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Two words: Instant. Gratification.

Last week-end I was catching up with all the Hollywood gossip in People magazine and read a review of Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. I love him. Pulled out my Kindle and bam. Owned it.

Earlier this week I posted on the CUCallCenter blog the ROI on a social media journey. We posted this video, and sat back and watched the hits like it was, well television. Instant feedback.

Just now my niece texted me (during breakfast) that Netflix dances on Blockbuster’s grave with instant viewing of Battlestar Gallactica! Frakking awesome news.

Netflix gets it. When Blockbuster was still making people queue up on a Friday night to get the latest release and penalizing you if you did not drive BACK to the store within 24 hours to return it, the folks at Netflix were beginning to digitize all titles.

As my friend Brent Dixon said at the Credit Union Association of New Mexico’s Annual Meeting this year. Now means now. Not in five minutes or five days. Instant gratification. That’s what Gen Y expects. Is it reasonable? Sure. Better yet, is it possible? Of course.

Consider the primary financial indicator (or so most people think) the checking account. A royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move. And how have we addressed the issue? A switch kit that looks like a To Do list highlighting what a a royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move it is. Another glaringly obvious idiocy?  Being told I’ll have to wait 7 to 10 days to receive my Debit card. BUT, I can still get a pad of temporary checks instantly. Gen Y wants it now. Ten days is an eternity. They don’t even know HOW to write a check.

I’m going to go watch the BSG now. Frakking awesome.

So say we all.

This week I was honored to speak to the Crashers at the Washington Credit Union League’s Annual Convention. I spoke after Dan Mica. Now former CEO of the Credit Union National Association. That’s a pretty big deal. He arrived in his Brooks Brothers suit, french monogrammed cuffs, perfect hair. He is one put-together dude.

He asked the under 30 crowd where they wanted to be in 10 years. His answer “Alive.” Not a bad goal. But seriously, he had a 10 year “up or out” plan that he broke with CUNA because he enjoyed the job so much. In 10 years on any job he feels you should be up the ladder or out. When I look back on my 30 year career, I definitely followed that – which meant I worked for 6 different credit unions and now two trade associations. So was he encouraging kids to “job hop?” Hmmmm…..because I was accused of that before it was popular.

So here I am. In front of 15 dedicated young professionals to present in a mentor-like fashion. No presentations please. No power points. Just chat. What was I to say?

So I told my story. About how I came to be in the movement. Purely by accident, like most of us. But once I figured out what a credit union really was – and that I could do work that mattered – I dedicated my life to furthering the cause.

My one big message to the group of subversives (Mica’s word for them). Your resume’ and your reputation are not the same thing.

Your resume’ is your brochure. It’s a marketing description of your features and benefits. But your reputation -the word on the street, on Google searches, your history, your stories – that’s your brand. You can’t market your way out of it. I also explained how the credit union industry is one big family. Kind of like a friendly mafia. If you do right by the movement, they will take care of you. You don’t do right by them- they will never forget.

I went on to encourage them to question everything but never burn a bridge if you don’t have to. Pick your battles and when you’re dedicated to one, fight like there’s no tomorrow.

My promise to these kids – credit unions will not go down on my watch. These are tough times, which means opportunity abounds. They can see it – it’s our job to get out of their way and remove the obstacles that are in their way.

I’m just sayin’

Thanks to Matt Vance for the invitation and introduction.

My hand is raised. I began my credit union career in 1980 as a teller for Pacific NW Federal Credit Union. Tom Sargent was the CEO. I kicked ass as a teller. Not only in the balancing area – I also had a “following.” Members who would wait for me, on their lunch hour, because I was their teller. I’m damn proud of that.

The other day I heard someone disparage their tellers. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Well, why don’t you let your tellers take care of that?

THEM: Oh, our tellers are not smart enough to figure that out?

ME: Why did you hire idiots? (okay, I didn’t actually say that but I wanted to).

I don’t know the exact number, but I would venture to say that at least 50% of our sitting CEOs started on the teller line. Like me, they moved their way up the food chain, and I believe have a better understanding of the true operations of a credit union. The ground truth, as it were.

Is it possible that our next batch of CEOs are in your lobby right now –  on their feet all day, barely making a livable wage, dealing with the most regulation in history, under the constant threat of robbery?

They say that in the next 5 years, a humungous chunk of sitting CU CEOs will retire (many were supposed to be gone already but the economy delayed departure). Too often I hear the cop-out phrase “Well I won’t be around to worry about it…” or “I retire in a year, it’s not my problem.”

My challenge to you: Mr. or Ms. CEO (formerly overworked, underpaid, bottom of the food chain teller) – we need to groom this next generation of CEOs.

Give them the same opportunity you had. It is your problem, you need to own it.

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