The CUInsight Experience podcast: Steve Swanston – Do the next right thing (#8)

"You can’t buy time and tenure" - Steve Swanston

Welcome to episode eight of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Hosted by Randy Smith, co-founder and publisher of Our guest this week is Steve Swanston. Steve joined Velocity Solutions in 2015 as an Executive Vice President. He spent the previous 13 years at John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA) and CU People. Steve has a BS in Journalism & Marketing from Texas A&M University. Read more about Steve here.

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. In each episode we 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.

In this episode we discuss data, digitalization and deposits. Steve’s three D’s. As we always do, we wrap up this episode getting to learn more about Steve’s leadership style, life hacks and what life looks like outside Velocity Solutions.

Listen to the full episode and scroll down for the show notes and to read the full transcript. I’ve alway found Steve to be a straight shooter and enjoyed the conversation we had while at CUES Symposium in the Bahamas earlier this year. I hope you do too. Enjoy.

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How to find Steve:
Steve Swanston
Executive Vice President of Sales at Velocity Solutions
Twitter | Linkedin

Show notes from this episode:
Find out how Velocity Solutions helps credit unions here.
I’ve heard good things about the Velocity Executive Summits. Check out the 2019 offerings.
The digital lending platform Steve mentioned: Akouba
The conference Steve and I were attending where we recorded this episode: CUES Symposium (come hang out with the two of us in Hawaii next year)
The new piece of podcasting equipment I forgot to push record on: Zoom H6 Handy Recorder
Best album of all-time: U2 – Joshua Tree
Book mentioned: Pat Riley – The Winner Within
Books mentioned: Jim Collins – Built to Last and Good to Great
Book Steve had just read on the plane: David Goggins – Can’t Hurt Me
Steve’s guilty pleasure books: Danielle Steel… I mean John Grisham

Find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here.

Full episode transcript:
Randy Smith: Hello boys and girls of credit union land and welcome to The CUInsight Experience podcast. My name is Randy Smith. I am one of the co-founders and the publisher of it is my job on the show to have conversations with the best and the brightest of the credit union community. To pick their brains and hopefully find a few nuggets we can all learn from. My guest today is Mr. Steve Swanston. Steve is an executive vice president with Velocity Solutions. I have known Steve for quite some time. Steve is a guy with a diverse background in credit unions, someone that I’ve leaned on when making decisions at CUInsight so I was looking forward to the conversation. I will tell you this, there’s a funny story that goes along with this show. I happened to get a new piece of equipment for podcasting, so I called Steve up and aked if would you like to be on the podcast a while we were both at CUES Symposium, he agreed. We sat down, we started recording or so we thought. Seven minutes later I realized that I hadn’t pushed the record button. Steve rolled with it. I greatly appreciate his humor in the matter and we hit record and we started over. After that we had a great conversation. We talked about data, digitalization, and deposits. As Steve put it, the three D’s. We then moved on to the leadership and life hacts portion of the show, which is always a lot of fun, and then wrapped it up with the rapid fire questions. I had a lot of fun with this conversation. I hope you do too. So without further ado, I give you Mr. Steve Swanston. Enjoy.
Randy Smith: Steve, thanks for being on the show.

Steve Swanston: You bet.

Randy Smith: I was looking forward to this conversation. You and I have known each other for quite some time. Conversations we’ve had on the past from a leadership perspective, I’ve always respected you and even leaned on you when we were doing some hiring. I think we’re going to have a great time and that I was looking forward to it. I want to jump right into the questions. The first is how are our data and digitalization transforming credit unions and banking in general?

