(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.
It is just hours after my final event of Crash the GAC 2016 and I am already thinking about the next group of Crashers for the 2017 session. I have gone from being surrounded by inspiring and motivated peers to being alone in a hotel room, unable to stop replaying the extraordinary events from the past 5 days. I’m definitely feeling all the feels. Yes, the schedule was packed, and yes, I’m super tired, but it has been an experience like none other and I can’t help feeling grateful to have been part of it.
Let me start by addressing a few of your potential questions:
Did you get much sleep? Nope, but neither did anyone else, and it is easier to be awake and happy when you have 51 friends who are going through it with you. (Plus, as James aptly reminded us, you can sleep next week.)
Did you like your roommate? Yes! In fact, connecting with my roommate Tara Efird (South Carolina) was one of the top highlights of the entire experience.
What happened at Thunderpunch 2016? Not telling. (Yes, this party is that awesome.)
Who makes this Crash happen? So many people! I’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to CUNA and Filene, who support Crash the GAC and the Crashers. We couldn’t attend without CUNA’s generosity, and wouldn’t have our extra sessions without Filene putting together an awesome schedule. (Note: An extra shoutout to CUNA CEO Jim Nussle who has been incredibly supportive!) Everywhere you go you will meet people that shape your experience – take a minute to thank each and every one of them.
Why should I apply to be a Crasher? Because the experience will change your life, if you let it. You will walk away with close friends, valuable connections, and enthusiasm about the credit union movement.
I would like to call out an important topic: engagement. The old saying “you get out of it what you put into it” is so true. While you can’t help but be inspired by the excellent speakers and in awe of Capital Hill, it is your Crasher duty to engage fully and deeply with the people around you. I know there is often aversion to it, but “networking” is not a dirty word – it is simply the term for connecting with others and exchanging information. How could that be bad? If you put yourself out there, be genuinely interested in others, and keep a smile on your face during the late nights and early mornings, you will reap the rewards.
With my roommate, Tara!
I am privileged to have had conversations with amazing people in the credit union movement and they were all so generous with their time and advice. I took copious notes (often on my iPhone in the corner of a bar so I didn’t miss capturing the wisdom of new friends) and I have a handful of business cards that I will definitely be putting to use when I have a question or need guidance in the future. There are so many great photos and quotes on Twitter under #CrashTheGAC16 and #CUNAGAC that will give you a good idea about what to expect from the sessions, and I already know that I will be revisiting those threads regularly.
As I prepare to head back into the real world, motivated and focused, I leave you with this: Credit unions need you to Crash the GAC. This movement, founded on the idea of people helping people, wants and needs talented young professionals that can carry the torch into the future. If we step up and take these development opportunities seriously, we put ourselves in the position to be credit union leaders that protect members and serve communities. The Crashers have the fire – bring on the torch.
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
- Mark Twain
When was the last time you volunteered?
Volunteering is at its lowest point in over 10 years, but credit unions are all about helping people and not only do they spend millions on charitable contributions, they frequently lead volunteer outings across the country.
Volunteering one’s time over a contribution often can make a greater difference. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on how small companies should give to charities. In the piece, Russell Hodge, managing partner of philanthropy advisory Hodge Group, said, “It’s fine to just write a check, but volunteering and personal involvement provide a greater connection.” There are other great takeaways in the piece (ie: pick causes related to your mission, ask employees for causes, and keep it local).
Earlier this year, I started organizing local volunteer activities about once a month for 2-3 hours and invited local Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) to participate. Click here to read about the events and learn more about the ongoing project.
It’s been awesome so far and can be replicated or scaled by anyone with their coworkers, department, local young professionals or credit union people in your area, chapter project, etc.
How I did it:
First, there are a lot of charities in the community. What issues are important? I surveyed local CUDEs to find out their top issues and also looked at the priorities of our regional United Way office. Hunger, Health, Education and other issues rose to the top. They also fit nicely with the credit union mission of improving the financial well-being of members.
Once you narrow down the issues, finding local nonprofits is easy. I did a little research and also asked local CUDEs for ideas and contacts. such as my regional United Way, All for Good, and Idealist were fantastic resources to find opportunities as well. Now I have a nice list to choose from to change it up every month.
Set up a volunteer event!
Some takeaways from my experiences so far:
Most people want to volunteer and are more likely to volunteer if you make it easy for them (ie: “show up here at this time to help…”). It’s as simple as setting up an opportunity and email colleagues with details. Done!
People are much more likely to volunteer early evening mid-week and want to do something “hands-on” where they feel like they are directly impacting people.
One of the best parts is learning so much about local charities in my community! Usually, every event includes a little tour or orientation by someone and I’m always shocked by little I know, both by the level of need for their services and how much they actually do. Another benefit of this is that it’s great for local credit union people and potential outreach, whether it involves partnership opportunities, donations, etc.
Related to the last point, it’s enlightening to learn more about local charities, but I’ve also met so many awesome, passionate staff and volunteers along the way that have inspired me.
It might seem obvious, but it truly is personally rewarding to volunteer. I know after a few events at one local food pantry, many of us were so touched by the experience, we’ve come back to volunteer on our own many times. I’ve even brought my own family, who also really enjoyed it! I’ve never had anyone leave an event thinking it was a waste of time. Quite the opposite.
Clearly there are many benefits to volunteering and a few hours here and there can have an awesome ripple effect. Don’t forget too that volunteering and credit unions go hand in hand and is consistent with the roots of our movement. Our movement’s early pioneers and leaders volunteered countless hours to get us to where we are today (don’t forget we still have volunteer board of directors too).
