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big. bright. minds.·Conferences·Crash·CUNA·Filene·Innovation·Technology

Bigger, Brighter, Mind…ier?

I just spent the past two days at Harvard for the ‪#‎bigbrightminds‬ conference, and 24 hours later my mind is still recuperating from being totally blown. I’m back in the office today reflecting on the experience and content, and it’s starting to sink in that I was just exposed to the ideas and leaders who will not only define the credit union movement in the coming years, but in some cases actually shake the broader financial industry to its core, drastically change how millions of Americans will view personal finance and put a spotlight on the interconnectedness of economics, culture and social movements.

Society of Grownups

Nondini Naqui, president and CEO of the Society of Grownups, and Brian Rich, marketing coordinator at Icon Credit Union

We heard from Nondini Naqui from the Society of Grownups in Boston who is less than two years into their Millennial-focused financial literacy campaign and has already helped thousands of young people better understand finances, all while growing their staff to 40 full-time employees (in 22 months) and securing an additional $100 million in funding to expand their much needed services to 10 of the nation’s biggest cities. Like their page and get ready for Naqui’s TED Talk in February because once the world hears her message (delivered with eloquence most presidents would envy), everything is going to change.

We heard Hope Jensen Schau, professor of marketing at the University of Arizona, discuss research showing how Millennials view large institutions with deep skepticism, but place enormous value in peer-to-peer institutions making a social impact. While Millennials are still poorly informed on the subject, her studies have so far shown an enormous interest in credit unions and how they can weave into the “pro-social” mindset of Millennials, who are largely uninterested in supporting institutions that don’t provide a clear social benefit along with their business model.

Jonathan Morduch, professor of public policy and economics at New York University, explained that household incomes today are as volatile as they’ve ever been, fluctuating more than 20% above/below their annualized monthly median income at least five months each year. These extreme spikes and dips highlight the importance of short-term savings – a product and habit that still today eludes consumers and financial institutions alike.

Crashers and Jim Nussle

Some of the Big. Bright. Minds. crashers with Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association.

Dennis Campbell, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, spoke about the importance of freedom within organizational culture and how to design a framework or “boundary systems” that respects hierarchical integrity while empowering employees to make and own critical decisions. Campbell showed research that proved an organization’s culture is not defined by words, but tacitly by the decisions made by leadership and the prioritization of constituents in short term trade-off situations (e.g. when priorities conflict at Amazon or Southwest Airlines, Amazon puts the customer/price first and Southwest puts the organization’s culture first – and the decisions are made openly and in plain sight).

Campbell also discussed an incredible business/case-study in Turkey, where a collections business called TurkAsset is in the process of flipping a toxic industry on its head by simply choosing to view humans as its customers instead of the banks offloading subprime loans.

We were briefed on the latest products and services being developed internally by Filene Research Institute, including some incredible ideas around short-term loan options to neutralize the disastrous payday lending industry and a new credit monitoring app called SavvyMoney that will weave seamlessly into online banking systems for thousands of credit unions nationwide. This amazing program could finally and permanently end the elusive nature of credit scores, help millions of consumers put an end to identity theft, save members thousands by easing the process of debt consolidation and encourage healthier financial habits by providing instant feedback on the consequences of your good and bad financial decisions.

The depth and breadth of topics discussed in such a short window of time is a perfect metaphor for the very business model of Filene, which uses a small staff and enormous levels of talent to research and implement industry-changing ideas to benefit millions of credit union members – and consumers in general – across the country. And what better location but to host the entire event at Harvard, which established the expectation that we were in for a world-class schooling on economic innovations. An enormous thank you to Filene, CUNA, our hosts at the Harvard University Employees Credit Union, our crash host James Marshall, to all of the guest speakers and to everyone else who helped make this such a tremendous learning experience!

big. bright. minds.·Collaboration·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·CUNA·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Leadership·Professional Development

#CrashtheGAC15 or: How to Change a Life in 144 Hours

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By: Grant Gallagher, External Affairs & Financial Education Specialist at Affinity FCU
NJ’s own “non-fist pumping fist pumper”

