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Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Home Automation Podcast Episode #155: An Industry Q&A With Adam Pauska

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Adam Pauska of AXG Advisors shares innovative technologies that benefit both the integrator and homeowner.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Jason Roberts. Recorded live on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. EST.

About Adam Pauska

As an insurance expert and risk manager, Adam partners with the ultra-affluent and their other advisors to build and maintain their personal insurance portfolios, human-to-human, while navigating the ever-changing insurance marketplace. 

Adam has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets worldwide, including The Today Show, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, BBC, NPR, and CNN. His own articles have been featured in The Muse, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, DailyWorth, and Newsweek.

Interview Recap

  • Risks faced by high net worth individuals
  • The breakdown on insurance credits for smart home systems
  • Innovative technologies that benefit both the integrator and homeowner
  • Types of insurance products for ultra-high-net-worth customers

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #154: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Jason Roberts


Ron:  Hello, Adam, how are you, sir?

Adam: Good. Hi, how are you?

Ron:  Good. How bad did I butcher the last name?

Adam: Actually perfect. Yeah. Depending on what part of the world you're in, it could be "pushka" "pauska." I've traveled a lot, so I get it differently all over the place, and I think you came pretty close to the center.

Ron:  I'm similar. My last name is Callis, but it's C-a-l-l-i-s, so I get all sorts of interesting pronunciations, and but yeah, more often than not, they'll say some version of Callis. That's good enough. Where are you coming to us from, Adam?

Adam: I'm coming to you from sunny south Florida to the chagrin of probably many people who are up north right now.

Ron:  I'm here in Fort Lauderdale. Where are you?

Adam: Fort Lauderdale. We're both in Fort Lauderdale.

Ron:  Holy moly. Yeah. We're going to totally rub it in now. Has the weather the last week not been amazing?

Adam: Yeah, it's been absolutely perfect. This is when being in South Florida really pays dividends for the next couple of months, even though there's a lot more traffic right now. But I'll take it.

Ron:  Yeah, the snowbirds are in town. Right? They're here, and they're clogging up the roadways. But in my case, my little one, my 12-year-old, we're still doing the virtual school thing. He's not going to school physically. He's virtual attending school. We're not driving to school every morning. I'm not on the road that often. I'm not experiencing the traffic.

Adam: Yeah, it's just better for weather reasons, even though I don't have to leave my place anymore. It's nice to know that it's 80 degrees and sunny outside that window.

Ron:  80 degrees and sunny, eight men. Alright. Adam, you and I have some mutual friends, and they said that we should connect. And we did. And I learned about your business. And I said, "Man, I think you could teach me for sure. I know you could teach our audience a few things as well." And I thought it would be fun to have you on. Why don't you tell our audience what exactly is AXG Advisers?

Adam: AXG Advisers is an insurance brokerage, like you said, specializing in servicing affluent individuals and families all over the world.

Ron:  All over the world. Alright. How did you land at doing this? And I'm looking at your bio. And if people are listening on the podcast, they would have heard me read your bio. But I'm just going to give our audience that's tuning in live here a little bit of a heads up that you have been published, it looks like, all over the world. The Today Show, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, BBC, NPR, CNN, Forbes published in Forbes, The News, Mashable, Daily Worth, Newsweek. That's not too shabby, Adam. That's kind of impressive.

Adam: I'm blushing a little bit. I don't like hearing about that, but, yeah that's my resume.

Ron:  What all of those people in the news and media, what are they talking to you about?

Adam: Insurance, the affluent space in the insurance marketplace. People love to talk about high-end cars, jewelry, art, all these things. All the other vendors that service that industry are a constant target by those outlets. Having an insurance guy who's building products, developing products inside that network is sort of an oddity in that space. If you have a roundtable of trusted advisers, advisors, the insurance guys never part of that table, we try very hard to be part of that table. Because we're insurance nerds at heart and have a good understanding of the space and who our clients are, and what they need, we've been able to sit at that table more times than not. And it becomes interesting because you very rarely hear from the insurance side of that ecosystem.

Ron:  I've got lots of fun things I want to talk to you about how the high net worth customer thinks about technology in the home and even what ways you've taught me that technology actually saves them money and makes their life better? And there's probably some tips and tricks that we could deliver to our audience today that they're going to walk away with having learned something, and they're going to be able to immediately likely impact their customers. Let's go back. What's your story? How did you land doing this?

