how one new jersey entrepreneur created both a career in insurance and the desire to inspire
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Robert Nuzzie
Eric Giglione was raised in a humble working-class family. His father worked as a barber; his mother was a seamstress. They both worked tirelessly to make ends meet. But when a stroke left his father paralyzed at the age of 43 and his mother was diagnosed with cancer, the entire Giglione family struggled both emotionally and financially.
“It was tough,” Giglione said. “We almost lost our home and were barely just getting by.”
So Giglione made it his life goal to never struggle again.
“I moved to Miami at the age of 18 and was living in the back of a van,” he recalled. “I started washing dishes and the owner of the restaurant where I was working had just started his own insurance agency and hired me to sell with him.”
The job lasted a few years until Giglione was afforded another business opportunity that would prove fortunate with American Income Life Insurance (AIL). He sold policies door to door, sitting at thousands of kitchen tables, sharing countless cups of coffee, all the while honing his sales skills and promoting the virtues of his product.
“I moved from sales to manager to eventually investing in my own agency,” he said. “Thirty-four years later, I’m still with the same company. I now have six agencies and a little over 300 employees.”
For Giglione, his knack for sales and his job at AIL were always a natural fit.
“I like people,” he said. “I grew up a musician, with drumsticks in my hand, so I’ve always loved to entertain and be around people. And that comfort with an audience allowed me to succeed as a salesman.”
With precious little money of his own and no resources to obtain a college education, the only way for Giglione to gain the wealth he wanted was with a commission-based salary.
“At 21 years old, I had some very key mentors in my life who changed my thinking and got me to dream big,” Giglione said. “I didn’t want to drive a Ferrari; I needed to. And once I began to dream big, there were no limits to what I could earn and do.”
AIL provides life insurance and supplemental health benefits to working families across the United States.
“We use life insurance to protect people’s assets,” Giglione said. “When you’re earning money and people in your house are dependent upon your salary, what happens when you die? The money stops. And families wonder if they’re going to lose their homes and how they’re going to pay for college. But life insurance is what protects and secures all that. Our services are designed with working people in mind. People who make $20,000 to $150,000 a year. And that is 95 percent of America.”
Owned by Torchmark Corporation and founded in 1951, AIL is headquartered in Waco, Texas, and is licensed in 49 states, Canada, and New Zealand. National Income Life Insurance Company (NILICO) operates as a subsidiary of AIL in the state of New York.
AIL’s independently contracted, local offices serve a niche market of labor unions, credit unions, associations, and individual families. The company’s supplemental insurance products are sold by captive insurance sales representatives, a service Giglione explained is nonexistent outside of his company.
“Prudential, New York Life, John Hancock – all of those companies used to employ a captive sales force that would come to your house, sit and talk, but those insurance companies have completely eliminated that service,” Giglione said. “American Income Life is the only company left with a dedicated sales force. It’s a wonderful business model and a wonderful way to maintain a personal relationship with our clients.”
Giglione operates three AIL offices in New Jersey with his partner, David Ackerman. He says business at his Edison, Hamilton, and West Orange locations usually grows about 25 percent each year.
“My life wasn’t an overnight success story,” he said. “I’ve always been highly driven and extremely ambitious and that’s what got me to the place I’m in today. Once I began to achieve, that success started to feed on itself, and now at 57 years old, I think the legacy I will leave behind will not be success, but significance. People aren’t going to remember me because of the material things I
“People aren’t going to remember me because of the things I have, they are going to remember me because of the difference I’ve made and the lives I’ve affected…In all that you do you need to be the best, you need to stand out.”
have; they are going to remember me because of the difference I made and the lives I’ve affected. Why be successful when you can be significant?”
It’s motivational words like those that helped spawn Giglione’s newest venture: the blog dailylockerroom.com.
“Daily Locker Room is a natural byproduct of what I’ve done every week with my agencies for years,” Giglione said. “For an hour and a half, I’m wired up to a microphone, accompanied by a DJ and special effects, and I offer meetings that inspire my employees to learn and grow. Those meetings began to get shared with my employees’ family members and friends, and I realized that the words I shared with my businesses members could inspire others as well.”
So, Giglione created the Daily Locker Room online platform, which now has some 15,000 subscribers who are emailed an inspirational video every day.
“We have over a million minutes logged in the Locker Room and we’re in 27 countries…we’re a huge hit in places like New Zealand and Australia,” Giglione said. “I’m not a motivational speaker, I have no intention of being a motivational speaker and I spend my own money to run this project. This platform was created solely for people to be inspired.”
Giglione’s book, Messages: The concise reference for living your very best life (available at the site messagesbyericgiglione.com), was produced as an additional response to The Daily Locker Room’s popularity. He is currently writing two more books: Messages for Sales and Messages for Leaders, each geared to a specific branch of business.
“I encourage people to go to work every day and make it a masterpiece,” Giglione said. “In all that you do you need to be the best, you need to stand out. And that’s what everyone should strive for…to be significant.”
American Income Life Insurance Co.
266 Raritan Center Parkway, Edison