Posts From November, 2013


Posted by Greg Michlig Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:10:00 AM

Traditionally, this is the time of year when many people pause to take inventory of those things for which they are grateful. On this, the eve of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share a few of those items on my list.

Personally, I am thankful to be starting a new chapter in my life with all of you, here in New Jersey. My entire professional career has centered on credit unions and I am very pleased to continue in this industry alongside all of you. The opportunity to work in a cooperative movement where the common goal is to help people achieve financial well-being and, through associated efforts, live better lives, is tremendously gratifying.

In an environment where time is limited and people are increasingly value-conscious, we at the New Jersey Credit Union League are specifically thankful for our affiliated credit unions. Together, through shared resources, we are able to project a strong, unified voice in consumer, political, and regulatory advocacy. It is the recognition that we are better together that exemplifies the credit union difference and allows us to separate credit unions’ brand from that of our for-profit competitors.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the League staff in this post. It is only through their continually thoughtful and tireless efforts that this organization is able to serve you through a multifaceted approach each and every day. I am thankful for their professionalism and resourcefulness, and personally, for welcoming me and my family as we have navigated these first six months together.

And, of course, I am thankful for my family and friends. Making a move of the magnitude my wife, three children, and I have made this past year is significant. Without all of their support, it would have been extremely difficult.

Finally, the list of those things for which I am grateful also includes, but is not limited to: ice cream, golf, being introduced to a whole new world of pizza pie, ESPN, music (all kinds), the Green Bay Packers, nights out with my wife, and hugs and kisses from my kids.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 

How Are You Failing Forward?  

Posted by Greg Michlig Monday, November 11, 2013 11:32:00 AM

Yes, that’s right… failing… are you doing a good job of it? Have you heard of the concept?

It’s a phrase that stuck with me many years ago. I performed a quick online search to see how prevalent this topic is and found that it must have caught the attention of many others as well. There are books, blogs, columns, and full Web sites dedicated to failing forward. I clicked on the top result: The following statement is on the homepage: “Failing Forward looks different for different kinds of organizations.” Simple, but accurate.

You don’t really define how to fail, but you know it when it happens, right? It’s taking the concept of “let’s throw these ideas on the wall and see what sticks” to another level. It’s “let’s implement these ideas that are a bit edgy but could be game changing and see what sticks.” Some are simply bound to fail…and that’s okay. It’s what you learn by being innovative that will produce the successes that follow the set-backs.

This topic has come up frequently in my conversations with credit union leaders throughout New Jersey. If your credit union (and the League for that matter) is not looking for ways to move forward, it won’t. And, as the statement says, this will look different for each organization. Risk tolerance levels vary by organization and they should. This is not to say everything is a go-for-broke strategy…but it’s good to set stretch goals and test the limits of your comfort zone.

Now, it should also be understood that the “forward” piece of this strategy significantly outweighs the allotment for “fail.” There needs to be a measured approach to everything and if the results of your efforts show significantly more “fail” than “forward,” adjustments need to be made.

While discussing how this concept has played into the successes of one small-asset credit union I met with, I made a connection to another statement that has stuck with me for many years. It’s something my dad told me when I played high school basketball: “If you’re not getting a couple fouls, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Now, this went against what coaches had been preaching…move your feet, don’t reach, play the angles, DON’T FOUL! But it also made sense to me and has likely played a role in my approach to many things today. I certainly didn’t want to foul out of games and knew that if I was out there hacking everyone, the coach would pull me. But I also became more aggressive and less afraid of picking up a foul (or three).

I remember my final game of high school basketball like it was yesterday. Our team had been ranked as high as #2 in the state within our division and we were in the regional finals. For much of the night I guarded the other team’s top scorer. We had a good team defense and I helped to hold him in check, relative to his usual performances. We went to overtime…and lost. I fouled out at the very beginning of overtime (on what even the radio announcer said was a bad call, by the way).

To use the cliché, I left everything on the floor. Our team was terribly disappointed by what we deemed a failure, but it was also a learning experience. We moved forward and knew that we were stronger because of all the hard work we had put in as a team. We learned that in the grand scheme of things, this would hurt for a while and then fade mostly to the back of our minds. I believe it was a factor in making us more determined in all of our endeavors, leading that group to many successful careers in business.

When you think of it, only one team gets to hoist the championship trophy at the end of each season. Knowing this, athletes choose to “get in the game” despite the likelihood that their last game will be a loss. But that does not deter them from doing whatever they can to make that last game a win because they know they will be better for it in the long run.

Are you in the game or on the sidelines? Do you have the tolerance to fail forward…even a little? Give it some thought. If we all fail forward a little, I believe that as a movement, we can move forward a lot.