Friday, September 29, 2006

Trash Talkin'

In Washington State, organizations can participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program. Verity has been tending to its adopted 2 miles for a number of years.

Today, a group of us dressed in our grubbies, but before heading out we watched a safety video featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy. (The video tape was circa 1991, but still enjoyable.) Our outing was organized by Vivian, one of our relationship managers and Joe, one of our relationship associates. Joe went to the trouble of fashioning pick-up sticks made from a dowel and a nail so we wouldn't have to bend over so much to pick up trash. We headed out around 10:30 a.m. with our orange reflective vests and yellow hard hats. You may have seen our Verity van parked on the shoulder.

It's amazing what people will throw out of their cars as they drive along the freeway or toss over the walls that reduce highway noise. This is a short list of what we picked up today/saw:

  • half a mile of shredded documents (we couldn't pick it all up because it was embedded into the ground)
  • a football
  • a wedding thank you card with a photo of the blushing bride and groom enclosed
  • $10 cash (our CMO found that)
  • an unopened graduation card
  • a Seattle Mariner Game ticket from 2005
  • an unopened package of ear plugs
  • a program for the Daffodil Festival
  • lots of beer bottles surrounding a spent roman candle

It was a beautiful day to pick up trash-- and, we got a pizza for lunch and the rest of the day off. With incentives like that, I'm sure you'll see more Verity folk along I-5.

EFy Winner - October

In the financial industry the overall goal is to create loyal members. Different instiutions have different ideas how to do this, but it still is the overall goal. A loyal member is someone who will stay with you even if they can get a higher rate somewhere else, move out of the area, or even experience a mistake on their account. They are the people that refer others to our instituiton and help drive growth. Creating a loyal member is not easy, in fact it is quite difficult.

The winner of this month Extrodinary Feats Award (EFy) has his own "following" of loyal members. It really isn't a secret how he does it, he treats everyone like they are the priority and provides solutions. Don't take my word for it just take a look at the following member comment:

My husband and I have been Verity customers for many, many years. During the course of those years, we have dealt on many occasions with Tom of your office. Tom is the consummate professional. Tom has always been polite, ready to help, calm and collected when we have a banking problem (and we are not calm), and he is very knowledgeable about Verity policies, and banking in general and in specific. Over the years problems have arisen, and Tom has always taken the time to help us work through those problems to our satisfaction. He makes every customer of Verity feel special and important. If every banking professional had Tom's skills, the public would be well served and very satisfied with their bank's customer service. Tom is the standard by which we judge other members of the banking community at large.

Tom is one of the primary reasons that we have remained happy, contented and well serviced Verity customers. Where Tom goes, we will go. His commitment to excellent customer service has produced customers who are very loyal to him. Verity should be proud that Tom is in its employ. He represents Verity in the best possible manner every time he picks up the phone or meets with one of your customers.

Succinctly, Tom is an extraordinary professional (and would be in whatever he did), and whatever we say to you, words cannot adequately convey how highly we regard Tom. Verity is quite fortunate to have Tom, as are we.

People Who Work at Verity Do Unique and Interesting Things

Erica in the call center owns her own business. She designs wonderful skirts and handbags. Check out her work at PopulationOne.

Lee, in Admin Services, just donated over ten inches of her long, wonderful, healthy hair to Locks of Love.

Justin, in HR, fulfilled his childhood dream this summer and went to the World Cup in Germany.

Friday, September 22, 2006

That Woman Sounds A Lot Like You

Yesterday I received a very nice email from Brent Dixon letting me know that the WCUL presentation we participated in was available on podcast.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check it out while I was at work.

I’m not quite sure why the urge to listen to the podcast hit me during arsenic hour, but it did.

I walked through the door, set the baby down, went over to the computer and pulled it up.

As soon as the music began, I was hooked. When Brent started saying nice things about me, I was positively mesmerized. So enthralled was I, that I was oblivious to the three year old yelling into her microphone (she received a toy microphone from my mother-in-law that amplifies just like a real-live microphone. She resorts to this when I don’t pay attention to her whining). The one year old pulled a stool into the kitchen and was trying to climb onto the stove. The dog was running circles around the living room because she hadn’t been fed yet.

My husband walked in a few minutes later and looked at me puzzled. He doesn’t usually come home from work to find me standing in front of the computer, coat still on, kids and dog making shambles of the house.

