Thursday, December 29, 2005


With the beginning of the New Year, it is inevitable that you encounter the common New Year Resolution inquiries. Personally, I’m not one to annually make a commitment to change or improve – I don’t like to set myself up for failure and I think it’s an ongoing process throughout the year. But, now is as good a time as any to re-evaluate my goals and resolve for change.

So, when I was asked what my goals personally and professionally were for 2006, a phrase came to mind - “K.I.S.S.”

See, this past year or two… okay, three, have been a little frantic for me. I seem to be reactive rather than proactive both in my professional life and my personal life. I used to take pride that I could anticipate and react proactively to avoid major disruptions in my routine. Then I had my son and all order as I knew it ceased to exist. So when I think of my biggest resolution this year, I think “K.I.S.S.” – it stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

My father used to tell me this all the time when I was going through high school and college. You’d have to know my father to not take offense. It was his way of telling me not to get caught up in the details and lose site of the big picture. It was always sound advice that I followed fairly well up until three years ago.

So this year, I am going to work on simplifying my life. Eliminate the unnecessary details, simplify the important ones and stay on focus. Finding a routine that works and sticking to it!

Come February I will be adding another member to my hectic schedule and I need simplicity in my life. It’s a constant struggle juggling work from home part-time with the full-time demands of a three year old. When I add the new one, I need to be sure to remember “K.I.S.S.” – it could save my sanity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

To resolve or not to resolve...

That is the question, isn’t it? With the winter solstice but a week past memory and the year rapidly winding down, our thoughts, or at least mine, tend to gravitate to the “r” word. Like most I’m sure, the effects of parties and festive gatherings filled with rich foods, exotic drinks, tempting treats and desserts have been our demise. That, coupled with the less active lifestyles caused by shorter days, colder temperatures and nasty weather, are the added recipes for extra poundage. Lest we forget, whoa to the male species for we have the additional temptation to be sedentary caused by an oblong piece of pigskin. Women must find it amazing that men are drawn to and then mesmerized by a television screen showing 22 guys chasing a coveted piece of leather up and down a field of grass.

Forgive me for I have digressed, we were talking about the “r’ word were we not? Many so called experts claim that resolutions are not worth the paper they are written on. Maybe this is so and maybe it is not. My thought on the subject, though not anymore qualified than yours, is that if you don’t at least think about changing a habit, behavior or lifestyle, it has little chance of blooming into fruition.

Yes, I will change my diet and add some gym time once the calendar flips to January, but a post from a companion blogger to this site has drawn my attention. Savings rates are down to where it is actually a negative number! That just can not be-- can it? Hey, stop the presses and shout this alarming news from the rooftops. Saving money is a discipline that we as adults should be following but those who are parents have the added responsibility to teach this necessary skill to their kids. With the convenience of online banking today adults have no excuse. Have you ever heard the saying “pay yourself first”? Whether you have or not, this is a good rule to follow. With each paycheck you receive treat yourself as a creditor and pay a portion of that check to yourself. If all you can afford is five dollars a paycheck then so be it, in time even that amount will grow to a nice nest egg. All you have to do is to set up an automatic deduction from your checking account to a savings account either through the online banking system or talk to a branch representative. Once setup as an automatic transfer, you will never have to think about it.

Let’s change the trend together shall we? Let’s make it a resolution that we all set up an automatic deduction and save for that little slice of heaven, whatever that may be.

The Big Orange V

I was at the dry cleaners right across the street from our HQ branch yesterday. The woman who works there is very nice. She has a bit of trouble with her english but she always manages to get her point across.

When I handed her my Verity VISA card she laughed and held it up in the air. I didn't know at first what she was doing because she was pointing out the window and then pointing back to the credit card. Then I realized she was pointing to the big orange V on the side of our building. The one that is also on the front of our VISA.

"You bank there?" she asked. Yes I nodded. "Good" she said.

Yes, good.

Qualities of Greatness

Just this morning, Tina asked me about my New Year’s resolution. It caught me off guard because I haven’t thought about it at all. Tina is a great person, she told me a few of her goals for next year and she always amazes me. From climbing big cold mountains to jumping off a plane, she is one determined role model for many of us.

