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Two words: Instant. Gratification.

Last week-end I was catching up with all the Hollywood gossip in People magazine and read a review of Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. I love him. Pulled out my Kindle and bam. Owned it.

Earlier this week I posted on the CUCallCenter blog the ROI on a social media journey. We posted this video, and sat back and watched the hits like it was, well television. Instant feedback.

Just now my niece texted me (during breakfast) that Netflix dances on Blockbuster’s grave with instant viewing of Battlestar Gallactica! Frakking awesome news.

Netflix gets it. When Blockbuster was still making people queue up on a Friday night to get the latest release and penalizing you if you did not drive BACK to the store within 24 hours to return it, the folks at Netflix were beginning to digitize all titles.

As my friend Brent Dixon said at the Credit Union Association of New Mexico’s Annual Meeting this year. Now means now. Not in five minutes or five days. Instant gratification. That’s what Gen Y expects. Is it reasonable? Sure. Better yet, is it possible? Of course.

Consider the primary financial indicator (or so most people think) the checking account. A royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move. And how have we addressed the issue? A switch kit that looks like a To Do list highlighting what a a royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move it is. Another glaringly obvious idiocy?  Being told I’ll have to wait 7 to 10 days to receive my Debit card. BUT, I can still get a pad of temporary checks instantly. Gen Y wants it now. Ten days is an eternity. They don’t even know HOW to write a check.

I’m going to go watch the BSG now. Frakking awesome.

So say we all.

Yesterday I was in the O’Hare Airport. I used the restroom. As I was leaving I came upon this sign with accompanying phone.

I got to thinking about best practices and bathrooms.

# 1 : Tom Peters says in his 100 Way to Succeed and Make Money top of the list best practice – is clean. As in, there’s no excuse whatsoever for sloppiness, unitidiness, less than s-p-a-r-k-l-i-n-g restrooms. And that applies to lobbies, offices, etc.

#2 – Protecto toilet seat covers. Midwesterners, I love ya. But why don’t you have these? I have to make my own, which never quite works out like I want and those auto flushers mistake the movement  for “being done” and – whooosh – all my hard work – gone.

#3 – The “wave your hand in front of it” towel dispenser. Swine flu brought us signage on the proper way to wash hands – like a surgeon would  – and then you have to grab onto some skanky handle and crank away for a towel? Nope. Good on ya whoever invented the auto towel.

#4 – The Purell dispenser on your way out – as an extra coating of clean.

Those are the basics. But where’s the wow?

#1 – Fresh flowers. Cuz let’s face it, what would you rather smell?

#2 – On your honor tampon basket. I was in a restaurant restroom once that made these things look like art.

#3 – Full length mirror on your way out that makes you look thin.

What are you bathroom best practices? Wait, that sounded weird.

For all those folks that were so nice to ask if I was going to continue blogging….here’s your answer. Of course I will – but a little less industry specific and a little more “Things that make you say…Hmmmmmmm.”

I began my week with a bit of a scare. Some horrible rash attacked my entire face! It came on quite suddenly and with my history of allergies, asthma and related wheez-doggedness, it freaked me out. I went to the dermo who promptly punched me in the face and said we gotta send this to the lab.

Results came back – it’s official. I have atopic dermatitis. An allergy symptom of sorts that has robbed my skin of its youthful luster. Or put another way – I am now the girl with the ruddy complexion. We’re treating it with drugs and lotions and potions, but it’s with me for life. And guess what triggers it? Stress. Oh, that’s a relief.

Being a public speaker and consultant, this gave me pause. I mean, people shouldn’t judge you by the color of your skin (mine is a bright red and bumpy at the moment) but let’s face it, sometimes they do.

Luckily this week I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on not one, but two blog talk radio shows. The Liquid Lunch and Current Issues in Credit Unions. I have a face for radio now, so this made me quite happy. I also realize I have the face of a writer. I mean, let’s face it – get it – many writers never show their mug. I’m going to be the JD Salinger of the blog-o-sphere. Seriously. If you need a good writer for your blog – call me. I can write more than one.