When I received my first email about “Crash the GAC” from Candice Nigro, VP of Marketing, Communications & Business Development of the New Jersey Credit Union League, in 2013, I thought it sounded like an interesting concept. I had heard good things about the GAC from my senior leadership prior to my attendance as a crasher, and as someone who has their hand in credit union regulatory and legislative advocacy on a regular basis, a “free ride” to the premier conference covering this topic seemed almost too good to be true. I ap­plied my first year, to my disappointment, with no success. Fast forward to January 16, 2015, the day I received my application outcome (and accep­tance!) as a crasher, a day that would, unknow­ingly to me at the time, change my personal and professional life forever.

To “Crash the GAC” to some means to go and be disrup­tive. Shake up an institution that has the median age of 110 and has forgotten that the future of credit unions lies in the hands of a generation more comfortable tweeting to an audience of 1,000+ followers than picking up the phone and calling a single individual. To me, “Crashing” was a 144-hour crash course in credit unions, cooperatives, advocacy, networking, training, and much more. Despite my familiarity with issues such as preserving the not-for-profit tax status of credit unions, stopping merchant and retailer data breaches, increasing the MBL cap, relieving regulatory burden, and the need for access to supplemental capital, it was not until after hearing numerous anecdotes in regards to how these issues are directly impacting other credit unions on a day-to-day basis, that the urgency, and my understanding, of these issues became expo­nentially clearer.

Trying to summarize the experience of a crasher in the space I have here is an unjust task. Not even Mark Twain or E.E. Cum­mings could pen the words succinctly enough to fill such a space. Regardless, I will try: The experience was awesome; the people even more incredible. Just to clarify, when I say “awe­some”, I do not mean it in the all too common use as “neat”, “cool”, “great”, or “terrific”, I mean it quite literally as “inspiring awe”. The crashers were led by James Marshall of the Cooperative Trust, a subset of the Filene Research Institute. Within moments of meeting this amazing group he miraculously crafted, I couldn’t believe I had lived my life without knowing them prior to becoming a crasher. I met 52 credit union advocate crashers, and 4 crasher leaders, and one incredible photographer, in Washington, D.C., and left with 57 new friends. The crashers did not just network; we bonded, we laughed, we cried, we formed inside jokes within hours of meeting, and we formed a network of friends that stretches from Alaska to Florida.

While the breakout sessions, exhibit floor, receptions, and general sessions were brimming with compelling individuals and inspiring speakers such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal, USA (Ret.); former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer; and chair, president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington; the “pièce de résistance” was truly the small group roundtable sessions every morning/afternoon. These sessions would occur every day and would feature four speakers from CUNA, Filene, CUNA Councils, other state leagues, cooperatives, NCUF, and more. They were structured so that each of the indi­viduals would present for 10 minutes on their area of exper­tise, and then the small table discussions would com­mence, with a speaker as­signed to each of the four small groups to discuss the pre­sentation, their topic of ex­pertise, or any burning ques­tions that any of the crashers may have had in regards to anything in the credit union world. Rinse and repeat, until all speakers had their chance to present. The discussions most importantly stressed that the crashers’ opinions were important and valued. All of the guest speakers made it clear that the future of credit unions is in our hands, took our questions, comments, and opinions seriously; as a young professional, that is an unfor­tunately rare commodity to come by.

Most of the small table sessions took place at 7 a.m., after a late night, and it may only be those of you that know me, and my distaste for mornings, that will truly appreciate just how much more powerful that makes my accolade for those sessions. I am happy to divulge that I love to sleep, but in the six days I spent crashing the GAC, I slept a total of 17 hours. If I could do it all over again, I would not change a single second. Both the days and nights were long, but when you are in the midst of a once in a lifetime opportunity, you realize you can sleep when you’re dead. Despite lack of sleep, all 52 of us still managed to happily keep to our daily, grueling 18-hour schedules.

