Pursue Your Dreams
Despite blanketing the city in marketing material and advertising, almost every day I’m asked, “What is DreamBank anyway?” Our “elevator speech” answer goes something like this:
“At American Family Insurance, we believe that your dream is the most valuable thing you’ll ever own, so much so that we opened DreamBank, a community space dedicated to the pursuit of dreams. We invite our community members in to use our interactive tools and technology to discover their dream and then find inspiration to pursue that dream through our calendar of events and expert staff.”
The true answer, though, is much deeper and more purposeful than we could ever explain in a sentence or two. It’s important to note that the universality of dreams is that you’re always the right age, in the right circumstances and functioning in your best interest when you have a dream. This is the platform we’re using to connect with people. We’re not just reaching out to the business community and entrepreneurs – we’re reaching out and connecting with people.
We’re not just hosting field trips. We’re convincing 12 year-old Alexcia that her dream of becoming a doctor is not only possible, but that it’s admirable, noble, and impactful. We’re not just throwing Pinterest Parties. We’re creating a warm, welcoming environment where Wendy, a victim of years of emotional abuse, feels comfortable to express herself and begin re-scripting her internal dialogue.
Our growing community of dreamers consists of thousands of individuals who are working to better their own lives, the lives of others, and the lives of future generations. All by simply pursuing a dream.
So what is DreamBank? It’s many things. It’s a lecture hall, an art room, a contemplative space, a refuge, a dance party, even a place for meaningful conversation that brings clarity through introspection – you name it. The best part is that it’s what you make it – literally and figuratively – not just because you can use these resources at your leisure, but because when you talk, we listen.
You said your dream is to run a marathon, so we now have a “Couch to 5K” running club to get you started. You said your dream is to send your children to college, so we enlisted an expert to help you navigate the world of financial aid and standardized test prep. You said your dream is to travel, so we’re hosting events to help you plan and budget for your dream vacation.
DreamBank is the vehicle we’re using to catapult you from “Park” into “Drive.” It’s American Family’s way of bridging the gap between dreams and reality, because, in the words of best-selling author Sarah Ban Breathnach, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
This story isn’t about me. Instead, it’s about my son, Daxton Bloomquist. It’s about following your dreams no matter where they take you and how hard you have to work to achieve them.
After graduating high school in 2006, Daxton attended Wichita State University where he majored in Theatre. Summers were filled with performing at the Music Theatre of Wichita, Okla. and the Starlight theatre in Kansas City, Mo. In 2010, Daxton graduated, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts.
As an actor, Daxton had a dream of performing on Broadway. It’s a dream many have, but few actually make it. I can remember Daxton saying he would be on Broadway someday. There were naysayers who’d tell him, “You have to be really good and you might not make it.” But Daxton didn’t listen to the negative. Instead, he stayed focused on his dream.
After graduating from college, like many aspiring actors, Daxton moved to New York City where he did the “starving artist” thing. When he wasn’t auditioning, he worked at a coffee shop, did temp work, catered and became a caregiver for a family with a six-year-old son. Through it all, he never lost sight of his dream of performing on Broadway.
In 2011, Daxton got an offer with the Disney Cruise Line to be an entertainer on its new ship, the Disney Fantasy where he was cast as Hercules in the fantasy show. He spent the next year traveling the high seas, often putting in 70-hour weeks. Returning to New York, he was cast in the ensemble of “Hello Dolly” at the Ford Theatre by a choreographer he met on the Disney cruise.
In 2012 – just two years after graduating from college – his Broadway dream came true. Daxton was cast as a swing in the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Book of Mormon,” a musical, religious satire. (As a swing, his job is to cover for other members of the cast if someone can’t perform.) Making it to Broadway didn’t just happen. It took a lot of work and perseverance but most importantly for Daxton, it meant never losing sight of his dream.
A dream come true? Absolutely. The end of his adventure? Definitely not!
It’s finally here: the big game.
The excitement among American Family Insurance employees and agents has been building for weeks. We’re so proud of our brand ambassador, Russell Wilson, for reaching the Super Bowl in his second season. We’re excited to see a great game today between two class-act teams.
