Big Time Thursday: An Experience of Lifetimes at ACUC (Contest)

This entry was posted by Thursday, 7 April, 2011
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Road Trip!

Travelling cross-country with your dog by VW bus and selling grilled cheese sandwiches made ‘with love’ may not sound like an ideal vacation to you. But, to Eric Saperston this evolved into his ‘coming of age’ journey. After graduating college he travelled the country calling up political leaders, celebrities, CEOs and average Joes and asked if he could take them out for coffee. A simple request from a man with no street cred; but the desire to learn about their values, struggles, and advice for future generations. As luck would have it, most people enjoy a good cup of coffee.

The video on Eric’s website gives a great idea of how his journey evolved into an experience of a lifetime. No, the experience of lifetimes – as each interview gives perspective to another person’s understanding   life-view and allows us, as viewers to experience their realm of existence.

a cup of joe & a great convo

With Eric’s drive and optimism he has conducted ‘coffee talks’ with Jerry Garcia, The Fonz, President Jimmy Carter, and countless others who provide insight and question their purpose in life. With this enlightening experience, Eric has written, directed and starred in The Journey, a documentary which allows the viewer to experience in 93 minutes a voyage that took him 7 years to accomplish.

In learning about Eric’s interviewing style by watching clips from his talks, I found that he asks great questions.  Over the years, I’ve learned that “if you don’t ask, you’ll never know,” which I’ve applied to many aspects of my life (Is this price negotiable? Can I have a cookie? ). However, there’s a difference between asking a question and asking a good question. Below is a list inspired by wikihow on how you can ask meaningful questions:

  • Start simple: beginning with a simple concept will allow the question to evolve with discussion. Whether the question is broad or narrow, keep it simple.
  • If you’re using questions to gather knowledge, define exactly what it is you want to know: Before you pose a question, it is important to have a concept of what is unclear about the information in your head; otherwise you risk creating confusion and not getting an answer that satisfies what you seek to know.
  • Never ask a question in an aggressive manner: This indicates that you are only asking the question to prove to the other person that you are right and they are wrong, meaning that you are argumentative and not open-minded.
  • Lay your concepts or ideas/assumptions at the door: to get a truly honest response, don’t prefix your question with your own connotations or opinions.
  • Be gracious: the golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.


Eric Saperston

CUNA is privileged to add ‘expert question-asker’ Eric Saperston to our fabulous list of keynote speakers at this year’s ACUC. He will delight attendees with first-hand stories of his journey and enlighten us to reach our full-potential. I can’t wait to be inspired by Eric, and if I’m lucky – maybe he’ll let me take him out for a cup of coffee!

BIG TIME Thursday CONTEST: A good answer always starts with a good question. We want to know: What questions have you asked yourself in your role at the credit union that has inspired you to improve as an organization, department or individual?

Answer this question in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on April 14th of all commenters to give away a DVD of Eric Saperston’s documentary The Journey and a $15 Starbucks Card, so you can be inspired to have a ‘coffee talk’ of your own.

UPDATE (04/14): This contest has ended – congratulations to our winner, Katherine Dyer. She won a copy of Eric Saperston’s documentary The Journey on DVD and a $15 Starbucks Card. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Wed., April 14th at 11:59PM (ct). No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  Multiple comments are allowed as long as you have a valid idea in each comment. (No duplicate comments) The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  Void where prohibited.

This competition is offered by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and is open to anyone who comments on this post and is at least 18 years of age. Employees of CUNA and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.

CUNA shall not have any liability for any malfunction of or damage to the prize. The award winner may be responsible for applicable state or federal taxes on the value of the contest prize.

Starbucks, the Starbucks logo and the Starbucks Card design are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Starbucks U.S. Brands, LLC. Starbucks is not a participating partner or sponsor in this offer.

21 Responses to “Big Time Thursday: An Experience of Lifetimes at ACUC (Contest)”

  1. Brandon McAdams

    Great job. The importance of questions is undervalued. There can be no progression with asking “what’s next?”

    I think the most difficult question the credit union industry needs to ask is:
    “what is a credit union and how does it differientiate from banks and non bank financial entities while still adhering to the core operating principles?”

    Don’t have an answer now, but we all need to be asking it.

    Great article.


  2. Cortney Seaton

    Something I have asked myself several times throughout my career is “What is the quality I admire about this person and how can I take the best of that quality and incorporate it into my life/my career/my current project?” This has allowed me to learn valuable skills and lessons from those around me-who have essentially served as mentors this way.

    I love the way the value of a good question is emphasized in this blog post too!

  3. Daniel Gutierrez

    One simple question I ask myself, everyday, is..Am I practicing what I “preach”? As a Training Coordinator, I believe setting the example for our employees to follow is important from the ground up.

  4. Beckey

    I always ask my self as a member, what result would you like to see. I put myself in the members position.

  5. As a teller, I asked “Will you teach me…?”

    The result of asking that question was ultimately that I became a teacher.

    Now, as a trainer, I find myself asking lots of questions. “Why not?” “How else?” “Will it help?” and “Will you teach me?”

