What can be said about Phyllis Mulder? Just ask a few people who have worked with her at Alliant National since she came on board in July 2006, and you’ll hear what seems like 10,000 glowing comments. To an outsider, the accolades may initially sound like nice talk – just something you say about an executive who retires after 14 years with the same company. But as members of the Alliant National family share their heartfelt and personal stories, you realize that it’s all true; you are learning about a woman who not only helped shape a company, but also the careers and lives of seemingly everyone with whom she has come into contact.
Phyllis Mulder joined Alliant National almost at the company’s inception. Dave Ginger introduced Phyllis in ’06 to his co-founders Bob Grubb and Scott Hendrickson. Once they met, no one ever looked back. Since those auspicious beginnings, Phyllis has served as Chief Legal Officer & Executive Vice President at Alliant National, served as President of the Texas Land Title Association, participated in many committees through TLTA and ALTA, and helped the company grow from a handful of agents in a handful of states, to a national organization that today operates in 25 states and supports more than 500 independent agents.
David Sinclair, Alliant National CEO, has worked with Phyllis since 2011. He says Phyllis has played an important role in the company’s transition from a small- to mid-sized title insurance underwriter to a widely respected and recognized industry leader. “Phyllis has been instrumental in the development of the Alliant National culture,” says Sinclair, “and she has allowed us to recruit and retain outstanding people.
“When discussing any issue, Phyllis listens deeply,” he adds. “Phyllis is calm, thoughtful, respectful and kind. She remains steady in the face of uncertainty and unflustered by the whims of others.”
That rock-steady presence is not lost on other colleagues. Margaret Cook, General Counsel & EVP of Alliant National, has worked alongside Phyllis since 2010. Phyllis and Margaret previously worked together for about four years in the early 2000s, and Phyllis recruited Margaret to Alliant National.
“Phyllis is the consummate professional,” says Cook. “She is intelligent, collaborative, humble, and consistent. She genuinely cares about others and brings out the best in them. My favorite part of working with Phyllis is how she empowers her co-workers to succeed and sincerely celebrates their successes.”
Cook shares her admiration for Phyllis’ skills as an attorney. “Phyllis is the calm in the storm when it comes to making legal decisions. She is a natural team player who instinctively values the ideas and suggestions of others. She applies her sharp, analytical mind to think through all angles of a problem, and develops a solution that works for all parties,” she says. “Phyllis is also a master of the English language and enjoys learning and sharing. One day, she came upon and circulated a case where the outcome hinged on the lack of an Oxford comma – to the delight of the serial comma proponents on the Legal Team.”
Alliant National co-founder and long-time colleague of Phyllis, Bob Grubb, gathered a number of comments from Phyllis’ colleagues to celebrate Phyllis’ retirement on a recent company call. Here are just a few of the accolades:
“Jean Bailey, Vice president and Regional Underwriting Counsel for the Southwest Region, said that, due to Phyllis’ deep understanding of the English language, when Alliant National issued a bulletin, it was meticulous, brilliant and the most carefully read bulletin in the industry.
“Brenda Cannon, Underwriting Counsel, Florida, said that when she was considering joining Alliant National, it meant a lot to her that the CLO was a woman, which is not at all common in the industry. ‘I felt an immediate connection with Phyllis.’”
And from Bob Grubb: “Her way of being is the single biggest factor in having Alliant National be so respected in the industry.”
Phyllis is an extraordinarily warm person and brilliant attorney. Forget for a minute that, in addition to being Chief Legal Officer at Alliant National, she also hikes, practices yoga, is an avid bird watcher, spends considerable time in national and state parks – and has run dozens of half-marathons. It’s her humanness that touches the hearts of her colleagues. “I’ll always remember the delight in Phyllis’ voice whenever her daughter called,” says Cook. “Of all of Phyllis’ accomplishments, it’s easy to tell that she’s most proud of being a mother and raising a beautiful, smart, and independent child.”
Likewise, Sinclair knows well the warmth and humanness that is Phyllis Mulder. “Phyllis is a balancing force,” says Sinclair. “One of my favorite parts of working with her is that, regardless of moods or mindsets, she is always available to listen and make a personal connection.
“Phyllis seeks to find the positive in literally everyone,” he adds. “She works with the information supplied and develops the very best product to meet the needs of others.”
But perhaps the most telling aspect of Phyllis leaving Alliant National after 14 years of service, is how Phyllis feels about exiting – and about her stewardship of Alliant National. “The biggest thing I will miss when I leave are the people who make up Alliant National,” she says. “That is what I will miss the most.
“What an honor it has been to work with individuals who are so caring, professional, honest, smart, fun,” she adds. “I have learned something valuable from each person I’ve worked with. I am grateful for the lessons, the mentoring, the laughs, and the help along the way.
“What a gift – throughout the last 14 years to be able to say, ‘I love my job – I love what I do – I love the people I work with,’” she says. “This has been an amazing learning and growing journey. I am proud of our company’s growth, which has resulted from helping others achieve their goals and objectives. How rewarding to work at a company focused on serving our agents, our people, our industry, and all of our stakeholders.”
