This was a tough year.

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Almost immediately at the start of 2016, we lost David Bowie.The shock of that lasted months for me. On top of that, Glen Freyand Paul Kantner passed away. That was just January!

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And then a few days into February, one of my favorite musicians,the founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire, died – MauriceWhite. I love the song “ September.” It's my birthday month andI've always appreciated the falsetto chorus. It's a great song!

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I'm a huge music fan. I've worked in the music industry and I'mformer percussionist. So, I pay close attention to what's happeningin musicland.

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The most devastating punch was in late April when the news brokethat Prince had died. The thought of no more Prince gave me agigantic headache. “What?! Really? There's no way!” My braincouldn't grasp the fact that Prince was dead. My thoughts weremixed together with “Purple Rain,” “Darling Nikki,” “1999” and thefantastic “Love Symbol Album.” It was a music tragedy! Like Elvis'death was for my aunt. She bawled.

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For me, Prince pushed all the buttons as a teenager – greatrhythm, crazy lyrics, being different, rebellion and sex. Now,gone.

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This was a tough year.

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Turns out those strings of deaths of brilliant musical talentsearlier in the year was just a dark distraction from some prettyugly things happening around us. It was like racism, sexism,homophobia, politics and financial issues were all turned up to agrotesque volume.

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Brexit, our recent election, Italy.

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There's now talk of “impounding remittances” by the incomingadministration. And no one knows what's going to happen withregulations. Remember all of those nominations for the SupremeCourt, the NCUA and other entities? With both houses of Congressgone for the holidays, those nominations have all expired and we'releft with another bag of uncertainty.

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2016 made up its mind early on to not give us what we wanted –clarity, certainty and a path. Nope. Instead, 2016 handed us ashovel to bury the dead and to dig out from the piles of anger andugly we continued to find just underneath the surface of oureveryday lives and work.

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Police shootings, mistrials and now fake news.

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The progression of this year has the momentum of a flywheelnudged into motion by something I can only describe as unpleasant.And now that flywheel has us strapped to it like the most gruelingspin class and the headset-wearing instructor won't stop yelling atus.

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This was a tough year.

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I know, it sounds like I'm this brooding teenager who's beenlistening to The Cure's “Disintegration” album.

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We need a break. And we need to take control over the good thatwe are able to do for this industry we love. We need to feel thesunshine coming back into our work and our lives. In order for thatto happen, I propose the following:

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Reset. However 2016 worked out for you, now isthe perfect time to press the reset button. Cancel any unnecessarymeetings. Take a different route to work. Buy a new pair of pants.Whatever it takes to knock you out of your normal pattern and resetyour vision of your credit union day.

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Engage. Your members are with you for a reason.It could be your rates, convenient locations, free coffee and/oryour principles as a cooperative financial institution. There arenew opportunities inside any of those reasons to engage and connectwith your members and others in the industry.

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Love. Bring in more compassion and empathy foryour members. Recently, empathy has turned into “understanding people's pain just enough to get something out ofit.” I'm talking about listening, hearing and finding thatcommon spot to stand on side-by-side with your members.

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Regulation and compliance changes are like Tuesdays. They justkeep coming and you can't do much about them except complain oradapt. To that point, CU Times is making a strategiceditorial effort in 2017 to help your credit union betterunderstand and digest these changes that will be coming out ofWashington. From what we're hearing, it's going to be a lot of newinformation.

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I say all of that because at CU Times we are working onresetting, engaging and loving our readers in 2017; becausetogether we make each other better. We are developing new sourcesand new ways of connecting the news to you.

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You're going to notice a lot of changes coming up in 2017. Asyou've seen in 2016, the news giants imploded, became lazy and putfaith in what used to be trusted sources. Those sources (polls,data-driven organizations) made some historical blunders andassumptions. We cannot follow the same assumptions we once had andwe will dig deeper to deliver you information you can trust.

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What will your next move be in 2017? Because if you're waitingfor the dust to settle from 2016, you could be left behind by thestorm that's expected to come next year.

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I need to end this by mentioning a few other notable losses thatgave me and many others pause: Alan Rickman (Snape), Abe Vigoda(Fish), Patty Duke, Doris Roberts (Marie), Gary Shandling, MohamedAli (The Greatest of All Time), Morley Safer (“60 Minutes”) andGene Wilder (Dr. Frankenstein).

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This was a tough year.

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Michael Ogden

Editor-in-Chief at CU Times. To connect, email at [email protected]. As Editor-in-Chief of CU Times since 2016, Michael Ogden has led the editorial team in all aspects of content strategy and execution, including the creation of the publication’s exclusive and proprietary research database of the credit union industry’s economic landscape. Under Michael’s leadership, CU Times has successfully shifted to an all-digital editorial product with new focuses on the payments, fraud, lending and regulatory beats. Most recently, he introduced a data-focused editorial product for subscribers that breaks down credit union issues into hard data, allowing for a deeper and more factual narrative for readers. In 2024, he launched the "Shared Accounts With CU Times" podcast, which offers a fresh, inside-the-newsroom perspective through interviews with leaders from the credit union industry and the regulatory world. He dives into pressing credit union issues, while revealing the personalities working behind-the-scenes to push the credit union world forward. His background includes years as a radio and TV anchor/reporter and a public relations and digital/social media manager, where he covered the food and music industries, as well as cooperatives and credit unions. Over the years, he has launched numerous exclusive video and podcast series, including a successful series of interactive backstage interviews with musicians at music festivals, showcasing his social media and live streaming production skills.