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No one is wearing shoes like this to hike the hill - unless they're from Oregon!

Today is the day we hike the hill. After three days of walking around in high heels, our toes mashed, bunyons forming, hobbled crippled masses. Okay – it’s not that bad, it’s just WHAT WAS I THINKING not bringing good walking shoes? I went to Filene’s Basement yesterday and got a pair of granny/nun shoes. I have no shame. My feet are killing me.

I have to admit it – I’ve never had more fun at a convention than I am at this, my first-ever, GAC. And I’ve been to a TON of conventions. Here’s why I think I’m diggin’ this one the most.

1. Everyone is here. It’s been so fun to see folks that I worked for, consulted with, blogged about, dated, married – my 30 year career is sitting in one giant room. It’s like a party for me!

2. The Crashers – They are a legitimate movement within the movement. Recognized this morning at the opening session by Gigi Hyland and Mark Meyer.  The aging membership is mirrored in our management. That huge generation called Boomers still pretty much runs the show. Poor Gen X was so small they didn’t matter or get much recognition. But now as Boomers age – and we have a mass retirement of leaders in the next five years it’s essential we pass the torch. We are so fortunate to have this group of young professionals CRASH our party to get our attention. They are the future of financial cooperatives.

3. The entertainment. When I saw that Three Dog Night and The Fab Four were performing Sunday and Tuesday nights respectively, I did a little eye roll. My bad. It was so fun to dance and sing and drink and wave our zippo lighter apps on our iPhones in support of these musicians. There’s nothing like music to bring people together.

4. Washington DC. You can feel the power here. The history. The potential. Sure – the economy sucks and I’m not thrilled with our commander in chief – but I respect the system. I’m going to do my part today to educate our leaders about credit unions. I’m only one voice, but I matter.

5. The crazy ass weather. We went from record highs (in the low 70s) to a tornado watch and driving rain to blue sky and cold. And that’s just today! The weather is a symbol of our economy – it’s changing hourly. The metaphor is not lost on me.

6. The logistics. As a meeting planner for CUANM I know first hand the excruciating attention to detail necessary to pull off an event and CUNA gets two snaps up!  I’m sure it was probably crazy town behind the scenes but from the audience perspective – way to go!

Last day to lobby – last night to partay!


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!

Yesterday after my blog post I went for a 2 hour walk along the mall – checking out the monuments and enjoying an impossibly gorgeous day for DC in February.

My favorite site to see has always been the long climb up the marble steps to sit at the feet of Mr. Abe Lincoln. So inspiring…. and a reminder. We erect memorials and monuments to the people who take chances and fail, fall down and get back up again, those that dare to piss people off. We don’t build statues for those politically correct good old boys that play it safe and seldom challenge the status quo.

Tonight is the Herb Wegner award dinner and….Thunderpunch.

More to come.

Sunday, Feb 27th, 9:06 am (EST)

feels like 7:06 am (MST)

I don’t think I’ve ever flown into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) before. I was on the right side of the plane so I got to see all of our Nation’s Capitol as we came in for an alarmingly close landing.

Have you ever noticed how phallic the Washington Monument is? From the air that’s all I could see but upon landing and remembering its position from the US Capitol Complex it could be a giant flip-o-the-bird to the rest of the world. I like that idea.

Last night I ventured into the lobby bar for I had hunger pangs from my long day on a plane (row 30 over the engine). I find that a vodka martini with two olives is the most efficient way to a) curb the hunger and b) catch up. Mission accomplished. Gradually the bar filled up and I was surrounded by my people….credit union professionals from all over the map.

I am proud to be representing the great state of New Mexico at my first GAC. And no, we didn’t need our passports to fly to DC. I’m still amazed how many people I talk to in my travels think NEW Mexico is some exotic portion of Old Mexico. If you turn to The Weather Channel you’ll notice we’re not even on the map. No, we’re behind the weatherman(woman’s) backside. As they forecast the Southwest region they usually highlight So.Cal and then Phoenix annnnd we’re over to West Texas.

New Mexico – the best kept secret in America. Shhhhhh…..

Anyway – I’m very excited to be here. My dance card is filling up with power breakfasts and receptions and meetings and Galas and of course I cannot miss the keynote address by Captain Sully Sullenberg and ………wait for it……..the return of Thunderpunch.

Should be a wild ride. Stay tuned……

This one snuck up on me. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t speak lawyer. So when I read through the Durbin Amendment and CUNA’s response, I’m still left scratching my head. And I suspect I’m not alone.

Last week a blogger and a rock band helped me to understand it – but on Monday, June 14th, my new friend Juan Fernandez, VP Governmental Affairs for the CU Association of New Mexico will join me on the Liquid Lunch as we explore the strange world of debit interchange income. Juan just returned from hiking the hill to protest this amendment.

Please join us for the Interchange Interchange.

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May 2023