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As many of you know I began my career as a serving wench at ‘Enry Beazely’s Fish n Chips in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Beazely had a profound impact on how I view the world. He believed that we are put on this earth to serve one another, and if you are serving someone, you are doing work that MATTERS.

I took that servant heart to the credit union world 36 years ago this month! Happy CU Anniversary to me! And yesterday I decided to do something that matters to the community I live in. I attended my first training session to become a Volunteer Firefighter and EMS.

I live in the town of Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, population 569. We are situated 30 miles Southwest of Santa Fe. The Cochiti Fire Department covers the Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos as well as the town of Pena Blanca situated smack dab in the middle (pop. 661).

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Cochiti Lake Volunteer Fire Department

I had just completed 3 hours of classroom training that covered the operation of the Fire Trucks and the Ambulances. No behind the wheel stuff yet.

After classroom training they fed us lunch and then the rest of the volunteers showed up to clean the fire station and equipment. I offered to clean the bathroom, seeing as I was a newbie I felt I should start at the bottom. They gladly let me. So I’m literally scrubbing the toilet when the Chief comes in and says “We just got a call, wanna go?” Heck yes!! So I climbed into the ambulance on the passenger side, buckled up, and we were off. It was a Code 3 which generally means sirens and lights on. We were going only 6 miles down the road to Pena Blanca. A 23 year old woman, 5 months pregnant had a seizure.

Did you know that an emergency vehicle does not have the right to run a stop sign or red light? The sirens, lights and horn are asking “permission” to do this. Meaning, if someone decides not to pull over, and we are stuck – we are stuck. So please, if you see an emergency vehicle, please pull over. Do the right thing. Thankfully everyone on that stretch of Cochiti Highway had the good sense to pull over.

Out of respect for the young woman I won’t go into the details of her condition and cause, but it was very raw, and humbling and a bit frightening to willingly put myself in a situation of “not knowing.” You have very little information when you go out on a call. And it’s our job to get the story, assess the need quickly, and treat the patient appropriately. In her case she had to go to the hospital, and will likely be okay. And I got to drive the ambulance back to the station.  It should be noted that I excelled at the interaction with the patient and failed miserably at backing up an ambulance into a garage. I need practice.

Yesterday, at 1:00pm my radio went off. It was a Code 1 call. All we were told was a group of kids were hiking Tent Rocks National Monument and ran out of water and a few were dehydrated. So in your mind what do you see? Kids parked in the shade, waiting for someone to bring them water so they had the energy to walk safely back down.

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Tent Rocks National Monument

What we found on arrival was an 8 year-old girl, unresponsive, being carried down the trail. She was put in the ambulance immediately. We were told there were at least 10 kids still up the trail. So I grabbed as many bottles of water I could physically carry in a duffel bag and headed up the trail with another volunteer. Thankfully we found the rest in good condition, but hot and thirsty.

We rushed the 8 year-old to the hospital, and thankfully she will be okay but here’s the story. They were a group of kids in a summer program that had parents permission to go with 5 adults to hike Tent Rocks. None of them had ever been to the park before. One of the adults told me they thought they would have a guide, and they didn’t. They also thought they were doing the loop trail (short and easy) and they missed the turn-off so they ended up hiking up the steep canyon. To their credit they almost got to the summit, but, that’s when they all ran out of water and it was oven hot up there.  Here’s the story of the 8 year-old girl. She has asthma. And did not have her inhaler.

A happy ending to the story but it could have been avoided.

What I’m learning about myself as I begin this adventure.

  1. When it comes to helping people, no matter what the situation, I am a spring into action person. I am not the “What do you want me to do?” kind of volunteer. Like I said, I’ll clean the toilet.
  2. Adrenaline is your friend. Yesterday I took a brisk walk in the morning, followed by a 40 minute work-out on the eliptical. Had a bowl of pasta for a late breakfast/early lunch. So lots of exercise, very little nutrition. I was not in the least bit tired hiking up the hill with about 20 pounds of water, in the brutal heat, I practically jogged up it. Last night I popped Advil like they were M&Ms.
  3. I don’t like to make mistakes, but I have to get over it. I tried to put the gurney in backwards, I had trouble ripping the EKG paper from the machine. I forgot to plug in the ambulance.
  4. I was born to do this. I feel like I won the lottery. Living in a small remote town is not for everyone. And if you’d asked me 10 years ago if I would ever move from Seattle to the desert of NM and drive an ambulance……no way. I can never picture myself retired, with nothing to do but read or watch television. That is when you die. I knew that I would volunteer somehow. And now I am motivated to stay in shape, and do this for as long as I physically can.
  5. Pearls go with everything. The best part about the Tent Rocks story is that without my knowing it I had pearl earrings and a pearl necklace on as I hiked up that trail. Even though I work from home I bathe and get dressed every day. And I like to look snazzy. So when the call came I changed my shirt and shoes and was out the door in 3 minutes. With my pearls on!