Steve Swanston: It’s a big buzz the, the two words together and I think we’ll talk more about it today. We look at both of them being absolute key for, especially for credit unions, but, but banking in general as part of the go forward strategy. And if you think back to when the iPhone, let’s say first came out 10 years ago, it wasn’t necessary or mandatory for everybody to jump in and buy an iPhone right out of the gate. You could have gotten by with your old flip phone, you could still make a call or two and you could still probably do some rudimentary texting. Three years after the iPhone if you didn’t have some sort of smart device, you were starting to be at a disadvantage. And so I look at digitization and, and really the use of data in that same light that when it came on and was a buzzword two or three years ago, it was it for the forward thinkers and the progressive’s and maybe it would catch hold. Well, as we see today, it’s really not an option. As a credit union today if you don’t have digitization as part of your go forward strategy, I think you’re ultimately going to be left behind at least the ability to provide services that are relevant to today’s consumer. So it really is a key aspect of what everybody should be looking at.

Randy Smith: Let’s take a step back for the listeners here. That term that we hear over and over, big data and now digitalization. What do they mean?

Steve Swanston: Well, yeah, the word big data, and you said it in a context that led me to this is I think the word is grossly overused and it’s a buzzword and it’s, you know, the, the $20,000 word of the minute and there’s a lot of people out there that have the ability to help aggregate big data. And that’s super if you’re a large consulting firm and you can absorb huge amounts of data and then extrapolate from it what you need to do with it. Having a data lake or a data ocean or a data mountain is a good thing because more data is better than less data. But as most credit unions today, there has to be some sort of roadmap that goes with the data. First and foremost, what we would call an early warning system, a red flag that shows perhaps there’s a problem in one area of the credit union or not, the data tells us or perhaps it’s an opportunity that the data tells us exist. And then behind that there has to be action items. There has to be an actionable plan as to what happens next. What buttons or levers can we press to utilize what the data’s telling us to now either advanced our membership experience, our members experience, or deliver a new product or service in into the marketplace. So it can’t just be data for the sake of data.

Randy Smith: How does the Velocity help credit unions with all of this?

Steve Swanston: Give you an example. Onboarding really first step, right? First step in a new member relationship with a credit union and as we work with credit unions today, we see that for the most part the onboarding process really hasn’t changed in the last umpteen years. It’s a 30 60 90 day cycle that perhaps has the series of two or three letters and maybe if you’re lucky a phone call mixed in there and then it’s a little bit of a cross your fingers and hope that after 90 days we’ve onboarded that member and they become come active now with us. We can now take data and we can start looking at whether it’s historical data or previous data before the member came to our credit union or what they start doing. As soon as they opened that account with us and we can start using that data and we can queue up customized communication that’s going to be significantly more relevant for that new member. The first impression they’re going to receive is going to be significantly increased and we’re going to see the impact be that much more members on board quicker and retain longer. And so using data. That’s just one example of, of how we can do that.

Randy Smith: You and I were talking just in the past couple of days, but you know the stat, I don’t recall it exactly, it was so interesting. Talking about debit cards top of wallet, slim percentage of the credit union, the members are in that space. On a previous show John Pembroke brought it up, he was just talking about when banks are fintechs or anybody go after the member, that’s the ones who are going after. So to me that seems like it might play into that onboarding process.

Steve Swanston: So it’s like any industry, any sales professional, I look at credit unions, it’s a sales profession. You’re constantly trying to attract new members to what you’re offering them. And the one thing you can rest assure on is that your best customers, members, my best customers or somebody else’s number one target. And that holds true across the board. And so not only do we have to onboard those guys and treat them well, but then we look at the white space that we have. And by white space, I mean the members that we have that our members have DDA accounts, have checking account status that aren’t transactionally active with us. We failed somewhere at that onboarding piece that we spoke about and they, for all practical purposes are using somebody else down the street. Is there PFI if we just use the data and the digital strategies and we can go out and communicate to those members, it’s so much easier to onboard our existing membership than it is to go out and bring in new people off the street. So you know as a takeaway to that, if you will, certainly make sure you’re looking within because that may be a much cheaper strategy than trying to constantly go out and pull people in from outside.

Randy Smith: How is velocity working to help increase deposits?

