“I think it’s so important for those that are passionate to speak out and really engage those that may be too afraid to speak out otherwise. Tell your story – even if you help just one person, you’ve succeeded.”
Ashley Fitzsimmons is a breathe of fresh air in a seemingly stale world. Her knowledge, empathy and uncanningly badass connecting skills is her celtic birthright. Drawing her powers from the female druids that made history in Ireland many centuries ago, Banduri is making history today as she changes the face of an entire industry. Her superpower connecting skills allow her to sense when others are suffering or otherwise need her help, then teleport to them in their time of need. Her druid ancestors used nature, books and shields as their tools to connect with and protect their people. She uses stiletto heels, a keyboard and extra dirty martinis.
Say Hello to Banduri – Our newest Insurance Superhero.
Q-How did you get started into the insurance industry?
A-Timing is everything. It’s funny – my senior year of college everyone kept asking if I was going to go into the family business. I knew nothing about it and I think, like a lot of young people, I really didn’t see the ‘glamour’ of being an insurance agent. When I graduated, they needed some extra help in the office for the summer and suggested I give it a shot. I’m so glad they did. I’m now the 5th generation in our agency. Insurance is an incredible industry and I’m so fortunate to have gotten involved in it.
Talk about timing… My grandmother worked in the agency. She did all the bookwork. I came in July of 2010 and she passed away completely unexpectedly December of 2010. I’m so thankful that I started working here and was able to eat lunch and see her every day for those few months.
Q-What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time?
A-I love being outside. Kayaking, hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, exploring different cities, going to the beach. I find that when I’m doing these things, insurance always comes up. If I’m out for drinks, I’m often looking around examining the establishment I’m at seeing if it’s a good risk and trying to find the owner to strike up a conversation. My mind never shuts off – but I think that’s when you know you truly love what you do.
Q-What are you currently working on to help those around you?
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A-I was fortunate enough to be asked by Jeff Teschke of Forge3 to contribute a monthly article providing a fresh perspective on the insurance industry. Along with the article, I actively post on LinkedIn and Instagram encouraging conversation and hopefully motivating others to be better agents. I think it’s so important for those that are passionate to speak out and really engage those that may be too afraid to speak out otherwise. Tell your story – even if you help just one person, you’ve succeeded.
Q-What do you feel is your single greatest personal accomplishment?
A-Learning to do laundry… Hah! But really – Never turning down a new adventure.
Q-What do you feel is your single greatest professional accomplishment?
A-Being one of the youngest directors on our state associations board, Independent Agents and Brokers of PA, DE & MD
Q-What single habit do you feel has made the most positive impact on your career and why?
A-Cultivating Relationships. Connecting with other ‘superheroes’ in the industry, if you will. I can’t tell you how important it is in this industry to connect with other people just as passionate as you are. Some still believe that the only purpose of networking is to try and gain new business. Hand out a card and move on. How’s that working for you? I network to create meaningful relationships. Those meaningful relationships provide me with resources for gaining knowledge, a soundboard for my ideas, motivation and affirmation that I’m in the right business and other people care just as much as I do about both their clients and helping other agents. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable has gotten me outside of my comfort zone. And it’s funny – once you cultivate these relationships, you will gain new business, too. A guy saw me in a magazine, connected with me on LinkedIn, and said his friend had actually just moved to a city near my office and he wanted to give him my contact info. It truly is amazing how things can work out.
Q-What bad habit do you feel causes the most frustrations for insurance agents?
A-Being unorganized. This is a big one for me. Ironically, I feel like sometimes I’m TOO organized. Being unorganized is a slippery slope. We start a project, get interrupted, get frustrated, possibly miss or misplace something, and eventually, our frustration is then misplaced on our clients. We as agents need to learn to adapt and master our multitasking abilities. If you must, get into the office a little earlier. Those few extra minutes of silence really help you to clear your mind and get organized for the day so you too, can be a superhero.
Q-If you could give a new agent one piece of advice, what would it be?
A-Honestly, the best ‘truth’ that was told to me when starting was – you’re probably not going to like it the first year. This was good advice for two reasons. The first year can be hard. You have to learn something entirely new. You’re not going to have all the answers. You’re probably going to get yelled at a few times by irate clients. Clients are going to ask for someone else in the office and not want to talk to you. This was a realistic statement – I knew what to expect. It was going to take some work to gain some ‘street cred’. The second reason is that I love a challenge. So when they said this to me, it motivated me to work eve harder to gain credibility, to learn as much as I possibly could and gain trust. So – I’d say the best piece of advice is ‘give it a fair chance and stay motivated.’
Q-If you had a superpower, what would it be & why?
A-Does turning water into extra dirty martinis count? Teleportation would definitely be my super power. I would be able to go to every possible conference and not worry about travel time taking me away from the office. I would be able to snap my fingers and be with a client immediately when they had a loss. And most importantly, I would be able to snap my fingers and be in my bed when I go out to dinner, eat too much and am uncomfortably full…
Q-Where can people go to follow your work?
A-Instagram – @agentashfitz or linkedin.com/ashfitz