Friday, December 18, 2009

Lessons from an "Un-Conference" - BarCampBank Chicago

It was a week ago today that I sat in a classroom at the Illinois Credit Union League with 20+ other finance professionals from across the industry at BarCampBank Chicago.

What is a BarCampBank you ask?

A BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering (an "un-conference") born from the desire for people interested in to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from participants interested in finance, innovation and/or technology. The aim of BarCampBank is to foster innovations and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance.

The agenda is set by participants the day of the event. What do you want to discuss? Learn more about? Give a session or lead a discussion on? BarCampBanks are devoted to sharing and learning in an open environment - all participant driven. This allows people to more easily connect with those who have similar interests.
Sounds cool huh? That's what I thought. I attended a BarCamp proper (focused primarily on technology) last year and have been intrigued by the concept more and more after reading of other's adventures with BarCampBanks across the movement. Last week was my first BarCampBank.

I'm a little late to the after-party - there have already been some great postings on last week's event here, here and here. Here are a few of my take-aways:

  1. Having no agenda beforehand actually can be productive. This was the part of the event that scared me the most because I tend to overprepare for everything. Also we plan all of the council conferences' agendas months in advance. So staring at the blank board below was a little intimidating at the beginning of the day! But it worked. We went around the room initially and carved out topics people wanted to talk about...and then we discussed them. And the discussions never lagged - I was envisioning some sessions tapering off or dying mid-stream, but every session could have went over its allotted time (because everyone there was smart, thoughtful and not shy which helped too). I also learned something in every session.
  2. Social media is still scary. We kicked off the day with a ninety-minute discussion of social media dividing the room into two separate discussions - the novices and the more advanced users. I led the "intro to social media" group with Carla Day and it's always eye-opening to see how little some people know about social media what it is, how it works, etc, (not the attendees per se, but their tales of their colleagues, boards, IT dept, etc). I don't know whether it's because I'm immersed in it everyday, but there still seems an ignorance out there by some - I'm not saying every credit union needs to be on Twitter, I'm just saying your marketing department and others should at least know what Twitter is.
  3. Deep dish pizza is still good. Lunch. 'Nuff said.
  4. Board relations can be improved. In one of the sessions, I was surprised to hear how little staff at some credit unions interact with their board of directors. Most information is funneled through the CEO. Not good if you are trying to get backing for new ideas. Maybe cajole a short appearance and/or presentation at the next board meeting?
  5. Generation Y is still relevant to credit unions. One of the morning sessions I was in focussed on marketing to young adults and there was a general feeling that with the economic crisis and CU corporate issues in the last year, this issue was put on the backburner of many's strategic plans. In 2010, expect to see this issue highlighted again - as it should be.
  6. Anything is possible. After the BarCamp I attended in Madison last year, I wanted to hold a BarCampBank in Madison somehow. I got a group together to plan it, but it never got off the ground - months later I put something out on Twitter and it got the ear of friends Stacy Dugan and Carla Day. "Let's do it in Chicago instead!" "How can I help?" Boom. We talked. We emailed. Six weeks later we were standing at the event with 20+ others from credit unions, leagues, CUNA, vendors and even one lone community banker. Sometimes all it takes for your idea to take shape is to say it out loud.

Friday, December 04, 2009

CCUC09 Redux - Young Board Members Important to CU Sustainability

When young adults enter the credit union conversation, the focus is typically on how to attract and retain them as members.

But what about young folks as board members?

One of the most important aspects to the future of credit unions, the impact of adding young board members to the mix is often overlooked.

Not at CUNA, of course.

That's why we had Ben Rogers from the Filene Research Institute to discuss this very topic during CUNA's 2009 Community Credit Union & Growth Conference in Las Vegas.

Watch as Ben reviews the highlights of his presentation...


The topic was also addressed during CUNA's 2007 YES Summit. Justin Ho, board member for USC Credit Union at the time, presented how his involvement had made things better for his credit union.

Take a trip via Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine and check out this post from our archives for more info on Justin's presentation.

You may notice a comment from one Brent Dixon... whose socks were apparently blown off at some point.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Check out the CU Water Cooler

It's been a while huh? It's been a long, busy year and didn't want to think I forgot about you loyal YES readers (hi mom!).

Anyway, I'm posting today with an exciting announcement - the launch of a neat new site: It's the brainchild of Matt Davis (aka Credit Union Warrior) and the premise is simple - assemble a team of editors to "bubble up" the most interesting articles around social media and credit unions. What are people talking about? What is worth talking about? Visit the CU Water Cooler.

I'm honored to be one of the inaugural editors and already I've been impressed with the breadth and depth of links posted on the site by others.

So check it out - Read. Add your thoughts. Connect. And keep on moving forward.

> CU Water Cooler
> CU Warrior's blog post for more background on the site

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CCUC09 Redux - Networking and Sharing Ideas

Question: What's one of the biggest benefits to attending a CUNA event?

Answer: Being able to network and share ideas with fellow credit union executives and volunteers.

We hear this time and time again through event evaluations and conversations with attendees.

The Community Credit Union and Growth Conference was no different. CCUC09 attendees enjoyed many collaborative opportunities thanks to "Lunch and Learn" sessions, a reception sponsored by CUNA Mutual, and the many networking breaks.

But what if you weren't there?

