Russell Wilson is the epitome of dreams realized.
He says he lives by the three Ps: perseverance, perspective and purpose. This isn’t some sports cliché. This is how Russell lives – every day.
At 25, Russell is young...very young. But he inspires people from all ages and backgrounds because he defied the odds, the naysayers and the skeptics to become a successful collegiate and professional athlete. He’s also devoted to his family, his faith and specific philanthropic causes.
Some described him as too small to play in the NFL. Hmmm... You don't hear that anymore. The fact of the matter is, Russell has never stopped pursuing his dreams. In talking with Russell, I always notice his poise and calm leadership abilities. They’ve inspired his teammates (and a large following of fans) to dream – and do – bigger things.
Earlier this week, we shared Sam Girard’s ‘Russell story.’ His rise to prominence and ability to overcome long odds inspires Sam every day. It’s more than being a fan of a football player. It’s seeing the life lessons everyone can find in what Russell does on – and off – the field.
It inspires people at our company, too. Like American Family employee, Dwayne Maddox, who shared his ‘Russell story’, too – one which began during Russell’s time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and continues in the important work supporting developing dreams in the Russell Wilson Passing Academy.
American Family understands what it’s like to be an underdog, too. It’s why we want to be a source of continual inspiration for our customers and people everywhere. Russell Wilson is part of how we’re telling that story and spreading that inspiration, and why we’re excited he’s leading his team to the biggest stage in sports this weekend.
When you watch the big game, look for a new TV commercial featuring Russell. Then let us know how Russell’s story inspires you.
Long live dreams.
It is hard to put into words everything I saw and how I felt watching my son, Jaden Gault from Monona Grove High School (in Monona, Wis.), play and compete at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 4.
When we arrived at the airport in San Antonio the Sunday before the game, there were people there to greet Jaden with a “Gault” sign and a new letterman’s jacket.
His celebrity status was just beginning.
They quickly took Jaden from us and we were on our own, because he had things to do. He spent the entire day signing autographs and getting his equipment and gear for the game. My wife, Kari, and I also got some new gear. We received Dream Protector T-shirts from American Family, which was a major sponsor of the game. It was at this point when that slogan really started to hit home for us.
Jaden was understandably nervous coming into this week. He had never competed against kids with the combination of size and speed he would go against in this game. His nerves were quickly replaced by confidence after the first day of practice Monday. He did very well during the week, earning the starting left tackle position for the West team.
Throughout the week, when we had the chance to see and talk with Jaden, he continued to impress us with what he told us about his week. He talked about what the coaches were having him do, from a football perspective, and he would tell Kari about all the celebrities he had met that day.
There were hundreds of memories from the week that I could point to as my favorite. It could have been Jaden earning the starting spot or the daily positive mentions on Twitter about Jaden from national recruiting experts, or the two touchdowns that were scored running directly behind Jaden on the goal line, or Jaden being named a finalist for the Anthony Muñoz lineman of the year award (given to the top offensive or defensive lineman in the country).
It could have been any of these things, but the moment I will always remember was watching Jaden on the sidelines during the game, talking to uniformed Army soldiers, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service.
It was at this point I realized, not only have Jaden’s dreams come true, but mine have as well. Jaden had grown into the man I always wanted him to be. He is a great success, but remains humble and thankful to others who give him the opportunity to do what he does.
The week after returning from San Antonio, we signed the lease to Jaden’s first apartment on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, where he will be an early enrollee after graduating from Monona Grove in December. He will start classes and join the Badgers for their spring conditioning and football practice and will play in the spring game in April.
Jaden has set a new dream to one day play in the National Football League. Kari and I will continue to do what we can to nurture and protect that dream.
Often, when I meet new people and tell them where I work, their response is to sing the iconic American Family Insurance jingle to me.
This happens all over the country.
If you’re one of those people who hums our jingle when you hear our name, you can thank Charles Ambrosavage.
