Friday, March 30, 2007

What makes a good career?

I always find it interesting to read the rankings in US News and World Reports. Whether it is the best college, best city to live in, or best place to spend a vacation they seem to have a ranking for everything. In the March issue they rank the best careers for 2007 (click here for the link).

While reading the article I was struck by a sentence which gave the advice to pursue something you enjoy (it is hidden in the section that gives advice to recent graduates). Later that day I was announcing the winner of this month’s Extraordinary Feats Award, Melanie Mosshart, and it was evident that she enjoys her job and that has helped her make an impact. Just take a look at some of the things that were said about her:

· “Melanie has a tremendous amount of energy that she brings to work everyday.”
· “Whenever we have any idea that could possible impact our business Melanie runs with it and makes it a reality.”
· “Melanie shows enthusiasm, takes the time to think through what results we want to get and help us come up with a game plan.”
· “Her drive, determination and ability to open doors are truly extraordinary.”

When ranking the best careers US News looks at things such as median salary and job demand. Both of these things are valid but I believe the best careers for 2007, or any other year for that matter, depends on the individual. People like Melanie do not get comments like the ones above unless they enjoy their job.

Now I am a little biased as I am still waiting for Western Washington University to be ranked number one (I think we are all sick of seeing Harvard) in their college issue. Do you think that a magazine can rank the best careers or is that ranking always going to depend on the individual?

Sticky Situation

While my husband and I were recently on vacation, I accidentally signed a credit card receipt at a restaurant without filling in the tip portion. We were two blocks away when I remembered that I had done this so we tramped back to the restaurant.

I used to work food service and I would never knowingly cheat someone out of a tip.

It reminded me of an interesting email I got from Passport Unlimited. As you know, we offer a VISA card that has the Passport logo on it and you get your second entrée free when using your Verity VISA card (cool, eh?) At any rate, a participating restaurant called Passport and said that one of our members had used their card and not left a tip. They wanted us to track down the member so the restaurant could ask them why they didn’t leave a tip.

Well, for all sorts of reasons, we couldn’t do this.

While I’m sad that there is a waiter or waitress out there that didn’t get a fair night’s wage, I am happy that the restaurant wants to know why.

The reason I am happy is that soon we are going to have a restaurant review forum where members can go and rate their experience at Passport restaurants. Was the food good? Was the service good? Did they know what to do when you gave them your VISA – that sort of stuff. I think it will be a good. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Working Together to Spread the Word

Did you see our television ad during the Academy Awards? If you missed it, you can check it out on

I’m proud of the way Washington state credit unions are working together to spread the word about the benefits of belonging to a credit union. I think there are 20 of us across the state that are working on this campaign.

Check it out.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Individualize Service

I was reading a book in my leadership course at Verity University. The first thing I thought was, I better start marking this book with the little color sticky tabs to keep notes on questions I may have. By the time I finished the book, I ran out of sticky tabs. Yes, it was that good. Let me tell you why. I have been in the financial industry for nearly 8 years. Half of it was at one of the top three largest bank in the west coast and half with Verity Credit Union. I have been a teller, personal banker, business specialist, assistant manager, and information technology. There is a whole run through of positions that I have been in but the goal is still the same. I spent 8 years striving to give individualize service to everyone who approaches me with a service request or even a simple question. At the same time, I do my best to take their worries away while working on their issues. After reading this book about leadership and listening, I wanted to give the members or even others that are not part of the credit union an insight of the individualize services that Verity Credit Union have.

This book has illustrated a good point that Verity Credit Union strives to achieve for our members.

Southwest Airlines again stands out as the exception. Their flight attendants are experts in all the required safety procedures, but safety is not the point of their work. Fun is the point. Their passionate CEO, Herb Kelleher, instinctively empathized with air travelers. He realized that air travel is inevitably stressful. He knew that he would never be able to remove everyone’s fear and frustration. All he could do was encourage every one of his employees to make the flying experience as much fun as possible. Hence the songs, the jokes, the games, the coloring outside of the lines.” Kelleher’s intuition means that every Southwest employee is focused on the right outcome. (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999)

There are many employees at Verity Credit Union that I spend most of my day talking and helping them with issues or work enhancements. I feel like I know everyone here but not just myself. Everyone in the credit union is striving become part of this “right outcome”. Just like the example of book, Verity focus on creating individualized service with each member and give them the peace of mind that we will take care of their worries through great talent and listening.

