Learn Marketing & Strategy Insights, You Will.

Tag: crisis

Get Up & Change Your View

Originally published on CU Insight.

This is one of those articles that make little sense if you don’t consider the publication date.

2019? “Huh, I mean, obviously.”

2025? “Oh, they’re talking about those dark times. Things are so fantastic now, it’s almost hard to remember!” (Hopefully)

2020? “Go out? Ha! You Zoom-hack our meeting with many clever jokes!”

Here in mid-2021, I hope the topic will land on understanding minds.

2020 Was Unique for Everyone

Each of us had a different experience through the pandemic. Some made radical changes to lifestyle, with stressors increasing, family dynamics strained, and finances depleted. Others had the “pleasure” of adapting to work from home (hi Zoom!) with social lives crushed.

In my case, little changed. I’ve been WFH for nearly a decade, and 98% of business interactions are over the phone or Zoom. Yes, we were the ones explaining the system to credit union staff before you had to do the same with your parents.

Sharing the Sameness

Cat on Sofa
Do you ever really “share” a sofa with a cat?

So I’m used to my immediate environment being constant. Which was both a gift and a, well, you know the rest. At first, the realization that others were facing what I considered normal spurred a creative rush. It was a perfect time to share how I’ve made it work for me.

Remember all those videos and articles? My Jedi robes? Creative they were, mmm? Mmmm?

Something was Happening

During the year, a change slowly progressed, consciously unnoticed. My creativity was lagging. We still put together interesting ideas for business, and I continued to get a few more articles out. But most of it was tweaking existing material to fit changed norms.

While this was all necessary, it shouldn’t have been the bulk of my effort. Why the shift? I’d attribute it to all of 2020. With a wealth of stressors, political insanity, health scares, and a restricted social circle, it’s the excuse to beat all excuses.

When you’re operating in crisis mode all the time, you’re not at your best.

No one should ever have to apologize for how they made it through 2020. You’re still here? Congratulations. And encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated.

It wasn’t until this week that I recognized the change. Why?

Other Humans!

Joe Winn Pulling Child on Board Through Surf
As hard as it looks. As fun for the smaller person as it looks.

Long-time readers will recall my visits to nephews. They love space, science, the ocean, and calling me “Uncle Joe”…a lot. (I’m not complaining!)

For the first time in forever, I’ve visited them again. Sure, I’ve been to Disney and Universal since the pandemic started, but that’s an exercise in schedules, wait times, and distancing from other people. A relaxed connection with others it is absolutely not.

This was a full-on life with a beloved family. A change of people and scenery from when you wake up to fall asleep. For someone who loves traveling and visiting friends as much as me, not having this for over a year was rough.

And the waterfront home doesn’t hurt. These sentences were written to the sight and sound of waves gently flowing against rock walls and wooden docks. Songbirds are celebrating the flowering trees, and destructive yet adorable rabbits bound about the yard.

In the realm of “changing your environment”, this is about the best you can do.

“Oh, hello unique thoughts.”

Person Writing in Notebook in Park
Let the pen (or keyboard) flow!

When you’ve sat in the same home, using the same desk (or sofa, or futon, or bed, or kitchen table) to complete your work, it’s easy to get mentally stuck. And we all know that innovation comes out of change. Which is really difficult to create when nothing changes.

The first day of working here (in a spinning round couch with a view to the water), I finished an entire Learning Library article. That’s unheard-of speed for me. And that’s between when the kids left for and returned from school.

Then there’s this tale, which I only began about an hour ago. It’s no core conversion, but I’ll take the progress!

Lessons from the Beach House

Sunrise Over Water
That’s a sunrise. A very-early annular eclipse sunrise, to be precise!

You’ve dealt with a lot. I don’t know your specifics, but it’s only now returning to some sense of, hopefully, better normal. To me, the trip was a delightful wake-up call (or was that the kids?). Maybe there’s some realizations you can glean from my experience:

  • Acknowledge your compromise
    • In some way, you’ve been off the 100% best version of yourself. It’s ok. Now’s when we can help get it back.
  • Get up
    • Yes, right now. Stand up. Do some stretches and breathing exercises. Walk around. It’s not just your watch telling you the value of movement. It really does help “get your juices flowing.”
  • Change your environment
    • If you can sit in front of a body of water, do that. If not, find something different to make your brain go, “oh, that’s neat; haven’t seen it in a while…or ever.”
  • Disconnect
    • Just for a bit, get away from your phone (you can keep your watch on for critical notifications), and let your mind wander. Free dissociation isn’t being “spaced out”, but rather, “connected to the world.” Take that as you will.

In a recovery run, you aim to reclaim what was lost. During your slow journey to “normal”, live in a state of open recovery. And be kind to yourself and others.

