Wells Fargo Collaborates with Diverse Chambers of Commerce For Leadership Development Program

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Chamber-Leadership-Alliance-2019

Today an alliance of diverse chambers of commerce, in collaboration with Wells Fargo, launched a new Chamber Leadership  Development Program to support diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S.

The alliance includes the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation.

The diverse business communities represented by the alliance of chambers account for an annual estimated contribution of more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy. The Chamber Leadership Development Program is aimed at educating and developing leaders of diverse state and local chambers of commerce to support diverse entrepreneurs. The program also will include university partners and will affect more than 400 chamber leaders through innovative programming designed to empower chamber leaders to better serve their local communities of diverse businesses.

“Diverse businesses are growing across the United States,” said Regina Heyward, senior vice president and head of supplier diversity at Wells Fargo. “Through the Chamber Leadership Development Program, Wells Fargo sees an opportunity to strengthen diverse leaders within the small business community and to support local chambers in capacity building.”

In 2019, the program will be offered to chamber leaders at the conferences of each of the alliance of diverse chambers organizations. The first session will be held at the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation CelebrASIAN Procurement + Business Conference in Houston, Tx, June 4–5. It will be followed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce International Business and Leadership Conference in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 12–13; the U.S. Black Chambers National Conference in National Harbor, Md., Aug. 19–20; and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention in Los Angeles, Ca, Sept. 28–29.

In addition to these in-person sessions, there will be two virtual sessions in 2019.

“The Chamber Leadership Development Program is an important step in strengthening our local diverse chambers across the U.S.,” said National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “With stronger diverse chambers in each city, we are able to provide more opportunity for local diverse business owners, concurrently strengthening local economies and increasing the ability for diverse business owners to scale their enterprises —underscoring our importance to the small business engine that makes the U.S. economy run.”

Ron Busby, U.S. Black Chambers president & CEO, noted, “The Chamber Leadership Alliance develops and empowers diverse chamber leaders while providing unique educational opportunities on how to grow and build their local organizations for the benefit of its small business community members.”

Susan Au Allen, National President and CEO of the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, said, “We are proud to be a stakeholder in the Chamber Leadership Alliance, a collaboration spearheaded by Wells Fargo, that addresses critical nonprofit business organization leadership gaps in our diverse business communities. Our shared vision is to cultivate chamber leaders who will become innovators, beacons, and change agents — thus collectively building a framework for sustainable business growth and success for our respective constituents and the wider community.”

Ramiro Cavazos, U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO said, “The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is proud of our intersectional partnership with other alliance members, and we are excited about the benefits this will bring to all of our members. With sponsors such as Wells Fargo, we reaffirm our its commitment to Hispanic- and diverse-owned businesses to provide resources for our community that are just as timely as they are innovative.”

About the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT-owned businesses, known as LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs). nglcc.org

About the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) provides committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. usblackchambers.org

About the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The USHCC actively promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of more than 4.37 million Hispanic-owned businesses, that combined, contribute over $700 billion to the American economy every year. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local chambers and business associations nationwide. ushcc.com

About the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
Founded in 1984, USPAACC promotes, nurtures and propels economic growth by opening doors to procurement, educational and professional opportunities for Pan Asian Americans and their business partners in corporate America, the federal, state and local governments, and the small and minority business communities in the United States, and the Asia-Pacific and Indian Subcontinent regions. uspaacc.com

About Wells Fargo:
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 37 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 259,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

NGLCC

For additional information, please visit  nglcc.org.

Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List

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millennials discussing finances

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells! Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

Afro-Latina actress Tessa Thompson saves the world in ‘Men in Black: International”

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Tessa Thompson on movie set with Chris Hemsworth

By Arturo Conde

Tessa Thompson considers herself Afro-Latina, a black woman, a person of color, and Latinx. But when fans go to see the sci-fi action blockbuster “Men in Black: International” this weekend, she hopes that they will only see her character, Agent M, on the silver screen.

“I hope we can get to the space in Hollywood where it’s not noteworthy for a woman, and particularly a woman of color, to top line a franchise film,” Thompson, who has Afro-Panamanian and Mexican roots, told NBC News. “I hope we can get to a place where we don’t have to congratulate it, or comment on it because it happens with such frequency. But we are still really far away from there.”

