The CUInsight Experience podcast: Jim Nussle – Setting the table for credit unions (#1)

“Hopefully Don Henley doesn’t listen to your podcast.”  -  Jim Nussle

Welcome to episode one of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Hosted by Randy Smith, co-founder and publisher of In each episode we’ll have wide ranging conversations with thought leaders from around the credit union community. What issues are facing credit unions? What are they working on to help? What leadership lessons and life hacks have they learned along the way? What’s the greatest album of all time? These questions and more will be asked and answered.

The goal of The CUInsight Experience is to dive deeper with the people of the credit union community and find gems from their experiences that add value to all of us.

Our guest today is Jim Nussle (@Nussle). Jim is president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the largest national financial services trade association in the country advocating on behalf of almost 6,000 credit unions and 110 million credit union members.

Prior to CUNA, Jim was the president and CEO of Growth Energy, a trade association of renewable energy companies. In 2007 he was appointed by President Bush as the 36th director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Jim is a native Iowan and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991-2007. You can read more about Jim here.

What would make Jim hope Don Henley doesn’t listen to the podcast? (minute 23:17) Listen to the full episode or read the transcript below. If you’re short on time, choose your own adventure and skip to one of the highlight videos at the bottom.

Subscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher

Show notes:
Books mentioned in this episode:
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Life by Keith Richards
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins
All the information you need about GAC: CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference
The Hill article mentioned: Top Lobbyists 2018
After you listen to this episode, hop on over to the CUNA News podcast and give them a listen.
Find all episodes of The CUInsight Experience here.

Do you have additional questions for Jim? Connect with him here:
Twitter: @Nussle
LinkedIn: Jim Nussle

Randy Smith:
 Hello credit union community. My name is Randy Smith. I am one of the co-founders and the publisher of and we could not be more excited to bring you the first episode of our podcast, The CUInsight Experience. The goal of the podcast is to have wide ranging discussions with thought leaders from around the credit union community, the people we get to work with on a daily basis. Folks we’ve met over the years at credit union conferences. To really pick their brain and see if we can’t find some nuggets that we can share with you.
Randy Smith: On this first episode we were lucky enough and are grateful to have Mr Jim Nussle, the president and CEO of CUNA. He was willing to be our guinea pig over his holiday season, which we are so thankful for. You will see in the discussion that we talk about everything in the beginning from CUNA’s advocacy efforts, the big wins from 2018, the hopes for 2019 and what CUNA does for credit unions on a daily basis. We then move into GAC. Jim was extremely excited about the lineup, what the credit union community can expect from this year’s GAC and his hopes on what we’ll all take home and back to our credit unions after the event is over. From there we talk about leadership and life hacks. I think you’ll really enjoy when I asked Jim about when he butts up against a challenge, what he does to bring himself back together and think about things a little bit differently. It was a cool part of the conversation. And then in the final section, which will be a staple in every one of our podcast, we ask rapid fire questions. We’ve had a blast putting these together and kind of putting the guest on the spot where we get to know them a little bit better. The questions are rapid, the answers don’t have to be, but that’s a lot of fun so make sure you listen to all the way through. Without further ado, I will not take up anymore of your time. Let’s just get to the good stuff. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Jim Nussle.
Randy Smith: Jim, thanks for joining us today on our first ever CUInsight Experience. I wanted to jump right into questions. I will throw this out first, congratulations to you and Ryan. I saw The Hill article where you were named top lobbyists in Washington, so congratulations. That’s awesome.

Jim Nussle: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Randy Smith: And that’s where I wanted to get started since we’re in December right now, the idea that, the midterms just happened and we just saw that, I’m not even sure what you call it with the President and the leaders of the Democratic Party. When you look at what CUNA is doing, we think of advocacy a lot around GAC and it seems like around elections and when you guys have big wins, but could you share with credit union community what CUNA does and your team does on a day to day basis throughout the course of the year for credit unions?

Jim Nussle: So from my standpoint, where I sit, and what I try and both instill in my team and what I know they instill in me is that we want to be single day the champions for credit unions. In so many different ways, whether that’s maybe it’s in the halls of Congress, maybe it’s at the NCUA, maybe it’s in a media interview, maybe it’s out in the states at the state capital in a tax fight or in the marketplace as we try and face consumers and and encourage them to open their eyes to credit unions. That’s what we want to do is we want to every day, every way be the champion for credit unions and the challenges they are facing today and in the future and the opportunities that they have as well to serve a whole new generation of Americans.