Adam: Insurance as a whole, there are only two different ways you get into it and talk to anyone you know. They'll say insurance is one of the two. It's either someone in your family dragged you into it. Your mom or dad worked in it or whatever it might be, or you just fall back into it. I'm on the ass-backward end. I was in college. I had no money, and I was looking to travel the world. A firm, HSBC, picked me up in London at Lloyd's of London. And just because it was in London, I took the job living in London.

Ron:  How did you land a gig like that? It seems pretty damn cool to come out of college and land a London job.

Adam: I'm not going to tell you how old I am exactly. But when I was a junior-senior in college, the Internet was still just being used for businesses. And I just really was attracted to it. And I found all these different ways that foreign companies were looking for foreign interns, for junior people, for whatever reason. I don't know why companies really do that. Still, I found all these opportunities in Hong Kong, Singapore, all over Europe, Spain, London, or Great Britain as a whole was more attractive to me because I spoke the language or close enough to the language.

Ron:  I don't know that they would say we speak perfect English, but it's good enough, I guess, to get by.

Adam: My first two weeks over there was a struggle, especially because I keep asking my boss to repeat himself over and over and over again. I was like, I'm getting sent home. This is not working out. But after two weeks, I really caught on to everything. It was a little bit of a learning curve. Definitely not exactly one for one so far as English goes, but, yeah, I brought a really nice cover letter, and someone took a shot at me. And the story, it's really funny. I was in school in upstate New York, and I sent this letter out with my resume, and someone said, we have someone in New York right now who works in our office. Would you be willing to drive down to meet with them? Absolutely. I drove down, took the meeting, had a few pints, and then said, come on over. And I had never been outside the country before in my entire life. And I ran after graduation, essentially packed up my room. And headed off, headed off to London. It was a wild experience, and I was there for a while, and then as soon as I got back, I thought to myself, oh, let me do something else. Let me figure out what somebody else I might be passionate about. Insurance in London is a very different marketplace than it is here in the US.

Ron:  It's Lloyd's of London insuring all over the planet, aren't they?

Adam: Yeah. More or less, they're the inventors of insurance.

Ron:  I remember hearing about the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria. We're like insured by I'm making that up. But it was something. Ships were insured by Lloyd's of London, weren't they?

Adam: It was started as shipping insurance. And Lloyd's was a bar. And these rich gentlemen come to the bar, and they were essentially placing bets on, this ship has this captain and this route, which is the cargo. If you pay me X, I'll pay you Y. If the ship goes down and there was a big chalkboard behind the bar, and they'd write the name of the ship with the captain and the value. And if you wanted a piece of the risk, you would write your name underneath the ship. And that's where the term underwriting comes from.

Ron:  That's so cool.

Adam: Yeah. There's a lot of history there. There's a big bell in the center of Lloyd's, and any time there's a major catastrophe anywhere in the world, they ring the bell on all trading stops. And that bell was from one of their first salvage ships they pulled off the seafloor. It's really cool. It's just different than it is here in the US. But when I came back to the US and tried to do something different, I had this resume of Lloyd's of London. At the time, honestly, I didn't really understand how great that was, so all these other insurance companies really were backing up trucks of money to my house. They're like, "Hey, come work for us, come do this and that." And so it just started being like, oh, I'll do it for a little longer, a little longer, a little longer. And insurance is such a big ecosystem.

There are so many different things you can do with insurance. It wasn't until I moved out to Los Angeles and started working with private clients that I really found my passion for it. And that was interacting with individuals and families, seeing the benefit of the products that I was placing and developing for those families, how it affected them directly. And then seeing the value in those relationships. In my opinion, personal insurance is the industry opinion is a lot more sticky. I developed those relationships. And I'm not just a bottom line on some corporation's P&L that is up for marketing every year. The relationship is that they can count on me. It's very much a personal relationship. They want to know that if something happens that I'm the guy who's going to pick up the phone and I'm going to take care of them. And I really like that, which is why I ended up in private client, developing advisers actually as a culmination of all my experience in the insurance marketplace, trying to pick out the good from everywhere I was and getting rid of all the bad. I think that so far, so good.

Ron: Alright. Tell me, what does a typical client look like? What framework can you share publicly here? How much money do they have? What can you share? What is normal? Because I'm not your typical client and I'm not of the net worth that I think somebody needs to be or have to be your customer. What does that look like?

