William, Tim and I had a conference call a few weeks back to discuss having another BarCampBank in B.C. Now when you are dealing with these two individuals you do not sit in the front seat, you sit in the back. They either do the driving or give the directions. Your job is just to make sure anything they have forgotten is mentioned or to jump in to volunteer to do something if it is something they can’t do. They really are two guys with extreme amounts of energy and vision. 

What will the next Canadian west coast BarCampBank hold? This will be my fifth BarCampBank and as all our totally different you can never know. You hope that there will be a few people who have never attended because the enthusiasm they show seems to drive a lot of the energy of the function. You hope that people come without any preconceived ideas about what will happen. You know that you will meet up with people who have read your blog or who are twittering who you have never met before. The key point is the people. Sure there is always what is discussed and what issues were raised but it is always the people who come to mind when you think about what has happened before. To me that is the strongest point of BarCampBanks. 

BCBBC2 is going to be different from all the rest. Above my desk at home is a picture of 6 gentleman from Texas sitting around a restaurant table. This is what I remember most about BarCampBankDallas last year. There are still 4 of them in Texas, one has moved to San Francisco, the other New York. I still hear regularly about events in their lives from their blogs or Twitter. Someday I hope to meet them all again. It really was the BarCampBank that created that connection. It is always an amazing experience when you think about it. Social media is what we all talk about but really the people behind the messages are what is important.

Susan Boyle and Twitter

It seems that trends in whatever the situation sometimes get too strong not to notice them. Yesterday Twitter showed Susan Boyle as a popular trend. The Twitter search showed some interesting comments so once again a quick click begins the journey.

A very interesting and emotional video presents a woman with a beautiful singing voice. Then you notice the number of views. As of this writing it is at 32.7 million. Yesterday when viewed it was at 29.7 million. 3 million views in one day. Even if you count everyone seeing it twice, the numbers are phenomenal for something learnt through this ‘word of mouth’ Internet process. 

Now the comments and blog posts abound with various scenarios of reason and expertise. I just seem to have questions about how did this all come about? There isn’t a PR or ad agency in the world that could get that number of views for anything. It seems there is nothing to sell here. It is just a very transparent view of human nature. We see and hear a story and for a brief moment relate to it by whatever fashion. I wonder if just an audio of the event would have that garnered that sort of impact. There are so many components working in that clip you have to view it more than once to be able to realize what is taking place. 

The outcome will be different for each person. For me it once again spoke to people are just people. We are social creatures. Our emotions for a lot of the time are just unexplainable and when we try to explain them they loose their magic. 

Twitter plays a part here that is unique. Individuals, unedited individuals, are offering their views in small readable sentences, about things that matter to them. It isn’t necessarily a matter of what are you doing but more what are you thinking, what is having an impact on you right now. The experts are out detailing the top-10-whatevers you need to follow with Twitter for sure but the key thoughts and ideas of each person keep ringing true. It is amazing to watch but also be a part of times like these. We never really know the impact of anything until it is viewed in the rear-view mirror. It does seem the earth’s axis did tend to shift a little this last week.

The 5th anniversary of MemberNote

By now most people who have read this blog know about Mt. Lehman Credit Union’s MemberNote product. We have been working on the newest version of MemberNote (MemberNote3) for these past months and realized last week that April 15, 2004 was the day we launched the first version. It does seem like it was only yesterday for all of us here.

What have we learned by being the first to deliver real-time alerts?

That above all, the members use and appreciate what we have done. Time and time again we hear the stories of how they have used this and how it has helped them. Going into building this, we had this as the key reason for doing all of this work. If it was something of value to the end user then it would be worth it. We don’t charge anything for this which we believe is important. 

That being first to market with something puts you into a whole new realm. (I think Tim can speak more to this). There hasn’t been any competition so there is nothing to compete against it. The product really stands alone right now. We had hoped that others would have been to market by now and that ideas and enhancements would have been added and pushed this type of service to a higher level. But that hasn’t been the case and in some ways it is disappointing. Probably the biggest disappointment is that because we are so small the drum we beat isn’t heard by others. That is the cost of being small. It has been interesting to view what the ‘experts’ say about alert messaging. They certainly have their views and we are sometimes amazed as to how they come to their particular conclusions. So often what they opinion is not what we see after 5 years of experience. But then they have the bigger drum.

The crux of all of this though is that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Forget about listening to the ‘doubting Thomas’s’. Don’t pay any attention to all of that outside ‘noise’ that keeps telling you that only the big players with their vast resource bases can accomplish what is necessary. These last few months of economic turmoil have told us much about what that eventually can lead to. Is there anything so insidious as the remark ‘too big to fail’? There has to be a balance for sure. To be creative and innovative is not for the weak hearted. You have to believe what you can accomplish and not look back. You will fail and you will fall but that should not stop you from arriving at what think should be done. This small group of employees at this small credit union have accomplished some incredible things. What does the future hold? We don’t know but are working on a few items so stay tuned. Probably never as big as this but what the heck. As Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870), the first senior officer of the U.S. Navy at the time of the American Civil War said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”