Charles led marketing and sales promotion efforts at American Family Insurance for 35 years, retiring in 1983. In 1963, he led us through a name change, from Farmer’s Mutual Insurance to American Family Insurance.
As part of that change, he oversaw the creation of our iconic logo, jingle and tagline, “All your family’s protection under one roof,” which is the foundation for the tagline we still use today.
We lost a member of our American Family when Charlie passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 96. But he leaves behind a legacy intertwined with the history of American Family Insurance in a deep and abiding way.
A lot has changed since Charlie retired in the early 80s. We’re operating in more states. Websites and social media have changed how we interact with customers, and they with us. We’ve acquired new companies.
But the values embodied in that tagline and jingle, and what the logo represents – helping families protect their dreams – remains.
Editor's note: Funeral services for Charles Ambrosavage were Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Read his full obituary here.
Every year, millions of American’s make New Year’s resolutions. They range from the personal (lose weight, hit the gym or learn to dance) to the professional (start my own business, get a different job or be nicer to co-workers) and often involve family, friends and colleagues.
The problem is, by the end of the first month, many resolutions tend to get broken, or at best, severely bent.
For years I diligently made resolutions like everyone else. Some of them I’ve been able to keep while others fell by the wayside. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep the resolution about quitting smoking and have been smoke-free for more than three years.
I have to admit, though, I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. When a resolution gets broken, the person who made it tends to get angry with themselves that they couldn’t make it work. They beat themselves up and get depressed that they broke one of the resolutions they made hoping to make themselves a better person. I’ve even heard people say they are a failure because they couldn’t keep a simple New Year’s resolution.
Who needs that kind of aggravation?
To me, resolutions shouldn’t be something to stress about. Rather, they should be a way to practice a little self-reflection and identify ways we can be a better person, friend, family member or co-worker. I look at them as guidelines, not commandments.
So this year, my resolution for 2014 is to not make resolutions. Instead, I’m going to make “I’d like to” statements. As in, “I’d like to be more helpful to others.”
“I’d like to take on new projects at work.”
“I’d like to lose weight.”
Or, “I’d like to have more date nights with my wife.”
By looking at things as an “I’d like to,” I give myself a little wiggle room. If I have some junk food watching a movie with my wife, I won’t think of myself as a failure and feel guilty about it.
What about you? What would you like to do this year?
What is the one thing you want more than anything in life? Chances are, that “one thing” is the same thing for everyone – happiness. We want to be happy at work, at home, in our relationships, and so on.
But ever wonder why so many of us are sad or just not genuinely happy?
During a break from a sales class, I suggested to the trainer the company should really look into having personal development workshops for everyone. They can boost morale and ignite productivity. This is a question of how much the company wants to invest in the well-being of its lifeblood – its workforce.
Instead, we get refresher classes we’ve taken many times over, or contests with cash incentives only to produce very little good results. Worse yet, job security fears get instilled in people’s minds because of subpar performance.
These systems are flawed. The method of dangling the carrot may produce better results than instilling fear, but both can only produce superficial results.
These aren’t things we do just in the business world. The same is true in academics and home life – "get A's in school, find that right person, work hard, become successful, and you will be happy.” We have all learned and been taught this way. It’s time we did the reverse.
Be happy by being thankful. We can choose to be miserable at our jobs or because of our pay, or we can choose to be grateful for the privilege of working. There is so much power in realizing how fortunate we are for having jobs.
Be happy by looking for the good; don’t focus on the bad. How much we want to invest in the company? Are we with the company only when times are good, or are we willing to work through the bad and become part of the solution?
Be happy by getting good hormones flowing by starting your day with meditation and exercise – even if only for five minutes.
These are just some of the simple steps I take daily to reach my goal to be happy. It is only when I’m happy I think clearly and enhance my productivity.
Happiness fosters success in life, and not the other way around.
Life is too short to be unhappy. Happiness is a choice, and so is misery. Which one will you pick?