Friday, 29 August 2008

Two Years...and a Promotion!!!

The 21/08/2008 marked my second year working for an insurance management/broking company. I had never spent so much time working for a specific firm.

I started working in insurance in September 2005. Prior to joining, I had practically no idea about what insurance was all about. I had never studied it or even come close to working in an area that was somewhat related.

My first job in this sector of the financial services industry was that of a health claims handler. The job was very interesting and I learned a great deal about various illnesses, surgical interventions, and treatment types. The company I worked for had also sponsored an insurance course for me to learn the concepts underlying the day-to-day work. I was doing quite well throughout the early stages of the course (I obtained a score of 96% in the last exam that I sat for!), but I had to drop out because of the many times that we had to work overtime. I also decided to drop out since my mom was very ill at that time and it was extremely hard to work, study, and deal with my mom's devastating illness.

I spent less than a year working as a health claims handler. Although the job was very interesting, the employment conditions were not so good. I, therefore, moved to an insurance management/broking company.

Since August 2008, I have dealt with countless commercial and personal lines claims. Thanks to the company's sponsorship policy, I have been able to further my studies in insurance. Indeed, earlier on this year, I obtained my Certificate in Insurance with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). I am presently studying to achieve my Diploma in Insurance.

Given the fact that I am very good at communication and that I am able to express myself in other languages (such as Italian and Spanish), most of my time has been dedicated to the handling of the claims issues pertaining to an international client. Nowadays, it is very common for me to spend my day writing emails in Italian although I also send several emails in English. Every now and then, I also have to translate some material from Italian to Spanish or from Spanish to English.

As a person, I am an extremely analytical one. This helps a lot when discussing claims with one or more insurers. By using my argumentative skills and by being assertive, I have often persuaded an insurer to reconsider their settlement offer. :)

I love working in insurance! Once the basic skills are learned, one can go to almost any part of the world to work since insurance companies have become extremely widespread over the last few years.

As is often said, success is the fruit of hard work. After a little over two years, the directors have reviewed my performance favourably and decided to give me a promotion!!! Indeed, I have been promoted to the position of Senior Insurance Officer - Claims. :)) I received several emails from many of my colleagues and their words were very nice.

It is now time to celebrate!!! :)))))

Monday, 18 August 2008

Spreading Democracy?

For the past fifteen years or so, the government of the UK and, especially, that of the US have frequently talked about the concept of "spreading democracy" to every part of the world. Indeed, various covert military operations have been carried out in numerous countries to ensure that "democracy" is sowed. Books such as Guns for Hire: The Inside Story of Freelance Soldiering (by Tony Geraghty) and Veil (by Bob Woodward) provide ample evidence of the attempts made by several US and the UK administrations to instill their vision of democracy in many countries.

As a person with a very strong interest in world events and in politics, I have often asked myself: why do the UK and the US governments talk so much about democracy? Why is this word invoked so many times during countless speeches? What exactly do individuals such as Gordon Brown and George W. Bush mean when they speak almost incessantly about democracy?

Just yesterday, I was reading an article by Stephen Gowans about the demonisation of Robert Mugabe in the Western world. Whilst reading this article, I came across the following part which clarified the meaning of the term "democracy" when used by various representatives of the UK and of the US administrations: "To the US, British and European governments that back the MDC, democracy is more or less equivalent to free trade, free enterprise, free markets and above all, the sanctity of private property, within other countries’ borders. Equally, in the Anglo-American sense, democracy is an electoral competition among two or more parties committed to these values, or what Robert Dahl called polyarchy and Karl Marx called a contest to decide which representative of the bourgeoisie will oppress you for the next four years."

In the eyes of the UK and of the US governments, as long as a country allows the possibility of competition between two or more political parties of virtually any kind, there is nothing much to fear in terms of being able to spread their own business interests. This is because when such a political environment exists, it is extremely common for the UK and for the US administrations to work as follows:

1.) Identify a political party that can be used to further UK/US business interests;

2.) Provide economic and other support to help such a party win as many elections as there are in order to ensure the spread of UK/US business interests;

3.) If there is no political party that currently favours very close ties with the UK/US administrations, transfer a great deal of money to a particular group in the target country to set up a party that can try to win the elections;

4.) Once the chosen party wins an election, keep on providing all the necessary support so that this party can remain in power and so that the country is transformed into a client state.

The UK and US governments sometimes try to persuade the world's population that their desire to spread democracy is motivated by a wish to improve the human rights plight of every human being, regardless of where he/she lives. During the past few months, it has been possible to come across a number of representatives of both governments engaged in extremely heavy criticism of individuals such as Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez. The criticisms seemed to be triggered by a high level of concern about various human rights issues in Zimbabwe and in Venezuela. At this stage, it is very important to bear in mind the great opposition displayed by people such as Mugabe and Chavez when faced with a huge amount of pressure to implement countless neo-liberal economic policies in their countries.

