Author Archive

Sparking Big Ideas

Posted by on Wednesday, 11 April, 2012

Where exactly do good ideas come from?


It would be nice to think that every idea we have is a pure stroke of genius with no one else to credit but ourselves; however, this is rarely the case.  While there may be ideas which do just sort of come to us, many great ideas start out as just a portion of an idea, waiting for others to contribute their knowledge, thoughts or even criticism to turn it into something great.

I love the video, “Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson, which perfectly demonstrates this process.

CUNA was inspired by the thought of bringing together many ideas buzzing around to improve upon the different products and services we offer in order to generate some great ideas to ensure we continue to provide the resources credit unions rely on most.

A few of the CUNA "Sparks"

With recent studies suggesting that traditional brainstorming formats are becoming less productive and effective, CUNA has turned to an alternative method to inspire new idea generation – an online brainstorming tool called Kindling.  This new application allows all CUNA staff members to contribute ideas, collaborate on improvements to existing ideas and break down the “silos” which may have been built around job functions in our day-to-day roles. A few “sparks” were selected throughout CUNA to help jump-start the idea generation process and spread the word of the new resources available.

We look forward to firing up new ideas and continuing to meet your needs as your trade association.
We want to know, what are you doing at your credit union to spark the next big idea?




Big Time Thursday: Pushing Boundaries at ACUC (Contest)

Posted by on Thursday, 21 April, 2011

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
 - Mary Ann Radmacher
Alison Levine

Alison Levine

Have you ever tried to draw parallels between your position at your credit union and extreme mountain climbing? Sub-zero temperatures and hurricane-force winds with a chance of sudden avalanches may not sound like anything you’d experience during your day-to-day activities, but it may not be as far off as you think.

The credit union industry has been through a whirlwind the past few years and many institutions went into survival mode, in order to ensure they made it through one of the worst economic environments of our lifetime. Every position at the credit union has been stretched and tested – from the lending professional looking to maintain incoming loans with increased standards and regulations; HR professionals trying to keep staff morale at a high, despite less than ideal working conditions; marketing professionals looking for innovative ways to spread the message of their credit union with minimal resources; to the CFO and CEO monitoring the economy and managing risks to ensure their credit union maintains success.

Now that the market is slowly recovering, how do credit union professionals jump back in and thrive in a brand new environment? While it’s tempting to play it safe and be a little hesitant to jump on a big idea, trying new risks could pay off. Taking responsible risks and learning from failure are some of the most important parts of being an effective leader. Just ask CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference keynoter, Alison Levine.

Alison Levine is an adventurer, explorer and mountaineer who climbed the highest peak on every continent before spending nearly two decades in the business world, climbing the corporate ladder on Wall Street. Having spent months at a time in some of the world’s most dangerous and extreme environments, Alison now is an inspiration as she addresses topics such as creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks and developing no-nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty. By drawing parallels between staying alive in the mountains and thriving in a fast-paced business world, Alison provides insight into leadership development, team dynamics, overcoming odds, tackling fear, and dealing with changing environments.

With all that credit unions have faced in the past few years, this will be just the breath of fresh air you’ll need to go back to your credit union inspired to take that leap (or even a little step) in a new direction you’ve been contemplating.

Although you’ll have to wait until June 19 for your confidence booster from Alison, so here are some tips to consider in the meantime, inspired by wikihow:

  1. Think about this: A lack of courage comes because of fear. Fear comes because of ignorance. What are you afraid of?
  2.  Be brave. Go and do things you haven’t done before and see things you haven’t seen before. Quite often fear arises out of complacency, because we don’t want to rock the boat.
  3.  Take risks. It adds to the spontaneity. There is a difference between a risk and a dangerous idea, however, so naturally common sense should be used. It’s the difference between abseiling down a cliff with a harness, or abseiling with nothing. Only someone without concern for the consequences would go without a harness.
  4. Have fun. If you go to conferences or meetings and can’t enjoy them, there is little benefit in them for you.

If you are looking for a dose of inspiration, Alison’s Return to Everest Blog is a great place to start! Hearing these recounts of challenges and ultimate success allows us to look deeper at the challenges and opportunities we currently face and gain a sense of optimism that it is possible to thrive no matter the obstacles we must first encounter.

BIG TIME Thursday CONTEST: Great success often comes from great risk. We want to know: When has a big risk paid off (or potentially not). What did you learn from your experience? Would you do it again?
Answer any of these questions in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on April 28th of all commenters to give away a free one-year subscription to the CUNA Pressing Economic Issues Series and a survival pack to ensure you’re prepared to embark on new (and maybe risky) adventures with your credit union.

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Wed., April 27th 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.