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

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Where #DontTaxMyCU Falls Short

imgresIt’s Governmental Affairs Conference week and political advocacy for credit unions is all the rage.  Political advocacy has never been more important for an industry that serves over 96 million people and seems to be regulated more and more with each passing year.  If you read the title of this blog, you might think that this is a post intended to bash the #DontTaxMyCU campaign and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The #DontTaxMyCU campaign has been wildly successful among credit union folks and it appears that we have even captured the attention of Washington without having to write a big check like some other financial institutions may or may not do.  But how much further can #DontTaxMyCU really go?  Does it resonate with credit union members?  Here’s my take and a few things I believe credit unions need to do if they really want political advocacy to reach a whole different level.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m a political analyst, but we all have a basic understanding of how lobbying goes.  Groups of all kinds are knocking on the doors of their respective representatives whenever they get the chance and there are always two basic assumptions in play.

1. The lobbyists have their own agenda.  In the case of credit unions, credit union employees want less regulation and we want our tax status to remain the same.  We all know why credit unions SHOULD keep our tax status and we also know that if we don’t, we will not be able to provide the services we currently offer, we won’t be able to serve the under served and a lot of us will be out of jobs.  We are fighting for our very survival.

2. Politicians (most) know the facts one way or another.  This isn’t a new issue, it’s just become so much more real.  Politicians are in a constant battle to keep their backers happy.  One vote cast the wrong way could mean the end of their career.  Essentially, politicians and lobbyists are both fighting to survive.

In any competition or fight, there is always a winner and a loser.  If we can assume that we (credit union folks) are up against the banking industry and politicians who like the banking industry because they have a lot of money, we need to be at our very best if we hope to stand a chance on the issue of our tax status.

Knowing how important this issue is, how many of us have thought long and hard about how we are trying to tackle this issue?  My guess is that some have, but others are just going through the motions because that’s what they/we’ve been told to do.  Here’s the problem: The vast majority of credit union members have no idea that their credit union has a special tax status.  Think about that.  Now think about how many of your members even know that your credit union’s business model is fundamentally different that that of a bank.  Lastly, think of how many of your members call your credit union their bank (I honestly don’t care what members call us, but I think you can see where I’m going.)

If our members don’t know these points, how could a message as simple as #DontTaxMyCU really gain steam in the consumer world?  Unfortunately, it can’t.  I know that tons of people have gone to great lengths to build an awesome website and create collateral pieces spreading the #DontTaxMyCU message, but those will only be effective if each credit union takes a more proactive form of advocacy through the lens of member education.

This is a pretty complex issue and even some of us in the credit union industry don’t totally understand the implications of a change in our tax status, how can we expect our members to understand the magnitude?

So what do we do?  I believe the answer lies in the 5th Cooperative Principle.  We need to educate our members in a way that makes this issue real to them.  We need to think like we do about other things in our life.  We need to think about “what’s in it for me?”  At the end of the day, when you are asking someone to do something that is above and beyond what they normally would do (contact a representative), you had better make certain you’ve given them a darn good reason to take action.

How can we educate our members?  In my opinion we need to get our members together to really dive into the issue.  We should be holding town hall meetings in our branches, we should be creating political advocacy groups among our members.  We should be running this thing like were trying to become President of the United States.  What message do you think would get more people’s attention:

#DontTaxMyCU

or

Because of possible government changes, we may have to raise our loan rates and charge more fees, soon.

A hashtag is great because it’s trendy, but hashtags were never meant to tell entire stories.  This is a story and it’s worthy of more than a social media tracking invention.  We need to have real conversations with our members that tell them the real life implications of this important issue.  I’m not saying the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag is bad, I’m saying it needs to have more substance.  When I use substance, I do not mean tweeting or posting on Facebook, “#DontTaxMyCU Go visit this website for more information.”  This is not a winning strategy.  Besides, when it comes to social media, most posts containing links are clicked on the least (especially on Facebook) when compared to posts of plain text, images and videos.  Social media is not the answer for this fight (can you believe I wrote that?)  Social media is but one leg on the stool that we need to create if we want to create member urgency and involvement.

With many credit union annual meeting coming up, is this issue on your credit union’s agenda to be discussed?

What are some ways your credit union is engaging your members in political advocacy?