Adam: There is no secret sauce or secret formula for why we have our clients. We have thirty-five-year-old private equity fund partners whose capital is mostly tied up in either a fund or that company that might be worth 50 million dollars next year.

But right now, they're just renting a condo in New York City, and we onboarded them because we want them to grow with us, and we will be able to take care of them if they ever have a liquidity event. But a standard client for us is really in excess of one hundred million dollars in net worth, I would say. But from an insurance standpoint, it really means they're paying an excess of fifty thousand dollars in premium annually. Those are sort of the guiding lines. If we had to create a boundary or a parameter for what our clients look like, they're all over the world, their families or individuals or family offices, they're small business owners, entrepreneurs, old money, new money. There's no real rhyme or reason to how they come to us. They just see value in the way that we do business. We have an offering that's slightly different, a little bit more boutique, a little bit more hands-on than the larger brokerage firms out there that have private client offerings.

Ron:  You have educated me, which I've appreciated. I ask a lot of silly questions, and you still keep a straight face and answer them. And I super appreciate that about you. What are the concerns of high net worth customer or an individual or family in terms of insurance, and maybe where do the flaws exist out there in the wild today? Their concerns are the same as the average consumer. Everyone has a high net worth. Basically, everyone has a passion in my experience, whether it's the cars, the homes, the art collection, the jewelry. And what we try to focus on that passion that they have and make sure that it's a curated type of collection and a well-protected type of collection. And most of what we do is educational. We want our clients to understand what they're buying, why they're buying it if they have a very high-risk appetite or very low-risk appetite. We're developing a strategy that works for them. And there's no universal, especially in our space, there's nothing universal across any one of our clients in the private market. Our job is to really educate and drill down when we see those that passionate or that one thing that we think that they're overlooking, and that's how we build these portfolios is to really service that individual client. Their concerns are really twofold. Generally, it's catastrophic level losses. Major losses that would either cost them hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, or it's just an annoyance. Right. They don't want to have to think about it on a day to day basis. If something happens, they want to know it's taken care of. And our clients usually fall into one of those two categories.

Ron:  Technology, I'm in the technology space, my universe is all the toys and some necessary, some not necessary, some you have to have, some you just want in the home and or in the office. And what is the landscape of the technology in a home, again, to use some of your numbers? These systems could cost tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. They could cost millions. There are some systems in some homes right here in Fort Lauderdale that I'm very aware of. I worked in different capacities. And I know they're multimillion-dollar just AV systems or technology systems in the home. What are the challenges around those systems being insured and or what an integrator, the small businesses that are designing, installing, programming, and servicing these systems, what should they be aware of that that would bring value to this customer that's about to spend this money on this tech in their house?

Adam: That's a great question. The insurance landscape has been changing so dramatically over the last five years where insurance really doesn't want to be the first backstop to a major exposure. They want homes to be very well mitigated and stay on their own. And as a result, they're offering huge credits for people that protect their homes the correct way. The easiest example is the largest loss leader in all of the insurance on the personal side right now is water damage. That's from direct water damage.

Ron:  That's not hurricane damage.

Adam: Correct, it's not. You would think it was wildfire, earthquake, flood, hurricane. It's not. It's just regular water damage. Pipes breaking in homes, refrigerators leaking, washing machines leaking. And the insurance market as a whole tends to be very reactive instead of proactive. If you go through one of these claims with your insurance carrier, there's a good chance in my space and the private client space that they'll actually pay for you to install a water mitigation device as part of the claim once it's already happened.

We are trying to educate our clients on the credits available to them for doing this upfront. For integrators that are listening to this, a water mitigation device like a Blue Logic or a Fin or a Water Hero, there's most of the time a 12 and a half percent credit to have that installed in your home for clients that are building homes at the very beginning. All these things are very easy to integrate. If you go through the list of having a signal continuity system, having a backup generator attached to the home to make sure all the systems stay online in a power outage, having that water flow tied into a central system. The average carry cost of these assets for our clients is greatly reduced over that asset's life expectancy by putting these devices in place. Sometimes there's an immediate savings year one. Most of the time, the savings happen in years three, four, or five. But it's not just about saving on the insurance and reducing the home's cost. It's about not having to go through that loss, to begin with. While a lot of our clients have a higher risk tolerance, they see the value as being well. If this can stop a loss from happening in the first place, I avoid the headache and reduce my overall expense for a very minimal cost upfront. And the cost is smaller and smaller, as from the inception of building the home as it is to install on an older home, depending on the type size and whatever you have to go through to get it installed. We try to educate not just our clients on, but integrators, smart home companies, anyone that's going in and having these offerings to our clients. We want to make them aware that in this space, there's a huge value to getting this stuff into the homes that you might not see in the immediate, but it is very relevant over a six, seven, eight-year span.

