Christina Shaw on Being a Single Parent, Running Her Agency, and Finding the Right People

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People automatically think single parents are always struggling and stressed out, but Christina Shaw, owner of an Allstate Agency on Long Island since 2009 and single mom to 2 girls, says that for her, that’s simply not true. She says that she’s not struggling financially, she’s not stressed out, and that she has great balance in her life. “I’m really blessed to do something that I love.”

It Takes a Village

Even though she is a single parent, Christina certainly isn’t raising her kids and running her business all on her own. From help with her girls to the team that works in her agency who all know exactly what they have to do, what they have to deliver to the customer, what we have to do for the company, and what they owe each other, Christina says, “I have this amazing team of people around me.”

Christina says that, although it’s not always easy, having a good relationship with your co-parent is also essential. She reminds the single parents out there that even if your marriage ended badly, just because your former husband or wife wasn’t a good spouse, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a good father or mother to your children. Christina says that it wasn’t easy, and took a lot of strength and self-reflection on her part, but she didn’t want her children to have to pay the consequences for her and her former husband’s failed marriage.

She Chooses Not to Have It All

“You make sacrifices,” says Christina of running her business as a single parent. While her business is successful, she says it could probably be more successful. But in order for that to happen, it would mean more time away from her kids which she’s not willing to give up. She sometimes has to sacrifice a networking event or meeting a client in the evening, but it all comes down to “deciding early on what those priorities are as a single parent and living into them.”

On Running a Successful Business

Christina emphasizes that, “your customer is always at the heart of every decision you are making.”

Understanding your customer and protecting their assets is key. Every decision is made with the best interest of the customer in mind.

“Making sure every process in the agency is well defined and someone owns that process.” If there’s a breakdown in the process, you know who to go to in order to resolve it.  

Surround yourself with a great team. Christina says that early on she when through the hiring and firing process so many times, and it was exhausting. But she learned from her mistakes. She advises to make sure you have great people around you and that you pay them well and express your sincere appreciation often so they’ll stick around.

Before Christina bought the agency, she worked with someone who would always tell her when she left for the day, “Chris, great job, thanks for your help today.” She says that although she was paid well, it was her boss’s words that meant so much. Working in insurance can be a tough job, people are getting rate increases, people have claims, people lose their home and belongings and it can wear you out.

Marketing in the Regulated Market

Very present on social media and does a lot of marketing. Christina says she looks at herself almost more as someone in the marketing space who also happens to sell insurance. She is limited in some ways, but finds creative ways to market to her customers on social media. Christina says that 90% of her social media content is not insurance related, however she has great acquisition and retention from social media. She shares about her day, her kids, the community, her team, her Starbucks obsession. But, the Allstate sign is always in the background promoting her business indirectly.

Christina is taking a page right out of Ramon’s new book, The Celebrity CEO with her marketing tactics. If you’re operating in regulated industry, while you may not be able to be product specific, you can still let your customer base know who you are. “I want my customers to know me as a person, not just their Allstate agent.”

Finding The Right People

Christina recounted her most recent hiring story for us. She didn’t want to just put a job ad out there, so she did a Facebook Live and a customer referred their son and she says it turned out to be a really great fit. Christina explained that because they work in a small office and spend a lot of time together, “as much as I need to love you, you need to love me.” Christina allows potential hires to shadow in her office to see how they like the environment and the day-to-day which has helped her slow down the hire-fire-hire-fire cycle. She continues that even though a person may look good on paper and has the proper skill set, they might just not jive with the team or Christina.  

Christina ends with a sentiment from Wayne Dyer that she modified to represent her own journey,

“Your circumstances do not make you happy or unhappy, that’s something within you. Whatever you’re going through you can always find the positive, you can still always be a good person, and be happy.”

 

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