Letter from the President – November 2018

The holiday season is a wonderful time to give thanks for all we have to be thankful for, including the Red Sox winning the World Series (sorry Yankee fans).

I thought sharing this article about Alex Cora, the Red Sox first year manager who won a World Series this year, was a wonderful reminder of how giving and being helpful to others should be such an important part of our daily lives.

At a time of signing his contract to become the returning Red Sox manager – by all means – a rightful time to be inwardly looking and self-centered to get the best deal he could – Alex Cora looked to help others in his native Island of Puerto Rico. Very touching and worth the read.

It is almost daily we see suffering on the news and in our communities, from the horrific events of shootings across our country and the out of control wild fires in CA, we all should send our thoughts and energy to these victims.

We are grateful for what we do have, and, it’s from this place of gratitude, where we can help others in times of need. I hope you enjoy the next several weeks enjoying family and friends and find a way to help someone else out who may need something within your ability to do so.

https://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/the-1-stunning-thing-boston-red-sox- manager-alex-cora-asked-for-in-contract-negotiations.html

Be Sure.

Letter from the President – October 2018

As part of our ongoing commitment to always be learning and getting better, we organized a training for our leadership and management team on Emotional Intelligence and we recently attended this training together. In this month’s newsletter, I am sharing the follow-up note I sent to my team in hopes you get some takeaways from it. I truly believe getting better in “leadership and management skills” is a differentiator for us as we grow into the future. I discuss my thoughts and expectations around leading within our Management Creed, Standards and Values, and by doing so will have a positive impact on the overall well being of our people, our clients and the longterm relevance of our company.

The FollowUp Note:

I want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to attend and participate in Wednesday’s EI session. We all wear multiple hats many have clients to service and teams to lead, and finding this time as leaders is very important to me, our agency and most importantly to your own personal development – incredible nuggets of knowledge we all can bring into our own lives – thus a multiple return on your time invested.

Please take a few minutes to read my thoughts when you have time. I hope they give you context around this training – which was only a few hours to wet the surface of what we are making available in the future for all of you.

I say important to me because, as CEO, I need to do a better job communicating and managing the promise in our Management Creed and I need your help. In the Management Creed, I declare how a person who joins our firm and reports into their manager will be treated – what is expected of them and what they can expect from us. I sign this and I recruit to it – and I hear others recruiting to it. We are making promises to prospective team members and current team members – and we owe it to them to deliver. If we don’t deliver on this promise we are hypocrites and being disingenuous. If we do deliver we have something very special here.

To make sure we deliver, I am advising Carol to continue to offer up resources for all of our people – and mandatory for any team member who has granted authority as a people manager/leader.  Anyone who has someone report to them needs to be engaged in leadership development.

The beauty of each of our leaders becoming better at leadership – a scarce and needed skill set in our society, let alone businesses where we spend a majority of our waking time – is if we all agree to lead and manage by our Management Creed we prevent becoming a “corporate rule maker” and having to micro manage people to follow the rules and be punished if they don’t. The reason why corporations become too “corporate” is they don’t have leaders who lead with principles – meaning being aware of and relentless in using values and standards as the compass and the center of their leadership actions. In addition, they see their position as “their power” versus “empowerment  of others” – they don’t get how “powerful” servant leadership truly is. So when people with authority aren’t principlecentered  and aren’t “servant leaders”, they suppress the talent, styles, skills and energy of their team. The way to “control the behavior” of suppressed people is to set rules and enforce them – thus the non-servant leader becomes a “enforcer” of the “corporate rules.” This is how business becomes “too corporate” and why span of Management is tightened – because the manager has to micro manage the rule breakers and even the rule followers get “watched closely” just in case. Not only does this affect morale, it is inefficient and businesses can’t gain operating leverage with small spans of management. Thus, they end up having to hire more layers of management versus client facing people and now, not only is morale bad, profits suffer due to bloating of overhead – clients suffer and employee engagement is nil at best.

The reason why I say if we deliver on our Management Creed promise we have something special is – if you as leaders – who are granted authority as part of your role and no better than anyone else – manage as servant leaders, sharpen your EI skills (and we all need to), and commit to using the tools and resources we provide, our team members will be empowered to use their skills and reach their potential. They won’t feel suppressed, they can better manage themselves, and we are unleashing the amazing energy and potential they have – with less “managing” and less emphasis on “rules”. This doesn’t mean process and process improvement isn’t vital – it is. In fact, empowered people with continuous process improvement is what sets them free to use their skills to engage people and sell and service internal and external clients.

