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Careers·Change·Collaboration·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·Creativity·CUNA·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Ideas·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·News Release·Perception·Professional Development

Say Yes.

Let’s get up around 6am daily and potentially stay up until 2am nightly.  On a daily average let’s do 13,000 steps and burn 3,500 calories without hitting the gym.  But it doesn’t stop there, let’s push through the joint pain, muscle aches and any other bodily issue that may fall to fatigue or soreness because trust me, places that you didn’t know could ache will show themselves during this timeframe.

High-fiving Crash Facilitator, CUNA’s Ariel Bilskey!

However, let’s not forget conditions that require emotional and mental preparation.  Although these conditions may vary, they could include but aren’t limited to: being alert every waking hour, managing hunger or the feeling of being hangry (hungry +angry), dehydration or over hydration, seeing every moment to make an impression for future follow ups, photo opts, converting strangers to friends or family, massive social media updates, patience of a grade school teacher, stamina of long distance runner, and smiles and handshakes, oh yes many many smiles and handshakes for everyone.  Lastly, let’s make sure we are equipped with two very important skills, the electric slide and a new or current dance.  For this example let’s say the Whip and Nae Nae but, it’s ok to only prepare for one or the other, this is a judgment free zone.  Who fills this role and what calls for this type of conditions?  Is it a professional athlete, a politician, or movie star?  Is it a sporting event, campaign, or an awards show?

No, it’s a Crasher at the CUNA GAC (Government Affairs Conference) 2016 and I’m proud to be one.

I can still remember the stages of excitement vividly as the days changed throughout the week.  Although originally nervous, I was at ease entering into this conference thanks to the preparation, structure and leadership of James Marshall, the Crasher team captains, and The Cooperative Trust.  It didn’t take long before the nerves fell by the waste side and were replaced with adrenalin.  Looking back, I am thankful for memories that will last a lifetime.

Carrying my flag at the opening ceremony, in front of almost 5000 people.

I can recall how exciting it was to meet my fellow crashers after many weeks of discussions and online activities.  I’ll never forget my heart pounding as I walked with my association president carrying our state flag surrounded by the claps, shouts and positive energy to kick off the conference.  I’ll recall the unity while everyone bowed their heads in prayer for a divine blessing for the conference and each attendee.

Although 5000 people were estimated to participate, it was the consistent message and unity that I felt throughout the conference.  I remember other defining moments such as the feeling of honor and admiration to meet some of the current leaders of the movement from NCUA, CUNA, and NAFCU, to mention a few.  Knowing that individuals such as Jim Nussle, Rich Meade, Gigi Hyland, Ryan Donovan, and Monica Davy would take their time to invest in us was unbelievable.  To be able to hear their personal stories was a highlight of the conference.  It’s not every day that anyone can get personal time with so many leaders of the movement.  All of this can transpire in one day at the GAC and its worth every moment.  It seems overwhelming, and it is.  Yet in this environment I found the culture had a way of keeping me energized and wanting more.

My experience at the GAC made me even more proud to be a credit union professional.  The feeling that I can effectively create change through advocacy or community reinvestments, to increase financial wellness is incredible. But it was at the GAC where I saw the credit union culture at its best.  The GAC served as a platform to hear the stories across the nation of kindness and courage to fight for what’s right.  From conversations with representatives in congress to random conversations at social events, it was easy to see how the culture of people helping people was contagious.  Information sharing wasn’t frowned upon, in fact it was the norm.  The culture of every individual I came into contact with broadened my understanding of the impact our not for profit cooperative has on the nation.  Every moment was invaluable at the GAC.

For future crashers, it’s important to know that a crasher isn’t one person who is selected to get shipped to Washington DC to meet 51 other strangers from across the nation.  We aren’t just gung-ho credit union advocates under the age of 35 with time on their hands to travel.  A crasher is a person who has said yes and believes in it. That’s it!

But this yes has probably been said a millions times in the mind of a crasher even after several no’s.  This yes is also a readiness.  The GAC is the

Saying YES to singing our National Anthem on day 1.

largest credit union advocacy event of the year with a duration of 5 days, but what about the other 360 days.  That yes is a consistent drive in the movement of a crasher from day to day.  That yes makes them get up early to tend to the needs of members and coworkers a like that isn’t in their job description.  That yes enables the mind of a crasher to innovate, create and establish new ideas that may disrupt the way we used to do things to be relevant to the new needs of a changing society.  That yes understands the social and economic needs of tomorrow and works to get them in place today.  That yes transfers the mind of a crasher to seek out mentors while being a mentor. That yes says I understand the call to action and I am available.  That yes represents the credit union difference.

