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    Top 10 Most Annoying Things About Airline Travel…

    It’s fall meeting season and I’ve been on the road quite a bit the last few weeks, with another solid month of back-to-back-to-back trips on the schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I love to attend Alliance member meetings and industry conferences. But the getting there can sometimes be…difficult. So for what it’s worth, here is my Top 10 list of annoyances when it comes to airline travel:Airline 1

    1. No matter how many million miles I fly, I still can’t seem to qualify for the #1 boarding category on United Airlines.
    1. And being in the #2 group is no great shakes since everyone on the planet now seems to be in that category, forcing you to get in the boarding line an hour before departure time in order to have a shot at finding overhead space for your bag in the same zip code as your seat.
    1. Airline gate agents that tell you the flight is on time despite the fact that the airline’s own flight tracking system indicates that your plane is still somewhere over the North Atlantic.
    1. People in boarding group #2 who are seated in row 22 but place their bags in the overhead space above row 7 — or wherever I happen to be sitting.
    1. Airline 2People in group #4 who, despite being told there is no overhead space left, insist on bringing their carry-on bags aboard and then dragging them all the way back to the front of the plane to check them, forcing us to miss our take off time.
    1. People who request a window seat — and then close the shade. What’s the point?
    1. Middle seats. Not just a bad idea, they should be illegal.
    1. People who sit in the departure lounge for 90 minutes but wait until they board and sit next to you before opening that tuna sandwich they bought 3 hours ago.Airline 3
    1. People who stand on the left side of moving walkways. It’s a rule: stand right and walk left!
    1. People…just in general…

    Do you have an annoyance you’d like to add to the list? Post it here. Have a great week!

    Alliance Annual Meeting Takeaways…

    Most people are satisfied if they walk away from a conference or convention with one good idea that they can put to use in their own organization. Based on your comments to me, this year’s Alliance Annual Meeting delivered results well beyond those expectations. Here are just a few of my personal “takeaways” from the event in no particular order:AFA15-3098

    – You don’t have to be on social media to be successful. But if you’re going to be there, make a commitment to it. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or another venue, make sure your content is fresh and frequently updated.   At the very least you should be aware of what others are saying about your organization on these social media outlets.

    – Social media makes a horrible sales tool but a terrific connection tool. For fraternals, social media is an ideal way to connect members to the society and each other in a cost effective way. Can you say “virtual lodge?”

    – The fraternal model has cross-generational appeal, but the message – both the content and delivery method – needs to be tailored to each audience. Boomers want to be a part of your society’s “team.” Millennials want to feel like your society is made to fit them individually.

    – Today’s consumers — young and mature — are going to do their homework on you. Better make sure your web site gives them the information they need in a way that makes sense to them.

    – There are very specific steps you can take to reduce the chances of being hacked. But even if you take every one of them, you still need to buy cyber liability insurance.

    – It’s not if your society has a security breach, but when it has a security breach. No company is too small to be impacted. If you don’t have cybersecurity insurance in place, you will come to regret it.


    – NAIC Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure (CGAD) reporting applies to all insurers, even fraternals – there are no exemptions under the NAIC CGAD  reporting requirement. If you haven’t started the process to review your governance structure to provide this information to your state regulator, you are already behind the 8 ball. If it hasn’t been enacted in your state yet, it will be enacted sometime in 2016.

    – Don’t be afraid to explore sub-niches of your common bond. Military families, single moms, parents of special needs children, may all exist within your ethnic, faith-based, gender, or shared values bonds and the fraternal model may have exceptional appeal to them.

    – Yes, there will always be a place for professional agents and advisors, but if you’re not at least thinking about an on-line sales option, you may be missing the opportunity to attract a significant segment of the next generation of members.

    – Learning is done in the general sessions and workshops. But business – and lots of it – is done in the halls, lobby, and lounges of the hotel.

    – The role of research cannot be underestimated in (re)positioning your society/products. Finding the right niche where you have a compelling story and a competitive advantage is not something that is easy or can be rushed.


    – Statistics prove that volunteers are also inclined to give more out of their pockets. Your members are philanthropic and whether through bequests, grant making, or otherwise, there is potential for partnerships with other philanthropic organizations like foundations.

    – Online games can be used to increase your members financial literacy, which could lead to additional purchases. Research shows that, “Players learn without being aware that they are learning.” May be a great way to teach me about that term life insurance policy – and then I can level up.

    – The MyPath initiative website is a way to show young people that a career in the insurance industry is not dull – that there are limitless opportunities to find, as Cam said, “a good job, that makes you happy.” Your society should have a partner page on their site so these young professionals can find and work for you.

