Posts Tagged ‘Brent Dixon’

It starts at home

August 30, 2012

Do you ever wring your hands that more people don’t know what a credit union is? You’ve sent newsletters, done radio ads, put up billboards, and still so many people don’t know?

Well, I’ve got a really important idea for how to take care of this.

As marketers, most of know that the number one source of new business is through referrals of existing business. So if you take care of your current members well, they will tell their friends and family. So let’s assume you are already taking care of your members.

Are you taking care of your employees too?

And what I mean is this: Employees are people. They are not bodies taking up space in an organizational chart. What could be more demoralizing to a person than being assigned an email address of Teller1@NotABankFCU.com. I bet YOU don’t have an email of CFO5@NotABankFCU.com or VPMarketing28@

So why do this to a teller? Because you have high turnover in the position? Of course you have high turnover in that position; it’s a hard job with low pay. But when you treat people like numbers, and EXPECT that they will be out the door soon, it becomes even worse. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and turn over gets worse, not better.

Yes, a big percentage of your tellers will eventually leave. But what about the ones that stay? What about the future CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and VPs of Marketing? Take a look at all the amazing programs going on for the future leaders of the CU movement, such as The Cooperative Trust’s Crash Events and CUES Next Top Executive.

I will offer this thesis: The best way to spread the word about what credit unions are is to treat every single new employee as if they are going to spend their career in the credit union movement, and eventually work their way up to being the CEO of YOUR credit union. If you treat every new hire in that way, sure, many of them will leave someday.

But here is the benefit: Even the ones who leave someday will enjoy their work more thoroughly. They will likely stay with your CU longer, thus reducing turnover. And most importantly, since you have educated them what it means to be a credit union, they will educate your members what it means to belong to a credit union.

AND….. for those one or two special people who grace your establishment for their entire careers…. YOU can feel special knowing that you have nurtured the next generation of credit union leadership. And it all starts with treating your new hires like they matter. Because they do.

To tweet or not to tweet: Is it even a question?

November 18, 2009

To tweet or not to tweet?

Is it still even a question?

Like everyone else, I only reluctantly joined the twitterverse initially. Nearly universally, people hearing about Twitter for the first time think it’s a dumb idea, one that has zero business use, and only marginal personal use. I think this reaction happens nearly for nearly everyone because you can’t see or understand Twitter until you get inside it.

Recently, the business case for twitter was poo-poo’ed by a real estate blogger, and it drew a strong reaction from realtors that successfully use twitter in their business. One of the commenters in favor of twitter stated that twitter users are in the top 2 percentile of intelligence. While clearly this is an overstatement, not based on facts, it IS possible to have a twitter experience of only very smart people. What sets social media apart from the broadcast model that preceded it is that EVERYONE gets to control who is or is not in their very own network. If you want to only follow brilliant people, then you are free to do so.

Because I’ve been in the twitterverse for so long (more than two years), it’s hard for me to remember that many people haven’t been exposed to it, nor have the time to develop a quality group of people to tweet with. Twitter advocate and consultant Laura Fitton (@Pistachio) continues to make arguments for twitter for businesses. I applaud that she is bridging the gap. But for many people, they will simply have to experience Twitter, or at least see it in action, to understand its usefulness.

I was recently witness to a new use of Twitter that leaves me chuckling and shaking my head…. and that is as extension of one’s own brain. Shari Storm, VP of Marketing at Verity CU in Seattle, and author of Motherhood is the New MBA, recently tweeted that she had written a note to herself, “Evaluate MOH”, and couldn’t remember what it meant. Lo and behold, several of her twitter followers chimed in with possible meanings of MOH. Many replies were funny, and the correct answer, Messages On Hold, was mentioned by several people.

Think about that for a second… Shari wrote a note to herself, designed for her eyes only, forgot what it meant, and then asked friends and strangers for help deciphering it. And they did! What better case for Twitter could be made than as extension of one’s own brain?