Randy Smith:  Do you have any favorite wins, big wins this year? I know there’s been quite a few.

Jim Nussle: I would say. So this is the interesting thing and in fact I just had the opportunity to say this to my board. If you were looking at an association down the street and that association could report to you that in one year, in fact, how about in three years that they protected existential tax status at the national level, number one. That we did battle together with our league partners in Iowa in this instance to protect the tax status at the state level and we also got regulatory relief in a bipartisan way through a completely dysfunctional congress and the political environment in Washington. That would be enough for an association to have as part of their plan for three or five years. The fact that we as a system, CUNA, leagues, credit unions, professionals all working together, system partners as well. CUNA Mutual has been instrumental in this partnership, that we were able to do that in just one year is phenomenal and that’s not even all we did. You take on some of the fights we did in the courts over data breaches and overprotecting the expanse of the membership of the field of membership. So we were doing so many other things, but just those three alone are kind of for any association probably enough to do in three years.

Randy Smith: Yeah. Like you said, the big wins. Right. So, but I was thinking people are so, it seems like, whether in Washington or on main street, just very divided like the line in the sand, the sides. So that idea of you represent your constituents are credit unions and that means working with both sides of the aisle to get the agenda passed. How do you as the leader of CUNA and the credit union system in Washington, how do you keep your constituents, credit union, motivated for the greater credit union good. When that might mean supporting, financially even through the packs, or working with people that are on the opposite side of the aisle and where personally they may want nothing to do with it. To me it seems like just the challenge, right, you have to deal with on a daily basis?

Jim Nussle: It can be. But I think that the challenge is self motivating, meaning that I think credit unions have seen the challenges with overregulation, the war for talent in the marketplace, the need to pure network, the compliance challenges. I think that’s enough motivation right there for them to be engaged. And so I have maybe the easiest job of all in motivating. I think they’re self motivated and I walked into this association knowing, having been on the receiving end of that motivation and advocacy and so, you know, the first chance I had it was just a matter of how do you harness that and do the best you could to nurture that. But I think the invite, you’re right, I mean, it’s a very tribal environment politically now and I, I, uh, it’s frustrating for someone who came from public service and saw the good in public service and how even in sometimes partisan ways, sometimes bipartisan ways, you could accomplish things. Now no one’s accomplishing anything or it’s very difficult to accomplish much at all and I think that’s when it becomes difficult to motivate because people wonder whether what they’re doing makes a difference and I can report to you that after the year we just had, as I said, you know, taking on the banks at the national level, at the state level and then passing regulatory relief. Probably the biggest bill we’ve ever passed, certainly since 1151, I would say is a lot of motivation to fire up the advocacy army to go into the next battle.

Randy Smith: That’s coming up with GAC which we will touch on next. I mean getting everybody together. Just stick with that a little bit. Do you think it’s going to be more difficult over the next few years? With that environment or you know, fresh off the wins over the past year. Is that like momentum that can continue?

Jim Nussle: Well, it’s interesting. What I’ve always been impressed with Randy in credit unions we’re bipartisan by nature. We have, we have champions on both sides. I was amazed the first time I sat down with our PAC committee and went through that, that very first election year that I was here and truly magically it didn’t, not because we were deliberate about it, we came out almost exactly even to the dollar of Republicans that were supported in Democrats that were supported because, not because we were trying to, but because we have that much bipartisan support. So even from this last election, even though there was upheaval, even though there is change of leadership in the House and changes in the, in the Senate as well, I think credit unions not only have a seat at the table as a result of the work that we’ve done, I actually believe we help set the table because of the work that we did in each state, each district, every Senate race that we were involved with. I think we involved in 388 races and they weren’t just to support our champions. So I’ll give you an example. My former district, we had a Republican, so I was a Republican. So this is my successors, a Republican that we went after because he did not support credit unions, so we supported, even though he was an incumbent, we supported his Democratic challenger, a young legislator, a young woman, legislator from Iowa, and we beat him and as a result of eating that incumbent, I think we also send a signal. That we’re going to support our friends, but if you, if you’re going to cross us, we’re going to come after you too and I think I will just say from my own experience that supported the good motivation, every once in a while, fear is not a bad motivation to throw into the mix.