I need your help and I need your commitment to understand this, learn it, practice it and get great at leadership. As was validated in yesterday’s session, great teams operate with an agreement. Our agreement is to lead under our Management Creed, Standards and Values. We don’t have to be best friends, we have to respect our agreement, each other and get better at being accountable to each other.

It isn’t easy, and at times can be grueling, yet the reward puts us in a very unique and special place. It gives us the ability to grow profitably and do so where people want to be and see the opportunity to thrive in their careers and their lives.

If you would like a copy of our Management Creed, please contact Carol Pandiscia at cpandiscia@smithbrothersusa.com or 860-830-3696. If you would like to discuss our Management Creed, Standards or Values in more depth, please feel free to reach out.

Be Sure.


Letter from the President – September 2018

In August, our Smith Brothers Insurance team partnered with Hands on Hartford to “ready” the Breakthrough Magnet School in the North End of Hartford for the start of the school year.

Katherine Leonard, the principal of the school, welcomed us and shared the school’s values and standards with us. Their focus is on learning, “soft skills” and the well being of their students – principles any business can relate to. We had the opportunity to paint, rake, landscape, weed, create bulletin boards, organize the library and wash equipment.

This opportunity aligned so well with our big purpose to “Help Others” and there is nothing better, especially as a CEO, than our Smith Brothers team members working together to make a difference – a “true example” of how we help others in what we do.

As the day ended, the Hands On Hartford project manager let us know how the kids in Hartford “feel bad” about the way people outside of Hartford speak about “how bad Hartford is”- as they directly relate this to themselves. I personally never looked at the negative talk about Hartford effecting kids who go to school or live in Hartford. By spending the time to help, the project manager said it gives the kids pride that others cared. Truly a nice thing to hear – our work not only helped the school get ready, it also has an effect on how the kids feel about themselves and their pride.

We at Smith Brothers Insurance are truly grateful to all our stakeholders for allowing us to make our community a little better every day.

Be Sure.

Smith Brothers Insurance Acquires G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency – May 2018

May 1, 2018. G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency has merged its business with Smith Brothers Insurance of Glastonbury, CT. This combination allows the Abodeely Agency to maintain its presence as an independent local agent and leverage the resources of Smith Brothers, one of the nation’s Top 100 Independent brokers. 

Bill Abodeely and Elaine Saliba, principals of Abodeely Agency, and Shelley Zicolella, Director of Operations, together with the account management team, will operate out of its current Massachusetts locations in Milford, Westborough, Webster, West Springfield and Fitchburg under the name G.M. Abodeely Insurance Agency, an affiliate of Smith Brothers Insurance. Paul Cellucci, as Massachusetts Regional Director, will work with the Abodeely team to grow through organic sales and future M&A activity in Massachusetts.

“G.M. Abodeely brings us presence in the Central Massachusetts marketplace and allows Bill, Elaine and their team to take advantage of our Enterprise Risk Management approach and value-added resources to expand our combined presence in the Massachusetts marketplace. Smith Brothers and G.M. Abodeely are community-based businesses founded by our respective family’s and, as stewards, coming together will benefit our clients, our team members and our communities,” states Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers Insurance.

Bill Abodeely states, “Smith Brothers and the Smith family hold the same core values and culture our family has prided ourselves on throughout the years. This partnership perpetuates a longstanding agency while providing the same exceptional service to our clients. This is an exciting time for all of us given the commitment to our current client base and continued presence and growth in the region.”


Smith Brothers Insurance is an independently operated, Top 100 Broker in the U.S.  We help organizations and individuals manage risk, protect assets and grow.

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1971 by brothers, Bob and Brian Smith, Smith Brothers Insurance has expanded to more than 180 professionals that help protect clients from risk and uncertainty.

Smith Brothers is licensed in every state in the U.S. and protects risk all over the world.  Headquartered in Glastonbury, Connecticut, our offices are throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.


Abodeely was founded in 1940 by Sally and George Abodeely, Sr. who grew the agency to become one of the largest privately-owned agencies in central New England. The family business was passed down to siblings George Abodeely, Jr., Elaine Saliba and Bill Abodeely who have worked tirelessly over the years providing superior customer service and quality insurance solutions for their customers.

