Having dealt with governmental bureaucracy throughout his career, the Honorable Colin L. Powell compliments CUNA, the state leagues, and credit unions for their pursuit of common-sense regulation.
“I think you are so wise to come to Congress and say, ‘Don’t do any more than is necessary,’” Powell said Tuesday during a keynote address at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
After sharing an anecdote about how as secretary of state he craftily circumvented a rule that tried to add layers of administration, Powell observed that more so than ever, you have to “trim down and get smart.”
During his speech, Powell—a retired four-star general, and the first African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff—reflected on his nearly six decades of public service, exploring themes such as leadership, confidence, and American optimism.
Powell also recounted his long association with credit unions, dating to his early days in the military. Advised by the Army on how to manage his newfound wealth—he had a monthly salary of $222.30—Powell declined the suggestion to open a bank account. Instead, he happily made his way to credit unions and found a difference there.
“I decided to put money into a credit union and you even explained finances to me,” he says. “You educate your members, and that is so important. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you do for our citizens—solely to serve.”
Powell became one of the nation’s most respected political leaders following a 35-year military career in which he played a role in major conflicts from the Vietnam War to Operation Desert Storm.
After joking about how abruptly the limelight fades, Powell said he enjoys this new phase of life—talking to audiences, and the people he meets on his travels. “I learn so much about what is going on in America,” he says.
On one hand, Powell sees anxiety, fear and concern in the country. But he also sees confidence and optimism.
“This audience is perfect for that,” he told GAC attendees. “Confident in what you are doing.”