When I received that first email back in 2013, I never thought it would lead to an experience that I, and all 51 other crashers unanimously, would call “life changing”. My experience has inspired me to pursue forming a young professionals network, has given me the passion to make sure the voices of young credit union profession­als are heard, has strengthened my belief in coopera­tives, and that the greatness provided by them is greater than the sum of their parts, and it has solidified a place in my heart for credit unions. It was an incredible privilege to #CrashtheGAC2015, and while I cannot express my thanks to the magnitude it is deserved, my sentiments go out to Filene Research Institute/The Cooperative Trust, CUNA and The Foundation, to the New Jersey Credit Union League, my boss Lauretta Farrell, and to all of the leadership from Affinity Federal Credit Union, who not only joined me in attendance, and for a selfie, at the crasher’s annual party THUNDERPUNCH, but also encourage my professional development on a regular basis. Thank you all for your encouragement and support of myself, and of the crash program.

Lastly, to anyone who has the opportunity to send a young professional to “Crash the GAC”, I would highly encourage it. It is an investment in the young professionals in your credit union that has an exponential potential return. The CUNA GAC that you know and love is only a tenth of the content and experience that the crashers receive. To those young professionals who have not considered applying, or have applied and not been selected, it is an experience you will never forget and something worth pursuing unyieldingly. To my fellow NJ applicants for Crash the GAC 2016, I offer you the best of luck; as someone who is already planning next year’s application, I hear you are up against some stiff competition.

To get a firsthand look of my experience “Crashing the GAC” see my photos/live tweets by following me on Twitter @thegrantg.

The views and opinions expressed above are solely my own and do not reflect those of Affinity Federal Credit Union, the New Jersey Credit Union League, or Filene/the Cooperative Trust.

big. bright. minds.·Careers·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Creativity·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Lending·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

November is Crash-tastic!

Can you believe it’s almost November already? (Or it might be November when you’re reading this – in which case, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?). What does November bring? A change in leaves? A change in weather? Thanksgiving? A countdown to Christmas? (As I write this, it’s just 62 days until Christmas day!). 

But you know what else November brings us?!?! TWO CRASH EVENTS! That’s right… TWO! Our Crashers have been selected and we’d love for you to meet them.

Head over here to meet our Crashers for Crash CUNA Lending Council in San Diego, CA.

And go in this direction to meet our Crashers for Crash big. bright. minds. in Tucson, AZ.

The Cooperative Trust is a Filene community. Everything we do is made possible by Credit Union National Association. Crash CUNA Lending Council is supported by Twenty Twenty Analytics and Crash big. bright. minds. is supported by CUNA Mutual Group.

big. bright. minds.·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Filene·Innovation·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development

CRASH big. bright. minds. 2014

For big. bright. minds. 2014, we’ve been invited to bring up to 10 of our brightest Crashers along for the ride. Hosted by Filene Fellow, Hope Schau, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, you’ll be given a chance to see a different side of Arizona and rub shoulders with some of the smartest people in consumer finance.

From November 10 - 12, Filene will gather all of its talent (Research Council, i3, Filene Research Fellows, Board, Benefactors, and special guests) in one place! That place its Tucson, Arizona, at the Marriott Tucson University Park. There’ll be a plethora of meaningful discussion on credit unions, consumer finance, and the future.

A sampling of the content:

  • Conversations about the future of consumer finance and research directions, with each Filene Research Fellow
  • Presentations from the latest innovative ideas from the Filene i3′ers
  • Research proposals on the changing nature of financial consumers and other topics
  • What’s next for Impact and the latest findings from their recent pilots
  • A host of surprise guests and thought-provoking topics

While our spots are limited, we are able to provide housing for our Crashers at no cost, but in true Crasher fashion, we’ll be bunking up and sharing rooms!! Flights and incidentals will be your responsibility, If you would like some advice on speaking to your credit union / organisation about some financial help, please let us know!

APPLY NOW!!!

big. bright. minds. 2014 is November 11th – 12th. The Crash big.bright.minds program will run November 10th – 13th.

Any questions before applying? Email us at trust@trust.coop!  Please fill out the form below by September 19th. Good luck!

Crash big. bright. minds. 2014 by The Cooperative Trust is supported by:

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The Cooperative Trust is brought to you by Filene, and made possible by:

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