23 December 2010

My Year in Review

This year has been one of the most hectic, rewarding, tiring, and exciting of my life. As I have a moment to reflect, I thought I'd share some of my proudest moments and biggest regrets of 2010. (Author's note: there's a 100% chance that I've left something important off of both of these lists.)

Proudest Things:
1. The birth of my son, Sullivan Cort Davis on January 5. The lost sleep, uncertain finances, hectic schedules, and almost overwhelming responsibility associated with welcoming home a child pale in comparison to the joy he has brought.
2. My Amazing Wife. All she did this year was give birth to a child, run like Forrest Gump, kick the GRE test's butt, work full time, and essentially be a single mother when I was on the road. I clearly don't deserve her.
3. The CU Water Cooler Symposium at FORUM Conference Center in Fishers, Indiana. This event proved what can happen when 20-30 like-minded people commit themselves to thinking differently and creating something special. The list of people to thank for this event is endless, but should start with the CU Water Cooler editors, FORUM Credit Union/FORUM Solutions (Cameron, Kristi, Leah, Jen, Andy J., and Amanda in particular), an amazing lineup of speakers who traveled from all over the continent, and the 140 or so people who decided this event was worth attending. At the very top of the list, however, has to be Tim McAlpine. No one put more passion or time into this event than Tim, and no one is more thankful for that than me.
4. Working with the Filene Research Institute. Few organizations on this planet, especially from within the credit union system, would be able to stomach my relentless focus on challenging status quo. Filene embraces that. I have learned so much this year from George's unassuming sagacity, Denise's endless creativity, Mark's relentless drive, Brent's magnetic quirkiness, and Ben's modest brilliance. But what's blown me away more than anything else is the ability for the people behind the scenes (Josey, Dan, Andrea, Monica, and Mallory) to keep our eccentric personalities on track.
5. Debt in Focus. The first i3 idea I was assigned to with Filene was an anonymous financial assessment tool called Debt in Focus. I love this program, and couldn't be more proud that it's already helped 250,000 consumers, many who have always been intimidated by traditional financial counseling, get the help they need to regain control of their debt.

Biggest Regrets:
1. CU Water Cooler Hasn't Gone Mainstream. The idea was pure, and the support I've gotten for the site has been heartwarming. But I haven't spent the energy (and money) necessary to put this site in front of the people we created it for. To break out of the credit union social media echochamber, we must find new ways to get the word out. This means giving current readers more ways to participate and more reason to spread the word about this resource, and finding the resources we need to take it to the next level. Changes are coming, but I waited too long.
2. "It's Time to Rethink Credit Union Conferences." I stand by what I wrote in this op-ed piece I wrote for the Credit Union Times (see the unedited version here). I should have known, however, that it would be misinterpreted. This piece actually wasn't directed at conference planners. It was written to credit union professionals, volunteers, business partners, trades, and membership organizations. We all need to be more efficient - with time, money, and the choices we make. My experience with the CU Water Cooler Symposium taught me how tough it is to create a quality, affordable event. We can only do that if we all learn what's important in an event, and what's not. This opinion piece was greeted warmly by readers, but often not for the reason it was written. I wrote a challenge for us to do better, not a condemnation of what is.
3. Not Taking a Bigger Leadership Role. I've stayed uncharacteristically quiet about some of the major developments in credit unions this year (corporate situation, mega mergers, NCUA actions, financial reform, etc.) This has been a conscious decision, and largely a good one. I haven't wanted to give commentary about this stuff because talking time is over. My regret is that I haven't been able to create solutions that well help credit unions deal with these changes. I'm trying, make no mistake, but I simply haven't made it happen.
4. I've Neglected this Blog. I've never been known to write very frequently on this site, but it seems like I'm writing less and less. I'll do better...I promise.

Thank you all for being such great readers for so long. I wish you nothing but the happiest of holidays, and hope Santa brings you everything you wanted for your stocking. What am I asking for this Christmas? Simple. At least 4 more wins for the Colts, 2 smiling sons, 1 happy wife, and the comfort of knowing I have friends like you out there.