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Some of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life didn’t pay me a dime. In fact, I’ve been told by many clients that I don’t charge enough for my services. And it’s because I would do it for free if I could. But don’t get me wrong CU people. I can’t do my consulting/speaking for free. But being a volunteer Firefighter/EMS completely satisfies my need to give back and serve. Work that matters.

Thank you Mr. Beazely.

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Remember when Ron Shevlin and I used to publicly spar about Net Promoter Score and member service as a differentiator? Good times. Nothing anyone can say will ever make me feel otherwise. We are in the service business, period. We cannot differentiate with unique products or packaging, we sell and move money. Boring. Banking is an errand. Members don’t GET to go into the credit union, sometimes they HAVE to. Boring. And most member’s expectations? Very low. Their goal is to get in, get out and no one gets hurt.

That’s why one “wow” experience can produce so much value. It’s not expected, so it makes a lasting impression.

Fred Reichheld, co-creator of Net Promoter Score said it best. We know loyal members do three things for us:

  1. They will buy more from us and are less likely to rate shop (increasing services per household)
  2. They will market for us. Word of mouth is, has been, and always will be the most effective marketing.
  3. They will tell us how to improve the credit union. When you hear “I’ve been a member for X years” know that that is a gift because you are about to get a loyalty lesson. Listen.

If you would have told me in 2007 when I was in NYC with America First, Baxter, and Educators credit unions at the Inaugural Net Promoter Score conference that 8 years later I would be the one responsible for putting ON the annual conferences in US and London AND that I would also get to resurrect Loyalty Live – well, I would have slapped you and then kissed you on the mouth. Because you never know where life is going to take you, right?

It is with great pride that I invite you to join me and all my friends in Phoenix on March 4th and 5th at the Arizona Grand Spa & Resort for Loyalty Live. We are going to share stories about success, failure and the challenges that come with truly listening and responding to the authentic voice of the member.

I love recruiting speakers for events because I basically get to bring in people I love and admire. Check out who’s going to be there:

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  • Sandy Anderson, Sr. VP Client Support & Sales Operations, Experian
  • Sally and John Myers, CEO and President of c.Myers
  • Matt Davis, former Director of Innovation Filene Research Institute and founder of GameFI

Thanks to our amazing and generous sponsors we are able to offer credit-union friendly pricing. Give it up for Co-OP Financial Services, Kasasa by Bancvue, MARQUIS, Geezeo, CUNA Mutual and CU Direct Lending.

I hope to see all the credit unions who are passionate about service there because we’re getting the band back together!

I, like many of you am heart broken over the death of Robin Williams. Why? I never met him. I didn’t really know him, clearly. But I grew up with him and he made me laugh, he blew me away with his mind and when he yelled “Good Morning Viet Naaaam” I was transformed.

But this week he lost his battle with depression. Like cancer it can be fatal. And where we get confused is that his job, his gift, his vocation was comedy. So how can someone so funny be depressed. It’s not a weakness, it’s an affliction.

I come home every evening to my 412 square foot apartment – see last blog post – and turn on my DirecTv to watch Jimmy Fallon from the night before. He’s the comic of his generation. So talented, so funny and so kind. No ego. He has surpassed Johnny Carson in my opinion.

When I dialed up the episode tonight I was rooting for him. Jimmy, you cannot not acknowledge this passing, and he did not disappoint. The opening song, “Hey hey hey hey….” Love you Roots – and instead of yelling the episode number…. Questlove yelled, “Nanu Nanu.” Hell yes. That was enough for me. But wait, there’s more. When they cut to the first commercial after the monologue, they showed “Nanu Nanu” on the front of the drum set. Very classy.

Back from commercial. Jimmy took his seat at the desk and gave us the preview of upcoming guests with the glee of a child. He still can’t believe that he gets to host all of the greats, that’s why I love him. But then it happened. And it caught me off guard. He created a pause, and choking back emotion he acknowledged what we were all feeling. Those of us that need levity at the end of the day – that crave it like a drug are feeling the loss of someone who we counted on to give it to us. Jimmy showed a clip of Robin’s first appearance on the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and then ended standing on his desk “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Cut to commercial. Thank you Jimmy.