Steve Swanston: Sure. So the deposit side, there’s multiple aspects of deposits in, and we’re hearing a lot more buzz about deposits today then the last 10 years or so where interest rates are essentially at zero. Nobody really got excited about low cost deposits because the yield, the spread was, was insignificant. As we’ve seen a tick up in those deposits, not only is there a strategy to pull those in, but it’s recognizing that where those deposits come from, there comes other services, the loans, etc. So Velocity has few services. One of which we touched on is the onboarding aspect of it, both for new customers and existing customers. If you onboard somebody correctly, you organically become their PFI top of wallet, which means that’s where the transactions go through in order to support the transactions to the deposits have to follow. I can’t use you as my number one transactional vehicle without putting the deposits. And so that brings in the deposits. From a, from a lending standpoint, uh, we actually just acquired a digital lending platform. Akouba is the name of it and it manages both consumer and a small business lending. And what that’s designed do is automate the lending process, the lending application and the underwriting for those smaller dollar loans depending on a credit unions tolerance for that so they don’t have to have that individual touching. And so those loans can now be automated through the system. And the people in charge of going out and getting new loans can focus on different parts of the portfolio. So we’re able to capture more loans for more people without necessarily having to deploy the resources.

Randy Smith: That seems super smart. I mean there’s a whole generation of people who don’t necessarily want the personal touch. They expect to be able to do it all in a digital process.

Steve Swanston: Yeah. Most people from a lending standpoint, especially if you get it in the small business side, they’re not coming into a branch between the hours of eight and five Monday through Friday because they are at work running their small business. They want to be able to apply for that small loan on their tablet, on their iPhone, in the evening, on their commute or train whatever they’re doing and go through that process that way. So again, back to digitalization, credit union has to be able to deliver the services to their members, how the member demands to use them,

Randy Smith: How, when and where. Right?

Steve Swanston: Right, exactly.

Randy Smith: We’re in a world where technology is changing so rapidly. How does Velocity keep up with that pace of change?

Steve Swanston: I share this with many people I speak to and I kind of wear it as a badge of honor. I’ve been a Velocity now for years and and in my 30 year career I can truly say that that Velocity has the largest collection of intelligence, human capital intelligence I’ve ever been a part of, which is, which is a great sandbox to be in. And so constantly, we’re deploying that in the four years we’ve never set static on any of our existing products or new products. We have quarterly corporate executive level meetings where we’re mapping out both strategy, product roadmaps, technological development, so our existing products are always staying up to times, whether it be from a compliance standpoint or a user interface standpoint. But as we look to go to market with new products, there are also relevant with what’s happening today and not what was happening and even 12 months ago.

Randy Smith: That’s crazy. It’s probably a few weeks back now, I was listening to a podcast and they had the CEO of Walmart on there and he was talking to that they’re not a brick and mortar retail anymore. They’re a digital company and what they’re doing today, 12 months from now, they won’t be doing, you know, that’s just how fast that pace of change. So That’s interesting. Good to have a lot of smart people. Right?

Steve Swanston: Always good. Not to be the smartest guy in the room.

Randy Smith: That’s exactly right. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing credit unions in 2019?

Steve Swanston: To sum it up in a word I think is relevance. Right. And it’s maintaining relevance with the products that they’re delivering. It’s maintaining relevance to recognizing who their membership is today and who it’s going to be in the future. It’s the executive management at credit as well as the board of directors, empowering executive management to stay relevant. Which means, and then you alluded to it with your Walmart example, which means you’ve got to be evolving and you’ve gotta be changing in order to continue to be relevant.

Randy Smith: Absolutely. And I’d like to switch gears a little bit here, but I think it was last year, the year before he started doing your executive summits. I know just from our conversations, you’ve ratcheted that up even more this year. Is that one of the ways that you guys are delivering that to credit unions and keeping them up to date? You talked about as a company overall, that 12 month change cycle, all of that to the executive summits fit into that also? Or could you tell me more about it?

