'Ordinary' Won't Change the World

July 14, 2010

Kevin Carroll has beaten the odds all his life. He briefly gave an account of his childhood to attendees at a general session Wednesday at the 1 CU Conference in Las Vegas.

He was abandoned by his father as an infant. Then his mother abandoned him and his two brothers when he was six years old. The boys went to live with their grandparents in Philadelphia.

When Carroll says, “Your circumstances do not dictate your destiny,” he knows whereof he speaks.

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Carroll went on to graduate from college, get a master’s degree, serve in the Air Force as a translator, work as a trainer for the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers, write three successful books, work for Nike as a “creative change agent,” and run his own company, Kevin Carroll Katalyst.

Carroll has been a credit union member since 1980, when he joined 1st Community Federal Credit Union in San Angelo, Texas. He said he always felt an affinity for the credit union mission. When he was working for Nike in Beaverton, Ore., he met the staff of First Tech Credit Union, also located in Beaverton.

“The staff of First Tech believed in me and my vision for elevating the power of sport and play around the world,” said Carroll. “They gave me a line of credit so I could be spontaneous, like building soccer fields and basketball courts around the world. They helped me to be extraordinary and do extraordinary things, because they understood that ordinary won’t change the world.

“I’ve lent my voice to a lot of causes that I feel passionate about, most recently an organization called Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” said Carroll. “What are you lending your voice to? What are you being a catalyst for?”

He challenged attendees to never lose their sense of wonder. “Adults often lose their sense of wonder,” he said. “Have you ever noticed how an adult walks down the street—hunched over with eyes downcast. Compare that with how kids walk down the street—upright with eyes looking all around.

“Your job is to look around and see opportunities in financial services,” he said. “Be extraordinary, because ordinary won’t change the world.”