Posts Tagged ‘America’s Credit Union Museum’

Confessions of a reformed wallflower

April 8, 2009

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. Those of you who have met me in person would probably not believe it, but it’s true.

When I met William Azaroff of Vancouver in Manchester, NH a couple of weeks ago to tour America’s CU Museum, and then later that same night went out for dinner and drinks with Matt Davis of North Carolina and Ron Shevlin in North Reading, MA, we discussed that one of the criticisms leveled at us “social media” types who attended and presented at the 2008 Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis was that we didn’t mingle with others. I hadn’t consciously realized that, but looking back, it was true. And I am sad about that.

And though there is no excuse for that, there is a reason for it, and l will explain and tie paragraph one to paragraph two. It’s human nature to greet friends warmly, and not to walk up to strangers to introduce yourself. I try to greet people at most opportunities, and say hi to those I pass in a hallway. When given a choice between giving a handshake or a hug to an old friend, and introducing yourself to a stranger, it’s human nature to greet a friend first, because that’s much easier.

And that’s the amazing thing about social media and social networking. Sometimes you give an especially hearty greeting to someone you are meeting in person for the first time if you have already gotten to know that person online. Because, as Ron Shevlin has pointed out, you can get to know, online, a person who lives 3,000 miles away better than your colleague down the hallway who isn’t online in any meaningful way. When you get together, you already “know” that person. Especially given the conversational nature of twitter, you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about them on a personal basis. When you meet, you don’t need to use small talk to find common interests, you just naturally pick up the conversation that you’ve already been having online, and will continue online later.

I remember my first PodCamp Boston experience; it was the second of the PodCamps that they have held. I missed the first day entirely, but arrived in time to catch the tail end of the official evening party. I met a couple of folks who I had connected with online previously, but felt very much the outsider. It seemed like everyone else already knew each other. Undaunted, I continued to meet people throughout the second day and learn more about what this social media thing was all about.

And so I write this blog post to encourage everyone who is a.) relatively new to social media, b.) naturally shy, or c.) both, to put aside that shyness and to do your best to overcome that feeling of being a social media “outsider” when you come upon a group of social media people hanging out with each other, such as that which occurred just two weekends ago at PodCamp WesternMass. Bear in mind that most people involved in the online social world are exactly that: fairly social. Please understand that although it’s human nature to hang out with friends that you already know, most of us involved in the field really WANT to meet new people. Sometimes we just need a nudge of encouragement.

Remember that everyone in the world of social media was an outsider at first. If you introduce yourself, the folks worth talking to will be more than glad to have met you.

You only turn 100 once

November 24, 2008

It’s another very special day in the CU movement today….

The very first credit union was established 100 years ago today in Manchester, New Hampshire. It’s called St. Mary’s Bank, and you can visit the place where the U.S. branch of the movement started on that same spot in what is now America’s Credit Union Museum. I’ve been there several times, and trust me, if you are at all passionate about the movement, you need to visit the mecca and see and feel where it all began… the mill where the first members worked (mostly French Canadians who came south from Quebec in search of a better life) is still two blocks down the hill from that house.

Here’s an article that CUNA ran today.

I think it’s very appropriate that this day often falls on Thanksgiving. It’s a great time to give thanks to our country, our employers, our members, our families, our friends. So I’ll take this moment to give thanks to the thousands of credit union professionals who make EverythingCU the outstanding community that it is.

What is your credit union doing to celebrate this historic occasion? What does the future look like for credit unions for the next one hundred years?

