The CUInsight Experience podcast: Dave Adams – Making an impact (#14)

"There are things we have to do collaboratively that we can’t do on our own.” - Dave Adams

Welcome to episode 14 of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Hosted by Randy Smith, co-founder and publisher of Today’s guest is Dave Adams, who is the President and CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League as well as of the CU Solutions Group. He’s had a long career in the credit union system, so check out his bio to learn all about his impressive experience. We’ll talk today about not only the advocacy side of credit unions, but the business side as well.

We’ll launch right into a big topic: a major disruption that Dave currently sees in the credit union system. The relevancy of traditional depository institutions is threatened by technology, he points out. He’s particularly concerned about whether credit unions will think enough about their competitors and provide their members with mobile-first services that will ensure that credit unions will stay relevant.

Dave digs into some things that he thinks will significantly change in the foreseeable future. Collaboration and cooperation between credit unions, too, will need to change and increase, he points out. When we talk about all this change and the inevitable fear and concern that go with it, Dave says that if people aren’t comfortable with change, they shouldn’t be leaders.

We’ll also hear about Dave’s team, which he describes as being more like a football team than a basketball or tennis team. It’s a group of sub-teams rather than a singular team with one purpose, he points out. He’ll dig into a powerful piece of advice that he learned from his mother, chat about how he keeps his message fresh, and his go-to song to play on the guitar. I hope you enjoy today’s conversation as much as I did!

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

How to find Dave:
Dave Adams
President and CEO, Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group
Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

Show notes from this episode:
Dave is a favorite contributor to the CUInsight Community. Check out his body of work here.
CU Solutions Group focuses in four key areas: Technology, Marketing, Performance, Strategic Advisory
Check out all the great content on CUSG CEO Connect: Rethink, Reimagine and Reconnect.
We are big fans/followers of CUSG on Instagram too.
Make sure to swing over to the Michigan Credit Union League site too and see the great work they are doing for Michiganders (and Yoopers).
CUNA’s awareness initiative: Open your eyes to a credit union
Shout-out: To John Ainsworth and our friends at CULedger
Dave and I are both regular attendees to Money 20/20 and would love to see more credit union friends there.
Dave’s team at the Michigan Credit Union League and CU Solutions Group
Shout-out: Patrick La Pine, Todd Mason, Scott Earl
Best album of all time: Hell Freezes Over – Eagles
Favorite song to play: Fire and Rain by James Taylor
Book(s) mentioned: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, The Customer Service Revolution by John R. Dijulius III
Previous guests mentioned on the show: Sam Paxson, Tracie Kenyon
You can find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here.

In This Episode:
[00:03] – Randy welcomes listeners back to the show, and introduces today’s guest, Dave Adams.
[02:13] – Dave starts things off by chatting about the biggest disruption he currently sees in the credit union system, and his concerns about its potential impact on credit unions.
[04:15] – How is Dave’s team at CU Solutions Group helping to bridge the technological gap that he’s been talking about?
[05:34] – We hear about how CUSOs are important to the credit union system, and also unique in financial services.
[08:47] – Dave talks about a current belief held by credit unions that he thinks will significantly change in the foreseeable future.
[10:28] – What advice does Dave have for people who get freaked out by all the change in the industry?
[12:06] – Dave shares his reaction to “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
[13:18] – We hear about what inspired Dave to take the job as the President and CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League in 1997.
[15:52] – How has Dave’s inspiration changed with his time on the job?
[17:26] – We hear about how Dave would describe his leadership style, as well as whether it has changed throughout his career.
[19:06] – Dave shares his thoughts on the greatest strengths of this time, and how he built it.
[21:36] – As a leader, is there something that the people on Dave’s team have heard him say so often that they could finish his sentence?
[22:31] – Dave talks about whether there’s a common mistake that he sees young leaders make.
[23:56] – We hear about a piece of advice that Dave learned from his mother and has carried through his career.
[25:24] – What does Dave do when he runs into a wall and has a hard time getting to the other side?
[28:29] – As a leader, Dave talks about how he keeps his message fresh to his team and his clients and customers.
[30:08] – Dave talks about the passions that he has outside of credit unions, and what he does when he has a day off.
[30:57] – It’s time for the rapid-fire questions! First off, does Dave remember the first time that he got into memorable trouble?
[32:10] – Does Dave have any daily routines that he needs to do or his day will feel off?
[32:35] – What’s the best album of all time?
[34:21] – Is there a book that Dave often recommends, or that he thinks that everybody should read?
[35:57] – As Dave has gotten older, what has gotten more important to him? What about less important? What advice would he give to his younger self?
[37:01] – When Dave hears the word “success,” who is the first person who comes to mind?
[38:35] – Dave talks about whether he has any final thoughts he wants to share, or final asks for listeners.
[40:02] – How can people get in touch with Dave if they have more questions? He suggests getting in touch with him by email at

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