By the way, what got me hooked on Twitter, back in 2007, after the typical false start phase that everyone goes through, was a tweet sent by Brent Dixon relaying something that Shari said in a presentation that was occurring 1000 miles away from me at the time. Brent tweeted that Shari said “of new members joining Verity CU, three times more cite their blog as the reason than direct mail.” It was an important bit of information that I would have never known had it not been for Brent, Shari, and twitter. And I was hooked.

If you are interested in hearing Shari talk about her book, Motherhood is the New MBA, you can hear her interviewed, 30 minutes into this 60 minute TQ Radio show, recorded Monday Nov 16, 2009.

BarCampMoney NYC or BarCampBank NYC?

January 26, 2009

Last year, I was delighted when Frederic Baud, one of the organizers of the first BarCampBank (in Paris), tweeted that he just discovered that BarCampMoney NYC was to be held on April 14, 2008. By complete coincidence, the organizers, including Jonah Keegan, had gained momentum to put on the event without knowing that a similar event had been organized in the U.S. the previous year, in Seattle, and that two additional U.S. BarCampBanks were slated for San Francisco and New England in each of the preceding two weeks to the New York event.

I assumed the NYC event was named BarCampMoney instead of BarCampBank simply because Jonah was not aware of the existence of the other events, and had been inspired to create an event in much the same way that the original event was spawned from BarCamp Paris, but had simply decided on a different name.

If you are not already familiar with BarCamp and BarCampBank, these are unconferences where the audience/participants are the star of the show. Entry is free or low cost, and there are no featured speakers. It’s a model of democracy in action. The best Camps are conducted using Open Space principles with no predetermined agenda. Despite its funny name, BarCampBank is an unconference dedicated to innovation in regards to technology and finance. It’s definitely not about bankers, per se. In fact, bankers are a minority of attendees at a BarCampBank if there are any at all.

I gave Jonah access to the BarCampBank Facebook group already in existence, which included people who were at BarCampBank Paris and BarCampBank Seattle. At this time, I also invited Jonah to change the name of his event to fit the existing community of BarCampBanks that had already occurred, or were about to occur. He declined, citing that materials had already been created and published with the BarCampMoney name, which was understandable.

The event was well-attended, with approximately 50 out of the 75 registered attendees showing up. The group was quite diverse, from investment bankers to angel investors to entrepreneurs to programmers.

The organizers are about to hold the event again, on March 7, and knew there was an opportunity to either stick with the BarCampMoney name, or switch to the BarCampBank name.

My arguments for switching to the BarCampBank name are as follows:

1.) Few bankers usually show up to BarCampBank. The fact that’s it’s not just about bank or just for bankers is explained quickly and easily. But it makes sense in that discussion is about how we can revolutionize the ways in which banking is done.

2.) There are already groups set up and organized online with the BarCampBank name, i.e. wiki pages, Facebook group, Google Group. These groups represent a worldwide audience of people who are interested in BarCampBanks, and may have attended one.

3.) There have been many BarCampBanks held throughout the world, namely:
BarCampBank Paris (the first one, in Sept. 2006)
BarCampBank Seattle
BarCampBank SF
BarCampBank NewEngland
BarCampMoney NYC
BarCampBank Dallas
BarCampBank London
BarCampBank Charleston
BarCampBank BC

Already on the slate for this year are:
BarCampBank London 2
BarCampBank SF 2
BarCampBank Vegas

Being planned are:
BarCampBankCharlotte
BarCampBankMadison
BarCampBankBarcelona
BarCampBankEstonia
BarCampBankMadrid

During a conference call with the BarCampMoney organizers today, the New York group has decided to stick with the BarCampMoney name for the following reasons:

1.) Historical precedent; continuity with last year’s event.

This is understandable.

2.) New York is special, and includes Wall Street, investment bankers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and is the financial center of the world; therefore it deserves a special name, different than the rest, to set it apart.

