Does Your Credit Union Have Grit?

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Group of kids holding on to each other covered in paint

Grit is essential for survival. Life gives us challenges and we face most of them when we feel the least capable of handling them. I recently joined toastmasters and during the icebreaker of my first speech, I detailed my talent for being a klutz. It was in that moment I recognized that the story I was really telling was about grit.

This tale demonstrates my adventurous outlook on life, my somewhat hazardous manner of barreling through life to get everything done and the desire to experience as much as possible. All these characteristics are driven by grit, and I think they embody the characteristics I love best in the credit unions I work with.

The short version is that I was four years old and growing up in a rural Wisconsin neighborhood and the youngest by about eight years. I entered a bike race with the full intention of beating a large eighth-grade boy. There was a somewhat tragic ending where I was left with tire tracks running up and down my body and a fierce desire to finish the race if nothing else. There was much laughter at my ridiculous appearance and my response was less than graceful. I attempted to chase them until I was exhausted.

I felt pride because I did not cry, a little shame because of my angry response and a slight celebration because I went into the race without a second thought to the size difference between our bikes, and well, between us.

This story relates so closely to the spirit of so many credit unions. The struggles to stay on top of technology, dealing with staffing issues and competing in the market against banks, payday lenders and alternative options. There is so much hard work that goes into competing in the race.

In my story, the bike was our tool, and my challenge was winning against a much older and larger kid. I had a poor strategy. With credit unions, their tools are the services they offer and the people dedicated to serving members. Credit unions are challenged to:

  • Define why you exist as a credit union today.
  • Understand what niche market you serve the very best.
  • Serve the member with the experience needed to provide solutions that change lives for the better.
  • Carry out the culture throughout the credit union and into the future.
  • Plan ahead – don’t just chase as I did

It may not always be pretty. Sometimes we may feel like we’ve been run over by a bully on a ten-speed bike when pressure arises to merge, delinquency and charge offs skyrocket, examiners are not realistic, or staffing changes create gaps.

There is a special place for credit unions, and I believe it is more important today than ever with nearly 12 million Americans with payday loans that can have an interest as high as 400%!

Consumers are experiencing challenges every day and trying to push through. We have the opportunity to make a difference, and even if it is seemingly small, the impact can grow exponentially.

The moral of the story: there needs to be a plan to stay in the game and grow so we can help these consumers and not end up with tire tracks.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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