Naama Pozniak

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Naama O. Pozniak is CEO of A+ Insurance Services, focused onimplementing the best plans for clients and providing up-to-dateinformation on key issues.

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Paul Wilson: How did you get started in the benefitsindustry?

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You always hear, “No one dreams of being a broker,” but you knowwhat? I did. I grew up in Israel, and my uncle owned an agencythere. So as a kid, an agency owner was part of what I wanted tobecome.

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I served in the Israeli Air Force and then moved to LA forschool right after. It was incredible, because I moved to LA in1988, got my license the same month, and then in 1989, I gotanother license in property and casualty.

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Related: You're not just a broker; you're a businessowner

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I was a captive agent with Prudential for a few months and thenrealized it wasn't for me. I really loved the health side, but theview at the time was “People in that profession don't make money.” I said to myself, it's not justabout the money; for me, the bottom line is making a difference. Ifeel like it was a great choice and it's been a wonderful journeyfor me in this industry over the past 30 years. It's been anamazing experience and it's changed my life.

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PW: How has this journey shaped yourmindset?

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It has made me very authentic and straightforward. I think Ialso became tougher, which has helped me work with insurancecompanies in a different way. I have always served on a number ofadvisory boards for insurance companies and focus groups.

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Israelis live for today. We make the best out of everyopportunity, so I really try to live in the moment. I think that'ssomething that really shaped me as a child. We're also very social.We get together, we share information. I've never chosen the roadmost traveled. I've always chosen the new, the exciting.

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Volunteering was very important in my family. Helping andsupporting the community has definitely shaped who I am.

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PW: How has your life and practice been impacted by inyoga and meditation?

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I was drawn to Buddhism and Hinduism because no one is excluded.It's a community where everyone looks at you as a human being. Weare not who our business cards say we are—that can changeovernight. It really doesn't matter who you are or where you camefrom.

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I had gone through a really tough time personally but part of itwas also looking at our broken health care system. It just doesn'twork. So it was a combination of these things and just being drawntoward simplicity and love.

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NAAMA O. POZNIAK

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Since then, I've gone through so much training and education.Through my involvement in the industry, I'm very close to manypeople who work in insurance. They saw me going through atransformation. When somebody begins the journey, even a little bitof meditation, people can see the difference and sense the calm andquiet that comes to you.

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I submitted to teach a class in California, which usually takes30 days to be approved. It was approved in three business days. Istrongly feel that this will be a big part of my responsibility togive back to the industry, to teach people how to start thisprocess. The feedback I'm getting is unbelievable.

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PW: Would you say this falls underwellness?

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Yes. The hardest thing for people is to quiet their minds. Thereare studies now that show if we can quiet our mind, it will allowus to heal. Wellness often discusses exercise and other things butwe never talk about the mind. Studies show that most chronicdisease starts with stress. Seventy-five percent to 90 percent ofdoctor visits are due to stress-related issues. Stress costs thehealth care system about $1 trillion and they know that. It's morecostly than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or anything else youcan imagine.

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PW: How much do you bring this up with clients andprospects?

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I speak about it in my community, with my individual clients andwith my group clients. I took part of the class I created for theindustry and in between open enrollment, I build sessions foremployees.Employers allow me to come in to the conference room andhold a session for 20 minutes to teach employees about meditation,tools on how to start, the right apps to download. The class isdesigned to give tools so you can start the journey. There's no oneway to explore the practice.

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PW: How realistic is it that this will become mainstreamand accepted? Will the cynicism start to melt away?

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I'm already seeing that. It's a long process and I'm not tryingto push it because I don't think that's the right way. The responseI'm getting from other brokers has been amazing. “Naama, I'm takinga few minutes a day to do this and it has changed my life” or “Mykids have started doing it with me.”

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It's all about the body-mind-spirit connection. And we'restarting get more evidence to back it up and that's helping us getmore acceptance.

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PW: What's your perspective on the industrynow?

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I think the health care industry is a total miracle and I lovewhat's happening right now with the conversation aroundself-insurance. I do wish the conversation would be a little morepositive; I would take all the negativity out of the conversationand leave the positives. How can we make things happen? Not such afocus on who's not making things work or what's gone wrong in thepast. Instead of so much judgment, a focus on empowering as many aswe can.

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PW: What are the opportunities and challenges you faceas a smaller brokerage?

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One of my challenges is managing people and trying to jugglerunning the agency with my personal development. Balancing time andprioritizing what's most important is challenging.

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Change is a constant part of what we do, and I love it. With asmall practice, you can be more flexible and better able to adaptto the environment. But you never know what will be next. Peoplewho accept and stay open to opportunities will find success.

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I'm fascinated by exploring ways to improve things. As healthcare leaders, we must take a big role. We need to be open to thepossibility that sometimes, you're wrong. We need to be positiveabout the insurance carriers, too, because they could still comealong.

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PW: What are some trends and strategies you're keepingan eye on?

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I love the movement toward direct primary care. I created anetwork of doctors around me who aren't just prescribing medicationand who I know will do anything possible to actually help peopleheal. I've personally taught many of these doctors meditation andyoga. I know who they are, and if you take my book of businesseswho work with these doctors, I guarantee it's healthier. I believestrongly in building a community within your provider network andI'm fascinated by integrated medicine.

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We shouldn't wait until we're diagnosed with a disease. Peopleare getting preventive care at a higher rate than ever before. Butprevention isn't everything; it's also about teaching people totake care of themselves. We need to better understand how we canfulfill people emotionally, physically and spiritually to help thembecome happier.

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I love technology to the degree that it brings encouragement andhelps create community. We're trying to create a community ofhealth conscious people to lower costs. You know who does it well?Google. They're creating community along with a lot of start upcompanies I work with in Silicon Valley. I really like the factthat we have technology that can show us where the issues lie. I'mtalking to a California legislator now about transparency. I reallylike that trend right now in health care.

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PW: What are your favorite things about yourjob?

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Constant change. It's so dynamic and something is happening allthe time. I love the education that's required; I feel like Ialready have a Masters degree! I'm fascinated with seeing differentproducts, innovations and technology.

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And I love the people. My clients and my team mean more to methan I can express. I just went to an event yesterday and metseveral of my clients.They were talking to other people and saying,“Naama has a team that no one else has.” On our team, every personreally cares and wants to serve.

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PW: Finish this sentence: The key to success in thisindustry going forward is…

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Practice consciousness that will allow you to enter a state ofkindness, generosity, compassion and goodwill.

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.