Michelle Jones will be retiring this month after more than 30 years at National Life, most recently as a member of the Client Partner team. We caught up with her for a few questions before she goes.
Q: What’s the first thing you’re going to do once you’re retired? Do you have any other plans you’re willing to share with us?
A: After enjoying the holidays with my VT family, I plan to go to CA for a few weeks to spend time with my west coast family (mom, dad, sister, nephews, etc.) I’ve spent the past 30+ years away from them so my hope is to go to CA every quarter for a few weeks. Once I return to VT, I’ll look for ways to connect to the community through volunteer activities. I also plan to spend as much time as possible with my grand-daughter, Harper, who is the light in my life.
Q: You’ve been with the company for 32 years. Tell us about your journey – what role did you start in and how have you evolved throughout your time here?
A: I started out in a support position in the Marketing department. Through hard work and the benefit of good mentors I advanced through the ranks in Marketing and ultimately wound up as an AVP. From there I moved into operations and helped launch our Client Partner team.
Q: What is your fondest memory from your time at National Life?
A: Although I have many, my fondest memories are of the years I spent as the executive producer of our conferences. As I look back, there’s something extremely gratifying about working side-by-side with colleagues behind the scenes to create memories that hopefully last a lifetime for our top producers.
I also have to say that being part of the Client Partner team has been an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to have had the pleasure of working with truly talented and amazing servant leaders. I want to personally thank Bill Whitsell, Ashley Ayida, Nikki Cook, Maryann Ellis, Julie Hince, Heather Johnson, Donna Kvapil, Pam Lambert, Lindsay Morway, and Laurie Trombly for all that they taught me and for their unwavering support and friendship.
Q: What will you miss the most about National Life?
A: In addition to the people, just simply waking up every day and going to a job that I’ve loved doing for so long. I feel so fortunate that this job has continued to inspire me and bring me joy for over three decades.
Q: Who is the funniest person you’ve ever worked with?
A: It’s a tie! Frank Lucia RVP – Affiliated. I’ve known Frank for years and throughout that time have experienced many hilarious moments. One that especially stands out has to do with a cowbell that literally sent me into tears in the middle of a meeting. I’ll never be able to look at Will Farrell and not think of Frank. Frank, if you’re reading this, thanks for all the happy memories that I’ll revisit once I’m gone. Greg Winsper, AVP Affiliated Channel is another one who brings fun to every situation. Since the day I met him, there’s never been an interaction where he didn’t make me laugh. His sense of humor is natural and effortless. I’m certain I left every conversation with him feeling happier. Greg, you have a true gift!
Q: What is your secret talent that no one knows about?
A: I started singing at my church at a very young age and wound up singing competitively as a teenager. I have a very musical family and have so many happy memories of being at my grandparent’s house with my extended family making music. My uncles would be playing the guitar and drums and me and my cousins would sing every Beatle’s song we could think of. Such a happy time to remember.
Q: If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
A: Redecorate my house. I love creating new spaces throughout my house. Believe it or not, one of my favorite things to do is paint. I go from room-to-room changing things up.
Q: What would your theme song be?
A: Always be humble and kind by Tim McGraw. I do believe that success in life comes from humility and kindness. And in the world we live in today, who can’t use just a little more kindness?
Q: If you could leave us with one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Take control of your career. Don’t wait to be asked…ask. If you hear about something you’re passionate about find a way to get involved. If there’s a project you’re interested in, raise your hand. If there’s a job you want, ask for it. Don’t rely on someone else to create your destiny…you’re in charge of living the life you want so just go for it!
Feature photo: Michelle, surrounded by photos of her granddaughter Harper and dog Dunkin.