Steve Swanston: Yeah, absolutely. They spun up out of kind of what was a one time a year event over the last several years ago where we would bring in for a multi day session. We would bring in both prospects and clients and we would kind of do think tank idea shops and and provide to them content that we felt was relevant, whether it be a around the solutions we deliver compliance, industry updates. In order to be able to deliver that message to more people we realized instead of a one time multi day event, let’s do these is executive summits one day events and we’ll hold them around the country. Well over the last three years, those have grown from four events to six events too. In 2019 is now eight events. That we’re going to be doing and we typically get 30 to 40 people at each one of these events to one day deal, a day and a half if you include the previous day and a nice networking dinner. But it’s a one day deal and yes, from a relevant standpoint, we’re delivering content that changes even from event to event. Right. So an event beginning of the year versus event, three months later, the content is going to change it a little bit based on what’s happened in the industry based on what’s happening from a regulatory environment based on our own product developments and our product advancements. And so we then share that to the attendees at those events and almost challenged them to go away and think about how they’re going to incorporate some of that into their own, their own credit union ecosystem.

Randy Smith: We’ll link to that below in the show notes. So if people are interested to find out more because I have a great web page of that explains it and then get more information from you and your people. What current beliefs that credit unions hold do think will change over the next? I mean really the foreseeable future even how fast things are changing?

Steve Swanston: It’s a good question. I’ve been in the space 17 plus years now and you know, coming into it 17 years ago, credit unions where we’re kind of emerging from really that seg based relationship where savings and lending relationship, to what today really has become the opportunity to, to be that single source provider of financial services to a member. And so you asked what beliefs change. I think there’s still some out there that are on top of that wall from this is how we’ve always done it mentality to where there is that opportunity, but also the expectation from the market place, right? To me, marketplace demands what you should be offering, not vice versa. And to me it’s the marketplace is demanding and how they want to consume it and, and who they want to consume it through. And so I think the credit unions have to evolve in order to continue, to be able to offer that and be relevant.

Randy Smith: I’d like to switch gears a little bit here and talk about the leadership, life hacts portion of the show. So you’ve been working at credit union for 17 years. What was the inspiration that brought you into the credit union movement?

Steve Swanston: Well, to be honest, initially it was a previous career of, of 10 or 11 years in a different industry. This allowed me to advance my career and, and take a step up as far as executive sales management, understanding it was servicing credit unions and banks, but quickly realized that, you know, the credit union space, and I call it the sandbox and, and I, and I laugh and I say yes if it’s a hard sandbox to get into, but it’s a great sandbox to play in when she get in there. And I learned that, you know, the mission was real. It’s not just buzz words on a wall somewhere, the what they’re trying to do across the board, people serving people. It’s a true mission. And so that really drew me in and just the quality of the people involved in the space. And you know, without it sounding cliche, it is a, it is a industry. It is a niche full of genuinely good people.

Randy Smith: I found the same thing when I got into it 10 12 years ago. Now has that inspiration change with time on the job?

Steve Swanston: One of the things that we talk a lot about at velocity within our sales team is, is time and tenure and a, yeah, it was kind of a buzz word that we use and then as time and tenure and it’s no matter what resources or tools that you have at your disposal, you can’t buy time and tenure. And so now 17 years into it, I feel like from a time standpoint, certainly have laid the foundation to, to build the relationships that are necessary both personally and professionally within the space. And the tenure aspect of it has allowed me to, you know, at least from my own, from my own glasses, become expert in the topics that, that we offer it and truly provide value. And so now my inspiration is to utilize the relationships that have been built and provide as much value as I possibly can back into this space.

Randy Smith: Let me ask you this, and you kind of touched on it, but how have credit unions changed since you started 17 years ago?

