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.