Remembering a Great Insurance Teacher

I learned some sad news this morning.  Jeff Gelona passed away at the age of 55.  Most of you don’t know Jeff, but I wanted to share how Jeff has made an impact on my insurance career. 

I attended the very first National Alliance Producer School in Tallahassee, FL in the spring of 2000.  This was a three-week program to help new insurance agent’s get a crash course on insurance topics, coverage issues, and how to sell.  About one week of the three-week program was devoted to selling and Jeff Gelona was the main teacher for selling strategies.

All of the instructors were terrific, but Jeff was always my favorite.  He knew how to motivate, inspire, and get agents ready for real world selling.  There was no fluff, just sound practical advice.  As like all good speakers, he was also very funny.  When I completed the three-week program and headed back to start my first “real” job, I figured I would never see Jeff Gelona again.

To my surprise, my agency at that time, A.N. Ansay & Associates, in Port Washington, WI, had formed a relationship with Jeff and wanted him to come in and teach the National Alliance’s program, The Dynamics of Selling, to our entire office.  Jeff came to our office a couple of times a year so I got to know him a little better and continue to gain much insight of the insurance world from his teachings.  I even got to play golf with Jeff at one of the nations best courses, Whistling Straits.

I left A.N. Ansay in 2004 and moved back near my hometown in 2004.  I started with my current agency and again figured that I probably would not see Jeff in the future.  However, over the next couple years, Jeff had formed a relationship with one of our company partners, Selective Insurance.  Jeff was working with Selective Insurance agents by holding seminars and speaking at events to help agents learn how to improve.   I was able to attend several events that Jeff was part of and was still fascinated with his real world teaching and personality.

I have attended about 10 different events where Jeff was speaking.  At one event, he joked that maybe I just “didn’t get it” so I had to keep coming back.  The one constant I noticed was that every audience gained new insights after hearing Jeff speak.  It was obvious of the huge impact he was making for the insurance community.

Jeff and I were not great friends, but he showed me that you don’t have to be great friends to have a huge impact on someone.  I learned a tremendous amount from Jeff and so thankful I got the chance to know him.  Jeff will be missed, but his impact is far-reaching.  Rest in peace Jeff.  Thanks for being a bigger part of my life than you probably ever realized.

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