Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sophisticated Stylish Discreet

The past few years, I’ve learned a lot from my girlfriend about architecture and design. These expressions changes the way we live and perceived a business or home. She recently showed me a few photos and a brochure of Hotel Ändra located on fourth avenue of downtown Seattle. This was part of a project that would discuss people and their movements within a space. I noticed that they chose three words to describe the hotel, sophisticated, stylish, and discreet. I thought to myself, Verity Credit Union is just like that. We have sophisticated people all around us and employees with very specialized fields. Stylish, our branches are designed and built by well known firms like Callison Architecture Inc and Paladino and Co. Discreet, we are private and one of the best hidden treasures of Washington. It is no wonder whenever I walk into Verity I feel welcomed and grateful to work in uniquely design financial institution. I hope everyone gets the chance to come into Verity Credit Union and take a look.

Check out what Paladino wrote about Verity, I even found these two pictures on their site:

The Verity Credit Union (formerly Northwest Federal Credit Union) building is a commercial office facility that houses a financial institution. The building is designed to harvest site resources and create a positive work atmosphere for building occupants, as well as showcase environmental measures for banking patrons. The building is oriented on an East-West axis and the floor plates are elongated to maximize solar access into the building interiors.
Exterior shading devices (shown at left) and interior light shelves direct sunlight into the space without causing undesirable glare. Window glazing was selected to reduce glare on computer monitors while allowing natural light into the occupied spaces. Finally, interior finish colors were chosen to bounce light to the deep interior spaces, creating a vibrant and positive workspace. Verity was an award winner in the 1996 AIA Architecture and Energy Competition, and has been featured in several national publications.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Meme: Three Habits

Here’s another meme I ran across while reading a few of my favorite blogs: share three quirky habits you have at work. I love memes because they give you a topic to blog about, which is half the work. Plus, they can be really fun. I hope some of my fellow bloggers will participate. Oh yeah, you can change the meme if you want. For example, you can write about 3 of your most successful habits, or 3 habits you wish you had. I’m going to mix it up.

My quirky habit is that ever since I heard that a desk has 5 times more germs on it than a toilet seat, I have to wipe my desk down almost every day.

A habit I am proud of is that I have learned to be more proactive, rather than reactive. For example, when something unexpected comes up, I take a breath and think about the situation before I react. I have realized that even when something is urgent, I still have time to think things through. This makes me feel less stressed, more in control and a lot easier to be around.

One habit I would love to perfect is goal setting/planning. I find it hard to think about the future sometimes because I try and live in the present. But, like the 7 Habits course taught me, you have to Begin With The End In Mind. This year is the first I’ve made goals for myself professionally. And just writing them down on paper and putting them in plain view on my desk has helped to keep them in the forefront of my mind.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

National Homeownership Month

In 2003, President Bush proclaimed June as National Homeownership Month. Verity Credit Union has always been dedicated to helping our members and our community realize the American Dream of Homeownership. We offer Homebuyer Education classes periodically, many Zero Down programs, discounts for First Time Homebuyers and more.

In the past, we have acknowledged National Homeownership Month in the branches by having educational information for members to pick up and browse. This year, I am hoping that we can step up our efforts in reaching our community, educating them, and helping them realize the American Dream. Of course, this is an ongoing process. However, I am in the process of organizing a free seminar series to our community in the month of June.

But, having been in the Mortgage industry for several years now, I'm afraid I might be a little jaded about what First Time Homebuyers truly need or want to know. So, I am reaching out to our members (do you read these blogs?) and ask for your feedback. I have several ideas of classes we can offer;
  • Homebuyer Education (we take you step-by-step through the homebuying process and what you can expect)
  • Predatory Lending (presentation discussing various deceptive advertising and predatory lending practices that are prevalent in the industry - including real accounts of fraud that we have witnessed)
  • Choosing a Real Estate Agent (what to look for when choosing an agent, the importance of having an agent to represent you, etc)
  • Credit Reports (understanding your credit report and how to improve it)
  • Buying New (with so many new developments going up, this class would give you an idea of what to expect when you decide to buy a new house)
  • Rent vs. Buy (pros and cons of buying versus renting, is buying right for you?)
  • Home Inspections (what they are and why they are important)

I'd like to hear from our community and members... are any of these useful? Is there something not listed that would be helpful? Any feedback would be appreciated. You can either leave a comment on this blog or send me an email with your opinions. Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the natural

I know I've already posted about our radio commercials, but here goes another one. Today a few of us went to the radio station to record another commercial. All of us were veterans, with at least one commercial under our belt, except for Blake. You never know what you're going to get when you bring a newbie to the station. Some people take a while to loosen up and will read really fast or get their words jumbled. Others will nail their lines on the first take (ahem....Laurel and Tim).

So, I didn't know what to expect from Blake. He's a pretty laid-back guy who doesn't like to draw a lot of attention to himself (this is my perception anyway). He graciously let Tim read his lines first, followed by Shari. Then, he steps up to the mic and out flows the most soothing, reassuring and sincere sounding voice! Talk about a natural. And the thing is, it sounded exactly like Blake. I know this sounds obvious, but what I'm trying to convey is that sometimes a person's radio voice is just that, their radio voice. It's not their normal speaking voice, and it doesn't give you a sense of their personality really. You listen more to their words than their tone. But when Blake spoke, I felt more than I heard. I felt like, this guy actually cares. He cares about his job and the people he helps.

Maybe it's just that I didn't drink enough water today and I was getting a little dehydrated and I was starting to hallucinate, but I like to think that when people hear our next commercial, they'll feel the same way I did.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

UK schools offer financial literacy courses

It looks as if Americans aren’t the only ones getting themselves into financial trouble. According to this article by the BBC, consumer debt in the UK has climbed so high that there is a need for financial literacy courses in schools. Starting in September, teens in the UK will be able to take classes like “Introduction to Money”, “Money Management”, “Personal Financial Encounters” and “Money Management Solutions.”

