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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!

Conferences·Crash·Ideas·Innovation·Meetups·Professional Development

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.”

Business Development·Crash·Crash Event·CUNA Councils·Professional Development

Crashing the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference

#CrashMBD16 was quite the experience to say the least. It was packed with great networking experiences, excellent speakers and invaluable knowledge.

  • Crash Sessions
    • We were the inaugural crashers of the MBD council conference led by our fearless leader James Marshall of Filene Research institute. Along with attending the conference, crashers get the opportunity to meet and network with some of the top leaders in our industry, and get additional “crash” sessions that with special guest speakers. These were some of my favorite sessions because we get to have intimate thought-provoking conversations with a few of the speakers that hosted their own breakout sessions, the executive council and some were previous crashers at other events. Leadership, Technology and the Cooperative Principles were just a few of the topics that we tackled as we listened, learned and exchanged our own individual experiences from our own credit unions. The crash experience puts things in perspective since we were all from different states at credit unions of different sizes, it exposes us to a bigger picture of the common challenges we can face and more importantly it allowed us use cooperation to come up with potential ideas and solutions that other might be implementing that we could bring back to our own institutions.

                                   Crashers at the Diamond Awards

 

  • Keynote Speakers
    • Johnny “Cupcakes” Earl
      • Johnny had a great presentation about building your personal brand. His was specifically a T-Shirt company with storefronts disguised as cupcake shops. He did this in an attempt to really stand out in a saturated market and needless to say it was a huge success for him. Financial institutions all have the same products for the most part, so how can credit unions stand out. One of the best things we can do is have our members become Brand Ambassadors to inspire Brand Loyalty. We do this by giving our members new experiences and positive memories that people want to share with the world. Johnny was able to grow his brand virally by the word of mouth of his customers that had unique experiences when they came into his store and I believe that we can do the same thing with credit unions.

                                                        Johnny Earl with Crashers

 

  • Scott Stratten
    • Scott is the President of Unmarketing. A terrific speaker who uses wit and humor to get his point across to get people to “stop marketing and start engaging.” He refers to this as authentic marketing. We need to realize that we are able to connect to people easier than ever thanks to social media. Social media isn’t just a way to communicate to the mass audience but rather a way to reach people individually. Every interaction moves the pivot point of the member experience either up or down, positively or negatively. Stability is not the goal, continuous change is the goal. Credit Unions have an advantage because we serve our community; we know our community and we need to position ourselves to be our community’s first choice when they have a need.

 

     

             Scott Stratten presenting                                       Scott Stratten with crashers

 

  • Overall Takeaways (From myself and fellow crashers)
    • No matter how big or small we can make a difference and an impact!
    • Be coachable, you don’t know everything.
    • When building the brand be compassionate and genuine. Give members a sense of ownership of THEIR brand.
    • Tap into your network to help brainstorm ideas and get different perspectives.
    • Be transformational no transactional.
    • A hand written note can go a long way.
    • Stay humble, stay hungry.
    • Give people a memory.
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.

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

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