To me, this argument is weak. Every city is special and every city lends its own character to an event, especially a financial-related event. Having attended four BarCampBanks in four different cities, and even organizing one of them, one of the things that I most enjoy about them is the distinctive character that each city lends to the event. BarCampBank SF was wonderfully tech and start-up oriented, BarCampBank NewEngland was credit union oriented by design, the first BarCampMoney NYC was venture-capital and investment oriented, and BarCampBank BC had a worthy-cause and social media flavor.

New York as a city has enough star-power on its own that it doesn’t need additional differentiation through the name.

3.) Another reason cited for keeping the BarCampMoney name was that this subset of the greater BarCamp movement could catch on and be held in numerous cities worldwide. This argument makes no sense since the BarCampBank movement has already caught on and is already being held in many cities, with many more in the works. BarCampLondon 2 is slated for February 14 and BarCampBank SF 2 is slated for April 25 & 26. This argument also directly contradicts the argument that the NYC event needs a special name due to the unique nature of the financial community there.

A BarCamp of any type is primarily about meeting people in-person, and therefore is primarily oriented to the physical geography in which it is held. But since technology is breaking down barriers of geography, acknowledging the world outside, being inclusive to the greater movement is worthy too. To say that New York is special is redundant; every locale is special. To try to show the rest of the world that New York is special through having a different name is to not be inclusive to folks in other areas who may have interest in attending, or in some way getting involved. After all, though the efforts of Brent Dixon, at BarCampBank BC, via live video stream over the web, we had questions and comments from all over the world, including colleagues in Boston, North Carolina, Dallas, Madison, Paris, and elsewhere (Hi Ron, Matt, Brad, Chris, and Frederic!).

Ultimately, the name won’t affect the event too much one way or another, except in the expectations of some attendees. The question boils down to if the organizers want this event to be a part of a broader movement or not. As long as the event is held in the spirit of BarCamps, then either name will work.

Your thoughts and opinions on the matter?

Thank you, Doug True, Forum Solutions, and Trabian

October 7, 2008

Symposium 2008I had the privilege of speaking to credit union professionals last week at this year’s Partnership Symposium. This unique event was hosted by Forum Solutions and Trabian. I had heard last year’s event was quite the happening, via the CU blog/twittersphere, from such sources as Trabian’s Open Source CU. In fact, last year’s event was one of the first times I learned something valuable from someone (Brent) twittering at a conference (when Shari Storm was speaking) that I wasn’t attending in person.

My presentation was on strategies for successfully building community online. In the first part of my talk, I made the case for why online community building is a natural and important extension of a credit union’s offline community. I then presented seven strategies that I’ve found to work in creating EverythingCU.com’s online community of 6404 credit union professionals, and showed ways in which credit unions are applying those same strategies in their own online community building efforts.

I enjoyed immensely the Q&A portion of the event with moderator Ron Shevlin, and loved the questions that he asked me (as well as all of the other speakers). There is only one question that I would have answered differently had I anticipated it, and that is the question, “for which CUs is online community building NOT right for?” My off-the-cuff answer was that it’s not right for CUs who don’t care about community and run their shops just like a bank. But what I should have answered is that it all depends on their members and potential members, and what online communities currently exist for those people. If there already exists an online community for a CU’s core membership, then it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel. Instead, staff of the CU should join and participate in the existing community. But if there is currently no online community for the core membership, then there is a huge opportunity for the credit union to fill the void.

My only disappointment from the week is that the internet bandwidth was not sufficient during my presentation for it to be recorded. But I have posted the slides of it here. I am gratified that Andy LaFlamme of Maine State Credit Union live blogged my talk on the CU Loop.