“Men in Black: International” partners Agent M with Agent H (played by Chris Hemsworth) in a globetrotting mission that will take viewers on a fun and exciting adventure through Western Europe and Northern Africa to find a murderer, expose a mole, and ultimately save the world.Tessa Thompson headshot

Fans first meet M as the six-year-old Molly who has an unexpected encounter with an alien. This exposes her to a new world that is inhabited by unearthly beings. And after the Men in Black erase her parents’ memory, M dedicates her life to tracking down the organization and pursuing the truth.

“Memory is huge for M,” Thompson said. “She doesn’t want to live a lie, and she feels that because there’s this organization [Men in Black] that can go around wiping out memories, the only way to relive the truth in terms of the universe and its underpinnings is to be a part of this organization.” In playing Agent M, the critically acclaimed actress tapped into her gender and ethnicity as a way to understand what drove and tested her character.

“If you’re a woman, and particularly a woman of color, and you’re trying to get access to any space that has been historically white and male, you have to work harder,” Thompson said. “This was an inspiration for me when I was thinking about M because she’s so ambitious. She wants to be good, but she also knows that she has to be good — especially if she wants to get to where she wants to go.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

It All Started in a Garage

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Lorena Cantarovici poses in her apron at the restaurant

By Tyrone Townsend

Lorena Cantarovici took a chance and moved from Argentina to Denver for better opportunities, not knowing that empanadas were the secrets to her success. Now, Lorena owns Maria Empanada—with five locations in Denver—the nation’s leading artisanal empanada restaurant serving Argentine empanadas, tartas, and specialty desserts. More than 50 employees make 80,000 tasty empanadas a month.

Before Lorena started her leading empanada restaurant, she began baking small orders of empanadas for parties. Before she knew it, a caterer approached her for a large order, leading her to shift her operation from a kitchen to a garage. Lorena’s unexpected catering orders blossomed into a business, and Maria Empanada was born.

Empanadas are more than a delicious cuisine from Lorena’s home country, Argentina. The empanadas represent memories of home. She and her mother, Maria—hence the name Maria Empanada—would prepare empanadas for numerous family gatherings, which brought laughter, joy, and unity. Lorena wanted to replicate those feelings for people in the United States and share those memories with everyone. But a lot had to be done before her empanada business originated in her garage.

Lorena was an accountant without any knowledge of owning a restaurant, and she did not speak English. The resources to proceed with her dream were nonexistent. There was no special dough for the empanadas, no customers, and no money.

It seemed as if the dream would stay stuck in the realm of fantasy. Lorena returned back to Argentina to learn how to cook empanadas. She took notes from her mother and the few shops scattered around the country. She returned back with recipes, techniques, and special secrets. Lorena’s dream then turned into a reality, and she is setting an example for Hispanic women.

The United States has nearly 29 million small businesses, which truly are the engines of our nation’s economy. And according to the latest research from theEmpanadas National Women’s Business Council, nearly 1.5 million of them are owned by Hispanic women. Research also shows Latinas are especially successful as entrepreneurs. According to the last report published by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, women own 36 percent of all businesses. Among Hispanic-owned businesses, that share rises to 44 percent. On average, Latina-owned businesses that employ workers create an average of seven jobs and have $766,000 in annual sales.

Lorena is an excellent example of Latina entrepreneurship and also a symbol of the many ways the SBA supports entrepreneurs as they are starting and growing their businesses. Lorena attended a workshop run by an SBA Denver Small Business Development Center that assisted her in developing her business plan.

She received counseling from knowledgeable volunteer mentors on accounting, marketing, legal issues, and risk management. As Maria Empanada’s volume continued to soar, she utilized an SBA microloan lender Colorado Enterprise Fund and obtained a $63,000 microloan and moved Maria Empanada to a larger location in an enterprise zone in the South Broadway area of Denver.

For Lorena, it all began in a makeshift kitchen in a garage. Now, the entrepreneur and her beloved Maria Empanada have won numerous local, national, and international accolades. Lorena’s desire for growth spreads to business, leading it in only one direction—up.

From Refugee Camp to Medical School

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Samixchha Raut is standing outside on a lawn in front of a tree with black and white checkered coulats and black top

By Samixchha Raut

Eight years ago, I lived in Goldhap, a refugee camp in Nepal, where more than 7,000 people reside in just over 1200 households, without running water or electricity. Today, I’m 22, a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Biomedical Science and on a path to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I am studying for the MCAT exam to apply for medical school. It has been a long journey for me and my family.

My dad, a native of Bhutan, fled the homeland with his family. He settled in Goldhap, where he did construction work in a surrounding town, and later started repairing bicycles. He met my mother; they married and had me, and my two younger brothers. But there was barely enough food to go around.

