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Climb a mountain. Check.

Run a marathon. Check.

Go white water rafting. Check.

Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Check.

Hike in the Black Forest of Germany. Check.

Speak at the World Council of Credit Unions. Check (twice). 

Write a book. Check (twice).

Operate heavy equipment……..on Thursday. 

In 2006 Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth wrote:

CEOs regularly announce ambitious growth targets, then fail to achieve them. The reason? Their growing addiction to bad profits. These corporate steroids boost short-term earnings but alienate customers. They undermine growth by creating legions of detractors – customers who complain loudly about the company and switch to competitors at the earliest opportunity.

Are you listening Verizon?

Good Profit: Charging people for your wireless service.
Bad Profit: Charging people to PAY you for your wireless service.

And if that’s not enough – did you learn NOTHING from Bank of America? Wells Fargo? Netflix?

The 2020 Vision of Marketing is in the can and will soon be in a bookstore ( near you.

I’m ready to retire my 2020 Vision of Marketing blog. It’s been fun and y’all have been so good to me through the years. So I hope you’ll follow along on my new journey.

I want to take my writing out of the credit union space and talk about stuff that interests me like

– why did it take so long to put wheels on luggage?

– when your dog gets neutered and they suck all the goo out of his balls leaving him with Raisinettes between his legs, why not just snip that too?

– when do we decide to put the voluntary suicide kit aka the Dr. Kevorkian in Wallgreens so these Baby Boomers that are going to suck up what’s left of our entitlement programs can do us a solid?

So you see – I can no longer post on this site.

I have a few names for the new blog I’d like to run by y’all…..

My first choice, and some idiot is squatting on it, is CLOWN COLLEGE. (Does anyone know who I need to sleep with at WordPress to get that domain?)

I like the idea of clown college. Those are two words that when put together in that order make me smile. It’s so…ironic isn’t the word…….oxymoron….no that’s not right. Oh, I got it. It’s damn funny. And apparently the Barnum Bailey Clown College recently closed. So there’s a whole blog post right there.

Then I thought about my little flying pig, Hamlet. And maybe we go with PIG FLIGHT SCHOOL. Teaching pigs to fly. But then I’m afraid I’ll get back in the marketing consulting world too much.

Then I thought I’d synthesize a word, like so many credit unions did with their name changes. Something that sounds like it could be medication – like Vantus or Telegen or Cogenix. But none of those made me laugh.

I need your ideas. You all know me pretty well – even the haters – I’d like to hear from you.

What should my new blog be called?

DISCLAIMER: Real reason I want to start a new blog? We are doing such amazing things at Del Norte Credit Union (where I am the VP of Marketing) I cannot talk about it. It’s been too hard to think up blog posts without revealing our awesome greatness, but I love to write and I really need a crazy creative outlet right now.

So won’t you help me name it? Pretend I’m a t-shirt contest on James Robert Lay’s website. What should my t-shirt say?


Yesterday I got my email from Netflix alerting me of their fee increase. At first I was a little annoyed but then realized what they are doing is not unlike the following:

Your cable company hiking up your rate because they can. Did I cancel? Hell no. I pay $75.00 a month for 600 channels – most of which are crap.

The gas station doubling the cost of a gallon in one year. Did I stop driving? Hell no. I’m an American, I drive a V6 sedan that only takes premium fuel.

My cell phone bill……it hasn’t gone up recently but let’s just say, I’m with AT&T. They don’t have to care.

So thank you Netflix for making me realize that you are a joy and a bargain. I will gladly accept my new monthly fee of $16.00. I am in season four of Dexter (only on DVD) and love to live stream stuff on my iPad.

Play on.

We missed the first three days of our vacation because of a cancelled flight. Finally arrived at our Villa in Tuscany late Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday we spent the entire day with Monika Iris – our guide to the Chianti region. Every single place she took us had one thing in common – they stay deliberately small so they can concentrate on the quality of their product.

A great example is the DOCG rating for Chianti wines. There are rules – much like the NCUA’s CAMEL rating only these make sense.

Rule #1 – Your grapes must be grown by you. You must have complete control of the product. No participation grapes.
Rule#2 – You must limit the quantity including the number of grapes per vine that are allowed to grow to maturity. You cut down several bunches before they are allowed to mature and they become fertilizer. Not every grape can join the bottle. There is no “lives, works, worships” grape rule.
Rule#3- You must pass a rigorous blind taste test – a valid survey of your product – the experience.

