can prevent an injury or loss.

Some people may think, “Why bother? That’s what insurance is for.” Truth is no one wants to see someone injured, equipment damaged or property lost because of unsafe conditions. By working with our customers to identify and correct unsafe conditions, I can hopefully prevent an injury or death and avert an accident that puts someone out of business.

** Dan is a loss control specialist working outside the office, in a field position.

Position yourself for the job you want

Jeff@DreamBank_ As part of the DreamBank Learning Lab in Madison, Wis., several recruiters from American Family met with job seekers looking for customized resume strategies, job search advice and insider tips for using social media and networks for finding professional connections.“These were great events,” said Jeff Close, staffing manager at American Family. “We had over fifty people come through to meet with our staffing specialists. Conversations were personal and customized to each person’s job search. It was a great confidence booster for everyone involved and a fun day, to boot.”

Job seekers learned several techniques for marketing themselves for a job, tailoring a resume, and preparing for interviews. These hands-on workshops stressed to job seekers the importance of being proactive in your search.

IMG_DreamBankOne of the main pieces of advice our recruiters offered was, “Be an advocate for yourself. The days of posting your resume and waiting for the calls to come in are over. It really is a different environment these days,” said Jeff.

Workshop participants received immediate feedback on their resumes and learned about the five key components found within a resume, including contact information (don’t forget your email address!), career objective, education, experience and whether references should be listed or “available upon request.” Another resume tip: Check, double check, and ask for a fresh set of eyes as a final review before submitting your resume. Says Jeff, “One grammatical error might send your resume straight to the shredder.”

Attendees learned that, when preparing to interview for the job you want, always bring examples of your work experience that discuss a situation or a task, the action you took to resolve a specific situation and the result of your work. Showing your thought process and how you handle challenges is especially helpful in an interview.

To learn more, check out our interview tips and resume tips, under the resources section of our site, or click here to see a listing of our jobs.

Who knows, perhaps you might become the next member to join the American Family Insurance team, just like Nate, who attended the workshop this spring and landed a summer internship with us!Nina@ResumeJob_