I had the privilege of attending the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s Annual Conference last week in New Orleans, LA. As the Chair of the Council, it was my pleasure and honor to welcome almost 500 credit union marketing & business development professionals to the Crescent City to “Get Inspired” – the theme of the conference. Also in attendance were countless sponsors who work every day to add value to the credit union industry and who are just as dedicated to the success of the industry as those of us who work in it.
I had the opportunity to talk with dozens of the attendees while in New Orleans and I continue to be inspired by their passion, energy, and enthusiasm. It is hard for me to place a limit on everything that I observed at the conference – there was so much to digest! But here are 4 key observations that really took me to another level of enthusiasm:
- Resilience – New Orleans has made tremendous progress in rebuilding since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I recall seeing those horrible images on TV of parts of the city under water and the desperation on the faces of the residents as they watched flood waters destroy everything they had. But the people of New Orleans are proud and strong. They have rebuilt. There is more to do and they will continue to move forward. In a similar fashion, credit union professionals have weathered the storm of the recent recession and have emerged stronger than ever before. This was evident at the conference. I didn’t hear one negative assessment of the state of the credit union industry…not one! Credit unions will continue to build and get stronger. And the people who attended this conference will help lead the way.
- Dedication – The conference attendees are absolutely dedicated to becoming the most educated and informed credit union professionals. Unlike some conferences that I have attended, the meeting rooms were filled to capacity during the breakout sessions and general sessions. There are plenty of distractions in New Orleans and plenty of other things to do. But these dedicated professionals wanted to learn. And it showed.
- Relationships – I am happy to say that all of the CMBDC Council members are my colleagues but what makes me even prouder is that many of these people have become my friends. For many of the attendees, this is the only time that we see each other. So in a way, the conference is a reunion of sorts. The people at the conference have substantial conversations with each other. They share ideas and best practices. They tender support to one another. They are serious about their work but they know how to add an element of fun as well. This same observation goes for the conference sponsors. Sure, they are there to acquire new clients and new business. But I am happy to say that these supporters are more interested in talking with conference participants and getting to know them. Put simply: they care about the successes and shortcomings and are true solution-providers rather than product-pushers.
- Leadership – The people who attended this conference are leaders. They are the driving forces behind their organizations’ marketing and business development efforts. Many have titles that indicate that they have leadership/management roles at their credit unions. But some did not. As I have always believed, a title does not make a leader. Leaders are those that learn as well as teach. Leaders are those that listen more than they talk. Leaders are those that don’t require the spotlight all the time. Leaders are those that crave professional development opportunities. Leaders are those who recognize a great concept or idea and find a way to place it at their organizations. The wonderful credit union professionals who attended the CMBDC Conference and who are members of the MBD Council are leaders. They get it.
There were an awful lot of people who were not able to attend the conference. They wanted to be there but for various reasons, could not be. As the Council Chair, that is something that distresses me. I often imagine what could happen if everyone who was passionate about teaching and learning could actually get together in the same place….what kind of magic would that create?
Perhaps we’ll find out at the next CMBDC Conference at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA next March. I am pretty sure that the people at the Walt Disney Company know a little something about creating magic. And I am certain that some of that magic will affect those of us who are fortunate enough to be together again next year.