Did you enjoy the three-day weekend? Me too! A little extra time off is always nice – especially when that day off is shared by everyone in the office. As a result, I don’t end up with any extra work on my desk. (On a personal note, the Memorial Day holiday is important to me. I remember that this day is about honoring the fallen soldiers that have served to protect the freedoms of this great country. I love our country and am reminded that “freedom is not free.”)
Taking a few minutes to remember what really matters should be worked into our conscious thought at least a few times during the day. Remembering what’s important gives you a perspective that helps you get through the day-to-day rigors that somehow falsely work their way to the top of the priority list. How the important thoughts of the day get trivialized by the mounds and mounds of stuff we “gotta get done” just seems to happen. No judgment passed – it’s just the nature of our times.
What matters? Here’s some of what the staff at St. Louis Community Credit Union has on their list(s) of “high priority” thoughts for the day. Respect for one another and our members are way up on the “what matters most” list. Professionalism, courtesy, compassion, empathy are on the list. So is accepting diversity as a good thing. Helping people is right there, as well. Having a spirit of service can’t be ignored as important, and neither can learning from our mistakes.
Good manners, i.e. “Yes Ma’am;” “Thank You,” and opening the door for each other are important. Shaking hands, making eye contact, a smile, being a good listener and asking someone “How are you?” and meaning it…all make our “important stuff” list.
You get the idea. The Credit Union employees are awesome people who definitely have their priorities in order. You’re important on our list. Hope you had a great Memorial Day!
It is the season for graduations – at every level. In the beginning, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas are “ooohing and aaahing” at the sight of their favorite kindergartner in their homemade, construction-paper mortar boards as they move down the aisle toward big boy and big girl school. Parents of high school seniors are anxiously torn between the pragmatism associated with the high cost of a college education and the loving emotions of their children taking that first big step toward adulthood. And the parents of college grads…well, let’s just say “welcome to the real world.”
If I were the guy charged with giving the commencement address at the university level, I would give those taking the next big step the following advice. What would I title the address? Let’s call it “Stuff You Really, Really Need To Know.” Here’s what I’d say…
“Congratulations and I wish you much success. As you enter the “gerbil on the wheel of life,” here are a few words of wisdom. The degree gets you in the door – your performance today gets you tomorrow. Your work is bigger than your job. Your job is the stuff that fills up 9 to 5. Your work is so much more important. You will be known for your work(s), not your title. Enjoy the people you work with – you will spend more waking hours with them than with your family. Speaking of people…be nice and respectful. God has blessed you so that you in turn can be a blessing to others. If you must error, do so on the side of compassion, empathy, and concern. Your job title dictates authority. But your attitude and leadership determine your power.
Shortly after the photo sessions you’ll share with a multitude of people later today, you will begin refining friendship. The number of acquaintances in your life will skyrocket, and the number of friends will dwindle. Don’t be alarmed…a single diamond out-values tons of stone. If you have two friends, and each of them has two friends, and each of them two, then across the miles, across the mountains, across the world, there will never again be war.
Chances are (with rare exception) you will make less money than you expect. Oh well, focus on a wealth of spirit versus a wallet full of cash. You’ll soon discover that your spirit-filled life makes everyone around you rich. In the meantime, in order to increase your take-home pay, take your lunch to work.
The keys to the company car are on a key ring located about nine levels up from you on the org chart. Your office will be a cubicle – maybe. Your chair will probably be broken. Don’t take yourself too seriously – you’re a freshman in high school all over again.
Your pre-occupation with self is viewed as trivial among most. The first step to climbing the corporate ladder is to bow to your inexperience. Handcuff yourself to humility for verily I say to you, you know very little. The safety net of school schedules and the laboratory-controlled bubble of campus life are done. The learning curve will be steep, but I encourage you to jump on and enjoy the ride.