Randy Smith: That’s, that’s an interesting story for me. The idea that it was your old district and

Jim Nussle: That was my old district and most people back home probably are a little disappointed in me that I want after a Republican, but you know, that’s what you do because I’m partisan for credit unions. I don’t have to be party partisan, but I’m partisan for credit unions. That’s for sure.

Randy Smith: Not only in the past couple of years since you’ve been with CUNA, but even beforehand, you mentioned it a little bit earlier. How is Washington changed since you first showed up there?

Jim Nussle: I think the media, social media and the media in general and I, and that’s not meant to blame the media. I think that’s overblown and overplayed, but the difference today is that, you know, you can pick your channel. If you don’t like the message on one channel, you can pick a channel that you agree with and not necessarily here an opposite side or a different side or a different perspective, that’s different from. And then it’s all the time, twenty four seven, and then you add in social, which can be very mean, very, uh, negative. I mean, extremely. In some instances you add that into the mix. It makes it. And I don’t want to just blame the media because the politicians have responsibility as I did. I don’t come into this with clean hands as though I never was partisan, but, but we also I think knew that there was a moment in time, because I was the budget chairman in the House of Representatives, and then I was in the White House as budget director. There was no way to pass a budget, and I passed six of them. There was no way to pass one unless you were working with everybody. That’s probably the toughest thing to pass. And to even have any chance of doing that in the House of Representatives in particular, you pretty much had to work all, all sides of the equation.

Jim Nussle: One thing I’d add though too, so this most recent, what President Trump was referring to as the, as the Schumer and Pelosi, Oval Office encounter. To me, I look at that, yes, I mean there are people who are shaking their head and there it goes Washington again, it’s dysfunctional. I actually am encouraged by the fact that in the biggest, strongest, most powerful country in the world, that somebody can walk into the Oval Office. And and in a respectful way, some may disagree if it was respectful, whatever, speak truth to power and challenge the leader of free world. And you don’t. I’ll tell you what, name me another country where that’s that obvious or accessible, and I think that’s the beauty of America and our political system that whether you’re Nancy Pelosi and the next speaker of the house or you’re Jim Nussle or a credit union advocate, you can come to Washington and poke your finger in the chest of representatives and say, I want you to listen to something that’s, that’s important to the people that you represent. That’s pretty important.

Randy Smith: Has there been a change over the past few years in credit unions?

Jim Nussle: I’m certainly not the person that coined this phrase. I think actually Thomas Friedman may be the author of this phrase in his new book, Sorry for Being Late, but he called it the age of acceleration. Meaning that everything is happening faster and faster and the acceleration of change, of disruption, of innovation, of technology, of consumer demands, it’s happening faster every single day and every time you have a new entrant, the fact that I can shop from my smart phone for Christmas as an example and have it delivered within a day or two days to my front door wrapped and ready to stick under the Christmas tree makes it just as challenging when a member of a credit union walks into a branch or wants to interact with their credit union, maybe to get a small small loan or something like that. Their demand is, well, gosh, I can click through with Amazon or I can even talk to my Alexa, which is why I did that at the GAC, hey Alexa, what’s a credit union? That’s their expectation now. Well, if they can expect that from Amazon and they can expect it from anybody else, you’re darn right it’s going to change the expectation of a consumer or a member of a credit union when they walk into their financial services and it’s only accelerating. So that would be, to me, the biggest change I’ve seen and I know that, so to me, credit unions are uniquely positioned because we know our member the very best and we have the opportunity because we know them to meet them where they want us to meet them, to serve their needs, but you know, some, some need to accelerate their change within their credit union to make sure that happens.

Randy Smith: It’s so interesting what you’re talking about. On the plane yesterday I was listening to a podcast and they had the CEO of Walmart on and he was talking about, it was so interesting from a corporate level, their message where internally they like to think there’s still that company from Arkansas, you know, type of thing, but he’s like, we’re a digital company and an analytics company. But the way he was talking about like as a leadership team, they feel like they’re positioned well because they know their customers, but yet they have to change that so much as well where, you know, he’s like, what we’re doing today will be different a year from now. So across industry to speak to what you’re speaking of. It’s just a constant change. Yeah. That’s interesting.

Randy Smith: If we were to jump into the time machine, it’s a year. We’re setting down maybe in person this time next year and we’re talking about what your greatest accomplishment, what CUNA’s greatest accomplishment was of 2019, what do you hope it to be?