The evidence shows that Alliant National returns the sentiment. Well done, Phyllis Mulder, Esq.
Can you spot when you’re being phished? One of the first steps is fully understanding what phishing is. Unfortunately, it’s not as fun as heading to the stream with your waders. Phishing can take place via phone call, text, or email, but the latter is the most common place. The attacker will pose as a legitimate institution in an attempt to get secure information from their target. Some examples include those spam calls you receive from the “IRS” robot asking for your social security number.
Over email, things can get a little bit more malicious. It’s common sense to know that an unsolicited robotic voice asking for your social security number isn’t legitimate. However, what happens when you receive an email with a link that you wouldn’t usually give a second glance to? Cyber attackers rely on that lack of attention to target vulnerable users. Here are some ways to tell if the email you’ve received is a phishing email:
Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Those flashy designs advertising expensive items for free could (and in all likelihood will) result in identity theft.
Be mindful of emails from unknown senders insisting that you act urgently. The attacker is trying to pressure you into acting without thinking.
Watch out for unknown hyperlinks and attachments. They’ve gained popularity over recent years. They avoid giving you all the details in the email to avoid looking immediately suspicious and urge you to click on the link for more information. Never click on a link from an unknown or untrustworthy sender.
All of that might seem like a lot, but knowing what to look out for is the first step in protecting yourself from cyber-attacks. After a while it will all become like second nature. There are also plenty of other preventative steps that you can take to ensure that you and your inbox are protected.
Spam filters can go a long way toward stopping malicious content from getting to your inbox at all, and you can update your browser’s security settings to block fraudulent websites from opening at all. Setting up two-factor authentication with your financial institutions and any website where your bank data may be stored can help protect you as well.
Jigsaw and Google have partnered to keep an up-to-date phishing quiz to see if you’re ready to identify phishing attempts that may come your way. You can take it here.
Berner brings more than 30 years of title insurance knowledge and leadership experience to Alliant National.
LONGMONT, COLO. (June 23, 2020) – Alliant National Title Insurance Company announces new hire Mary Berner as Assistant Vice-President, Southeast Florida Agency Manager, effective immediately.
Berner brings more than 30 years of title insurance knowledge and leadership experience to Alliant National. Alliant National measures its success through the empowerment of people and protecting property owners with the finest title insurance, while helping independent title agents flourish and expand their competitive positions in the marketplace.
Berner’s duties include developing relationships with agents and helping to increase Alliant National’s footprint in the Florida market.
“I am thrilled to join such an amazing group of professionals,” says Berner. . “I look forward to bringing my experiences and relationships to such a welcoming environment that empowers independent agents and supports their success.”
“Mary’s vast industry experience and knowledge make her a valuable addition to our Florida team,” said Debra J. Coffie, Senior Vice President, Florida Regional Manager. “She is among the best in Florida at developing long lasting relationships and helping independent agents thrive.”
Alliant National welcomes Berner and looks forward to utilizing her deep understanding of the title industry, which she developed over the past three decades. She has held the position of AVP, Agency Manager in West Palm Beach, Fla., cementing her reputation as one of the most respected leaders in the title industry.
“We are honored to bring Mary Berner into the Alliant National family,” said Coffie.
Alliant National was founded in 2005 by a group of seasoned title insurance professionals, business leaders and entrepreneurs. It began as a regional underwriter operating in Colorado with a few key agents and first year revenues of $131,000. Today, Alliant covers five regions, with its corporate headquarters in Longmont, Colo., and a second office in Oviedo, Fla., where claims are processed.
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ABOUT ALLIANT NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY
The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agentsm – Alliant National believes in empowering people to thrive.
The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 25 states and the District of Columbia, with annual revenues exceeding $126 million.
Recently, a lot of marketers have found themselves playing in a different sandbox than the one that they may have been used to in the past. The old sandbox consisted of a hybrid kind of marketing, one that relied on both digital and physical platforms. As our world continues to shift for the foreseeable future, more and more of that physical marketing becomes irrelevant and marketing teams find themselves competing in a digital landscape.
There are a lot of benefits to shifting focus to digital. While there are still costs involved in online marketing, they’re often less. However, it also means competing with literally everything else on the internet at any given time. What we present to our target audience has to be put forward in an interesting enough manner that their attention can be pulled from the thousands of other options calling for them at any given time. That’s a tall order!
Shifting your marketing behaviors can be a difficult pill to swallow, but remember that it doesn’t all have to happen overnight. It’s also important to remember that this might not be forever. Right now, we’re in a constant state of adapting. Here are some tips for taking the plunge into this new landscape.
