Overcoming obstacles – the way forward in business, sports and life

Overcoming obstacles – the way forward in business, sports and life | Insurance Business America

Overcoming obstacles – the way forward in business, sports and life

If anyone knows what it takes to succeed, despite apparently insurmountable obstacles, Danelle Umstead (pictured), three-time Paralympic Skiing medal holder couldn’t be a better example. Umstead, who is the keynote speaker at the upcoming 2021 Women in Insurance Texas event was enthusiastic to share with Insurance Business some of her guiding philosophies and tips for success on the slopes of business and life.

Reminiscing on her time in Vancouver at the 2010 Paralympic games, Umstead could not say enough good things about her experience. “I kept asking myself if we could just go back to Vancouver,” Umstead laughed, “Once I experienced subsequent Paralympic games, I realized how spoiled I was in Vancouver.”

The feeling of inclusion and team spirit felt in Vancouver is at the heart of what Umstead feels is so central to any life endeavor - whether it be working closely with her husband when they compete as a team in the Paralympic games or making inroads in the boardroom at an insurance company.

Women helping women - a collaborative spirit

For insurance professionals, this collaborative approach to business is also at the heart of client interactions and working successfully with colleagues.

“Get results together,” Umstead goes on to explain. “Success stems from reaching and striving, trusting your partners in business and life and it is about not all taking and not all giving, but by working together.”

Umstead takes her role of encouraging other women very seriously. Of her many continuous endeavors to encourage inroads for women in their professional life, Umstead has started a non-profit entitled Women supporting Women with Disabilities.

“We have to have each other’s backs.” Umstead insisted. “We need to support each other and lift each other up…otherwise we will be banging our heads against the wall trying to get to the next level.”

Having discussions with other women professionals and not being afraid to talk about the tough topics also helps Umstead further understand the challenges that women routinely face within the workforce. Umstead highlights that the willingness to talk about the areas that affect women professionally also brings increased confidence.

“I too worked my way up the corporate ladder in a field dominated predominately by men,” she said. “It was my willingness to try to do things differently, communicate with kindness and support other women in the industry,” that helped Umstead earn a high level of business success long before she chose to work her magic in the athletic world.

Weighing in on the work/life balance

Umstead is quick to point out how crucial the topic of ‘how to do it all’ is for most women in a professional capacity. How to balance family responsibilities with work commitments and how to do this successfully is an internal struggle for countless working women, Umstead emphasized.

“We as women have to avoid burning out,” she said. Burning the candle at both ends will not end well. This is where support and working together can be so effective.

“There can never be enough support,” Umstead concluded. She pointed to the example of what professional working women faced during the height of COVID to illustrate her point.

“Going back to work was harder for women because homeschooling rested predominantly with women, and we all had to alter our life to achieve balance,” she said.

Even with the increased capacity for women professionals in the insurance sector to work remotely as companies adopt a hybrid model, family responsibilities and commitments will always be difficult to juggle.

Umstead realized that she too could take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely moving forward. It became apparent to her that she may not have to have so much time away from her family for speaking engagements and training.

“I could do some of my work at home and have more time with my son,” she said. It is an ongoing learning process for Umstead too - just how to prioritize so many competing demands. Umstead said this is yet another reason to come together as working women. An idea that she wants to convey to women insurance professionals at the Women in Insurance Texas event later this month.

What is the answer?

Umstead does not pretend that challenges don’t exist. Instead, the trick is to face them head on. With a problem diagnosed as a child that has limited Umstead’s vison to a narrow center field, Umstead has always had to work that much harder to achieve what she sets out to do.

So how does she go about tackling what lies in front of her?

“It is such a time of anxiety in business right now {due to COVID} so it may be time to step back, take a deep breath and be kind,” she said. “I feel we can work well together and move forward.”

Umstead is clearly looking ahead. Of the many upcoming things on her plate, Umstead points out how much she is looking forward to translating her vision at the Women in Insurance Texas virtual event.

“I can’t wait to speak at this event and share with everyone how they too can live their impossible,” she said.

Make sure to register now to hear more from Danelle Umstead.