Jim Nussle: I would say we’re, we’re always focused on our four pillars. We’re trying to and the one hand reduced regulatory burden or make it consistent and predictable. And so that would be definitely number one. Next is data security and cybersecurity and recognizing that we’re living in this new data world and and the expectations are different. And uh, and so that would be a whole other bucket. We want to expand the powers of credit unions to be able to serve our members and members of the future in whole new ways. We blew the lid off of a member business lending this last year with the changes that we made to the point where it’s practically not an issue for many credit unions. That’s a huge opportunity, uh, but there are challenges there too. So how do we, where are the next challenges that we can create opportunities for credit unions to serve our members and their communities and last but not least are the table stakes and protecting the tax status, but also at the state level. That’s where the challenge is going to be. I think this year we may see it again in Iowa. I know we’re going to have a challenge in Wisconsin and I would also keep an eye on Kentucky and we’re together with those leagues already doing battle on behalf of the credit unions in that area, including the credit unions in that area.

Randy Smith: Let’s jump ahead to GAC, biggest event each year in credit union land, the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. What can people expect this year at GAC?

Jim Nussle: Well, you know, so first we have some, some cool keynote speakers. John Kerry is going to come and speak. Last year we had George W Bush and he was so engaging. What a fun experience that was for me even, I mean I worked for him, but that doesn’t, it just was fun. And I hope we have a similar experience with John Kerry. I mean last year when George W Bush, there were a few maybe Democrats who thought, Eh, I’m not sure I really want to see that. And they loved it. This year I’ve had a few Republicans say, well, I’m not sure about, trust me, you’re going to love this. These people, they’re human beings. They have some great experience. They’re real people. Uh, they want to share those experiences with us and I think you will be both entertained, but also I think enlightened by that. And then Malcolm Gladwell we’ve got. So we’ve got a bunch of, of great folks who can give us some perspective about the challenges that lay ahead in advocacy but also in other areas. And we’re going to have more great news about the rollout of the, of the new awareness effort of open your eyes. We want to open as many eyes next year, hundreds of millions of people to open their eyes to credit unions that have maybe maybe open their eyes before but didn’t consider us. We want them to consider credit unions in the future so we can expand our market.

Randy Smith: I had that written down to ask you about having your former bosses there last year, if that was a, that had to be quite the experience, right? Just to have that conversation on stage. And I remember as people were leaving it, no matter what their political affiliation was, they just really enjoyed that. Like people I think were even surprised by just how good humor it was and everything like that. And my guess is that was part of it was his relationship with you. So that’d be a lot of fun.

Jim Nussle: He threw me a curve. So when we first set it up, his people had said, you know, he’ll come out and give a little speech and then you can come on and ask them some questions. Well, the first thing he did was he didn’t want to make a speech. He said, let’s just talk. Okay. And written out. I had written just to kind of, maybe it was nervousness, I don’t know, but I had written out nine questions. I only asked one. The rest of the time. It was just, it was kind of this free form, you know, where we. Well we, oh, well now that you mentioned that, let’s go here. Well, let’s go there. I mean, so it was a, it was a great experience. And as I think people, people got to see the, the. I’m going to say this, it may sound disrespectful. I get, they got to see the guy I got to see as the President of the United States, but he’s a human being. He’s a dad, he’s a husband, he’s a son. As we as we just saw with his dad passing away. So and Gosh, we need more of that authenticity from our public people. If we did, I think we would have, I don’t know, maybe maybe that’s just a pie in the sky, but I think we’d be better off if we saw more of that.

Randy Smith: The human side, right? Absolutely. Again, this I would say is one of these scratch my own itch questions. It’s that idea of like when you’re walking up every year, you get this opportunity to kind of welcome everybody to GAC. In my mind that would kind of set the tone for what’s to come. Do you have self-talk? Do you have superstitions before you go onstage? Because my guess is that’s the largest audience for credit unions each year when you walk out there that very first time. You mentioned before President Bush came out there and how you prepared for it might have been different than if it was somebody else. Is there something you do every year when you’re getting ready to come out there?

