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Connecting passion with member service at Crash Idaho 2016

If credit union members experienced a noticeable uptick in the service they received on Monday, May 16, 2016, leaders from Climb Idaho might be able to explain why.

“Nothing stokes the passion and enthusiasm for member service and the credit union movement like a crash event. It’s just that simple,” said Jake Denning, chair of Climb Idaho and LPL Financial Advisor with Beehive Credit Union. “Once you connect your career with the fundamental principles of financial cooperatives, your mission becomes clear and your passion becomes palpable.”

Crash Idaho brought 21 representatives from 11 of the state’s credit unions to “respectfully disrupt” the Annual Meeting with the primary goals of education and networking, and according to the crashers, the event was wildly successful.

“As a Millennial in the credit union movement, I found purpose in a cause bigger than myself at Crash ICUL,” said Brandon Allen, crasher and branch manager with Clarity Credit Union. “It allowed me to see why Credit Unions are key to the financial success in any community.”

“For me, Crash was a three-day adventure, where we were given opportunities to network, brainstorm, spread passion, and learn from some of the best and most influential people,” said Paul Lucariello, vice chair of Climb Idaho and regional manager with Pioneer Credit Union. “It took my love for credit unions and the movement to the next level. We were able to take ideas from that week to not only enhance Climb but to also start locally with our individual credit union so we can get our young professionals involved in the movement with passion and motivation.”

Melissa Thometz, branch manager with CapEd Credit Union, listens as Shane Berger, president and CEO of Beehive Credit Union, answers questions at the CEO Roundtable crash event.

“As a branch manager who is tasked with meeting loan and account goals, I can never forget what’s most important – making a difference in our members’ lives,” said Melissa Thometz, crasher and branch manager with CapEd Credit Union. “It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, but our members matter more than any task or goal.”

Thometz, who also represented Idaho at Crash the GAC 2016, said her recent crash experiences have helped clarify and solidify the cooperative nature of the credit union movement.

“Despite my knowledge about the cooperative principles, I still saw other CUs as competition,” she said. “Crash drove home the point that we aren’t competing with each other, but we should be supporting one another.”

One of the primary goals of all crash events is to strengthen the industry’s professional network across Idaho, which serves two core purposes: leadership development and retention of top talent. To wit, the annual turnover rate of those involved in crash events since the inception of Climb Idaho – the group responsible for hosting the event – is a mere 4 percent.

“I have never attended a professional event more beneficial in networking than the league meetings,” said Cameron Topliff, branch manager at ISU Credit Union. “The events of the league meeting helped me develop a deeper connection with the credit union movement.”

While the networking opportunities and cooperative movement themes were strong, the crash program specifically focused on leadership development, storytelling and the central role of member service in the movement.

“I loved hearing the crashers tell stories of how CUs are helping members overcome financial hardship,” said Nick Fugal, executive committee member and treasurer with Climb Idaho. “I enjoyed the passion the crashers had for the movement and their motivation to further our cause!”

For 2017 and beyond, the expectations and results from Climb Idaho events will only strengthen.

Crash Idaho 2016 attendees along with James Marshall, cooperative trust manager with Filene Research Institute.

“We have an incredible group of developing leaders, but we’re only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what we can do for the movement and, most importantly, for our members,” said Brian Rich, executive committee member and secretary with Climb Idaho. “By retaining top talent and focusing the passion and drive of Idaho’s most ambitious young leaders, we’re securing the future of our industry and guaranteeing our state’s credit union members will enjoy the greatest member experience we can offer.”

Climb Idaho – created in 2014 – enlisted the help of Filene Research Institute to create the crash program for the 20 crashers. James Marshall, cooperative trust manager, emceed the event and oversaw the education/training components of the crash.

“When it comes to crash events, there’s really only one person in the country to seek out,” Denning said. “James has hosted dozens of crash events and with Climb Idaho still in its early years, we knew his expertise would be invaluable in helping build our statewide movement.”

Marshall said he was impressed with what he saw from Climb Idaho and expects member benefits to grow from the involvement.

“Idaho credit unions are in wonderful hands; it was fantastic to see the passion, enthusiasm and all round determination of the Idaho Crashers to develop credit unions,” he said. “Over the course of the few days we spent together, it was evident that this group has a commitment to not only Idaho credit unions, but Idaho credit union members.”

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:

LEARN.

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.

CONNECT.

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.

GROW.

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.

Change·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·CUNA·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·Professional Development

Dear Future Crashers…

Me outside the exhibit hall for the CUNA GAC!

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Is James Marshall as British as he seems? Even more so.
  4. What happened at Thunderpunch 2016? Not telling. (Yes, this party is that awesome.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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!

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!

Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the ACUC·CUNA·Filene·Finance·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

Denver, we’re coming for you!

In just under 6 weeks we’ll be in Denver, CO. where we will join credit union professionals from all over the world at the co-chosted World Credit Union Conference and America’s Credit Union Conference by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Remember, everything we do is made possible thanks to CUNA! Crash Denver is happening thanks to Fiserv.

We’ll be calling our little excursion; Crash Denver. At Crash Denver, our Crashers will be put through their paces to help build a new credit union business model aimed at the next generation of consumers! This is an exciting opportunity for our group to really put something together which can have real impact in our industry.

We have also been warmly invited to join WOCCU’s World Young Credit Union People program for their events – so our Crashers are certainly going to be working hard!

We will have a reception on Tuesday night of the conference too, which all are welcome to attend. Watch this space!

In the mean time, why don’t you look below to meet our Crashers:

Abram Rodriguez, Border Federal Credit Union, Texas

Alycia Kaiser, Limestone Federal Credit Union, Michigan

Amanda Carrozza, Eagle One Federal Credit Union, Pennsylvania

Amberlee Payne, High Plains Federal Credit Union, New Mexico

Chad Maheux, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Connecticut

Dainelle Riley, USF Federal Credit Union, Florida

Denice Saucedo, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, Illinois

Ryan Manis, Kohler Credit Union, Wisconsin

Shelley, Ennis, New Castle County School Employees FCU, Pennsylvania

Spence LaCroix, Jefferson Financial Credit Union, Louisiana

CFO·Crash·Crash Event·CUNA·CUNA Councils·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·News Release

Future CFO’s Heading to New Orleans!

Once again, we are working with the CUNA CFO Council and Twenty Twenty Analytics to bring you Crash the CUNA CFO Council Conference.

Last year, we took a bright group to Las Vegas, this year we’re taking a bright group to New Orleans. Our Crashers this year will be put through their paces using business model generation theory to help build something, something that will help in developing a whole new generation of credit union CFO’s.

After scouring the country, we found a group of 10 incredible young credit union professional. And here they are:

Alyssa LaLonde, Limestone Federal Credit Union

Amber Ball, St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union

AnnMarie Buglione, Community Choice Credit Union

Ibrahim Fall, New York University Federal Credit Union

Jordan Kowalkowski, Filer Credit Union

Lindsey McMillen, ORNL Federal Credit Union

Luke Soper, San Diego County Credit Union

Matt Fuller, Affinity Plus FCU

Patrick Gross, Sioux Empire Federal Credit Union

Ricky Hasan, West Community Credit Union

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