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There is nothing more trying on the human spirit than airline travel. What once was considered luxury and only for the very privileged is now a hostage like humiliating experience. Yesterday I was to board a 5:27pm flight from ABQ to DIA, spend a luxurious 30 minutes in the United Club (at $500 a year membership fee) and then off to SEA for business/family/friends/fun long week-end.
Instead I write this from the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott in Denver compliments of United Airlines in yesterday’s clothes.
It had nothing to do with weather which is why I was labeled a distressed passenger and provided with complimentary lodging and a $7.00 meal voucher. It was “crew delay.” Not sure if that meant the pilot wasn’t sober or a flight attendant overslept….nevertheless it provided me with less than ten minutes to run the 1/2 mile from Gate B71 to B25 in heels. I have flown 1.2 million miles with the Friendly Skies. I know they use computers because I can see them. I know they have the ability to communicate from the air to the ground because I have heard them. But by the time I got to the gate the door had closed. The airplane was still there. I have been on United flights where we reopened the door for a distressed passenger. So UAL, a question. How many miles do you have to fly for this privilege?
My guess is it is up to the crew. As are most customer service experiences. How do they feel about their employer at that moment of truth? Time to viciously comply with the rules or make a loyal customer’s day? Thanks for subsidizing my $12.95 breakfast buffet. This experience only cost me $5.00 plus tip, $90.00 in cab fare, a business meeting and a chunk of my soul. Keep up the good work.
This morning a dear old friend posted on her Facebook page the first concert she ever went to – and it was with me. KC & the Sunshine Band. I think it was 1975. And it got me to thinking about the old days. Cuz that’s what you do when you….get old-er.
And so I give you, young children, what life was like before the internet.
1. To find a restaurant, we pulled over to a phone booth, grabbed a phone book (if someone hadn’t already ripped it off) put a dime in the machine, dialed the restaurant and asked for directions. Which means we had to have a pen and paper.
2. We drove to Crystal Ship Records when the new Carole King Tapestry album came out and hoped they still had a copy. If not, we drove to Crystal Ship records again and hoped they had a copy. Rinse and repeat, until they had a copy.
3. On our birthday our mailbox (meaning the physical one at the end of the driveway) was filled with paper birthday cards.
4. If we wanted to make split pea with ham soup we asked our mom for the recipe. She made us re-write it on our own recipe card because she wasn’t about to loan us hers – soup stained as it was.
5. We made sure we were sitting in front of the television on Saturday night at 11:30pm on NBC (one of four channels on your TV) to watch John Belushi on Saturday Night Live. If we missed it, it would be years before we could see it again.
6. We had to read books to do book reports. And the books were made of paper.
7. We had to get up off the couch and flip the record album over.
8. We asked the librarian where the book was in the library that held the information we needed. Like what does this rash mean?
9. We played board games on a board.
10. We went for walks, and sat in restaurants and talked to each other, we didn’t post every moment in time on Facebook – we lived those moments.
And then 38 years later thankfully we could post that moment on Facebook because it brought back some really great memories. Thanks Julie.
I have said it over and over again – if you want your credit union’s brand to stand out and mean something you need to GET RID OF the shiny happy stock art people and find something unique, fun, beautiful, telling. But have you been listening to me? No.
Google “credit union” and “your state” and click on the top five websites. Go on. I’ll wait. I’ll bet 4 out of 5 of those sites were festooned with people you don’t recognize as being part of your community. Am I right? Check out this one.
The credit union that chose this picture is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to http://www.census.gov there are 555,417 residents of ABQ, and 3% are African American, 2% are Asian. I mean at least use stock art that is somewhat representative of your demographic. I HATE it when we trip over ourselves trying to be politically correct by using photos like this.
Well finally there is a real reason – a cautionary tale if you will – to stop using pictures of people you don’t know.
I give you the face of Obamacare: Adriana.
She said she was never paid for appearing on the troubled site. She’s a stock art model. She gets paid for having her picture taken and then folks like Getty Images re-sell it to marketers who are obsessed with shiny happy people. According to Fox News she has become one of the most despised women on earth and has been “bullied.” Poor Adriana!