That, is the heart of a crasher.

Future crashers of the world are the successors that will join hands with the current leaders now.  That is why the GAC is so important.  That is why you are so important.  It is at the GAC where that transfer can begin to take place.  Crashers go through an incubation process in a safe environment and it has the potential to change both your professional and personal lives forever.  Crashing the GAC was a defining moment in my life and it can be the same for you.  All it takes is a yes in your spirit and the rest can make history.

Careers·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·Creativity·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·News Release·Professional Development

Crash Course in Crashing

(1) Selfie with Jim Nussle. (2) Meeting with my representatives. (3) Group shot with my fellow crashers!

When you sign up to be a crasher, you create these expectations in your head. You might think “Oh, I’m just going to meet a few credit union people, learn some cooperative stuff and not embarrass my CEO at Thunderpunch.” Ok, we did all these things (maybe not that last one), but it’s just hitting the surface of this amazing experience.

Crashing personifies our feelings as young professionals. We are the future of the industry, and it gives us the opportunity to learn how to be ambassadors of our cooperative brand. When you Crash, you can expect to:


Being a lifetime learner is the cornerstone principle of the “Young Professional.” I think we pride ourselves on this quality because it’s admitting that we don’t know everything but we WANT to know more.  Crashing is like an extreme professional apprenticeship. You take in volumes of information in a short amount of time, but you leave with a new appreciation for your job. Yes credit unions help people, but crashing teaches us that we actually help each other too.


This experience was full of starstruck moments. It is totally intimidating to rub shoulders with people like Jim Nussle, Gigi Hyland and Stan Hollen. But any insecurities you may have had wash away because you are surrounded by bright like-minded individuals ready to hold you up and make you feel included. I compare this feeling to going away to college for the first time: everyone is a stranger at first, but the bonds you create are life-long.


I left DC with a spark *queue “this girl is on fire” by Alicia Keys*. I didn’t just come home with knowledge, I brought ideas. Crashing will do that. Blame it on the group dynamics, but I am motivated to share my experiences, encourage others to Crash and build an advocacy program at my credit union. Crashing has opened doors that maybe didn’t even exist, but now I feel empowered to create them.

As I sit here reflecting on these experiences, my phone continues to blow up with messages from fellow crashers. It reminds me to hold on to that excitement, stay motivated to learn more and continue to share the #CUdifference! Thank you for this amazing opportunity. The energy is real, and together we are going to do amazing things.

Careers·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Professional Development

It’s time for Crash Louisiana 2015

Follow us here!

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.

Careers·Change·Ideas·Leadership·Professional Development

Hand Stand Moments

Have you ever sat down and wondered if your current position is one you want to be in? As young professionals we have the ability to make a decision on what we want to do in our lives/careers. We obviously know that we want to be at a credit union, but, are what we currently doing fulfilling and fun?

Take a few minutes to really think about what you’re passionate about. When did that passion start? Why do you feel that way? When you are put in a position that you are passionate about it’s really not considered “Work” anymore. But instead fulfilling your passion. Ask yourself questions… why do you come to work? What do you like about your current role? Do you see yourself doing something else? Where do you see yourself in the organization in two years, five years, ten years? Do you align with the culture of the credit union? What do you like to do? What are your skills/talents? Then from there look at options and start talking. I heard a quote recently saying “The sooner you start a conversation, the more options you have.” Talk to your management team and find out what else you can do and how you can become more involved in something you’re good ant and passionate about. This only aids to the success of the credit union.

Sometimes this can be a scary moment because you’re unsure of what could happen and would you really be successful in a different role? I say why not? I recently had the chance to listen to someone speak about doing things they thought they couldn’t. This woman had one arm and was doing yoga one day. Everyone in the class was doing hand stands. She knew she was at a disadvantage at first but then took the “leap” and started working towards the goal. She later was able to do this with only one hand. She calls these experiences in her life now “Hand Stand” moments. How are you going to accomplish something you previously thought you couldn’t? Take the steps and work towards making it happen.

Our industry has so many opportunities for young professionals. It’s up to us to decide which role is the right one and to genuinely love what we do every day. Start those conversations today to see how you can start working towards what you ultimately want to do.