While schools in the US might not be ready to support this kind of curriculum, Verity Credit Union already does. We are a proud sponsor of Credit University, which covers topics such as understanding credit, saving and investing, and identity theft. Last year Credit U reached over 7,000 students in 181 schools in Western Washington, with plans to reach even more kids this year. My hopes are that this program will be so successful that it inspires schools to offer courses similar to those being offered in the UK.

Friday, January 06, 2006

My 2006 Resolution - To Be A Unicyclist

On January 3, as I drove past our local grade school on my way to work, I saw a little girl on a unicycle.

She was about seven years old and she was clearly riding her unicycle to school. My god did that put a smile on my face! I laughed out loud - the kind of laugh you do when you see something you really like.

All the way to work I thought of that little second grader, riding her unicycle to school. I thought of her on the way home too. I hoped that I would see her again.

I want to be like that. I want to be unique and brave and energetic. I want to do things for Verity that are spunky. I want to do things in my personal life that are memorable.

Before 8 am on Tuesday morning, I was thinking about resolutions that had to do with budgets and diets and answering emails quickly. Now I'm all about the spunk. How the heck that will manifest into action, I have no idea. Stay tuned though.

What 102 Will Do

On Wednesday, we got the dreaded call from daycare – Bekah has a fever of 102. Come get her.

When you have a two year old, a 102 fever stops your family dead in its tracks. When the fever is 102, there’s no fudging it and there’s no forgetting it. Often, when Bekah isn’t feeling well, we wipe her nose and send her to school anyway. Bekah is sick a lot. She gets colds and ear infections and stomach aches. Usually, it doesn’t slow her much. Her urge to be active keeps her from being down for too long.

However, when the fever hits 102, all bets are off. When the daycare says the fever is 102, my mind instantly conjures up images of my flushed little girl, lying lethargic on her cot, hair matted to her face. A call about 102 degree temperature makes me turn off my computer and head straight out the door. When the fever is that high, I don’t wrap up loose ends - I go straight to mommy mode. Fevers that high also get you a little note from the schools saying you can’t bring your kid back the next day.

Tonight, our executive team had tickets to see Blake Nordstrom and Jim Donald (CEOs of Nordstrom and Starbucks) speak. In my warped world, seeing those two speak is like having front row tickets to the best concert of the year, or watching the Huskies in a championship game. However, Bek’s fever is still over 102. She is flushed and lethargic and her hair is matted to her face. She doesn’t want to eat or play. She just wants to sit on my lap and rest. So, instead of learning the success secrets of the leaders of two of the best companies of our state, I watched the same 30 minute episode of Calliou four times in a row. That is what 102 will do to you.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

7-11 offers surcharge-free ATMs

Here's a little tidbit that goes along with my post from this Tuesday... Verity Credit Union members can use ATMs in 7-11s for FREE. If you don't believe me, you can find the press release here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2006 Resolutions, Abridged

I was asked to share some of the resolutions I have for 2006. I'm more of a goal-girl than resolution-chick, but we'll merge it and call it one and the same. I opted for bullet-point format and took the first 5 topics for professional and personal categories. I have read that you should never share goals with someone that can't help you achieve them, so I'm counting on you...

Professional
  • Graduate from Verity University by March of 2006.
  • Be able to end each week with an example of how I made a difference to someone or something at Verity. Starting this week.
  • Establish leadership and candidate pipeline project parameters by June of 2006.
  • Develop baseline metrics and assessment project for quality of staff by June 2006.
  • Take the LSAT and start to apply to schools that provide MBA/JD programs. December, 2006.

Personal

  • Climb and attempt to summit Rainier by July of 2006.
  • Take the first two courses towards getting a certification in skydiving by June of 2006.
  • Read 52 books by December 2006. Broaden my range of topics.
  • Find and contact my long-lost friend Maka by January 2006.
  • Complete the 7 Habits contract by February 2006.

There you go. I'll let you know what I achieved with an update in June. To use the slang I love so much...then you can give me mad props for my crunk game. Aiight?

Mythbuster: Credit Unions are inconvenient

One of the common excuses I hear from people about why they don’t belong to a credit union is that they are not convenient, the lack of branches and ATMs on every corner being their main concern. I shared this same logic years ago, before I truly came to understand and appreciate the credit union difference. In fact, I used to choose my primary financial institution based on which one had the most ATMs around town. Since then I have obviously been enlightened and would like to share a little anecdote with you…

On December 21 I left for Texas to spend the holidays with my family. In my rush to pack and get to the airport, I forgot to take cash out of the ATM for my journey. A few years ago, this would’ve stressed me out. But with the increased use of debit cards, I no longer have to worry. I was able to buy a snack during my layover at the DFW airport using my debit card, and once I got to my parent’s town I was able to use my card at the grocery store and get cash back for peace of mind. As it turned out, I didn’t need any cash because every retailer I visited accepted debit cards. I felt safe using my debit card because I knew that the money was coming directly out of my checking account and that I wasn’t spending anything I didn’t have. If I wanted to, I could’ve checked my balance via Home Banking or Telephone Teller to make sure I was within my limits. Or, I could’ve just called Verity’s 800 number and talked to someone in the Member Service Center. At no time during my vacation did I feel inconvenienced, even though I was far away from my credit union. I knew I had easy access to all of my accounts and to cash if I needed it. And most importantly, I knew that if I had any problems at all I had the Verity staff to back me up. I could call the 800 number and talk to a real person!

So, there you have it. With today's technology, credit unions are every bit as convenient as even the biggest banks. Another myth busted.