A Year Later

It’s hard to believe the CUES CEO/Executive Team Network is already upon us. It is incredible to think how quickly time has passed and how amazing the year has been. 

When I was on stage last November after my final NTCUE presentation, one of the judges asked me about metrics. My project was about corporate culture. My hypothesis was, ‘we need to change conversation we have with employees’ from a tactical skills based training mentality to a success based mentality without limitations. Essentially, if we can get employees to “fire on all cylinders” personally and professionally, the results for our credit union will follow. 

When people feel good, they do good. Training programs should build to that. 

Back to the metrics: a judge asked me if I had any to substantiate my claim. I anticipated the question and knew my answer was weak. This year, I have been working on measurements. I’ve enhanced my project and reapplied it to a cross-functional team of leaders at a smaller credit union. One of the elements I wanted to test was if this training process would work with a group of people that didn’t know me. We measured the culture using a modified net promoter score. We discussed the results, built a “culture plan” around it, and created a training program to support the vision. A mid-term evaluation was instituted and we are about to complete the final program next week and then measure again. What was interesting about the first and second measurement was how much progress can be made in a short amount of time with aligned focus. I am excited by each development.

Professionally, I feel I have grown as a leader this past year. Pablo Picasso said, “every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” That mentality, while is may appear counterintuitive, appeals to me because I like the idea of recreating what’s possible for me, my team, and my community. The CUES CEO I program in Philadelphia was a big catalyst. I am a stronger strategic thinker as a result. I apply the scenario modeling to all kinds of planning and team discussions. I am grateful that Ronaldo and I, due to Gods of Alphabetization, got the opportunity to sit next to each other the entire week. We talked so much about the concepts and learning. He is very energizing. I am grateful I have a friend and colleague for life. 

Two other events stand out in terms of leadership development. I attended CUNA’s GAC for the first time this year and also went back to the Philippines as a volunteer to facilitate Credit Union Development Education training. Both environments reminded me about the power of possibility. I go back to Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Considering what has happened legislatively this year for credit unions, I feel hope when I connect with leaders who focus on opportunity. I like talking about what can happen no matter what has happened. 

My passion for performance has led me to a new opportunity in school. Many of you know I’m obtaining my MBA and JD in the evening program at Seattle University. I have partnered with a professor from The Center for Leadership Formation to co-author a paper on capability and potential. Our topic, “The Ten Elements of Extraordinary Performance” was just accepted by an international committee and we will be presenting it at a conference in London, England. What I love about the research that has gone into this paper is the confidence with which I can claim the following: performance is not a function of talent. Anyone can be a high performer. The trinity of extraordinary performance revolves around frequency, intensity, and purpose. 


Personally, I’ve been reflecting on passion. I’ve noticed that we move away from some of the things we love most (making music, writing, sports) because we “have no time” with so many other competing commitments. However, when we do the things we love, it actually fuels even better results in the other areas of our life. That’s firing on all cylinders. What that means for me is that I’ve returned to competitive swimming after a 15 year hiatus. I am so energized by this choice, words cannot possibly describe the feeling. 

Speaking of energy and passion, I am inspired by Jay, Amanda, Alexia, Josh, and Devin. I wish each of you the best on your final presentations and encourage you to relish the moment fully. Thank you for shining so bright you light the way for others. 

All the best!


My last year has truly been amazing!

Since entering the Next Top Credit Union Exec contest I have been promoted on my job. I am now the Sales Manager for La Cap. In my new role I am very instrumental in shifting our credit union into a Sales Environment. Because this is such a daunting task, my Gen Y project was put on hold. The credit union needed me to focus all of my efforts on making sure this was and continues to be a successful transition for us. 

During the competition, I received an invitation to serve on the Young Leaders For Kids Advisory Board. Our job is to come up with ideas to increase credit union participation nationwide in giving to Children’s Miracle Network. Prior to the competition no one knew who I was, so I would not have received this opportunity. Serving in this capacity has truly been a rewarding experience.

I was also selected as a 2011 Crasher, and attended the GAC this year. As Crashers, we were asked to work on a project when we returned home. Seeing the need for a Young Professionals Network in Louisiana, I decided to partner with the Louisiana Credit Union League to launch it. That network has grown to nearly 150 Young Professionals since June, and yours truly is the Chairman.

In April, I attended the CEO Institute I. WOW! That’s all I can say about that. It was truly an amazing experience. The insight we gained from that experience was incredible, and will help in propelling my career for years to come.

I’ve also gotten the opportunity to travel and speak to credit union professionals concerning Gen Y related issues since the competition. Most recently, I was a part of a panel of speakers at CO-OP’s Think Conference, as well as CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference.

None of these opportunities would have happened the way that they did had I not stepped out and competed in Next Top Credit Union Exec. It was truly worth it!

*UPDATE: There is now an additional update. I have accepted the position of President/CEO of Shell Geismar FCU. This is an awesome opportunity, and I am thankful to all of you for your help in getting me to this point!


