Change of venue

Back in September, Nexcentri, the CUSO I worked for out of Tampa, and I parted ways. Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time off with our new baby, Mason, as well as experiment a bit with the direction that I wanted to take my career. I’m torn between the camaraderie and sense of family when working at a credit union or CUSO and the flexibility and opportunity for success, or failure, that working for yourself can bring. Ultimately, I’ve satisfied the entrepreneurial cravings within and decided to give the credit union industry something it really needs: another consultant.

I know, I know, we need another consultant telling credit unions what they need to do like credit unions need another impairment.  However, I’m focused on two very specific niches that are often overlooked.

The first niche is centered around idea development within credit unions and CUSO’s. I’ve spoken with many credit unions over the years and they basically fall into two categories, one that needs some help with generating innovative ideas and another that has many innovative ideas, but can’t give them the attention they deserve.  Basically, I’m helping grow (or plant) ideas from their infancy and assisting them into adulthood. Currently, I’m helping a CUSO on the east coast take an idea they’ve been brewing up for the better part of a year and develop it into a full fledged product that they will offer their customers. Everything from financial analysis and models to market research to delivery to the customer.

The second overlooked niche is in regards to conferences. We all love BarCampBank’s and believe that they would be greatly beneficial for the credit union industry to experience, but there has been no solid effort put forth to introduce the broad industry to them. I aim to fix that problem with The CUIR. The Credit Union Innovators Roundtable, The CUIR, will bring BarCampBank/unconferences to the credit union industry and introduce it on a larger scale. Directed towards leagues, associations, boards, and trade groups, The CUIR is a conference service that meeting organizers can use to bring a new flavor to their event. Imagine if your the annual meeting of your credit union was actually a BarCamp! Hopefully, by introducing the unconference to the credit union industry, we’ll be able encourage more innovation and collaboration, as well as the real key to success, execution.

One of the things that I’ve been harping on lately is the lack of executable concepts that float around the credit union industry. If we truly want credit unions to be successful, we have to give them actionable items that can impact their membership. Those may be ideas for new checking accounts, some new NSF thing, or a new technology product. Whatever the case may be, CU Innovators is here to help credit unions execute.

CU Innovators is currently looking for two more clients, credit unions or CUSO’s, to assist in making their ideas come to fruition.  If you’ve got a nagging idea or project on your plate, get in touch with us on our contact page, hit me up on Twitter,  or you can always try telepathy, but no promises.

United Van Lines wouldn’t move my website cross-country for me, so we’re in the process of moving everything from the Life and Times of a Credit Union Employee over to CU Innovators.  The RSS feed will automatically update, so don’t worry about having to re-subscribe. However, if you are a little anal like me, the new feed is here.  Also, if you are an email subscriber, you’ll be seeing a few changes as well (for the better), so if anything funky happens, let me know!

Everyone hates spring cleaning

Actually, I guess it is winter cleaning, but who’s keep track.

The one bad thing about blogrolls: they’re like eggrolls.  They go bad fast.  I axed all of the blogs that haven’t updated it least three months.  Goodbye Otta Radke, Kirk LeTourneau, Travis Carnahan, Doug True (the old personal blog), Dan Mica, Jeff Hardin, and a few others.  Open Source CU almost got the cut by that metric, but I kept them around.  Slackers.  Tomorrow, I’ll refresh my list with some of the new sites that have popped up like the CU Water Cooler and Carla Day’s blog.

I buckled down tonight, and last night, and made some performance enhancements to the blog.  Assuming everything is running well, the entire page will load in about 2 seconds, down from over 4 seconds.  Not too shabby if I don’t say so myself.

Some of the new tweaks may cause some issues for some people, so if you have any problems at all, please let me know!

My last day and first week

As some astute observers noticed, last Friday, January 30th, was my last day at MaPS Credit Union and fi-linx.  I have taken another position with Nexcentri, a CUSO of Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union.  So no, I’m not leaving CU land or Oregon, just moving to my “home” office.  Nexcentri has a few projects going on that I’m going to help with and I’ll also have the opportunity to flex some of my creative muscle and bring some of my product ideas to market as well.  I can still be reached at all of my regular contact points such as Twitter, Gmail, and my blog of course.  I’ll be seeing everyone around shortly, most likely at GAC in the next couple of weeks.

MaPS was a tremendous organization to work for and I will miss the employees, culture, and innovative spirit that they bring to the industry.  I wish for great thing for everyone at MaPS and I’m greatly looking forward to my new challenges and opportunities with Nexcentri.

It’s no Keynote, but…

I put together my first presentation for CUES earlier this week and posted the preview to it on the fi-linx blog.  My goal was to have zero bullet points.  Deposit Reclassification is a very boring, detailed topic that is not very interested to anyone but a CFO so I tried to make it half-way entertaining.  Needless to say, if you ever wanted to know what I really do, take a look at the presentation.  The download has all of the notes for each slide as well.  It is designed for me to walk the audience through the concept so it may make more sense with the notes.