Robin Williams is gone. His disease killed his gift. And we struggle with it. Because deep down we can relate. As my Nana used to say “God gave each of us a gift, and our DUTY is to give it back to the world,” And sometimes that becomes a burden we cannot bear.

Robin, thank you for sharing your gift for 63 years. That’s enough for me. I get it. When I say rest in peace I mean it. You deserve it man. You gave so much joy to so many people in every performance. You have to be worn out.

Cheers!
D

I have yet to meet a person in my travels that when asked “So what did you want to be when you grew up?” answered “A credit union employee.” And yet in my 34 years of adulthood I was blessed to be just that.

I have never considered myself to be a cog in a machine. A cube rat. Desk jockey. I will forever refer to credit unions as a movement – not a category. I publicly vowed that I would not let credit unions go down on my watch. And none of that has changed.

The big change in my life that my partner, friend and muse Matt Davis announced yesterday, is my move to Satmetrix. And to San Mateo, California.

I know what some of you are thinking. What? So let me say once and for all, Mark and I are still NOT married. Kidding aside, we are career people. We both chose years ago not to have real children – credit unions are our family and in may ways our children of the corn. A dysfunctional family to be sure. Mark loves working at SECU of NM. Cochiti Lake will always be our home. My office is going to be in California. United Airlines is my commuter tube.

Anyone who has heard me speak since 2008 or read my second book knows my devotion to Net Promoter Score. When my dear friend Rebecca Secor emailed me “You must read this book (The Ultimate Question) it’ll change your life.” Well, it did.

I have been steadfast in my belief that NPS is the missing link for marketers and business development. I mean how can you go tell the world how great your credit union is if you never take the time to find out, from the member/owners, if they agree?

Check it out. I get to manage the NPS community for the founders. If you have not already joined – come play with us – www.netpromoter.com. I also get to coordinate their conferences. The first one will be in jolly old London! I get to play in the sandbox with some of the biggest minds in the loyalty world.

Best part of my excitinb new world? The Member Loyalty Group is a Satmetrix client. Some really smart leaders (Baxter, BECU, San Francisco Fire, Educators (Racine), Addison Avenue and AmericaFirst) founded MLG 5 years ago. They brought the gold standard of NPS to credit unions. Today over 50 and counting have joined the fold.

Last year I found the following saying – it has been framed and sits in my home office. Now I get why it spoke to me.

I’m not worried about what could go wrong, she said. I wonder if I’m in a position where I could handle it if everything goes right.”Brian Andreas

Sent from my iPad

One of the first times I visited Santa Fe I discovered StoryPeople by Brian Andreas. I guess you’d call him a poet/thinker/artist. I get daily “stories” in my email that never cease to amaze and inspire me.  Here’s the story for the day:

tetilla peakIt is not what you first think.
There is no effort of will,
no firm resolve in the face
of this thing called life.

There is only paying attention
to each quiet morning,
while you hold your cup in the cool air
& then that moment you choose to spread your love
like a cloth upon the table
& invite the whole day in again.

12th-Man-SeattleCongratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! Russell Wilson, the quarterback made this comment after the win against the 49ers on Sunday:

“We played so hard,” Wilson said. “We talked at the beginning of year, `Why not us? Why not us?’ That’s kind of been our mind-set.”

 

Indeed – here’s my favorite speech of all time that echoes that sentiment:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant? Gorgeous? Talented? 
Fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
As as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

From the 12th man to the Hawks.

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.

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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.

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:

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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:

This morning I worked out on my Octane Elliptical Trainer while watching last week-end’s episode of SNL on my Apple TV via Hulu Plus.

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.

Last year I blogged about my neck surgeryspecifically 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 reactionSo 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?

noble-suicide-organ-donation-death-1While 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:

Denise,

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 think in music videos. And since MTV and VH1 don’t air them anymore I have to rely on my own versions.

I can be sitting in an airport and music pops in my head and suddenly I have created a video montage around me.  If I had the time, talent, software and money – I would make videos all day long.  I love it when a character dies or someone is kicked off of a reality show and music plays and they do the slow-mo synopsis of their time on earth/TV.

aa_solsbury_hill_10Stop and think for a minute what your video would look like? The highlights, the low lights and now I challenge you to come up with your theme song.

My theme song has always been Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.  It’s a rare autobiographical song dealing with his break as lead singer of Genesis and anticipation of his new challenge as a solo artist.  I have been able to identify with that feeling many times in my life.

My heart going Boom, Boom, Boom.

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