Ron:  Can we raise maybe a cartoon example, and I'm going to give you a ten million dollar house? It has beautiful finishings, art and a nice lot. In some areas of Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach, that's an average house, right. That's not the nicest house. That's just maybe an average house. I know that's hard to believe for some guys. It's pretty crazy, but it is what it is. And if an integrator that might be putting in, I'm going to make up a number in that house, maybe a five hundred thousand dollar technology system.  I think often water mitigation or water damage is not part of those systems. And if anyone listening disagrees, please type that into the comments. I'd love to know what it would mean? It can't be many dollars, maybe a few thousand bucks all in to add something like that to that technology system. What would the savings look like to a homeowner over time? What's a lifetime saving to them?

Adam: Let's just assume the initial cost of installing something like a Flow Logic is $2500 with labor. If you have a ten million dollar home, let's assume their reconstruction costs are eight million dollars, paying two million dollars for the land. Again, the premium on that in South Florida because of the wind and hail could be forty thousand dollars a year. That credit, assuming, is tied into the alarm system as a twelve and a half percent base rate credit, which means you could actually recoup that possibly year one. If your life expectancy of that asset is the average mortgage is thirty years. Right. They don't tend to stay in these homes that long for our clients. Let's assume seven years. If you rent out twenty-five hundred dollars a year savings over the seven years, it's meaningful.

But like I said, I think our clients, because they have deep pockets, really see the value. And I don't want to have to go through one of these situations. I just don't want to have to deal with it. It pays for itself, and then you don't have to worry about it on the tail end. And for clients, they're spending half a million dollars installing these smart home systems. It becomes a no brainer. Why not get the full build-up? I think a lot of times they're unaware. And when I tell a lot of my clients to go through an onboarding process about the water mitigation devices and some of the other stuff, they're totally oblivious to it. And I think it's a loss leader in our insurance marketplace right now. So much so that they'll pay for you to get one of these installed if a loss happens.

Do it now. Let's save the money on the upfront and mitigate the chances of you having a headache down the road. It's not a huge amount of dollars saved, but we talk about a lot of these things adding up. You can take the cost of one of these homes in South Florida from forty thousand dollars a year in annual premiums all the way down to twenty, depending on how you stack the credits. And that becomes meaningful savings over a ten year period.

Ron:  If you don't mind, can you give me another one? What's another type of technology that would be wise to deploy into a home and, in fact, help the integrator because they're selling cool tech and help the homeowner because they're getting a credit?

Adam: A permanently installed backup generator system that keeps everything else online. If the power goes down, this is not necessarily central Florida. Still, a UL lightning protection system, perimeter security, either motion sensors or cameras tied up to either a cloud recording device or not. There are credits for all this stuff, depending on how robust the system is, the higher the credit. Signal continuity systems are the same thing—cellular backup for the alarms, heat sensors, temperature alarms. There's really a residential sprinkler system. If you have residential sprinkler systems in all of the home, one hundred percent of the home, it's a much higher credit than if you just have it in the kitchen or the garage. If you have acquired the whole house to much bigger credit, obviously, your burglar and fire alarm, and there's some other weird stuff. If you go to California, there's something called a seismic shutoff alarm, which a plumber can install, and it's essentially like a little ping pong ball that the ground shakes. The ping pong ball drops between the pipe and blocks the gas flow. And if you have a sensor alarm set up to that, it's a huge credit.

Ron:  I'm imagining that you are meeting your customers, the families you represent are the people, and you're educating them of these things. And is it fair to say this is not commonly or widely known, all of these credits exist? I've never heard of it, but maybe if I had one hundred million dollars, I would have heard of it. How common is that that your customers know about this?