And finally this week ended my long term, sometimes dysfunctional relationship with Saturn. As many of you know, I have been crazy in love with the Saturn brand since the beginning. I purchased five of them over the years. I named them Buttercup, Toonces, Goldie, Rosie and finally Sunkist. But GM killed the company and I’m left with a bitter feeling. So I called my local Saturn dealer upon hearing of their impending closure and basically said “Hey guys, why not do me a solid and buy this car from me so we can part as friends.”

They did just that. I drove to Vancouver Saturn, left my car and a copy of my first book, Tattoos: The Ultimate Proof of a Successful Brand. Saturn was Chapter 4 on my list of tattoo-worthy brands. On the inside cover I simply scribed:

“To my friends at Saturn. Thanks for a great ride.”



Yesterday was my set up day. I started with a long walk through the woods in Camas. Then showered, packed and drove the 101.4 miles to the front door of my little cottage in Gearhart. I was really nervous when I unlocked the door with the key that had a seashell dangling from it. I hoped the pictures on the web were accurate and up-to-date.  What if there was bad juju in there? You can’t see that in a picture, you have to feel it.

Click. Turned the nob. Oh, wow. My own tiny little piece of writer’s heaven. A gas wood stove that is controlled by the thermostat – which admittedly took me a loooonggg time to figure out. A kitchen stocked with champagne glasses for celebration. Upstairs, my bed tucked away in a loft like room with fabulous sheets and a big down comforter. The bathroom has a pedestal sink and a shower that looks like you’re standing on stones from the beach and one of those giant shower heads that is meant to feel like rain. Oh, and when I got my key from the owner she told me that in the garage there are bikes, and kites and clam guns. Perfect. Perfect.

I set up shop. My flip chart, pens, favorite books, Santa Fe candle, flying pig for good luck. Rearranged the furniture so I could pull the table from the kitchen and plop in smack dab in the middle of the living room facing the front windows, wood stove warming my back.

I walked 2 blocks down to the beach to say goodnight to the ocean. There were only a few people strolling along the shore. It truly is a recession. Two little kids were slinging handfuls of sand into the surf. I watched them for a good long time wondering what was going through their minds. Were they trying to exert their power over the breaking waves? Why sand and not rocks? It was wet send so it kind of threw like a rock….I wasn’t much of a rock thrower as a kid. I was trying to have this deep writer’s moment, just being there and observing. And finally just thought, weird little kids. I shrugged, took a deep long breath of the salt air and walked back.

This morning I had to start my day with a big cup of joe. There’s a coffee pot in my kitchen but it’s the sad Mr. Coffee that has seen better days. I noticed a bakery when I drove through town last night. Sadly, the bakery is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays – during Spring break. Again, hard times. But then I saw it. Pop’s. It’s a candy store with a glowing espresso sign in the window. Works for me.

I opened the door and the familiar bell rung – the kind that is tied to the door knob. Ahhhh….there’s nothing like a candy store where they actually make the candy. Think about it. You walk into a See’s or a Godiva and you smell the mall. You walk into Pop’s and you smell nirvana. I ordered my coffee and saw a fresh plate of scones. The Pop’s girl said, seeing me eye them, “They’re fresh and still warm.” That’s cross-selling people.

I just ate, and I’m not kidding, the best scone on the planet. You know how some scones leave kind of a weird film in your mouth? Not this one. And it was layered with lemon curd. I am ready.

Thanks for listening and for all the messages of encouragement you’ve sent already. Here we go!

My dear friend and mentor Sarah Canepa Bang uttered those words to me at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville, Oregon many years ago. I was there all day hosting a league event. I got a message from the front desk to call Sarah at the office. This was before cell phones, remember those days?

On a break I went to the pay phone to call her. She simply said, “Can you meet me after the conference at the hotel bar?” “Um, sure,” I said. Of course I couldn’t concentrate the rest of the afternoon. Was I getting fired? What did I do wrong? Think. Think.

