As a proud dad of a three year old boy, I am a self proclaimed superhero expert. He is obsessed with superheroes. Most of his days are spent scouring the house with his neighbor friends in search of any available towel or sheet to wear as a superhero cape. The rest of his waking hours usually consist of him warding off imaginary villains from his cardboard forts, jumping of the couch while yelling “Superman!” or protecting his newborn baby sister, Greta, from the bad guys.
Life is good when you believe in superheroes.
But whether you’re three or you’re thirty, we all need heroes. Superheroes allow us to think bigger about ourselves and the world around us. They allow us to dream big, and dream differently. When my son is wearing his cape, he no longer believes that he is just a boy…he truly believes he can save the world.
Belief is half the battle.
Does your credit union have superhero characteristics? Following is a short list that will help you know if you pass the official credit union superhero litmus test.
- Have a consistent, unique identity—you can always tell its Superman because of the huge red “S” on his chest. Batman always shows up in his black and blue paired with his sleek mask and chiseled chin. And Green Lantern…well, he has his lantern ring thingy. What is your identity? Is it unique? Does it inspire? Is it recognizable? Do people know right away who you are, what you do and what you stand for?
- Do one thing better than anyone else—Batman has his gadget belt, Spiderman has his webbing and Superman has his famous laser eyes. What do you do, or attempt to do, better than everyone else? Do you know? Does your staff? Why would I want to join your credit union if you articulate and demonstrate mediocrity? Don’t try to be all things to all people. Superheroes don’t, and credit unions shouldn’t either.
- Know the strengths of your enemies— Know who your enemies are, and know why they are a threat to you. Is it national banks? Walmart? How about Ally Bank or ING? If you don’t know who your threat is how can you protect and defend against it?
- Know who you can trust—Superheroes always know who they can trust. And even though they often “go it alone”, they’re not afraid to call on some others in the Justice League if needed. Who do you lean on? Are you trying to fight the fight yourself? Reach out to other credit unions, your league, CUNA and colleagues. Ask for help. Ask and ask often. Chances are, if you’re struggling with something, other credit unions are as well. The single greatest credit union advantage is cooperation among credit union cooperatives. Make sure you and your staff are involved in all of the listserv and networking groups available.
- Know your weakness—Superman’s is kryptonite and Batman has his pride. What’s yours? Is it poor member service? Lack of vision? Poor branding? Poor planning? Write it down and protect and prepare against it.
Finally, don’t doubt yourself. Know what you stand for. Articulate and demonstrate your member value. You must first believe in who you are if you expect your members to do so as well. But most of all, whatever you do and no matter where you go…never forget your cape.
Josh Allison is the founder and Chief Ideator for Think Café, a CU consulting company committed to authenticity and relevance. He is a passionate public speaker and has been invited to present on a number of topics related to youth outreach, relationship management and cu philosophy. His youth and business development programs have garnered national awards and recognitions, and he has been cited in the CU Times and multiple cu blogs for his innovation and ideas. www.joshaallison.blogspot.com/