    – A dedicated, motivated, and exceptionally professional staff — like the Alliance’s — makes the Annual Meeting a much more enjoyable event for member societies and the CEO! Thanks to each of them for their incredible contributions to a hugely successful meeting.

    Got a “takeaway” you’d like to add? Post it right here…

    The Quest for 100 is About to Begin…

    Thanks to the hundreds of fraternal executives, employees, and board members who attended the Alliance’s Annual Meeting last week in Indianapolis.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing you and – based on your evaluations – you thoroughly enjoyed the program.  In my quick scan of the top line results of the evaluations, I noticed quite a few “best program ever” comments.  We appreciate your feedback and are already working hard to improve the format and content of the program for the 2016 Annual Meeting (which, by the way, is scheduled for September 8-10 in Nashville).

    I’ve got a long list of takeaways from this year’s event, but while I whittle them down to a manageable “Top 10” list there is one important item that was unveiled at the Annual Meeting that I want to share with you.  It’s a brief animated videoThumb about the fraternal tax exemption and the importance of participating in Alliance-sponsored political advocacy initiatives that we want to share with you, and more importantly, that we want you to share with your employees, agents, local chapter leaders and members.

    The video is one of the most important in a series of educational tools that we’ll be providing members over the next few months as we gear up for our 2016 grassroots campaign to secure 100 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives for H.Con.Res.#19 – the Alliance’s “Fraternal Resolution” that allows Members of Congress to show their support for the fraternal system.  A special thanks to my friends at Thrivent Financial for their help in producing the video.

    We’ve got almost 60 co-sponsors right now, most of those as a result of the meetings between fraternal representatives and lawmakers that were held on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Alliance’s 2015 “Day on the Hill” earlier this year.  It’s going to take a massive and broad-based grassroots campaign involving every Alliance member to reach our goal of 100 co-sponsors in 2016.

    We’ll get you more specifics on the grassroots campaign and what we want each member to do in the next few weeks.  But for right now, take a look at the video and let me know – either by posting a comment on the blog or sending me an email at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org – if you would be willing to post it on your societies’ web sites; send it to your field force, local chapter leaders, and members; play it at local chapter meetings or State Fraternal Alliance events; or have other suggestions for ways we can use this communications tool to get people ready and enthusiastic for the upcoming grassroots campaign.

    The quest for 100 co-sponsors is about to begin.  Are you ready?

    Meet Some Great Fraternalists

    Nate Lamusga of Catholic United Financial here again, guest blogging from the Alliance Annual Meeting in Indy.

    One of the great components of the Annual Meeting is the networking and sheer quality of the people you meet.  This is a fantastic group of super-smart people who genuinely care about others.  It’s ingrained in the culture of the industry and, frankly, it’s what attracted me to the fraternal business in the first place.  This concept is never more evident than in the awards ceremony for Fraternalist of the Year and the International FIC of the Year.  I’d like to take a moment to recognize those recipients in this post:

    2015 Fraternalist of the Year
    Congratulations to Evelyn Magarban, Volunteer Regional Leader for the Supreme Council of the Royal Arcanum in Bayonne, NJ.  Evelyn is a great example for all of us in her exceptional service, summed up so well in the video link here.  In some ways, she is like so many of our volunteers in that being recognized for her work is not a motivating factor; she doesn’t like the spotlight and is used to being behind the scenes.  But after seeing the impact she’s had on those around her, how can you not take a moment to step back and say, “thank you”?

    (L-R) Thomas Smith, Knights of Columbus; Joe Martinez, FFMA; Doug Supak, International FIC of the Year; Polly Supak; Joe Annotti, Alliance Chair of the Board Harald Borrmann

    International FIC of the Year
    Doug Supak from the Knights of Columbus in LaGrange, Texas, is “a true man of faith and family. See a video tribute here.  Doug shared a story in his acceptance speech that clearly demonstrated what makes him an exceptional, not just salesman, but person. He had everyone captivated as he recounted an experience trying to sell a term life insurance policy to a farmer who didn’t see the value.  Doug was persistent and eventually was able to demonstrate how this policy was a good idea since the farmer’s wife stayed home with the kids and he was the sole income provider.  When the farmer passed away of a surprise heart attack a short while later, this cemented the idea for Doug that what he does is so much more than selling life insurance.  For me, as Director of Member Engagement, it fostered a deeper appreciation for what our sales reps do.  Congratulations, Doug!  Thank you for being a great example of fraternalism.