Canada·Careers·Change·Creativity·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·New Release·Professional Development·Technology

Strategic Challenge 2015: What Will You Stop Doing?

Think back to the last adult conversation you had. I’m guessing it went something like this:

“Hi there. How are you?”

“I’m well. You?”

“I’m doing well. But so busy. I had three meetings today. The examiners were in last month and I’m working on responses to two findings. We are considering a core conversion and I’ve been working on committees to move that project forward. I forgot my son had a science project due, so I was up until 2 AM working on his project last night and my father is coming into town this weekend, so as soon as we are done with this meeting, I have to rush home to make sure the house is in order. Hang on, I’m getting a text from my husband.”

Human beings are busier than ever. Here are eight things you might not know about busyness in America.

Considering how busy we are, as we head into the credit union industry’s peak “strategic planning” season, credit unions across North America might be overwhelmed with the many important strategic questions that are under consideration:

  • What is our “why?”
  • Is our vision aggressive enough for the next 3 years?
  • What do our members and potential members need and want?
  • How will we attract the next generation of members?
  • How will we make using the credit union easier than ever?
  • What will the branch of the future look like and what purpose will it serve?
  • What will our digital strategy be in this omni-channel world and how will we meet our members where they are?
  • What will our payment strategy be?
  • How will we retain and attract top talent and what is our succession plan?
  • How will we integrate innovation into our daily lives?

Whew. Those are just some of the many questions credit union executives and boards are considering. This business of strategizing to create the best credit union to serve our members into the future is both exciting and challenging. It sure keeps us busy! Of course, asking the right questions is only the start. Developing the answers to those questions, prioritizing strategies and ultimately implementing new ideas all while continuing to improve the financial situation of our members takes determination, grit and the balance between pausing to strategize and relentlessly executing.

As we balance these strategic questions and the busyness we all feel, one question I’d invite credit union executives and boards to consider during the strategy sessions this fall is this: what will we stop doing? It might be the hardest question of all. We want so much to be all things to all members and potential members. We want to take on more so that we can differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and dominate the competition. However, there is only so much time in everyday. Having spent 14 years in three different credit unions, I know how many hats the average credit union team member is wearing. If you’ve come up with an exceptional strategic plan with great new ideas this year, challenge your team to come up at least three things that you’ll stop doing.

Here are a few suggestions to consider*:

  • Offering paper statements for free
  • Offering paper brochures
  • Mailing receipts
  • Requiring duplicate entry of information on membership applications and loan applications
  • Requiring members to repeat information when they are transferred
  • Running any report that hasn’t been read in the last six months
  • Kicking off new projects that don’t have a direct link to your strategy
  • Mailing newsletters
  • Blocking social media access
  • Holding meetings on Fridays

This is a challenge that I’ll take with you. I’m very bad at saying no and it’s unusual for me to stop doing things. I just keep adding on and wishing that someone would add an eighth day to our week. So, I’ll join you. Let’s touch base in six months and see how we’ve done.

What could your credit union stop doing? I’d love to hear your ideas.

*Disclaimer: These are only ideas and every credit union should investigate all new endeavors including the regulatory and compliance considerations before making changes to current practices.

Careers·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development

Let’s Crash: CUNA Lending Council Conference!

Howdy—Happy Weekend!

There’s no better way to kick off a weekend than with some exciting news! I am thrilled to announce that The Cooperative Trust is crashing another industry event. This opportunity will allow us to engage young credit union professionals in credit union lending. Our continued goal is to emerge young adults in all functional areas of credit unions to grow and strengthen the movement with the very best talent.

That’s right, we are crashing the CUNA Lending Council Conference in San Diego, my home state of California. The conference starts on November 1st and concludes on the 5th. We will be selecting 10 crashers to join us and will provide each crasher with:

  • Registration to the CUNA Lending Council Conference
  • Membership to the council
  • Up to $1000 in expenses

Crash the CUNA Lending Council Conference is made possible by Twenty Twenty Analytics. We are thrilled to have their support and are ready to show them some crasher xox. The Lending Council Crashers will be tasked with a special project during the crash—developing future leaders in the credit union lending function.  #BoatloadsOfFun

A warm and special shout out to the CUNA Lending Council for having us! We are honored to be joining some of the industries premier lenders and leaders.

The Cooperative Trust is founded by Filene Research Institute and made possible by CUNA.


Applications will close on Wednesday, September 19th.

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