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Crash the 1·Lending·Professional Development·Updates

Crashed the ’13 CUNA Lending Conference

Our version of how the West was won!



I’m home now relaxing on my couch, and mentally reviewing the 2013 CUNA Lending Conference.  I’m sure everyone’s expecting this article to be a little gushy, incredibly biased, and a little “Hooray, Crashers”, and that is exactly what you are going to get.  What a blast it was!

Day One

I met up with the Crash team (Mike London, Ellen Kohout, Allison Kretovic, Stacey Johnson and Brittney Wensley)    early Sunday morning for breakfast, introductions and to receive our volunteer T-shirts and ball caps.  We boarded the bus with other conference attendees and vendors, and made our way to the ICM Food & Clothing Bank.  “ICM” formerly “Interfaith Cooperative Ministries” currently serves 150 families six days a week.  We had individuals from cooperatively-owned credit unions from across the nation converging in a single spot to help out another cooperative.  This stuck with me as I am a big fan of the cooperative movement – not just the credit union movement.  Cooperative Principle #6 was in full effect, y’all!

After the volunteer event we made it back to the resort and Mike London instructed us “rookie” Crashers to prepare for the orientation that evening.  I took “prepare” to mean “nap it up,” and that’s exactly what I did.

Orientation arrived and everyone was well-rested and still buzzing from the feel-good vibes the volunteer event created.  We were introduced to a roomful of CEO’s, vice presidents and other upper management credit unionists, and then played a little Human Bingo – a fun break-the-ice game.  The festivities spilled into the adjacent ballroom where dinner and drinks were served, and the mingling continued.

Day Two & Three

Breakfast was served at 7am each morning promptly followed by keynote addresses from Josh Linkner who shared five ideas to drive creativity (Day Two), Mike Schenk who provided an economic forecast (Day Three) and J.B. Orrechia of SavvyMoney who provided insight into household financial management and how it relates to credit unions.  The breakout sessions commenced, and everyone would scatter to sessions ranging from MBL’s to mortgage lending to becoming a Jedi master in Excel (props to Mike!).  Day two wrapped with a western-themed casino night which brought out a number of interesting cowboy and cowgirl costumes and photo opps (see above)!  Day three wrapped with an evening on our own which meant a very nice dinner with the management team behind SavvyMoney.

From left: Ellen Kohout, Stacey Johnson, Brittney Wensley, Dan Roam, Zac Jones and Michael London.

Day Four

Breakfast kicked the day off and then we were treated to a rather engaging General Session held by West Region Director Edwin Chow of the CFPB.  He fielded a number of questions from the audience, and took questions after his presentation.  This included my inquiry about the CFPB’s stand on Bitcoin to which he responded his agency is in “wait and see” mode.

After a brief break, Dan Roam, best-selling author and speaker, discussed solving problems visually, and using pictures to sell your solutions.  Dan’s session, the final session of the conference, was captivating and enlightening.

The conference was adjourned, handshakes, hugs and smiles were exchanged and even a few photobombs were witnessed.  All in all, this opportunity granted all attendees a few days of education, new experiences and most of all, ample occasions for networking.

Business Development·Crash the 1

Brett Wooden is Trailblazing

Last week, fellow Crasher, Brett Wooden was announced as the 2nd recipient for CU Time’ Trailblazers 40 Below!

This wasn’t the first time we had a Crasher selected into the Trailblazers 40 Below (Brent Dixon was the first to be nominated earlier this month), but it sure felt good to have another Crasher chosen!

Long before Brett Crashed the One with us in July 2010, he had been busy paving his own way in his role as Business Development Manager (at Unitus Community Credit Union).  His idea to bring an iPad into the Business Development world has not only taken off at his credit union, but has gained lots of attention throughout credit union land.  You can read more about the success of his Technicolor iPadon the Credit Union Times’ site .

I also encourage you to check out Brett’s video, where he gives networking tips, talks about his favorite apps and what kinds of risks credit unions should embark on.

Congrats, Brett!!

Crash the 1


(Originally posted at The Credit Union Warrior)

There is a reason you keep working for credit unions.

That reason has changed with time, no doubt. But there’s a reason.

The people who I love working with, and for, in the movement have reasons that sound a lot like these:

“I believe in what we stand for.” Or “I like helping people.” Or “I want to make a difference.” Or “this is fun!”