Without wax,

Bryce

The Energy Equation

this-basic-equation-is-all-you-need-to-know-about-saving-moneyThis title makes me sound like I am a physicist or something.  I assure you that I am not.  However, I am quite in-tune with human emotions and behavior.  While I’m now in marketing, my first love has always been psychology and sociology.  What makes people do the things that they do?  Why do certain groups form?  How and why do people choose to interact the way that they do?

I think that we all should question ourselves occasionally.  Why are we putting in extra hours?  Why do we love (hopefully) what we call work?  What is the source of our motivation?  What are we trying to accomplish?  It’s cliché to say stop and smell the roses, but it’s human nature to get caught up in all of the projects and responsibilities that we have.  It’s not human nature (at least not mine) to actually take time to be a part of our everyday experiences.  I’m still working on this myself, so, please do not assume that I am speaking from an enlightened state.  Nope.  This is more of a philosophical blog.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that our lives are made up of a never-ending (well it does end at sometime) series of moments and like the saying, “You learn more from your loses than you do from your victories” speaks to, at every moment of our lives, we are either winning or losing the moment.  Since no one that I know of is “winning” at every moment (with the exception of Charlie Sheen), I think it makes sense to reflect on our experiences.  Here’s the kicker.  You can’t reflect on something if you haven’t truly experienced it.

Maybe we don’t want to question ourselves.  Maybe we’re afraid of the answers we might find.  I’m sure that I wouldn’t be completely satisfied with all of my responses, but if you don’t uncover areas you can improve on, you’ll never reach your full potential.  The lesson here is that in all aspects of your life (faith, family, social, work) we should all be striving to improve.  Personally, I’d like to be a better teammate at work.  I’m pretty sure most of us would agree that being liked is nice and being respected is even better, but how many times are we actively assessing our interactions with others?  How can we create a rapport with people if we aren’t honest with ourselves about how we are treating or leading others.

So, the question is this: How much energy are we putting into “doing” compared to the amount we put into the assessment of the things we do?  My guess is that for myself and many others, there is an imbalance in favor of the former compared to the latter.  What do you think?  Do you have any tips or tricks?  How can we better assess ourselves?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

Without wax,

Bryce

Storytelling: So Easy, Even a Caveman Can Do It.

geicocavemen2ORIGINALLY POSTED ON CHATTERYAK.COM

 

Content marketing has been around for ages, and it has been a hot topic around the marketing and advertising world for the last several years.  Now, it appears that credit union marketers are taking note (as they should) and that makes us happy.  If you’re not sure what content marketing is, you’re in the right place.  In this blog, we’ll be sharing what we know and we’ll also include some helpful information from other thought-leaders on the subject.

So, let’s get the definition stuff out of the way first.  According to the leaders in the industry, The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as:

 “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Sounds a lot like social media, right?  Sort of.  Social media is a great delivery channel for your content, but content marketing is so much more than simple tweets and Facebook/Google+ posts.  When it comes to credit unions, content marketing is all about solving the problems of your members.  Now, this seems like a very simple concept to grasp, but solving your members problems is much more complex than the following line of thinking:

 “Members have a lot of credit card debt on high-interest credit cards and our credit card has a lower rate.  Therefore, we should scream our {low} rate from the rooftops.”

The above is what most credit unions have reduced their marketing and advertising messages to.  Your credit union is so much more than a purveyor of loan rate loans and minimal fees.  You see, content marketing is all about telling a story that people actually want to hear.  If we continue to compete only on rates and service, we will continue to lose out to other financial institutions and here’s why: Your members care less about you and more about what you can do for them.

From the beginning of time, people have been telling stories.  From cavemen (and cavewomen) to the Egyptians, the world is covered (literally) in stories.  Bringing things a bit closer to modern times, the first true form of content marketing was created by a little tractor company known as John Deere.  In 1895, the company produced and distributed “The Furrow” a magazine designed to help farmers find solutions to the problems they faced on a daily basis.  The magazine was not littered with ads for tractors and guess what, it’s still being produced today! (Joe Pullizi tells the story way better here.)