In 2010, my family was able to immigrate to the United States, where we settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. I studied hard and earned a full scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. In spring 2018, I participated in a study abroad program with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). I spent six weeks in each of three locations – studying HIV/Aids Policy & Politics in Cape Town, Media, Gender & Identity in London, and Family and Child Development in Paris. The experience reinforced my commitment to be a doctor!

As a child, I was stricken with jaundice, and it wasn’t sure that I would survive. My parents worked extra hard and were finally able to purchase the medicine that made me better. Once I recuperated, I decided I wanted to be a doctor to help others.

While studying in South Africa, my class visited a township village, Zwelethemba. I felt like I was back in the refugee camp. The people were living in severe poverty. But you could see and feel the camaraderie and love among the villagers. Every child was being raised by the entire village. I pictured myself in them.

It took me back to our camp and to our struggles. I spent 13 years of my life in a refugee camp, living just like these people, and then suddenly, there was I among them as a scholar. It reaffirmed that I am on the right path. It’s important for me to become a doctor and pursue my passion of helping underserved people by providing them with adequate health care.

The study abroad experience was so valuable because I know if I’m to become a doctor and work with a diverse population of people, then I need to experience diversity. This exposure has boosted my motivation to work hard and give back to the community.

Continue on to Hudson Valley Press to read the complete article.

What Are the Most In-Demand Job Skills?

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Group of Hispanic co-workers standing outside for a photo

By Greg Stuart

Are you in the market for a new job? Is 2019 the year that you decide to make a change in your career? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you need to get an idea of what skills are in demand.

I’ve written many articles on this subject, and most of them tend to lean heavily on the technical side, certifications, etc. I believe that this year, technical certifications will carry less weight than they used to. I see a trend in companies, inside and outside of Silicon Valley, where soft skills are starting to become more important. Lots of projects are manned not by one person, but by a team of people. To be an effective team player, you need certain soft skills to complement your technical skills to be successful. Let’s take a look at some of the most in demand technical and soft skills for 2019.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is becoming the king of the datacenter. With more and more adoption each year, cloud computing is poised to have a big 2019. Security measures are getting better, government entities are trusting the cloud, and new cloud-based certifications pop up every year. I realize the term ‘cloud computing’ is broad, so what areas of cloud computing should you focus on? Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. Amazon’s cloud computing platform is taking the market by storm. VMware’s cloud offering caved to Amazon’s stiff competition and instead focused on forging a partnership with Amazon going forward. Learn Amazon Web Services—take advantage of some of their online free training. Other options are training for Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure. Find training on Azure and become proficient at it; Microsoft is staking a bigger-than-expected claim in the cloud space.

Adaptability to Change

Is this a skill? I believe it is, and it’s become a necessary skill to learn. If you work in the IT career field, you already know that it’s an ever-changing landscape. New technologies crop up every year, many companies will adopt these newer technologies and expect you to figure out how to maintain it. If you focused only on Dell storage, your whole career—and all of a sudden, your company—does a forklift upgrade to NetApp storage, you have to be willing to learn a new system, or get a new job. Adaptability applies not just to technology changes but also personnel changes. In many of our job roles we are tasked to work as a team, and sometimes that proves difficult. Learning to adapt to change can help greatly in this area. Adapting to change means being flexible, and being flexible opens up so many possibilities for success.

Mobility/Mobility Security

The ability to work remotely has increased steadily over the years, and mobile and Internet technology has made advances. With a 4G connection, we can connect and work on spreadsheets in real time with other colleagues, hold virtual boardroom meetings with WebEx and Skype for Business, and check and answer emails as needed on the go. Learning to become proficient with enterprise mobility suites, such as VMware Workspace One (formerly AirWatch), can help you to safely and accurately provide corporate resources to your workforce on the go. With more and more corporations allowing their employees to access corporate resources on their personal mobile devices, it has become increasingly important to secure those resources. Mobility security is an in-demand skill set now and going forward.

Thinking Outside the Box

This is one of the most overused, cliché terms I can think of, but it rings true, especially now. Thinking outside of the box also means creativity or innovation—two terms all over the values statements of major defense industry employers. Companies don’t want employees that will follow the status quo when it comes to bringing solutions to market or managing a data center. There are times when the traditional way of doing things won’t cut it. That’s when you need to get creative and find new ways to do old things. Companies love bringing in a new employee and putting them on a lagging project to see if their fresh set of eyes can see new ways to accomplish what has become stale. Learning this skill can open up lots of doors for you.

