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



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,


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,


The final #NTCUE push!


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.

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,


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,



Wrestling and Business

kolat-islamov-single-leg-battleIf you’ve read any of my blogs in the past, you are aware that I am a former wrestler and my love for the sport did not die when my high school career ended.  I learned a lot from hanging around the wrestling room and actually being on the mat.  from time to time, I like to write about how the lessons I learned apply to what I do today.  My blogs are probably mostly a cathartic exercise for myself, but I’d like to think that there might be a lesson or two (alright one lesson) mixed in there.

I’m young-ish and I know I have a lot to learn about my field of work (marketing and advertising), but there are quite a few things that have become quite obvious in my not so tenured professional existence. In this blog I will talk about a few of them and those of you who couldn’t care less about wrestling can just skip over those parts.  Deal?

I’m a tactical person.  Maybe even to a fault.  I have the beginnings of a strategic mindset, but it still needs to be developed.  When you haven’t full developed a skill, you (me at least) tend to fall back on the things that you know that you’re good at and the things that need to be further developed get pushed aside.

What I’ve learned is this: You cannot continue to fallback to your comfort zone and you need to find ways to get the job done well, but push yourself to think about things differently.

A Story:

When I was younger, I was quite obvious that I would rarely be the stronger person in a wrestling match.  This was partly because I was too lazy to do the work I needed to do to gain strength.  Lesson learned.  Anyhow, because I wasn’t the strongest, I built my wrestling style so that I could use my leverage and hips to score a takedown every once in a while.  This worked on most opponents, but when it came to the big matches, I simply did not have the skills to win.


Sure, you can be successful by being good at a few things, but if you really want to be the best at your job, you have to evolve and you have to keep adding to your skill sets.

The outcome of your efforts has much more to do with your desire to finish a job well than it does with all of the events that lead up to the defining moment.

A Story:

Ask any amateur wrestler what practice was like and they will likely respond, “It was hell.”  Besides being “hell”, most practices are pretty much the same.  You drill takedowns, bottom position, top position, you go live and then you run.  Drilling is redundant and tedious, but it’s essential.  They say you perform how you practice and I would agree.  the problem with this is that practice and competition (performance as it relates to business) are two completely different mindsets.  One is a safe environment and the other can be terrifying.  When it’s one man against another in the middle of a gymnasium, you either love it or hate it.  It’s probably a healthy mix of both for most people, if it wasn’t why would they do the sport?  Anyhow, I used to practice and drill and drill and drill some more, but when it came to competition, I had a tough time finishing my takedowns.


Practice and preparation are key to opening up the door to opportunity.  The problem with opportunity is that you usually only have one chance to capitalize on it.  There are hundreds of setup moves in wrestling and a handful of ways to shoot a single leg, but if you aren’t willing to finish (see the job through), well, all of your efforts are for naught.  Whenever you take on a new project, make sure that you’re prepared for everything the project might present and be aware of the things that might occur out of nowhere.

 All the preparation is the world will never make up for a lack of desire to see a project through to the end.

There are plenty more “stories”, but this is long enough.  Leave a comment and let me know what else you think is important in order to build a foundation for success.

Without wax,


The Leadership Responsibility Litmus Test


Tom Brands on Responsibility

This is yet another wrestling blog that I will attempt to relate to leadership development.  Please take a second to watch the video posted above (hyperlink under the picture of Tom Brands, the Iowa Hawkeye Head Wrestling Coach.)  If you’re still somewhat engaged after that, please continue reading.

My blogs are usually long and drawn out, so, I will try to keep this one “shorter”.  In college wrestling, there are 10 weight classes.  Most matches are won by a point or two and for a decision win ( a win by less that 8 points) your team earns 3 team points.  I won’t go further into scoring, but hopefully you can see that matches are close and the outcome is determined by 10 head to head matches.  Last night, Friday, January 4 2013, the Iowa Hawkeyes won 7 out of 10 matches and won their dual against a tough Ohio State wrestling team by a score of 22-9.  You can do the math.

So what am I driving at here?  In the video interview, you see a fired up coach after a dominate performance by his team.  They won, he should be satisfied and hopeful about the future, right?  Wrong.  Even minutes after defeating one of the tougher teams in the Nation, coach Brands goes on to talk about everything they could have done better.  He mentions missed opportunities by his student-athletes, but most importantly, Brands says that he is responsible for what he considers a poor performance.

How easy is it for all of us to gloat and relax after we complete a successful task?  We meet our goals and we think, “Mission accomplished.”  On the flip-side of that, how easy is it for us to search for excuses when we fall a bit short of our intended outcomes?  Pretty easy.  It’s human nature for the most part.

What I want to drive home here are a couple things.  Intensity about what you do for a living is important.  Too much intensity can be unhealthy, but if you are not intense about what you do, this implies a lack of dedication to being the best you that you can be.