Tina K. Hall's NTCUE and Wharton experience

Four of our 2010 finalists were able to attend the CEO Institute I at Wharton in April. We had a chance to sit down with each of them to see how being apart of the 2010 Next Top Credit Union Executive challenge has impacted their credit union careers.

Our final interview is with our winner Tina K. Hall.

The CUES Team

Lessons from CEO Institute I

Wow! I have so many great things I could say about the experience at Wharton. It certainly met all of my expectations. CUES should be commended for a job well done in putting together such a fine program for credit union executives. The CEO Institute I focused primarily on strategy. It challenged our thinking, and our ability to have peripheral vision in order to prepare for things that may impact our industry both now and in the future. The concept of scenario planning was an eye opener, and certainly a method that all credit unions should be using when developing strategic plans.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to re-connect with several of the NTCUE contestants. Tina Hall (Queen of Awesome!), Amy Stanton, and Jodi Chambers all attended the conference. We were eager to learn more, and I believe we all walked away with an increased passion for our industry, and a larger scope of what challenges are to be expected as future CEO’s. We also had the opportunity to connect with many other great executives from around the country. Making those connections were an invaluable part of the trip.

Here are some key takeaways from this experience. I managed to develop a few cheesy quotes that you may gain something from.☺

1) Nothing in the future is certain, but planning for uncertainties can make it a lot easier.

This revelation is quite simple. No one knows what tomorrow holds, but if we plan for all of its possibilities, it can be a lot easier to approach. Living without a plan is actually more frustrating and chaotic in the long run.

2) The moment you compromise your values, you become someone you once said you didn’t want to be.

This epiphany came to me in our session on ethics. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this session. We talked about the many different ways we view things. A portion of the class was consequentialists, who felt that the ends justified the means, while others were character and action driven. I was the latter of the two. The professor asked me a question during his lecture on whether or not the ends justified the means, and my response was no. He then gave a scenario that is too lengthy to type, but in short I stood on what I believed. Some thought it was the wrong perspective, while others agreed. At the end of the session, I felt good because I knew that I stayed consistent with my value system. Anything contrary to that would have compromised who I really am. So, we should all remain true to ourselves.

3) Think outside the box.

I loved the dialogue around this topic, because so many times we limit our thinking on the possibilities of what our industry could be. We frame our thinking capacity around what we’ve seen or experienced. Those experiences at times hinder the forward thinking process. If we could put that aside for a moment, and not be afraid to challenge our thought process, we could make our industry so much better.

4) Last but not least, I learned that great leaders are willing to take risk.

This was a topic I blogged on before, but something we forget about as an industry at times. Sometimes playing it safe can be much more detrimental to longevity than being willing to take a risk. Yes, we will fail, but failure is ok if we learn from it, and grow. Let’s stop being so scared to fail, and become more willing to step out and stand up for what we believe in.

There is so much more that I could write about. It would probably be a short novel, but I’ll leave you with one thought. The future of our industry is as bright as the work and thought we put forward today.


The Wisdom Exchange

An integral part to one’s success is to find someone who has achieved what he/she is trying to become, and tap into that wisdom in order to learn and grow. The wisdom one can gain from someone who has achieved what he/she is dreaming of is invaluable. CUES recognizes the need for this exchange to take place, which is why they have established a mentorship arm of the NextGen membership.

Having a mentor gives a young professional the opportunity to gain insight through experiences, as well as providing an outlet to bounce ideas off of. During the latter portion of last year, I was assigned a mentor. His name is Hubert Hoosman. Hubert has been in the credit union movement for about 30 years now, and has worked in almost every capacity imaginable. He currently serves as President/CEO of Vantage Federal Credit Union. His passion for our industry is so inspiring, and is evident to anyone who meets him.

Since our mentorship began, Hubert and I have had several phone conversations, exchanged emails, and even had the opportunity to meet in person at the GAC. I enjoy having the opportunity to be inspired by such a great person. I also enjoy being able to bounce ideas off of him, and sharing some of the challenges I face to gain his wisdom concerning it.

Although this is still fairly new to each of us, we are both gaining from this experience. I look forward to sharing more with you concerning this in the future.


Just Ask

On a scale of 1-10 how satisfied are you working at your organization?

That was the first question I asked a group of leaders at Tarrant County Credit Union last week. It was part of a three-question anonymous survey I modified from Net Promoter Score research. It is interesting how much information can come from a few simple questions. It’s amazing how much can be created, if you are willing to ask. And then listen. And then take action.

The genesis of this survey came from the CUES Executive Network in Dallas last year. I was there in November to give a presentation as the final element of the Next Top Credit Union Executive competition. The last question I was asked by a judge was, “what’s the ROI on your program?” I anticipated that question. I also knew my answer wasn’t strong enough. As I cycle through this development program I’m taking my experience in Dallas to implement stronger evaluative metrics throughout.

So how satisfied are you working at your organization? What’s the best thing about working there? What one or two things do you think need improvement?

I talked about those questions with the TCCU Leadership Team for over seven hours. By the end of the session we had walls and walls filled with ideas, action plans as well as an overarching vision of success.