StretchIt was an honor to be asked to present, and a joy to reconnect with so many CU colleagues, as well as meet so many participants in the CU blog/twittersphere in person for the first time. Extra special thanks to the gracious Forum Solutions team, including Doug, Jen, Leah, Kristi, Ashli, Cameron, and Andy for taking such good care of us during our stay, and making us all feel like rock stars. The stretch limo taking me and Tim McAlpine back to the airport was an extra nice touch. (I’m sure the limo was for keynoter Tim, and I just happened to be catching a ride at the same time.)
(Photo credit: Gene Blishen)

Notes from Social Banking session at BCBBC

September 25, 2008

BCBBC08Had an amazing time connecting with some great people at BarCampBank BC. Here are my notes from the first session on Day Two, Sunday, on the social nature of the banking relationship. For notes from other sessions, see William Azaroff’s live blog series, which starts here and the Camp’s wiki page, which includes links to some video recordings.

How do you allow front line people time to socialize and do internal networking?
Answer from Gene Blishen: Listen to them, ask what is mundane, routine, that they hate, and figure out how to automate that.

Employer has to create an environment to allow this to happen. Have to be brave, to create this. create systems that empower employees.

Indecison= decision — wastes time and effort.

Internal social network

Have to have people who are excited to be where they are and tell their friends about it
otherwise, same as traditional marketing, which is pushing things out.

How do we change the conversation to be about social media relationship building and not so much ROA, or else how do we measure ROI of social?

Bank willing to lend to an entrepreneur with more social connections

Facebook as collections tool

Head of the comma: REI model — even though most don’t go into wilderness, REI needs to appeal/work for that group because the rest aspire to that.

Credit Unions: Industry or Movement?

May 2, 2008

It’s pretty amazing when you look around the credit union landscape and realize there are so many passionate, hard-working professionals who are striving to make their members’ lives a little bit better every day.

Recently I had some private email discussion that made me think back to Brent Dixon’s excellent OpenSource CU post on CUs being an Industry vs. Movement. When subsequently the CU Skeptic came on the scene, and got a certain degree of flame-mail for his stance and anonymity, I had to come to his defense to say that his voice is important and likely representative of many others. There are people, both inside the industry and outside, who say that credit unions are really the same as banks… that we are just pushing more debt and doing whatever it takes to bring dollars into the institution no matter what the impact to members (e.g. fees generated via courtesy pay, tap the equity in your home for any purpose), in which case we are no different than banks, right?

Please know that there are few people more passionate about the credit union movement than I am. But more and more people within the movement are concerned about a bank-like attitude that is pervading throughout credit union land, especially at larger credit unions. And they might be afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. Are large CUs losing their way? Are they a black eye to the industry/movement? Or is a more bank-like approach inevitable with growth?

Or is it that we are just an errand that people appreciate even less than dentistry, and we just create tons of junk mail in the pursuit of making a buck? Are we becoming cutthroat competitors of each other who only cooperate when its convenient? Is cooperation now an anachronism?

If we have lost our way as a movement, who is at fault, our members for not caring about the credit union difference anymore, or our fault for not telling our story in a way that resonates with them?

Update: I just discovered (via comments to the CU Skeptic’s About page) that our Irish friends are wrestling with these same issues.

(If you are a credit union professional, and want to respond in a forum where only your credit union peers will view it, you can do so on EverythingCU.com here.)

On the intertubes, everyone gets to be a rock star

March 21, 2008

In the Sixties, Andy Warhol predicted everyone would get their 15 minutes of fame. In today’s World 2.0, everyone gets to be a rock star. I’m usually not starstruck…but tonight I got to rub elbows with a true superstar – Guy Kawasaki. I bought Guy Kawasaki’s first book way back in the mid-eighties… it was called the Macintosh Way, and it is awesome.

