America's CU Conference

Scenes from Tuesday at ACUC

Keynoter Simon Sinek, a leadership expert, was one of the day's highlights.

July 2, 2014


When implementing branch-transforming technology, make sure members understand it, says Brian Porter, Diebold’s director of branch transformation/advisory services, during an Industry Trends and Best Practice Session Tuesday. “This is a big deal when you’re changing a familiar environment,” he says.


“CUs must prepare for new innovations on the payments, technology, and other fronts to remain relevant to consumers,” Doug Benzine tells attendees of an Industry Trends and Best Practice Session Tuesday. Benzine is CUNA’s vice president of publishing and strategic resources.


To cultivate the next generation of leaders, executives must always be thinking about their legacy, says leadership guru Steve Farber, during a Tuesday  Executive/Young Leaders Series Session.

"If you care about your legacy, it's not going to happen by osmosis. Start talking, find your bench, and invest your knowledge and wisdom in this next generation.”

And how do you help young people learn leadership? "Involve them in community or business service projects,” Farber says. “Give them the experience of leading--and then give them feedback." 


“CUNA isn’t skipping a beat” despite the departure of former CEO Bill Cheney, says acting CUNA President/CEO Bill Hampel, during Tuesday’s General Session. 

“We’re focused on a vision for the entire CU movement: Americans choose CUs as their best financial partner,” he says.
CUNA also is addressing CUs’ concerns with NCUA’s risk-based capital proposal, and is preparing to make a big splash over the CU movement reaching 100 million members, says Hampel, who thanked Cheney for his four years of service.

Every company says the right thing, but only a handful do the right thing, says Simon Sinek, during an Executive/Young Leader Series Session Tuesday.
And for middle managers struggling with a toxic leader, keep in mind that you have no control over senior management. "The only thing you can do is concern yourself with the people you work with," he says, by banding together to look after one another.


ABBA isn't just the pop band from Sweden. To marketer Jeffrey Rohrs, it stands for Always Be Building Audience. Keeping audiences engaged is the challenge for marketers in the future. It wouldn't hurt CUs to take a page from the late-night comedians, who employ "warm-up" acts to prime their TV audiences. That's how you have to think, always priming your audiences with content, says Rohrs, vice president, Marketing Insights-ExactTarget, during a Tuesday Discovery Session. Lady Gaga, for instance, conducts question-and-answer sessions with fans on Twitter, giving away some of her content--often before she's ready to come out to sell them something new.


"Talent will make or break your culture," says Mollie Bell, chief engagement officer for Filene Research Institute. Speaking to attendees at a Discovery Session, Bell says that at the end of the day, "talent wins, but you have to develop it in a very deliberative culture." Bell defines culture as a sense of identity for an organization and its people, citing Google and IDEO as leaders in creating that identity for employees. "If I visit your branches, will I get a sense of who you are?" Bell asks.



CUs are beginning to realize the importance of mobile lending, but many haven’t figured out how it fits into the strategy of their business, a CUNA Mutual Group lending specialist told attendees on Tuesday.
“A CU has to go back to its vision, values, and mission in determining its future in mobile. Mobile is a strategy,” says Robert Israelite, lending and compliance specialist for CUNA Mutual Group. “It has to start with why you are in business. Before getting into mobile, a CU should determine if their goals and strategy are related to mobile. If there’s no purpose to be on mobile, it’s worthless because it has to be connected to a strategy.”


Consider your objectives before purchasing an enterprise risk management (ERM)  solution, says Jeff Owen, senior consultant for The Rochdale Group, during one of three Industry Trends and Best Practice Sessions on Tuesday.


CUNA Interim Chief Economist Mike Schenk describes a "mildly rosy" economic forecast for attendees at his Discovery Session. Urging CUs to "keep perspective," Schenk says what concerns him a lot remains the massive job losses as a result of the most recent recession. "Bad things happen when you live through events like this," he says, citing divorce, health issues, and personal financial instability. And the average duration of unemployment--currently 34.5 months--is a long time. "It's why there remains a disconnect between overall consumer confidence and the day-to-day struggles consumers still face."


As a parent would protect a child from danger, so must leaders shield employees from harm, with a “circle of safety,” says leadership expert/author Simon Sinek, during Tuesday’s General Session.
When people feel safe, their natural disposition is toward cooperation and trust, he says. But when employees don’t feel safe, they partake in nonproductive—even destructive—behavior.
“Leaders set the tone—they decide what environment you’ll have,” Sinek says. “If there’s no circle of safety, people feel they have to protect themselves from each other. Anytime someone feels compelled to write a CYA email, this is a sign they don’t feel safe from their own people—they’re literally spending time to write an email to protect themselves as opposed to committing that time and energy to serve the organization.”


ACUC attendees share stories of the CU difference with the help of a sketch artist. The effort is part of Unite for Good, a program the leagues developed to achieve the CU movement’s shared goals of removing barriers, creating awareness, and fostering service excellence.