Sarah offered me a new job/opportunity. I felt wholly unqualified and told her as much. That’s when my professional life took an abrupt turn.

She had confidence in me – but I did not. I suffered from a well-known disorder called the impostor complex. I didn’t have a college degree. The person who was vacating this position had one – it was in Biology – but it was a Bachelor’s.

I won’t go into the reasons/excuses I didn’t go to college, that’s not the point of this post. But rather, to help people understand that you really can do anything in this country if you have the vision, passion and discipline.

I meet people every day that have amazing visions. I am surrounded by passionate people, on the internet and in my community. Discipline is the roadblock for most of us. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his groundbreaking book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes about 10,000 hours of commitment to move from novice to expert.  At a full time 2080 hour work year, that’s just under five years. IF you’re focused.

I leave for Gearhart, Oregon in a couple of hours. I’ve rented a little cottage, with a tiny kitchen and a wood stove. I am going to finish my book The 2020 Vision of Marketing: A Focus on Purpose. It has become an albatross of sorts.

God’s great equalizer – time. We all get 24 hours a day. You cannot earn more or be punished with less. You decide how to use those hours. I’ve been saying “I don’t have time,” when I am really saying “I’ve not been willing to make the time.”

So, here I go. Acting like the expert. Without a single writing class under my belt. Just a laptop, a flipchart, books I admire and a vision.

I’m going to blog each morning about my progress. It’s a great way to start the day, and I hope you’ll all be rooting for me as well as shaming me into completion.

Oh, and if I get the chance, I plan to dig my own razor clam, shuck it, and make chowder, like my Granddad and Nana used to do. That will probably be the scariest moment this week.

No one disputes that loyal members do three things:

  1. They buy more from you – increasing services per hh and profitability.
  2. Market for you – decreasing your marketing expense
  3. Tell you how to improve their cooperative – “I’ve been a member since…”

You know they do it – but can you measure it? A study released today from the Filene Research Institute, Exploring Ongoing Member Loyalty: Net Promoter in Credit Unions, proves that credit unions with the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) also have the highest profits. Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question, refers to NPS as the company’s growth engine. If done properly, it is a valid predictor of the future health of the organization. Unlike ROA which reflects the current operating condition.

In my opinion, NPS was the missing link on the balance sheet. The majority of our accounting measures focus on the quality of our widget (loan) rather than the quality of our product (service).  If your credit union believes that service is your differentiator, why wouldn’t you measure it as rigorously and accurately as ROA?

NPS does just that. And, it’s very simple.  By asking a random sample of your members this question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend the credit union?” you can begin to understand what really drives loyalty.

The Member Loyalty Group, a CUSO founded by Addison Avenue, America First, Baxter, BECU, Educators and San Francisco Fire Credit Unions, partnered with Dr. Laura Brooks (co-author of the book Answering the Ultimate Question) for the Filene Report.  If you’re not already a Filene member, you should join. If you are, your copy is on its way.

Okay, I’ll post about it. Did you hear that First Tech and Addison Avenue have proposed to each other? A merger that is. This will be the biggest merger in US credit union history, and will yield the 15th largest credit union in the US. We’re talking a huge wedding reception!

I, for one, did not even know they were dating. When I heard, my first reaction was, “What the What? What about the children?” And then the more I thought about it, it just makes sense. Both credit unions are healthy and happy – this isn’t a shotgun wedding. This is a great union.

So I propose a toast.

To the groom. I met Tom when I was 18 years old. He was my first boss at a tiny little government employees credit union in Portland, Oregon. He was young and funny and very smart and smoked Salem menthols at his desk (it was the ’80s people, get over it). He rewarded hard work and was on the bleeding edge of technology even back then. Fast forward to the late ’90s, he became my last boss at First Tech. He was the ballsy (there I said it) CEO that dared to open a branch in Bellevue, Washington to capture the Microsoft audience while being headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. He smoked fancy cigars by then and had this cool fan installed above his desk so you couldn’t smell them…sort of.

