Under the guise of Happy International Credit Union Day

I received an email yesterday from a large CUSO, first of all stating “This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information”. Interesting that a Happy Credit Union Day e-mail would have that. So I continued to read.

One sentence on Happy CU Day and a paragraph about CU contributions to the community in terms of ‘we’. Heah this is getting cozy. The final half of the email is titled with the buzz phrase “navigating the future” and a list of our common threats. You have heard them all before – credit crunch, mergers and consolidations (which should read take-overs), interest rates rising (their crystal ball must be pretty good to see that so clearly), leaders retiring (usually called succession planning), bank competition (instead of CU competition), eroding CU philosophy (how does a philosophy erode?), a stronger dollar (in case a lot of your commercial lending is in manufacturing and exporting) and of course the environment (thanks Carthage, Tennessee). You are then invited to take their poll to number your top 3 threats. WOW! Happy CU Day and here are the threats you face. Sort of a mixed message. The next birthday card I should send will be Happy Birthday Frank and bankruptcy may be the only way to get out of your excessive credit card debt.

And what are they going to do with the results of the survey? Prepare their Christmas message in a similar fashion with updated information? Probably.

I was thinking of taking the survey and stating some new ones.

1. The infiltration of bankers in the CU system.

2. The further and growing chasm between those who pay the bills and those who control the system.

3. The lousy 3rd party companies that we can’t get rid of and only bring us higher costs and bad service.

4. The ignorance of who we are and where we are going.

5. Stupid emails like this which are supposed to do what? Get us scared and run to those speaking today’s business mantras?

But the main point that needs to be said about this endeavour is how lame the message is and what a pathetic way to send it. I can’t show it to you (confidentiality) but it looks pathetic. Really pathetic. And we are supposed to swallow this? No thanks. I am taking the greatest delight of pushing my delete button with this one. We should have a contest to guess who this is from but then what would the prize be?

Our first YouTube posting and Happy Credit Union Day!

Yesterday we let Kelly the videocam girl loose on all the staff in the building. We needed to have a trial run of the camcorder as well as some experience on downloading the scenes and putting something together. It went exceptionally well. The quick interviews, the great responses, and the ease of putting it all together was a surprise. Even if it isn’t that professional it gets the message out very quickly of just who this credit union is from the employees side. Tomorrow we will be doing the same thing from the member’s side.

Doing this puts any business in a very interesting position. The tools to show who exactly you are, what exactly you do and who is involved in your business are available to anyone that wants to use them. The cost is nothing. The outreach is global. This internet that we all seem to be more and more part of is bringing new ideas, new ways of doing things into our homes and work places. When one is able to read comments, blogs and twitters of individuals in geographic locations that you can only dream of visiting it still creates in me a sense of awe and amazement.

So what is stopping individuals and credit unions from capturing and using these various means? I have updated my business formula as to why some don’t use social media, so here is is:

Ignorance + Fear = Control

Those that are hesitant seem to lack the ability to give up this control function that has become so prevalent. They do not understand transparency. They are afraid of it. If they can’t control it they can’t see what it would benefit them. The saddest part is that they don’t realize that the world as they know it changed on them and those old rules don’t work to any great extent any longer.
My circle of associates and friends would be so much less by holding back. How would I have heard “On a Freezing Chicago Street” by Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s if Matt hadn’t twittered about Margot and iTunes hadn’t been invented to be able to buy it? Everyone has these internet events that occur again and again. They are in a sense that small human part of us that we get to share.

Our first YouTube posting was really about us stepping out to share a small story. Our blog is up and running. It’s scary but you know it feel’s pretty good. Shari is right. Happy International Credit Union Day everyone!

Do human emotions equate well with business events?

There is a post over on IT Management about Apple and their arrogance. Maybe Mike Elgan has a point. He speaks of Microsoft being humiliated by Apple. I really can’t see the tears here. And do companies the size of Apple and Microsoft exist with some of the feelings he describes? These are both billion dollar businesses. They have brands. They make money. They do not cry.

