Leveraging Skill, Passion to Meet Your Financial Goals By George Davis, Florida Business Acquisition Manager – Small Business Banking

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Henry David Thoreau famously sought to “live deliberately,” moving to the woods to explore purpose, as depicted in his book Walden. He stated he wished to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

This focus on purpose is something I am fortunate to see in many teachers that impacted my life and the entrepreneurs I work with daily. In fact, I’m lucky to know someone who approaches both teaching and small-business ownership this way: my niece.

My niece is a very passionate person, and one who is always seeking fulfillment.

She decided teaching was the career path for her after being inspired by her work as a summer art counselor, being a “candy striper” at the local children’s hospital, and working with people who were hearing impaired. This, coupled with having dynamic, motivated teachers during her education, shaped her into a driven, passionate educator.

After getting married and progressing in her career, she determined it was time to refuel, and applied her passion for art to an entrepreneurial venture as an art therapist and merchandiser. She designed workshops for young adults who used canvases to tell their stories, as well as sold her own art and products.

To do so, she had to overcome challenges that came with starting a business like learning about pricing, designing a website, and figuring out how to market herself and her work.

With focus and passion, she persevered and was able to juggle both her teaching career and business by balancing priorities.

As you manage your own career and financial journey, you may consider turning a hobby into a “side” business during the summer months or explore additional work opportunities.

My niece’s journey is one I relay to show that it is possible to pursue a passion while balancing the realities of bills, responsibilities and life. Her story highlights a few things that can be very helpful:

·       Know your resources. One that we provide is the Hands on Banking® program, a free, online financial education learning program with resources for youth, adults, seniors, military, and entrepreneurs. It provides resources that can be helpful in providing tips to help effectively manage finances. Similarly, the content provided on WellsFargoWorks.com gives people considering entrepreneurship important lessons and tools to balance pursuing their passion with tackling potential challenges at no cost.

·       Find connections of experience. Look at your experience as a resource. Tying in interests and skills you already possess will make the work more fulfilling and inspiring.

·       Prioritize your passion. My niece emphasized that it was important for her to take on other opportunities that would be “life giving,” so that she could feel fulfilled and always have something to give.

As her story shows, prioritizing passion and integrating it into your efforts is the key to making those actions meaningful for you and those that you encounter.

 

Plan Your Spending To Help Better Manage Your Salary By Marilyn Drayton

My cousin, someone who I greatly admire, has 40 years of teaching experience. As someone who I have always looked up to, I felt honored when she turned to me for financial advice at a time when she was considering opening her own “side” business. By offering what I knew on the financial front, I might be able to make a difference by applying what I have learned in my own profession.

Marilyn Drayton, Wells Fargo Community Relations Senior Manager for Florida and Southeast Regions

Marilyn Drayton, Wells Fargo Community Relations Senior Manager for Florida and Southeast Regions

My cousin’s experience as an educator taught me that managing a 10-month salary can be challenging, and may require some out-of-the-box thinking for supplemental income.

We always talk about paying bills first when we receive paychecks. Not only is that a great practice, but it ensures that we are not incurring any late fees or other potential penalties. Doing so, along with making sure we are setting money aside for larger expenses or achieving major life goals, is a great start.

The next step is to create a spending plan. Writing down how much income you receive and determining -- on paper -- how that cash will be divided will help put your spending into perspective.

Pay attention to the different expenses you have. Fixed expenses are those that are typically consistent – rent, mortgage and car payments are some examples. Flexible expenses are necessities like groceries, which you have more control in determining the cost. Discretionary expenses are those that are not necessities, like going out to a movie.

Typically, when expenses are high, we need to find ways to decrease flexible and discretionary expenses. This is when we make trade-offs. This means sometimes giving up things we feel we can live without or choosing the less expensive option that still meets your needs.

The key to creating a spending plan is to be realistic and flexible. It is important to be aware and live within our means so that we can pay our expenses, but still have some money left over, as well as review your plan on a monthly basis to make adjustments when necessary.

Handsonbanking.org, a free, online financial education program with resources for youth, adults, seniors, military, and entrepreneurs, offers some great tips to consider when shopping, along with a spending plan worksheet to get started.

Throughout her career, my cousin has found different avenues to overcome some of the challenges that come with managing a 10-month salary. For example, as a teacher working full-time at a low-performing school district, she was able to qualify for student loan forgiveness, and she later spent some time as an entrepreneur to supplement her income. She shared that seeking financial advice and learning to save was a great benefit to achieve her goals.

The lesson here is: No matter what life has in store for us tomorrow, it is better to think ahead and prepare. 

Instilling Values for Success By Amy Ruth

Amy Ruth is Florida Blue’s Chief Human Resource Officer. In this role, she brings her extensive knowledge of human capital development and talent management to provide executive leadership for the company’s human resources, diversity, corporate services and strategic facilities. Amy is the immediate past Chair for the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center and served on the Board since 2013. She is also a member of the Equality Means Business Advisory Board and provides support for the Mali Vai Washington Youth Foundation and the American Heart Association. Amy holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Georgia.

Amy Ruth is Florida Blue’s Chief Human Resource Officer. In this role, she brings her extensive knowledge of human capital development and talent management to provide executive leadership for the company’s human resources, diversity, corporate services and strategic facilities. Amy is the immediate past Chair for the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center and served on the Board since 2013. She is also a member of the Equality Means Business Advisory Board and provides support for the Mali Vai Washington Youth Foundation and the American Heart Association. Amy holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Georgia.

Teachers have tremendous influence over their students by guiding what and how they learn as well as providing nurturing and encouragement that can help improve their performance. But teachers’ impact extends far beyond academics. They also play a significant role in the development of a young person’s character. The influence they have during critical developmental years provides a foundation for the values their students will develop as an adult.

