Why write a letter to yourself?

Have you ever written a letter to yourself? If you’ve never done it, it might seem like a silly thing to do. But those of us who have done it have a different perspective. Maybe you were in school and your teacher arranged for you to write yourself a letter to read at graduation. Maybe your summer camp counselors collected self-addressed letters to send to you later, to remind you of all the things you experienced and learned outside of your everyday environment. For me, it was much more recent: A few months ago, I received the letter I had written to myself at NAFCU’s Management and Leadership Institute (MLI) last October.

This letter project was an eye-opening experience. On the last day of the Institute, we took time to reflect on what we had learned, our aspirations and how we planned to meet our goals over the next year. It was the perfect way to solidify what I took away from the five days of learning, collaboration and networking – as well as a way to hold myself accountable for taking the next steps once I left Philadelphia.

Reading my letter six months later was stopped me in my tracks. There are some initiatives I am well on my way to achieving, and some I still need to work more diligently on. The best part of reading the letter, though, was reliving the way I felt at MLI.

As NAFCU’s vice president of marketing, I get to hear about other attendees’ insights and memories too. My job allows me to meet all kinds of people throughout the credit union world, and it’s especially exciting to meet the up-and-coming leaders in the industry.

One such up-and-coming leader is Sonja Crosby, the assistant vice president of human resources at Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union in Baltimore, Md. She recently told me how attending the Institute changed her career:

“One of the biggest goals I had set for myself in 2013 was to take my career to the next level. As a former graduate of MLI, I believe my CEO really appreciated and recognized my efforts to step out of my comfort zone and gain an understanding of all the moving parts that are integral in the success of the credit union,” she said.

“Within two months of completing the Management Leadership Institute program, I was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Human Resources,” she continued. “I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to contribute more to their organization and to the credit union movement as a whole.”

Other attendees have also spoken to me about their goals, the faculty they most appreciated and, best of all, the optimism the experience gave them about their future as leaders.

As we get ready for this year’s MLI, set for Oct. 6-10 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, I’m amazed at the roster of credit union professionals who are eager to become the next credit union leaders. They come from credit unions large and small, and with different areas of expertise – from IT and HR to branching and finance. And this eclectic group of people will not only benefit from experts like John Spence, Stacy Hanke and Glenn Strebe, but they also benefit from each other. Throughout the week, attendees will meet in groups to work on a credit union case study – applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations. The individuals in the groups will become both students and teachers – sharing their insights and applying their unique experiences to help the group solve problems and accomplish the tasks at hand.

The Institute experience is unlike any other. Fellow students and I departed on the last day motivated and committed to taking our professional and personal lives to the next level of success. I was so inspired by all of the people surrounding me – faculty and staff alike – and I made note of that in the first paragraph of the letter to myself.

I look forward to hearing the stories from this year’s MLI students and seeing how they will help shape the future of their credit unions. And I hope when they receive their letters in the mail six months later, they will be able to look back on all that has changed and be surprised at how far they have come.

Alicia Hosmer

Alicia Hosmer

Alicia Hosmer was named vice president of marketing in October 2012. She manages NAFCU’s marketing programs, including research and development of NAFCU’s marketing campaigns, collateral materials, advertising, direct ... Web: www.nafcu.org Details