‘Business Rockstars’ and ‘Fearless Leadership’ speakers urge credit unions to innovate

ONTARIO, CA (November 7, 2016) — Some credit union leaders might be “too comfortable where they’re at” instead of instigating change to take better control their future, according to “Business Rockstars” and Media Entertainment Technology Alpha Leaders (MET-al) co-founder Ken Rutkowski, the keynote speaker on Thursday (Nov. 4) at REACH 2016.

They, too, can take small steps to becoming “disruptive innovators” in the financial services industry. “You need to disrupt yourself in order to move forward—and if you’re not, you are stagnating,” he said. “The question isn’t ‘if’ disruption is coming, it’s ‘when.’ If you’re forced to change, you’re behind the eight-ball, but if you’re open to change you are ahead of the game.”

Disruptive companies today are defining their “moon shot”: an analogy for what it takes to “get to the moon” in their respective industries using basic thought-out steps. Once you define your credit union’s moon shot, you’ll want to “create a moon-shot factory.”

Moon shots don’t happen overnight—and a fast-to-fail, fast-to-succeed attitude is essential. “If you hit these little moon shots, the big moon shots will be easy,” he said, listing the following goals: personal development, physical health, creating loving relationships, gathering great people together, and having a mission.

“I hear leaders say all the time, ‘I can’t disrupt myself’,” Rutkowski said. “That’s not true. You’re not too simple or too old. Many change agents over history are within the normal 80-125 IQ range. A personal disruptor doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Disruption is knowledge, courage and action, he added. “You have to have the knowledge to give you the courage to help you move forward. This will allow you to comfortably disrupt yourself. Too many of you are too comfortable with what you’re doing. That’s why someone else is doing what you should be doing.”

Carey Lohrenz on ‘Fearless Leadership’
Carey Lohrenz, former F-14 Tomcat aviator and author of “Fearless Leadership,” gave attendees invaluable tips for “getting big wins with the team you have at hand and not the team you get to pick.” The former U.S. Navy fighter pilot discussed building a team under extraordinary stress, and keeping your team on track when the unexpected happens.

“We need to realize that 80 percent is good enough,” she said. “Eighty percent of having enough information and awareness of what’s going on is good enough to move forward and act.”

Lohrenz intrigued attendees by her experience. Her “office” was a $45 million fighter jet for several years, and her aircraft squadron was 250-300 U.S. Marine and Navy personnel operating with a budget of $1 billion annually. A military carrier is the most dangerous industrial workspace on the planet. Launching from zero to 200 miles-per-hour (MPH) in two seconds and rushing into speeds of 350-400 MPH gave her immense physical and mental perspective on business and life. She was always dialed-in to three different radio frequencies giving her the same or conflicting information that she had to decipher.

“Catalysts are people who, no matter what their experience has been, can adjust and innovate and be flexible,” she said. “The quicker you can do these things, the more options you have. When you’re leading people in a complex environment, whether or not a team knows its primary purpose is the number-one determination of outward success. It allows you to say ‘no’ to things that don’t matter. It beats strategy and culture.”

Lohrenz challenged attendees to “be the catalyst, purpose, focus and discipline” to lead their credit unions. “It will allow you to move your performance needle ahead of the competition. If you lose sight of the most important work you should be doing, you lose the fight. Focus on what should be your most important work, because when you dilute your focus you dilute your power.”

She said making judgements in the best interest of the entire team is key, especially when “it’s not about your personal interest.” The fear of failure is what many leaders suffer from, and it’s what we do with failure that defines us. “Don’t be afraid to fail—it’s going to happen,” Lohrenz said. “Take the risk.”

About California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Headquartered in Ontario, California, the Leagues exists to help credit unions change people’s lives by supporting their operations, guidance, strategy and philosophy. Our trade association aids more than 260 local credit unions in California that serve 13.3 million members and manage $285 billion in assets, as well as 14 local credit unions in Nevada that serve 392,000 members and manage $7.7 billion in assets.

About ‘REACH’

Having evolved into a premier destination for credit union leaders and others, the annual REACH convention has attracted those who are looking for powerful strategies they can implement at their credit union. The convention delivers dynamic, onsite tactics and ideas to embrace change in the financial services industry and evolving economy, and is hosted by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.


Matt Wrye
Senior Communications Manager
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
1-909-851-3935 or

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