Guy has had a pretty interesting career, especially as an early Macintosh evangelist, and when he started blogging, I started reading his blog. He is passionate about business, about entrepreneurship, and is an all-around cool guy. Guy is now a Venture Capitalist and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

Earlier tonight, @itsjustbrent (Brent Dixon) twittered to Guy Kawasaki that he should add Charlie Trotter’s (@chaztoo) cartoon/comic site called Lolzies to Guy’s new site called Alltop.com. Brent then twittered to the rest of his followers that everyone should petition Guy to add Lolzies to Alltop. At that time, my skeptical radar went on red alert. (I nearly turned into Mr. Grumpy Cranky, aka Ron Shevlin.) I thought to myself there is NO WAY GUY KAWASAKI is going to put Lolzies into his latest online endeavor.

Here’s some background on Guy Kawasaki’s recent online presence: Being well-connected in Silicon Valley, and with a great self-brand and entrepreneurial message, Guy quickly rose to the Top 50 of all bloggers in the world. (A-list, true technorati.) When twitter went mainstream for the technorati, Guy was there. Unfortunately, Guy didn’t follow the hundreds and hundreds of people who were following him. Since Guy likes to promote the projects he’s working on, many followers accused him of “using” his twitter presence just to shill his wares. Guy realized this wasn’t cool behavior, and to prove his detractors wrong, started to follow EVERY one who was following him. Well, that is now more than 6,200 twitterers. So I thought to myself, even assuming Guy is following Brent, how is he going to spot his tweet out of THOUSANDS that must be flying by his twitter-reader every second?

Personally, as much as I like Guy, I have slowed down with following his blog regularly. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the speeches he gives online there, but I’ve felt a need to focus on my own work. And since I don’t follow his blog as regularly as I used to, I definitely didn’t want to follow him on twitter. I didn’t want to see a stream of interesting, but distracting, information coming my way from him. But since Brent was trying to flag his attention, I figured I’d check and see if it were true that Guy follows those who follow him, so I followed Guy. And sure enough, I got an email back saying that Guy was following me just minutes later.

Then I joined in Brent’s petition to get Charlie’s Lolzies onto Alltop. This was followed by @CUWarrior joining in the petition to Guy for Lolzies. I think it might have been the giant feathers on @CUWarrior’s twitter picture that got Guy’s attention, because Guy tweeted back saying isn’t Lolzies a humor site and not a cartoon site? At this point my jaw hit the floor that GUY KAWASAKI was actually tweeting with us! So I jokingly asked Guy to sign my twitterrific interface, to which he responded “you’re scaring me”. He then returned the joke and said “sure, just send it over to me.”

After some banter, and Guy requesting that we all pimp Alltop in return for putting Lolzies into the comic area of it, he put it into the Comic feed, if Charlie was also willing to work some pictures of Guy into the comic itself if he sent over some photos of himself, and mention Alltop. Which Charlie quickly said yes to. (http://comics.alltop.com).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the true story of how Charlie Trotter became a rock star overnight. Do something worthwhile, and it could happen to you, too.

Addendum: This is the promise of social media– that quality and talent wins. Everyone with something to say has a chance to say it. Within every single one of us is a unique talent, and we are all rock stars. Traditional media gatekeepers are no longer in charge of what becomes popular or not. As Brent tweeted this morning, “Congrats, @chaztoo. Awesomeness wins again.”

Thank you DC! You’ve been real!

March 6, 2008

Thirsty?Wow, what a great turnout at the TwittaBloggerSocial Meetup in DC on Tuesday night. Adam and I had dinner with Ginny Brady, Liz Woodard, and Jody Carpenter of UFirst FCU located in Plattsburgh NY ahead of the main meetup. Then 8:30 rolled around and we connected with Bryan Sims of Brass|CU located in Corvallis OR, and I met his Sales Manager Tim. Then we were joined by Jeff Hardin, Communications Director for the North Carolina CU League and Christopher Morris, Web Manager for the CUNA Councils, HQ’d in Madison, WI. Then Brent Dixon of Trabian, located in Dallas stopped in. Later we were joined by his brother Paul who now lives in San Fran. Then we were also joined by Rob Rutkowski of Current Issues in Credit Unions podcast fame, who was there with his brother, Tom. I also said hi to Mark Meyer of the Filene Research Institute who was grabbing a bite to eat with Bryan Sims earlier in the evening.