Everything I experienced yesterday validated the thought that quality versus quantity still matters. In one day I feel as if the cost of the trip was justified.

Today – Castellina for gellato…….

Every now and again in my travels I’ll see someone carrying an old Samsonite suitcase. A nice olive green one with buckles. It seems so weird to see a person struggling with the weight of their bag while all those around him/her effortlessly pulling theirs thanks to the amazing invention: wheels on luggage.

But why did this take so long to invent? And why did so many people buy the luggage trolly and still not see that it would be easier to just put the damn wheels ON the luggage?

My mantra this year is from Mr. James Dyson: “Solve the obvious problem that others seem to ignore.”

In the financial world I think we have lots of old olive green suitcases that we’re still lugging around.

# 1- At the top of our list: our hours. I can’t believe we still get away with 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday. And even more amazing – those hours force our members to run their banking errand on their lunch hour AND we close teller windows so our employees can run THEIR errands. Have all teller windows open at lunch = wheels on luggage.

#2 – The switch kit. I don’t know of any bigger pain in the butt than moving your checking account. The switch kits I’ve seen merely illustrate how difficult this is going to be. But I guess it can keep me busy while I wait 7 to 10 days for my debit card and PIN. The human switch kit = wheels on luggage. Do the switching for me.

#3 – Making a deposit. The hardest thing to do with my credit union is to give them money. If I take it to a shared branch location I can count on a hold. If I put it in the ATM, same thing. If I mail it – well – I’m relying on the US Postal Service to deposit my money. Remote Check Scan & Deposit = wheels on luggage.

#4 – The phone. Don’t make me wade through a bunch of marketing messages and “press one for member service.” There’s not a single piece of evidence out there to support this level of ignore – no one asked for it, no one likes it. Answer the phone = wheels on luggage.

Solve the obvious problem that others seem to ignore and you will have your differentiator.

You’re welcome.

Last week I hiked the hill. My first time ever walking the marble halls of buildings packed with our elected officials who will decide our future. The state flags line the halls – guiding us to our representatives.

I’m an Oregonian – born and raised in Portland. Always will be. I know that Portlanders are bred to dislike the state to the South – especially the deep south – Los Angeles. Portlanders are granola-eating-Birkenstock-wearing-tree-hugging-bicycle-rights-protecting-recycling-liberals.  Just watch Portlandia on the IFC network. It is spot on.

A recent transplant  to New Mexico I can say that they are rightfully proud of their heritage, their art, the balloon festival and of course…the green chile. There is NEW Mexican food and there’s Mexican food. Don’t ever confuse the two. The street Juan Tabo, is pronounced Whan TU-boh. I’m not supposed to love the Rail Runner (yet) and we are bustin’ proud of the film industry we’ve built and are pretty passionate about protecting it at this point. New Mexico’s motto: The Land of Enchantment.  The state that doesn’t HAVE to say “Don’t Mess with Us.” But instead lives it by appointing the Road Runner the state bird and a cactus as the state flower. The Road Runner, in addition to successfully eluding Wylee Coyote for decades also can kill a rattle snake. We’re just sayin’…..

This is why, in my opinion, state leagues work. Affinity. The same reason credit unions worked. A common bond. An intimate knowledge of the issues and nuances and cultural differences and the secret language of a state.

There were 17 of us from the great state of New Mexico hiking the hill last week.

Walking the long hall we passed the Senate offices of Kansas, California, Wyoming. As you read those states certain images pop into your head. That’s called branding. And it’s not fabricated by an ad agency, it’s been developing over hundreds of years through the natives and immigrants and sports teams and universities and farmers.

Speaking of the universities – states, like colleges have alumni. The people that were born and raised in the territory. Even when they leave – they will always be alums.

This is why the state league system has worked so well. This is why Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren traveled extensively during the 1920’s forming state leagues through the Credit Union National Extension Bureau. The term “league” was employed to denote a mutually supportive organization for the promotion and success of credit unions.

The state leagues each created a corporate credit union – the credit union for credit unions. But the corporate system just moved our money. Consolidation in that industry made sense and of course, as we know today, is mandated due to circumstances that I promise  never to address in this blog. We’ve flogged that horse ad nauseum.