Remember in the mid 90’s — it was Microsoft that was ‘arrogant’ and Apple the weak and supposedly dying platform. It only lasted awhile before innovation and hard work changed this. Businesses either work to exist or move on to where ever they move on to. Let’s not get too excited here. I can’t see much blood on the floor. And whatever pain Microsoft is suffering because of this ‘bully’ Apple it is a long way from Microsoft’s heart (and pocketbook).

3 Days of Highlighted points

Listed below are 3 days of points some of the speakers made. They are not in any order.
You could call them key points (ideas that hit a home run or were hat tricks). Some of the quotes have been adjusted for clarity but the italics are mine.

1. In a time of highly diverse issues we live with three common themes – detect you competition, destroy your competition or avoid your competition.

2. Brand equity is an investment. So how does an investment blog?

3. A credit union must become more than an ATM. Too bad some ATMs give better service.

4. Why should they care about what you do. You need to show members you do care. Differentiate. Caring and service are not the same.

5. The lowest employee on the organization chart has the great contact with the member. But why are they the least consulted when it comes to any change in process with the member?

6. Promises to members must be fulfilled. Focus on execution. There should be a method to monitor integrity.

7. Avoidance of pain is a great motivator. see point no. 1.

8. Personal agendas can harm collaboration. Tough to collaborate when our system is driven by personalities.

9. Direct mail response sites at 0.28% Read ‘Punk Marketing‘ for a full explanation. Seriously.

10. Not measured, not managed. Tatooable

11. Credit Union’s may have satisfied members but no loyal members. Something we all need to ponder.

Tomorrow we hear Lydia Johnson – Vancity, Jason Knight – Wesabe, Shari Storm – Verity CU & Trey Reeme – Trabian, Doug True – FORUM Solutions and Tim McAlpine – Currency Marketing. These are key individuals in today’s CU world and it is going to be an honour just sitting and listening to them.

The Cleveland airport

Arrived in Cleveland and are just catching our breath before leaving to Indianapolis. Today has been a day of travelling and we had a chance to drive around Toronto for a few minutes. Interesting city that seems very vibrant. Places you have heard about most of your life (Hockey Hall of Fame, Osgoode Hall, CBC Headquarters) and you finally see. Sort of like seeing Niagra Falls for the first time. Nothing eventful other that being a typical tourist in a car that has no idea of direction. We should arrive at our destination and into our hotel room late this evening. Still can’t get used to the time. Events evolve around it but my stomach is still on West Coast time. I should be hungry by 9:30 pm tonight.

Tomorrow begins at 8:30 am with a pretty heavy line up of speakers. There should be a few announcements and presentations that will challenge some of the ordinary positions we have been having of social media and credit unions. We spent some time with Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation fame last night. What you realize from him is that everything is changing and nothing is remaining static. Any attempt to ‘control’ any of what is being tried in the social media ring is going to be viewed with disdain by the audience that it is built for. It is a new way to view and create business possibilities but like that movie, Meet the Parents, you have to build it with the view it is in ‘the circle of trust’.

What is it with airports?

I am getting ready to head back east for a conference and a symposium. You do know the difference, right? At a conference you confer, at a symposium you collect opinions. Anyway you draw up the typical list – clothes (usually too many), toiletries (you usually forget toothpaste or a comb), camera (you usually forget to recharge the batteries), something to read (that you end up not reading but if you don’t bring something you end up reading airline magazines), miscellaneous stuff (work related) and an iPod (that is never a problem because it is important). Stuff whatever into the wheeled suitcase and put the expensive and important stuff in your carry-on. Your set for the next step.

The AIRPORT. Remember when you were a kid and someone mentioned airports. It was like Disneyland. When I was about 7 years old my Grandfather came to visit us from England. Everybody went out to the airport in their Sunday best. It was an important event. Now I consider airports par with root canals. Very, very painful. Last year in London we had a flight on August 10th from Heathrow. Instead of a few hours by plane it turned into a few days by boat and train. (which by the way cost about 500% more – now there’s a brand statement “Pay more and take longer”).