“My first podcast!” I exclaim gleefully. His puzzled look does not go away as he takes the batteries out of the microphone, gets the one year old off the stove and throws a biscuit to the dog.

As we sit down to dinner, I turn the podcast back on. I try to listen to it as I talk to the girls about school. After about ten minutes, my husband gets another puzzled look on his face. He says, “this woman on the podcast sounds a lot like you”.

“I told you! This is my first podcast!” I say to him. To which he replies, “I thought you meant it was the first podcast you have ever listened to, not been on”

To make a very short story long, after listening to Trey and Brent at the League Convention, and realizing how behind the times I have let myself get (because I have to admit – it was the first podcast I had ever listened to), I am attending the Blog Business Summit at the end of October. Expect to see our blog stepped up a notch.

Oh, and if you want to check out my first podcast....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back to the Summit

As Terrell mentions below, us Marketing folk will be returning to the Bell Harbor International Conference Center along Seattle's lovely waterfront to learn more about blogs at the Blog Business Summit. Blogs appear to have taken up the prime real estate on my brain recently due to the fact that 1) it helped our website win the Spectrum Award from the Washington Credit Union League (again!) and 2) Our We Are V fans at Trabian talked about blogs and other social media at the WCUL Conference last week. My head is swimming with ideas on how we can redesign our blog, create new blogs, utilize podcasts and viral video, and on and on...

So why are we blogging about this? For one, I think conferences are a great way to network and get a fresh perspective on the new technologies out there. Two, in my line of work, you can't afford to work in a vaccuum. And, to be perfectly honest, the kind folks sponsoring the Business Blog Summit will discount conference fees if we blog and link about it. I'm all for saving money and promoting the heck out of blogs and those who encourage blogging, so there you go.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blog Business Summit

Last year Laurel and I attended the Blog Business Summit; read my shout out here. Well, the Summit is back and this time Shari, our VP/CMO, is joining us for 3 days of fun.

Seriously, as far as conferences and seminars go, this is one of my favorites. And it's not just because it's held at the beautiful Bell Harbor Conference Center, although that is a big plus.

This conference couldn't come at a better time. Last week we attended a session on social media at the Washington Credit Union League convention put on by Trey Reeme and Brent Dixon of Trabian and OpenSourceCU, and now we are full of ideas about how to take our blog to the next level.

If you are reading this post, you probably already get blogs and understand a little about what they are and how they are changing the face of today's media landscape. But, there are so many people out there who still think blogs are just wordier versions of MySpace profiles. I'm just glad that Verity is progressive enough to understand and appreciate this form of communication. It makes me proud to work here.

Stay tuned for more posts about the Summit!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


When I started my career here at Verity I had no aspirations of getting into sales. My conception of salesmen was not a flattering one. Pushy, money hungry, and self-serving were the dominate traits I pinned on salespeople, as had been my experience with many. The good salespeople that I encountered went unnoticed, mainly because they did not fit my paradigm. To me they were customer service reps., just doing what they could to help me find what it was I wanted, and not trying to push something I didn’t. Little did I know these people were at the top of their profession; selling people what they needed and not scaring them away by being too aggressive.
It wasn’t until I began working as a teller at Verity, and giving our members advice on the most advantageous accounts for them, that I discovered that sales can be a noble profession. Gaining knowledge of all the accounts we offer is something that is stressed to all of our tellers and with that knowledge tellers are encouraged to inform members of the best accounts for their unique situation. I found that this was an area I excelled in, and best of all I’m proud of the advise I give members. Recommending a money market account to a member who has thousands of dollars in a savings account is in the best interest of that member; their money has the same liquidity as a savings account, but earns almost twice the interest.
My accomplishments did not go unnoticed, and in less than a year I was promoted to Relationship Associate. Now my main responsibility is to open accounts for current and new members. By asking member’s questions about what characteristics of an account are most important to them and then suggesting an appropriate account, I am providing a beneficial service and always feel great about helping people maximize their banking experience.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Current credit freeze policy leaves me a little cold

This week, I attended the Washington State Credit Union League Conference at the Doubletree near SeaTac Airport. It was a good opportunity to get out of the office, mingle with other Washington credit union colleagues and listen to a few speakers talking about everything from multi-factor authentication (THAT is a blog posting topic in itself) to the social web (blogs, podcasts, RSS). One of the keynote presentations featured Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna who discussed Identity Theft, how credit unions have been a great help in educating their members about it and what his office is doing to help strengthen Identity Theft laws and protections for consumers.