Jim Nussle: Well that’s a great question. I mean, first of all, it will surprise you and probably anybody sitting in the audience to learn that I am. I tend to, uh, test is an introvert, so I gained my strength or my battery recharge internally, so I read a lot. I read a lot, probably 15, 20 books this last year as an example, and everything from the biography of Bruce Springsteen and, and uh, and Keith Richards to like I was saying, you know

Randy Smith:  That Keith Richards biography as a fantastic one that I read that last year

Jim Nussle: And Bruce springsteen to0, I mean they’re, they’re amazing, they’re really amazing. But any rate, so that’s where I get my energy from and I don’t necessarily get it from standing in front of 5,000 people. So I guess preparation is important for me. I tend to write out my speech, I write my own. I don’t try and rely on others, although I do bounce ideas. And then the second thing I do is I’ve involved Karen, my wife, Karen, involved in these. Every year we’ve come out together to do something to try and set the tone. Everything from the first year we did that goofy House of Cards because I was brand new and the walk up music too, by the way. People don’t maybe pay as much attention to, but my first year I did the WHO? Who are you? Because I had no one knew who I was, so walkup music I did pick every once in a while, so I do those kinds of things and then I want to try and get people to think and the whole conference is about that too, but that’s why I did the, you know, putting an Alexa on the stage and I, I’m told I’m the first one that has ever interviewed an Alexa on the stage anywhere with this Alexa and say, tell me what a credit union is? Tell me where I can find one? You know, all of these things, but it’s a way to get people to think and say, wow huh. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s interesting. I see where he’s going with that. And so it’s those kinds of. I don’t know if it, if it works, some, some probably like that. Some are saying, okay, bring on George W Bush. I’m, I’m done with this.

Randy Smith: Two things on that. I’m with you on. It surprises people about me that I am. I consider myself an introvert that plays an extrovert. But I always needed to bring it back and take some time away. This is my favorite bar room question. We were just talking about the WHO and the Bruce Springsteen book and stuff like that. Greatest rock and roll album in your opinion in front to back? You don’t skip a song. What is it?

Jim Nussle: Oh, for me it’s the, uh, it’s The Eagles and it’s the Best of the Eagles. I mean, so if you were on, uh, the, the other way they ask the question is, so if you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the one album you would want to wish you and I’m, I’m an eagles fan, from the very beginning. I love the acoustic. I play guitar and I play acoustic. If I go to anything, it’s more acoustic than electric, so I would say probably the eagles and I just saw them probably for the last time. They just played with James Taylor here in Washington and Karen and I went and had really nice seats and and Glen Fry son is now the lead for Glen passed away, but I think they’re just cashing checks now. I’m not sure they’re doing what they used to do, in Jim’s humble opinion. Hopefully Don Henley doesn’t watch your podcast.

Randy Smith: I’m sure he won’t, but you never know. He may have a big interest in credit unions, but let’s see, one last thing about GAC. If you had to pick one thing this year that you hope the credit union community goes home with, what is it?

Jim Nussle: Well, I know they’re going to go home with advocacy. I know that that’s kind of almost table stakes. So telling our story about the credit union difference becomes kind of the table stakes. The other one that I, they go with as kind of the extra credit, the Cherry on top, is opening America’s eyes to credit unions. We have a great new effort to brand platform and first rollout campaign. It’s gaining a lot of good momentum throughout the states and with credit unions contributing to this effort. It’s going to be digital, so it’s not just broadcast on television going wherever it goes. It’s actually surgically placed digitally at the consumer’s beck and call when they’re in the moment of making decisions about a car loan, joining a credit union, making a deposit, deciding they want a mortgage, things like that. So we’ve got a really cool operation and I hope people will pay attention to that. So those are, I would say those are two easy takeaways that I hope people leave the conference with.

Randy Smith: I look forward to it every year. It’s my favorite thing to go to and then I’m also ready to leave by Wednesday or Thursday.

Jim Nussle: Get out of town, be done with you.

Randy Smith: Switching gears, this is something that I want to continue on throughout the course of the year when I talk to people, so many smart people in credit union world is kind of on that leadership side. Again, probably the scratching my own itch it’s stuff I find interesting, but just some quick questions. What was it about credit unions originally that kind of drew you to take on the role of president and CEO of CUNA?

Jim Nussle: They make dreams come true for people and their mission is so central to everything. What our folks do at the heart of finances may seem like just a financial decision, but it is the nucleolus for everything. Making dreams come true, sending kids to college, having opportunities in the future, owning your own home, owning anything, owning a car, and then being able to retire with dignity. All of those dreams and kind of basics. Credit unions get to be at the center of as their best financial partner and my gosh, the chance that we have to serve them and be their champion is a quite alluring plus I also knew from a, from an advocate like me standpoint, this was the best, if not certainly one of the best advocacy organizations in the country and to have the chance to be part of that, let alone run it and lead it is a true honor.

