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Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Leadership·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

Crash the GAC 2017!

Your 2017 Crashers!

We’re back once again! We have FIFTY young professionals from all over the U.S.A. heading to Washington D.C. for Crash the GAC! We’re so thankful once more to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) for being our partner and primary supporter to make these magical events happen, all of our Crashers are receiving full attendance scholarships from CUNA. Speaking of Crashers… Come and meet them!

Something new!

In addition, for the CUNA GAC – we are bringing even more political advocacy to our Crash event, including a ‘town hall’ style meeting with Rep. Swalwell and more events for our crashers, to be announced!

Thunderpunch!

Oh… and guess what… THUNDERPUNCH IS BACK! Come and join us on Monday, 2/27 for the best time and one of the ‘go to’ evening events of the CUNA GAC hosted by your Crashers & supported once more by our friends at Larky and SavvyMoneyCheck out the details now!

Herb Wegner Award

This year we have been lucky enough to be the recipients of the National Credit Union Foundation‘s Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program! This is a huge honour and the highest in the credit union system. We’re very humbled by the recognition of The Foundation and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone at the awards dinner at GAC! Read more about why we are being recognised…

Thanks to… 

Crash the GAC wouldn’t be able to happen without an army at our disposal. First, we would thank the talented colleagues we have at Filene Research Institute, Credit Union National Association for being our partner and the Crash the GAC team made up of Ariel Bilskey, Lindsey Hodson, Matt Vance, Andy Janning and James Marshall.

A shout out must be given to the credit union leagues and associations who have helped us promote and recruit for this event, as well as being strong proponents of our program.

Finally, we would like to thank Larky & SavvyMoney for partnering on Thunderpunch once more; we’d like to thank CUNA Mutual Group for their ongoing support; and lastly but certainly not least – Visa, Bethpage FCU, and Alogent for helping to get all our Crashers to the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner at GAC 2017!

Follow Along.

Make sure you follow along on social, on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Our hashtag is #crashthegac17 and you can see our social wall here!

Crash Event·Leadership

My Experience Crashing the Cornerstone Leadership Conference

 

One day at the office I received an email from my manager with information on Crashing the Cornerstone Leadership Conference. I didn’t fully understand what the “Crash” group was, but I knew I was interested in attending the conference to learn more about credit union leadership. I submitted my application but I figured there would be so many applicants I would never actually get accepted. When I received the email stating I was accepted I was so excited! I called my manager, let all my co-workers know, I even texted my mom about it. I still didn’t have a full understanding of what the crash group would be doing, but I was thrilled to attend the conference. The grant provided by Cornerstone CU Foundation gave me the opportunity to participate in this conference that I would otherwise not be able to attend.

During the event, I learned how the crash group originated and what set this group apart from other conference attendees. In addition to attending the leadership conference, our group had extra sessions where we had the opportunity to meet with credit union executives and keynote speakers in a much smaller, more personal setting. This allowed us to gain insight into their personal philosophies which helped them become successful. We got to learn their stories of how they got where they are today and could openly ask questions about anything and everything.

After the daily sessions were over, the crash group stuck together until late in the evening. The socializing revolved largely around credit union culture and leadership strategies. We discussed current issues facing our credit union and what solutions we have developed. We thought about how we could become better advocates for all credit unions, not just our own.  The time spent building relationships with my fellow crashers was invaluable. I made several new contacts that I know I can reach out to in the future for support or ideas.

I returned to work inspired, energized, and motivated to share what I learned and implement new ideas. The entire event was an eye opening experience which allowed me to see a much higher level of the credit union industry. It helped me grow both personally and professionally. I plan to apply for crash events again in the future and I highly recommend any young professionals looking to grow in the credit union industry to do the same!

 

Crash·Crash Event·Leadership

Crash the Leadership Experience!

The opportunity to attend the Crash program taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  I was able to listen to very powerful and relevant presentations.  The speakers inspired me and taught me that all credit unions employees need to stand together:  we should be helping each other, not be in competition with one another.

I now have a better understanding on how credit unions help their communities and play an important role in member’s lives.  Some credit unions are going to schools and teaching students how to save, while others are volunteering on their days off.  Hearing these stories have driven me to persuade my credit union team to get together and do more for our community.

I learned that paying attention to our members will help us attain better customer services skills.  By putting ourselves in our member shoes we will be able to accomplish this.

Another topic we covered at the conference was advocacy.  In the four years I have been at my credit union, I never understood the importance of PAC.  I feel encouraged to learn more so that I may help my members get involved.

I came out of my comfort zone and was able to network, meet amazing people, and build relationships.  It was remarkable to network with young professionals who feel as passionate as I do and who have similar goals for the future.

Another take away from this conference was my new understanding of how mentorship works.  Mentorship doesn’t mean scheduling a meeting to discuss a particular topic, it means having someone that can offer advice and be there to support you at any given time.  This leadership conference helped me understand that being a leader doesn’t require you to be a certain age or to have a degree.  We need to let the people who inspire us know that we appreciate them and their wisdom that they offer.  James was meant to lead this crash experience- he is fantastic and intelligent.  I will forever be grateful for this experience!

Crash Event·Leadership

Crash The Cornerstone Leasership Conference and Expo 2016

When I found out that I had the opportunity to be a crasher for The Cornerstone Leadership Conference and Expo I was filled with a few emotions. I was excited, confused, and filled with anxiety! After meeting a few of my fellow crashers it all made sense why we were picked, because so many conversations on what we do at our credit unions sparked. We all love what we do! Going in I didn’t really know what to expect since I’d never been to a conference before. I thought I would be spending the week taking numerous notes and learning how to be a great leader, but that was not the case. I found the experience to be more eye opening, self-developing, and empowering. Being able to crash the conference gave us young professionals a voice. During breakout sessions we were able to voice our opinions. It definitely helped me realize that I things that I do and don’t do have impact so I shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.  
Hearing from Dick Ensweiler, Karen Hart, and many others on what they do and encouraging us to reach out to them also helped me realized that they don’t just think of us as little kids and really want to know what we have to say, because we are the future. They helped paint a picture of what we can and do for our members and the community. I was jotting down so many notes so that when I got back to the office I could spill all these ideas on how my credit union can be more involved. Karen spoke on a meeting she held where everyone made peanut butter sandwiches that were later given out to the homeless. My credit union is literally down the street from a homeless shelter and it would be awesome for us to do the same, if not something similar to that.
Leaving the experience I have so many ideas and ways to try and get more of my colleagues involved in the movement. They just don’t know all the great things that we can do outside of our day to day tasks. I plan to try and get them to go to chapter meetings and participate in charity events so that they can open their eyes and see that we work in, if not, one of the best fields. 
I feel like being a part of the crashers I’ve made a bond with some great people and I now have a network of go to people whenever I get stuck or need ideas. From the day we met to the last morning I learned so much about what they do for their members and staff to have them more engaged. And it’ll be great to see a familiar face at future meetings and conferences.
I would recommend every young professional to apply for a crash event, it’s something you won’t regret. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great experience.

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:

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.

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