Steve Swanston: Well, unfortunately it was a lot less of them. So there is a big change. Yeah, we touched on a little bit. I think it’s recognizing both the opportunity and the responsibility to serve. It’s recognizing that the members don’t wake up every day thinking about their credit union. Like we would all like to think that that was Yo, you get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, think about my credit union. It’s not how, it’s not how it works. And I think the credit unions have recognize that. So they need to continue down that paradigm. And they need to continue executing with a high degree and utilizing, again, not just our our, but all of the other service providers out there that can give them the leg up in the marketplace strategically.

Randy Smith: This just from your answer, popped into my head. I’ve said for years, I think technology can be the great equalizer for credit unions and technology has changed so much. Whether it’s in the fintech space where it seemed like fintechs we’re trying to go direct to consumer and now they’re like, wait, there’s groups that have lots of members, you know, I mean, so they’d rather work together and I even think back, I know when obviously when you got in the space, everything was built almost individually for the credit union. Is that an area not only that you’re working in but that you see happening more and more and more, pooling together of those different service providers to offer everything the Bank of America or somebody else can offer?

Steve Swanston: The first time point you made is spot on with the fintech providers and so you know the competitor to the credit union is not the other credit union across the street or Bank of America on the other corner. While those are still, granted, those are competitors and the peer group analysis means less now, at least to me, as we look at peer group analysis, it’s nice to compare your numbers and benchmark, but it’s the fintech and it’s the nontraditional fintech providers that have deep pockets and, and wide array of technology. The Amazons of the world, right as right as the favorite one to go to, uh, Paypal’s, et Cetera, thatare certainly come looking for all accounts. I, they don’t care where they come from and they’re not creating new accounts every year. Their takeaway accounts, they’re taking them from somewhere. So yes, I’ve seen it myself. It’s always been cooperative, I’ve found between providers in the space and certainly non-direct competitive providers. But even over the last five years, we’ve seen it at our own far more with the strategic alliances that we’ve made. Just had lunch today with another group that, you know, certainly we have the opportunity to assist each other and ultimately provide service to the credit unions because we can go in and now provide a much bigger scope of overall service while working together cooperatively. If it’s not disparate, they’re not a whole bunch of disparate systems or solutions you have to buy and put in place, which is, which has beneficial.

Randy Smith: That is for the credit unions. Like I said, the very beginning, we’ve known each other for quite some time. How would you describe your leadership style?

Steve Swanston: I don’t know if this is an official leadership style, but I call it team based leadership. Yeah. You’ve got servant based leadership leadership from the bottom and I’ve been asked this question before. I call it team based leadership. I’ve always been proponent that titles are meaningless and I really only necessary to plug into an org chart somewhere. That you know as you build a team and in order to be successful you have to have a fully functioning team. And in order to to do that, each member of the team has to be unanimously growing in the same direction. And whether it’s the newest guy in the boat or the most senior person in the boat, you always have to be willing to jump in and help where the teams needed. And and so for me it’s, I may be the leader. Really all that means is we have different roles in order to achieve the same thing.

Randy Smith: But everybody needs to jump in and work together. It’s one team basically. So is there something that your team has heard you say so many times on the call that they literally are like, we know Steve and they can finish your sentence?

Steve Swanston: Maybe not that can be repeated on a public podcast. No, I mean I say a lot and this is perhaps you know with, with some maturity, which is another word for getting old, you know, this is a marathon, not a sprint and square pegs don’t fit through round holes. And those are things that we talk about a lot and things we try and follow as a practice.

Randy Smith: You just mentioned experience as we get older. So back in your early days, were there mistakes that you made as a leader that you see other say new leaders make over and over again?

Steve Swanston: Certainly mistakes. I made a for sure. I think probably the one that sticks out the most that is probably the easiest to rectify that I see is, is kind of the unwillingness to delegate. If you’re new into a leadership role and you have a group of people that you know you can utilize their skills and their strengths to get things done and perhaps you came from your success prior was because of what you did on your own accord. The willingness to delegate is a skillset that I think has learned often by the school of hard knocks.

