To be honest, I've enjoyed a wonderful, even remarkable 40-year career in the financial services industry.  I entered the field in 1965 as an agent for New England Mutual Life in Los Angeles; I “retired” in 2002 as CEO of Allianz Life of North America and as its chairman in late 2003.

In between, I was a busy fellow. I built a successful sales agency for Jefferson-Pilot, served as director of marketing support for State Mutual of America, and was chief marketing officer, chief operating officer, then president and CEO of Minneapolis-based ITT Life. Then I became president and CEO of ITT Life Insurance Corporation, and the real fun began. I admit, I became what some industry observers called l'enfant terrible because I shook up what had become a hide-bound industry. Against that landscape, perhaps I was often viewed as a maverick, since my policy admittedly “Cheat To Win,” and break all the dishonest rules of this business.

After seven years as chief executive of ITT Life, I struck out on my own to form a new life insurance company, LifeUSA, also in the Twin Cities.

As founder, chairman and CEO, I frankly enjoyed breaking old rules and charting new courses and accordingly, LifeUSA became one of the fastest growing, best-known and most successful companies of the 1990s. From a start up in 1987 to the time Allianz AG of Munich, Germany acquired LifeUSA in 1999, the company developed into a profitable, publicly-traded company with sales exceeding $1 billion, assets of more than $6 billion and over 80,000 agents contracted to represent the company.

In a transaction valued at $540 million, the financial giant Allianz AG of Munich, Germany acquired LifeUSA and merged it with the larger Allianz Life of North America. Allianz asked me to stick around and continue on as CEO of the merged companies. Under my direction, Allianz Life of North America became a super performer in the Allianz worldwide group and doubled in size before I left.

Today, I am as busy as ever (much to the chagrin of my wife, Brenda. I continue to consult businesses of all sizes on management issues and often deliver keynote speeches to their conventions. I serve on the board of Minneapolis headquartered Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD-NASDAQ) and Windsor Financial Group LLC, an independent, privately owned and managed investment counseling firm.

And of course, I love to write. I’ve authored three works. The latest was Beat the System: 11 Secrets to Building an Entrepreneurial Culture in a Bureaucratic World (John Wiley & Sons), Cheat to Win: The Honest Way to Break All the Dishonest Rules in Business (Paradon Publishing) and my popular work on the life insurance industry, Control Your Future (National Underwriter Press).

I’ve also written scores of articles dealing with management and the financial services industry. I am a columnist for Best’s Review and Insurance Marketing, and a frequent contributor to Directors & Boards, to cite a few-- and I have been interviewed on countless television and radio shows.

Naturally, when you rub the establishment the wrong way, you can expect the media to be close behind. I’ve been profiled (and sometimes skewered) by scores of local and national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, USAToday, Forbes, Business Week, American Banker and Institutional Investor. As a footnote, I was the first person to be twice recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year” in Minnesota.

Many swear by my contrarian business philosophy and management style, while others simply swear. Either way, it’s been a lot of fun and with my sundry blogs, it continues to be a source of joy and inspiration. 

 
     
 
 
 

— BUSINESS CAREER —

 

— DIRECTORSHIPS —

 

1965–1970
Agent. New England Mutual Life
Los Angeles, CA

1970–1975
Regional Agency Manager
Jefferson Standard Life
Los Angeles, CA

1975–1977
Second Vice President –
Marketing Support
State Mutual Life
Worcester, MA

1977–1987
Senior Vice President –
Marketing (77-78)
Chief Operating Officer (78-79)
President And CEO (80-87)
ITT Life Insurance Company
Minneapolis, MN

1987–1999
Founder. Chairman And CEO
LifeUSA Holding, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

1999–2003
CEO (1999–2001)
Chairman And CEO (2001–2002)
Chairman (2002–2003)
Allianz Life Of North America
Minneapolis, MN

 

1980–1987
ITT Life Insurance Company
Minneapolis, MN

1982–1997
Girl Scouts Of America
Minneapolis, MN

1987–2000
Chairman, LifeUSA Holding, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

1990–2002
Arthritis Foundation
Minneapolis, MN

1992–2002
Boy Scouts Of America
Minneapolis, MN

1999–2007
Allianz Life Of North America
Minneapolis, MN

2001–present
Iowa Golf Charities, Inc.
Des Moines, IA

2003–2004
Triple Net Properties, LLC
Santa Ana, CA

2003–present
Buffalo Wild Wings
Minneapolis (BWLD)

2004–2007The Fireman’s Fund
Novato, CA

2006–present
Windsor Financial Group, LLC
Minneapolis, MN