Adam: My customers, once they're on board, know about it. We bring it up every year. We do a deep dive when we go into discovery before we onboard them and look at the homes and say, OK, what is missing here and what makes sense? And again, this is all about understanding the client's personality. I think I touched on this with you earlier, five years ago. Some of these wonderful answers were more of an annoyance than they were a good product. They're constantly shutting the water system off. That had to be reset. The technology on a lot of this stuff has caught up to you. Now you can access their smartphone. You can access part of your smart home system. It becomes much more manageable. We educate our clients about the stuff they might have heard from neighbors or someone we don't want. We don't want to do this. It's just an annoyance. We hate it when we can show them that, hey, the technology's gotten better. It's really gotten up to now. It's a functional tool for you to use. They're usually shocked. We can quantify the numbers, "Hey, if you spend this, this is what you'll save." And then if we run this out over the course of three or six years, 10 years, 15 years, the client's eyes lit up and say, "Let's do it." But it's not something addressed, I don't think, throughout the insurance community. I don't see people talking about it. I know insurance carriers like to promote it, but promoting it to the brokers and not promoting it to the clients necessarily. The brokers, it's like a game of telephone, how much information is getting back to the client and how much thought is being put into that account, that portfolio, that asset? Because we're boutique because you understand our clients because I can pick up the phone and pre COVID. It was great. Sometimes I would go to my client's houses. We have breakfast with their kids. It's a very personal relationship. Because of our business's nature, we're really able to dial into those specific assets. And I understand it well enough to go, hey, this makes sense for you when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of homeowners policies and auto policies. In a larger insurance marketplace, a whole, it's just too cumbersome of a task for a lot of agents or brokers to take on. Again, this is why I feel like I'm very fortunate to have landed or at least found this space because I think that's where we're delivering really good risk analysis and a good value to our clients.

"The state of California is larger than most countries on the planet in terms of population and revenue. And so there's a huge ecosystem of high net worth individuals in California, as well as technology contracting businesses in California."

Ron:  Yeah, that makes sense. It seems like you found this niche where the customers are large enough. They're doing enough to have enough policies to where the savings are meaningful to them, and there's enough money in the ecosystem for it to be a good place for you to grow a business. That's super interesting. I'm going to give you another scenario. A lot of our customers are out, and I'm speaking of One Firefly. California's state is larger than most of the countries on the planet in terms of population and revenue. And so there's a huge ecosystem of high net worth individuals in California, as well as technology contracting businesses in California. I'm super aware of a lot of these beautiful homes built on the hillsides. Not only do they have a fear of earthquakes, and you mentioned the earthquake sensor doodad, but they also have all these fires that we've been hearing about in the news in recent years. If at all, where does technology play a role in trying to help those homes and create a win-win for everyone?

Adam: I'm going to keep this focused on the integrators. That's what this is all about. But there's a lot of technology. And going back to what I said.

Ron:  Feel free to go outside of it. I'm sure the folks watching or listening would like to hear all the cool stuff you're going to talk about.

Adam: The thought premise behind insurance in California right now in wild areas is insurance companies want the homes to be able to stand on their own. If a fire comes, they want the home to be very well defended without having a fire department show up to stop the fire from burning the home down. And if you look at a case study, you'll see a hillside where every home was burned, and then there's just one home that is unscathed. And the case study goes into, why is that? Why did that happen? And it's really actionable data. Having a brush clearance contract, having defensible space, having secondary water systems that can soak the ground, soak the roof, having no resist inventing, there's this ex-firefighter who came up with something called Rangard Vents, which is a vent that has a little maze in it so the embers can't make their way into the house. And a lot of homes burn from the inside out. And that's because the embers get inside the house, the fire starts inside. And then once the fire department gets there, it's too late.

Ron:  I was thinking about my house in my AC closet. It has that vent on the roof that's pulling in the fresh air in the house. It's that equivalent. I'm sure they're much fancier and bigger houses. But that vent essentially is what would be pulling in embers if there's a blaze going on outside.

Adam: Yeah. Exactly right. There's a lot of technology that exists for helping your home stand alone. One of the coolest things that we've seen is when clients are building homes, they bury giant water tanks. And we see there's a lot of new home construction in California. If you live up a one way street in the hills, which exists a lot in California, the fire department won't go up there to try to fight a fire for your house because they get closed in. There's no way for them to get out. If you live up one of these one-way streets and get a smart system where you have to evacuate the home, you have access to these in-ground or protected water tanks that have a system that can spray water around the home, and you can activate it remotely. That's a huge way to mitigate your wildfire exposure. Clearing the ground, clearing the brush, creating that defensible space is probably paramount and then building it the right way. You don't want to have a log cabin in the middle of the woods up a one way street with trees hanging all over it.

Ron:  Sounds like an Internet nightmare. Are those the things that keep you up at night, Adam, thinking about those types of properties?

