A kid in a candy store

Life is crazy. I’ve got a lot of cool projects coming down the pipe that I can’t wait to share with everyone. I’ve got a super-sweet secret project going with the great Brent Dixon, some kick butt online banking stuff that nobody is doing, and a few other little tricks up my sleeve.

I was in DC for the GAC a few weeks back now, and as usual, it was a tremendous conference. I would highly recommend attending it anytime you can if you can swallow the pill and fork out the dough to say in DC.  

Times are good and I love credit unions.

When Google/Microsoft/BofA/Wamu enters your market

Bank of America is still building out branches and their ATM structure like crazy.  Wamu is every where.  We even have super tough competition coming in from CU’s that historically have been in other cities and are 5 times our size.  What is a credit union to do?

Google just stepped into the browser marketplace with Chrome.  Building on other open source projects, they’ve thrown their development staff and large stash of capital behind launching a new browser project.  It is different then most other browsers, is smokin’ fast, and combines many common tasks into a simple process, like search.  Go figure.

The competition in the credit union space is only going to get worse.  In my CUSO side of life, there is really only one main competitor and they own the entire marketplace.  They are the Microsoft of my market.  So what are small CU’s, or small CUSO’s, going to do to stay alive?  Can we really survive based solely in niche markets?

Join the Conversation (Book Review)

It took me a while to finally get around to it, but on my vacation this summer I had the opportunity to read Joseph Jaffe’s Join the Conversation.

For those of us already embedded into social media at our various organizations, much of the content of the book will be a review for you.  But Join the Conversation is a great tool for those folks in your credit union who are new to social media and need a little helping hand in why it is so important to get involved.

In Chapter 12, Jaffe lists 33 ways to get involved in the conversation and this is precisely what more credit unions need to do.  Things such as Google Alerts, Digg, tracking product names, company website linking, key brand phrases, etc.  Jeffry Pilcher just wrote about an Ohio bank who learned what this could cost you the hard way.  It is incredibly important for credit unions to be aware of the tools and options they have for tracking their brand image.  Much like the newspaper clippings services from the days of yore, tracking your brand, and the conversation around it, is a must.

If you have some hesitant execs kicking around your CU, make sure they read this book.  It’ll help them understand why you feel so passionately about this social media stuff.

The joys of disaster recovery

After moving from the CU to the CUSO, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many more CU people across the nation.  One thing I’ve noticed is the massive amount of resources (time and money) spent on disaster recovery and business continuity.  Obviously, getting a credit union back up and running after a disaster is critical.  Surviving said disaster is equally important.  At our last all staff meeting the topic of bird flu came up and some of the preparations that our credit union is making from a business continuity perspective to keep the credit union operational in that period of time. There were a few chuckles around the room, but ultimately, we’ll be prepared if and/or when something of that nature happens.

All of this disaster stuff I see at work started making me change some of the stuff I do at home too.  Like Brad Garland, I too have started to remotely store all of our family pictures, videos, etc off-site, meaning not in our house.  The analogy I always use was if you house burned down and you could only take one thing, what would it be?  For me, it was my computer housing all of our pictures, but now that they are backed up, I don’t have to worry about it.

Continuity is defined as the “absence of interruption”.  This has also made us change some of the other things at home.  We try to keep good batteries in the flashlights, enough water for a few days for us, theready.gov dog, and the cat, and a few basic non-perishable foods around.  A tremendous resource for at home business continuity and disaster recovery is ready.gov.  They have great info about creating a preparedness kit, how to deal with animals, and many other aspects of general preparedness.  If we all have to do this stuff everyday at work, it probably would be beneficial to do it at home as well.

If only email was more like…

Take a short trip back in time with me…

I think that email should only be controlled by a selected group of companies around the United States.  Heaven forbid that anyone could send an email!

Then each of those companies could charge money for every email sent across Al Gore’s internet.  Nothing big, just a penny or two per email would suffice.  That would stop spam, right?

As the need for email grows, said companies decide they can make more money charging other people to use their email service in bulk.  So they decide to let small companies send files to the big boys for processing and charge them a file fee.

Pretty soon Joe Consumer decides email is cool because he uses it at work and decides he wants his own.  Well, only a few of those big boys offer service to the little folks so he pays $.50 for every email he sends because he can’t get a bulk discount.

The popularity of email takes off and the big boys, trying to make the little folk happy, say, “Hey, since we are so nice, we are going to process all of your emails every morning!  That way it’ll only take a few days to get to the destination!”

That all sounds like fun, right?  Can you imagine waiting for email for days?  Or even the thought of paying for them?

So why in the world do we accept it when we transfer our own money with ACH?!?!

Names and Age

When I’m bored, I randomly snoop through 5300 data to find interesting things.  If you go through the list, you’d be really surprised what you can find.  Namely, no pun intended, the names of the CEO’s.  They all seem like "old" names.  Yes, that’s a gross generalization, but Kenneth, Millard, Wendell, Gerald, and Richard all strike me as older names.  I looked around on the internet for a source to find the average age of a name.  Something like the average Marjorie (thanks grandma) is 71 and the average Ellie is 15 but had no luck.  Just my random observation for the week.  I wonder if you could gauge a CEO’s propensity for retirement by their name…

There were a few Doug’s, Ron’s, and even a Brent, but I tried to avoid names of people I know…

In transit to Forum’s Partnership Symposium

Airports with free wifi are cool.  Portland has it and apparently Vegas has it.  I’ve been gone all this past weekend and now I’m getting to catch on the blogosphere.

Flying Southwest today for the first time and it is pretty interesting the different demographic that flies on Southwest.  They seem to be very similar to CU members….  More to come from the conference later…