-Flying Monkey

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Something Crazy Happened in Credit Union Land This Week

Earlier this week, a peer shared with me the news of a new and unprecedented happening in credit union land…a hostile takeover attempt. This type of takeover attempt is very common in publicly held companies, including banks, but has never happened in our corner of the business universe. News of this is spreading like wildfire and individuals, regulators, trade associations and vendors are weighing in. What follows is a part of a letter that one of Verity’s vendors sent that describes the situation and includes some very useful links:

Over the weekend Wings FCU based in Apple Valley MN(Total Assets about $1.7 Billion), made what can best be described as a HOSTILE takeover attempt of Continental FCU(CFCU). They had turned down several overtures made by Wings FCU to merge. Wings FCU solution has been to go the press and slam CFCU as not providing needed services etc. to its members. Go to Wings set up this site without CFCU knowledge. CFCU currently offers GREAT services to its members and is working everyday to do MORE for its members just like you are. Wings just wants the CAPITAL of CFCU. Wings FCU has been acting like this is a great deal for all the parties. The president of CFCU Tom Glatt heard about the "great deal" when CU times called him to ask his thoughts. CFCU response to this ambush can be found at Check out the CU times articles breaking news section.

The letter goes on to ask us to write our regulator to ask that this stop today.

I am a capitalist and firmly understand the need for mergers and acquisitions that are sometimes hostile. Credit Unions however are unique types of businesses, which are trying desperately to distinguish themselves from banks. While this act is not against the letter of credit union law, it certainly flies in the face of the spirit of the credit union movement and seems very bank-like to me. We don’t need to give bankers another reason to attack credit unions and our tax-exempt status. Wings FCU actually considered converting to a bank back in 2003 but ultimately decided to remain a credit union. Its CEO, Paul Parish had this to say, “We feel there is great value in remaining a credit union. Our board has and will focus on remaining a credit union.”

If Wings FCU wants to act like a bank, then for heaven’s sake, just become one. Please don’t do this kind of stuff that could have serious repercussions across our entire industry!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Another look in someone's wallet

Remember in January when I shared the contents of my wallet? Well, the idea must be catching on. Trent, over at The Simple Dollar, posted something similar Thursday called What's In Your Wallet? How I Organize the Finances in My Pocket.

It's an interesting read. Mostly because he thinks in terms of security and thrift. For example, he doesn't keep an ATM card in his wallet because they have less fraud protection than credit cards and they allow him too easy access to cash he doesn't necessarily need.

There are so many people blogging about their personal financial situations these days. It's a good resource for those of us looking to help them gain solvency.

From Trent's bio page: The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds - we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Training - Nice to have or a Strategic Advantage?

Training Magazine, a national publication devoted to the training industry, named Verity Credit Union as one of the Top 125 training organizations in the United States. Tina had mentioned this in her blog on January 2nd. However yesterday we found out our official ranking. Are your ready for it...

Verity’s official ranking was 101st, ahead of such companies as IKEA, MasterCard Worldwide, and MetLife. In fact, Verity was one of only three credit unions named to this coveted list. Two of them happen to be in Washington State, which I think is pretty cool.

In the most recent issue of Training Magazine Verity is featured in an article naming and briefly describing the Top 125 training organizations. A nice feeling when you are included with such companies as Starbucks and the Ritz-Carlton (who received first place). Check out the rankings of all the companies that made this coveted list.

One of our vision statements is to be considered one of the Top 10 places to work. Since I am involved in training I have an obvious bias in the importance of receiving this recognition. It truly excites me! However I am interested in what you think. Does receiving national recognition like this help propel us towards being a Top 10 organization to work for?