Paul is the Employee Benefits Specialist at First Choice, and one of the (many) things I like about him is the fact that his business philosophy is the same as mine: relationships first — no matter what the size of the business or organization he’s working with.
This relationship-based, non-transactional point of view is not always easy to find in the business world, and it’s what makes Paul so good at understanding the needs of his clients, and being able to provide them with a solution that truly works for his employee benefit groups — even in the face of an increasingly complex healthcare system.
In case you’re not familiar, our spotlight series always highlights amazing artists individuals and small businesses that stand out from the crowd for their all-around awesomeness.
So, let’s get to know a little more about Paul …
1. Who Are You?
First and foremost, I’m a father of a 10 yr old daughter and a husband of 13 years. Professionally speaking, I’ve been in the world of Employee Benefits (health insurance, dental, life, disability, vision) for over 20 years. I cut my teeth in customer service at an insurance company right out of college which was foundational, giving me not only insight into how insurance works, but the complexities that often accompany it, especially in the eyes of those insured. It helped me be customer centric as well as find ways to help insurance make sense.
That experience served me very well throughout my career and at the same time gave me street cred with prospective clients because I knew and still remember what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. From there my career transitioned into a sales role and eventually management. For the better part of my career I’ve worked for health insurance carriers where I could only represent one product, whereas now at First Choice Insurance Solutions (FCIS), I serve as an independent insurance agent able to offer a multitude of insurance carriers which is far more beneficial to my clients. I’m no longer a one trick pony.
2. What Do You Do?
In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I help businesses manage risk from a healthcare perspective. Navigating the world of Employee Benefits was complex 20 years ago, and despite attempts to reinvent it or make it easier to navigate, the harsh reality is that it has become far more confusing.
3. Why Do You Love Doing It?
I love working with new people and hearing their story. We all have a story, it’s what ultimately connects us. I really enjoy getting to hear what people’s needs are and then helping them fill the gaps. Let’s be real, insurance is not exciting stuff. In fact, I always joke with people that if you can’t sleep at night, pull out your health insurance certificate and start reading. You’ll be out in less than a minute.
However, failure to have the proper insurance in place puts a person in a very vulnerable position. Potentially paying too much in premium or paying too much out-of-pocket. Worst case scenario is finding yourself filing for bankruptcy due to forgoing enrollment in some sort of insurance coverage. In today’s world, we’ve become very spoiled expecting insurance to cover everything under the sun. In reality, insurance was created to protect us from catastrophic loss, but it has morphed drastically over the past 50 years. People continue to attempt to reinvent it, but in its basest form, insurance exists to protect us from the ultimate loss, bankruptcy. I still remember my first insurance job where I couldn’t define deductible from copay from maximum out-of-pocket and that continues to serve me well today because I have a knack for making the complex easy to understand.
4. How Does it Help People?
I think I’ve already beaten that dead horse, but will add that I help people make sure they are choosing the benefits best suited for them for this particular point in time. Too often I encounter people that are over or under insured as well as those who have no insurance whatsoever. I have horror stories of people I’ve known that did not have health insurance and then were gravely sick. It’s a terrible position to be in. Then I have personal stories that impact my own family where having health insurance saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars.
5. I know you enjoy music, and that you are a musician. How many guitars do you have, and how often do you play?
I had 25 guitars at one point, but sold some because I didn’t play them as often as I should have. I don’t play nearly as often as I’d like, but I have an absolute love affair for electric guitar and 80’s hair metal. While I like other music too, I’m proudly stuck in the 80’s. I currently own 19 guitars and have several very rare pieces in my collection including a Michael Sweet Washburn Flying V, serial #2, and they only made 4 (I think). I don’t know that I’m done buying guitars. I’d say I’m done buying until I find the next one I fall in love with.
6. Favorite guitar player?
Hands down Michael Sweet from Stryper. The guy is wicked talented and is releasing better music today than he did back in the 80’s. He plays, sings and writes continually. This year, due to COVID, he’s not been able to tour, so he’s working on 5 new albums, some with various artists. It’s nuts, but he doesn’t start writing songs for a new album or project until 2 weeks before it’s due. He does his best work under pressure and will knock out one new song a day.
When I was a kid I had posters of him on my wall and fast forward 30 years, I’m blessed to call him a close personal friend of mine and my family. It’s a long convoluted story, but one that is fun to tell. In short, our paths began to cross 4 years ago at shows and ultimately, my daughter (then age 6) and I went to see him perform an acoustic show in Fall River Massachusetts. He was filming a live DVD and called us up on stage and the rest is history. We are in the DVD and it’s an incredible memory. He’s played a private show at my house and 80 of my friends and I’ve been to his house, in his studio, staring at his Gold and Platinum albums that adorn his wall, pinching myself because 16 year old me would never have believed this would or could happen.
7. Favorite band?
8. Favorite coffee?
I have a wicked sweet tooth and there’s a coffee shop in Randolph, WI called T’s Cup & Cream that my wife discovered. They have an Almond Joy coffee that I could literally drink myself to death on. It’s so good.
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