Featured New York Life Agents: The Jacksons
Becky and Lisse Jackson: Honoring a Memory with a Mission
For New York Life Agents Becky and Lisse Jackson, a mother-daughter team based out of Monterey, CA (Silicon Valley GO), helping to provide life insurance protection to families in their community isn’t simply a job, but a mission. Having lost their husband and father, respectively, in a tragic fire many years ago —it’s easy to understand why.
“My husband, Bill, and I were college sweethearts — we met while attending Duke University and married after graduation in 1978” recalls Becky. “Soon after we were married, we purchased Whole Life policies, but, a few years later, on the recommendation of an advisor, we cashed in those policies — buying second-to-die insurance instead.” At the time, the young couple thought the decision was saving them money. Little did they know how much it would cost their family in the future.
Becky continues, “My husband was an optometrist and had gone into business with three other partners. Once his practice was up and running, Bill began exploring insurance options again. By then, we had our son Christian and daughter Lisse, and Bill wanted to ensure our family was protected should something happen to him.” Although Becky had earned an undergraduate degree in education and a graduate degree in business, both she Bill agreed she would stay at home and focus on raising their children — making insurance protection all the more important.
“In fact,” Becky says, “In December of 1987, Bill and his partners met with an insurance agent to develop a plan. This plan, they discussed, would include a buy-sell agreement funded with life insurance — ensuring their families would not suffer financially if one of the partners became disabled or died. But, it was Christmas-time, and we were just about to leave for a family trip to Donner Lake, in Lake Tahoe — so Bill and his partners agreed to discuss it further and finalize the papers when we returned from vacation.”
Little did anyone know, however, that the family trip would end tragically when, during the night, a fire broke out — setting the rented cabin up in flames. “My husband woke me up to tell me to get out of the cabin,” remembers Becky. “He evacuated everyone — got us all out of the house, and then went back in. I think he was checking to make sure everyone had gotten out. There were eleven of us staying in the cabin: his mother, sister, brother, nieces, brother-in-law. But that wooden cabin was like a matchbox, and Bill was the only one who never came back out.”
Just 33 years old, Becky was grief-stricken. “I went to bed a mother and wife, and the next day, I woke up a widow with two young children — Lisse was just 2, and Christian was 4.” Becky recalls the turmoil she felt while trying to cope with the loss of her husband and realizing how difficult it was going to be to provide for their children the way they had hoped. “If Bill had purchased life insurance and funded a buy-sell agreement with his business partners, I could have slept a lot better during the years after the fire.”
Luckily, she was able to sell her interest in Bill’s optometry practice — for only about 50% of its value — and had rental properties that provided some income. Additionally, she says, “I learned what social security benefits are for — but those were very difficult times.”
In 1991, Becky reconnected with an old friend who had also been widowed and was living on the East Coast. She recalls, “I packed up our belongings, including our dogs, cat, and hamster, said goodbye to our friends, and drove to Rockville, Maryland. We married two months later.”
“It seemed that about the time our lives had settled down in Rockville, my husband was transferred to California. Frankly, I was exhausted and just remember packing and unpacking what seemed like hundreds of moving boxes!” But, one day soon after they moved to Monterey, CA, a trip to the mailbox changed everything for her.
“I received a letter from Mike Wecker of New York Life, inviting me to learn about the benefits of a career in insurance and financial services. I read the letter while surrounded by boxes and wrapping paper. I was in such a bad mood; I crumpled up the letter and tossed it in the trashcan,” Becky laughs. “Luckily I didn’t empty the trash right away, because two or three days later, a light bulb went off in my mind.”
“I found the letter and called Mike. After meeting with the people at New York Life, I became very excited! We all seemed to share the same mission: to help people. I quickly realized that my personal experience could be used to help others.”
So energized about her new career, Becky was determined to help as many people as she could. She managed, however, to stay focused as she balanced her family responsibilities. “I actually sat for my securities exam the day before my third child, John was due,” she laughs. “It was tough, but I refused to give up.”
And she didn’t. Now, years later, divorced with an established business, Becky is thrilled that daughter Lisse has joined her practice and shares her — and New York Life’s — mission.
Lisse explains, “After I graduated from college in 2007, with pre-med degrees, I explored a few career options. I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference in my community, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that was. One day, while preparing my tax return, I decided to call Vicki Viso — a friend who also happens to be a New York Life agent, and our discussion turned to the insurance business.”
Lisse felt the same surge of enthusiasm that her mother had felt years before. After more conversations with Vicki as well as her mother, she decided to join New York Life and her mother’s business. Lisse says, “I took my insurance exam six weeks later and went running with it! Now, I’m getting the word out there for people — with a focus on protecting families,” she says.
“Losing my father when I was just two-years-old and being raised by a single mom, I understand the importance of having a solid financial foundation. Life insurance, whether through the living benefits or the death benefits, is a great way to ensure that money will be available when needed the most. I want to let my clients know that regardless of death or disability, with proper planning and implementation money can be there to keep dreams alive.”
Lisse continues, “I chose to join my mother in business because I came to the realization that New York Life is a strong force, and has the financial backing to promise its clients, with proper planning, that they needn’t worry about their future, that they will be protected.”
Through the years Becky has learned that her clients are often amazed at how easy and simple the process of planning can be. She says, “With the help of our ‘roadmaps,’ or factfinders, our network of professionals, our experience, and our wealth of knowledge about products, we can accomplish what many clients may have thought was impossible in helping them feel financially secure.”
Lisse adds, “The impact of ‘Daddy Bill’s’ death is more powerful than I can comprehend at this point in my life, but the strength I have found from his spirit is what drives my burning passion for New York Life and this career as a life insurance agent. This is not an easy business, but if I can save one family from having to go through what my mom went through, I will have succeeded.”