Top women advisers sowing the seeds of preparation, perseverance

Right about the time Employee Benefit Adviser editors started reviewing this year’s candidates for the Top Women in Benefit Advising Awards, I decided to start a garden — a personal project I’ve put off for years.

Naively, I thought the garden would take a day, maybe a weekend. It turned out to take a month because of lack of preparation and a bit of bad luck. More on that later.

Top Women honoree Cristy Gupton, CEO of employee benefits brokerage firm Custom Benefits Solutions, understands the virtues of preparation and perseverance.

She set new priorities for herself — and eventually her community — to help tackle the opioid crisis as she learned of the magnitude of its devastating effects in rural North Carolina, where she lives and works.

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“We will have a huge opportunity to help communities solve some of their most pressing healthcare issues, and the opioid issue is right at the top of the list of concerns that can be solved with a communitywide effort,” Gupton told Associate Editor Margarida Correia. “I want to take this message to a broader stage.”

Please read Cristy’s story here. Our team reviewed candidates to select the 20 women making exceptional contributions to their benefit firms’ sales, offering strategic help to clients, and generally elevating the status of women in the profession, and you can see them here.

Many of the changes the Top Women want to accomplish require a third virtue, which takes me back to that garden — which I thought would only take a day, maybe a weekend, but required an entire month because rain delayed our planting. Later, I had the wrong wood to build the raised garden bed, and then I didn’t have enough topsoil. Once I started, the list of things I still needed got longer.

So I enlisted my daughters once it was time to actually plant. We started with peppers and shiso leaves, transplanted rosemary and Italian parsley for the herb section, and finally new seedlings. And voila, our first vegetable garden.

Or so we thought. More pitfalls arose. A week later, deer ravaged the parsley and seedlings. We learned the hard way that it takes not only preparation and perseverance, but a good deal of patience to tend to a thriving garden — similar virtues necessary to make a mark on the benefit advising industry.

Be sure to share your thoughts using #TopWomeninBenefitAdvising.

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