There are two caveats to be fair, I must admit. I was chained to my laptop putting together this 88-page issue, so I saw little outside the halls of the Hilton New York. I did make it downtown to ground zero and a decent restaurant, but I never made it up to Central Park and points north. And, second, I grew up in fairly rural areas--my high school took the nickname "Cow Pie High." I still live near a farm on over an acre because that's what I want for my children. I'm a little bit country.
But that aside, it seemed New York City was a popular draw, especially with the directors. CUNA had good entertainment lined up between "Mama Mia," the Yankees-Rangers game and the Power Up party at the Rainbow Room.
The actual introductory program was among the best I've seen. Comedian Eddie Brill was perfect for waking people up that Monday morning. Even better than Dan Mica's famous "Isn't it great to be in [fill in the blank]." Brill was funny with just the right amount of irreverence for the audience.
I'm a huge fan of HGTV and while Susan Packard wasn't the greatest presenter I've ever heard, I was very much in agreement with her message. Your employees and their attitudes are crucial to
your success, and they should be treated as such through training opportunities such as conferences--not to mention a trip to a city of interest as a small reward, always take your competition seriously and stick by your core values. I've written columns about that.
Another lesson credit union leaders should take back with them from Packard's talk was don't be afraid to try new things. Sometimes you'll fail, but this is the core of innovation. One of my mantras: Everything's a learning experience.
New York City Fire Chief Richard Picciotto garnered a standing ovation. He was not the most polished speaker, but what he had going for him was that he was authentic and compelling. The way he illustrated his experiences in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 by banging on the podium and shaking it, then pausing for a long silence, left many listeners staring at him, mouths gaping, waiting for more. Literally on the edges of their seats even nearly seven years later.
One point Picciotto made that was particularly provoking was that in the weeks and months following 9/11, the entire country was united, but that was ended by the politicians who highlighted and quibbled over minor differences rather than playing to our commonalities. He also noted the sad truth that the only things we all truly remember as a nation are the tragedies.
The couple thought leader and education sessions I attended also had excellent speakers on impor-
Mica, whom I'm sure drives his staff nuts with his last minute speech edits, made a brilliant correlation between the Caf?(C) des Artistes and credit unions' need to adapt to the changing times. That's true on a number of levels from product offerings to delivery to lobbying efforts.
Credit unions also must take advantage of the current times while, as Mica said, "everybody else is stained."
While CUNA's conference was overall very successful, there was some grumbling about the vendor hall on three different levels. Everyone thought the other levels were getting better traffic than theirs. Mica made a joke during his address of reminding attendees that the vendor hall was on three levels, but I don't think some of the exhibitors were laughing.
I was honestly surprised CUNA's conference was so well attended given the current economy and the fact that it was immediately preceding NAFCU's out on the left coast. I still think this scheduling might be a mistake for CUNA in the future.
But, NAFCU has a tough act to follow. NAFCU is offering up Bob Newhart, who I have not seen in years, which might be interesting, a harbor cruise and the traditional golf outing. They also appear to have a solid educational package covering a wide variety of topics from the mortgage market to identity theft. Looking forward to San Diego.
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