TAKE THE STAIRS: Matthew Gardner, Owner at Health Markets Insurance


Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
All Rights Reserved



10% of the proceeds from the sale of this work benefits The Arizona Consortium for the Arts


My muse this week is Matthew Gardner. Matthew is a Health Markets business owner, a third generation Arizonian, a devoted husband and the father of two young children. Matt and his wife Amanda also own Simply Pilates in Scottsdale, AZ.


The first time I asked Matt to review me and my husband’s health policy, he refused our business and told us not to move from where we were. He did not even ask for us to make him our new Agent of Record. He said “Michelle – stay where you are. It is what is best for you and your husband.” Matt is a member of my BNI, Business Leaders of North Scottsdale and of course I wanted to move my plan to him right away but he initially declined my business demonstrating his strong sense of integrity. BNI is like shooting fish in a bucket for some professions; insurance is one of those categories. As fellow members, you want to support one another and increase each other’s business within the chapter. His ability to recognize what was truly most beneficial for me at that time; versus taking on a new customer based solely on our BNI connection is an impressive action.

A year later, I had Matt review our policies again and this time he had a better plan for me but not for my husband. I asked that he immediately make himself our Agent of Record for both our policies and to update my policy as well as add more life insurance to both policies. Matt then provided me with a better health insurance plan with half the deductible and six times the life insurance coverage for two dollars less per month. That first impression he made with me as an honest businessman made my decision an easy and confident one. I trust Matt and readily refer him to others knowing that he will provide them with the same straightforwardness that he afforded me.

The three biggest things that impress me the most about Matt are:

  1. Matt has rock star ambition and drive while maintaining a high level of integrity.
  2. He knows his stuff. When you work with Matt you feel like you can trust that you are getting the latest and greatest information.
  3. Matt has bounced back from tough lessons early in life and has used those lessons to grow at an accelerated rate.

In a nutshell….

Matt is a driven professional with a clear picture of where he wants to take his business. He conducts himself with the utmost integrity. He is excited and curious about new opportunities and he embraces ambiguity and change. At such a young age he has proven himself to be a leader in his industry and in his firm.

I encourage you to learn more about Matt’s and his business, Take a few minutes to check out the 10 minute presentation he just did for our BNI chapter: The Business Leaders of North Scottsdale BNI. Matt showed us an excellent video about the absolute meaning and importance of Life Insurance that I think absolutely everyone should watch.


Mathew took a few minutes out to answer the five Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Questions. You may be surprised to hear such a young business owner who has had early success in his life say that there is not an elevator to success. He knows you have to take the stairs!


1.) Deepen Your Definition of Success

When we are young we think that success is all about money and recognition. Over time, Matt has learned that success is more about integrity, creating long-term safety for your family and providing quality customer service while being fair to your company so that a win-win situation is achieved.

2.) Conquer the 500 Pound Phone

If you are in sales you have had to do some cold calling. That 500-pound phone can be very heavy. Business owners are bombarded by calls from other businesses trying to sell you something. No one wants to be the telemarketer that is hung up on and belittled by aggravated, annoyed people. Matt acknowledged this reality and decided to be proactive and strategic. He threw himself into the fire early in his career and bravely got some advanced cold call training. This experience made all sales experiences after it easier. If you can pick up the 500-pound phone and master the cold call then you can sell ice to an Eskimo!

3.) Advocate for Yourself

There comes a time in everyone’s career that we have to stick up for ourselves. People can behave badly and sadly they do. Early in his professional life, Matt had no choice but to stand up for himself which involved legal action. The court agreed that Matt was in the right and deemed his former partner as the responsible party. Anyone who has been through a legal confrontation knows how stressful this experience is. You have to go forward in spite of lack of funds, confidence and doubt. Matt wrestled a 500-pound guerilla to the ground early in his life. As a result, all the other monkeys of business have seemed small to him. He calls this lesson a blessing and I agree. Matt has used this early challenging experience as a training tool. The experience has made him lighter, stronger and more confident for everything that has come after.

4.) One Bite at a Time

Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bit at a time.

Those of us who have had what Matt calls the blessing of bad breaks early in life know that we can get through anything if we take it one bite and one curve ball at a time. As a result we can be Fearless because we know there is nothing we can’t get through by taking the next specific correct action, one step at a time. I have heard it said that courage or fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It is the moving forward through that fear, and knowing we can successfully overcome just about any situation!

5.) Take the Stairs

Matt is a young man, and one might expect him to encourage everyone to take the fast track to success. However, what he says is that there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. Matt has built his agency to forty agents, one agent at a time. He leads by example. He does not ask his agents to do anything that he has not done or is not willing to do himself. That is the sign of a great boss and leader. He is also not afraid to care about people. I have heard Matt speak publically about his business’s successes and challenges in an effort to help others. My husband and I are satisfied clients. I have watched him serve the people around me with his innate integrity. Definitively, he has climbed the stairs to success because his achievements are solid and build upon one another.

Thank you so much Matt for taking the time out to be one of the Fearless 13!

Note from the Artist:

Matt’s story is a very simple and straightforward one. His biggest challenge in the beginning was cold calling. Anyone who has had to make cold calls knows that the phone can weigh 500 pounds and can be quite impossible to pick up. In our modern era, the phone is most likely a headset but I like the nostalgic aspect of an antique telephone. It speaks to a much simpler time when there was one phone in the house on a table in the hallway and doctors made house calls. Matt and his team bring a bit of that old school warmth to health insurance by providing top-notch and caring customer service. In fact, Matt is likely to show up at your kids bed with an autographed football helmet from a famous player.


Work was shown from December 18, 2015 – January 04, 2016  at {9} The Gallery

Thank you to our 2015 Partners:  Peg Quinn | The Arizona Consortium of the Arts | Photos by Elena & Jim | Bradford JonesBradford Jones Photography Jackie Wszalek, Splash Print & MarketingDennis Frazier, Cater Phoenix | Tony Medlock, PJ’s Florists

#Fearless #AoFDB #Entrepreneurship #VisualJournalism #Art #OneThing #Artizona #SocialPracticeArt



Entrepreneurs and inspiring stories of all kinds are Fearlessly Deliver’s muse and focus. As an artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The Fearless Art Projects are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.

THE ART OF FEARLESSLY DONG BUSINESS is an unprecedented and unique project celebrates the fearless entrepreneurial spirit by highlighting thirteen unique and fearless business leaders.

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