The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Thanks For The Memories

On June 29th, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by 1 Comment

The urban legend is that folks “die in threes.” Well, this past week transformed the legend into American lore. Johnny Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon, followed by Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett, and then the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson had all passed away by week’s end. It was a week filled with reminiscing for those TV-crazed baby boomers as we remembered each, and how they (in some way or another) were tucked between the pages of our minds.

Without doing a lot of math, just know that these folks came to fame during my couch potato years. I remember each of them well. At the time, I can’t remember what I specifically thought, but each of them made their impression on me. Today, I can tell you how I feel about their passing…in a word, old.

Ed’s famous phrase, “Heeeere’s…Johnny,” and the perfectly timed guffaw after the amiable late night host’s latest one-liner, moved America’s favorite sidekick into icon status. He was masterful at his work, and helped us all to appreciate that success can come out of the shadows as much as the limelight.

We have great staff at St. Louis Community Credit Union that you’ll never see in the spotlight, yet they are the ones who make us as successful as we are. The folks in Information Technology keep the system(s) up and running. The folks in Facilities keep the offices in tip-top shape. And our Accounting personnel…these are just three of the many departments that come to mind. They are the Eds to our front-line Johnnys. Like Mr. McMahon, they’re good at what they do.

So, who was your favorite “Angel?” Mine too. I can’t remember why, but who cares. The show was weak, the plot predictable, the special effects rudimentary, the dialogue inane, but the casting – MAGNIFICENT!!! Folks, that’s (in part) what they refer to in the business world as branding. Farrah was a “brand” – and a highly successful one at that.

Branding is a fancy way of saying that the emotion one feels when they come in contact with a product, business, service, etc. is very important. Yes, the look and feel of our offices, our parking lots, our website, our home banking site, and the ever-important manner in which our staff conveys the value that the Credit Union provides (especially first impressions) are important.

I was enigmatic in my music selection as a kid. I loved it all. I might listen to Charlie Daniels, followed by Seals & Croft, and wrapped up with a Michael Jackson hit or two. He was a tremendous entertainer. As a part of the Jackson 5, I “rocked in the treetop all day long.” And “Thriller,” well, enough said. His creativity and innovation were masterful. Think about it…kids today are taught the moonwalk in hip-hop class as a traditional dance step. But I saw it the first time it was ever performed. Seriously…how cool is that?

He looked for the best way of doing something that no one else had done – same for the Credit Union. Nope, we don’t wear a single “glitter glove,” but we’ll do all we can to stand out in a crowd as exciting, creative, innovative and different. And…we’ll do whatever we can to make your experience the best it can be.

RIP to those who have passed. Thanks for the memories.

Credit Unions Offer The Freedom Of Consumer Choice

On June 22nd, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

Ever been to Boston? Great city. Other than the unfortunate “butt-whoopin” they laid on our beloved Cardinals back in 2004 to gain the crown of baseball’s world champions, I like the city. They talk funny in Boston – especially words like car, park, party and chowder. They also appear to be loaded with lots of smart people. You know – Harvard and MIT. Seems to me with all those smart people hangin’ out, they’d figure out a little better traffic flow. That being said, I love it there. They’ve got lots of history…and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Remember the story of Paul Revere? He notified the fine citizens of the surrounding landscape that “the British are coming…the British are coming.” That’s right, Paul shot off into the woods (presumably without a GPS) and got everyone ready to fight the “King’s Regulars” and their aggressive advance in order to keep the progress of freedom right on track. We kicked the Brits’ butts (sort of like the Red Sox kicked ours) and, as a result, we are who we are today and enjoy the freedoms of being American citizens. One of those freedoms is credit unions.

I was in Boston to emcee the credit union industry’s 100-year celebration on Sunday night. So let’s see…doing a little math…that means credit unions kicked into full gear somewhere about 134 years after Mr. Revere sounded the alarm to wage an important defense that helped insure our independence.

Like the folks in Paul’s day, I’d bet you’d wage the same battle for the freedoms you enjoy today, if they were attacked. You may not know this, but banks want the worst for credit unions. Yep, they want us gone. Well, this year credit unions are celebrating 100 years of serving American citizens because we have fought – and will continue to fight – for your right to choose a credit union.

On a much smaller scale than the historic ride of Paul and his fellow patriots, but nevertheless of dire importance, are the legislative battles we fight for our members every day. Banks (like the autocratic Brits) would like nothing better than to see us abolished. That would give them free reign to do with you and your fellow consumers what they please. A world without credit unions would severely hamper the freedoms you have in consumer choice. Keep supporting your credit union. It means continued great rates, low fees, great service and freedom to choose. Because we exist, banks must compete fairly. Don’t ever forget it.

Paul Revere didn’t use a blog to sound an alarm. He used a horse and word of mouth. Minus the equine, we need you to get the word out. Tell your family, friends, neighbors and legislators that “the banks are coming, the banks are coming.” And not in a good way. Together, we’ll preserve credit unions for the next hundred years.

Think About What’s REALLY Important

On June 15th, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

St. Louis Community Credit Union has been actively involved in the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) for a number of years. What a great charity! Our staff and our members give their time, love and money on a regular basis. Our donations go to two of the finest hospitals in the country: St. Louis Children’s and Cardinal Glennon. Both institutions do ALL they can ALL the time to serve the youngsters in our region.

My mind wandered this past week to some of the “Miracle Kids” we’ve met over the years. These boys and girls, and their parents and families, are inspirational in so many ways. It is rewarding to meet them, to understand their plight, to witness their pain, yet they maintain such strength and such character. To meet young children stricken by diseases that most of us can’t pronounce – yet put forth a smile with such dignity, love and passion for living – is life-changing. Trust me when I say this…most of our problems pale in comparison.