Performance standards.  We all have performance standards, but when we don’t meet them, how likely are we to be critical of ourselves like Brands is in the video above?  He could have easily said, “I’m an Olympic medalist, decorated NCAA wrestler and I have taught these wrestlers everything I know.  They just didn’t put it into action.”  When you think about it, after the last day of practice, a wrestling match’s outcome is completely out of control of the coach.  It’s not like in football where bad play calling can determine the outcome of a game.  Brands is a leader and a good one at that.  Leadership is not about beng always being right.  It is about putting people in places where they can be successful and overseeing the process.  It’s about intervening to offer assistance when needed, but what is most important is the willingness to accept when you may have failed to do all of the things you needed to do to give your team an opportunity to succeed.

If you take the wrestling aspect out of the equation and just look at the thoughts, ideas and standards that Brands mentions, I think we all can learn a lot about the characteristics of effective leaders.  Sometimes, accepting responsibility for a poor performance is the best thing a leader can do because it shows your colleagues that you have just as much skin in the game as they do.

Be passionate about what you do.  If you’re in the credit union industry and you’re reading this, you have a lot to be passionate about.  Passion leads to a healthy level of intensity and intensity breeds a level of self responsibility.  All of these things are related to each other.

What are some other characteristics of effective leadership that you can think of?

Without wax,


There Are Only Two Types of Opportunities

Wrestling and OpportunityI write this blog post under the assumption that the world will not be ending in 18 days.  If the world indeed does end later this month, this blog will be of little or no use to you.

Typically, I blog about credit unions and marketing, but I’d like to take a more macro approach here.  It has recently dawned on me that there are essentially only two types of opportunities that any of use will ever face:

There are only two types of opportunities in this world, the ones we make and the ones we take.

I’m sure someone much smarter than I has said this before, so, I’m not claiming the above as my own, but I think it holds true.  I “competed” in athletics growing up and I am still a passionate fan of folkstyle (not Hulk Hogan) wrestling.  I’m going to use some wrestling analogies  here, but if you’d like, think about your favorite sport and how things might be similar.

There is no professional wrestling league.  Typically, the most elite wrestlers start training at a very young age and their parents spend tons of money in the hopes that their son or daughter (yes, there are some really tough female wrestlers) will receive a scholarship for college.  To me, most of these young athletes have no choice initially in participating in the sport.  Many times, their parents might be pushing them to do something that the child doesn’t really want to do.  If you know anything about wrestling, you know that it is a brutal sport.  It takes a toll on the athlete mentally and physically.  When a competitor steps on the mat to wrestle, it is just him and his opponent.  I digress.  In every young athlete’s life, they eventually make a decision to buy-in or opt out.  This typically happens around junior high.  I think this holds true across all sports.

When the athlete buys-in, they start along a path of creating opportunities.  They put in the extra time drilling moves (think about long hours at home when you’re working on your business budget.)  They run a little bit longer than their teammates (think about that colleague that is always willing to go the extra mile.  Maybe that’s you.)  In either case, they are making a decision to create future opportunities.

All of us know that to achieve success, we need to have a plan, clearly defined (and measurable) goals and a strategy for how we will go about accomplishing the small goals to reach the larger ones.  Without a plan, our efforts can easily become disjointed.  Without small goals, we can become disheartened.  If you’ve ever watched a soccer match, you know that it takes a whole bunch of running back and forth just to setup a halfway decent chance to get a shot on goal.  The same holds true in wrestling.  In the NCAA or Olympic ranks, one score most often determines the outcome of the match.

So how does all of this relate to opportunity?  (I’m so glad I asked.)  I firmly believe that until I realized that if I want something, I am going to have to establish steps to making what I want even remotely possible.  The flip-side of that coin is that once I feel that I may have created an opportunity, then I have to be bold enough to sieze it.

We live in a competitive world.  People get into arguing matches on Facebook about college football games (guilty).  Sometimes I wonder why some of us don’t take that tenacity to succeed with us to the office.  I’m talking about the mindset that failure is not an option.  Nobody is going to outwork me.  I’m going to be the best version of myself today and everyday.  There will be a time that I will be a bit uneasy and have to take a risk to seize the opportunity.  In the end, if I do a lot of work to create or setup a shot (as we would say in wrestling), if I am not willing to commit 100% to taking the opportunity, all of my past efforts were in vain.

There will always be setbacks along the road and we all have different definitions of success.  Setbacks are just different opportunities.  How we rebound from a setback or loss will always say more about our internal drive to succeed than an easy life absent of any and all adversity.

This is already way to0 long.   Bottom line is this: You are the only one who can create opportunities for yourself.  You alone are also the only person that can take advantage of the opportunities that you create.  With a margin of error that is so slim, none of us can afford to be paralyzed by fear.  Sometimes, a moment of hesitation leads to a lifetime of dissatisfaction.

Without wax,