And, we are super-proud of the teamwork and creativity on display in our new commercial featuring Russell (and the voice of the legendary Harry Belafonte). We’re also having fun getting our social media communities excited about the spot’s debut during the big game.
Social media helps us connect with people in new ways, rallying around common interests, like the Grammy’s or the Super Bowl. We’ll be doing that today, joining the conversations about our commercial on Twitter and Facebook, using our hashtag #longlivedreams.
One of the things on my mind this week has centered on the theme of team and family, and how much they are alike. They support each other and build each other up. Each individual contributes based on his or her strengths, and the whole of the effort is stronger because of it.
That’s how we’ve felt here this week, building on each other’s energy, and it’s been amazing.
A lot has been said about Russell Wilson this week – about his leadership and determination. The New York Times had a fantastic piece on his quiet determination and how he’s been easy to overlook in the midst of all the Super Bowl hype.
Russell’s determination and drive impress me, too. But what impresses me most is his focus on team, family and his commitment to building up others. Every Tuesday, he visits the children at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The Tuesday after the Seahawks won the NFC Championship? There he and his wife Ashton were, visiting the children.
I used to work at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and it was a big deal when an athlete came to visit. A really big deal. And usually a person came maybe once a year, rarely during their busy sports season.
Russell and Ashton do it every week. The impact this has on the kids and their families, who are stuck in a hospital week after week, wondering what their future holds … to me, it says more about his character than anything else. And that’s what makes me proud that American Family has Russell Wilson on our team. He inspires me to be a better person.
Long live dreams.
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.
“I know he’s going to be an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, but he also might be the president of the United States. And I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. The kid has something that you cannot buy, you cannot bottle.” - former Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema on American Family Insurance brand ambassador Russell Wilson
At only age 25, Russell Wilson is already an incredible success story. Few achieve in their whole NFL careers what Wilson has accomplished in just his first two seasons. And for those of us who had the great fortune to witness his season as a Badger, none of it is a surprise.
I’ll never forget the day I first learned about Russell. His commitment to Wisconsin had just been announced that morning, and all the headlines were talking about this “free agent QB” who had utilized a loophole to transfer. I was skeptical. They made him sound like some sort of diva.
Boy was that wrong.
In Wilson’s debut against UNLV, I was blown away. As a Badger fan for more than a decade, I was used to the gritty, run-first offense that had come to define Wisconsin football. But Wilson displayed a style of play that combined electricity and finesse in a way I had never seen before. I was hooked. But what struck me most wasn’t the way he completed passes or evaded defenders; it was his demeanor. Not once did he celebrate after a positive play or show frustration after a negative one. He never wavered.
“I refer to him as almost a perfect person. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s always doing everything right.” - Wilson’s Seahawks teammate Golden Tate
I began listening to his interviews. The humility, poise, and charisma he displayed was characteristic of a born leader. I read quotes from his old coaches and teammates, who raved about his work ethic and hours spent preparing. By the time his season at Wisconsin came to an end, he had become one of my biggest role models. His favorite mantra – “the separation is in the preparation” – has inspired me in the pursuit of my own goals.
Sometimes I wondered if it was too good to be true. I figured eventually Wilson would slip up or display the inevitable character flaw. Years later and I’m still waiting. I wasn’t the only one with doubts though:
“When we first had the chance to talk and visit, you come away from it thinking ‘is this too good to be true?’ He’s so serious, and he’s so determined, and he’s so polite, and so attentive, and so tuned in, you just wonder what a good show this guy puts on. But...the more we were around him, the more we realized that this is just who he is. He’s a remarkable young man.” - Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on meeting Wilson
Every once in a while someone comes along who transcends expectations against all odds to become an inspiration for the rest of us. Russell Wilson is one of those people. While he continues to show the same magic on the football field in Seattle that he showed us in Madison, the truth is that his work ethic and unbelievable character make it’s easy to imagine Wilson being successful no matter what career path he chooses.
“He’s one of those guys that you want to root for, and you’re happy for any type of success that comes his way.” - New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees
Editor's note: American Family Insurance proudly supports the Russell Wilson Passing Academy. The camp is coming to six communities in summer 2014. For more information visit the camp website. And remember to join us as we count down the days until American Family Insurance brand ambassador, Russell Wilson, is in the big game. Join the conversation on Twitterand Facebook.