Merry Christmas.


Ron Shevlin said...

Ok, so you have some regrets, but really, they're too few to mention. You did what you had to do and saw it through without exemption. :)

A little more seriously however, I think you're too hard on yourself for regrets 1, 2, and 4 (I can't comment on #3).

First off, you might have wanted CU Water Cooler to have gone "mainstream", but is not achieving that (whatever "that" means) a sign of failure or cause of regret? I read the site every day. I even click on the links from the editors (even Wymore's). I doubt I'm the only one. Those of us who get value in it could probably not care less that it's not mainstream.

Second, in no way should you regret the CU conference piece. Everything you said in it was 100% right on.

As for neglecting this blog, your efforts went elsewhere. So be it. Not worth regretting.

Have a good Christmas and New Year's.

Amanda Thomas said...

Merry Christmas to you, Matt! I love the idea of doing a list like this...it tells you where you've been and where the road ahead goes. I might try and do one for myself.

Your accomplishments far outweigh your "regrets", but even those you see as learning opportunities. As a peer, friend, and someone in the credit union movement, I'm very proud of you. Thank you for all you do for us, and for being an inspiration to me as well.

Here's to an even bigger 2011.


Matt Monge said...

Great stuff, Matt.

And really, with all of us CU heretics out here, methinks we've only just begun to make some noise.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Tim McApine said...

Nicely done Matt. Sounds like a pretty good year to me!

rkbor said...

Matt, I am proud of what you do, have done, and stand for. So many efforts take time to progress (though longer than we like) and this is likely true with some of your "regrets." Congratulations on your accomplishments, especially the welcoming of your baby. As a father and a busy guy I understand and respect your roles, even though my children are 17 and 20 now!

Ondine said...

I agree with Ron, that you've been a bit hard on yourself, Matt. At the risk of making you blush, I find your style refreshing and a voice the credit union industry desperately needs. You have earned and deserve all the respect, recognition coming your way. My crystal ball tells me good things will continue to happen as long as Matt, the CU Warrior is involved. You've had a greater impact to many. Your humble self is one of your greatest assets.

In the beginning, you thought I was a celebrity stalker and I thought you were a bit of a snob for not following me on Twitter. I was heartbroken. ;-) But all that changed when I had the honor of meeting you last February at the GAC and saw you in action- and even more with the work you, Tim and the others put into the CU Water Cooler Symposium.

The credit union industry needs more bright, young minds like yours- the ones on Twitter and too numerous to name. It's great to keep some of the old geezers (is that PC??) in line- and just for the record, I'm an old geezer in this industry too- since 1985. I love my fellow geezers, but we all get set in our ways and often resist change.

This unique group of Credit Unionistas on Twitter are making an impact- whether they yet know it or not- and I believe that has a lot to with the leadership of Matt and others who are bringing everyone together.

Congratulations on your new son and the happiness your wife and boys bring to you- after all, that is what REALLY matters.

Take care and Happy New Year! Keep up the GREAT work!


Denise Wymore said...


I love your drive, your commitment, your passion.

Regret maybe isn't the right word for you - I see them as goals. Your only regret is you haven't achieved them -- yet.

Rock on my friend.

Hap Landies said...

"3. Not Taking a Bigger Leadership Role. I've stayed uncharacteristically quiet about some of the major developments in credit unions this year (corporate situation, mega mergers, NCUA actions, financial reform, etc...... My regret is that I haven't been able to create solutions that will help credit unions deal with these changes. I'm trying, make no mistake, but I simply haven't made it happen."

Wow! So YOU weren't able to create solutions for these things? Exactly how do you fit through doors with a head this big????

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@hap You're right. The problems are too big. Let's not even attempt to fix them.

Gene Blishen said...

Matt if a few people did 10% of what you did this last year they would be happy.

Sometimes we don't necessarily see what we think we want to see. You should realize that what we all do is adding something to the CU system, the end result we never really know. Without trying is the greatest fault and regret any of us can have. We just need to keep going, that is the most important.

There is more to happen in 2011 and like Buzz Lightyear said "Infinity and beyond".