Brett Favre announced today that he's retiring after 17 amazing seasons in the NFL. Likely to be considered among the top 5 or 6 quarterbacks to ever play the position, Favre finished his career with 160 wins, 442 touchdown passes, 61,655 yards, three MVP awards, and a Super Bowl ring. His stats speak for themselves, but what is truly amazing about number 4 was his ability to appeal to the masses. Young or old. Rich or poor. Packer fan or not. People love Brett Favre.
Here's why: he's part superman, part human; half American icon, half guy down the street. He looked like a guy who loved what he was doing. He was a real person with real talent, real success, real strife, and real failures.
I believe there are 4 great lessons credit unions can learn from Brett Favre:
1. Have fun
From his rookie season to his 17th, you could tell Favre was having a good time. Watching him run down the field to give a teammate a hug, a high-five, or a laugh showed that he was truly doing what he loved to do. The public can tell. The public is drawn to that. When members see that you enjoy fulfilling your mission as a credit union employee, you have become a magnetic force in their lives.
2. Take Chances
Favre threw into double coverage. Favre tossed shovel passes in heavy traffic. Favre threw on the run, off his back foot, with blitzers in his face...it didn't matter. Sometimes it worked great, sometimes it didn't. I would argue that a more conservative quarterback in Favre's shoes wouldn't have been nearly as successful. To achieve amazing results, you must take amazing chances. I hear too many credit unions talking about growth, and not enough talking about the aggressive (read: risky) steps they are taking to achieve such success.
3. Be Up-Front, Honest, and Speak Plainly
Favre was not perfect. He threw many game and season-ending interceptions. He fathered a child out of wedlock at the age of 18 (he married the mother, Deana, 7 years later). He had a well-documented bout with prescription pill dependency. Each and every time, Favre candidly accepted responsibility for his actions, resolved to do better, and followed through on his promises. To top things off, Favre spoke like the guy down the street. He spoke plainly and unabashed, no matter how hard the topic may have been.
"If you're going to tell your story, don't go halfway,"
Credit unions are human organizations. Sometimes we mess up. The more open and honest we are with our membership and the general public about the times we fall short of their expectations, the easier the pill is to swallow. To err is human. To gloss over, sweep under the carpet, or avoid responsibility is disingenuous.
At the end of the day, Favre was a winner. He had the toughest job in sports to perform, and he did it magnificently. Credit unions have a tough job too. Our members count on us to offer real solutions to real financial needs. We must make sure that we continually examine and improve our portfolio of personal finance solutions so we can win the battle of ideas. We all know that it feels better to be associated with a credit union than a bank, but at the end of the day we must make sure that we are meeting the public's financial service needs.