I loved working for Tom. My favorite mentor moment. I made a HUGE mistake with our website (and keep in mind we served Microsoft, Intel,, Nike world headquarters to name a few). After the dust settled he came to my office. I fully expected to be fired. Instead he said, “Hey, you took a chance. People who never make mistakes are not doing anything worthwhile. Now stop beating yourself up.”

The bride is Benson Porter (as Addison Avenue will be taking the First Tech name). I was lucky enough to meet Benson at his coming out party at Addison Avenue. I was asked to speak about branding during this transition. My first impression was, he’s very handsome. But my second impression was, he’s very excited to be at Addison. Genuinely honored to be chosen and recognized what a gem of a credit union the board entrusted to him. Later I got to work with his team to help form the Net Promoter Score CUSO the Member Loyalty Group. He, like Tom, is a credit union pioneer.

So raise your glasses and help me congratulate the board of directors of First Tech and Addison Avenue for arranging, what I believe, to be a beautiful marriage.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

..and happy retirement and happy birthday Tom (March 17th…..Pisces!)

I was excited to see in my google alerts this morning a local story about switching from a bank to a credit union.

Brent Hunsberger of The Oregonian authors a personal finance blog called “It’s Only Money.” He is very thorough is his research. I learned a ton from reading his post – here’s just a sampling:

Last week, classic credit cards issued through Oregon credit unions, on average, charged 11.2 percent interest, according to Datatrac, a market research firm. Bank-issued cards charged 17.2 percent.

If you love those kind of stats, you need to read his entire post.

He plugs shared branching and the Co-Op network, he lets banks say we have an unfair advantage (ad nauseum) with the federal income tax break, and he even got an opinion from an Illinois State University professor on the impact of the economy on some credit unions.

But the most interesting part of the piece? His list of pros and cons for joining a credit union.

The pros are what you’d expect. They’re lending, their rates are better, they’re easier to join, etc.

But the cons list included:

Some are acting like banks.

OnPoint Community Credit Union of Portland and First Technology Credit Union of Beaverton each boast more than $2 billion in assets and hold more deposits than any Oregon-based bank, except Umpqua Bank.

That’s it.

The writer is a member of a credit union (he doesn’t say which one), so he offered this con as his personal opinion.

Does this mean bigger isn’t better?


I truly believe that corporations don’t have values, people do.

I developed this tool I call the “ripple effect”  to use in my consulting and strategic planning facilitation to a) show the board and CEO that what they really value is not necessarily what is framed on the board room wall and b) to help the management team realize they have very little control over their  brand or reputation.

It’s so simple in theory, but hard in practice. As luck would have it, our economy experienced a ripple effect akin to a tsunami when bad decisions, investments and values caught up with the banking system.

It has provided me with a wonderful illustration of the ripple effect. I give you the story of Washington Mutual or WaMu.

It’s September 25, 1889. The great fire of Seattle had destroyed 120 acres of the central business district. Washington Mutual begins to literally rebuild the city. They made their first home mortgage loan 5 months later. For the next 80 years, their focus was on the American Dream….owing a home, not having a mortgage. There’s a difference, in values.

The core of the ripple effect – values. So devoted were they to this value that in the 90’s they even stopped offering auto loans.

When leaders change, so do the values. In 2003 Chairman and CEO Kerry Killinger pledged to build WaMu into the “WalMart of Banking,” which would cater to the lower and middle class consumers that other banks deemed too risky. Big shift in values. The ripple effect begins.

The appetite for profits was huge and the housing market was feeding that hunger.

The ripple begins with rewards. Rewarded behavior is repeated. In the book Punished by Rewards, Janet Spence offers this observation:

[Rewards] have effects that interfere with performance in ways that we are only beginning to understand.

There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense. At the point when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control; we do not have the idea; it has us.

Values shifted. Measures and rewards shifted. WaMu began pressing sales agents to approve loans while placing less emphasis on borrowers income and assets. They set up a system that enabled real estate agents to collect fees of more than $10,000 for bringing in borrowers. Ripple.

