Posts Tagged ‘Travels’

World 2.0 brings us to Pokagon

April 16, 2009

What is World 2.0? And why do I use this term to explain the new environment in which we live? The web, and in particular the new engagement known as social media, has fundamentally changed the way that we, as people and organizations, exist in the world. By connecting all of us together, we have a new layer of knowledge in addition to the physical world with which we are more familiar.

EverythingCU is going to hold unique event in Indiana on Friday, May 29. This event will be a success, and would not have been possible prior to World 2.0.

Personally, I have only been to Indiana a couple of times, and it was always either passing through on I-80/90, or visiting Indianapolis. I know very little about the rest of the state except that French Lick is where Larry Bird came from, and the Kiss Fan Club’s address was in Terre Haute.

Because the economy hit the skids recently, and our credit union clients were blind-sided, errrrrr assessed a heavy burden to their operating budgets in January, we decided to postpone our flagship event, the Triple-B, slated for Portsmouth NH, by one year, to October of 2010. In the meantime, I wanted to continue to bring great experiences and education to our colleagues, and knew this presented the opportunity to put into action an idea I’ve had for a while: hold smaller-scale events for our members in locations that are convenient to them.

EverythingCU’s COO, Matt Taggart, coined the term for this one-day event: Instead of the multi-day Triple-B, this one-day event is known as the Little-B.

Choosing the right location can be quite problematic for an online company with members throughout North America. My first order of business was to poll our members to find out where people are located who are interested in attending our event. I put the query out on EverythingCU. While we got responses from all parts of the US, there was a clear mandate coming from three states: Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Since these three states border each other, my next step was to take a look at Google Maps and see what lay at the intersection of them. I immediately zeroed in on a place called Pokagon State Park, in the northeast corner of Indiana. Further googling of this area showed me that there were a couple of hotels nearby, even if the nearest major city was a 45-minute drive away in Fort Wayne. Also, using Google Maps, I could tell that this location was within driving range for many people. It’s two to three hours away from several major and minor cities: Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lansing, and slightly farther from Cleveland and Cincinnati. Other cities include: Dayton, Toledo, South Bend, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Gary, Saginaw, Battle Creek, and Essex, Ontario.

It’s not always easy to get a feel for a place simply by looking at a web site or three. So my next step was to get in touch with the people who live nearby, and I contacted a few EverythingCU site members in Fort Wayne. Not only did they confirm for me that was this indeed a great spot, but two told me that they have had great experiences at this park, and that the Potawatomi Inn in the park is a great hotel and conference space. Prior to speaking to our members, I had thought we’d have to hold the event at a hotel just outside the park, not realizing there was a great facility inside the park itself.

None of this would have been possible prior to World 2.0. There is no way that we could have had this direct contact with our membership to pull off an event in a place that we have never been to before. We have our agenda set, the invitations have been emailed and posted online, our members are signing up, and a great experience awaits us and our membership. A special thank you to Doug True, Chad Gramling and Nan Morrow who have spread the word to the Ignite Indiana group.

Now our challenge is to find another spot where this confluence of geography and member interest lies. I have several ideas and will be posting them inside the confines of EverythingCU.

Our agenda is set. We’ll be networking with each other (we’ll have many EverythingCU’ers who have never met each other in real life before), covering social media, sharpening our marketing skills with a presentation project, and sharing money-saving marketing techniques. If you are a credit union employee in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, or Ontario, I hope to see you at the 2009 Little-B Pokagon! If you have CU friends in the area, let them know!