I worked for the Oregon CU League many years ago. It allowed me to travel all over my home state. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to small towns  like LaGrande and Coos Bay and Klamath Falls. If it were not for the league, it’s likely I never would’ve discovered all that is beautiful in Oregon and met some amazing people.

Same goes for New Mexico. I’ve been to Silver City – where I found the most amazing wine bar. And had the Bobby Flay Throw Down winning green chile cheeseburger in San Antonio, New Mexico. I’ve seen Hatch – home of the world famous green chile. And of course the aliens in Roswell.

I hope we never forget these tiny pockets of our world. Where hard working dedicated souls continue to honor Filene’s vision of people helping people.

Thanks to Denise for allowing me to guest-author on her blog.

Mary Beth King

Our regular eye doctor recently referred my husband to a specialist. The day before the appointment, the specialist’s receptionist called. I arrived home from work first and listened to the message. 

At first I wasn’t sure there was even a message there and finally made out a tiny, whispery voice. I hitched up the volume on our phone, reran the message and barely made out the Mouse squeaking almost inaudibly and incoherently fast to confirm my husband had an appointment the next day. He listened to the message when he got home and we both agreed this receptionist had a terrible phone manner.

He went to his appointment, was examined by the specialist and told to make a follow-up appointment. The young and apathetic looking Mouse was sitting at the front desk when he came out of the exam and stopped to schedule the follow-up. In her teensy, tinesy voice, she flatly told him she could not find him in the system – even though he had just met with the doctor. Voice and manner showed she had no intention of making any effort to find him in the system. My husband, never a patient man even in the best of circumstances, and I walked out.

The Mouse left a message again yesterday to schedule the follow-up. Again, we barely deciphered her machine gun fast, sotto voce message. He called this morning and the Mouse’s co-receptionist told him that she didn’t know anything about any follow-up and still didn’t have him in the system. She also showed the same disinclination to make any effort to help. He hung up and said ‘Never again.’

We speculated that both receptionists were either A. related to, or B. making whoopee with one of the doctors to be able to keep their jobs because they obviously had nothing else to recommend them.

My husband again called our regular eye doctor, whose competent and audible receptionist then referred him to another specialist with an equally audible and competent staff.

The whole incident made me reconsider my own telephone-side manner. Audible? Check. Coherent? Check. Do I care? Check.

Whether we speak face-to-face or by phone to members, fellow credit union professionals and other members of the public, I know most of us know the wrong answer is, to paraphrase the Mouse, ‘I don’t know’ in a rapid whisper. The right answer is ‘Let me find out and help you with that right now’ in clear, ringing tones.

Feeling smug and assured that you are never a Mouse? Good job.

I’m back in the office after a life-changing trip to Fishers Indiana. The first annual CU Watercooler Symposium was a giant success. It was an experiment that could have gone totally wrong. As a meeting planner and public speaker for years, I have to say it had so many opportunities to implode. The planning was unconventional, the coordinators for the most part inexperienced, the venue, a credit union – and did I mention in Fishers Indiana?

I was one of 11 editors tasked with pulling this off. I “hired” a speaker for expenses only. Always dicey. Let’s face it – there are two schools of thought on this strategy. You get what you pay for and he doesn’t really have a contract so if something better comes up, I’m screwed.

I met my speaker choice the night before the gig. I trusted that he would a. show up, b. show up sober and c. deliver the goods. I’m happy to say he did all three and more. He was so great CU Times approached him directly after his speech and this appeared by the end of the day!

The Watercooler was streaming live to audiences all over the nation. Most attendees live tweeted. There was no place to hide. The CU Warrior and Tim McAlpine just put it out there. And it was brilliant. They took everything we hold sacred in the conference arena and just tossed it lovingly out the window.

The biggest difference for me though was not the agenda, or the way speakers were “found” but the audience. These people wanted to be there. There was no golf, we stayed at the Hampton, we ate buffet food and we partied at Cheeseburger in Paradise.

It felt like some weird version of summer camp. At the end there was hugging and “see you next years” and a sense of belonging I’ve seldom felt at a regular conference. In just two short days there was bonding on the level of a DE or CUNA Management School. We worked hard, we played hard.

At this stage in my career, I feel very blessed to have been a part of this. A page has turned. Here’s to the next 10 years. The 2020 vision of credit union conferences is changing. Long live the Watercooler!

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March 2023