The CUInsight Experience podcast: Carrie Birkhofer – Coaching through crisis (#71)

“Go slow to go smooth, because smooth is fast.” - Carrie Birkhofer

Graphic - Carrie Birkhofer - The CUInsight Experience

Thank you for tuning in to episode 71 of The CUInsight Experience podcast with your host, Randy Smith, co-founder of This episode is brought to you by our friends at PSCU. As the nation’s premier payments CUSO, PSCU proudly supports the success of more than 1,500 credit unions.

At certain points in your life, you’ve likely felt lost or unfocused. It’s in times like these that you learn a lot about yourself, according to Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union and this week’s guest on the podcast. Throughout the episode, Carrie and I explore her experience as a credit union leader and the co-founder of an executive coaching firm, and discuss some of the biggest things she’s learned about leadership and building culture from her team, past mentors, and other credit unions, as well as her own life and struggles. 

In the first part of the episode, Carrie and I really dig into some of the lessons she and her team have learned about humility and decision making during the COVID-19 crisis. She also shares with us some of the tremendous opportunities that she believes credit unions have to lead and grow right now and her hopes for the future following COVID-19. 

Additionally, Carrie tells us about a unique executive coaching opportunity on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island. We also explore her path to becoming the CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union, some common myths about being a leader, the excitement of being a young leader, and more in the leadership and life hacks’ portion of the show. 

Finally, we finish up with some rapid-fire questions that let us dig a little deeper into who Carrie is, like her favorite albums of all time, the books she thinks everyone should read, and who she thinks about when she hears the word success. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview, so hit play and enjoy.

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

Books mentioned on The CUInsight Experience podcast: Book List 

How to find Carrie:
Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union
LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Show notes from this episode:
A big shout-out to our friends at PSCU, an amazing sponsor of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Thank you! 
Check out all the great work Carrie and her team at Bay Federal Credit Union are doing for their members here.
Carrie is the co-founder of Syntrina Leadership too.
Shout-out: Jill Nowacki
Learn more about opportunities on Necker Island here
Shout-out: Richard Branson 
Shout-out: Gene O’Rourke 
Shout-out: Mike Sacher 
Shout-out: John Spence
Shout-out: Carrie’s Dad
Shout-out: Chuck Fagan 
Album mentioned: Tapestry by Carol King
Album mentioned: Greatest Hits by Cat Stevens
Album mentioned: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie
Album mentioned: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Album mentioned: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Book mentioned: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis
Book mentioned: Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson
Shout-out: Carrie’s three children
Learn more about the National Credit Union Foundation’s DE program here
Previous guests mentioned in this episode: Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18, 37 & 64), John Spence, Chuck Fagan  
You can find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here

In This Episode:
[02:14] – Carrie, welcome to the show!
[02:45] – Carrie shares how the executive coaching experience had helped her lead her team.
[04:53] – How did you end up on Richard Branson’s island? What was it like?
[07:19] – Carrie speaks about how the COVID-19 crisis will affect credit unions.
[09:20] – Carrie discusses how her team is holding up under the crisis and some tips that are working well.
[12:34] – Carrie chats about having the ability to admit when she makes mistakes.
[13:33] – If you had a crystal ball a year from now, what will you be most proud to have accomplished?
[14:37] – Carrie talks about why she took the job as CEO of Bay.
[17:51] – How has the inspiration for the position changed over the years?
[18:49] – Carries speaks about what her team has heard her say over and over.
[20:25] – Carrie debunks some common myths about being a leader.
[21:37] – Was there a mistake early in your career or one you see young leaders making today?
[23:17] – Carrie shares a piece of advice her father gave her when she first became CEO.
[24:15] – Carrie speaks about the mentors she had over the years.
[25:50] – Has there been any time in your career that you felt lost, and how did you make it through?
[28:10] – Carrie chats about what a typical workday looks like and what does it take to make it a perfect day.
[29:40] – Going to the beach is what she loves to do when she has time off.
[31:14] – What were you like in high school, and the first time she got into memorable trouble?
[32:41] – Carrie wanted to be a journalist when she grew up, but ended up being an accountant.
[33:48] – Walking the beach is something she does twice every day.
[34:19] – What is the greatest album of all time?
[35:04] – What book do you think everyone should read?
[36:18] – Not worrying so much has become more important, and worrying has become less important.
[37:24] – Carrie shares that her three children come to mind when she hears the word success.
[39:14] – Do you have any final thoughts you want to share?
[40:07] – Carrie, thank you so much for being on the show!

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