Adam: Yeah, it's really funny because a lot of those properties still exist. They're uninsurable at this point in California. The insurance marketplace in California is going to change. It is already changing. The commissioner of insurance has basically said if you have a policy in California, the insurer can cancel it. Now for wildfire risk reasons. They've locked-in rates. There's a crazy thing going on in California right now that it's going to come to a head at some point because there are a lot of clients that require insurance. But I think really where the marketplace is going is if you're going to live in a wildfire area in California, it's smart to work with a landscape designer to make sure the trees you have around your property aren't flammable. Italian cypress trees, which are all over California, act like Roman candles because the whole inside is dry. If you work with the people who understand this, your home will be insurable first and foremost. But also the cost to do so will be far less, and your home will be protected. You won't ever have to go through that loss in the first place, which for every client I've ever spoken to if you give them the option, really good insurance and go through a loss or just don't go through the loss. To be honest, it's always just don't go through the loss, to begin with. Keeping that in mind, I know that there's a ton of new startup companies in California, So Cal and NorCal, that are trying to wrap their heads around fire mitigation. We've sort of kept our finger on the pulse as to which of these companies are going to be picked up by underwriters. What's going to be added on as credits? How will it make its way into the rating system and the insurance industry as a whole? Just a very slow-moving animal. It's a very old industry. It's just not very -- it doesn't adapt very quickly. Over the next couple of years, I'm sure we'll see new technology come out for wildfire risk, for wildfire mitigation. And it just ends up being which carriers will pick that up and accept it for underwriting purposes.

Ron:  Got it. I want to take this, and I'm mindful of the time, and I'm mindful that I have to go to the Savant event at one o'clock. I'm seeing that it is not too distant away. But I got a couple more things I'd love to cover with you here while I have you. You are, and you have served high net worth customers for many years. That's a skill set I'm sure you've learned through trial and error over the years. But to grow a pedigree or a portfolio of high net worth customers, it's taken some practice from you or practices of how to care for them and how to take care of them and how to serve their needs and solve their problems. Even though you're in the insurance brokerage business, they're offering technology solutions in my universe of custom integrators. You're actually serving the same customer. What are, if any, some tips or ideas that you've practiced that you would recommend those listening, maybe consider, or what has worked for you in how to work with that type of customer that might be valuable to those listening?

"Having that initial discovery phase where we engage with the client and just get a better understanding of their life, their day to day, what they're passionate about. That allows us to really deliver a proposal or a product that's fitted for them."

Adam: Yeah, I really get asked that question a lot, and I haven't put that much thought into it. I think that understanding the customer. It's important for us to understand that we have to educate the customer, and we have to sort of dance around the topics that are important to the customer and avoid the ones that are not. Having that initial discovery phase where we engage with the client and just get a better understanding of their life, their day to day, what they're passionate about. That allows us to really deliver a proposal or a product fitted for them. Like I said earlier, I think I'm an insurance technician first and I'm a salesman second. All the years I spent on all these different insurance issues really lend me the ability to have a really good understanding of the insurance marketplace and how insurance works. And then I take that knowledge. I just deliver it in a very educational format to the client. And that seems to be the most successful thing that I've ever done, is instead of trying to push product, we just try to educate, hey, these are options. And that engagement allows us to create a better relationship with the clients. But also it gives them the ability to make educated decisions on what they want with our help. I guess if that would be the best answer I can give you now.

Ron:  It's clearly working for you. I'll give you credit. Our mutual friend Haness, which actually is texting me. He's like, "Ron, how do I watch the interview?" I'll send him the link to the Facebook video once it's in replay. But our mutual friend was actually telling me a story about you where he introduced you to one of his clients, Haness is an investment banker. You were able to go in, diagnose the situation, and actually solve many problems the customer didn't even know they had. My question is, why didn't the other previous vendor or supplier of insurance services do that? Is there something unique you're doing regarding your discovery process or the depth of the interview or the process you're taking that client through that you are aware is particularly different?

Adam: One word, just hypertrophy.

Ron:  I don't even know what that word means. What is hypertrophy?

Adam: It's so big that it destroys itself.

Ron:  In Scrabble, that's an eight-point word. That's a big one.

"It's very easy to better design a program. It's much easier to develop the relationship at this boutique level because we have such a high threshold for our clients. We don't always take on every client."