Now I wonder about how the airport situation will be. The wonderful check in event, the hurry-up-and-wait attitude, the seating space that is ample for anyone under 5 feet, the ample refreshment container (not enough liquid to get a Kleenex damp) and of course the food. Five airports. Five different ways to get a root canal. Maybe alcohol will help here.

Went fishing

Finally went fishing and had just a great day. Got out on the Fraser River about 8:30 am and spent the whole day where the Harrison comes into the Fraser. It was busy out there. We just about caught our limit, 14 very nice Pink Salmon. We threw a lot of male Pinks back or let the line slack to let the hook loose to let them go. We must have had about 40 strikes the whole day. The weather was great, the company full of fishing stories, and the beer cold. Just one of the best fishing outings I have been on. When I came home it dawned on me. This was only 90 minutes away. Makes you realize how lucky you are sometimes.

Just love those planning sessions

Spent the day and will also spend tomorrow at a planning session for STAB. Everyone has been to these – SWOT, visioning, mission statement, etc. Hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years or so. You know what is coming. But this is the first one in awhile that is a little different. The facilitator is facilitating. He is really challenging everyone and getting things moving. We agreed to a certain process and if someone goes off the rails and starts rambling we can send him the signal to cut them off. This is keeping the dialogue short, sweet and focused.

One begins to see that the process is pretty standard with the key differences being the facilitator and the participants. We are a fairly new group and you get the sense that this is going to be a great group to work with. I think the session could have been held in a garage and it would not have diminished what we accomplished today. Tomorrow should even be better.

Bacn (electronic)

I came across this word in Wikipedia. It is the term given to electronic messages which are not spam but are often unread. They state that bacn is email you want but not right now. This started me thinking about how much material other than emails is marked for future reading especially websites and blogs. Those blog entries that are marked for future reading could be called ‘progs’ – postponed readable blogs. Websites are either bookmarks or del.icio.us tags. (I use del.icio.us but would rather use simpy). The easiest is to use the tagging engine of your choice.
So why do we collect so much information for future digestion? It is easy to gather so much verbiage. In a matter of minutes your collection of articles that are specific to your interest are there and the means to prepare this future reading material is possible. The ease to be able to do this was simply not possible a few years ago. (Someone mentioned to me that a family member of theirs still prints every web page off they want to read and has massive paper files for their special interests!) The neat thing about this is that when you get back to reading this suitcase of words it starts you thinking in a focussed manner. The grey matter is really working hard with such a variety of viewpoints. And you can’t find that stimulus anywhere else. These thoughts and ideas are coming directly from the writer without the filtering of any editor or publisher. It’s like getting a mailbox of letters from around the world, everyday.

So bacn is good, spam is not. One is edible pork, the other is a supposed edible pork product. Funny how pig parts have solicited these types of meaning. Oink on!

So Apple has some new iPods

So all the hype is over and the release of a number of new iPods has happened. Besides the 160GB iPod (who has a 32,000 song library?) the Apple Touch iPod (ATi) seems the most interesting. If indeed it is an iPhone without the phone then it is a WiFi handheld computer. And with the ability to use a Web browser it puts the need for standalone applications in the rear-view mirror, but only for a moment. Web app providers could revamp their Web 2.0 application to this screen size. This will hold some interesting possibilities for the future. The more ubiquitous WiFi becomes, the scale of use increases and the evolving of possibilities speeds up. The need for clean, fast, and small size standalone applications for this device will also blossom. It seems to point to one simple possibility – you carry your computer notebook in your pocket so what do you want to do with it?

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Currently playing in iTunes: Bombay Beats India (1.FM TM)

9 days left

Only that many days left of this holiday? There is a song written by Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention) called “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”. There are numerous variations of the song but the melody is unforgettable and really does (where’s that English word?) put you into a space of realizing how precious time is. So next week there will be lots to blog about at work but for now golf, reading, and getting used to having our home sans kids.

Blogging on holidays

OK I will only blog on anything BUT work during the holiday period.

