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Only a marketer could do this to us. Lure us into buying 25 different “styles” of black socks. If I had to do it all over again I would have loaded up on one style. And then when they started to die – load up again – on ONE style. But it’s so hard to do. Think of the wall of styles you’re accosted with at any decent store. All of them individually displayed on their cute little hangars, with a thin piece of tissue stuffed inside so that, like a dog, you are enchanted by the sound of the crinkling. If you did want to load up on just one style you would look like a hog. Destroying the display by leaving a gaping hole and a lonely silver post where the lovely socks used to be.
Last week I gave up matching my black socks. I’m done. Now I just reach in the chaotic drawer and grab two. After all, 50% of the sock is covered by my shoe and the rest by my pant leg. Who cares?
I guess it’s because I’m getting older and realizing that life is just too damn short to sit on a Saturday afternoon squinting, holding up socks in the natural light, laying them side by side, checking their textures to make sure I get exactly two alike to marry. And then the disappointment and mounting frustration of the stray socks.
I’ve noticed that I have more and more of these since I got two dogs……hmmmmm…….someday I’ll find a bounty of black under my fridge. I’m sure of it.
Being a born and bred Oregonian I can’t throw recyclables away. Bottles, cans, plastic containers, cardboard. It’s like a forcefield has grown around my trash can if I even get near it with one of these. Of course the Catholic guilt solidifies the decision.
Where I live now – Cochiti Lake, NM – there is no curbside recycling. We have to haul it 30 miles into town (Santa Fe) and we do. Even though it’s kind of funny balancing the carbon footprint of burning fossil fuel to recycle but whatever. I got over it. So can you.
Last November I had surgery to replace two ruptured discs in my neck. The procedure is called ACDF. I had the option of using a couple of chunks of my hip bone as new discs OR I could use a recycled bone. I decided to go green and received a donation from two deceased people. Cadaver bones that replaced the ruptured discs. Someone was kind enough to donate their parts.
After surgery the nurse gave me a pamphlet that had two stickers on it – the code numbers for the two people that now have a place in my heart and my neck. I had the option of writing their families a letter (anonymously) to thank them.
So today I wrote this letter.
Dear Donor Family,
I am writing to thank you for the kind and generous gift of tissue donation* from your loved one. I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know that your decision to donate has changed my life in a positive way.
I needed a tissue transplant because I had two ruptured discs in my neck which caused me excruciating nerve pain and loss of mobility in my left arm.
Since the transplant, which involved removing my ruptured discs and replacing it with the donation, I have been able to return to full capacity. No more pain.
For that I am grateful to you and your loved one. My family and I will always remember your act of kindness and generosity.
*not cool to refer to it as a cadaver bone.
If you are not an organ/tissue donor – please consider it. I mean when you’re dead – you’re either going to bury or burn your parts – so why not leave them for the next generation.
Thank you for listening.
I used to make Christmas cards every year. Depending on the complexity of my design it could take weeks for me to complete. I know people enjoyed them because they saved them. You can’t throw out a handmade card!
I believe there is a direct correlation between the number of cards you send and the number you receive. And I can say for certainty that if they are handmade your receive level is often greater.
But that was years ago and several moves ago. I don’t plan on sending any Christmas cards this year except to a few family members and very close friends- and you know who you are. I’m too busy and not feeling it anymore.
To date I’ve received two Christmas cards. Now I know it’s still early but I don’t expect to receive too many more.
PERSONAL SIDEBAR/SHOUT OUT: Dan, I sincerely hope I get the annual photo Christmas card from you though. I treasure those.
I wonder what the average age of a Christmas card buyer/mailer is?? Probably older than the average age of a credit union member (48).
I cannot imagine my 27 year-old niece picking up a box of cards at the store and taking the time to address them (which also means collecting mailing addresses) buying postage stamps and finding a post office to put them in the system.
So anywho……it begs the question: “Are Christmas Cards Dying?” Has Social Media negated the need for an annual touch base?
It’s becoming harder and harder to find the original credit union stories. So many CUs have eliminated them from the “About Us” section of their website. But I remember the story of Portland Teachers CU. In 1932, sixteen school teachers pooled six dollars each to create PTCU (today called OnPoint). In 79 years PTCU has grown to serve 244,000 members with assets of just over $3 billion. Not bad.
Now let me be on point. We all started with about the same amount of money. I don’t know if there was a credit union that started out with $50 million dollars or anywhere near that. These were all tiny upstarts. Yesterday The Financial Brand posted an interesting article about the future of the industry – 20 years out. Like so many, the prediction is mass consolidation and the end to the small credit union.
