Gen Y·Lending·Professional Development
As soon as I found out I was headed to Miami for the CUNA Lending Council Conference as a Crasher, it was as if Will Smith and his beaches full of bikini clad women had taken up residence in my head. In Upstate New York as soon as October hits we break out the snowsuits and bury the swim suits and beach chairs into the creepy back corners of our attics and basements. I was lucky enough to be chosen along with four other Crashers to “work” in Miami! Add to that the fact that one week before we were all set to leave while Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast, plunging 8 million people into darkness and obliterating homes.
So from my perspective I was super lucky. What an amazing opportunity to join together with my peers and more seasoned members of the industry to talk shop, learn new approaches, and reinforce the crazy cool bond between credit unions.
Our amazing journey began Nov. 3rd where we all converged on Miami from the far reaches of the country. The Crashers represented 5 different states, 5 different credit unions, and 5 different perspectives of what to expect from the 4 day conference. The message conveyed to us prior to arrival was: Rest up Sunday morning starts real early!
Sunday morning we were privileged to personify the credit union creed of “people helping people.” Bright and early we teamed up with numerous other credit union peeps and made our way the the Miami Children’s Hospital. As a group we came bearing donations of toys and activity books as well as an enthusiasm that I think is unique to credit union volunteers. While some of the Crashers – I won’t name names – seemed to be a little worse for the wear after hitting the hot spots with Crasher alums the night before, we were all in good spirits as we got down and dirty in the butterfly garden helping the grounds crew clean up trash and leaves. Having started our day with a tour of the hospital and a presentation on how our efforts changed so many lives, it was easy to ignore the heat and the potential creepy crawlies one might encounter when working out doors. We all wanted to put our best effort into the clean up.
After getting cleaned up we were able to spend some time on the all important beach while we prepared for the onslaught of information we were about to receive. Sunday evening we attended an orientation for first time attendees. It was at this point I personally became a little awestruck. Just this small sampling of people represented CEOs, loan officers, marketing people, long time credit union staffers, and new comers (like me). I firmly believe that in any other place this small sampling would’ve separated off into groups based on these “designations”, instead the Executive Committee of the Lending Council had us all playing people BINGO, yelling, laughing and getting to know each other.
Monday morning started what I call the marathon of sessions, starting off with a presentation from Brett King (if you don’t know who that is find out, you certainly start thinking a little differently). From there it became a choose your own adventure story in real life. Four sessions a day, 8 topics to choose from and absolutely no way to go wrong. Every session was filled with an overwhelming amount of new and exciting ideas and methods. At some points I found myself thinking…wow, I feel so undereducated. But then I realized the people attending these sessions are from bigger credit unions, have been on the job longer, and they still see the value of honing their skills and trying new things.
As Crashers we were given a project to work on and present to members of the Executive Committee. We were asked to evaluate attitudes and behaviors of Gen Y towards debt, savings, and financial institutions. The challenge was daunting, but with the limited time we had, I can safely say we did quite a job on it. Using our Facebook networks we pushed out a 10 question survey with a goal of at least 30 responses from our family and friends. When we finally pulled the data in we had over 150 responses from a wide rage of ages, education levels, and employment statuses. What we saw was surprising in some ways. Without follow up questions it was difficult to draw too many conclusions but the graphs showed the Gen Y seemed to behave in a way that seems to mirror the behavior of other generations. Tuesday night after some really fast and beautiful work by Mike (our fearless leader), we presented our findings to two members of the Executive Committee.
Knowing that our work was done we were able to enjoy our last night in Miami networking, processing all of our new knowledge, and basking in the wonderful weather. Wednesday morning dawned with packing, flight checking (I personally had to find a way around La Guardia which was barely a week after being under water being pounded with a snow storm), and some fun low key sessions. First was Behavioral Economics, which for nerds like me was really exciting and interesting. To close out the conference we got to hear Lt. Col. Robert Darling speak about his part in the response to the attacks on 9/11. It was an amazing end to an incredible experience.
And so I wrap up this incredibly lengthy word vomit with a great big THANK YOU to the people involved in facilitating our Crash experience. It was an invaluable opportunity that I was lucky to share with four other amazing Crashers.