So what does this mean for credit unions?  We think it means our industry needs to start worrying more about what our members want and less about what we wish our members would do.  In the end, it boils down to basic psychology.  If you want someone to perform a specific behavior, you need to give them a reason or motivation.  Motivation can be internal or external.  Here is an example of each:

External: If you become a member at ABC credit union, we will give you $25.

Internal: A person is so compelled by your credit union’s story or branding that they want to become a member.

While building a strong and impactful brand is much more difficult than doling out $25 for each new person who walks through the door, an externally motivated member’s affinity toward your brand will be much weaker than someone who saw/heard what your credit union has been doing and sought out membership on their own.  Taking things a step further, if you build the foundation of your membership on externally motivated individuals, it will be much harder for your credit union to get those members to understand the cooperative mindset and you will likely remain in the rut of competing on price rather than value.

In 2014, choose to build value!  Rediscover your credit union’s story and tell it from a perspective that resonates with people (members or not).  Maybe even checkout 6th Story to see how they can help you with your credit union’s story.  Remember that people don’t want to hear from organizations that consistently talk about how great they are.  Get into the practice of demonstrating the value you offer and create compelling stories (content) that you can share via social channels, on your website or in your newsletter (if you still do one of those).  Think about what your credit union does every single day and repurpose that information.

What are your thoughts?

Without wax,

Bryce

The Next Top Credit Union Executive: Takeaways

thankyou“I’ve got a pretty good idea what children are, and we’re not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares.”
― Orson Scott Card, Enders Game

First of all this is not a blog about losing.  Please do not let the quote fool you.  I just saw Enders Game (one of my favorite books of all time) in the theatre last week as it has now been made into a movie.  This blog is really about learning.

Most of you reading this know that I was blessed enough to take part in a competition that started with 141 candidates and I made it to the Final 5.  Things didn’t shake out the way I wanted them to, but in the end, the credit union industry has gained another driven, progressive and energetic leader and Next Top Credit Union Executive 2013 in  Amanda Brenneman from Maps Credit Union.  I was fortunate enough to spend several days with Amanda, Chad Huseby (@HUSE59), Zac King  and Rob Carabelli (@MHFCURob) this past week and I can tell you with 100% certainty that we all share the passion and desire to make an impact in the lives of the members we serve and the industry we love.

I would be lying to all of you and myself if I said I wasn’t disappointed when I left San Diego, but the saying goes, “You learn more from your loses than your victories.”  After 24+ hours, now I need to focus on what I can learn and how I can become a better credit union advocate, young professional and leader.  The Next Top Credit Union Executive Competition has taught me countless lessons about time management, presentation skills, networking and working hard while also completing my daily responsibilities.  I’d like to thank the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), DDJ Myers  and Currency Marketing for making this opportunity available to young credit union leaders.

I’ve learned a ton about myself and one thing I can’t help but reflect on is how much amateur and high school wrestling has taught me about being a successful young professional and good person (my own opinion) in general.  The only way to make it to the Final 5 is to have self-discipline and that is most certainly required of anyone who has wrestled, had to cut weight and complete their studies while depriving themselves of their favorite meals.  In this case, it wasn’t about not eating delicious food, but I had to really pick and choose when I was able to participate in leisure activities and when I needed to write a blog, brainstorm for videos (Thanks to Jordan Destree for his professional video editing skills) or practice my presentation (58 live run-throughs, btw).

One on one.  When you wrestle, you compete to help your team score points, but essentially you are out there on the mat and whether your hand gets raised or someone else’s does, well, that’s all on you.  I think the same goes for public speaking.  When you’re on that stage, it’s your job to perform, present your message and “win” the crowd.  There are plenty of other similarities, but I think that you get the gist.

Last and certainly not least, I couldn’t finish this blog without thanking everyone who has supported me through the entire process.  I will undoubtedly leave someone out (not on purpose) but here goes.  I need to thank Jane Anderson for thinking enough of me to send in my first nomination.  Jane, you’re faith in my abilities and my project has meant the world.  Kevin Ralofsky, my friend, mentor and colleague also deserves special acknowledgement.  Kevin took a chance on me a little over 3 and a half years ago and to this day, we work together as a team and I learn something new from him every single day.  Kevin and his family have become a part of my family and I think that it is safe to say that I have become a part of his.  I’m not sure about what gave him the inclination to take a chance and hire a twenty-something with no knowledge of credit unions, but I am thankful that he did.