The show was meant to debate a hot topic that appeared in the CU Times last week. GTE Federal Credit Union changed their name to GTE Financial. Although I applaud the fact they did not kick their sponsor name to the curb (like Portland Teachers did) – to drop the credit union moniker was a point of contention with me.
During the discussion the largest credit union in the world was mentioned. Navy Federal Credit Union. Their “About Us” page says they were founded in 1933 with seven members and today serve over 3 million members with assets of almost $50 billion – with a “B”. That makes OnPoint look small. They no longer serve only the Navy. The serve all branches of the military and yet they remain true to their founders in both the brand “Navy” and the category “credit union.” Sarah said they grew because they had tremendous resources and that most small credit unions don’t have those.
Here’s where I get confused. The 1930′s was the boom age of credit unions. The majority of credit unions still standing were founded well over 60 years ago. And if they all started with a group of wide-eyed optimists plunking down six bucks each – how is it they all aren’t huge?
To be fair – Navy has a great field of membership because every year there are new recruits. A fresh batch. Many credit unions that were founded by say, the railroad workers, didn’t have it so lucky. But in the 80′s we were allowed to expand to family members and retirees. That’s how credit unions like Boeing boomed.
And after HR 1151 passed in 1998 – credit unions were allowed to have multiple common bonds. Anyone who lives, works or worships became the phrase that pays. But did it? Credit unions began to change their names in an effort to show the world that anyone could join. And when all of the good ones were taken we shifted to synthesized or pharmaceutical names. “Ask you doctor if Aventa is right for you.”
My dear friend Gene Blishen posted a brilliant blog yesterday in response to all this madness. He cited the Financial Brand article and the “shrinkage” of credit unions in America. Here’s a quote:
“I believe the key component to losing credit unions is their own belief that they are no longer relevant to their membership based on criteria that they inherited from outside sources. They begin to drink the wrong coloured Kool-Aid.” He goes on to say “By following the Pied Piper of ‘bigger is better’ they forget the culture they have and the history they have come from. To put it bluntly, they just give up…”
I would hate to tell one of the 16 teachers in Portland that put up what was a ton of money in 1932 that their vision was in vain. It’s too hard for a small credit union to stay in business in 2012. What with all the regulation, and technology, and competition.
Because it was so easy in 1932 – right?
I love a good spa. And I’m not gonna lie, Mark loves a good spa too. He’s my spa boy. So when we had the opportunity to go to the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Hotel and Spa last week-end – let’s just say – hell yes! (see picture below)
The Tamaya is situated on sacred land owned by the Santa Ana Pueblo and is managed by Hyatt. When I am smitten with a brand I have to infiltrate and learn. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the head of food and beverage – Kristin on this trip. I wanted to find out how they were able to create such a peaceful, restful, zen-like atmosphere.
It’s simple, she said, we want it to feel like your home. Not a fancy hotel. The lobby is one giant living room. A big fireplace on either end with overstuffed couches and chairs and coffee tables and games and pillows. Not hotel furniture – real furniture. We ate breakfast at their buffet – instead of those big metal chafing dishes, the food was served in Le Creuset pans. Just like I have at home. The soap dish is a piece of flagstone – very artsy fartsy – like I have at home.
Then she shared the best part- where do THEY get their inspiration?
Ashley Furniture. Yup – she said periodically they will walk through their “home show room” and get staging ideas for their Hyatt home. It’s really the little details that make it special. Like the tchotchkes on the end table. Oh, and the pictures in my room were not bolted down!
After you read this go step outside and walk into your credit union lobby – how does it make you feel? Does it resemble a doctor’s office from the 80′s? I sometimes wonder if that’s where we got our inspiration. Sign in at the receptionist, sit on a hard chair under fluorescent lighting, read old magazines and wait for someone to call your name. Then you go back in the examination room and bare your soul (aka apply for a loan).
Now I want you to go to a spa…..and imagine the possibilities.
I named one of my dogs Dexter Morgan Wymore Sadowski. And I realized today that I seldom call him Dexter. In fact I only refer to him by his formal name when I introduce him. Here’s what I generally say:
Dookie Howser! (when he poops in the house)
My Buddy Bear!
Is this normal? Do people do this with their human kids?
My goal is to return to work next week. But I cannot do it without new brown sandals. So naturally I went to Zappos.com (on my iPad) this morning – and bam! Zappos has an App – for free. Installed it. Just when I didn’t think they could make spending money any faster or funner – they did.