It made me think because having a goal for yourself to accomplish sets the pace for a new year. A famous architecture named Frank Lloyd Wright said, “It is a terrific thing to get a building built that has the qualities of greatness in it.” I believe self improvement would create a firm foundation not only in your career but life as well. This New Year’s resolution I would like to attend Verity University. It has all the aspects of allowing an employee to learn a curriculum that they are interested in and opening up many opportunities.

Verity University not only provides employee education but achievement, commitment, and self discipline. These are qualities of greatness.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Holiday Story

The thing I enjoy most about the holidays is not the presents (although they are nice) but the opportunity to visit with friends and family. Yesterday was great because I was able to get to together with a bunch of friends, some that I hadn’t seen for a long time. As we were talking one of my friends exclaimed how glad he was that he didn’t have to go to work tomorrow (he had the week off). I believe his exact words were “I’m so glad I don’t have to work, sometimes I just dread going.”

When he said this two thoughts sprung to my head. The first was that dread was a really good adjective and I should use it more often. I mean talk about adding a little drama to a sentence. The second thought was, wow that must suck. I mean everyone has the days that they want to sleep a little more but to actually dread going to work has to be a horrible feeling.

Jon, I mean the flying monkey, wrote about the Human Googlebots at Verity in a previous post. I couldn’t agree with him more about the people that work here. Your co-workers are such a big part of what makes an organization great to work for. If your co-workers are the most important thing, being able to be proud of what your organization does is a close second.

Five days ago when I was finishing my Christmas shopping, yes this was December 23rd; I presented my Verity debit card to a cashier of a local shop. She stated, and I quote, “You bank with Verity too, aren’t they great?” It turns out she had come to our Northgate branch and gotten a car loan. What set us apart was that we treated her with respect and helped her get the loan even though she was young and didn't have great credit.

It was such a great feeling to walk out of that store knowing that I worked at an organization that provided such good service. Ok I know this is kind of a sappy, feel good story, but hey isn’t that what the holiday stories are all about.

Friday, December 16, 2005

one year ago

A popular meme in blogs is to go back one, five, and ten years and reflect on what you were doing at the time. So I decided to go back one year at Verity and see what we wrote about in the January 2005 issue of Your Money.

Bill’s President’s Message was on the personal savings rate in America, which had dropped to .2% of disposable income. This made me curious…what is the personal savings rate in America today? So, with a little help from Google, I came across a few articles that said it had fallen to zero in June and is now negative. Yikes. The latest article I found was this one, in which the author gives tips on saving and says the best emergency plan is a “regular, old-fashioned savings account.”

Personally, if I go back one year in my life things look pretty much the same. However, if I go back five years, I remember one of my most memorable Christmases ever. I was living in Boston and wasn't able to make it home to Texas, so I spent Christmas all alone for the first time. I made myself a nice breakfast in the morning, opened presents, went for a nice long walk, had a visit from a friend and then made myself dinner. By the end of the day my roommate Rich had come back from his parent’s home in Brookline and we spent the night watching movies. The best part of the day was walking through the snowy streets of Boston. It was so quiet, I felt like I had the entire city to myself. Definitely the most peaceful Christmas I’ve had.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Human Googlebots at Verity!!!

A day in the life of the Information Service Department, I’m usually very attentive in the mornings. It’s not because of the caffeine craze, in fact I haven’t had any coffee or latte in the past year and half. Oddly enough, most of my colleagues drink coffee like it’s in their blood streams. What really keeps me going?

I think it’s very intriguing when I first started, the helpdesk issue box seemed empty (Slow month?) but after a few weeks, things changed. I felt wanted and my developing into a so call “Go to Guy” became known as the first introduction to new employees (Thanks to Karen). I love it, simply because fixing computers, testing software, and looking for a network connection is not my main interest but the ability to lend a helping hand. This is what keeps me going.

For the most part, I believe I’ve made some kind of connection with every employee in the credit union. My goal is to develop every connection into a “Band of Brothers” as we call it in the military. The credit union is growing and more branches are on the way so our cohesion is important.

Here at Verity, I believe we all have made that connection with each other. That’s why employees at Verity Credit Union are a strong bond of good people that offers that helping hand to all members of our credit union. We practice our culture internally and as well as externally to our members.

The people I work with are amazing, from the beginning of my day to the end, there is always someone there that I can go to and ask questions. The term “Human Googlebots” fits them nicely, whenever I’m stuck on a problematic issue, I can go to anyone in the IS department or even outside of our department. To sum up my day, I can’t do my job without the Verity team.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What's your dream?