My parents.  My parents have always been a driving force in my life.  I think most children are always seeking ways to make their parents proud, so, I’m really no different than anyone, but not all children are fortunate enough to have parents who raised them to understand the importance of working hard for the things that you want, being respectful and willing to learn from anyone you can and being open to “losing”, but at the same time never making excuses.  I don’t really believe in luck and some people will say, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”, but I believe that everyone should work hard at everything they do and the better person you are, or, said differently, the more you give of yourself, the more blessings you will find come your way.

Friends and family.  My friends and family have been amazing.  For the last several weeks, I have been the most annoying Facebook “friend” and Twitter users that ever existed, yet people have rallied behind me.  People have spent their own time sharing things about me and doing their best to promote my efforts for the Next Top Credit Union Executive title and I can’t help but think, “Why?”  Their (your) efforts and the time you gave benefitted them (you) in no way and yet they (you) did it anyways.

I thank you all for what you have done for me.  Please know that I am grateful beyond any words I could possibly comprehend or type.  I intend to push forward and make this project successful and continue to develop new ideas.  Thank you for the outpouring of support and love.

Best regards and without wax,

Bryce

The final #NTCUE push!

Image

The good new is that after Tuesday at 5PM Pacific time, I will no longer clog your newsfeed or Twitter stream.  The bad new is that I am way behind in like (heart clicks) on the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) Next Top Credit Union Executives website. Can you please visit these link and click the heart button? You can even leave a comment and share them with your friends (They will love it .) That would a really nice thing to do, btw.

http://www.nexttopcreditunionexec.com/blog/applicant-8-bryce-roth

http://www.nexttopcreditunionexec.com/blog/top-15-post-bryce-roth

http://www.nexttopcreditunionexec.com/blog/top-5-video-bryce-roth

The heart button is always under the video or at the end of the blog.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  The people I have met along this journey and what I have already learned is priceless.  Your support means the world to me.

Without wax,

Bryce

Next Top Credit Union Executive Competition 2013

NextGen-CFCU-whiteBGIf you’re reading this, thank you!  For those of you who do not know me and are still reading this, thank you!

So here’s the story:  Back in May of this year, I was fortunate enough to be nominated by a kind soul, Jane Anderson, for the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) Next Top Credit Union Executive (NTCUE) Competition.  This is an international competition and there were over 30 initial nominees.  Nominees were asked to create a video describing a project they are working on or developing in order to move the credit union industry forward.   You can see my first video here.  I was blessed enough to make the next round which narrowed the nominees into a field of 15 finalists.  Those of us who made the Final 15 were asked to submit a blog post (if you’re bored you can read mine here).  Based on our first video and blog posts, the judges of the competition selected 5 Finalist.   As a finalist, we were all asked to submit a final video describing the progress of our project (here is my final video.)

At this point, all I can say is that I am extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity.  Making it to the Final 5 is an even bigger blessing.

So, one week from today (Monday, October 28, 2013) I will have 7 minutes to present my program, Next Gen Outreach (super cool website here).  The judging shakes out like this:

1.   40% judging panel scores

2.  20% Live audience votes

3.  20% Online voting

4.  20% social actions (comments, likes and tweets – on the two videos and one blog post)

Voting begins November 4 at Noon (Pacific) and ends on the 5th.  Not sure of the exact URL right now, but it will likely be here: VOTE

The first two are within my control.  I promise to do my best to represent CitizensFirst Credit Union, all of my teammates, our members and the entire Next Gen group, but I REALLY need your help on items 3 & 4.  If you have the time, please check out the videos and blog (I hyperlinked them above) and if you think I deserve your like, comment or vote, I would really appreciate it!  In addition, you can help by sharing the links to the blog and videos on Facebook and Twitter.  If you use the hashtag #NTCUE and mention me @bryceroth all of that social chatter will help me with number 4 above.

I can’t thank all of you enough for your support.  This has been a great experience and has afforded me an opportunity to grow professionally and personally.  I look forward to presenting to the audience next week in San Diego and I will be sure to Tweet and Facebook the URL where you can watch the live streaming of all of the presentations.

Thanks again!

 

Without wax,

Bryce