As the chief human resources officer at GuideWell and Florida Blue, I firmly believe our employees are the core of our business, which is why we seek employees who share our company’s values of respect, integrity, imagination, courage and excellence. When I speak with our employees who exemplify these values, I often find the foundation for them was laid by influential teachers in their life.

Respect – We respect and value collaboration with our colleagues and business partners at Florida Blue. The foundation of showing respect for others and their ideas is something that often developed in the classroom as students begin working together and learning how to balance differing thoughts and opinions from their own.

Integrity – We adhere to strong ethical and uncompromising legal standards in every aspect of our business at Florida Blue. Teaching integrity in children goes beyond just teaching them to “tell the truth,” but also explaining how to live the truth in their actions and words.

Imagination – To fulfill our mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, Florida Blue continually seeks innovative and creative ways to meet the needs of our members. Imagination is something that is not in short supply with children, but it’s something we often set aside to “take the easy route” as we get older. It’s important for teachers to embrace children’s imagination and channel it into innovative solutions.

Courage – At Florida Blue, courage allows us to act with confidence and resolve in the face of uncertainty and risk. Courage also drives principled, effective leaders in business, and it is a value that allows us to embrace change and challenge the status quo. It can be difficult for children to find courage when they are faced with peer pressure and bullying at a time in their life when they are still working through their self-identity. It’s critical that our teachers are supportive of students and let them know they have a voice that deserves to be heard.

Excellence – High expectations and goals are the standard that we choose for each other and ourselves at Florida Blue. Great teachers can inspire students to give it their best and not just try to get by with the bare minimum to instill the importance of seeking excellence in all they do.

I’m thankful for the teachers we have here in Florida who are imparting the next generation of Florida Blue employees with these five values that can enhance their life both personally and professionally for years to come. 

Encourage, Mentor and Take Time to Care by Velma Monteiro-Tribble

Florida Blue is committed to helping people and communities achieve better health – this mission leads my work and encouraged me to find outlets to use my passion for education to encourage Floridians to achieve a better life. My parents, educators and extended family all mentored. They taught me as a young girl that education is something no one can ever take away from you. It is one of the pathways to achieve a better life.

            Earlier this year, I was appointed to serve on the Board of the Florida Education Foundation, a direct support organization to the Florida Department of Education and a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to lead in education enhancements statewide. My first meeting was during the Teacher of the Year event in July, and that is where I learned the theme of the week was “encourage.” 

Velma Monteiro-Tribble, Florida Blue Foundation Director, Grants and Programs

Velma Monteiro-Tribble, Florida Blue Foundation Director, Grants and Programs

           As I reflect on the teachers and other educators who have encouraged me throughout my life, I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to pay it forward to educational professionals by serving on the Florida Education Foundation Board. 

I am encouraged by the steps Florida education has taken: The Florida graduation rate is at an all-time high, having increased by more than 22 percent in 10 years; we are No. 1 in the nation for the number of students taking advanced placement exams; and we are the only state in the country to improve significantly in grade 4 math and grade 8 reading and math from 2015 to 2017, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

With continued encouragement from community leaders and organizations like Florida Blue, the Florida Blue Foundation and initiatives like Florida’s Teacher of the Year program, I am confident 100 percent of Florida students can achieve a high school diploma and graduate ready for post-secondary education and a career. No student deserves to be left behind.

            I am committed to encouraging Florida educators to help students reach their highest achievement – this mission leads my work to make Florida the best place to live, work, learn, play and grow.

Teachers Who Make Learning Fun and Interesting by David Pizzo

Teachers were very influential in my life during elementary school. From my uncle, who was a teacher and taught me many of life’s lessons when I was away from school after my parents divorced, to the teachers who led my classroom, they were significant figures in my life.

Two that really stand out are my fourth-grade teachers, Ms. Alfonso and Mr. Patrillo. As students, we would spend time in each of their classrooms, and I remember extraordinary synergy between them in their teaching styles. Because of the way they worked together, I made tremendous strides in my reading and storytelling skills that year.

They were two teachers who really cared about their students, and they went out of their way to make education fun and interesting. I believe that is an essential part of being a great teacher. In addition to being knowledgeable about the subject matter, great teachers have a strong interest in helping students develop a lifelong love of learning.

Teaching is far more than a job. It’s devoting your life to caring about your students, and it’s definitely not easy. They show empathy for what their students are going through, they spend extra time with those who may be struggling, and they help those with extra abilities excel.

One of the most important things my teachers did growing up was teach me skills that go far beyond book knowledge. They taught us how to build comradery with the entire class of students, how to work together, and how to share responsibility. They instilled in us skills that would be essential to succeed in life and future careers.

David Pizzo is Florida Blue’s Market President for West Florida. He is responsible for operations and local engagement in 14 counties ranging from Pasco and Hernando counties to Tampa Bay to Southwest Florida. Throughout his career, he has actively supported education including serving on the University of South Florida President’s Council Society and Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, St. Leo University College of Business Advisory Board; USF Muma College of Business Advisory Board and Eckerd College President’s Associates. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in pharmacy from Rutgers University and a Master’s of Business Administration in marketing and international business from NYU’s Stern Business School.

David Pizzo is Florida Blue’s Market President for West Florida. He is responsible for operations and local engagement in 14 counties ranging from Pasco and Hernando counties to Tampa Bay to Southwest Florida. Throughout his career, he has actively supported education including serving on the University of South Florida President’s Council Society and Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, St. Leo University College of Business Advisory Board; USF Muma College of Business Advisory Board and Eckerd College President’s Associates. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in pharmacy from Rutgers University and a Master’s of Business Administration in marketing and international business from NYU’s Stern Business School.