Overcoming obstacles – the best way ahead in enterprise, sports activities and life


The feeling of inclusion and team spirit that you can feel in Vancouver is at the heart of what Umstead considers to be so central to every life project – be it in the close cooperation with her husband, when they compete as a team at the Paralympic Games or in penetrate the boardroom at an insurance company.

Women help women – a collaborative spirit

For insurance professionals, this collaborative business approach is also at the heart of customer interaction and successful collaboration with colleagues.

“Achieving results together,” explains Umstead. “Success arises from achieving and striving, trusting your partners in business and in life, and it’s not about just taking and not just giving, but working together.”

Umstead takes her job of encouraging other women very seriously. From her many ongoing efforts to support women in their careers, Umstead created a nonprofit called Women support Women with Disabilities.

“We have to support each other.” Umstead insisted. “We have to support each other and lift each other up … otherwise we’ll hit our heads against the wall and try to reach the next level.”

Having conversations with other female professionals and not being afraid to talk about the tough topics also helps Umstead better understand the challenges women routinely face in the workforce. Umstead emphasizes that being willing to talk about the areas that affect women at work also builds confidence.

“I also worked my way up the career ladder in a predominantly male-dominated area,” she said. “It was my willingness to do things differently, to communicate kindly and to support other women in the industry” that helped Umstead achieve a high level of business success long before she decided to work her magic in the world of sports.

Weighing the work-life balance

Umstead is quick to point out the importance of how to do it all for most women in the job. How to balance family responsibilities with work commitments, and to do so successfully, is an internal struggle for countless working women, emphasized Umstead.

“We as women have to avoid burning out,” she said. Burning down the candle on either end will not end well. This is where support and collaboration can be so effective.

“There can never be enough support,” concluded Umstead. She cited the example that working women faced during the height of COVID to illustrate their point of view.

“Returning to work was more difficult for women because homeschooling was mostly women and we all had to change our lives to find a balance,” she said.

Even with the increasing capacity for women professionals in the insurance sector to work remotely as companies adopt a hybrid model, family commitments and commitments will always be difficult to manage.

Umstead realized that she too could take advantage of the opportunity to work remotely to move forward. She realized that she might not need that much time from her family to give lectures and exercise.

“I could do some of my work at home and have more time with my son,” she said. It’s an ongoing learning process for Umstead too – how to prioritize so many competing requirements. Umstead said this was another reason to band together as working women. An idea she plans to share with women insurance professionals at the Women in Insurance Texas event later this month.

What’s the answer?

Umstead doesn’t pretend there aren’t any challenges. Instead, the trick is to face them directly. With an issue diagnosed as a child that narrowed Umstead’s vision to a narrow midfield, Umstead had to work so much harder and harder to get what she set out to do.

So how does she handle what’s ahead of her?

“It’s a time of fear in business {due to COVID} so it may be time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and be kind,” she said. “I think we can work well together and move forward.”

Umstead is clearly looking ahead. Of the many things ahead on her plate, Umstead points out how excited she is to realize her vision at the Women in Insurance Texas virtual event.

“I can’t wait to speak at this event and share with everyone how they too can live their impossible,” she said.

Register now to learn more from Danelle Umstead.

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