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Michael Prior recalled the Y2K hysteria that led many to withdraw their money from credit unions and banks in the weeks and days leading up to Jan. 1, 2000.The global fear that financial institutions and other entities would shut down because systems were not set up to read double-zero digits that could lead to massive fraud turned out to be a nonevent. But that memory got Prior thinking about all of the doom and gloom prophesies surrounding the year 2012. He is president/CEO of the Credit Union Financial Network, an Arizona-based CUSO that provides investment, insurance, business and trust solutions to more than a dozen credit unions.According to several sources, a number of apocalyptic events and massive global destruction are supposed to take place around or on Dec. 12, 2012. On Nov. 13, Columbia Pictures released the movie “2012,” a film that warns of the impending doom, which includes California falling into the Pacific Ocean, mega tsunamis and the Earth’s core heating up to the point that it destroys all living beings.As he noticed an increase in books and Web sites with insights on 2012, Prior started doing his own research in February 2008. He came to one glaring conclusion.‘So, I took a voice of reason approach to the topic and outlined why I believe Dec. 12, 2012 will be the biggest nonevent since Y2K,” Prior explained. “The premise is not to get caught up in the noise around 2012 but to have a plan for the long term.”After 18 months of writing at night and on weekends with feedback from family and friends along the way, Prior recently completed his first book, 2012: What Will You Do? What Will You Do When Other People Panic? (www.2012wwyd.com). The book aims to challenge readers to look at their own world view and belief system critically and move forward to a personal life plan designed to positively impact their finances and overall quality of life.Prior also explores the theories or what he refers to as “noise” regarding the Mayan calendar with its connection to end of the world predictions.“I have personally climbed the Mayan pyramids and visited the oldest Hopi village in the world but saw no evidence of them really believing the end was near,” Prior said.Prior also takes a practical approach to preparation, including a one-page personal life plan to help readers strengthen their faith, family and friends, fitness and fun. On page 95 of the book, credit unions are in the spotlight when he guides readers to join the 92 million member movement and to seek out the cooperatives as alternatives when shopping for mortgages and car loans. As a plug to his own profession, Prior commends those credit unions that employ independent financial advisers, saying “providing nonproprietary products is key to being a true financial advocate for members.”On the efficiency alert side, Prior recalled how credit unions spent money to send out special communications letting members know they would still be operational before and beyond Dec. 31, 1999.“What will it be like when some irresponsible media get our members worried about ‘The End,’” Prior wondered.In writing the book, Prior said he struggled the most with the introduction and sharing personal details of his life. With his editor asking for more specifics, Prior acknowledged, “I still think there is too much about me in it, so I’d recommend people skip the intro and get to the book.”So far, the book has sparked curiosity. Both Borders and Barnes & Nobles invited Prior to do book signings Dec. 5 and in January, respectively. The release of the “2012″ movie has definitely helped the timing, he said. But don’t count on Prior to quit his day job any time soon.“I still consider this a hobby and have no illusions of becoming a career author,” he said, adding he is motivated by his passion for helping credit unions build their financial planning, investment and insurance programs.“Everyone I have spoken with seems to agree, Dec. 21, 2012 will be a nonevent, but the hard part will be sifting through the noise as it gets closer and watching what others around us do, if they really believe they have nothing left to live for,” Prior said.–[email protected]

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