Lessons Learned by a Young Professional

Lessons learnedThis past weekend, I made an outlandish and uniformed comment via one of my favorite social channels, Facebook.  My statement was about credit union trade organizations and the role that they play. While my intentions were to create a meaningful dialogue, my comments turned into a direct attack on the organizations that work every day to further the reach and impact of credit unions. I am deeply saddened and disappointed in myself for my words and actions and I apologize to everyone that I have offended or discredited.

I realize that my statements reflect negatively upon me personally and may be perceived to represent the thoughts and beliefs of the various organizations I am a part of.  I can assure you that the thoughts I expressed this weekend were entirely my own and were formulated with no empirical evidence to support them. This past weekend was most definitely a low for me.

While it would be easy to ignore my mistake or downplay the impact my words had, I realize as a Wisconsin Credit Union YP, it’s more powerful to own up to my mistake and share what I have learned.

I should never let my desire for meaningful change, my passion for credit unions and my impatience cause me to lose sight of the end goal.  As a firm believer in the power of cooperative finance (cooperative anything, really), I believe that every credit union young professional can learn from me by remembering to be mindful that we are an industry founded on cooperation and that the cooperative principles are our biggest differentiator from other financial institutions.

After reflection, it’s clear to me that it takes diversity to make an industry great.  We need our trade organizations to help us grow professionally and our trade organizations need us to provide them with constructive feedback and insight into the topics that we feel we need to gain a better grasp on.  Most importantly, we need organizations like CUNA to carry the political advocacy torch for us.  But, CUNA cannot do it alone.  We need the fresh ideas of professionals – young and seasoned – to bring new thoughts and viewpoints to the table to keep our efforts effective and fresh. The credit union industry is very diverse and is made up of  “shops” large and small.  Credit union vendors are an excellent way to help smaller credit unions make up for inefficiencies due to lack of resources human and/or capital and remain relevant in their respective marketplaces. Though we face big challenges, when we move forward together, we are unstoppable.

As I look forward to working in the credit union industry for many years to come, I know that the lessons I learned this week will help to guide my way of thinking as I continue to grow professionally.  They have reinforced my understanding of the importance of remaining accountable for my thoughts, words and actions.  I hope that my fellow young professional friends can use some of the above takeaways in order to further their own professional growth and be the assets that we need them to be so that we can continue to grow and make a positive difference in the lives of current and prospective credit union members.

Sincerely,

Bryce Roth

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In Memoriam of Butch Roth: One of a Kind

21860_1233021705983_1242362164_30588441_8132082_nThirteen years. Thirteen years ago the Roth family lost a patriarch. Dale “Butch” Roth left us after a long battle with illness, but his life ended much how he took on every single day; with a fight.

I wrote briefly on it two weeks ago when it would have been his birthday and last week, the Roth and Link families suffered two more losses. My heart and prayers continue to go out to all of those who still grieve because, it’s been thirteen years for me and I still think about my “gramps”.

I could type a novel about all of my great memories at gram ( Eileen) and gramps house, but I won’t. Instead, I will reflect on a few things that have really stuck with me and continue to drive me today.

1. Gramps understood the vital role of family. Raising eight children in a three bedroom house, he worked his ass off to send all eight of them to St. Mary’s Central Catholic School. If family was important, the only thing that was more important was his faith. Faith and family are two things that keep families together, but even more importantly, they help family members grow in faith and in love. I hope I can set the same example some day.

2. Gramps was funny. Now, humor is relative, but all of the Roth men have the same sense of humor. I think the adjective that best describes it is ridiculous. Regardless, he was always ready with a joke or a funny song and some might say he had his own vocabulary. Some of my cousins have even honored him by naming some of their homebrew beers after his “made up” words. Laughter is a gift and gramps gave of it freely and often.

3. Gramps was a fighter. All of us grand children knew that our grandpa had served in the Navy and some of us knew he won the Most Handsome Sailor award while serving, but I don’t think too many of us knew how he fought a different battle ever single day of his life until after he passed. This is probably one of the things I thought about the most when we lost him. What a guy. To overcome what he did, raise eight amazing children and create such a long lasting legacy is quite a feat and he did a hell of a job.

Lastly, and I don’t think I need a number for this one; Gramps left this world for the next fighting the entire time. Thirteen years ago was a particularly important day for the Roth/Opfer family as my cousins were in the Ohio State Wrestling Finals. One was going for his fourth State Title which had only been done ten times before (I think that’s right) and the other was wrestling immediately after his brother and going for his first.

Now, it was no mystery that gramps was sick because in all of his years, this was the first State Wrestling Tournament he had missed that he had a child or relative competing in. He was there when my uncle made it and he was there when my dad ( Jude Roth ) won it. He was there for Jared Opfer’s first title and he was so sick in 1999 that he couldn’t be there when Jared and Drew Opfer won it together.

Can you imagine it?  Two brothers winning state titles together?  We were extremely proud of Jared and Drew, for many of us, it was like we won the title.  A ton of our family was in Columbus to witness the event and there probably wasn’t a dry eye among any of us after Drew’s hand was raised.  Tears of joy, hugs, pats on the back, years of hard work realized and complete happiness.  Now, if you know anything about the State Wrestling Tournament, once you win in the Finals, you are escorted all over the place for interviews and pictures and award ceremonies and then you finally get to come to see your fans.  When the brothers and their parents made their way to the SMCC section, half of us were crying tears of joy and a handful were huddled together in prayer and shedding tears of grief.

The message traveled through our family, but it was through my aunt Julie, uncle Ed and father who received the news first.  I can’t even imagine the emotional rollercoaster the Opfer’s went through in a 15 minute time period, but I know it couldn’t have been easy.  My sister, mother and I soon learned the news and our tears of joy quickly transformed.

While we were stricken by our grief, but we quickly realized that while something terrible had just occurred, something as equally amazing had also happened.  My grandpa’s official time of death occurred shortly after Drew’s hand was raised as a State Champion of Ohio.  Grandpa Roth went out with a fight.  I won’t pretend to know how he knew that Drew and Jared had both achieved their dreams of winning State Championships together, but what happened that day was more than a coincidence.  Dale “Butch” Roth fought for every second to make sure he was on this earth when that moment happened and now, when I look back thirteen years later, I smile as I type this sentence.

Grandpa, I hope they have WordPress in Heaven, because I want you to know how many people’s lives you touched.  I want you to know how proud I am to bear your namesake.  I want you to know how many other people will read this blog and will feel some of the same things I feel.  You were one of a kind and all of those you left behind were left with an example of what it takes and means to be a man.   You left us with memories and you left us with a blueprint for how to live a life fulfilled.

Thank you.

Your grandson,

Bryce