Randy Smith: Has that inspiration changed overall with time on the job or anything that’s surprised you?

Jim Nussle: No, in fact, I went to DE this last year in 2018, but I kind of feel like I’m now a credit union Jedi Night, you know as though that’s, you know, it’s kind of self proclaimed of course I’m trying to be really immodest about this, but no, I really feel the difference and I think the more people who understand that understand the difference between we’re a movement where we’re not just an industry, it’s different and if you understand the difference you can make in people’s lives and the way you can move them, that truly is a movement. So I would say no, it has only grown in intensity as I’ve, as I’ve had the honor to be here.

Randy Smith: If my team hears me say fail fast, fail cheap, and then do it again one more time they probably want to poke me in the eye. Do you have some line that your team, they, in every meeting, they’re like, Jim, we know, they’re finishing your sentence?

Jim Nussle: I mean I use the words, you know, growing is winning. I’ve always thought that’s true about, but I have this on my desk and it’s the same that I’ve had on my desk since I came to Washington and it says it’s a quote that is attributed to Ronald Reagan and his signature is at the bottom and it says there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit. It is so true. I don’t do anything here without a great team. Our superpowers are based on our cooperative principles. They’re cooperative superpowers give us a chance to do things and impact people like nobody else, and our willingness to do that without caring who gets the credit is a blessing. It can be a curse sometimes because we need to tell our story better and be willing to take a little bit of that credit, but it’s so important and so I’m not sure if my staff would finish that sentence, but I can tell you this has been on my desk. I look at it everyday and it’s been on my desk for, for 20 years ever since I came to uh, Washington and uh, it has, maybe I’m never this immodest, I’ve modest or I hope I am, but I also know I don’t do anything by myself. I’ve, I’ve got a great team and that’s the only way you get anything done.

Randy Smith: The next question, it’s interesting, I plan on asking, like I said, to pretty much everybody that I bring on the show, but for you I feel like there’s almost three parts of it, in the sense of how do you keep your message from a leadership standpoint to your team fresh, but also, I mean, how does your team then keep the message fresh to credit unions and then how do you keep the credit union message fresh to Washington?

Jim Nussle: So here’s another saying that, and I don’t know where I stole this from, but I, I realized I did not make this up, but there is a advice that communicators give. And again, I’m not sure where I got this, that the only way to communicate or the only way for your, for your message to sink in is if you say it or communicate it seven times, seven ways. People don’t always hear it the first time you say it, you need to say it just a little different the next time and maybe by the fourth time it first hit them, but it will take almost seven times before it completely sinks in. And you’ve got it. That’s a long way of saying that I think what we should realize is that we need to. Communication is a constant. It’s not a one and done. It’s not a drop the mic effort ever. And even if you change it up a little bit every single time, I think it’s important to repeat messages. Stay consistent with those principles and messages if you want it to sink in and if you want it to have any impact.

Randy Smith: So is there anything that, like when you’re facing a challenge, you and your team are working on something that you do to kind of keep moving that forward when you’re kind of hitting up against the wall?

Jim Nussle: Yeah, I wouldn’t do it in front of my team, but I literally my release both for stress and maybe to help me think as to play guitar. It’s a right brain left brain kind of thing where I use a different part of the brain and it helps. I think. So for me it’s yeah, it’s music. Stepping away and being able to think about it while you’re doing something else will often help me deal with those kinds of challenges.

Randy Smith: Last question on the leadership, I saw recently that you and Karen endowed a scholarship at your Alma Mater, so congratulations on that. That’s awesome. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and what motivated you at this point of life to that that was important to the two of you?

Jim Nussle: Giving back is I think for all of us important. You know, when you first get a chance to do that in your life, I don’t care how big or small it is, you realize the joy that, that, especially if, if it isn’t necessarily even attributed to you, so we don’t have contact with the scholars. We want the school to make that decision. We want them to decide, uh, who is a, who has excelled but the real reason for me at every step along the way in my journey of my career and my learning path, there was always somebody there. Sometimes I knew them. Sometimes I didn’t know him altogether well, but they gave me a shove. They gave me a push. Maybe it was a hand up. Um, gave me some encouragement. Some of them, I mean my mentor that, that, uh, that I would say is my mentor, that I can trace every step of my career path back to a conversation I had in college. I still keep in touch with. And there are people along the way like that who helped me either encouragement, financially, whatever. And so now it’s my turn and I think we all have that responsibility. If for no other reason, just to keep that chain going to, you know, to give back a little so it’s a modest start. Hopefully we can build it over time and hopefully someday someone will be sitting in this chair that can say maybe not Jim did it, but somebody helped them. And the way I’m able to say that that’s what I think both of us are trying to do.