Remember, wisdom is a by-product of knowledge. Your degree is not the end of your education, rather it signals the beginning of your pursuit of life’s experience(s). Look at every day as an experience. Learn to listen. While your transcript might appear stellar, my guess is that you’ve flunked more opportunities than you realize. Keep a running total of all that’s going on and file it away for future use. You will need it, because even what appears to be insignificant will hold meaning.
And for God’s sake, have some fun. Sure, you’re young and feeling 10-feet tall and bullet proof, but the realization of one’s mortality sets in all too soon. Yes, life is way too short and you’re going to spend the overwhelming majority of it working.”
Good Luck and God Bless You. One more thing…before you leave here today, give your parents a heartfelt “thank you.” Believe me, it’s reward enough.
If you’ve read a handful of these blogs over the years, you’ve probably deduced that I’m a sports fan – not a fanatic. I’m much more interested in the human interest stories that run rampant through the sport’s annals of history. That being said, I guess I’m a human interest fan and sports just happen to be the lush venue for material.
A week ago Saturday I hit the mother load for human interest. Did you catch the Kentucky Derby? A scrawny, little horse and a scrawny, little jockey started so far back from the pack that they were in a different zip code. The track was muddy and the thoroughbreds in front were the best in the world. Most of the horses in the lead had blood lines and betting lines worth millions, while the little horse in the back was purchased for the equivalent of a used Hyundai with too many miles. Mine That Bird was a 50-1 shot. For those of us that aren’t big bettors, that translates to “no chance of winning.”
Then in a span of about 21 seconds, this horse and jockey took off in a blur and passed 18 other horses to cross the finish line almost seven lengths ahead of the nearest competitor. The jockey called on his smarts to make a bold move – good idea considering at one point this longest of longshots was 30 lengths behind the leader. Crossing the finish line was the start of beautiful emotion. The Cajun jockey had passion. He loved his win, his horse, his trainer and his deceased mom and dad, and proceeded to tell everyone at every opportunity. Not a single emotion or word was measured – you heard his heart talking, not his head. And what a big heart it was!
Who doesn’t love an “underdog achieves success against all odds” story? Our credit union is pretty familiar with the plot. St. Louis Community was a 50-1 shot in many ways. Nobody expected us to do what we did, but our passion for winning was too strong to ignore.
We’re providing financial products, services and education to our community that is positively changing people’s lives forever. We’ve been gaining on the bigger competitors every day. St. Louis consumers have made us the fastest growing credit union in Missouri, and the quick pace of member sign-ups continues. We may have been a few lengths off the lead in the past, but we’re making up ground in a big hurry. I expect we’ll finish strong and in the lead. Oh yeah, we’re smart, but we listen to our heart…that seems to be a winning combination.
Sixty-six years after our credit union came into existence, my thoughts drift to the history of our significant contribution to the success of our members and the community. When you reach 66 years of age, you definitely have had the chance to create generational change.
St. Louis Community Credit Union has made its way onto the branches of many a family tree – helping great grandparents, grandparents, parents and the current generation of kids. Looking at the other branches of the family tree, we’ve taken care of aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces. Chances are…we’ve even taken care of your neighbors’ family tree, as well!
St. Louis Community is more than a credit union. We’re generational changers. It is our intent to continue creating echoes of financial change for many more years to come. That takes a business plan that concerns itself with more than the next quarterly earnings report. We have a business plan that extends to 15 years. Interestingly enough, that’s just about one generation in time.
Part of our plan calls for an outstanding team of people who are out and about, in the community, working diligently to insure that financial education is readily available to adults and kids alike. That’s the starting point for generational change.
If today’s generation of financial services users learn key money management skills that include a good understanding of how to budget; knowing how to avoid paying expensive fees; and making smart choices in the selection of accounts that meet their lifestyle; then that knowledge can be passed forward for generations to come. Those echoes of financial success will resound throughout the family tree, making for greater wealth for all who follow. And as a result, St. Louis Community will continue building on our storied tradition as a generational changer.
Listen for the echo. And more importantly, please pass it along.