20 March 2010

We Did It!!!

Several weeks ago, I saw this tweet from Jason Lindstrom (@cusperhero):

The link went to the following ad:

With the national unemployment rate in the U.S. still at 9.7% (and a staggering 12.5% in Jason's home state of California), it should not be surprising that someone you or I know has lost his/her job. What is surprising to me is that credit unions have allowed talent like Jason remain free agents for so long. Robbie Wright wrote a great post just this week about this very topic.

Former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight was asked by an executive for the Portland Trailblazers prior to the 1984 NBA draft (paraphrasing) "Who do you think we should pick?" Knight responded, "You have to pick Michael Jordan." The Trailblazers executive said, "But we need a center." Knight said, "Play Jordan at center."

Talent is talent. There is absolutely no justifiable reason that we are not gobbling up talent like Jason's.

If hard work, experience, education, and a portfolio full of accomplishments can't keep Jason from becoming unemployed, it can happen to any of us. That's why this story struck me so hard. I couldn't imagine losing my job, and living with the reality that I may not be able to support my family. I couldn't imagine feeling that the industry that I gave all of my heart and soul to for so many years would simply turn its back on me.

So, I made an attempt to raise the money necessary to help Jason place his ad in the Credit Union Times. My thought was simple. If 500 credit union people were to contribute only $3/each, we would be able to make this happen for one of the truly great ambassadors our movement has. Simple, right?

$261 was quickly raised by some of the most generous people on this planet. I remember seeing the donations come in and thinking, "Wow! This is going to work!" This was going to be further proof of the power of social media and the cooperative spirit of credit union people.

Alas, I wasn't able to excite enough people about donating. No one likes to fail, and I'll be first to admit that I didn't take this very well. My mind quickly assumed the worst. I questioned the cooperative spirit of credit union people. I questioned my role in credit union social media. I questioned what has happened to empathy, the golden rule, and perspective.

Then, like has happened over and over in my young career when my nearly ever-present optimism goes astray, I got a call from Jeff Hardin that fixed my perspective. "Let's give it another shot," he said. "Maybe we aren't leveraging the right networks." He talked me into launching the fundraiser again, and reached out directly to the CUDE Islandwood class of 2009 that Jeff and I attended together (Jason was a mentor at our program).

Through this revived effort, we were able to raise enough money to place Jason's ad for four weeks!

I hope credit unions see the ad and make the wise move necessary to keep Jason in the movement. It's ridiculous that in a time of such high unemployment that credit unions aren't reexamining every position in their organization, weeding out anyone but their top performers, and filling those positions with the amazing amount of top-notch talent available in the job market.

I couldn't be happier about what 25 very special people contributed to make this possible. While the project won't be deemed a complete success until Jason finds a suitable position, this small display of credit union people taking care of their own gives me hope. I have been asked not to disclose the names of many of the donors, but let me say from the bottom of my heart a sincere "Thank You" to you all.

Some happy and not so happy takeaways from this program:
1. DE is a powerful network.
2. Jeff Hardin is solid gold.
3. The 20/80 rule is alive and well.
4. Storytelling is important. I didn't do a good enough job telling the story about why it was important to help with this initiative.
5. Don't give up.
6. The people who care matter (and get too little of our attention).
7. The people who don't care don't matter (and get way too much of our attention).
8. Credit unions need to make sure that they have the right people on staff, and aren't letting the big one get away.
9. Email still works.

We're crossing our fingers for you, Jason!


Ondine said...

Matt-You continue to do some amazing things- I admire you and your work tremendously - this credit union Twitter community which continues to evolve is incredible-

Evhen said...

Matt, you are exactly right. It can happen to any of us. There are many many extremely talented people looking for work right now through no fault of their own.

I was in that position last year. After 11 years at a Fortune 500 company, I found myself looking for work. Over 7 months later I was fortunate enough to find a new job and a new home at a credit union - thanks primarily to the generosity and willingness of people in my network to go out on a limb for me.

These people were people like you. People that help even though they don't have to, and even though there's nothing in it for them. People like you make all the difference. Thanks.

Denise Wymore said...


I love how you continue to break down the fourth wall of the credit union movement and engage the audience - no longer satisfied with passive viewing - we must engage!

Cheers my friend!