Search by shoe.
Sort by most popular (cuz that’s important to me…LOL)
And there they are! The perfect shoe. On sale.
Add to cart.
Where would you like to ship? (all of my previous shipping info in there)
What credit card would you like to use? (again, all my information stored from previous purchases)
Where should we bill this?
And then the most magical thing happened…..the shipping information. Little gold “VIP” coins started dropping from the sky (the iPad sky) filling the screen for a second and then the reveal. Because I am a VIP (spend a lot of money on shoes) I get free overnight shipping! Yay!
Now I just wait for the UPS guy. I’m on the front porch as I write this.
So – what can credit unions learn from this?
#1 – For god’s sake – didn’t I already GIVE you that information? I have a car loan with you, my mortgage, I’ve been a member for over 15 years and you STILL keep asking me who I am – where I work, live, etc…….why not take a page from Zappos and elegantly have me confirm that nothing has changed.
#2 – Reward my loyalty for crying out loud. Celebrate it! Thank me for my contribution to the co-op.
#3 – Give me my stuff now. Like my debit card and PIN. If I move my checking account (and all the baggage that comes with it) to your credit union at the very least I should walk out of there with an activated debit card. The chances that I will actually take the time to reset all of my bill pay, automatic deductions and most importantly my direct deposit – greatly increases if I don’t have to wait two weeks for my access device.
#4 – Give me an app for that. We live on our smart phones – and if I have to access your big ugly clunky website on my iPhone – fuhgetaboutit.
Processor that is. Although I feel like I’m being held hostage by my “core” since I had major abdominal surgery two weeks ago – ouch. But enough about me already.
Tansley Stearns posted a great comment on my blog last week and she got me thinking about the biggest excuse credit unions use for not innovating. Our core processor does not have the capability.
I’ve heard it for 32 years. Before we had computers all of our member data was in a ledger. Everything we did we did manually. We typed up documents – in triplicate with carbon paper on an IBM Selectric. We filed things. We had “ticklers” that was no more than a recipe box turned relationship builder. We remembered people’s names and their kids’ names. We had loyal members that helped us grow with positive word-of-mouth.
Today we get a great idea about how to reward our members (for example) but someone will remind us that our core processor has the intelligence of a door knob and we all shake our heads and give up.
Besides your compensation, budget and facilities, what is the third biggest annual expense at your credit union? No doubt your data processing bill. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on what? Keeping you from doing great things.
How many of you have had to purchase OTHER systems – for major transactions (like loan processing, home banking, bill pay) because your “core” can’t do it – or rather won’t do it?
And this is perhaps the most absurd of them all – because we have so many ancillary programs – we often require our employees to re-enter member information because – you guessed it – our core won’t talk to strangers. At least when we typed documents in triplicate we only had to do it once!
The solution? I look to the folks at the shared branching networks. They have somehow made it possible for credit unions all over the world to talk to each other. I can walk into a credit union in Santa Fe, New Mexico and in real time withdraw money (or deposit) to my account in Portland, Oregon. Pretty amazing.
I have no idea how they do it (I’m in marketing) but to quote Steve Martin from Born Standing Up:
“Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naivete’, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”
So here goes. I picture a CUSO that is dedicated to ONE thing. Developing a common language among credit unions. We have a universal core that sits in a cloud. We innovate together. Dare I say we cooperate? If I am a member of a credit union – I can transact with all credit unions. I can P-2-P and A-2-A with any member. We drive our own payment systems. We create our own e-wallet and with $1 trillion in assets we become a force to be reckoned with. We share expense and revenue based on our usage.
We need to fight the REAL enemy – our core processor. By trying to do everything ourselves – alone – we are losing small credit unions, we consider “other credit unions” to be our competitors. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, etc. are still alive and well because of the “convenience” they offer. As of March of this year there were 7,163 credit unions. Only 1465 of those are over $100 million in assets. But if we could safely say we have over 10,000 credit union locations (branches) we are one big ass convenient bank. Bank of America has 6, 233 branches. Boo yah!
Who’s with me? What am I missing? How do we get this party started?
Police tape. Tape that says “CRIME SCENE. DO NOT CROSS.”
It’s tape – that’s not even sticky. It’s more like a party streamer. But it keeps people out.
Can you imagine seeing “construction site tape” on the highway instead of those big orange barrels. Um, please don’t drive in this lane anymore – sometime today an overpaid highway worker is going to be standing here.
That was more than 140 characters so I am glad I didn’t Tweet it.