Randy Smith: I agree with you so much on that. That’s been something at CUInsight where we’ve talked a lot with our team about what can you take off your plate. It’s okay to take stuff off your plate, push that down. And I know it was tough for me in the beginning when we started CUInsight. I’m like, I want to do it all. So that’s a great one. I absolutely love that. Has there been a piece of advice or a life lesson that you received that you find yourself going back to over and over again?

Steve Swanston: One of the first guys I worked for, and I, and I still keep in touch with him today and you know we were all young, but he would drill into us kind of the mantra of always take responsibility and never lay blame and know when you’re good but don’t tell anybody about it. And I find myself going back to that and it. It’s timeless advice and I can hear and see him saying it to this day and it’s something that’s really has stuck with me.

Randy Smith: That is cool. I like that one. You don’t want to say things become cliche, but there’s a reason why they do sometimes. Right? Because it sticks, right? It works. I will tell you, this is one of those like scratching my own itch questions. It seems like everybody has a different way of doing it, but when you run into a problem, you hit that wall where you’re trying to work through something or maybe you’re working with your team and you guys can’t just bust through something. Is there something you do to take a different look at it?

Steve Swanston: At first try and put everything in perspective. As much as I value and cherish what I get to do every day and what we get to offer, the world will not end if this problem is not resolved. And so I do, I truly, I try and do that. I try to take a step back, perhaps let a little time pass and, and let some, if there’s emotions involved, let some of the emotions subside and really kind of look at it from a common sense perspective. And one of the things I always ask myself is, what is the next right thing to do? And, and I truly believe if you follow that path in the long run, things will fall in your favor because there’s no shortcuts. And if you do the next right thing every time, it will typically end up in, in the good, outcome.

Randy Smith: Was that learned through experience or did you always have that?

Steve Swanston: Yeah, no, that’s learned from getting your teeth kicked in a hundred times. Uh, and uh, you know, realizing that, you know, trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is, was Einstein’s theories theory of, of insanity. So no, definitely a learned lesson. Definitely learned lesson.

Randy Smith: Sounds like it. Right? For all of us. We hope we get a little bit smarter with age. If you have a free day, nothing to do with work, what is Steve doing?

Steve Swanston: Well people have asked me that quite a bit in the last couple of years and my standard response is I’m an Uber driver for my kids.

Randy Smith: You said your daughter just got her license.

Steve Swanston: My daughter just got her driver’s license. So that’s one less Uber route that I’ll need to, I’ll need to take. I truly have tried to enjoy the last several years with two teenage kids kind of viewing life through their eyes and, enjoy a nat again, cliche as it is. I mean it goes by fast and people tell you that and there’s no doubt that that is the truth. So I’ve been trying to enjoy that and perhaps, you know, one day in the near future I’ll start playing golf again or, or fishing or something along those lines.

Randy Smith: Hopefully if your daughter driving it’ll get a little bit more time. Keep enjoying her because she’ll be in college before too long.

Steve Swanston: So the insanity will continue.

Randy Smith: Absolutely. Another one of these scratching my own itch questions, as a leader, how do you, not only to your team but keep the Velocity message fresh to credit unions?

Steve Swanston: Yeah, both internally and externally to the credit unions, it’s constantly refreshing our message. And again, that goes back to some of the things we had discussed with. We have both a client advisory board as well as our own board of directors. So we look for guidance from our client advisory board and we look for empowerment from our own board of directors, which both give unconditionally. It’s, it’s fantastic to work in that environment. But using that to constantly look at product evolution, how we make either small tweaks to delivery or service as well as then futurecast what the market is demanding and how we evolve the products from there. Behind that we use, you know, our marketing group does a great job of constantly providing fresh messaging around what we’re looking to do. And then we also touched on the executive summits, those truly are kind of our goto standard in and really quite honestly our one of our big market differentiators as to how we deliver our message to the credit union space.

Randy Smith: You said those are for both clients and perspective clients?