Do you ever dream of winning the lottery, meeting that special someone or perhaps taking a much talked about fantasy vacation? I beg your indulgence as I tell you a bit about mine.

For more years than I care to admit I have dreamed of being a writer. My first attempt at a manuscript actually made it past the outline stage and progressed to being three whole chapters before time, energy and creative juices ran out. Granted, this was before the advent of personal computers and word processors so the paper copy was shoved away in a box to languish for a decade or two. It was not until I had taken a sabbatical from the corporate world that I had some time to take stock in my life and realized the desire to write still burned deep within me. In a space of six months, not to mention countless hours of typing, my 110,000 word manuscript was born.

Now comes the hard part, trying to find an agent willing enough to believe in me to represent an unknown writer in the fantasy/science fiction genre. Is my “baby” good enough to be published? I have to trust in the opinion of the many good people that graciously read the manuscript before it was ever finished with some even having hounded me daily to read my very rough output.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do but being a published author is my dream. So you might ask, what has this to do with Verity? More than you might think. We will be launching our Business Services in the first quarter of 2006. When it does, I will be there to hopefully make the dreams of business owners a reality. We will offer loans, lines, depository accounts, merchant services and even payroll services. Can you say exciting times at Verity? Well I can and oh, I will let you know if my dream ever comes true.

The New English

This week started out rough. I get to work Monday morning and my good friend Lee has left a copy of the December newsletter on my desk with a note on it: “Did something go haywire?” My stomach flipped.

Apparently, something went wrong with the art file I sent to the printers and some of the punctuation marks were converted into strange symbols. This happened somewhere between the first and second proofs I saw, and unfortunately I didn’t catch it. Thus, the newsletter was mailed to about 12,000 members with strange symbols taking the place of apostrophes, quotation marks and colons.

This is a marketer’s nightmare: to print and distribute something loaded with errors. And even though it was a simple mistake and obviously a glitch of some kind, it is totally embarrassing. Luckily I was feeling very Zen that morning and didn’t let it faze me too much. After all, we all make mistakes and I’ve made worse than this (I’ll leave those stories for another time). Laurel and I decided to call the errors “the new English," kind of like the “new Math”. Who knows, maybe it will catch on!

Seriously though, I am taking the situation seriously and will work my hardest to make sure it doesn’t happen again. My printer has also agreed to share the responsibility since the error was made in the proof stage. So, life goes on…

Credit University

Here is a photo of one of the classes Verity Credit Union visited through the Credit University program. The Credit University program is sooooo very cool. There are a couple of reason this program is so cool. The first is because it is a cooperative effort between six credit unions - Verity, Watermark, Sound, Qualstar, Seattle Metropolitan and America's Credit Union. (could you imagine banks doing something like this?)

We visit the high schools in the area through a woman named Alicia Haus. Alicia was formerly with DFI (Dept. of Financial Institutes). At her old job, she would visit the high schools and talk about financial issues, so she knows the teachers and the teachers know what a great public speaker she is. The students love her. She is engaging and entertaining and highly informative.

If you are a teacher and you want a great speaker to come to your class and talk about saving, budgeting and building good credit, send us an email. If you are a Washington State Credit Union and would like to participate in the program with us, let me know (post your name and CU in the comments section and the administrator will send it to me directly).

The students are learning a lot and the credit unions are getting out in the community. It is a good thing.

Happy Birthday To Me

I celebrated my birthday last week. I am now officially closer to 40 than I am to 30. What the heck happened?! Anyway, I had a lovely birthday and I got it on the cheap.

My husband took me out to dinner. We went to Ohana in Belltown. I LOVE Ohana. It has been so long since we sat down to a sushi dinner. With a two year old and a five month old, going out to dinner is a major challenge.

The challenge is not just finding a time, getting a sitter and all that. It is also financial. Kids aren't cheap and neither is sushi. I was soooo happy when I found out that Passport added Ohana to the restaurant listing.

We feasted on sushi and blue Hawaiian drinks. When I handed her my Verity Platinum Passport VISA, the waitress admitted that she had never seen the card as a duel VISA - Passport card. I explained what a great product it is - two cards in one; a discreet way to use Passport's two-for-one card. She said cool and took 20% off our order (it was happy hour so we didn't have a meal but she set us up anyway).

It was great birthday.