National conferences. You see the photos and follow the Twitter posts. You may even see quite a bit of good-natured “ribbing” from colleagues and friends if you have the opportunity to go to a conference that has remarkable weather and landscapes.
I just returned from a five day conference in Orlando, Florida. Leaving 45 degree weather and rain to arrive to 72 and sunny was not hard to swallow. The conference was put on by our financial partner PSCU. The conference was MoPRO2013 and it focused on member partners – engaging us in new learnings surrounding service, technology, and growth.
We travelled to the conference as a team. Our CEO, Kit Snyder, VP of Operations, Scott Sylvester, and Plastics Manager, Kelly Smith attended along with me, our Chief Marketing Officer. The conference was a great opportunity to share ideas face to face and meet with partners in person. We also shared great learnings on a C-level playing field that brought “game on” attitudes to all.
In today’s economy, webinars, and “FaceTime” conferences are great choices for learning on a budget, but this past week underscores how important attending national conferences is as well. The “ah-ha” moments you have and the time for reflection on your day-to-day processes is very invigorating.
My six greatest learnings from the week:
1. You Cannot Overbrand: Going Green
As a marketer, I’m always looking at ways to grab people’s attention. The event planning and marketing teams at MoPRO2013 thought of every little detail. PSCU has undergone a branding initiative, leading with what everyone referred to by the end of MoPRO2013 as “PSCU Green.” The lime green color was “splashed” everywhere. All staff had scarves or kerchiefs with the splash. Logos featuring MoPRO2013 were placed in the areas with intentional sublimity, from the hotel door keys to the “interactive” Near Field Communication bracelets that automatically checked you in and entered you in to conversations (and prizes!).
Why wait for a special event to bring out the creativity of a brand? The little attention to detail is what moves a good brand to a great brand.
2. You Must Have a Goal
I was honored to attend the Women’s Leadership Network to hear Marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson. Her story in itself is motivating, but the one thing that caught my attention was the fact that with each race she enters she creates a very specific goal. “You must have a goal. You must.”
Joan shared the fact that she wasn’t ready for the attention that came from her success as an athlete, yet she knew her success could be channeled to help others succeed. “You are who you are today. Not 5, 10, 20 or 30 years ago.” Thanks, Joan, for reminding me that each day counts and goals are important focal points to strive for at every stage and every age.
3. 1,000 Small Moves Make Big Change
Susan Schuman, CEO of SYPartners, led a discussion on emotional intelligence that was a great reminder that our colleagues and business partners as emotional human beings. All of the numbers that come from big data are important but the only way you can make big change is not with big data, it’s with 1,000 small moves that create the change. I liken this to the example of someone trying to improve their health. They wake up and, for one week, exercise and eat healthy. They jump in BIG and then in a week don’t see results, get frustrated, and stop. How often do we stop before those “1,000 small moves” start to have an impact?
4. Who Is Your Smoking Cinderella?
There is a reason the title of this post is “Who Is Your Smoking Cinderella.” Dennis Snow, former Disney Executive and now owner of the awesome business Snow & Associates, is a vibrant storyteller. One of the most memorable stories he paints is that of Cinderella in the park. She is near the castle with her back turned away from the entrance. A 4 year old runs to her and pulls on her gown. She is literally jumping for joy as Cinderella turns around and, with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, gravelly grumbles, “Hey, I’m on break, kid.” Imagine the child and the parents’ reaction to this. Dreams dashed. Joy killed. Brand irrevocably destroyed by one person in one moment to one customer.
Dennis begs us to ask ourselves daily, “Who is our smoking Cindrella?” Who is taking the work we’ve built on customer service and having it go up in smoke? Most “smoking Cinderellas” aren’t intentionally hacking their way toward brand elimination. Yet they are out there and it’s up to each of us to put out the cigs for good. Dennis said one of his favorite quotes is “Intolerable service exists because intolerable service is tolerated.” That’s just not tolerable.
5. Being a Member Is Powerful
The kickoff speaker for our conference was Terry Bradshaw, Fox NFL Analyst and TV Sports Commentator. Terry is the real deal. He doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than who he truly is. He is very entertaining, albeit at times not the most PC. Terry’s quote kicked off the conference with the most important reminder. “Being a member is powerful. Think how powerful it is to belong.”
Our credit unions are made up of members. Think how powerful it is to belong. PSCU President Mike Kelly underscored this when he spoke on partnering and collaboration, “Intimacy cannot be replaced.” Membership <strong>IS</strong> our differentiator. Think how powerful it is to belong.
6. Game Changing Ideas Can Often Start as Crazy and Stupid
Industry changing ideas are very fragile and often indistinguishable from crazy/stupid ideas. Harvard Business School Professor Youngme Moon says the key is to learn to differentiate. When someone says, “That’s a stupid idea,” it just may mean you’re on to something.
My eyes and ears were open to soak up marketing ideas, service ideas, and more. MoPRO2013 provided full sun 24/7. Now it’s time to take back the rays and spread them around for members and colleagues to enjoy.