They have removed her picture from the site. Please take down your shiny fake faces before more people get hurt.
About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verde for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here, eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture.
On Saturday I visited Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. The only guided tour into the cliff dwellings still open (for the season) was Cliff Palace. We paid our three bucks, drove the 30 miles up a windy road and met Ranger Wolf. To get to Cliff Palace you had to navigate some pretty steep steps down, and on the way out three ten foot ladders through a tiny crevice in the rocks. I was a little unsure if I wanted to do this (truth be told my knees are still aching) but I am so glad I sucked it up and did it. Check it out:
The lives of these Ancestral Pueblo people was focused on food, procreation, survival. To get food and water they had to climb up the cliff, often with a jug of water balanced on their head and baby strapped to their back while doing it. Women lived to be around 24 and most died hemorrhaging in child birth. Men hung around to about 33 but often died with compressed spines and arthritis from the daily beating (literally) of making bricks and building and farming and hunting. This is Colorado so winters are fierce. It’s not unusual for the temperature to dip below zero and stay there. This cliff dwelling kept them alive. Imagine spending six months with your relatives in a “house” the size of your living room? That’s what they did every winter. To survive.
Here’s my Tuesday:
I got a little miffed at the speed of my internet connection – the show buffered once.
For lunch I nuked some left over spaghetti from last night.
Last night I opened a jar of spaghetti sauce, dumped it in a pan with some ground beef and boiled some noodles on my Kitchen Aid gas range. I put the dirty dishes in my Bosch whisper quiet dishwasher.
I just had to put on a sweatshirt because my radiant heat is programmed to shut off at 8:00am and my home office got a little chilly.
I’m listening to KINK FM radio (a Portland, Oregon station) on my Internet radio while I write this.
I’ll probably live to be 70.
I just noticed I could really use a manicure.
I stopped watching the news about a year ago. Sure, it keeps me in the dark about a lot of things local, political, musical and Miley Cyrus. I like it that way. I can’t start my day with a barrage of news about things in which I have no control. It only adds to my frustration.
Giving up the news is somewhat like giving up carbs, or meat. When people ask you if you “Saw that horrendous thing on the news last night involving dead children and puppy abuse?” you have to explain to people that you don’t ingest that. That response is often met with disdain. One person went so far as to say I was irresponsible for not keeping up on current affairs. Really? I wanted to say “Tell me one thing I should know about that makes me responsible?”
I get all of my news from The Daily Show and SNL’s Week-end Update. Keeps me informed, just enough, often makes me laugh and seldom makes me want to crawl in bed and cry.
Now about America’s other past-time. Baseball. I can honestly say I have never ever been to a game or watched a game on television (in its entirety – I mean I’ve been in bars where it’s on – but wasn’t there to watch it). I know how the game is played (thanks to my mom forcing me into softball in the second grade – hated it!).
But this year I have made an exception – for the World Series only – because my niece married a Worcester, Mass boy. And I adore him. If you’ve ever met a born and bred Boston fan – well, you have to root for them.
Here are my observations about baseball. And how it relates to working for a corporation.
1. There are so many games (meetings) that most of them don’t really matter or keep the general public’s (employee’s) attention.
2. During a game (work day) there can be hours where nothing really important happens.
3. The scores (against an opponent) usually happen based on an error. Not on anything outstanding happening. So the competition screws up more than you and you win.
4. You don’t always have to have the appearance of being horribly fit to be on the team.
5. It appears you can take a break and just shoot the sh*t whenever you feel like it.
6. There’s tension watching a game being played. The activity comes in bursts and depending on the outcome can be replayed and replayed until you can’t take it anymore.
7. Continuous spitting, nose blowing (out a nostril onto the ground) and adjusting of body parts is not looked at with disgust. Okay – there thankfully is no parallel in the corporate world – it’s just WHY do they do this on National television???
So there you have it. My take on America’s past-times.