Successful World 2.0 Hands-on Workshop in Lake George

December 5, 2007

Explaining World 2.0Just got back from a fun, intense day of leading a workshop for the NYSCUL Adirondack and Capital Region Chapters on Bringing Your CU into World 2.0. This was a laptops-up, hands-on workshop, and it was a resounding success. As part of the workshop, we twittered with several people who couldn’t be at the event, including Ginny Brady, Ron Shevlin, Jeff Hardin, and even Brent Dixon, who we conversed with while he was with 20-year-old Board Member Justin Ho in Austin TX for the YES Summit. Via twitter, Brent asked our collective workshop in Lake George if we had any questions for Justin. Linda Dickie, of Hudson River Community CU asked what the average age of Justin’s board was. I twittered that question to Brent, who in turn asked Justin. Brent twittered back to us that the answer was 57. (A very young number according to our Lake George friends.)

Laptops Up at Lake George NYIt was fantastic to take the mystique out of World 2.0 by demonstrating how quick, simple and free it is to sign up for these tools and sites. Attendees now have the foundation for how to succeed and win in this new World 2.0 we are living in.

Also, huge props go to Linda Bourgeois and Jody Carpenter of UFirst FCU, for organizing the event and making today possible. In addition, a big thank you to EverythingCU’s Dan Reynolds and Adam Lueb, who demonstrated EverythingCU’s webinar interface and online switch kit, respectively (and for taking some great pics of the workshop). And it was indeed great to meet Charles Folensbee, Matt Barbell, Kim Reilly, and Kip Summerlin in person at last, and to reconnect with Walt Everhardt, VP of Marketing for First New York FCU, who has been blogging for several months now.

Demonstrating blog commentingI will be doing this workshop throughout 2008 to help CUs across the country experience first-hand how easy it is to get going with World 2.0. If you know the education director at your state’s CU League, please email me and I will email you back a PDF containing the info that is covered in this hands-on workshop that you can, in turn, forward to him or her. If you attended this event, in-person or virtually via twitter, please comment here! Here are some Twitter Tips. Also, if you send me your email, I’ll send you a PDF of the slide deck. Let me know what we could have done better, or what topics you’d like to see covered more, or less of. More of Adam’s great photos of the event available here.

Live World 2.0 workshop in Lake George NY

November 30, 2007

Myself and the EverythingCU team is getting pumped for a live, hands-on World 2.0 workshop taking place in Lake George, NY next week on Wednesday, December 5. The combined chapters of the Adirondack and Capital Regions of the NYSCUL are hosting us. We’ve instructed all the participants to BRING THEIR LAPTOPS. We’re not just going to be talking about World 2.0 and social media/networking, we’re going to be DOING IT. We’re so excited about the sites and tools we’re going to be covering. It will be an eye-opening experience for all the attendees, and will hopefully catapult their respective CUs into this new wired digital age. It’s exciting! And we’re so excited to be meeting several long-time EverythingCU members, including President Charles Folensbee of Saratoga Community CU. Walter Everhardt, VP of Marketing for First New York FCU is going to be there, along with President Linda Bourgeois, and Director of Marketing Jody Carpenter of UFirst FCU in Plattsburgh. Ginny Brady, blogging Board Member of UFirst FCU will be with us virtually via twitter, as will our own Matt Taggart and Nate Duval…. can’t wait! Dan Reynolds and Adam Lueb will be assisting me in person. If you can’t make it, please join in via twitter…. here I am on twitter.


October 15, 2007

Toronto's CN TowerLast week, I had the pleasure of going to Toronto for FacebookCampToronto. I already knew a little bit about Facebook, but I didn’t realize that I was only scratching the surface of this site that is yet another revolution in social media. MySpace isn’t going to disappear any time soon, but Facebook is definitely where the real action is happening. Facebook may very well supplant LinkedIn as the social network for professionals, and that has already happened in Silicon Valley, London, and Toronto.

Having been involved with social media since 2000 (only we didn’t call it social media back then), it’s readily apparent to me that the hype surrounding Facebook is not hype– it’s real. Facebook has the potential to change the way many people conduct their online lives. No wonder Facebook’s founder has turned down an offer for $1 billion to buy his company.