Randy Smith: Well congratulations again. So the last chunk, just a few rapid fire questions and I’m going to skip down to actually one that I thought I was going to end with, but I think it ties into the scholarship, as you’ve gotten older, are there things that have become more important to you and maybe some things but you focused on earlier in life that just become less important?

Jim Nussle: That’s a great question. I mean certainly time, time is more important to me maybe than money and I mean I wish, so I, I probably always wanted to be a rock and roll guitar player and I finally have discovered that Youtube is the best teacher in the world for that. So spending time with music for me is it’s become much more important probably than than ever before.

Randy Smith: Next one, if you hear the word successful, who’s the first person that comes to mind?

Jim Nussle: The first person. Wow. Outside of my family and my parents. We just celebrated the 70th birthday of the minister in the church that I grew up in. Seventieth birthday. Still a minister in the church where I grew up. I met him when I was 14 years old and he’s been like a brother and certainly a mentor in addition to this, this career mentor and boy is he successful and he just. He loves life. He loves his family and he’s a success.

Randy Smith: That is awesome. I love it. Last two, real quick. Every morning I started doing this a couple of years ago. First thing I do when I sit down and kind of dump everything out of my head onto a journal, I should be sponsored by Moleskin. I have them all over the house. If I don’t do it any given day, my day kind of feels off like there’s too much jumble I guess going on. Do you have any rituals, any things you do daily?

Jim Nussle: I never have. I do not have any unopened emails in my inbox. The end of the day everyone is open. It may be flagged to read again or to do something with or whatever, but every, every email is open when I go to bed.

Randy Smith: No popups and the phone. With you on that one. The last one and it was something you mentioned earlier, so I was glad I had this on here. Like you. I’m a reader. I laughed because at our house we have a stack of books that’s probably over knee high that we just keep hearing other people telling us about and you’re like, which one am I going to read next? We just keep buying them. But you mentioned you read 15 books last, probably around 15 books last year. Is there a book over your life or recently that you gifted to other people or that you recommend and just think everybody should read?

Jim Nussle: Well, the seven habits of highly successful people, maybe I don’t practice always what I would preach or what certainly Stephen Covey preached. I actually got to meet Stephen Covey and got to visit with him about his book when I was in Congress, so that would be one I would certainly gift. The other one that comes to mind, I’m forgetting the exact title, but it’s 90 days for Success and it’s a way to transition as a leader into a new operation. Those are two that I have gifted people because I think they’re just outstanding ways to think, to organize your thoughts. Then you can go anywhere you can, you can use those principles to run a car company or you can run a credit union association, probably run a credit union or just organize your, your, you know, your home life. Uh, so those are probably the two that immediately come to mind. There’s probably better ones, but those are the two that come to mind.

Randy Smith: I love it. I love it. If people have more questions of you, is @nussle on twitter the best way to get ahold of him?

Jim Nussle: That’s fine. Or were you can, you can certainly give them my email address,

Randy Smith: We will have that in there too then. And then finally, thank you very much for taking the time. Being the first. Do you have any final thoughts, any asks of the people that are listening before we sign off?

Jim Nussle: I would say probably, and I, I wish that John F. Kennedy hadn’t said this because as soon as you say something like, they say, well, I know that you’re not Kennedy and I’m not, but he said, you know, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. And the same is really true for associations is that, you know, if somebody thinks that you hired Jim Nussle or Ryan Donovan or whoever it might be, and you kind of hope they go do it for us, they go, do they just go do that job so that we don’t have to. That’s not how this works. That our association is only strong, is only effective if we do it together. And part of my job is to remind you of those cooperatives superpowers that associations are what we do together and not what you hire somebody to go do for you. And that’s an important kind of first principle that I know credit unions understand, certainly if anyone does, but, uh, it’s just, I think it’s a healthy reminder.

Randy Smith: That’s awesome. Great way to wrap it up. Thank you again, Jim. I greatly appreciate it and we will see you in DC at GAC.

Jim Nussle: Sounds good. Thanks Randy. Thank you very much.

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall Smith is the co-founder of, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust. As one of the co-founders of CUInsight he looks ... Web: Details