Focus on Engagement
We’re not just talking clicks here. Right now, one of the best things you can do for your marketing is to keep yourself accessible. Schedule live chats or seminars, or even create an online forum. These things may not have been considered to be standard marketing in the past, but right now it’s all about getting that attention. Accessibility will go a long way to set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Keep Your E-Blasts Interesting
You know what’s exhausting? Endless mailers. You know what’s even worse? Endless cookie-cutter mailers. Cutting and pasting information into the same email format you’ve sent forever might be the easy route, but it’s not going to get you the engagement you want – especially not right now. Give your audience a reason to click on your newsletter! You can utilize anything from small giveaways to something as simple as a snappier intro. Make your readers feel like you’re making an effort to connect.
Avoid Platitudes and Watch Your Frequency
We’re all getting inundated with marketing from across industries telling us that everything’s going to be okay and that our best interests are being looked out for. You don’t need to be that person. No one wants to hear platitudes all day long. We’re far enough into our current global situation that we’ve all pretty much figured out what we need on an individual basis. Focus on what you’re bringing to the table, and don’t overwhelm your email list with correspondence.
If you find yourself constantly digging for information to include in your marketing or other digital correspondences, lower the frequency of your newsletter. The people you’re reaching will appreciate that a lot more than a halfhearted information aggregate.
Keep on your Toes
As things change, change with them. There’s no sense in wasting your money on ad space or physical marketing that isn’t working for you. The future’s more uncertain than it has been in several generations. While it can be hard to accomplish, do your best to just go with the flow. Keep with the digital marketing while it makes sense, but be prepared to incorporate the physical back into rotation if the marketing landscape calls for it.
Focus on What Works Best You can read all the advice columns out of Forbes you want, but no one knows better than you do about what you and your audience are looking for. Use the advice of the experts as a spring board, and then do your best to make something unique out of your marketing. Not only will this set you apart from the crowd, it will also give your audience more of a reason to engage.
Losing a child is a tragedy no parent should ever have to endure. While there are few words and even fewer comforts to be offered to those who have experienced such a loss, the team at The Compassionate Friends is doing its best to be there in the face of the unthinkable.
Sandra Harrison experienced such a loss on her wedding anniversary when her son, 26-year-old Cory Trevor Harrison, was fatally hit by a drunk driver. Though she wasn’t alone in her grief, Sandra realized that facing such a tragedy requires a community. It wasn’t until after the loss of Cory that she found The Compassionate Friends, a foundation that offers a sense of togetherness and self-help options for grieving families in need.
Since discovering the group, Sandra found a partnership and a focused purpose, within her community, all driven by The Compassionate Friends’ cause. While The Compassionate Friends, open to anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling, offers self-help options to everyone near and far, it takes enough interest in one location to build a local chapter.
After three separate families contacted the organization, the Bay County, Florida chapter was founded in January 2015. Since then, the group meets every second Monday of each month. With the current pandemic, the chapter meets on a scheduled Zoom call.
The mother and grandmother will be stepping in as chapter leader of her local group in July. In the meantime, she’s shifted her focus to a memorial garden to honor her son and other children lost. With the help of local government and the other members of her chapter, including the current chapter leader, Carol Ladouceur, Sandra and other chapter members are now building the Children’s Memorial Garden.
“I don’t like going to my son’s grave,” she says. “I want to go where it’s uplifting.”
Sandra wants to help offer her community a comforting and peaceful place to go where they can honor their loved ones without the negative connotations of a graveyard. Rather than feeling surrounded by death, Sandra and her community’s organization wants to offer a place that can be a celebration of life for her lost son and the lost family members of her community.
Their bid for the garden was enthusiastically backed by local city commissioners of Lynn Haven, Florida, and other chapter members. Some families went together on benches for their loved ones, while others opted to sponsor trees, bushes and other greenery to adorn the garden. There will be cenotaph walls that will be covered in bronze plaques – a place where anyone who has lost a child, grandchild or sibling can pay to have them memorialized.
As a non-profit, the Bay County chapter had to be clever about how to go about the creation of their garden. Purchases of plaques and charitable donations go directly to the creation and upkeep of their garden. There will be a fountain for the garden, offering an added level of tranquility for those who come to honor their lost loved ones.
The Children’s Memorial Garden was set to be completed in June 2020 with a dedication. A Walk to Remember was scheduled for May 30, 2020. Anyone can donate directly via Venmo*. Sandra has devoted a large amount of her time to the project, and looks forward to seeing the garden and fountain completed. She noted that the setting – about 1000 feet from North Bay – couldn’t be any better, and hopes that others will find it as peaceful as she does.
After being founded in England over 50 years ago, The Compassionate Friends has since expanded operations in the United States. The group works in chapters, and as of today has over 600 chapters in all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and Guam. The Compassionate Friends’ mission statement states that “when a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.”
Sandra Harrison and her Bay County chapter are living up to that mission in spades with their current project. No one ever wants to experience loss, particularly that of a child, but the love of a supportive group and community, such as Sandra’s, proves that love can sometimes mitigate grief and shore the bereaved up when the unthinkable happens.
*To donate to the Children’s Memorial Garden, search for “Children’s Memorial Garden” on the Venmo app. Donations can be made there.
This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.
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