…And Much More

There are so many other intangibles that companies want to see in their employees, which is why I’ll go back to my earlier statement—soft skills are king for 2019. More companies will hire you and train you on a technology or process if you have the right soft skills and fit in with their philosophies. Spend some time polishing up your soft skills and see what a difference it can make.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Jazz Jennings came out as trans at age 5. Now she’s helping The Trevor Project support other kids.

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Jazz Jennings posing for camera smiling

Jazz Jennings knows the spotlight better than most. Having come out as transgender at age 5, she quickly became an equality champion as a teenager when she began speaking forcefully about the rights and needs of transgender kids just like her.

Shows like 20/20 came calling, and she became the subject of her own TLC docu-series, I Am Jazz. A subsequent reality show followed, and Jazz soon became a spokesmodel for Clean & Clear dermatology products.

Now 18, and starting at Harvard University in the fall, Jazz took time to chat with LGBTQNation about her latest initiative: a partnership with Macy’s and The Trevor Project to help end LGBTQ teen suicide. Through June 30, 2019, Macy’s will donate $4 of the purchase price of these t-shirts and $2 of the purchase price of these socks to The Trevor Project. And if you round up your in-store purchases through June 17, the extra change will go to Trevor to expand its life-saving crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs to serve more LGBTQ young people.

How does it feel now when you look back on your coming out? 

My coming out was very different than it is for most other transgender people. In fact, my entire trans experience is very unique in that I expressed I was a girl from as soon as I could verbalize the words. It’s crazy looking back and knowing that I had the awareness and conviction to express my truth as early as age 2 and 3.

What was your first exposure to The Trevor Project, and why were you drawn to its mission?

When I was 11 years old, I received a youth courage award from the Collin Higgins Foundation and spoke at a Trevor Project gala. That was the first time I was exposed to Trevor, and I was just so proud and in awe to see an organization that was so active in working to provide a resource for LGBTQIA+ people who feel like they have nowhere to turn.

Even though we have achieved a measure of equality in America, there is more need for The Trevor Project than ever. What do you think explains this seeming contradiction?

At the same time that LGBTQIA+ are stepping out of the shadows more than ever, there is a proportional increase in the backlash directed toward our community. In the current political climate, people feel more empowered than ever to express their views, even if their opinions rest on trying to dictate the lifestyle and identities of those they don’t understand and aren’t directly affected by. It saddens me to know that The Trevor Project is more needed than ever, but I’m grateful that we have an organization doing what they do and I have hope that progress will be made.

That’s also why Macy’s support is so important, because their round-up campaign will raise awareness of LGBTQ youth suicide prevention nationwide, and their contribution will help Trevor support even more young people in crisis.

Continue on to LGBTQ Nation to read the complete article.

How to Land a Job When You Don’t Meet All The Requirements (Without Lying!)

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Women looking at computer

So maybe you don’t meet all of a job’s requirements … that’s OK. You still have a chance.

What happens when you find your ideal job, but you don’t quite meet all its requirements? Don’t immediately give up and move on. If you know what you’re doing, you still have a chance to land the gig — without “fudging” the truth.

TopResume’s career advice expert Amanda Augustine recently shared her tips on how to approach this situation with CNBC Make It. Here’s what she suggests:
1. Even if you’re not still in school, you can build new skills

If you’re applying to the same type of job over and over, but you’re noticing an obvious skill gap, then maybe it’s time to hit the books again. No, that doesn’t mean bury yourself in even more student debt.

There are plenty of online platforms that allow you to take affordable — and sometimes free — online courses and certification classes to gain those skills. See what Lynda (now known as LinkedIn Learning), Udemy, and Masterclass have to offer. Then, when the subject comes up in your interview, let the hiring manager know that while you’re not necessarily an expert, you have taken specific steps to learn more.

For example, if an employer is looking for someone well versed in all things Google Analytics, but you haven’t worked with it before, you can take some simple courses to learn more about the platform.

“If you do this, you are miles ahead and will impress an employer,” Augustine told CNBC.
2. Remember that unpaid experience counts

If you’re a recent grad or are looking for an entry-level job, you know how irritating that “Must have three to five years of experience!” line in the job description can be. How can you have experience if you’re entry level?

But guess what? You just might have the experience — even if it wasn’t paid. Take out a piece of paper and start thinking about your internships, volunteer experiences, club involvement, and even your class projects.