    I think asking to be taught is important at every level in an organization. We can all learn from each other, and in doing so, discover more important questions and answers. Asking to be taught opens doors to friendly conversations about why we do things the way we do them, and how processes might be improved. It’s a non-confrontational way of saying “I don’t understand why you do this.” Asking to be tuaght makes the person feel valuable, rather than making them feel vulnerable.

    Great Post!

  6. I’m always asking myself what else can I do to give our staff and credit union a leg up on the competition? Can I research what the most successful companies are doing right (Disney, Apple, Zappos)? Yes. Can I read more books on leadership and coaching to get the most current insight? Yes. Can I survey and interview managers to see what they need more of from their staff? Yes. So then I do it…someone once told me, find a need and fill it, so I always start there.

  7. Crystal Meyer

    As a trainer, I’m always asking “Will this be understood?” and “What can I do to make sure this will be understood?” I have been to so many training events where the trainer knows what they are talking about but they do not know how to get it across to the audience. I always like to take a step back and make sure my training topics are not only understandble but also enjoyable!

  8. The question I ask myself several times each day is: “what can I do?” Each of us can make a difference, sometimes for just one person sometimes for a group. I look for ways big and small that make a difference in someone’s attitude, in their workload and in their self-esteem. My goal is to help others while making them feel good about themself.

  9. Katherine Dyer

    I have two questions that help me..
    1. What strategies/things that I DO make me feel successful?
    2. What does my member or co-woker deserve when I work with them?

  10. Sandy Lester

    I ask myself…..”Am I doing whatever “this way” just because it’s always been done that way….or is there a better, quicker, more efficient, or more accurate way to do it?”

  11. Diane Faris

    The question I ask that inspires me the most and creates a lot of conversation is “WHY”. This is a question that can be challenging to parents of 2 year olds- but maybe we should put ourselves back in those shoes and ask “WHY” more often. “WHY” inspires creativity and challenges those around us. In training there are never to many “WHY” questions. If someone doesn’t ask “WHY”…I think, “WHY?”

  12. Great comments everyone!

    Eric’s random interviews remind me of this video (see link below). An everyday Joe interviews other everyday Joes & Janes on the New York Subway. It’s interesting to see individual reactions and even more interesting to hear their responses…

  13. The question I asked myself that inspires me to be a better person/employee is the following; How can I play a part in positive motivation to other employees? I found out that if you have a positive attitude and have respect for others as well as allowing the other person to shine instead of yourself it goes a long way. I figured out if you make the other person feel special/important, that is the key to success.

  14. “What can I do to have a positive impact on this situation, conversation, presentation, project, initiative, etc.?”

    This question gets me thinking about the end result and the role I play in the overall outcome.

  15. Venus Ganson

    The question I ask myself when developing and delivering a class is, “Would I want to take this class?” If i’m honest with myself, I will develop a much better training experience.

  16. Stephanie Ludington

    The biggest question our Credit Union is focusing on is, “How can we help our members financially during this tough economy?” We are striving to offer as many products as possible and help coach our members to become financially savvy.

    In regards to training, I ask myself, “How can I make myself and other better?” When I say better I am not saying everyone is not good enough, but simply how can I keep everyone motivated to build their skills and feel more confident about themselves and the work they do for the Credit Union. I think it’s very important to keep everyone motivated because their excitement to help others will radiate to our members.

  17. One of the most important things that I ask myself daily is, “What can I do to awaken the possibilty in other people.” This drives, inspires and fulfills me on a professional and personal level. Can I hear an Amen!”?

  18. Brian Fassett

    While I appreciate the golden rule, I think that the “platinum rule” is more difficult, but also more valuable, to follow: treat others they way they want to be treated.

    Unrelated to golden or platinum rules, a question that I ask myself, both in a personal and professional context is, “what would I attempt to do if I knew you couldn’t fail?”

  19. The question I have asked myself lately is… “What value are you creating for the credit union?” … and, in asking that question I have found… That I was burnt out. Doing training over and over of the same topics and procedures… I needed a change. And, I have found that I have been missing interactions with the members. So, I am going to be starting to be a rotational teller. I am going to be able to see all kinds of members while working in two of our 8 branches! I am very excited the opportunities this will give our credit union for new exciting ideas!

  20. The first question I ask myself is “Are they retaining this information?” As a trainer I am not only evaluating my trainees but also myself. I am constantly asking for feedback from the employees I am training such as: “What was the most beneficial part of training” and “What ideas do you have for me to improve this training class”. I feel like a good question is always an open ended question.
    I challenge myself to be a better trainer and individual. Without having a challenge my job would become boring and I would loose the motivation to make a difference.

  21. Thanks for the comments!! I LOVED reading the questions you all ask to keep in check, we can all learn more if we ask better questions :)

    Congratulations to Katherine Dyer, as she was the lucky participant picked as our 3rd installment of Big Time Thursdays contest winner!

    Stay tuned for this week’s contest opportunity which will be posted shortly. Happy reading!

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