The highlights of what I learned at FacebookCampToronto: Toronto rocks, and in general, Canucks kick our butt when it comes to culture. Toronto is delightfully international in flavor. There are now 44 million people now using Facebook, which is about double from where it was back in May when they announced the open application interface. Canada and UK are two of the fastest growing countries using Facebook– even faster than the U.S. London has the most people using Facebook with 1.1 million. Toronto has the second most with 800,000, and 11 of the top 30 FB cities in the world are Canadian.

Like all social media, success in Facebook comes from empowering the user, and enabling people to share and make connections with each other. New applications are being developed at an amazing rate. People who are on Facebook use it a LOT. The developer of MyAquarium grew his installed base to 8 million people — in three months. There are numerous way to conduct marketing within Facebook. By far the best, most effective way is to have your application send messages to the user’s mini-feed, some of which will then make it to the main news feed. The mini-feed and main news feed concepts are they keys to what make Facebook successful, and keeps its participants coming back. And with imagination, you can tap into these feeds. We humans are social creatures, and when we see our friends doing something, our instinct is to check out what’s going on too. Facebook allows you to see what your friends are up to….brilliant!

Two financial applications were discussed during the various presentations. FacebookCampTorontoLending Club was briefly mentioned, and Split It (covered in detail by William Azaroff at Net Banker) was discussed as an example of a large corporation sponsoring a useful application targeted especially at college kids.

I also met some new friends, some from Montreal as well as Toronto, at the party afterward. They are all great people, fascinating characters, and are working on some pretty amazing projects.

Spokane/Seattle/Port Angeles… and back

October 14, 2007

Phoenix RisingI had a wonderful time during my Northwest tour last month. I had so much on my agenda that I haven’t had a chance to upload all the photos and blog it until now. After attending the WCUL’s convention in Spokane, I had a few days to myself before I needed to be in Spokane again to facilitate United Health Services CU’s brand launch party. So I headed over to the Olympic Peninsula since I had enjoyed the beauty of its nature when I spoke there along with Doug True back in May, stopping off in some cute Washington towns like Ritzville and Ellensburg and along the way. I had done some research online, and discovered a great kayaking tour near Port Angeles. They had recently been reviewed in the Seattle P.I., and the trip did not disappoint, seeing much marine life including several great blue herons and otters. After enjoying a pint at the Water Street Brewing and Ale House in Port Townsend, it was time to head back to Spokane.

Me and GaryOn the way back, I met EverythingCU member Gary Walcott for coffee at Vivace in Seattle. One thing I LOVE about his CU, School Employees CU of Washington, is that they do NOT offer money market accounts nor CDs. EVER. PERIOD. It’s simply a part of the culture there; if they were to offer those things, they could not offer as a great at rate as they do on their loans to their teacher members. I love that they are staying true to themselves and their members, and their reason for being. Gary told me about some alternate, more scenic routes to Spokane than taking I-90. So I set out on US Highway 2, and really enjoyed the sites that that route brought me. I compiled the best photos from my 11 day trip in a group on Flickr, including Stevens Pass, Leavenworth, and the ginormous Grand Coulee Dam. I had no idea that the Grand Coulee Dam is the largest concreate structure in the U.S., and all the pyramids of Giza could fit inside it. Then it was time to be back in Spokane for the brand launch party.

Brand launch party in Spokane tonight

September 19, 2007

Dishman HillsEverything is coming together for United Health Services CU’s brand launch party this evening! It’s being held at Dishman Hills in Spokane, a park that I discovered online and checked out virtually using Google Earth before checking it out in person. We’ve got our brand manuals and goodie bags for all the staff…. should be fun!

Don’t change your name to an acronym

September 14, 2007

Soooo many credit unions are jumping on the acronym bandwagon. Yes, the words “credit union” are a mouthful, and even worse are the “Federal Credit Unions” who are legally obligated to use all three words in their name. But please, resist the temptation to shorten your name to acronyms. We see it all the time. Unfortunately, this change makes your name more generic and therefore more forgettable with your members and potential members. STCU, BECU, BCU, DCU, DFCU, MECU, GECU, just to name a few of the large ones.