TCCU scores a high cool factor in my book for starting out 2011 with a top focus on team. There’s this intangible and incredibly juicy intoxication that comes from discussing, and then creating a shared dream.

The values of our organizations transcend ROA. Loyal employees can foster loyal members. To create loyal employees we need to change the conversations we typically have with them. We need to co-create the culture we all want.

A good place to start is by asking your team what they think.

So ask.


You can help six dreams come true!

As you all know, during Tina Hall has graciously given half of her prize package to the second-place finisher, Ronald Hardy. That means that both Tina and Ronaldo will be attending CUES’ CEO Institute I at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Spring 2011.

Tina also challenged all of the audience and credit union industry at large to donate $50 or $100 to help all of the other finalists attend. We think this is a terrific idea and we now have the procedures in place to accept these donations! Here are the details:

  • CUES can receive contributions but they will not be tax deductible to the credit union or the individual making the contribution
  • CUES will provide verbal or written notification to the contributor that it is not tax deductible as a charitable contribution PRIOR to accepting their money
  • The credit union may be able to deduct the expense as a PR or business deduction

Contributions can be made by

  • Check
  • Credit card
  • ACH/wire

Please contact CUES at 800-252-2664, extension 3400.

To seed the fund, CUES has committed an additional $2,500 each to the remaining four finalists and will also be matching all public donations.

Thanks again to Tina for leading by example! Through this selfless act, Tina has clearly demonstrated that she deserves to be the Next Top Credit Union Exec!

The CUES Team

The End

I have been thinking about the past 5 months and what has been achieved through this competition. It seems my videos have taken a different approach in sharing the progress of my project. Why did I choose to include those people involved in launching Process Excellence at Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU)? Because I am so proud of my staff and the work they have completed. I am proud of the departments and employees that worked so hard on their projects and to incorporate the new processes. I am also proud of the ACU leaders that have really provided limitless support in our deployment. Thank you all.

I did not want to talk about the changes and the cultural impact we have made to date in my videos. I wanted to provide a visual and testimonials from those who are making the difference and contributing to ACU’s shift to a culture of continuous improvement. I wanted the staff to be recognized for their accomplishments, to have fun and enjoy sharing their success with the credit union system – within Canada and the United States! Congratulations!

"A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves."

Audrey Maeren is my “manager”, but more important she is my “leader”. Audrey provided me with this amazing opportunity to launch a completely new approach to improving the way ACU works and focusing on ensuring the work we do provides value to our members. Audrey has provided me with the training, feedback, coaching, direction and the appropriate space to learn how to “Lead” change. Audrey, my team could not have been as successful without the confidence you have shown in us. You are a great leader and I have been blessed to have worked with you on such an amazing experience. Thank you.

Jodi Chambers
Twitter: @tj5chamb
Regional Finalist – Canada

The Power of a Plan

What’s your dream?
I’m sure if you took some time and thought about it, you’d probably be able to name quite a few of your dreams.

For me, one of my big dreams is to be debt free by age 30. I have student loans, a car loan, and some other debt that I would like to disappear.
While it’s important to have a dream, it’s even more important to have a plan to achieve that dream. Without a plan, your dream is just that, a dream. It’s not tangible. I like to think that dreams without plans just float out in this cosmic dream space waiting for their matching plan.

But making a plan and sticking to it is never easy. Most people fail when they try to achieve something.

I’m not trying to sound coldhearted, because I’m certainly guilty of failure. I can’t even count how many times I’ve woken up Monday morning determined not to buy Starbucks that week.

But sure enough, Tuesday rolls around and I find myself in line ordering my venti mocha. Suddenly, it becomes a lot easier for a second and third, sometimes even a fourth.

When I look back at the week, I’m severely disappointed in myself for spending so much money on Starbucks. I think back to Monday morning and ask myself, “Kelsey, you had a plan. You weren’t going to buy Starbucks this week. Are you that weak?”

And then Sunday night, I make the promise again, and the cycle repeats.

I’m not trying to say that buying Starbucks is bad (especially when it’s so delicious). I just know that buying $6 drinks doesn’t align with my dream. The money I spend on Starbucks could be used to pay down my student loans or my car loan.

This is why a plan is so important.

First thing is to turn your dream into a goal. A goal is more specific than a dream. The best goals are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. When a goal is SMART, developing a plan is much easier.

When working on your plan, you need to take into consideration what is realistic for you. For myself, I can’t just quit Starbucks cold turkey. I would need to slowly step back from it. You also need to realize that it’s going to take time. Things aren’t going to change overnight. Setbacks will happen.

The goal of the We Dream community isn’t just about dreaming. It’s about taking that dream, turning it into a goal, using the resources and advice of others to create a plan, and working towards achieving that dream.

I encourage you to take some time and think about your dreams. How can you take them from just a dream and make it happen? What tools and advice do you need? Do you just need a little encouragement? Or a plan tailored to you? What is holding you back from achieving them?

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Your dreams are your castles. But you need to build the foundation to get there. So start building.

Regional Finalist – Southwest