This group could help consumers from any desk, laptop, or setting in any industry. This group measures success in terms of impact, not in accountant speak. This group doesn’t need credit unions. Credit unions need them.

There are other reasons people work for credit unions. Their reasons sound different. Their reasons are sprinkled with descriptors like “trapped,” “stuck,” “scared,” “it’s all I know,” “the job market” and “I’m the [fill in leadership position of your choice], for crying out loud.”

This group has seen new ideas fail, knows how hard change is, and fights like the dickens to avoid it. This group is toxic and all around us.

My reason for working for credit unions has changed dramatically over the years. “I don’t know what all of this credit union stuff is, but this job description sounds like fun” quickly turned into “I believe in what we do.” Later, my new “I want to make a difference” reason morphed into “I can make a difference.”

I think I have a new reason.

Over the past several years, many amazing opportunities have presented themselves to me. In some cases, I created those opportunities with hard work, sacrifices in my personal life, and a naive insistence that I matter. In many other cases, serendipity gets the credit. Still, the major source of opportunity in my career has been the belief others have placed in me.

My latest opportunity was being able to attend the 1 Conference with the Crash the 1 group. The reasons these young adults “crashed” varied, I’d imagine. They came from all over the globe from credit unions large and small. They brought many different disciplines, education levels, and experience. Most important of all, however, was another attribute they brought: naiveté.

I think this struck me the hardest when I heard Tim McAlpine and Gene Blishen close the Crash event. Gene, after all of these years, is still naive enough to think small credit unions can do huge things. Tim is still naive enough to think he can create a youth movement that will add 1,000,000 members to credit unions in his career. They’re not just naive…they’re right.

The optimism of some of my favorite people in credit unions has been poisoned by cynicism. The lumps of the last several years have jaded even the most impervious credit union spirits. The same folks that used to ask “why can’t we?” are telling each other why “that can’t be done.” The regulatory and economic environment has created a leadership crisis.

The reason I keep working for credit unions is because I don’t want to grow up. The people that believe in me haven’t provided me opportunity because of experience, or title, or politics. They’ve given me opportunity because they think I’m crazy and naive enough to do something with it.

“Crashing” has nothing to do with entitlement, or instant gratification, or unfair opportunity. Rather, Crash is a reminder to the old guard that what we need more than anything right now is inexperience, energy, optimism, and a self-assured belief that maybe, just maybe, we can change for the better.

What is the reason you keep working for credit unions?

Crash the 1

[Crash the 1] A Crasher’s Sendoff

I asked Kelsey Balcaitis to write a send of to all the new crashers. Kelsey was apart of Crash the GAC and pretty much the instigator for all things fun during out trip. Without further ado….

The Crashover

“I’d like to…I’d like to say something…something I prepared.”

Congrats on being selected as a Crasher. Welcome to the Crasher “Wolfpack”.

I was fortunate enough to Crash the GAC in February 2010. When I arrived in Washington, I had no idea how much I would learn and gain from that five day experience. The whole experience was jam packed with events, little sleep, and learning. But it was completely worth it.

The hostel was, to say the least, interesting. Although it wasn’t the Ritz or the Hilton, staying in the hostel helped make the experience that much more unique. (As much as the hostel helped make the experience, I would guess the GAC Crashers are a little jealous that you will be staying in a hotel. Without bunk beds. With a normal bathroom. So enjoy it.) Being some of the youngest GAC attendees, we got a lot of stares the first day. Attendees were confused why there were young adults running around the place. It was weird having so many people look at and whisper about you, but we knew we were doing something different and getting attention for it.

During one of the general sessions, we received a shout out from Gigi Hyland. It was amazing. Everyone turned and looked in the back corner and saw us wearing our Crasher shirts. The rest of the day, we had random people coming up, asking us about the Crash, and inquiring on how they can get some of their employees involved. This was the best recognition. People started to see that we were more than Crashers, but we were motivated young adults passionate about credit unions.

Now, as you get ready to Crash the 1 in Las Vegas, I wanted to provide you with some Rules of Crashing.

1st rule of Crashing: Listen.

Absorb as much as you can. Write things down. Grab materials. Take it all in.

2nd Rule: Attend as many events as possible.

You may not get a lot of sleep, if any (caffeine will be a good friend), but you never know when this opportunity will present itself again. This includes networking events. Some of the best times were while talking with the other Crashers about different things we were working on, ideas, and issues we were facing.

3rd Rule: Ask questions.