I met such a young lady in late 2005. In 2006, three years ago this past week, she died. She was eight years old. Of all the people I’ve met in my life, she had an enormous impact on me. Here’s in part what I wrote in a letter to my kids shortly after meeting this magnificent gift of God…

As of this past Saturday, I met someone very special. She is the slightest of frame yet the strongest person I’ve met in years. She instantly became a hero. Those people I admire most are never public figures. They’re regular kind of Joes making the best of their life. This hero is no different. This young lady has no attributes of a professional athlete. She hasn’t been on the “E” network or “Access Hollywood.” She’s not a business mogul or a real estate tycoon. She’s a beautiful little girl who weighs no more than 50 lbs. even if you put rocks in her pockets.

Here’s why she’s my hero. I went to work on Monday. She went to chemotherapy. I fought the zipper on my lunch box. She’s fighting cancer. After work, I lifted weights. She was busy lifting spirits. I quit after a couple of minutes of trying to fix my stapler. My new hero doesn’t know quit. I fiddled with my hair for a few minutes disturbed by its receding pattern. This beautiful little girl has no hair.

Hours before I met my new hero, she had just lost her soccer game. She smiled from ear to ear as she told me. “What was the score?” I asked. She didn’t know…nor cared. Stupid adult – I missed the point completely!

Wake-up calls aren’t always initiated by an alarm. I got mine on that Saturday night when I met this beautiful gift of God. She had a rare form of cancer known as neuroblastoma. Her eyes were full of life. Her smile was toothless and beautiful. She radiated life and was busy making the most of it. I, unfortunately, was busy trying not to get buried by it.

What’s your problem today? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Homework stacking up? People acting rude to you? Got a headache? Too much to do in too little time? You might want to think about my hero. Wake up! It’s time to get busy thinking about what’s really important…living.

Three years after her passing, I remember her well.

Just Say ‘No’ To Excessive Consumption

On June 8th, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

This past Friday was National Doughnut Day. Americans never miss the opportunity to celebrate! And as inane as it might seem to laud this not-so delicacy, one has to ask…why NOT celebrate doughnuts? It could be argued by some that every day has some significance in the doughnut category. I have a handful of buddies who think doughnuts are a food group and, as a result, hold doughnuts in very high esteem. I’m sure Friday was a big day for these bigger-than-average guys.

I partake, but my consumption of doughnuts is more occasional than regular these days. Age and a slowing metabolism work against eating too many products that begin with “dough.” But when I do unleash that inner desire, it’s party time. Chocolate glaze doughnuts are way up there on my list of decadent delights. Anything with sprinkles makes the cut. How ‘bout something in the jelly family? As if doughnuts in their own right aren’t caloric enough, let’s load those bad boys up with some jelly. Can you say hypoglycemia?

Doughnuts sort of work against our Credit Union’s wellness program, so we’ve changed our snack habits to include fresh fruit and granola bars. In the old days, we would have no doughnuts left on the table at meeting’s end. Today, there’s enough fruit left over to make fruit salad. I guess that confirms why we celebrate doughnuts. Doughnuts tend to be comforting. They taste great, they feel good, and we’ll worry about the impact of their consumption somewhere down the road. Sort of like an ill-advised shopping spree.

When not managed properly, doughnuts and shopping sprees have the same effect: long-term expense. That jelly doughnut shows up somewhere around our belt in the form of expensive calories that have no redeeming value beyond that initial rush of consumption. Interestingly, new shirts, pants and shoes likewise are expensive and lack long-term value. Often times, we’re still making payments way after the shirt is out of style. And the pants, well they don’t fit anymore (probably because of the doughnuts), yet we’re still paying and paying and paying.

We should never spend more than we can afford. Whether in the form of calories or credit, we must have the ability to say “no.” Let’s have some willpower and avoid paying for those momentary indiscretions for years and years to come. Really, if I had to pick for you, me and our fellow Credit Union members, I’d rather we all had a doughnut.

 

More Fees, More Pain

On June 1st, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

Uh-oh. Because some banks have had trouble making ends meet due in large part to tough economic times, change is coming. What kind of change? Well, how about the idea that the banking industry is getting ready to dry up some red ink by reaching a little deeper into your wallet.

Now before we go too much further, let’s understand something. Headlines in the local paper about “tough economic times” are not the exclusive domain of banks. Regular folks are hurting too – big time. Jobs are being lost. That leads to house and car payments being missed. Missed payments lead to repossessions and foreclosures. You get the idea – lots of pain. Here might be a headline: “Paycheck to Paycheck…Real Folks, Real Problems.”

The last thing these real folks need to happen (as gas prices head upward for the summer) is the bankers jacking up their checking account fees. Well, that is exactly what’s getting ready to happen. The USA TODAY ran an article late last week. The emphasis in the newspaper clip focused on banks raising checking account fees. The words “punitive,” “squeeze,” “struggling,” and “gouging” are used in the report. Why don’t more people realize that you don’t have to take it? You can avoid being subject to such a fleecing.

Here’s an idea: vote with your feet. You have an option. St. Louis Community Credit Union comes to mind. I’m not aware of a single financial institution anywhere that doesn’t charge some sort of fees, but now is not the time to ring the cash register at the consumers’ expense. Tell your friends and family that there is a better option than a good ol’ fashioned whoopin’ at the expense of a bank’s need to pad their stockholders’ pockets.

Banks act in the interest of their shareholders, not consumers. It’s really that simple. St. Louis Community Credit Union acts in the interest of YOU. That’s the difference. And the distance between our business model and theirs could not be farther apart.