Teresa Wolande has been an insurance professional since shortly after graduating from the University of Iowa in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She has had a successful career working for several insurance companies, specializing in international risk management. Her resume includes underwriting, product development, and insurance brokerage. She has worked with many well-known companies, such as Nike and United Airlines.
Since retiring in 2000, Teresa has continued to lend her expertise as a consultant, as well as expanding her talent into other arenas. Wanting to move to something less demanding, Teresa created TMY Styles, which her family helped develop and manage. More recently, Teresa has found her life and business experience can help enrich women entering retirement age.
For Terry, the idea of settling down is not an option. She has spent a lifetime generating business, advising on international risks, and caring for her family. Retirement has allowed her more time to consider what legacy she can leave for her family and community. Since moving to Naples, Florida, she has only become more focused on helping other women in this same phase of life to continue their empowerment and share the experience. As part of Women’s Forum, Terry is helping to create groups that encourage philanthropy and ongoing growth.
How did you get started with life coaching?
I have had many experiences in my life, both good and bad. When I retired, I came to realize that not every woman has had the same experience I have, while others have more than myself. What I wanted was to offer a forum for women in the same stages of life to come together and share their stories.
I’ve learned that when you retire, you can be pulled into this ‘cookie cutter’ idea of retirement. I wanted to help women do more with their time, to give back, to continue to learn and grow. We have been professionals in our lives and we want to continue that.
We are part of a larger group called Women’s Forum based out of Colorado. It’s a nonprofit that is still in its early stages. The forum idea is a group setting of between 8 to 10 people sitting comfortably and sharing ideas.
How long has it taken to get the forum organized?
It is a continuing process. The environment here in Naples is such a great location because it has a large population of retirees that have brought their lifetimes of experience. We have a group already established, but I really believe that we could potentially have up to ten different forum groups. We are in that phase now, of getting our name out there and explaining what we do.
When you were first starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work and how did you handle it?
I’ve not had any doubt with the forums. I can say when I was still working, I had some. The biggest challenge for me was when I made the transition from working for an insurance company to being an insurance broker. My kids were still young and I remember getting home every night exhausted, but they still needed me.
I learned to rely on those around me for support, people who had always been there for me. I’d always been too proud to ask when I needed it. That is something we have discussed in our forum, the need to put that pride aside and reach out. We can’t do it all and we work ourselves too hard to accomplish everything.
How did you start your first group?
A friend of mine actually started the concept and she would include me in emails about her forum in Colorado. It piqued my interest and helped me realize how beneficial it could be here. When we retire, we lose a bit of our identity. We’ve been this person for so long and now we are making a major change. We want to keep being productive. These forums allow us to keep that part of ourselves. It engages you to leave your legacy.
What is one marketing strategy, other than referrals, that helps bring new members?
I have organized a series of meet and greets. We discuss our concepts and answer questions. We may get around a hundred women at each of these meetings and I would say about half express interest in being part of our group. It is a time commitment, once a month for several hours and a yearly retreat. The meetings have been very beneficial for us getting new members.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Thankfully, nothing with regard to the forum. The toughest choice I’ve made recently was actually to have fusion surgery on my back. I felt it was time to do it, while I’m still young enough to appreciate the benefits. I want to be mobile for my grandchildren. It’s been bothering me for some time and I had been putting it off. The recovery has been difficult, but I want the last quarter of my life to be as comfortable as possible, so it just made sense to do it now.
What do you think makes you successful?
I always walk into events with a positive attitude and the idea that I will get this done. I am never daunted by anything placed before me. Even in difficult times, I have always carried the thought that I can get through this and it will be worth it. That keeps me motivated, not just for myself, but for those I love also. It’s imperative to keep that positive outlook.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most satisfying moment for me was when my daughter went into the same field that I had made my career in. When she came and told me she had earned the President’s Award for her company, it made me really see that all the sacrifices I had made were worth it. I have seen her become an outstanding professional, wife, and mother. There is no better indicator of your own success than to see your children also be successful.
What does the future hold for your forum?
The biggest thing we want to provide is enriching lives for women through the last quarter of their lives. We want to help them make the transitions successfully. Women do so much throughout their lives. Their legacy is not just for their children, but for their grandchildren as well. You may not have the day to day impact on your kids as you once had, but you are still their guide. You aren’t any less needed. We want to continue to grow our group and reach as many women as we can.
What business books have inspired you?
‘The Snowball’ by Warren Buffett was very inspiring to me. It helped me see that steady wins the race. It explains well how to research and find the investments that make sense for your business.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your group?
Actually, we recently purchased something I encourage every company to use. They are called table questions and they are specifically designed to get a conversation going. The art of conversation is a dying concept these days, especially with social media taking over. People talk at each other through devices instead of talking to each other. These table questions have been extraordinarily helpful.