Letter from the President – July 2018

Please take note of this months article on Cyber and Crime. A court case came out with significant impact on how coverage may or may not apply. As a responsible fiduciary of your organization, these exposures are too significant and emerging to not consider managing the risk of loss with loss prevention and risk transfer tools available.

Social Engineering is the new buzz word describing how employees and/or businesses are being deceived out of money or information. This new trend in criminal activity is to ask us for information rather than hack into our networks and take it from us.

Typically, Crime polices respond when money is stolen, and Cyber policies respond when data is compromised. Cyber and Crime polices do not automatically consider social engineering aspects when written and why wording within a policy is critical in how a policy will respond. Coverage gaps may be avoided if threats to your business are identified and managed – review your policies thoroughly and often (at least annually) to address these ever-changing exposures.

In a recent court case, Medidata Solutions Inc. vs. Federal Insurance Company, a gray area appeared when the criminal claimed to be the CEO, convinced employees to wire funds to external accounts. Typically, this would be a crime exposure due to the employees transferring money. However, the criminals also hacked into the email server and were able to manipulate electronic data and create fraudulent emails convincing employees to transfer funds – more in line with a Cyber policy (data breach). In the Medidata Solutions Inc. vs. Federal Insurance Company case, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled in favor of the crime policy coverage. This case is under appeal and will go through the legal process before an end ruling or any ruling will be declared. See the attached
Insurance Journal link: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2018/07/09/494384.htm

In another case, Curry et al. vs Schletter, Inc, W-2 information was requested for an apparent verification measure. A criminal purported to be a supervisor requesting an employee to send copies of employees W-2 s from 2015 into a PDF file type. Believing the email to be authentic, the employee forwarded 200 employees information to a supposed supervisor. Six days after discovering the incident, Schletter notified its employees and provided two years credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for each impacted employee. The employees were dissatisfied and filed a class action lawsuit. The data was not breached in this case but disclosed. The court allowed the employees to seek punitive damages. Schletter has subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Many Cyber polices exclude employees or may be silent on the employee disclosure coverage. The definition of what constitutes a breach is critical. In this case the company s “computer system” was not breached as the criminal hacked into a third-party computer in order to pull off the social engineering scam.  https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district- courts/north-carolina/ncwdce/1:2017cv00001/85986/35/

Some important take-aways:

  • Criminals are constantly changing their tactics to steal from organizations (information, funds, etc.).
  • Depending on the crime, coverage could bounce back and forth from Cyber and Crime policies and why it is important organizations carry both Cyber and Crime policies
  • Continually evaluate Cyber and Crime policies to be sure wording and coverage provide protection for the organization s unique exposures.
  • Consultative risk management techniques should be used in conjunction with the purchase of any insurance policy. Coverage will bounce back in forth from Cyber and Crime policies and will fall somewhere in the middle.

To learn more about how to protect your information and money, review your Cyber and Crime coverage or to understand more about social engineering, contact Scott Garcia at 860-430-3330 and/or SGarcia@SmithBrothersUSA.com. Scott works with a diverse client base in this space to manage Cyber and Crime risk exposures.

Be Sure.


Letter from the President – June 2018

It’s that time of year again – graduations everywhere. I had two this year – my daughter Grace from High School and my daughter Alex from The College of the Holy Cross. This year Holy Cross had Michele Norris – an Emmy and Peabody Award winning journalist and creator of The Race Card Project – as the commencement speaker. Her husband, Broderick, is a 1978 graduate of Holy Cross and she mentioned that she took threads of the 1978 commencement speaker, Vern Jordon, who was a close advisor to President Clinton and a civil rights activist. I thought she did a great job and sent some great messages to the Holy Cross class of 2018.

A link to her speech is below, yet I want to share few takeaways that I thought were worthy. The theme of her message was to talk about “Dont’s”, “Dare’s” and “Do’s.”

Her big “Don’t” – Don’t Measure Success by Numbers

  • So much we do – like in school or SAT’s is measured by numbers. This maybe needed for business metrics, but for life and happiness, it’s less about the numbers and more about the “pursuit of excellence.”
  • Base your success on your “excellence” in something. I love this and her quote – it’s about “work ethic” and also about “worth ethic.”

Her Dare – Dare to Actively Listen to Someone You Disagree With

  • Think about this. Listening and respecting others – not necessarily agreeing- is so important in our human interaction.
  • It takes discipline, confidence and decency and listening and engaging others you disagree with can be enlightening and is the seed of effective influencing.

