The Golden Circle Concept for Credit Unions – Start with Purpose

This entry was posted by Thursday, 17 June, 2010
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I love convergences. About a month ago I found myself at the Wisconsin Credit Union League Annual Meeting where some friends at Filene were giving a general session on opportunities for credit unions. In Young Adult Adviser Brent Dixon’s section, he talked about the Golden Circle concept and its relevance for credit unions. It was a simple yet profound idea.


Driving back to Madison from the League meeting, I was listening to random TED talks and one of them happened to be on – you guessed it – the Golden Circle concept. The talk is from Simon Sinek and titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” I recommend checking it out sometime and sharing with your co-workers.

> Click Here to Watch/Hear the Full TED Talk

The gist is this: people connect with leaders and brands who they think share their beliefs – the cause (or the “why?”) in the center of the circle above. Too often, credit unions and organizations in general start with the outside of the circle in their messaging.

“We provide financial products & services (what?) via branches in the Madison area or online (how?) because we are a non-profit cooperative financial institution (why?)”

Sound familiar? Now turn it around:

“We believe that you should own your money and your financial institution, not shareholders. We believe in people helping people and our financial products/services reflect that. We do this because we are a non-profit cooperative financial institution.”

When I talked with Brent about this recently, he had this to add:

If you market based on the “what” you are a commodity. As soon as the terms of that commodity changes  (and we know they will change) – lower deposit rates, dropping free services to stay afloat, cutting back on branch hours – the market will leave too.

But if you market based on “why” – they will stay, because they believe in your purpose, and, because this goes beyond altruism, they will stay because they know that no matter what, you will fight to keep their best interest at the heart of your decisions.

Communicating and acting on purpose drives gut decisions that change behaviors.

Powerful stuff, yet we start the “what” all too often – professionally and personally.

4 Responses to “The Golden Circle Concept for Credit Unions – Start with Purpose”

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Brent about this idea as well. I think he’s on to something and it is a fantastic idea. Great post Chris. Great idea to get out to the credit union community. A way of thinking that banks having shareholders could not implement.

  2. May I share this blog post in my League News newsletter? I am a one person editorial team and I’m always on the lookout for great articles.

  3. Randy – thanks for the kind words and comment!

    Laurie – Absolutely. That ensures this concept will get more credit union eyeballs! Just be sure to credit CUNAverse ( somewhere too :) .


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