Last year I blogged about my neck surgery – specifically that I chose to use cadaver bones in my neck rather than have the surgeon chisel away on my hip bone. When I tell people this I frequently get the reaction “So you have some dead people’s parts in your body?” to which I replay “Yup.” Truth be told when the surgeon told me the hip chunk surgery was more painful than the neck was going to be – no brainer, right?
While I was in the hospital the nurse brought over a form from a company called Pathways.This is the middle man between donor and recipient. They invited me to write an anonymous letter to the family of the deceased. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that but Mark talked me into and I am so glad he did.
A couple of weeks ago Pathways contacted me to let me know that the donor family responded to my letter, and asked if I wanted to see it. You betcha.
Last night I received the letter in the mail. I had Mark read it first in case it was disturbing in any way. He handed me the letter and a kleenex. Here goes:
I received your letter and I would like to convey to you how important it was to receive. You see my husband had not been ill, so his death was extremely unexpected, and quite traumatic for all of us.
My husband was a retired OBGYN doctor, and I am a registered nurse. My husband had the first test tube baby in our state in the ’80′s and loved the challenges of infertility. He spent his life helping others; even in his retirement he was a teacher and mentor to many. He lived to help folks. So even though his death was tough I knew in my heart we needed to help others, and as a nurse I know how difficult it is to donate. I know now we made the right decision, you see we have 2 teenage boys, one graduated the week before my husband’s death and our youngest graduated this past week on the anniversary of his death. You letter was a godsend. I shared it wiht my youngest, who is the spitting image of his Dad and has his heart. It was so comforting to him, he said to me, “Mom, it’s awesome, Dad is still helping people.” Needless to say I cried.
My middle child was not happy I chose donation buy your letter sold him. It was the right thing to do. My daughter has been saying “I wish someone would write!” Her prayer has been answered.
I am so happy you received relief from pain, and can enjoy life. It is shorter than we know, but great rewards do come to many of us.
Bless you and your family, and thank you so much for letting my family know our decision was a good one. I wish you the best in your future.
Denise M. (her name is DENISE!)
And so I leave you with this quote – which I have stuck to my fridge but often don’t live by it. But because of this letter I will try, for my donor and his family, to live it each and every day.
“The most radical act one can commit is to be happy.” – Patch Adams
I heard a great story last week. It was 1934, in Tacoma, Washington. The story begins in a stairwell at City Hall and involves a cigar box.
If you were to start a story with those details and be speaking to someone outside the credit union movement they would probably imagine all kinds of scenarios. But if you’re a credit union junkie, like me, you know where this story is going. It’s the formation of a credit union.
In 1934, my parents had not been born yet. There was no television, internet, microwave ovens, copy machines, email, cell phones, frozen pizza, iPads, bottled water, or air conditioning. There were plenty of banks however. And yet people felt compelled to take their paychecks out of a bank and put it into a cigar box in someone’s desk drawer. Why was that?
Common bond. They knew each other, they trusted each other. It was a simpler time. Money went in the cigar box, and if someone needed to borrow money from the box, a group of their peers (credit committee) would decide if the purpose was provident and for productive purposes. A note was signed and the loan was made. The depositors received a reward (dividend) for trusting the system and have the satisfaction that they helped a co-worker. For decades these common bond credit unions had ZERO competition. We created credit union competitors when we adopted the community charter.
There would be no marketing department in the cigar box credit union for decades. The members were the marketers. The HR department was the ongoing new member drive. The decisions of the credit committee determined the success of the loan promotion. When it was time to formalize out of the cigar box the 1st branch was really the “break room.” Member/owners/co-workers would run the banking errand on their break at their credit union. Positive word-of-mouth was essential for survival.
Fast forward to today – common bond is all but a thing of the past. We have computers that make all the decisions for loan approval in a nano-second. We periodically have “Membership Bribes” to attract new people. We prefer members use the ATM, or online banking rather than come into a branch. There is no common bond. And don’t tell me that “lives, works, worships, in a 12 county area is a common bond.” Oh, and if you have your territory description on your website, please take it down. It’s embarrassing.