But here’s a new angle on why you should be extra careful before deciding to shorten your CU’s name to its acronym. Think about what it is going to sound like when you call up a member on the phone. Think about what it is going to sound like when the receptionist answers the phone… which will happen 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 times per day. We all know how funny Washington Telephone Federal Credit Union looks when they shorten their name to WTFCU. But here’s a new twist that I learned from my new friend Matt Vance who I met last night at the Washington CU League’s annual convention in Spokane. He works at Industrial Credit Union, and they have recently made the decision to refer to themselves as ICU. It can be interpreted in at least two different ways. It could be “I see you.” Or, it could be short for Intensive Care Unit. Imagine Matt’s dismay when he caused panic in a vendor by calling her back and saying, “Hi, this is Matt from ICU.” The vendor’s first reaction was panic, thinking that her husband, who was in the hospital, had taken a turn for the worse.

When it comes to using the acronym instead of your full credit union name…. just say no!

Ginny Brady, UFirst Boardcast

September 13, 2007

The highlight of the afternoon had to be Ginny Brady. Just as Shari Storm of Verity CU is the first CU employee to blog, I would wager that Ginny Brady is the first Board Member of a CU to blog. I had learned of Ginny’s blog via OpenSource CU, but I had never put two and two together to realize that Ginny was in upstate New York, about a four hour drive away from Western Mass. The real delight of the session was learning that not only is Ginny blogging her credit union’s annual meeting, and putting photos from it on Flickr, she’s explaining how to use Google maps to create personalized mashups. Wow. I complimented Ginny on being more advanced than her CU’s marketing agency. I think that blogging is a natural fit for the cooperative, democratic nature of CUs and their boards. CU Board members sincerely want to represent their members. How better to do that than to engage them via a blog? So if you are a credit union professional or board member, and aren’t currently blogging, the real question is why not? There is no better way to engage your membership in dialogue, at the same time letting the members know what you and your CU are up to.

Scott, William, Trey, Brent, and Shari in SpokaVegas

September 13, 2007

Thursday in Spokane started off with a bang… I bumped into Shari Storm, VP of Marketing for Verity CU, and author of the first blog in CU land. I first met Shari in Suquamish in May. Also in the morning, Scott Bedbury, author of a New Brand World, gave the morning’s opening talk, followed by a great skit orchestrated by Trey Reeme and Brent Dixon. I also got to talk more with William Azaroff, creator of Vancity CU’s Change Everything program. And I was glad that Chuck, Cynthia, Mark, and Gail of United Health Services CU in Spokane had the opportunity to hear Scott Bedbury reinforce the brand principles that we’ve been working with them on since March of this year.

In the afternoon, I was delighted to learn about all of the great things that William’s Change Everything blog is doing in the Vancouver region. Having Vancity Credit Union be naked to the world is not without its challenges, and it was fascinating to learn how he’s dealing with that.

Washington CUs descend upon Spokane

September 12, 2007

After giving a talk about Bringing Your CU into World 2.0 to the Credit Union Association of Oregon in Tigard, I flew up to Spokane to join the festivities at the Washington CU League’s annual convention. Upon checking in at the conference hotel, I immediately recognized Trey Reeme of Trabian and OpenSource CU in the hotel lobby, and said hi before he had to go prepare for his talk the following morning. Trey let me know that Robbie Wright was still up and about, and so I also got to finally meet him in person, as well as fellow Trabian, Brent Dixon. Also in the mix were Matt Vance, Marketing Director for Industrial CU, David Bennett, Director of Public Relations for the league, Benny Haagen, Director of Lending for Educational Community CU in Everett, and Gaye White, Branch Manager at Peninsula Community Federal CU on the Olympic Peninsula.