No one is safe from being a victim. He shared stories of how a single working mom found out her identity was stolen after receiving a call from a dealership asking why they hadn't received payment for the new car she didn't know she had. Or, the Seattle businessman who found out that someone was claiming to work at his business in order to open lines of credit at several big box retail establishments. It was disheartening to hear that some of these retailers didn't bother to call and verify that the guy actually worked at the business. If a retailer did bother to call, the guy would walk out of the store and that was it-- no one reported what he tried to pull, leaving him to continue his fraud spree.

They eventually found the guy. He wasn't a very bright criminal, apparently. He used his own driver's license for ID and he was video taped. They found him at his home, which was filled with office equipment. He was selling the items online to support his meth addiction.

These stories were interesting, but the most compelling topic for me centered around the fact that a consumer cannot freeze their credit information unless they are a victim of identity theft.

A credit or security freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors or insurance companies. You, too, will not be able to open new credit while a freeze is in place. Individuals can request that a freeze be temporarily lifted for the purpose of obtaining new credit. You can read more about it on the Washington State Attorney's website.

One would think, then, if you weren't going to be buying a house or applying for a credit card anytime soon, you could put a security freeze on your information as a preventative measure. But current law states that you have to be a victim first. To paraphrase the example the attorney general made, it's like having a law that says you cannot purchase locks for the doors of your home until you are burglarized.

I hope that this law is changed soon, for everyone's sake. Identity Theft one of the fastest growing types happening nowadays. Washington ranks 7th in the nation for Identity Theft.

Until then, I'm going to continue to practice what the ID theft prevention pros preach. I'm going to get stop those pre-approved credit offers. I'm going to keep shredding my documents. I'm going to delete phishing emails and not click on any links I am unsure about. I'm checking my credit report annually. While there's no such thing as 100% protection against ID theft and fraud, I can at least make my information harder to get and fly under the radar of those potential ID thieves.

My development

I have not blogged for awhile but I would like to let everyone know the progress of “The Flying Monkey”. It's probably been about 7 months since my official acceptance to Verity University. I have good news, since attending, I have taken the 7th Habits of Highly Effective People, Give 'em the Pickle, Star Books, and attending outside courses in Information Technology. The most important part of education and self improvement is staying on track. Verity is a great place that promotes learning and has a supportive staff to keep you up to speed. Justin, Daryl, and Tina (Our Triple Threat Teachers) has consistently paved my path to success. This includes one-on-one counseling, providing resources, and being an advocate of my education. Many thanks guys! I even have Verity University's Vision & Mission statement on my bulletin board to keep me motivated. It states:

Verity University

Vision & Mission


Verity University's Vision
Educate and empower employees by providing exceptional professional development opportunities.

Verity University's Mission
Enable students to grow, develop and enhance their careers to better serve our members.

-The Flying Monkey

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I am Officially Old

When I was 15, 16, 17, I remember the pained looks my dad would throw my way when I would crank the radio when RATT or Quiet Riot or Night Ranger would come on. I think I even remember making a promise to myself that I would never let myself get so old that I wouldn’t love popular music.

When I was 24, 25, 26, I remember my sister and I reading that your music tastes stop progressing when you are about 25. That is why companies like Mercedes use Janice Joplin in their TV ads – the people that can now afford Mercedes are of the age when their last favorite song was of that era. I do remember the pact my sister and I made that we would never let music tastes stagnate.

So here I am at 36. I just placed a series of radio ads on KUBE. The demographic for that radio station is skewed young – 18 to 24, and predominantly male. In other words, it is the station that plays rap music.

Up until last week, I was pretty confident in my hippness. I mean, I listen to T-Man occasionally (Tari Free is from my hometown). I have been to a Sir Mix Alot concert. I downloaded Rihanna on i-Tunes. I can hang.

So, once the ads started running, I tuned in to KUBE. As I listened to the station on the way home and in my house, I would catch myself making that same pained face my father used to make. (and turning the channel lest my three year old catch some of the lyrics in the songs! I am sure she has no idea what promiscuous means, but I don’t think I want Nelly Furtado teaching her).

No matter how much I wanted, at 25, to keep my music tastes evolving, I am accepting the fact that they are not. I listen to KUBE just long enough to hear our ad and then I quickly change the station. All is not lost though. I do turn the dial to KEXP, which is still kind of hip…. I think.