Her Do’s- There Are Always A Lot of Do’s

  • Listen to the voice in your head. The truth voice is your inner moral compass – listen to it regardless of outside voices – listen to your inner compass.
  • Speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.
  • Be bold, be curious and be kind.
  • Being afraid of change is a waste of time – embrace change.

My favorite line from her whole speech is – replace I “have to” to “I get to.” This will help you understand your blessings. Wow – I have used this so many times in the last few weeks. Try it – it’s a very powerful tool – a way to quickly change the lens of how you are looking at things and thinking of things.

I do not know Michele and I was impressed and appreciative of her messages. I hope my daughter takes a sliver of her advice as she will need it for sure.

I love commencement speeches – or at least the good ones. I will occasionally google them and listen to some great ones. Besides the link to Michelle Norris’s speech, I also included two of my favorites. Admiral McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech at University of Texas – nothing beats his 10 lessons learned as a Navy Seal and Robert Dinero’s 2017 NYU speech where he had a classic one liner from an actor – “Next”. Next was the word he used throughout his career as he failed or didn’t get chosen for a part. “Next” is what I tell kids. Failure is not the opposite of success – it’s a time to learn and get better – “Next” helps you move on.

Be Sure.


To review the various commencement addresses that I referenced here, please click on the following links.

Holy Cross 2018 Commencement Address

University of Texas, Admiral McRaven’s 2014 Commencement Address

NYU, Robert Dinero’s 2017 Commencement Address

Letter from the President – May 2018

How did you sleep last night? How about your team? Does your organization have the energy, mood and mindset to tackle their day and multiple roles – parents – friendships – siblings – community – job performance? We want to give our team members tools to help build capacity to not just manage but thrive and find joy in what they do every day.

The info-graphic link below from The Performance Room is easy to understand – the cost of poor sleep impacts our well being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. This said, it’s not too much of a stretch to see how lack of sleep impacts productivity in the workplace and our overall economy. According to the research group RAND, “the United States is the global leader with poor sleep costing its economy $411 billion every year.

Our 02 monthly well being series led by Dr. Guy Carbone is focused on sleep. Guy used our session in April to teach us about the importance of sleep and how our brain and body needs quality sleep to perform. Our body cycles and between the hours of 4 am and noon, the body is detoxing – focused on eliminating toxins in our body. Noon to 8 pm is the primary time for the body to break down foods, digest, and absorb nutrients. Between 8 pm and 4 am, our body is primed to heal and regenerate. He then asked us to identify “dashboard signs” that show up in our life when we are tired (very similar to the attached info-graphic). May’s session focused on setting yourself up for better sleep and putting a game plan in place. While there are many ways to improve sleep, Guy focused on three to start with in order to build a habit and get better sleep.

1. Create A Routine
    a. Aim for the same time each night to begin your wind down (shower or cup of tea, brush your teeth, wash your face) – allow one activity to trigger your nighttime routine as started

2. Detach From Devices
     a. Simple to say…may be hard to do. Just Do It – Detach From Devices (phone, tablet, tv, etc.).

3. Deep Breathing
    a. Consciously breathe for 10 breaths. After three weeks, if conscious breathing isn’t “your thing” – meaning it isn’t helping you relax or “quiet your mind” – then write down what’s on your mind – your to do list, your worries – whatever it is – write it down as a way to get it out of your head.

In order to get better sleep we need to spend some waking time being aware of what poor sleep is doing to us, learn some tactics to aide in better sleep and build the plan. Guy asked us to practice these suggestions between now and our June session where we will talk about what happened (metrics).

Give it a try, let me know how it goes for you. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

Be Sure.


https://www.theperformanceroom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/The-cost-of- poor-sleep–822×1200.png

Own Your Wellbeing

Smith Brothers Insurance held its 7th Annual Walking Day on April 11, 2018. Some pictures from the day are in this month’s photo collage – we had a great turnout – even folks who were traveling or on vacation walked with us this year! This annual event is part of our 2018 Wellbeing Program – a series of events and resources for our people to have a relationship with themselves – investing time on themselves – for each of us to “Own Our Wellbeing.”