Technorati

Interesting point of view on the recent development with Dave Sifry. I met Dave a few years ago at Northern Voice. He understands business and people. Though it was a tough choice it will take Technorati to the next level.

flickr

Downloading just got much easier. The new interface is very good, in fact so good you don’t need a stand alone program.

With the picture library getting cleaned up (and being on holidays) there will be more downloads at the Tinfoiling flickr site.

The New Pornographers

Their new album is out – Challengers. The reviews are good (would one expect anything different?) I like “Mutiny, I Promise You” as the catchiest of them all. It is indie melodic at its best (with a hint of Vancouveresque).

Holidays, holidays, holidays

It has taken a week but finally it does seem like the holiday has begun. Haven’t done much but golf and smack a bunch of balls at the driving range. We were going to head south this week to Western Washington but our plan didn’t hold up and so far the weather has been less than nice. This week is catching up with friends, reading, and getting a handle on the volumes of pictures that we’ve taken over the last year. I am seriously trying not to think about work.

It has got to be summer time

This past week has been hectic – work, home, weddings, football game, re-setting alarms in the early morning and typical holiday traffic on the freeway. So not much in the way of writing or reading. This morning I was working on my site at MediaTemple and inadvertantly deleted a WordPress setup. Whoops! That lead to a bit of exploring and I finally made some headway understanding how some of these features work. Now I am thinking about moving some things around but it will take time. MediaTemple has to be one of the best hosting companies I have seen since Wimsey. Anyway it’s BC Day today and time to get outside.

Stuff one thinks about driving to work in the morning

  • TV – This weekend while in Seattle I had the TV set on. We don’t have TV at home so I thought it would be great to see what’s on. Guess what? Nothing, nothing, nothing. More chanels of nothing. And the advertising, it has gotten worse. To top it all off CBC had the movie Troy on with commercials every 5 minutes. Sorry but the library looks even better now.
  • On leadership – “Don’t be afraid to lead, the challenges will come in any event”.
  • BarCampBankSeattle – lots of young, dynamic leaders.
  • New t-shirts – “Blog with Passion”
  • Brands need to be based on pillars and these pillars need to be placed on the ground of principles.
  • Ning.com – is this going to take off at some point?
  • Every system must enable the user.

Not a good but a great Open Space Event in Seattle

The Open Space event in Seattle (BarCampBankSeattle) ended today. You will be reading posts now and in the following days that will attempt to bring to words the unique experiences we all shared. And it was unanimous – the event exceeded expectations.
Why was it so good? As William has pointed out, all of us have been writing about the financial industry, sharing thoughts, comments and dialogue about how we felt concerning all aspects of the banking business. This really set the stage. We were ready and willing to move this social media to the next plateau – face to face discussions. The Open Source method of meeting was the perfect type of venue to do this. Everyone contributed to the debates from the start with no need for much of personal introductions. There were no name tags, as in most instances we already “knew” the person. The passion and energy was as much as part of the experience as anything else.
The PBWiki has all the notes so take a look there to see what was discussed. Most agreed it was one of the best meetings that any of us has attended. It could not have been planned better. It was the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ in action. It was the start for some to put old dreams into action. It was just flippin’ great.

The Assh**le book that hits the nail on the head.

I am reading a book titled “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton. (I apologize for anyone that is offended at this particular juncture due to the title but I think most have heard the word before). The book is subtitled – Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.
Most of us have had to deal with these kinds of people over the years. At some point our radar suddenly comes on and we realize that this co-worker, boss, supervisor is an assh**le. The radar is working but what exactly is going on here.
Sutton produces two tests for spotting a person acting like an assh**le.
Test One. After talking to the alleged assh**le, does the “target” feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about themselves?
Test Two. Does the alleged assh**le aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful rather than at those people who are more powerful?
The tests work. But then he goes on to produce THE DIRTY DOZEN – Common everyday actions that assh**les use.