Unless your founding story has been tarnished beyond belief (Enron’s Credit Union comes to mind) I think it is our duty to tell it. To preserve it. It’s what makes us unique. It helps to remind us that we are merely the custodians of this history at this point in time.
And here’s your challenge – finding that common bond again. You need to target an audience in that vast territory that you have claimed. Otherwise you will become just another “me too” financial institution marketing with shiny happy people shlepping your 25 bp car loan advantage to people who could care less.
What is your story today? What is your vision for the future? Who will you serve? How will you make the competition irrelevant?
One credit union trend I love is the “All Staff Training Day” Taking an obscure holiday like Columbus Day – remaining closed – and going off-site to a fun place for the entire staff to learn, laugh, bond, eat and receive logo SWAG.
I have had the honor to be the guest speaker at many of these events. I’ve seen CEOs dress up like bikers, HR Directors in a Pickle Costume tossing rubber pickles into the crowd, amazing and funny videos, but most of all I get to see tellers smile.
You see, I started my career as a teller. And I loved being a teller. I loved the validation that comes at the end of every day that is the balancing of the cash drawer. Tangible evidence of your greatness. And a sense of completion that you rarely get once you move into management.
I also remember just how much control I had over the Credit Union’s reputation. Which is to say I had the ultimate control. And I used my powers for good – always.
Most credit union’s travel budgets look like this:
So, I’m available for your next staff training day. I’m holding Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day and MLK Day for whomever contacts me first.
Email me for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you don’t need me this year – tell your friends. Seriously, if you know someone that has access to the CUNA Training List Serv thingy – love to get a shout out.
This is the message I sent to the staff of Del Norte Credit Union last Friday.
What you Do Matters
On my first day he told me “Denise, we are put on this earth to serve. And when you are serving others, and that can mean pumping tartar sauce in a cup, you are doing work that MATTERS.”
From that day forward I made a vow that I would always do work that mattered. And that’s why I love credit unions – we are here to serve our members, and if we’re not directly serving them we are serving someone that is.
Know that what you do, every single day at Del Norte, matters.
It’s been my honor to serve you.
And so there you have it. Today I begin a new journey as Co-Founder of PrincipleSix. The name comes from the sixth cooperative principle: Cooperation among Cooperatives. I truly believe we are better together. Our market share remains stagnant because we steal members from each other – not from the real enemy – big banks.
Oh, and I found out that members DO care that we are a cooperative. They might not use that word – but when you emphasize that you are local, not a bank, don’t charge ridiculous fees, have better service and give back to your community – it matters to them.
Will everyone in your marketplace care? No, of course not. But it’s a difference we need to honor. I have first hand knowledge of the success that can come from sharing branches, sharing advertising costs, and innovating to solve problems.
I am drunk with power, I just bought a $400 suitcase and learned that I can project Keynote from my iPad. Life is good.
Hope to see you soon.
UPDATE: Lesson learned. Just because the URL is available it does not mean the name is available. There exists a wonderful group of grocery store co-ops that call themselves P6 but registered their name is PrincipleSix. We talked with them – nice folks – and in the spirit of cooperation we have decided to not use PrincipleSix.
I am proud to announce that I am Co-Founder of 6th Story. Telling your credit union’s story using the sixth cooperative principle. Good stuff to come.
And then that day comes. You wake up with butterflies in your stomach. You’ve dreamt about everything that could go wrong – you’re surprised just how organized you are. It’s in the universe’s hands now.
This moment was actually years in the making for me. Without boring you with the details I was able to combine three things I really love into one perfect moment:
1 – Craig Carothers – see Chapter 3 of my first book for the backstory on why I love Craig so much.
2 – Santa Fe, New Mexico – the first time I ever visited the City Different I made a vow – I would retire (aka die) here.
3 – Credit Unions – I am so proud of what I’ve helped build here in Northern New Mexico with our Keep It Co-Op! Campaign
And so I give you…..the perfect moment. Oh, and picture a light summer breeze…sitting in a lawn chair…….and this happens.