Our 2018 Wellbeing program is built around daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly “touches” we offer our team. Some examples:

Daily Videos posted on our intranet site, Be Connected – short videos encouraging people to “Eat Right. Move Right. Think Right.”
  • Mobility Monday
  • Thank You Tuesday
  • Walking Wednesday (well we offer 20-minute walks to our team members daily)
  • The Yoga Thursday
  • Five-Minute Friday
  • Daily, our team also has the opportunity to take a paid 20-minute walk and spend some time in meditation/mindfulness

Monthly – Dr. Guy Carbone, from Carbone Chiropractic Center in Wethersfield, CT leads a Wellbeing Series focused on “Eat Right. Move Right. Think Right.”
  • Q1 – Nutrition
  • Q2 – Sleep
  • Q3 – Movement
  • Q4 – Emotional, Mental, Spiritual

  • Financial Series
  • Aetna Get Active Challenge – partnership with our insurance carrier (Aetna also offers discounts, programs and resources to our folks via their Aetna portal).

Our learning and development curriculum also falls into our Wellbeing Program – “soft skills”, technical skills, life skills – all critical to our growth – individual, team and company – again, here for people to open their minds and hearts to possibilities of what learning and connecting with others brings to their life.

We believe, everyone has greatness – it is particular to them – this program is about education, tools and “touches”. When someone is ready to do the work, become aware to find their greatness – mind, body and spirit – the resources, tools and education can be put into practice. I have asked each person at Smith Brothers to “Own Your Wellbeing”. What this means for one person may be different for another. Own it for you. Look at Eat Right, Move Right and Think Right – educate yourself, find your spots and get better in each area. Whatever this means to you, find your greatness!

If you would like to learn more about our Wellbeing program – tools, resources, events and how to implement – please contact Carol Pandiscia at 860-430-3219

Record Breaking AAHOACON 2018

     Members of Smith Brothers Insurance Hospitality Team (Anand Patel, Frank Zurlo, and myself) attended the Asian American Hotel Owners Association annual national convention and trade show of 2018. This year the events took place at Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center in National Harbor, MD/ Washington DC starting on March 27 through the 30th. The convention had a record breaking attendance of over 6,500 people. AAHOA is the largest hotel owner’s association in the world with more than 17,700 members.

     The convention was my first and my mind was blown at the vast number of attendees. This was a great opportunity to meet current and potential new clients and contacts who visited our booth. During the trade show there were sessions on business, policy, educational and inspirational guest speakers including Jimmy Johnson, Former Coach of Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins, and Linda McMahon, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). I was fortunate enough to attend the Women Hoteliers Session, where Vinay Kumar, Leadership Coach, Author of “Leading for Breakthroughs,” gave an interactive session on leadership: “The Secret to Winning.” Vinay Kumar, spoke about the formula for success and gave valuable insights on getting ahead and separating yourself from the competition.

     I am grateful for the opportunity to meet not only hoteliers, but financial institutions and ancillary hotel vendors. I am looking forward to next year’s conference in San Diego, CA as well as more of the regional events in the near future.  

Stephanie Patel
Client Executive


I read an article on “questioning” and how effective it is to be great at questions versus answers. The article focuses on a process for creating an environment for getting people to ask great questions uninhibited from the pressure of “judgement or having the right answer”- the author names it “question burst”. My big take away is the process of asking people to think of questions, versus answers – in and of itself fosters creativity and new perspectives on problem solving. 

Creativity is one of our Core Values at Smith Brothers. We look for creative solutions for our clients in the risk in their businesses or households, as well as creative ways or processes to be more efficient and effective. It is intriguing to think that by asking people for questions versus answers we may get better answers. 

One of my biggest fears is group think” or “social loafing” – essentially people going along with what others answers are – both are lazy and do not create real value – nor keep you from missing big blind spots. Any process that empowers people to open up, think, ask, create and add value sounds great to me. I plan on doing it more.

Our Sales process – diagnostic and consultative focused – is all about our consultants asking great questions and understanding our client’s needs. We feel our professionals who question well – get to client needs more clearly – and can help guide solutions more effectively that add true value to our clients.

I love the quote in this article from Robert Lagner of MIT, “When you’re a student, you’re judged by how well you answer questions. Somebody else asks the questions, and if you give good answers, you’ll get a good grade. But in life, you’re judged by how good your questions are…..people will become great professors , great entrepreneurs – great something – if they ask good questions.”

See the attached link to the article and I hope you find some of your “greatness” in getting better at asking questions. 


Be Sure

Joe Smith 
President and CEO