The Beginning

I watched the sun rise the morning the Next Top Credit Union Executive award was announced. I was in Dallas and I sat on the floor of my hotel room with my legs tucked up under my arms. The sky was extraordinary; this electric sangria of color I can’t begin to describe. I thought to myself, “This is it: either the start of something or the end of something.”

It turns out it was both.

It was the start of a whole new level of learning. I come from a tribe of learners and teachers. My mom is a teacher. My dad is a professor. My brother is a MENSA-genius who knows everything about everything. So I feel part of my purpose is to learn and to teach. It’s what my tribe does.

The experience at Wharton was like no other learning experience I have had to date. I loved it. The week was about new ways of thinking. Strategic planning from the periphery. Leading from personal transparency. Creating vision from unorthodox opportunity.

One of the instructors said, “We face challenges, not barriers.” I like that so much of the conversation was about possibility, imagination, and innovation.

The learning went beyond classroom curriculum. One of the best parts of the week for me was sitting next to Ronaldo Hardy. Most of you already know he was in the NTCUE competition as well. It was nice to get to know him on an entirely different level. I feel like he and I will be connected for the rest of our careers. What a gift it is for me to be part of a new tribe as well.

Wharton and the NTCUE experience also ended some things for me. Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” Over the last few months I have discarded my beliefs about power.  I used to hold on to my VP title as proof, in a way, that I was a leader. It was a big piece of my identity in this industry, especially because I was/am “younger” – whatever that means.

I am clearer now that real contribution transcends titles or organizations, age or gender, or even education or achievements. So many of the conversations over lunch or dinner during Wharton demonstrated what a difference one person can make. I am inspired to lead bigger as a result.

I watched the sun rise the morning after my week at Wharton. I was in a hotel room in New York City and I sat on the bed with my legs tucked up under my arms. I thought to myself, “What an adventure this has been.”

I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Tina