On December 27, 2008, the New York Times featured an interview with a former WaMu mortgage processing center supervisor. The article stated:

“John D. Parsons was accustomed to seeing baby sitters claiming salaries worthy of college presidents, and school teachers with incomes rivaling stockbrokers’. He rarely questioned them. A real estate frenzy was under way and WaMu was all about saying yes.”

The ads were everywhere as was the word-of-mouth. Customers marketed for WaMu. Think about it. You’re WaMu’s new target audience. Blue collar worker. Renter. Suddenly you’re in a beautiful home. You brag. The power of yes is real. Ripple.

Pressure to keep lending emanated from the top (the values center) where executives profited from the swift expansion. They acquired mortgage companies in California, Illinois, Texas, Florida and New York. Kllinger received compensation of $88 million between 2001 and 2007 (the culture ripple – reward). WaMu pressed sales agents to pump out loans while disregarding borrower’s incomes and assets (the action ripple). WaMu’s the Power of Yes ads and word-on-the-street fueled growth (the reputation ripple).

“We hope to do to this industry what Wal Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs and Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

Kerry K. Killinger, chief executive of Washington Mutual, 2003.

Well Kerry, you were right about one thing. In five years you would not be called a bank – you would be called the biggest bank failure in American history. Congratulations.

He began to lead with his greed instead of his head, or his cold, cold heart. He valued the bottom line more than people’s well being. He lost site of the American dream. He will be credited in history as a catalyst in this economic crisis.

WaMu’s story ended eerily on the same day it began – September 25, 2008.

As you finalize your 2010 budgets, please take a moment to see what you value. What is getting measure, managed and rewarded? What ripple effect could that have on your reputation?

For a member owned financial cooperative, these 11 simple words “I have a blog, and I wanted to let you know” is the equivalent of the member leaving the credit union lobby circa 1978, walking across the parking lot to the lunch room after an unpleasant transaction and sharing their experience. Only back then, they may have told only 5 people. Today they can tell 5,000 in less time than it takes them to cross the parking lot.

Today my Google Alerts gave me this:

How PSECU (Pennsylvania State Employee’s Credit Union) Swindled Me

If you want to understand why social media is so important. If you want to convince your boss that it’s not a waste of time for you to be in front of your computer reading blogs or following smart folks on Twitter, you need to read this blog.

Better yet – if you want to understand what brand is really about – not your logo, your tag line or the shiny happy people that adorn your website, brochures and branch walls ad nauseum – read this blog.

Your brand is your reputation. Period. If you mess with that, you’re toast. You can’t improve your reputation by purchasing shinier, happier people.

This is the new world for marketers. Members are in control. Not us. We can market our spanky new VISA card all we want. Lobby posters. Direct Mail. Newspaper, radio and even TV ads. Most people will ignore those. We’d like to think they don’t, but they usually do.

The power of this blog? I had to opt in. I wanted to read it. So will your members.

And the brand word was in there. This member understands what’s at stake. Reputation. I have to take her word for it – but if this credit union is dabbling in predatory lending practices to make ends meet, it might help them this year – but the future is bleak.

I had the honor of co-hosting the year end CU Watercooler Roasts & Toasts show last month. We awarded the first ever Golden Dixie Cup award to the best moment (in our opinion) in 2009 to Ondine Irving. [Oh, and Ondine, that trophy is on its way as soon as I figure out how to pack it..]

Ondine has single-handedly created a web presence that has captured the attention and devotion of Suze Orman by highlighting credit union credit cards that do not engage in predatory lending practices. At last count there were only 500 credit unions on her “dean’s list.” Suze is promoting her site on Larry King Live, CNN, and soon on Oprah.

Are there only 500 credit unions listed because the rest are….well…… this one? Please say it isn’t so.

Thank you to for the reminder – it’s your credit union and…. “I have a blog and I wanted to let you know.

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June 2023