One group was gracious enough to let me sit in and share their candid conversation with you. Watch John Sackett, Board Treasurer of Royal Credit Union and member of the Community Credit Union Committee, as he shares his opinion with other attendees during a networking break.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CCUC09 Redux - Reaching Out to the Largest, Fastest-Growing, Youngest, and Most Underserved Population

Warren Morrow of Coopera Consulting believes credit unions have a tremendous opportunity to grow membership and create a sustainable future for the Movement.

That opportunity lies within attracting and serving a population contributing nearly a trillion dollars annually to the economy... Hispanics.

Here are a few items I want to share from Warren's presentation "Reaching Out to the Largest, Fastest-Growing, Youngest, and Most Under-Served population" at CCUC09.

Why Hispanics?

During his presentation, Warren identified six key areas that demonstrate why Hispanics can have a positive impact on credit unions.
  1. Growing population in U.S. - Hispanics are expected to comprise one third of the U.S. population by the year 2050.
  2. Significant workforce participation - Currently, one out of every two adults entering the workforce is Hispanic according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
  3. Highly entrepreneurial - The number of Hispanic-owned businesses is expected to grow to 4.3 million between 2006 and 2012 with total revenues rising to more than $539 billion.
  4. Young population - Currently, one in five children below the age of 18 are Hispanic AND second generation Latinos are expected to outnumber their parents as early as 2020.
  5. Consumer power is booming - Hispanic buying power is projected to exceed $1.2 trillion by 2012.
  6. Largely unbanked - The FDIC projects that Latinos will represent more than half of U.S. retail banking growth in the next 10 years.
These points demonstrate that Hispanic's are an ideal demographic for credit unions to establish a relationship with NOW (largely unbanked, represent a significant presence in the workforce and as consumers) and in the FUTURE ( a young and growing population that will need access to financial services).


Warren covered many areas important to a successful partnership with the Hispanic community.

The one that resonated the most for me was having the right organizational mentality. Why? Probably because organizational buy-in is also an important consideration when discussing how credit unions can better serve and attract young adults.

Here's my take... Credit union employees--from the top down--may believe that since they don't know much about the demographic in question, any related initiative does not involve them. However, a truly successful initiative involves the buy-in from as many organizational resources as possible... this allows for every opportunity to be maximized and makes it an organizational effort as opposed to a team or individual effort.

I wish I could share more about this presentation, but time is running short.... and I don't want to give EVERYTHING away :)... but now you can see the major points.

To give you additional perspective about the session, here's Warren Morrow:


Monday, October 26, 2009

CCUC09 Redux - Quick Quips Replay

Have a look at the Quick Quip replay for additional commentary from CCUC09... there are more than a few interesting bites of information.

What's the deal with Quick Quips? These were (and are) brief bits of information originally posted in real-time throughout CUNA's Community Credit Union and Growth Conference. They provided the ability to add commentary during the event while in-depth coverage appeared in the regular blog posts.

You can check out the Quick Quip Replay by scrolling through the box below:

CCUC 09 Redux - More to come

CUNA's Community Credit Union & Growth Conference may have ended last week, but there's still more to come here on the blog!

The event was jam-packed with info and insight... and some posts didn't make it online during the live event. So, be on the lookout for additional commentary and videos from the event.

Of course, you can also re-live the live blog experience. Check out the Quick Quips "replay" as well as the original live posts during CCUC09.


Friday, October 23, 2009

CCUC09 Live - Serving Gen Y... and Lunch

There are only a few things I like better than eating lunch. One of them is sharing information and ideas with credit union folks about better serving/attracting young adults WHILE eating lunch.

And that's exactly what happened this afternoon.

There were three "Lunch and Learn" sessions today, each with their own individual topic. Each addressed serving specific demographics--Hispanics, emerging markets, and young adults. And I was fortunate enough to facilitate the young adult session.

The 20 or so attendees were excellent. They shared ideas, frustrations, best practices, and a few laughs as we dove into almost all aspects surrounding credit unions and serving those just starting out in life. Our discussion lasted almost the entire hour and thirty-minutes and (luckily) ended before the after-lunch energy lull kicked in.

During the session I jotted down some notes and thought I'd share them with you... see below!

CCUC09 Live - Board Effectiveness, Organizational Performance at Pre-Conference Event

Robert Burns wrote in his 1785 poem "To A Mouse":
"The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,"
I wonder if Burns realized that this line would still ring true in 2009?

I planned to arrive in Las Vegas early on Wednesday, October 21 to kick-off the live blog with a post covering the preconference workshop, "Building a Balanced Score Card for Organizational Performance." Leave it to travel mishaps to put a kink in those plans.

But that doesn't stop THIS blog! Live blogging requires you to roll with the punches, no matter what plans you've laid out.

So, how do you cover something when you're not there to take notes? Why, you go straight to the source, of course!

Here's pre-conference session leader George Towle, of the Rochdale Group, to give you a quick rundown on what transpired:


CCUC09 Live - Lois Kitsch's Remarks on her CCUC09 Presentation

I caught up with Lois Kitsch, national program manager for the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program. She was kind enough to chat about her session, Growing Members One Deposit at a Time.


CCUC09 Live - Video Clip of NCUA Board Member Hyland's Address

The actual audio here on-site is much better than this short clip lets on... but wanted to share what the experience is like, and how well the technology is working.

We're currently in a round of Q&A... attendees asking lots of great questions about CRA, corporate stabilization, the future of courtesy pay programs, among other topics.