Reality check: Playlist of optimism

When I first stepped into the role of President/CEO, I carried a playlist of optimism featuring Eric Clapton’s “If I Could Change the World” and John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” The tunes echoed my sentiment: Why wait? Let’s change it now. Little did I know my journey would take a detour, and I’d find myself humming The Rolling Stones’ reminder, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

In my two decades in this industry, I’ve sensed a shift in our collective outlook—a crisis of hope. My mission was crystal clear: make impactful changes, bring hope to the helpless, and make the world a better place. Reality, however, had a different script, hitting me like a storm – quite literally.

As I battled staffing issues, roof leaks, and unexpected turns, I found myself asking, “What did I do?” Going from roofer to ALM isn’t a journey you prepare for in a day. But amidst the chaos, I clung to my mission, supported by an exceptional staff. However, no one tells you how lonely it can be, knowing responsibility is a gift but must be taken ever so seriously, and that change, though necessary, is met with resistance.

Leading a small credit union threw unexpected roles at me, highlighting the importance of time management and setting boundaries, much like handling an unexpected roof leak. As the leader, you never know what the next day will bring, and sometimes I wish John Mayer was right about waiting.

Through the rollercoaster of emotions, I realized that changing the world starts with changing my credit union. John Mayer taught me that meaningful change takes time, meticulous planning, and collaboration – it’s no solitary endeavor.

As a person of faith, I often found myself singing Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take The Wheel” when faced with obstacles. It struck me—I was never meant to do it alone. My role is one of empowerment, equipping, and supporting the world-changers within my team. Positive change demands collective effort, and I believe my team are future world-changers.

Understanding generational issues within our team, membership, and community, I understood the importance of fostering understanding and unity. The journey may not unfold swiftly, but leading a cohort of world-changers is a privilege. Louise Herring’s words resonate: “Be ashamed to die until you have won a victory for humanity.” We strive for victories every day, knowing that working for a credit union is a privilege.

Reflecting on the evolution from a desire to make a difference to the realities of being a CEO, it’s evident that we are more than financial institutions. We are world-changers, weaving hope into every service. In the ever-evolving symphony of change, I extend a heartfelt challenge to you and your fellow world-changers: join us in the day-to-day victories for humanity. Together, we can make  a difference, and it’s absolutely worth it.

Christie Smith

Christie Smith

Christie Smith President/CEO, Acclaim Federal Credit Union Christie Smith, CCUE, brings over two decades of credit union experience to her role as President/CEO. She's a passionate advocate for ... Web: Details