I just spent two days in Madison, WI working with the World Council of Credit Unions on a project designed to help credit unions attract a younger audience. What made this event unique from any other panel that I’ve sat on or focus group that I’ve participated in is that the attendees hailed from different parts of the world – the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and South Korea were all represented.
I am used to teaching training workshops and speaking at conferences. It had been a while since I was on the learning end of things – at least in a workshop setting. I learn every day but not in a “classroom” setting. But what I learned this week from a group of the most passionate and talented credit union leaders from around the globe will stick with me forever. So I decided to share these tidbits with all of you, my followers and readers.
The difficulty in attracting younger members is not unique to credit unions in the U.S.A. – when the folks from the other countries presented and spoke about their efforts, the phrase, “we’re all in this together” took on new meaning for me. Indeed, talking with and listening to these credit union advocates made me realize that while we all seem to struggle a bit with being relevant to younger generations, there is so much we can learn from each other by sharing our struggles, successes, and what we have in common. Of course, the business and consumer cultures in Canada, Brazil, Australia, and South Korea are vastly different than those of the United States. But I learned that while legalities, regulation, and the like may be very different, the basic premise and foundation of credit unions remains constant whenever they are located. Our challenges are the same, our focus points are the same, and our goals are aligned.
I still have a lot to learn – this was apparent from Day 1. I realized that if I want to expand my reach and increase my knowledge, I have to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and learn as much as I can about the global credit union movement. And I strongly suggest that all of you do the same! For those of you that are thinking that the credit union movement isn’t relevant to what you’re doing in Georgia, California, or New York – you couldn’t be more wrong! Related to that – I now have a much better understanding, appreciation, and admiration for the fine work that is being done every day by the World Council of Credit Unions. The lessons I learned over the past few days have given me a fresh perspective, renewed my commitment, and enhanced my love for credit unions. If you haven’t thought about it, you should really consider attending the WOCCU’s Annual Conference in Ottawa in July.
The world is indeed FLAT – I have recommended Thomas Friedman’s book, “The World Is Flat” before because I believe in its premise that due to the interconnectivity made possible by advances in technology, the world is not nearly as vast as it once seemed. While I certainly supported this notion (hence the book recommendation) it never became real to me until this week. Not only do I consider myself fortunate to have amazing international credit union partners to learn from, these resources are also now friends of mine. There was great energy, passion, and willingness to work together as a group to make sure that credit unions stay viable and relevant in the future.
I hope that the kind of genuine and mutually beneficial partnership that I was privileged to experience in Madison this week becomes more prevalent throughout the worldwide network of credit unions.
After all, we ARE ALL in this together.