Securing a Legacy: Detroit Lions’ Rob Sims Shares His Personal Journey

Photo: Karen Kish

Detroit Lions football player Rob Sims is serious about making sure he has enough life insurance to cover his family in the event of his death. He says the death of his father encouraged him to take a closer look at his own financial situation. sat down with Sims to learn why life insurance is important to him and why he chose State Farm. When did you purchase life insurance?
Rob Sims: I had just made it into the NFL; I purchased life insurance in my rookie year with the Seattle Seahawks right after my father’s death, in 2006. I’ve been with the Detroit Lions since 2010. Is life insurance something your parents had discussed with you, or is it something you thought about after your father’s death?
Sims: It was nothing that we discussed before his passing, but I saw how my mother and my sister benefited from it after he passed. And since I am in the position to be making the amount of money I make, I knew it was important to get life insurance in order to sustain my family in the event of my passing. In my rookie year I made around $700,000. Why did you choose State Farm for your life insurance plan?
Sims: They are one of the better-known insurance companies. I also had a family friend — his name is James Brown who had become a State Farm agent around the time I was going into the league. He was always talking to me about the importance of life insurance. How much life insurance did you decide to take out?
Sims: Initially, I took out a $1 million policy, but since my income has increased over the years, I added $7.5 million. My insurance agent sat down with me and we went over which expenses would need to be covered if I were to die suddenly. Do you and your wife meet regularly to talk about finances?
Sims: My wife is very involved in how we spend our money, and she is aware of what insurance we have in place. Whatever charity events I’m involved in, she attends every meeting. We also have an estate plan in place. If one or both of us were to pass prematurely, we know who would get to keep the children, how much money they’ll receive, which trust it’s going into, and how the trust is set up. We’ve been very diligent about planning for the future. When I thought about how much to leave my children, I thought about myself. If I were 18 years old and my father left me $5 million or $6 million after his passing, what would I have done? I don’t think at that age I would have handled the money correctly. So when it comes to my children, I feel like just leaving them a little bit of money each year is sufficient. Where did you learn about money management?
Sims: My mom and dad were good with money. They did the best with what they had, and we lived a good life. But when you go to the NFL and you’re 22 and you make a lot of money, there are going to be people along the way who try to tell you how to do things the correct way, and it’s your job to listen. My financial adviser has helped me make decisions, along with James and my wife. I have a team. There are also workshops on money management that they give to new players in the NFL. But a lot of times the players don’t really listen, especially once the money is in their hands. My parents set a strong example as far as managing money. So when I got in the league, I understood that the money I made was for the future, not just for right now.

5 Steps to Scale for Success

Validating a product or business model can be tough work. Once you get the green light, it’s time to maximize the business and grow as fast as possible. It’s time to scale.

Track Customer Loyalty Without a Punch Card Using FiveStars App

fivestars app

For years, businesses have been using punch cards to track customer loyalty and offer rewards. But now there’s another, more technically advanced, option for businesses. The FiveStars app, created by FiveStars, a San Francisco-based startup that sells marketing software, is aimed at helping small to medium sized businesses retain customers.

This is done by identifying past customers who haven’t revisited the business recently. It then tracks individuals purchasing histories and offers those customers personalized rewards through email or text messages.

FiveStars founder Victor Ho explains to Inc:

“We identify these people, figure out what they like, and send them a custom promotion. If we just get them to come back once, they’ll become a really sticky customer.”

The company’s founder isn’t the only one who believes in the effectiveness of this approach. The startup, which launched out of tech accelerator Y Combinator three years ago, just announced a $26 million Series B funding round led by Menlo Ventures. This brings the total capital raised by the company thus far to more than $42 million.

FiveStars currently works with more than 5,300 storefronts throughout the country. Businesses pay $200 per month to use the service. To date, the company has handed out more than $10 million in customer rewards, which has led to about 1.8 million in-store visits.

By identifying customers who have done business with a company before, but not recently, businesses create loyal customers. And those loyal customers can often be more valuable than new ones. Here’s why.

FiveStars says 20 percent of a small business’s customers often make up 80 percent of its revenue. So focusing marketing efforts on these customers instead of trying to get new customers can actually be more cost effective.

The company is still growing and coming up with new ways to encourage customer loyalty. But the basic idea behind its success so far seems sound.

By learning about existing customers and their habits, businesses can personalize the shopping experience for them. It’s a more proactive approach than the traditional punch card. And it’s an approach investors and small businesses are already lining up to support.

Image: FiveStars

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Actress S. Epatha Merkerson Talks Diabetes and Health Advocacy Program

S. Epatha Merkerson

(Image: Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Merck)

The Law and Order franchise wouldn’t be the same without Anita Van Buren. The face is so familiar, she’s lasted longer than every other main character on the series — that staying power has to be acknowledged. But her staying power in her personal life is even more important, especially knowing that S. Epatha Merkerson, the actor playing Van Buren, is diabetic. After learning 11 years ago that she had the disease, she spent time learning about diabetes. She wants you to be just as aware.

She has teamed up with the drug company Merck to encourage others to be more aware of their A1C levels and to avoid the problems that can accompany the condition. Merkerson took time to talk to about the program, America’s Diabetes Challenge, and why she is stressing the importance of people knowing their A1C levels. What made you decide to get involved with Merck’s diabetes campaign?

S. Epatha Merkerson: I teamed up with Merck on America’s Diabetes Challenge because I am passionate about encouraging people who have Type 2 diabetes, who are going through the same thing as me, including the 4.9 million African American adults living with Type 2 diabetes, to know the importance of their A1C and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own A1C goal. A1C is an estimate of average blood sugar over the past two to three months, and it is recommended that many people with diabetes have an A1C of less than 7% to help reduce the risk of complications. Nearly half the people with diabetes are not at an A1C that is less than 7%.

Could you explain the America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals program?

America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals is a program from Merck to urge people who have Type 2 diabetes to know their A1C number and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. The program encourages friends and caregivers to challenge their loved ones to get to their A1C goal and to help support the 29 million Americans living with this condition. Type 2 diabetes is also a significant health concern in the African American community. Nearly 20% of the adult African American population has diabetes, and I will be traveling next to Atlanta in October for an event aimed at helping the African American community there to understand their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and how they can better manage the disease.

Read more about Merkerson’s health advocacy work on the next page …