  1. Personal insults
  2. Invading one’s personal territory”
  3. Uninvited personal contact
  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal.
  5. “Sarcastic jokes” & “teasing” used as insult delivery systems
  6. Withering e-mail flames
  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate victims
  8. Public shaming or “status degradation” rituals
  9. Rude interruptions
  10. Two-faced attacks
  11. Dirty looks
  12. Treating people as if they are invisible

He goes on to say that we all suffer from these traits at times but the typical assh**le lives day to day with these traits. They are consistent.
The book is only 186 pages. His blog expands on the book. Required reading for anyone in an office with more than 2 people.

Cities on Flickr

Flickr has some amazing information that is not all pictures. When you type in a search you get the number of photos that apply to that tag. So here are some results.

  • London 2,119,240
  • Paris 1,898,223
  • San Francisco 1,798,543
  • “San Francisco” 1,439,052
  • “New York” 2,045,106
  • New York 1,273,920
  • Berlin 887,633
  • Toronto 647,984
  • Vancouver 619,292
  • Victoria 461,933
  • Ottawa 167,469
  • Whistler 112,765
  • Regina 43,844
  • Bellingham 23,202
  • Burnaby 18,103
  • Blaine 13,008
  • Chilliwack 5,361
  • Coquitlam 4,478

Surprising that the ” ” were lower with SF and higher with NY but then New York is also a state. London and Paris no surprise. Berlin was. And the centre of the universe, Toronto, wasn’t that much higher than Toronto (but then maybe Vancouver also included Washington state’s Vancouver). Victoria with that many more pictures than Ottawa? It hurts that Bellingham beats out Burnaby. But at the bottom of the list Blaine beating out Chilliwack and Coquitlam? There goes the neighbourhood!

Mitch Joel from Twist Image presented Social Media Marketing and Web 2.0 today.

It started at 8:00 am and went to a little before 5:00 pm. It was a long day but it only seemed like a few hours. If you have never heard or seen Mitch Joel do yourself a favour and don’t miss him. This person has a passion with a capital ‘P’. He explains, teaches, provokes and doesn’t always agree with the audience but that passion shows every single minute. He is punctual and that again is with a capital ‘P’.
Of course the overhead wasn’t working at the beginning but we all received a bound handout of the 281 page presentation. These were not your typical PowerPoint bullet point ‘Captains of Industry’ presentation pages. And so we started without the tech apparatus and you didn’t feel you were missing anything. This presentation had a lot of punch with liberal use of the net and videos. He punctuated the necessary emphasis with choice language. If there was an easy way to make a point Mitch found it. When you came away you knew you had something to chew on for a long time. You can see the course outline at IAB Canada here.
What made this presentation different than the plethora of tech courses always offered? You always felt he was talking directly to you. Even if what he was presenting was already known, he made it feel ‘new’. We could have spent another day just in discussion about all that was presented. So when does the level two course on Social Media Marketing take place? We will all be back. And like you said Mitch, this is just the beginning.

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What is MN2?

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Today is the launch of our new DIY product, MemberNote 2. (We have had MemberNote for over 2 years now). As mentioned before, a long time ago, this is the 2nd version of the text/e-mail alert product that will send a message every-time you use your plastic card (ATM, Interac, & ATM queries – this is one of the major differences with MN2, we can alert you when there has been a request for a balance at an ATM. It is not necessarily transaction driven which seems to be a unique aspect of this product and allows us to develop with greater scope).
The development took much more time than we or CUCBC expected. There were some interesting elements that needed to be created to allow this.
So where do we go from here? We are compiling some interesting information on usage and demographics from the product. We have also found that whatever the explanation the best way for people to understand what it does is to use it. It has a pretty explosive WOW! factor once they see it in operation. The DIY component is a key hinge point for the product now and in the future. But how far will or can we take it? The infrastructure is in place to move it forward in whatever direction is deemed necessary. What we need to do is listen, listen, listen.
I have included a snapshot of the final DIY web interface. Sorry there isn’t a site to show you. You have to be a member and sign in to get that far.
PS Just a few days ago the idea came to the forefront – Can’t we text message people when they use the DIY page? Now whenever you change anything you get the message that it has been changed or if you are a new user there a welcome message. Isn’t small beautiful?

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