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Lending Council Five Big Ideas To Drive Creativity Results
PHOENIX (11/6/13)--Creativity is the currency for success in the business world--it's the one thing that can't be outsourced, author and entrepreneur Josh Linkner said during the 19th annual CUNA Lending Council Conference Monday in Phoenix.
 
Click to view larger image No matter how successful your credit union is now, don't think that's a permanent condition, author and entrepreneur Josh Linkner said Monday during CUNA Lending Council's 19th Annual Conference in Phoenix. "Our mission is to be on the forefront and think about what's next, even when we're ahead."
"Credit unions need to double down on creativity," said Linkner, a former jazz musician who draws parallels between that art form and small business start-ups.
 
Like jazz performers, start-up companies often exhibit high energy and creativity, take risks, and explore new ideas instead of rehashing what's already been done, Linkner said. "There's no operations manual we can follow to find success. Raw creativity is driving business forward."
 
Consider the case of DollarShaveClub.com, which took on one-time market leader Gillette by selling low-cost razors online. The owner launched the business about a year ago, spent $4,000 on a creative promotional video that garnered three million viewers--and attracted 17,000 customers in a week.
 
"He was the jazz musician of razor blades," Linkner said. "If that disruption can happen through raw creativity, just think what credit unions could do--and what risks do they face?
 
"The lesson is, no matter how successful we are, don't think it's a permanent condition. Our mission is to be on the forefront and think about what's next, even when we're ahead."
 
Linkner offered five "big ideas" to drive creativity and results:
  1. Encourage courage. Allow staff to be creative without fear of rejection or punishment. "Fear is the biggest blocker of creativity," Linkner said. "If you can make people safe, you will unleash creativity in your organization. You might get some bad ideas, but you'll end up with some good ones. Mistakes aren't fatal; they're the portal to discovery."
  1. Shed the past. You need to hunt down and kill old assumptions, Linkner said. "Get rid of what was in favor of what could be. Think about your own lending: Are you doing the same thing as always or are you looking to the next play?"
  1. Create vivid experiences. This requires more of an investment in imagination than money. "You don't have to be stuffy. If you can tell a story that's different from your competitors', you'll benefit."
  1. Reject bureaucracy and think small. Small companies are more likely to take risks, embrace urgency, and find new ideas instead of protecting old ones. "Think small, like a start-up," Linkner advised. "How would you approach your business if you were a start-up?"
  1. Stand out. Do the opposite of what your competitors are doing. "Sometimes you have to be bold and different to get through the noise."
 
Click to view larger image Before entering into student lending, credit unions must make sure it fits into their business model, said a student lending panel at CUNA Lending Council's conference in Phoenix. From left are: Moderator Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement; Jon Jeffreys, president of  Credit Union Student Choice; Alice Stevens, chair of Member Student Lending LLC; Mike Long, executive vice president/chief operating officer for CU Campus Resources; Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Tim Segerson, deputy director for NCUA. (Photos provided by CUNA)
Other highlights during the conference, which was attended by 433 credit union lenders, included these takeaways:
  • Before credit unions enter into the student lending business, they must make sure this type of lending fits their business model, said a student lending panel moderated by Paul Gentile, executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement at the Credit Union National Association. The  panel included Alice Stevens, chair of Member Student Lending LLC; Mike Long, executive vice president/chief operating officer for CU Campus Resources; Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Tim Segerson, deputy director for the National Credit Union Administration.
  • Survey results indicate 60% of credit unions have addressed payments issues in their strategic plans, and 75% discuss these issues regularly, said Chris Chippindale, vice president of enterprise initiatives and electronic banking for Ent FCU, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. "That's too low," he said, urging colleagues to find ways to make money from payments.
  • Don't take the indirect lending channel for granted--make those members your own with member onboarding and relationship development calls. That was the word from Springfield, Mass.-based STCU's Renee Taylor, Scott Adkins, and Angila Schafer.
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