Adam: Some of the bigger brokerages, while the best practices and the thought process behind the integration of these clients and the price that they're delivered at the highest level at the executive level, it might be 100 percent efficient. But then you get into management, client service advisors, and then associates, and the people that are doing the day to day work are really the associates. This is going against everything that's wrong with insurance, to begin with. But in the industry, there are producers, which are the salespeople, and then there are client service advisors, and the producers and the client service advisors are supposed to work together.

But a lot of times, they don't. And the producer doesn't know as much as the client service provider because they're just selling it, and then they're stepping away. We don't have that. I'm the guy who does the legwork, the technical side. The quotes, understanding the risk, and then I'm selling it. I have this fully encompassing knowledge of the client, their exposure. It's a glaring thing that stands out when you do that when you sort of piecemeal it all over the place. Who's responsible for this, and who's responsible for that? It's very easy to miss. It's nonsensical, sometimes we go into these things and just so obvious, but if you had looked at it at all with any care, you would see it right away, which is why I thought I think my success has been very easy. I haven't had a lot of competition in the space because once we engage with these clients, it's very easy to point out the mistakes. It's very easy to better design a program. It's much easier to develop the relationship at this boutique level because we have such a high threshold for our clients. We don't always take on every client. If a client comes to us if there's no mutual value in us working together, it just doesn't happen.

Ron:  I am going to put it on the screen here. Let's see if I can get this on screen. And they changed the software here, darn it. There it is, old titles and crawlers. Yeah, I don't think I'm going to do it. They change the UI on me, so I'll just do this verbally. I was going to help you out and put it on the screen your website URL. But I'll ask you, Adam, for those who are listening and or watching and they think you're super interesting and want to get in touch, what is the best way or ways that you would have our audience reach out to you?

Adam: Email is always best. It's just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ron:  I'm going to restate his URL, his website. It's My team will also put that down in the comments. If you want to reference that, folks, you can jump over to our Facebook page and find the interview. You can also go to our website and find our Automation Unplugged page. Of course, you'll find Adam there as well. And that should be up in the next week or so. Adam, I want to thank you for coming on and being graceful with me and my lack of knowledge on how to sound intelligent and talk about insurance, at least in this way. But I'm very confident our audience would have found a lot of value from everything you did share. Thank you.

Adam: Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be on. And I think that you did a very good job navigating. Hopefully, the insurance didn't put anyone to sleep too much.

"There's clearly room for us as an industry to educate the design trade, the designers, the architects, the builders, and, of course, the customers and the customer representatives, client representatives regarding the role technology can play in helping that risk mitigation strategy across so many different categories be put in place and their significant credits that are available."

Ron:  Well, I'll report back to you. I'll let you know if anyone watches or downloads the podcast, but I'm pretty sure they will. I think that there's clearly room for us as an industry to educate the design trade, the designers, the architects, the builders, and, of course, the customers and the customer representatives, client representatives regarding the role technology can play in helping that risk mitigation strategy across so many different categories be put in place and their significant credits that are available. And I wasn't aware of that. That's fascinating.

Adam: I will say this. If the integrators start doing more of this, it will make my job much easier.

Ron:  Alright, well, there you go, guys, we need to make it happen, and I'm already noodling from my team. I think we could start producing more content, educational content on behalf of the integrator in their marketing and their social media, blogs, and emails around the role technology should have from an insurance perspective. I think that that's a missing conversation. I don't recall hearing that any time ever in our space. I've been in this space for 20 years, so I think there's a lot of room for us as an industry to improve. Adam, I know you're a busy man, as am I. I'm going to say thank you again. And I know you, and I will talk soon. Thanks so much.

Adam: Thanks again.

Ron:  Alright, folks, there you have it. That was Adam Pauska from AXG Advisors. I definitely want to check him out. Visit his website, and I'm sure he wants to hear from you. If you guys want to share some ideas and or you want to learn more about how insurance and technology can play nice together, I think we should be an ecosystem that leans on each other. It certainly seems pretty logical to me. I will see you all next time. Here's our website and there is our phone number. If you want to reach out, I'll see you guys next time.


Adam is currently the Principal at AXG Advisors. Adam partners with the ultra-affluent and their other advisors to build and maintain their personal insurance portfolios, human-to-human, while navigating the ever-changing insurance marketplace.  

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly become the leading marketing firm specializing in integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

To keep up with Adam and the team at AXG Advisors, visit their website at axg-advisors.. Adam can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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