Do I really want her listening to Ludacris?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Good Ol Daze

As I breathe a sigh of relief after giving birth to our "graduate" Honey Bucket for this year’s Good Ol Days celebration in Auburn, I will never look at ‘Honey Buckets’ in quite the same way. My name is Melanie and I am the newly appointed Relationship Manager in Auburn…and may I just say this year’s Good Ol Days was, for me anyway, a LABOR of love!

You may ask yourself what on earth an outhouse, or to use a more affectionate term, Honey Bucket, has to do with a credit union. I’d be delighted to tell you: absolutely nothing. Unless, of course, the credit union is located in Auburn, where the Honey Bucket is celebrated each year in the August Good Ol’ Days parade as part of the Honey Bucket Brigade. This year’s theme: Heroes Among Us. Our hero: the Teacher.

Because we chose teachers as our heroes, we decided to celebrate them by decorating our Honey Bucket in a grey and orange (our colors) cap and gown with “Graduate to Verity” printed boldly on the back. We succeeded in draping our silver-painted Honey Bucket in a grey gown with a grey cap proudly sitting on our Verity "V" and an orange and grey tassle swinging gently in the least for a moment.

We were pleased with our 2-day effort, and we loaded our out-house on the out-bound truck to the parade. That gentle breeze however, suddenly whipped up and around our gown, stripping our out-house down to the pine and toppling the cap-wearing "V"to the ground. Not to worry. Our fast-thinking team, Amber, Joe and myself, grabbed hammers, glue and nails and by the time we got to the parking lot to line up for the parade, we had completely re-decorated our “graduate”.

We crowned our “V” with the cap and tassle just as we were directed to line-up. We were on the move. Success was ours! Our “teacher” Melissa, was picked up enroute and we prepared our pitching arms to get ready to toss Verity "stress" apples to the awaiting crowd. The girls on the Verity "graduate" Honey Bucket were a hit with the crowd. Even our adept driver, Joe, tossed Apples from the cab to those with outstretched arms. There were smiles all around as eager children caught the airborne Verity Apples, and our "Graduate" drove into the sunset, or at least to the end of the parade route.

I've got to admit, those little stress-releiving apples were certainly a relief to me in getting our Good Ol Days off to a Good Ol Start.

Free Credit Counseling

MSN Money and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling are teaming up to provide free credit counseling services today. They’ve dubbed September 12 Get Out of Debt Day. Read about it here.

    On Tuesday, during business hours, counselors at nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies across the country will be ready for your questions about debt and personal finances at 866-481-6322 (866-481-NFCC). Counselors will listen to your questions and problems, and they'll either provide personal answers on the spot or make arrangements to help you further, by phone or in person.
Another resource for FREE credit counseling is Balance. Through Balance, Verity members receive free, unbiased information and assistance to help them achieve their financial goals. Counselors at Balance can help you with money management, debt repayment, credit report reviews and more. Counselors can be reached toll-free at 888-456-2227.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A feel good story

Every so often people will pass along comments that they receive about other employees to me. I LOVE when people do this. Hearing about the great service we provide our members really makes me feel proud about where I work. I can already feel that this is getting a little sappy so I will just share with you a comment that a member recently sent to our Mortgage Director about an employee in our Operational Support Department.

I have been a member for over 9 years and have always received exceptional service from all employees. Recently one of your employees went above and beyond for me, turning a very stressful situation into a positive one. I appreciated Brad's outstanding customer service so much that I wanted to let you know.

At 9AM on Thursday July 27th I was at my realtor’s office signing closing papers on the sale of our WI home at which time I also had North American Van Lines at my residence loading our belongings. At 8am that morning I had received a phone call from the North American that they needed payment in full prior to the semi leaving my residence on Friday. While at my realtors office I called members services and paid my Visa balance in full. Concerned that the pay off would not show up for 24 hours and that the moving expenses exceeded my credit limit on my journey card I phoned Wendy who was handling my escrow on the purchase of a new home in Oregon. She called Brad and explained my situation. Within minutes I received a call from Brad telling me not to worry about it and that he had a solution. First thing Friday morning Brad called me to let me know that my Visa payment had gone through. He then did a conference call with North American letting them know that they could charge my card. While I was still on the phone with Brad the full charge for my moving expense had been already posted to the card. Problem Solved…He was MY HERO and I wish to thank him for his excellent customer service. Please pass this on and let him know how much I appreciated everything he did.