Let Your New Ideas Flow

Crayon Box with Child Drawing
Give a kid crayons, paper, cardboard, scissors, tape, etc. And then just watch.

For me, interacting outside my “pandemic bubble” was a welcome shock. Part of what makes a recovery run so interesting is that you often don’t realize what you’ve lost until you get it back. This is about running and also not about running.

Connecting with others helped me connect with myself. And getting up to change my view made all the difference.

How will you unleash your great new ideas?

Featured image credit: My nephew, after he took his mom’s iPhone.

Calm Before The Storm

Another Atlantic hurricane season has come and gone without great incident. Except for the crazy semi-remnant storm Patricia. Best wishes to those affected by heavy rains.

If you cringe when I say, “cone of uncertainty”, then you are in hurricane territory, and are amply prepared for this discussion. For those facing weather challenges of blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes, haboobs, or mudslides, let’s paint a picture:

The sun is shining, temperatures are warm, and there is a gentle breeze caressing your skin. Just another day in paradise, as some may say. “Nothing could spoil this scene,” you tell yourself. The warnings will pass; the storm will turn. It always does. Sure, you see some fast-moving clouds on the horizon, and the surf is beginning to spray with the increasing winds. But it’s still so pretty! And then, BAM! You’re in the midst of a Category 5 hurricane. Up is down, left is somewhere behind your missing shoe, and confusion reigns. “It may not be Kansas, but wherever we are, it’s not here,” your twisting mind exclaims. Nothing makes sense. You took all possible preparations, yet feel as lost as everyone else. Wasn’t there a building surrounding you earlier? Best to just crouch into a corner, cover your head, and wait it out. This tempest had a beginning, surely it must also have an end!

When the winds finally subside, you assess the damage. Trees? Uprooted. Roads? Blocked. Utilities? No water in the faucet, no A/C, and even the cell doesn’t work! This is going to be a long journey back to normalcy. Oh look, there’s no roof. No matter our losses, we will rebuild, together.

I’ve lived through a number of storms here in Florida. It was Hurricane Andrew which taught us that crisis can appear out of nowhere and give you little time to prepare. Hurricane Wilma taught us that a storm can continue to strengthen even when over land, since part of our land is actually the great River of Grass, the Everglades. I stepped outside as the eye of that storm passed over and experienced a moment of eerie stillness in-between hours of lashing winds and rain.

For the former, our preparations consisted of taping the windows (waste of time) and putting batteries in the portable TV (black and white, kids). We were lucky, having no structural damage, only devastation of the “thousands of trees blocking everything, including our door” type. It took a week of us and our neighbors cutting downed trees before we could even drive down our street. By Wilma, we had all the modern necessities…steel shutters, reinforced garage doors, roof tie-downs, and impact-resistant glass. Sure, we lost a good portion of our roof tiles, spent weeks clearing all the downed trees (some on the house, others everywhere else), but we were ready for the work.

It’s been 10 years. None have passed over since. So do we become complacent? Not at all. We now have a generator, a full set of impact doors and windows, and further improved structural support. Nearly all trees at risk of falling on the home have been removed or trimmed.

The credit union industry is in a similar situation. Things are great in all areas. The economy is on an upswing, fuel is remaining low, interest rates are rock bottom, and every indicator is positive. Car loans? Not only are they up, but even more are going to credit unions. Membership is growing, as are the number of people using a credit union as their PFI. Portfolios are increasing year over year in a seemingly-endless cycle. This is what I’d like to call, “the calm.”

When do we have a calm? Yes, before the storm.

Am I saying we are poised for a crash? No. Yet business runs in cycles, unfortunately an undeniable fact. While things are good (calm), it’s easier to be successful. People are buying. If you’re getting in front of them at the right times, they will work wth you. But the good days will end. The hurricane warnings will be posted, and the storm will arrive. In this case, it could be an economic decline, a slowdown in auto buying, or another lending crisis. Most likely, it will be something we haven’t even yet considered.

Are credit unions ready for the inevitable downturn?

What is your credit union doing to prepare? Look to emerging products and services and evaluate if they pose a threat to your future success. Can you improve on their ideas? Maybe a partnership is in order (see Want Tomorrow’s Tech? Team Up!). Will your annual plan stand up to a major economic shift? A crash in lending could reduce profits, while a drop in liquid assets could reduce your ability to lend. While we are in hurricane season, we watch every disturbance as it blows off the African coast or begins in the Gulf. Advisories are issued every three hours. Are you watching your own industry indicators?

You don’t want to be caught in the storm unprepared. Discuss in the comments section how your credit union will weather the next “big one”. I look forward to everyone sharing their ideas!

Image credit: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/42729472

© 2021 Credit Union Geek

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