There are many nonprofits in your area craving volunteers. Also, think of the financial education opportunities, which is a perfect fit for credit unions! It’s personally rewarding and could also impact your credit union organization positively as well.
An additional benefit for young professionals is that you sometimes might have trouble finding a place to make an impact within your credit union for a number of reasons. Volunteering gives you an avenue to make a difference in the community and positively impact your credit union. By volunteering, you demonstrate your commitment to your credit union values and people recognize that. And don’t forget, it’s still rewarding even if you are volunteering without your credit union’s logo on your shirt!
So take the lead. Take that first step and set up a volunteer event. You don’t need to start a whole series or anything! Just start with one and see where it takes you. What are you waiting for?
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.
A hurricane just flew through Austin, TX. No, not what you’re thinking – it was our Crashers!
We’ve just this moment finished an incredible 5 days. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, taking advantage of their free wifi, trying to note and account for everything that we learned and to give you something to learn too! Where to start… I have no idea. But let’s try this…
So, arriving the day before the symposium kicked off we got our Crashers together and really set out some goals which they decided on themselves. We asked them: “what makes Crash the CU Water Cooler Symposium a success at the end?”. As you can imagine, the conversation took off! When the dust settled though, we decided on 3 key things that our Crashers wanted from their experience:
To network and make realconnections.
Find an idea or innovation which they can take back to their credit union and implement.
Build a support network for themselves.
So – if we achieve these things, Crash CUWCS is a success. What happened next I hear you say (through my secret spy equipment currently positioned conveniently near to your current location….).
The symposium kicked off with a cool networking event at a local arcade / bar. You could feel the energy straight away and we couldn’t wait to get things started. I would love to give you a full overview of every speaker and every session but let’s be honest you don’t have the time to read that and I don’t have the time to write it. So I’m going to leave you with some themes and takeaways from the sessions in a short a form as possible:
Symposium Day 1:
The man who invented Pringles was so proud of his creation he was buried in a Pringles can. What will you do to make you that proud? – Matt Davis.
We have fantastic tellers who we then ask to become sales people. You don’t say congratulations to your dog for being a great dog and then ask them to become a cat! – Shari Storm.
Save water, drink beer. – Linda Bodie.
Savour the time you have now, enjoy life’s moments. Look at life through 30 year goggles. When you look back, what will be those moments you remember? – Andy Janning.
Symposium Day 2:
No one ever started a cooperative who wasn’t pissed off! – William Azaroff.
Take every chance, drop every fear. – Ronaldo Hardy.
Children have the freedom to just ‘do’. Adults seek instruction, let’s rediscover the freedom to be creative. – Brent Dixon.
Mistakes allow us to make our most beautiful creations. – Charlie Trotter.
An idea is nothing unless you get up and do something about it. – Jimmy Marks.
And as quickly as it had started, the CU Water Cooler Symposium was over. But not for us! For those of you that don’t know Crash events – throughout whichever conference we are attending, we run our own separate track alongside to bring something a little extra.
On that note I’d like to thank our guests: Brett and Corlinda Wooden, CUNA Mutual Group, Currency Marketing / It’s a Money Thing, Andy Janning, Larky, Jimmy Marks, Matt Davis, Charlie Trotter, William Azaroff, Gene Blishen and Brent Dixon.
Saturday morning we came back together to talk about whether or not Crash the CU Water Cooler was a success. The answer, a resounding YES! We made connections, we found innovations and within our own group built a support network that will last a life time. I would love to tell you how the conversations on that day went, but I want to throw that challenge to our Crashers – go out. Tell the world what you learned. Make a difference. Share your success, recognise your failures… But most of all, above anything else – don’t forget how lucky you are to be a part of this wonderful thing that we call the Credit Union System, love what you do.
Finally, thanks must go out to Credit Union National Association to making all that we do at The Cooperative Trust possible, to CUNA Mutual Group for supporting the Crash the CU Water Cooler event and to CU Water Cooler themselves for having us.
Until next time, check out our storify to catch up on all things #CrashCUWCS:
MADISON, Wis. (9/9/14) – The Credit Union National Association will support The Cooperative Trust, Filene Research Institute’s young professional initiative, as a chairman’s roundtable benefactor with a commitment of $250,000 over three years.
“In order to successfully position credit unions as forward-thinking, we need to invest in our up-and-coming industry leaders,” said Bill Hampel, interim CUNA President/CEO. “We see our best results from people fully engaged with the credit union philosophy. CUNA wants to drive those opportunities for young professionals.”
The move is part of CUNA’s already-strong commitment to raise awareness with and involvement by young professionals in credit unions. CUNA and its CUNA Councils have provided “crash” opportunities at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference and individual council conferences.
CUNA Councils will be highly involved in CUNA’s role as benefactor.
“This support is part of a bigger strategy, which includes the launch of an official CUNA Young Professionals Committee, demonstrating our commitment to developing and retaining the next generation of leaders to grow, promote and sustain the credit union movement,” said Jill Tomalin, CUNA executive vice president/chief operating officer.
“We are excited to build on our work with CUNA Councils and Filene and provide leadership support to the Cooperative Trust,” she added.
“Our relationship with CUNA really demonstrates our shared commitment to shape and build the future of credit unions,” said James Marshall, The Cooperative Trust manager. “These are indeed exciting times for young professionals who are passionate about credit unions and cooperatives.”