No, you might not have experience managing a large brand’s Pinterest board, but maybe you spent three months performing a case study on some of the top Pinterest fashion boards for one of your senior-level classes. Maybe you don’t have paid experience managing a small team, but you did lead a final class project where you pitched a marketing plan to a national company.

“It’s all about positioning,” Augustine said. “Your resume is a marketing document, and you want to position it for whatever you are going after. That means play up the things employers are looking for and play down the things they aren’t.”
3. Lean on your network and connections

Did you know you’re 10 times more likely to secure a job when you have a relationship with someone at that company? That means, in addition to leveraging your skills and experiences, you should also leverage your network. Stay in touch with your professors and internship managers. Use your alumni network, and reach out to family members and friends in your field.

Also, rather than asking for a job (trust us, you don’t want to do that), simply ask for advice or any recommendations they might have before you submit your application. They might be able to float your name by the hiring manager so your resume has a better chance of being seen.

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

Understanding Insurance Benefits

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businesswoman looking in to camera with her hand on the right side of face

No matter where you are in life, whether you’re just starting your career or nearing retirement, it’s important to understand the voluntary benefits available to you that can complement traditional health insurance.

While health insurance can help cover medical costs in the event of injury or illness, sometimes there are additional expenses your health care plan doesn’t cover. Voluntary benefits, such as life insurance, disability insurance and dental insurance offered by your employer or as portable options through a company like Colonial Life can help bridge the gap should an unexpected event occur.

“Even if an employee has to pay a nominal sum for a voluntary benefit like disability insurance or dental coverage, it can be well worth it,” said Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc., creator of the HR Bartender blog and contributor to Colonial Life’s WorkLife blog. “Think of voluntary benefits as those specialized, personalized extras that make your overall benefits package exactly what you’d like it to be.”

Benefits can be complex, but with the right information about the options available, you can make choices that best fit your lifestyle and budget. Consider these common voluntary options.

Life Insurance

While almost nine out of ten Americans agree most people need life insurance, just 60 percent said they have it, according to LIMRA’s Trends in Life Insurance Ownership study. With benefits typically paid tax free to your beneficiary, life insurance can provide peace of mind and help loved ones pay for funeral costs, cover living expenses, pay off debt, finance future needs and protect retirement plans. Policies are often available through employers, but you may lose the coverage if you change jobs. However, portable policies are also available that allow you to maintain coverage even if you change jobs or retire. To learn how much life insurance protection your family needs, visit worklife.coloniallife.com/calculator.

Disability Insurance

No one usually expects to get sick or injured, however, disability insurance can help protect your income and maintain your lifestyle if a physician determines you’re unable to work due to a covered accident or illness. Common conditions, such as pregnancy and childbirth, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and accidents, make up the majority of disabilities that lead to an inability to work. With short-term disability benefits, you receive financial support for a predetermined amount of time to cover expenses like a mortgage or rent, car payments, utilities and more, so you can focus on recovery.

Dental Insurance

Daily brushing and flossing can help keep your mouth healthy, but that’s not always enough as dental problems can lead to other health problems if left unattended. When you see a dentist for routine appointments and necessary procedures, dental insurance can help reduce the out-of-pocket expense. In fact, among insurance benefits typically provided to employees, 61 percent of workers view dental benefits as important, ranking second after medical insurance, according to LIMRA. Dental insurance provides coverage for regular cleanings and more extensive procedures like fillings, crowns, dentures and tooth removal. Some plans even offer allowances for orthodontic work like braces and retainers.

Accident Insurance

When an accident happens, one of the last things many people want to think about is how they’re going to pay the bills. You can prepare for the unexpected with accident insurance, which provides a lump-sum benefit—based on the injury suffered and treatment received—that can be used to help pay for expenses following an accidental injury, such as doctor bills, co-pays, emergency room fees, transportation, lodging and follow-up care.

Critical Illness Insurance

No matter your age or health status, a sudden illness could significantly impact your financial well-being, and health insurance may not cover everything. When a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or major organ failure occurs, major expenses often follow, and critical illness insurance can help off-set costs. In addition to your day-to-day bills, the lump-sum benefit can be used to pay for treatment- and recovery-related expenses including deductibles and co-pays, child care, travel and lodging, gym memberships and out-of-network treatment facilities and procedures.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

How to Make Your Commute So Much Better

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young womandriving with window down and smiling

At some point during your daily commute, you have likely experienced all five stages of grief. And while traffic is inevitable, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone. Your morning commute doesn’t have to be a never-ending sequence of white-knuckling your steering wheel or squeezing yourself onto a subway car full of human cattle. Here are a few ways to make your commute not only more bearable, but even enjoyable, whether you’re driving, biking, carpooling, or taking the train.