I intently studied some of Tim’s awesome presentations with Keynote and I was very impressed.  Keynote rocks, but I’ll leave the crapple* to the apple “fan boys”.   And Denise.

*crapple – combintation of crack apple or crap apple, depending on your point of view.

Don’t fly US Air

I got back from my travels to the east coast this past week.  Barely.  My trip out was a nightmare and my trip back wasn’t any better.  My flight leaving Boston for Philly was delayed an hour so I’d miss my connection to Portland.  There was no room on the earlier Philly flights and I didn’t stand a chance on the 15-passenger stand by list.  I got rerouted through Vegas then on to Portland, but every US Air flight I touched was at least an hour late.  Rather than landing in Portland at 11:30 Pacific, I got there at about 2:30 AM.  US Air, of course, lost my luggage, so I had to deal with that until about 3:30.  Back home at 5 AM.  I said it in my last post and I’ll say it again, don’t fly US Air and avoid Philly like the plague. 

On a brighter note, it’s nice to be back!  I worked a half day on Thursday, seeing as I didn’t get to bed until 5 AM, and then we had a servant-for-a-day promo on Friday were myself and a handful of our senior management played servants to FSR’s, tellers, and a cell center rep.  I got lots of food, ran a fair amount of errands, and made quite a few phone calls to our members!  It was a great time!

So much for the city of Brotherly Love!

I flew out to Providence Monday night to go visit Charlie and the gang at Andera and then I’m cruising up to Boston to go to Outstart‘s Strategic Customer Advisory Board. 

Andera was pretty cool today and I’m looking forward to Outstart for the next two days, but Philly really let me down.  The red-eye from Portland to Philly went ok, and we only landed a few minutes late.  But after sitting on the tarmac for 20 minutes or so we finally got out of the plane and I had about 20 minutes to make my connection.  We landed at gate B5 and my flight was leaving from F38.  Just like in Home Alone, I’m running through the concourse, and racing to the shuttle to take me across the airport.  I make it to the shuttle and then sit and wait for 5 minutes while they’re doing something that’s obviously more important than getting me to my connection on time. By the time I finally get to the F concourse and have ran the entire distance, I’m greeted by a closed door and a less than chipper flight desk lady saying,

I’m sorry, we’ve stopped boarding.

me- But I can see the plane right there.

her- I’m sorry, we’ve stopped boarding.

me- But the plane doesn’t leave for 7 minutes!

her-I’m sorry, we’ve stopped boarding.  Let me get you on the next flight.

I get on the next plane which leaves two hours later, we wait for the flight crew to get there, which makes the plane another 30 minutes late and then we sit on the tarmac some more, which makes my already two hour late plane another 1 hour late.

Even the place I ate breakfast at was shockingly non-consumer friendly.  It looked like they didn’t even want us to be in line!  Anyways, that’s enough ranting.  Just don’t flying US Air and don’t connect through Philly.

switching blogs

Maybe it is just me, but lately I’ve been a little unhappy with Blogger. Everything works perfect, they have great compatibility, but I just have been getting what I want to out of Blogger.

They are great for personal blogs, but I feel like I want a slightly more professional and cleaner site than what I have now. I’m not a programmer, but I can handle my own around html widgets and I understand java but I can’t work it.

I want a lot of flexibility. I use Feedburner to feed my RSS because they give me lots of options. I want to interact with Technorati, Digg, and as well. I don’t need to pay for a custom built one. If I did, I’d come visit Open Source CU!

So what do you guys think? Stay with Blogger and try to make it more professional? WordPress? Typepad?

Club Med

So my fiancee, I mean wife, and I went to Club Med for our honeymoon last week and was it amazing. Club Med has a very clear vision of what they want their customer experience to be.

If you’ve been to any Club Med, one of the first things you’ll notice is their attention to their customer’s needs and their incredible employees. Their “Chief of Land Sports” not only is in charge of the obvious, but he was in their nightly shows singing, dancing, and acting. The cooking staff even has their own dance! Club Med employees appear to be incredibly friendly, outgoing, flexible, and very knowledgeable about their position. I kept asking myself how can Club Med attract such amazing employees?

Is it the locations? Maybe. We were in the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean, so yeah, the weather was awesome. But Club Med employees move to the middle of nowhere and leave their family behind, and spend most of their time in the village as most don’t have cars.

Is it the pay? Rumor has it pay was only about $200 a week. It’s almost like joining the military, but without the monetary benefits.

Whatever they are doing, I found myself saying they should write a book about how they attract such talented, bi-lingual employees from all over the globe.

I think that a CU conference should rent an entire village out (yes, you can do that) just to study the customer experience that Club Med provides.