Steve Swanston: Yeah, we, I mean we bring together on purpose and potentially to our own detriment if we didn’t service our clients very well. We will bring in any client that wants to come for whatever reason they want to come as well as a room full of prospects and we let them just talk, we don’t, we don’t stage the conversations, we don’t cue up the conversations. And we find that through those natural conversations that happen, the prospects get so much more out of that and speaking with our existing clients and they could for any PowerPoint or a sales pitch from us.

Randy Smith: A referral from somebody’s already using it, it’s always better. Final part. I want to respect your time. We’re sitting here, like I said in The Bahamas and the sun is actually out now. It was raining earlier this morning. So finish up with these rapid fire questions. Questions are rapid. Your answers do not have to. Do you have any daily routine, something that you do that if you don’t do it, your day just feels a little bit off?

Steve Swanston: Well, first off, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us sitting in The Bahamas.

Randy Smith: No, not at all.

Steve Swanston: So we will, we will not play that empathy card. I got a text from one of my guys, where he was shoveling about four feet of snow and a and it read, I wish you were here. So we’re lucky to be where we are today. There’s a few things that I do and it may sound a little archaic. I still use a hand written to do list and it’s actually once that I purchased from, from an online group that allows me to organize the to do’s tasks, rank them, but I keep it handwritten on my desk and at the end of each day I like to both go through and physically make sure I have scratched off all of the tasks and items that I needed to accomplish for today and then go through and make sure I have notated everything that needs to happen both tomorrow and through the rest of the week or the rest of the month. That way when I flipped the lid on my computer, I can mentally turn it off knowing that there’s not anything that, that I’ve forgotten.

Randy Smith: So do you divide that by ones that you have to get done that day? Longer term ones, things like that or do you have one long list?

Steve Swanston: So it’s all in one long list, but there’s actually a column in there that lets me allow to, to put my own terminology in there and I kinda break it out of internal administrative, all of which have due dates. And then I have revenue facing tasks which usually go to the top of the list because that’s keeps the lights on. And then I have longer term project base that you know, I may be participating in one internal project team or another project team and it’s, you know, the workload that I carry for those teams. So I do try and segment the list but it’s just as digital is everything is and we keep track of calendaring. Still a great way for me to mentally stay on top of things.

Randy Smith: I have my iPad here that I’m reading off of, but my to do list is a journal every day. It’s the, a moleskine journal. If anybody knows anybody who works for them, they should send me free ones, it’s product placement. The random question, but the one that’s a lot of fun. What’s the best album front to back of all time, the one you can’t skip a song?

Steve Swanston: Oh boy. Um, today, 2019. I’m certainly much more of a country fan, but to go back and answer your initial question, if I was to pick one album and albums of kind of unfortunately become a thing of the past that had the most impact on me kind of growing up would have to be u U2 Joshua Tree.

Randy Smith: It’s a fantastic album, that’s for sure.

Steve Swanston: I could probably list the songs in order today.

Randy Smith: I remember that one, that’s for sure. I’m a reader at our house. We have a stack of books that we’re trying to work our way through that people have recommended. Amazon makes it too easy to buy. Right? So is there a book over your life that you’ve gifted to other people or one that you’ve just recommend over and over and over again?

Steve Swanston: Again, kind of maybe dating myself a little bit and I read quite a bit, random, all, all sorts of books. But from a business standpoint, one of the early on books and the same guy that that kinda stuck that the terminology in May about you always take responsibility, never lay blame, had us all read the Pat Riley book called The Winner Within.

Randy Smith: They had us read that in college.

Steve Swanston: Yep. And it was about the Los Angeles Lakers dominance in the 1980s and how that was a team effort and how everybody on the team had their specialty and how they, I think they went through and broke out how they could take any one of those team people away and it would not have worked as well because everybody was contributing. And that’s really what got me started with kind of that team based leadership mentality. And so that was an early one. I’m not even sure it’s in print anymore. And then of course you’ve got a, I’ve always been associated with, with rapidly growing organizations and so I have done a lot of work around the Jim Collins Built to Last and Good to Great. And so those are always great standbys.

