From L to R: Me, Sarah Bang, CEO of FSCC, Sylvia Lyon, CEO of CUANM

I’m up. In row five for the opening keynote session. Arianna Huffington and Mary Matalin are going to face off. Yay!

Yesterday afternoon we got to see Captain Sully Sullenberger . He’s been labled and honored as a hero. And rightfully so. But to hear him speak, he’s uncomfortable with that moniker. He was very humble. He gave credit first to his parents, and their values that formed him at an early age. He also acknowledged his years in the military as a fighter pilot – pointing out that there is no better example of “team” than flying in formation 100 feet off the ground at the speed of sound. You can’t take your eye off the goal in that situation. And so it was with that discipline and laser like focus that he was able to react to a double bird strike, taking out both engines just 100 seconds into the take-off. He had to prioritize, assess his options, and make an executive decision. He ignored the instructions of air traffic control to land in Jersey. Instead he calmly informed them and his co-pilot they were landing on the Hudson. Not IN the Hudson – on it. And he did.

His story echoed that of Jim Collins at The One Conference. Level 5 leaders are those that are not in it for themselves  – but for the cause. They blend the paradoxical combination of deep personal humility and intense professional will.

Last night was my first ever Herb Wegner Memorial Dinner and I have to say – inspiring. And not just the fact that the Grand Hyatt managed to feed 800 people steak and lobster that was perfectly prepared, at the same time. It made me standing ovation proud to be part of this movement. Dan Mica was honored last night as well as Rudy Handly and the National Youth Involvement Board. I can say we successfully converted Mr Mica into a credit union evangelist.

He will be known for bringing a strong and lasting presence to Washington DC. Madison will always be the home of CUNA but we need to be in DC to keep an eye on the legislative and regulatory evils that lurk in the halls of Congress. He’s a level 5 leader in that he selected a superb successor, and wants CUNA to become more successful in the future. I see great things in our future with Bill Cheney at the helm.

I’ve never met Rudy Handly but know his name from Orange County Teachers. The video of Rudy’s life and career mirrored Captain Sully’s to some degree.

Utterly intolerant of mediocrity, they are stoic in their resolve to do whatever it takes to produce great results.

And finally I have to acknowledge the speech that Rebecca Isaacs and Brandon Pugh gave as they accepted the Outstanding Organization award on behalf of the National Youth Involvement Board.

“We are not done!” cried Rebecca. Very emotionally delivered and rightfully so.

NYIB was founded in 1972 to deal with the ever present issue of an aging field of membership. They have focused on classroom presentations to educate our youth. Today we still have an aging membership – 48 and rising. If we do not “Up Our Youth” we will literally die of old age.

Thank you Rebecca for reminding us why we’re here – We are not done.

SIDEBAR: When I was done with dinner and all the emotion I was too tired to Thunderpunch. I went back to my room, changed into jeans and a sweatshirt and was ready to hoof it on down to the warehouse for the epic party. And then I thought – Thunderpunch is Gen Y’s Estes Park. It’s a group of young credit union professionals gathering to bond and solidify their commitment to the future of credit unions.

I’m the average age of a credit union member – 48. I’ll be 49 next week. I was tired. So instead of Thunderpunching I felt I could best support them if I got a good night’s sleep.  I’m up and ready to meet legislators, network, blog, whatever it takes. Because I’m not done. I want to leave the credit union movement better than I found it.

Rock on Crashers!