Seek out people, especially those with more experience, and ask them questions. Make connections. Get business cards. I’ve followed up with a lot of people I met while Crashing on things they were doing at their credit unions in the hopes of starting something similar at mine.

4th Rule: Have fun.

I mean, you are in Vegas. Just don’t lock yourself on the roof of Caesar’s or steal a tiger. But do enjoy every second. You are going to learn so much from this experience.

Crashing was one of the best things I’ve done careerwise. It reinforced everything I believed in with credit unions and reminded me why I do what I do. I took back a lot of ideas and have started to implement them in my job and at my credit union.

I can’t wait to hear all about the Crash the 1. I hope you gain as much from that experience as I did from Crashing the GAC.

* Kelsey Balcaitis, GAC ’10 Crasher

PS. If you see CUNA’s Elvis, be sure to say hello ?

Crash the 1

[Crash the 1] Thunderpunch

As previously mentioned, we’re throwing a party in Vegas and we’d like our friends to come. Here are the details:

Click here to RSVP on Facebook. We’ll send a message out the day of of with the specific info to the party suite.

And if you can’t make it, you can still be there in spirit by keeping up with The Feed.

Many many props to the razor sharp Jimmy Marks for giving our party a name, and, as anyone who’s watched The Neverending Story knows, saving our life in the process.

Crash the 1

[Crash the 1] We Love PSCU FS, Tap Into The Feed, Agenda Updates, & A Party

I tried to think of a witty story to lead this post off with, but I’m squirming in my seat like a hyperactive 5 year old hopped up on jelly beans, so I’m just going to tell you:

PSCU Financial Services is sponsoring every single Crasher to attend the 1 CU Conference!

One of our core drivers for the Crash project is the pursuit of inclusion and integration – to blurry the borders of age that fragment our industry – so that young people and veterans can learn from and be inspired by each other.

This makes that infinitely more possible than if we were to remain a subdivded group from the rest of the attendees. So obviously, this is a little bit of a dream come true for our group, and we can’t thank Tony Hill and the rest of PSCU Financial Services for making it a reality.

In addition to constantly sending good karma and love in PSCU’s direction, the Crashers will be covering the conference on behalf of them through a combination of text, photos, and video that you can keep up with through the newly-launched Crash Feed.

The Feed

The Feed coverage will be a collective effort. Crashers will share Flip cams to document their own stories and snag conversation with interesting people throughout the week.

We’ll also be pulling every mention of #crashthe1 on Twitter, so if you have a Crasher encounter and want to add to our feed with a snide or loving tweet, please do.

Updated Agenda

I just updated/reshuffled our agenda to reflect the news. Click here to check out what our week looks like. All of our sessions will happen in room 301 of the MGM Convention Center.

Here’s the breakdown of Crash sessions who’s times have been officially locked down:

  • “A Story About Founding a Credit Union in Macedonia” with Eleonora Zgonjanin, Director of FULM Savings House in Skopje, Macedonia
  • “Cooperatives: A Better Kind of Corporation” with Paul Hazan, CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association
  • “Philanthropy Can Be Strategic,” with Valerie Breunig, Executive Director of WOCCU’s Worldwide Foundation
  • “The Future of Credit Unions” with Gigi Hyland, Board Member of the NCUA, and Gary Kohn, Senior Policy Advisor with NCUA
  • “Credit Union Global Development,” with Marlene Shiels, CEO of Scotland’s Capital CU and WOCCU board member

We still have a few sessions to schedule (like those with our Canadian buddies Tim McAlpine and Gene Blishen), those will be finalized next week.

Also, We’re Throwing A Party

At one point after the GAC, Matt Vance said “You know, we should really throw our own networking thing.”

So we’re gonna. Tuesday, July 13th, we’ve rented out the 1674 sq ft H Suite (I don’t know if there are more than one) in Mandalay Bay. The party will start at 8:30pm and proceed until we can’t feel our legs.

Speaking of, we need an epic name for the party and are wide open for suggestions.

Either way: if you’re in Vegas, BRING YOURSELF.

So Again

Thanks so much to our friends at PSCU for making this an even more memorable experience!

And to the rest of you: I absolutely cannot wait to see you all in a week.

Crash the 1

We just want you to know how excited we are

We’re just over a week away from Vegas and we have lots of big announcements – about the event and otherwise. We have to wait until later today to tell you the news.

But to give you a glimpse of how excited we are, here’s this:

Also, this from Josh:

Big news soon.

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