Randy Smith: Anything on the non business side. Do you have a favorite book?

Steve Swanston: Yeah, the book I just read, I don’t know, I’m trying to recall the title. It was um, uh, I think it’s number two on the New York Times bestseller list by a Navy seal by the name of Goggins and it says you can’t break me or can’t take me. I just finished reading it on the plane over here. It’s a little bit business related. It’s about the determination and overcoming obstacles. That was a fantastic rate if people are interested in that. And then my, uh, perhaps my secret pleasure is I’ve read all of the John Grisham books.

Randy Smith: You know, after college I had not read for pleasure ever in my, and John Grisham books were the first ones that got me to read for pleasure. Still a fan. I get the guilty pleasure there. I’m going to ask you a question I specifically didn’t send out to you because I wanted it to be just top of mind. So the surprise question in the rapid fire, when you hear the word success, who’s the first person that comes to mind?

Steve Swanston: That’s a good question, Randy and obviously I could go a lot of different directions to that. Maybe cause I just reread this book and perhaps more success, not in in modern day, but over the last, you know, 20 or so years Rudy Giuliani and the success that he had in turning around, if you will, New York City from a dangerous place to live with his, with his broken window policy, putting that in place and, and really turning in, you know, one of the world’s largest cities into, you know, the, the metropolis that it became under his leadership. So from a success standpoint, I look at that, read a couple of his leadership books and memoirs. So as first person that came to mind, that’s a, that’s who I would give you.

Randy Smith: As you’ve gotten older, has anything become more important to you? And what if anything has become less.

Steve Swanston: I haven’t listened to all of your podcasts yet. I’m not sure they’ve all come out. I would be surprised if everybody didn’t say time as the most important thing.

Randy Smith: I think that’s probably been the answer everyone that we’ve recorded so far. But yes, and it would also be my answer.

Steve Swanston: We said it before in this conversation, it doesn’t matter who you are, how successful you are, how much money you are. We all have the ability to buy as much time as the next guy. And that’s none. You can’t buy any more time. And so it’s the older you get and you see stages in your life and other people’s lives evolve, you realize that’s the really the scarcest resource that we have and as it’s to use it, use it wisely. And the one that perhaps I need less of is that recognition is that third party recognition that used to be important somewhere along the way and you know, and now it’s really a non factor.

Randy Smith: Do you think that’s made you a better leader where you don’t need the limelight? That you can say give it to others?

Steve Swanston: I think all, yes, Short answer is yes. I think, you know, from a leadership, I’m still learning daily and trying to evolve and I think everybody should be trying to be better on a daily basis, you know, servant based leadership, principle centered leadership, whatever, whatever coin you want to put on it. But yeah, I think you know, the leaders should step back and like the quote I gave you earlier, no when you’re good, but don’t tell anybody about it. It’s important. Right.

Randy Smith: That’s for sure. Steve, again, I thank you very much for being on the show today. Do you have any final thoughts or an ask of the audience that you’d like to end with?

Steve Swanston: A challenge to the credit union executives out there as you sit and look at your shop, if you could draw it on a piece of paper today, what would it be? If you could roadmap it, what would it be? Not, not based on who you are and what you’ve done, but if you could do a do over and start to credit union of the future, what would it look like? And then take some of those ideas and ask yourself, how can I bring those to reality? How can I bring this to fruition and, and truly put that deliverable out there to my membership? And I think if you do challenge yourself and you’re willing to go through an exercise, I think you’ll be surprised with some of the different directions you may consider at least having a conversation about.

Randy Smith: That is a great way to end. I love the challenge. Is email the best way if people have more questions of you to get ahold of you?

Steve Swanston: Definitely email still works.

Randy Smith: We’ll link to Steve’s email below. And again, Steve, thank you very much for taking some time today and doing this. It’s been a lot of fun.

Steve Swanston: Yeah, it was my pleasure, Randy. Thank you.

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