Motivations Matter – Make a Difference in Your Members’ Lives

Mike Lawson, Principal, DML Communications & Host, CUbroadcastby: Mike Lawson, Principal, DML Communications & Host, CUbroadcast

“The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out. If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”


—Steve Jobs
Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography

I’m reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson right now. I know; I’m probably one of the last people on the planet to read it – slacker. But it’s a fascinating book whether you’re an Apple fan or not.

The quote above from Jobs really struck a credit union chord in me that I hope most – if not all – credit union folks would share. It’s not the fact that Jobs was bashing his “frenemy” Microsoft and his personal view of their music and art ignorance. I’m sure there are plenty of Microsoft employees who love music and art just as much as the average Apple staffer.

It’s the motivation portion of the quote that, well, motivated me to write this piece. Underneath the brash personality and sometimes brutal ways he treated his employees, Jobs obviously had a passion for what he was doing and he wanted nothing but A+ players around him who shared that passion for producing not just cool products but works of engineering art.

When the iPod was introduced, Apple was still David to Microsoft’s Goliath. So there was this underdog role that Apple played counter to its much larger (at the time) tech foe. They had to create products that would consistently outshine Microsoft (and other established tech companies) in both design and performance – challenging the status quo. Depending on which side of the aisle you’re on, Apple was either super successful or failed miserably.

But this “topping Microsoft” goal wasn’t Apple’s full focus. If it were, I don’t think the company would be what it is today. That focus would’ve been a trap, taking them way off track. (But I think to a degree they relished the role of underdog.)

Instead, the goal of the company, Jobs’ vision, was the essence of the second part of his quote: “We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out.”

That’s the part of the quote that is totally credit union to me. Nearly every person I have met in this industry over the past two decades is passionate about what credit unions can offer. These folks are not going to “cheese out” on anything credit union related.

This dedicated group can certainly be motivated by looking at banks (like Apple looked at Microsoft) and noticing what not to do with their overabundance of fees and so-so service – among other things. But that shouldn’t be their sole focus. If so, that’s a shortsighted trap.

The focus should be creating products and services that you would want to use yourself, along with proudly offering them to friends and family – while keeping one eye on the horizon for anything new that will make a difference. You need to be brutally honest with yourself on this. Don’t settle; strive.

Answer these questions candidly:

  • Would you be happy with your credit union’s service today?
  • Would the products and services your credit union currently offers satisfy your financial needs?
  • Would they satisfy your friends’ and family’s needs?
  • What can you do better so you don’t “cheese out”?
  • What can you do that would challenge today’s financial institution status quo?
  • Are the things you are doing as a financial institution making a difference in the industry and with your members? If not, why not?

These questions are great motivators to make your credit union matter even more to truly make a difference in your members’ lives – and probably your life.

If you’re working for a credit union that unequivocally addresses your needs – from a member’s POV – and continually stokes your passion, then it will change your life. This exuberance is infectious and will permeate throughout the organization – especially if it comes from the top down. That’s fostering a culture of proactive change that bodes well for your credit union, members, and, ultimately, the industry.

So motivations do matter. They drive you to go the extra mile, whether it’s staying open an extra 20 minutes on a Friday afternoon to help a member with an account issue, volunteering to represent your credit union in a community event at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning, or further refining your mobile banking platform so it blows your members’ minds the first time they use it. There are a myriad of examples of how a credit union can step further, but the motivations have to be there. Are you going to cheese out or make a difference?

What are your motivations to produce life-changing products and provide second-to-none service?

Mike Lawson is the principal of the marketing firm, DML Communications, and host of the credit union industry’s only online video talk show, CUbroadcast; has more than 20 years of journalism, public relations, and marketing experience. Lawson leverages this three-tiered expertise to help credit union-related individuals and organizations increase their exposure. Lawson has an extensive background within the financial services industry stemming back to the mid-‘90s working for Symitar, establishing DML Communications in 2002, and starting CUbroadcast in 2010. He speaks on journalism, PR, marketing, and social media topics to credit union industry organizations nationwide.

Mike Lawson

Mike Lawson

Mike Lawson; principal of the marketing firm, DML Communications (, and host of the credit union industry’s only online video talk show, CUbroadcast; has more than 20 ... Web: Details