With Affiliate of the Year Insurance Brokers Association of Hamilton
Featuring Lynn Uildersma—AP Insurance Brokers, IBAH Past President & Miranda Hirte—BFL Canada, IBAH Vice President
IBAH’S WON AFFILIATE OF THE YEAR A FEW TIMES NOW—WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
LU: I was so grateful to be Vice President when we won the first time, and President for our most recent win. It was wonderful to be recognized amongst our peers, I was so very proud of our team. It still makes me smile, thinking about hearing our name announced as the winner.
MH: You know what—it’s truly great validation. It makes you feel that the work we’re doing and the time we put in is well worth it. Promoting the broker brand and doing right by our community is such a good feeling. I think our success is a direct reflection of the dedication and effort of our Board. These individuals work so hard every day, then give what little extra time they have to better Hamilton’s broker community. It’s really an honour to be part of this team.
WHAT’S THE SECRET BEHIND YOUR SUCCESS?
LU: We have a strong education arm, we embrace social media and we’ve improved our web presence. We speak with our local MPs. We help charities and food banks within our community. We’re proud to be insurance brokers and do the best we can to offer social events like our Meet the Underwriter Night, Mix & Mingles, golf tournaments and bowling events. Above all, we work well together, we take the work seriously and we love coming up with new and exciting ideas.
MH: Besides having a great team, we don’t overcomplicate things. Our goal is to create meaningful experiences and opportunities for brokers, and to give back to our community. If we’re doing these things, we’re successful. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning awards, but it’s definitely the cherry on top when we do.
Our goal is to create meaningful experiences and opportunities for brokers, and to give back to our community. If we’re doing these things, we’re successful.
HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED YOUR ASSOCIATION AND SHIFTED SOME OF THE THINGS YOU OFFER?
LU: We’ve been meeting over Zoom instead of in person. As much as it’s been a bit of a learning curve, we all seem to have fun with it, especially those crazy hair days. We’ve had to cancel our in-person broker events, so our focus has shifted to education.
MH: Like everyone, we’ve had to pivot. Many events were cancelled, new ideas were generated, and we were able to create an online offering for our Basic Broker course. Creating a virtual option was a huge job, but it will be very beneficial in the long run.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH IBAH AND WHY SHOULD OTHERS GET INVOLVED?
LU: A co-worker approached me to see if I’d be interested in taking over her position as Membership Chair. I was a little nervous at the time, but thought it’d be good to interact with other brokers and company members. Being on the Board is so rewarding. I was never a public speaker, but over time it’s become easier. I’ve made so many new friends I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t joined the Board. Being involved has created a skillset I didn’t know I had.
MH: I attended many events over the years before I joined. Initially my goal was to differentiate myself as a young broker, build a broader network and give back to the community. I didn’t know I’d have so many opportunities come out of it—incredible friendships, professional accolades, deep community roots. I hope others want to get involved for these reasons. It’s work—unpaid work and time—but it’s so rewarding, and it really fills my cup to do good for our community.
YOU SEEM TO ATTRACT YOUNG VOLUNTEERS TO YOUR BOARD—WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH?
LU: It’s good to have a few seasoned members, but we recognize young brokers are the future. We encourage them to offer insight and new ideas. It’s never good to be comfortable—we achieve through discomfort.
MH: A lot of it is word of mouth. A few of our younger members have friends in the industry—when we recruit, we try to put it out to other like-minded individuals who want to be involved, grow as a broker and make a difference.
WHAT DOES IBAH’S FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
LU: As the province opens up, so do we. In the near term we’re planning to hold in-person events, keeping in line with provincial guidelines. We may keep our meetings through Zoom, but we expect to be stronger than ever and invite brokers to join our Board. New minds mean new ideas. Our goal is always for brokers to know IBAH’s here to support and guide them through their insurance career.
MH: The future looks exciting! We’ve got an incredible team and a desire to take the association to the next level. If the pandemic’s taught us anything, it’s that time is precious. It’s our goal to create meaningful interactions and opportunities for our broker community. The events need to pack a punch and be fun and worthwhile.
THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH—DO YOU HAVE ANY SELF-CARE PRACTICES YOU MIGHT SHARE?
LU: Surround yourself with anything that brings you joy, even if it’s simple. While working from home, I enjoyed fresh flowers on my desk and extra plants in my garden. Reach out to someone who makes you smile. Send a card in the mail to someone who might need it. I play ukulele with a group—prior to Covid shutdowns, we used to play in a few senior homes. Our group has resumed outside, and it brings me joy. Laughter really does help.
MH: It’s great to see the shift and emphasis on improving mental health and getting rid of the stigma surrounding it. I’ve experienced varying forms of anxiety for almost 15 years—it wasn’t until after the birth of my son in 2016 it was confirmed. Those first 10 years I kept it all in, hiding my feelings and symptoms as best I could. I thought it was selfish to feel that way; I had such a good life and great opportunities and experiences. But I’m not shameful about it anymore. Being vocal on the tough days not only helps me but hopefully helps those who might silently suffer. My three key self-care tactics are exercise, talking and baths. I get my workout in every day before the sun comes up to start off with the right energy. When I’m having a rough time, I talk about it to those I trust instead of allowing it to build up. Lastly, a nightly bath! I’m an extrovert through and through but it takes a lot out of me. I use the quiet time of a bath to decompress and recharge.
LET’S END WITH HAMILTON—WHY YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH AND HOW YOU’VE SUPPORTED YOUR COMMUNITY OVER THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF?
LU: There’s so much to love about Hamilton. We’re the city of waterfalls! We create great brokers through Mohawk College and IBAH’s insurance offering. We knew during this pandemic that our community was struggling. Our Board made donations to seniors in need, providing gift cards for groceries and small gifts from their Christmas wish lists. We donated $7,500 to three organizations in need during the pandemic—Interval House, Food for Kids and Neighbor to Neighbor.
MH: What’s not to love about Hamilton?! In all honesty, many people’s view of Hamilton is driving over the Skyway Bridge and seeing the steel factories. Hamilton is a big, small community—everybody knows everybody, and there’s been a huge surge of energy and resources. The revival Hamilton’s seen over the last decade is incredible. It’s exciting to be here and be part of that growth. Our goal as a Board is to support local organizations in need whether financially or with our time. Each year we focus our efforts on 2 to 3 organizations. With Covid, there were so many severely impacted—we donated to 3 very near and dear to us. We collaborated with our Affiliate member, Paul’s Restorations, to support a single mother of 3 and a few seniors over the Christmas season. It’s truly one of the most fulfilling parts of being on the Board. To be able to support organizations where I work and live is so gratifying.