We came, we saw, we Crashed.
Last week I, along with fellow Crasher Brandon Michaels, brought 9 young credit union professionals to the 2011 Missouri/Oklahoma Convention and Exposition to experience the Crash philosophy and the advancement of the credit union movement.
The goal of Crash isn’t to show up where you aren’t wanted; instead it is to have a chance to be exposed to the internal workings of the industry, to pick the minds of some of the greatest credit union leaders. We were there by the invitation of the Missouri League and took advantage of every learning and networking opportunity.
The young professionals were asked to define what Crash meant to them. In their words Crash is…an immediate indoctrination into changing the status quo, it’s about making an impact, redefining innovation and remaining both persistent and open-minded.
The Crashers were all under 33, and had been with their credit unions anywhere from 1 month to 10 years. For too many, this was their first exposure to a credit union conference.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend several CU conferences over the last few years and quite frankly not too much has changed. The hot topic sessions have been the same each time; the industry is aging, the economy has gone to pot, and the regulators are breathing hot and heavy down our necks. There’s a lot of talking, but maybe we really just need to be asking different questions.
Instead of talking about an aging membership and questioning how to attract younger members, maybe what we need to be asking is: Do our members know or care that they are members? Should they care? How do we get them to care?
It’s time to stop talking and start taking action. It’s not enough to say you want to change; you must put a plan into action and follow through. We need to stop sitting around and talking about an aging membership saying we want younger members. Instead, lets make a plan to change our marketing strategy; get on youtube, twitter and for goodness sake, unless we are going to take the time do it right, take down our facebook page.
We talk about the importance of cooperative spirit, but do we as an industry always act cooperatively? If so, then why are we fighting each other for the same 6% slice of the pie? Are there ways we can be banding together on a broader scale to accomplish our mission? Let’s stop talking about technology like it is some great barrier to growth. We were founded on the principles of being a cooperative, so let’s cooperate. Hey big CU, can you help share in some processing expense? Can a medium size Cu sponsor a smaller one into shared branching? What processes can we streamline across a broad spectrum of needs?
Crash is about changing the questions to effect change within the industry.
As part of their participation in Crash, the young professionals have formed teams to address two specific areas of concern. Some Crashers are taking on the challenge of creating a Recruiting CUSO to develop and retain talent within the industry while another group is focusing on the development of cooperative marketing and shared technology.
It was a long and exhausting three days. We learned from some of the best and the brightest. We challenged each other and asked some uncomfortably questions. We grew wings and decided it’s time for us to defy gravity.
When we returned home, we received a poignant e-mail from Rob Given, the CEO of Mazuma CU. He reminded us that to accomplish our goals sometimes we must refuse to accept limits just because someone else says they’re so. He went on to say
“You and your fellow Crashers, whether in person or in philosophy, have a chance to revise and rejuvenate one of the greatest ideas of all time – cooperative financial services. To paraphrase an old and famous military saying “Damn the regulators (and senior folks in control!) – full speed ahead.” Thanks for your willingness to take on a big challenge, because we need big solutions.”
Thank you Rob, and a big thank you to everyone who challenged us, who accepted us, and who thought we didn’t belong. You have given us the courage to get out of our own way and move the industry forward together.
Hey Crashers-Don’t Stop Believing…