    “In order to be great, you really only have to be mediocre because everyone else is terrible.”

    Guest blogger Nate Lamusga of Catholic United Financial here again from Indianapolis, IN.  Those are sage words of wisdom from un-marketing guru, Scott Stratten at the Alliance Annual Meeting. Here are my top 5 takeaways from his keynote presentation on unbrandingunmarketing, and unselling. 
    1.) Branding is always changing.  It’s not stagnant.  Everyone involved organically affects the brand.  When someone sees your logo, they immediately recall their most recent experience or the most extreme experience.  Or, as Joe Annotti says, maybe they see your logo and don’t think anything at all because they have no idea who you are or what you do.  As a result, your company brand is completely driven by the experiences people have with those representing your company and changes by the second. 
    2.) Viral marketing evokes emotion.  Social media tools are available to provide customer service, have conversations, make connections and build community.  If you’re using social media only to push out marketing messages, you’re doing wrong. If you check your mail more often than you look at your social media accounts, you’re doing it wrong.  Engage with people on a personal level and a quick response shows that you care.  Think about whatever makes you say “wow” and share that.  Branding takes place in real time and it’s unfortunately run by companies only part-time.  This part of his presentation also kindled in me a new-found love for whoever runs Taco Bell’s twitter account: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/28/taco-bell-tweets_n_4856259.html. 
    3.) The reality is that while we live in an ever-changing world, the basics of sales and marketing remains unchanged: It’s about trust, relationships and great service.  Find out where your clients are in terms of loyalty.  Are they static, ecstatic, or are they vulnerable?  Ask them what you need to stop doing, what you need to start doing, and what you need to do differently.   
    4.) Negative reviews and complaints can evoke myriad responses.  Really, these are just tremendous opportunities to be awesome.  Here’s an example of FedEx being terrible: https://youtu.be/PKUDTPbDhnA and then awesomehttps://youtu.be/4ESU_PcqI38 
    5.) I’m definitely going to check out Scott’s Unpodcast and so should you: http://www.unmarketing.com/category/podcast/ 


    A couple of reasons I’m excited about the Alliance Annual Meeting in Indianapolis

    Hi everyone – this is guest blogger Nate Lamusga, Director of Member Engagement at Catholic United Financial based in St. Paul, MN. I’m honored to have been asked to write a few blogs live from Indianapolis during the Alliance Annual Meeting. As we are all getting settled, I thought I’d take a few moments to talk about the reasons I’m excited to be here!

    1.) OK, so this one is totally selfish. I have three little girls at home, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but the prospect of my wife (who gets to join me on this trip) and I getting a few days away to do simple things like sleep, eat warm food, and have “adult” conversations is quite compelling. After arriving yesterday, we already feel like different people. Last night, we went to Shula’s steakhouse and I ate a steak. It sounds simple, but OMG. In true blogger form, here’s a picture of my food:


    Don’t worry, I didn’t touch the watercress.

    2.) The speakers and workshops are always fantastic at these meetings. The Alliance staff does a great job pulling in talent to challenge and inspire us to look at what we do just a little bit differently. Look for future blog posts on what President of Un-Marketing, Scott Stratten, had to say as well as (shameless brown-nosing alert!) what I’m sure will be some of the most insightful remarks you will hear from Chair of the Board Harald Borrmann. Knock-em dead, boss!

    Alright, more to come…enjoy!

    All Roads Lead to Indianapolis…

    jwmarriott shorterI hope you’ll be heading to Indianapolis tomorrow to join with nearly 400 member society executives, employees, and board members, as well as dozens of representatives from our associate members, for the premier fraternal conference in North America – the American Fraternal Alliance Annual Meeting.  With an education program that is as enlightening as it is eclectic, an all-new “Innovation Forum” feature that will showcase the financial and fraternal activities of our young professionals, and countless opportunities for individuals to transform networking discussions into significant business transactions, this year’s event promises to be one of the most rewarding in recent memory.


    Nate Lamusga, Director of Member Engagement, Catholic United Financial

    Nate Lamusga, Director of Member Engagement, for Catholic United Financial, will be blogging live from the Annual Meeting.  We’ll post his insights and interviews periodically over the next week.  I’ll be taking a bit of a “blog break” after the meeting, but I’ll be back with a post from the Croatian Fraternal Union convention in Baltimore the week of September 21.  I hope to see many of you in Indy later this week and would love to get your feedback on the Annual Meeting.  Please post your comments here or send them to me in a private email at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org.



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