Tricks or Treats? You Can Decide

By Frank J. Diekmann

Diekmann Frank

With Halloween approaching, just dug these items out of the bottom of the old pumpkin. You’ll have to decide whether they are tricks or treats.

The Beat of a Different Drummer

I’ve heard all manners of keynoters on the conference circuit over the years who hail from all walks of life. So credit must be given to CU Direct for turning to Mark Schulman, the former drummer for Billy Idol who has of late been touring with Pink, for snaring its audience with his message. Get it? Snaring? I’ll be here all week.

Schulman, who has written the book“Conquering Life’s Stage Fright: Three Steps to Top Performance” and who moved back and forth between speaking to the audience and getting behind his drum kit during his remarks, told credit unions that the balanced, happy sustainable rock stars (who knew there were any?) know it’s not just about the performance, it’s about having the best time with the performance.

Later, he noted he’s been playing with Cher for 19 years. “Even though 15 years ago we did the first of the Cher farewell tours, she’s just waving goodbye but not putting her hand down,” he said.

Credit should also go to Schulman for knowing his audience.


Mark Schulman at DRIVE.

“Why I do it? Because I made a decision and when you do that you cut off all other possibilities. I decided every single note matters. Just like with you, every single member matters. Every moment matters. Every nuance matters.”

 You’re All Alone. Except For Everyone Else

Think you’re all alone as a credit union in this whole digital transformation thing. It turns out everyone is chasing the same UX just to stay relevant. 

Consider this observation by Ralph Larson, finance director with Dick Hannah Auto Group in Portland, Ore., to CUs during a recent CU Direct meeting:  “As far as the dealership, we have been approached by quite a few outside sources to do more through social media and our website to initiate a transaction and then follow through. It seems like by the time a customer gets to our physical address everything is pretty much picked out except for seeing the vehicle. We are looking for ways to advance that sale even further and button everything up by the time the customer gets to us.”

Later, Larson added, “Credit union reps come in and tell me they have spent time with our finance department.  Understand that our finance managers really have nothing to do with where that deal is placed. They aren’t going to be able to funnel you much business. That’s determined by the time you show up.”

Meeting on the Street

It’s a well-known and established fact that CU association bylaws require at least one person to say every 35 minutes or  that “Credit unions are all about Main Street, not Wall Street.” So it seems pretty appropriate that when Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the BCFP, met with CUs in Mission, Kan. he did so at Mainstreet Credit Union.

Man, Who Could Have Ever Imagined This In the 60s and 70s?

Altura Credit Union in Riverside, Calif. has made a $600,000 pledge to the planned Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry at the Riverside Art Museum. That’s Cheech Marin, as in one-half of the once-famous comedy/stoner duo of Cheech & Chong. 

Cheech 2

Cheech Marin at event.

Marin was on hand at the offices of Altura Credit Union as part of the announcement that the credit union would help underwrite the new project, which will be a permanent home for Marin’s more than 700 works of Chicano art. I don't imagine a few decades ago that's where fans of Cheech & Chong would have envisioned him.

No CU Is An Island

You never know from where a solid reminder might come from of how and why CUs have a purpose in the world.

So, if you haven’t been keeping up on your news out of the Caribbean, Dr. Keith Rowely, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said the success CUs have experienced comes with new responsibilities, as well.

The credit union movement is “not only alive and well but is growing astronomically in strength, stamina, and stature,” Rowley said. “But the real significance, true value and full potential of this phenomenal growth and development will be lost to the world at large if, side by side, the movement does not come face to face with commensurate levels of independence, responsibility, accountability, authority, and maturity: free from dependence upon commercial banks and private sector financial institutions to lodge your membership shares and deposits, free to put the mechanisms in place to compete aggressively, if they so desire, in the provision of the widest range of financial services to all…”

“Co-operative credit unionism has come of age, and we shall epitomize this only to the extent that we are prepared to walk the talk, take hold of the baton and head toward completion of the final leg, Rowley continued. “Make no mistake about it. Power to change the future will call upon you to draw down from the wealth of merits of your proven track record and, above all, summon your richly gifted attributes of tenacity, grit and determination, and by no means least, your abiding and relentless passion for progress.”

I Will Stay Positive, I Will Stay Positive, I Will…

I sat at a roundtable at a major CU conference recently with 10 members of one CU’s board as they got into an in-depth discussion over, wait for it… swag they had picked up in the trade show. “Ooooohhh, where’d you get that flashlight?” I heard one person ask.

I don’t think this is what’s meant by engagement.

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at Frank@CUToday.infoor @FrankCUToday.

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Word Count: 1267
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Copyright Year: 2019
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