As I listened and read the articles written by numerous representatives of the UK/US governments about several human rights issues in anti-imperialist countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, there was one question that kept cropping up in my mind: if the US and the UK governments are so concerned about improving the human rights situation for every person in the world, why is it that individuals such as George W. Bush never talk about the human rights situation in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Why is the attention of capitalist countries so selective?

In view of the above, it seems pretty clear to me that the UK and the US governments are mainly interested in spreading their economic policies to every part of the world so that a relatively small number of their citizens can continue becoming richer and richer. To conclude, every time you hear a representative of a capitalist country talk about democracy, always go beyond mere rhetoric and appearances.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


When I decided to study Psychology many years ago, one of the main reasons which encouraged me to choose such a discipline was the belief that the more we know about ourselves, the more opportunities we might have in life. Several years later and with a Psychology degree under my belt, I can say that I have learned a great deal about how and why certain behaviours occur. When I wrote about failure in my previous post, studying Psychology helped me very much because it shed a lot of light on the issue of human learning as well as coping mechanisms. Of course, it is one thing to know the theory and something else to start applying various principles to one's own life.

Over the past few years, I have come across several books, individuals, and Internet presentations which highlight the importance of thought in our daily lives. At the moment, I am reading an extremely interesting book called The Answer: Your Guide to Achieving Financial Freedom and Living An Extraordinary Life by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. A great deal of the material that I have read so far in this book is consistent with my Psychology studies. The contents are also in harmony with several scientific ideas that are normally found in Physics books.

Whilst reading the aforementioned book, I was really struck by the following sentence: "Thought creates everything". Perhaps this made such an impression on me because only two weeks ago, somebody asked me: "Do you know what is the most powerful thing in the universe?". I said, "Love?". His answer was "Thought".

As I kept thinking about the power of thought, I realised how certain beliefs we might have about numerous things can become so entrenched that they become habitual. Put differently, such thoughts become automatic. Sadly, some people might have incorporated so many negative thoughts during their lives that it might not be so surprising to see them living in very unpleasant situations.

Let us go back to the issue of coping with failure. If, say, John fails his English O-level exam, he might convince himself that his result meant only one thing - that he is "not good" when it comes to English. By repeating this thought over and over again until it becomes a dogma, it is extremely likely that John will not even consider the possibility that he failed his exam because he did not dedicate enough time to study. Or perhaps he was not using the best studying techniques.

When thinking about it, it is quite scary to imagine how many people have blocked themselves in several ways because of what other people have said to them over and over again. Parents, teachers, relatives, partners, friends...all of these individuals might have had a strong impact on the thoughts we hold today.

The worst thing is that like attracts like (this is known as the Law of Attraction). If I convince myself that I am fundamentally hopeless in Chemistry, I can only aspire to creating more situations in which I am going to fail.

If one wants to develop or to progress in life, it is important for each person to examine their thoughts. A good way to start is by asking oneself: what do I say to myself when faced with certain situations in life? What do I say to myself when I fail an exam? What do I say to myself when I get a poor review at work? What do I say to myself when I am rejected by a person I fancy? Surprisingly, you might discover that in the areas in which your "self-talk" is almost always positive, it is very hard to find any negative experiences.

To conclude, I believe that life is a journey during which we should be constantly trying to develop or to progress. As we acknowledge our potential and transform our negative thoughts into positive ones, we will realise that we have so many beautiful opportunities in life! Of course, nobody ever said that it is easy to change thoughts that have been repeated over and over again for countless years. But it is never too late to start changing! So...what are you thinking about now??? :)


Friday, 1 August 2008


Earlier on this week, one of my colleagues at work failed two important insurance exams. He was absolutely devastated by the results. Although he said that he was going to apply for a revision of the exam papers, he was immediately filled with self-doubt. He spent most of the week saying that insurance is not for him. To me, this was another case of a person whose future choices in life are strongly moulded by failure.

What about you? Have you ever failed an exam? Have you ever been deserted by a boyfriend, girlfriend, friend? Have you ever been fired from one or more companies?

When faced with questions such as the aforementioned ones, I believe that most people have had to deal with a failure of some sort in their lives. Failure can be a very tough experience to deal with. Whereas some individuals are able to stand back up on their feet almost as quickly as Bobo dolls, there are also many people who react rather negatively when they fail to achieve certain goals.

I hate failure. Whenever it strikes, for one reason or another, I always feel quite bad. The experience always comes like a strong punch in the stomach. And the worst part of it is that it usually takes me fairly long to get back on track.

Given the devastating effect that failure has on my thinking, I am a great admirer of all those people who never give up when faced by one or more setbacks. Indeed, it is sometimes said that the most successful people in life are those that never throw in the towel when confronted with failure. Perhaps that is why I love reading biographies and watching movies based on true stories; several of them portray people who have managed to persevere in spite of coming across a number of setbacks in their lives.

I am still working on improving my reaction to failure. I want to be able to say to myself,"Well, I must have done something wrong this time, but I will keep on trying because I know that as long as I want to achieve a goal, I CAN be successful!" I want to become a truly persevering person and never give up after the smallest setback. :)