Drive Your Way to a Better You

Want to catch up on your reading while driving to work without causing a 20-car pileup? Podcasts and audiobooks make the morning and evening commute worth living. Audible has over 425,000 books for you to choose from—you could be driving in your car every second for the rest of your life, and you would never run out of books to listen to.

Your vessel isn’t just a 4-wheel chariot, it’s also a virtual classroom. Always wanted to learn another language, but never had the time? There are thousands of books that will help you get a leg up on all kinds of languages, whether you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher course for the French you took in high school.

Practice Self-Care on the Subway

One of the best things about taking the train to work is that you can let yourself go—just promise that you won’t take your shoes off.

Sure, if you have the elbow room, you could open your laptop and get some work done by catching up on email, but it’s also an excellent time to de-clutter your mind. Step up your self-care regimen by unplugging your brain and starting a meditation practice.

Geared for your mind and body, there are audio-guided fitness programs for meditation and working out. And while it might seem contradictory, there’s no better place for a guided meditation than a crowded commuter train—it’s the perfect head trip for winding down after a long day.

Carpool and Meet New People

What if there was a way to meet new people while driving to work AND accessing the glory that is the carpool lane? Sure, Waze can make your commute a little smoother by crowdsourcing your traffic trouble spots in real time, but you can also use their carpool app to find coworkers or other passengers to share a ride with.

Not only are you eliminating congestion from the highway, but you’re also likely getting to work faster while connecting with your fellow travelers. Plus, by taking other cars off the road, you’re producing less carbon and pollution, all while saving money on gas and tolls.

With your new rideshare pals in tow, you could create your own version of Cash Cab where the winner doesn’t have to contribute to gas for the week. Carpool Karaoke is also a great option, but you might want to make sure everyone can carry a tune first.

Use Those Feet

If you’re fortunate enough to live close to your office, ditch your wheels or the train for some running shoes or a road bike, even if it’s just a few times a week. Physical activity is proven to be beneficial for your mental health, and starting your day with a little fresh air is a great way to rid yourself of work-related stress.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

ALPFA’s Damian Rivera: The Power of Your Origin Story

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headshot of Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPHA

The journey from Spanish Harlem to the boardroom has been magical. I have the benefit of being able to look back at my 20+ years as a consultant for Accenture, along with my life growing up, to identify all of the “hard times” as a kid, which have made me successful in the boardroom.

As a Latino managing director in a global Fortune 500 company, I have always given back to my community, from serving on the board of non-profits to leading up Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG for six years. With all the experience I have gained, it is my mission to help others achieve their dreams.

With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA, I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I am not alone—I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.

Everyone has an origin story, but the ability to really understand how your story gives you power is critical for Latinos as we strive to elevate in the corporate world. Hearing stories helps inspire, but knowing how your story gives you strength translates inspiration to action.

So, the question I usually get next is, “How can we learn to better understand our story?” There are four components/activities that I tell people to focus on: (1) Journey Line (2) Value Tree (3) Value Mantra (4) Purpose Framework. I’ll focus on the Journey Line and Value Tree here because they are the most critical. I recommend everyone develop their journey line, which is a drawing of your life, starting at any point going to present day. Your level of happiness is on the y-axis, and time is on the x-axis. As you think back on your life, you will plot out the highs and lows, and it’s in these moments that we learn our lessons of life. The high of highs and low of lows are where we build our character and grow the most. When people take time to develop the line, they start to see all they have accomplished and all they have persevered through to achieve success. Once you have done that, you begin to see the strength you have on paper. This is your origin story; it’s no different than a Marvel comic superhero. Once you have documented your journey line, you realize just as Superman had his hero’s journey, so did you. You may not be able to fly, but you definitely have developed your own version of superpowers in finance, accounting, or blockchain. When people work through this, they often have more confidence because it removes the impostor syndrome issues they encounter. They see their story and realize: I belong in the boardroom!

The second key piece is knowing your values. My values are legacy, opportunity, diversity, justice, courage, fortitude, energy, and industriousness. When people talk about being their authentic self at work, I believe that means sticking to your values. Through a person’s journey he or she will change. Everyone should be evolving as a person, and if you stay true to your value system, then you are being authentic as a leader. Know your origin story, enjoy your hero’s journey, and remember to help others along the way.