Pleased with the turnout of more than 500 attendees during the Nationwide on Your Side Tour with Tavis Smiley held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Oct. 9, Brian O’Dell considered the event as a way to empower the community in which he serves. As regional vice president of the Northeastern States Regional Operations, he said Pittsburgh is one of Nationwide’s top markets. “We are glad to be able to provide such a valuable and informative program.”
|MAKING A POINT—Considered a voice for change, Tavis Smiley shared his knowledge during the Nationwide Insurance on Your Side Tour. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)
Designed to provide insights on how to weather a choppy market and build for the future while balancing household needs, Smiley, labeled as a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, served as keynote speaker during the free program that included various economic empowerment and financial planning workshops. Sherri Lynn Johnson of WGBN Radio served as moderator of the general session and entertainment was provided by the Afro American Music Institute.
Before the affair, Carol Miller, Nationwide Insurance’s Western Pennsylvania assistant vice president of sales, said that Smiley’s speech and the workshops were expected to provide the audience with tools and resources to better understand and handle their finances. Focusing on wealth building strategies, entrepreneurship and career opportunities, she indicated that breakout sessions were structured to address insurance, financial planning, managing a budget, home ownership, retirement, starting a business and employment opportunities with Nationwide. At the end of the day Nationwide officials felt their expectations were met.
Considered an advocate for economic empowerment, Smiley’s passion for financial literacy is personal. From a family of 13 and not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he says he had to learn to navigate the journey of finances at a young age. Because of his past experiences he knows and understands the need to address financial literacy. “My purpose of being a part of this tour is to give people good information,” he indicated. “People need good information and I believe information is power. If people have good information they can make better decisions. Life is about making choices. If you give good and accurate information and tell them the truth, they can make better decisions. When they make better decisions and choices, they live better lives. When they live better lives for their families and loved ones, they can leave a greater legacy and that’s what it’s all about.”
Smiley emphasized that one’s present and future conditions are dependent on self. Utilizing a five-point strategy, he stressed that reputation and integrity are important. “What’s in a name?” he asked. “You are the most important commodity you have.”
In his second point he indicated that a good name is preferred and how we are acquainted and identified by numbers. Numbers such as Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit scores and addresses are a part of your name, identity and reputation.
He stated that the value of one’s life is not based on self-thought. “Value is not what you think of yourself, it is what others think of you and you create good value by the choices you make,” he said to an attentive crowd.
Challenging the audience to think about leadership, he asked, “What are you doing for others?” “We are all leaders. Someone is always watching us.”
In his final point he questioned, “Can you die better? Can you out live your own life?” Answering, he said when you live better you die better. “You have to do the best with what you have now. Establish a good name by planning for when you are gone, by creating a legacy.”
Smiley, celebrating 20 years in the business, is the first American to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio. He hosts a television talk show, “Tavis Smiley” on PBS and his radio show “The Tavis Smiley Show,” is distributed by Public Radio International. He has hosted “BET Tonight” on the Black Entertainment Network and served as a commentator on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” He and Cornell West, Ph.D, who he considers one of his closest friends, recently began hosting Smiley and West from PRI where they discuss hot topics in the news.
He operates The Smiley Group, Inc., a communications corporation that employs 65 to 70 people. Established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues, TSG serves as the holding company for numerous enterprises comprised of broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet.
In its third year of partnership, the On Your Side Tour is scheduled to make five appearances this year with Pittsburgh the second stop. Other locations included Cincinnati and will include Greensboro, N.C, Baltimore and Columbia, S.C.
Considered one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services companies in the world, Miller says Pittsburgh is an important city to Nationwide. “We are heavily involved in the region and care about the community.” She said the On Your Side Tour is their way of giving back. Aiming to integrate within the area in which their agents and employees live and work she says they are involved with many organizations. They recently took part in the African American Heritage Parade and are involved with the Housing Authority of the city of Pittsburgh, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, the United Way of Allegheny County and The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Excited about the feat of the day, O’Dell contributed its success to the hard work and commitment of their community partners. “They played a big role in getting the people here today.” Community partners included 100 Black Men of Western Pennsylvania, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, Afro American Music Institute, August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Building United of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Pittsburgh Alumni, Pennsylvania’s Governors Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, The Pittsburgh Project, Pittsburgh Small Business Association, Urban League of Pittsburgh, WGBN 1150 AM, NAACP Pittsburgh Chapter, National Fair Housing Alliance, Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. and Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project.