‘Ask the Old Guy’

Sage advice for new leaders confronting industry challenges.

May 25, 2021

Here is the first edition of “Ask the Old Guy,” an advice column for new leaders who are confronting industry challenges:


Dear Old Guy: I’m a new CEO and our first exam is coming up. Can you recommend something that will help me through this stressful time?—Stressed in Kansas.

Dear Stressed: Get off on the right foot and try to make this a learning exercise for both of you.

While you will find that regulators come from a certain viewpoint, in the end you both want the credit union to be successful.

Dear Old Guy: How do we get our members to use electronic services? They’re reluctant, and all they want to do is to sit in the lobby and drink coffee.—Coffee Snob.

Dear Coffee Snob: Make really bad coffee.

Do you know why they don’t use your electronic services? Do they use others? Like those from Facebook, Google, and Amazon? You will probably find it’s not them, it’s you.

How do your mobile offerings compare with those they use and enjoy?

If it boils down to the fact that they enjoy shopping at Amazon, but hate using your mobile banking app, you’ve probably answered your question.

Dear Old Guy: I don’t think the other managers here respect me because of my energy and drive. I come in every morning at 8 a.m. and don’t leave until 6 p.m. I run 10 miles per day, serve on three nonprofit boards, and coach my kid’s soccer team. None of them work as fast or as hard as I do. What should I do to fit in?—Peloton Lover.

Dear Peloton: First, lay off the energy drinks. Second, you may have their respect, but they don’t want to compete with you. This isn’t a race, and even if you come in first, nobody wins until everyone crosses the finish line.

‘Leadership is not bestowed, learned, or practiced. Rather, it requires you to have the trust of those around you.’

Dear Old Guy: At my credit union, most of the groups operate as their own silos. There’s lots of bickering between groups and not much collaboration. How can we safely bury the hatchet?—The Knight.

Dear Knight: Quit sharpening it.

Dear Old Guy: I’m trying to be a good leader but none of my staff listen to me.

How can I make them pay attention?—Boisterous in Boston.

Dear Boisterous: Hold your breath for 60 seconds. They won’t notice your face turning blue, but you might hear something coming from them.

Dear Old Guy: What’s the definition of leadership?—Team Player in Tacoma.

Dear Team Player: Leadership is the ability to convince others to wholeheartedly follow you on the path to a common goal. It is not an ability that is bestowed, learned, or practiced. 

Rather, it requires you to have the trust of those around you.

Dear Old Guy: I keep forgetting my passwords. Do you have any tips for someone with a bad memory?—Forgetful in Florida.

Dear Forgetful: I used to have the same issue until I switched my password to “Incorrect Password.” Now I get reminded what I set it to multiple times each day.

JAMES COLLINS is president/CEO of O Bee Credit Union. Contact him at or 360-943-0740.