Congratulations Credit Unions, on a Century of Service

March 12, 2008

I have the great honor and pleasure of talking to credit union professionals all over the nation. The subject of the proud history of CUs, holds special meaning to me because I had worked with the movement for about ten years before I learned ANYTHING about its incredible history. I certainly had no idea that the movement started in my backyard, a hop skip and jump across the border, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I gave a talk on social media and World 2.0 this morning to a group of about forty credit union marketing professionals from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire at the CU League’s headquarters in Marlborough, Mass. I asked about the movement’s founding, and it was wonderful to get a detailed answer. In our presence was a representative of that very first CU, Andrea Pruna of St. Mary’s Bank. Not only did she know the date by heart (November 24, 1908), but she let us know about a wonderful section of their web site devoted to this, the Centennial Year of Credit Union service. I encourage everyone to check out Celebrating 100 Years for a terrific look at the amazing road we’ve traveled so far.

This is one of the reasons I’m especially excited that BarCampBank NewEngland will be held in America’s Credit Union Museum on April 5. The museum is the actual house where St. Mary’s Bank first began operations 100 years ago, out of the home of Attorney Joseph Boivin, who served as the CU’s President. If you listen very carefully, you may hear the whispers of the generations that have preceeded you when you stand in the parlor of the building.

Shout-outs to so many of the fabulous credit union marketers who came today. Thanks to Jon Reske and Anne Pinkerton from UMassFive College FCU, Mark Vautour from Telephone Workers CU, Deena Bernier from NMTW Community CU, and Debra Perrin from Southern Mass CU. I’m not good with names, so I haven’t remembered those who I met for the first time, but thank you also. It was fun that we had four one-billion-dollar CUs represented as well, Greylock FCU in the Berkshires, HarborOne CU in the South Boston area, DCU of the Worcester area, and Navigant CU in RI. Thank you to Rob Kimmett for organizing a great event and inviting me, and it was wonderful to catch up with CU whirlwind Bonnie Doolin.

My presentation today included demonstrating and explaining Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and showed examples from Shari Storm and the Verity CU team, William Azaroff of Vancity CU and Change Everything, Ginny Brady, board member of UFirst FCU with the Boardcast, and Tim McAlpine of Currency Marketing with Larissa Walkiw, spokesperson for Young and Free Alberta, and her infamous Credit Union Difference video part one, currently at 16,228 views. On the topic of Facebook, I have started writing a paper on the Facebook as Marketing Engine and plan on publishing excerpts to this blog. For those interested in checking out twitter, here’s the one-page PDF of Twitter Tips.

I also touched on Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P Lending), Prosper’s amazing growth rate, and how CUs can participate by getting in touch with Doug True, SVP of Lending, at Forum CU. Doug has been instrumental in having P2P Lending company Zopa partner with CUs to offer NCUA-insured loans and investments.

New BarCampBanks update

October 18, 2007

I just had a great Flashmeeting with Frederic Baud in Paris and Matt Iverson in the Bay Area. (Love the Flashmeeting interface…. good stuff.) Frederic is interested in helping Matt get BarCampBankSF off the ground, and helping me get BarCampBankNewEngland off the ground. So here’s what came out of the virtual meeting:

BarCampBankSF: Matt Iverson of BoulevardR has interest from Jason Knight of Wesabe, as well as the Mint people and Bryan Sims of Brass, in being a part of the event. That should be enough to get the ball rolling. He’s thinking about doing it on the Sunday before President’s Day, so that’s February 17. He’s looking for local Bay Area help in organizing the event and finding a venue, and he’s thinking about holding it in or around the UC Berkeley campus.

BarCampBankNewEngland: I’ve talked with Peggy Powell, the director for America’s Credit Union Museum, located in Manchester, New Hampshire, on the site of the very first CU created in the United States, and we’re looking good for holding the event there. I think it’s mahvelous that we will be discussing the current revolution in personal finance at the site where the CU revolution in personal finance was launched 99 years ago. At this point, I’m thinking April 26, 2008, and would love any input/feedback on that date for coming to New Hampshire for the event.

I’ve got interest from several parties for being a part of this event, including Ron Shevlin of Epsilon, Peter Glyman and Shawn Ward from Geezeo, and Doug Williams, and possibly Trey Reeme, and Matt Dean of Trabian. If you would like to participate, please put your name down on the BarCampBankNewEngland page.


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