Conversations covered a wide range including Batman movies, the usefulness/uselessness of twitter, general impressions of the conference so far, and enjoying DC. Later the party moved across the block to the Renaissance Hotel. Brent, Paul, Adam and I decided to take a cab rather than having the downpour soak us. It was a very good call.

Twitter Group 1Photos are on Facebook and Flickr. I am still awaiting the group photo from Ginny Brady. My favorite part of the meet up: I just couldn’t get over sitting at the same table with Ginny, Jeff, Christopher, Brent, and Rob, who blog and/or twitter from NY, NC, WI, TX, and OH respectively. What was your favorite thing about it?

Successful World 2.0 Hands-on Workshop in Lake George

December 5, 2007

Explaining World 2.0Just got back from a fun, intense day of leading a workshop for the NYSCUL Adirondack and Capital Region Chapters on Bringing Your CU into World 2.0. This was a laptops-up, hands-on workshop, and it was a resounding success. As part of the workshop, we twittered with several people who couldn’t be at the event, including Ginny Brady, Ron Shevlin, Jeff Hardin, and even Brent Dixon, who we conversed with while he was with 20-year-old Board Member Justin Ho in Austin TX for the YES Summit. Via twitter, Brent asked our collective workshop in Lake George if we had any questions for Justin. Linda Dickie, of Hudson River Community CU asked what the average age of Justin’s board was. I twittered that question to Brent, who in turn asked Justin. Brent twittered back to us that the answer was 57. (A very young number according to our Lake George friends.)

Laptops Up at Lake George NYIt was fantastic to take the mystique out of World 2.0 by demonstrating how quick, simple and free it is to sign up for these tools and sites. Attendees now have the foundation for how to succeed and win in this new World 2.0 we are living in.

Also, huge props go to Linda Bourgeois and Jody Carpenter of UFirst FCU, for organizing the event and making today possible. In addition, a big thank you to EverythingCU’s Dan Reynolds and Adam Lueb, who demonstrated EverythingCU’s webinar interface and online switch kit, respectively (and for taking some great pics of the workshop). And it was indeed great to meet Charles Folensbee, Matt Barbell, Kim Reilly, and Kip Summerlin in person at last, and to reconnect with Walt Everhardt, VP of Marketing for First New York FCU, who has been blogging for several months now.

Demonstrating blog commentingI will be doing this workshop throughout 2008 to help CUs across the country experience first-hand how easy it is to get going with World 2.0. If you know the education director at your state’s CU League, please email me and I will email you back a PDF containing the info that is covered in this hands-on workshop that you can, in turn, forward to him or her. If you attended this event, in-person or virtually via twitter, please comment here! Here are some Twitter Tips. Also, if you send me your email, I’ll send you a PDF of the slide deck. Let me know what we could have done better, or what topics you’d like to see covered more, or less of. More of Adam’s great photos of the event available here.

Scott, William, Trey, Brent, and Shari in SpokaVegas

September 13, 2007

Thursday in Spokane started off with a bang… I bumped into Shari Storm, VP of Marketing for Verity CU, and author of the first blog in CU land. I first met Shari in Suquamish in May. Also in the morning, Scott Bedbury, author of a New Brand World, gave the morning’s opening talk, followed by a great skit orchestrated by Trey Reeme and Brent Dixon. I also got to talk more with William Azaroff, creator of Vancity CU’s Change Everything program. And I was glad that Chuck, Cynthia, Mark, and Gail of United Health Services CU in Spokane had the opportunity to hear Scott Bedbury reinforce the brand principles that we’ve been working with them on since March of this year.

In the afternoon, I was delighted to learn about all of the great things that William’s Change Everything blog is doing in the Vancouver region. Having Vancity Credit Union be naked to the world is not without its challenges, and it was fascinating to learn how he’s dealing with that.


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