Break out of a rut with creative solutions for getting back into flow You probably know Rusty. Rusty was very knowledgeable at his job and was highly motivated — a great employee and asset to his company. Then Rusty was required to stay in the house for months with little interaction or engagement with his coworkers and customers, and he started to lose some steam. Then — hooray! — his world started opening back up, and he was excited to pick back up where he left off. And then … once again Rusty found many of his in-person meetings canceled and his clients’ offices off limits. With that momentum slowdown, in addition to the normal post-holiday acclimation period, Rusty isn’t feeling as on top of his game as he once was. In fact, he feels … well, a bit Rusty. If you look in the mirror sometimes and see Rusty, here are some ideas to try: Schedule one hour a week for learning. Take a course through your employer, sign up for training through LinkedIn or organizations in your field and industry, or check out Coursera, Lynda.com, Udemy, or similar inexpensive options. Review industry websites and publications, watch a Ted Talk or other video, read a business or self-improvement book, or listen to a podcast or audiobook related to your field and/or something you want to know more about. Schedule a 30-minute meeting with your manager or a peer and talk about one or two business-related topics. Make sure this is understood to be a safe zone for both. It’s about growth and development. Ask for feedback, and receive that feedback openly and honestly. Reevaluate your workspace and remove any distractions that may be preventing you from fully entering flow. Example: Put your phone on focus mode. Set aside uninterrupted blocks of time on your calendar to complete projects. Close out of your email when you are trying to focus on an important task. When you are feeling stuck and a bit Rusty, take notes. Writing down your questions will allow you to spend the time to gain the information you need later. Help others with their questions — not only with the answer, but also by explaining the “why” behind it. A full explanation will not only embed the information in that person so they most likely won’t have to ask again, but it will also help cement the knowledge even more solidly in your own mind. Plus, helping another person in any way is always one of the best things you can do to get unstuck! Get your creative juices flowing with art, music, journaling, meditation, a mindful walk, even dancing — anything that gets you out of your regular day-to-day rut. Finally, be sure to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating as healthily as you can, staying hydrated, moving your body, taking physical and mental breaks throughout the day, and whatever else makes you feel grounded, strong, and motivated. We all have a “Rustyness” in us from time to time — but we can overcome, get back out there, and grow and progress even further than we ever have before!
How State National’s Client Advisory Council Creates a Virtuous Circle At State National, client experience is the foundation of everything we do. We don’t see our client relationships as static; each one is dynamic and evolving as a living, breathing entity. And it’s vital that we prioritize and nurture our client partnerships as we do with the other foundational pillars of our company. One of the most effective ways we do this is to collaborate with our clients. We talk to our clients, we ask them what they want, and we include them when crafting our business strategies. We have always considered actively getting feedback from our clients as an integral and critical part of our strategic planning. It’s why we conduct our Annual Survey of Service Quality as well as other surveys measuring other aspects of our service delivery. Our #1 goal is to help our business partners succeed, so finding out what they want and need, and how we can better provide it to them, is always top of mind. Taking the Quest for Feedback to the Next Level In 2018, we went a step further and created the State National Client Advisory Council (CAC) to convene a group of some of our top clients to discuss issues that are critically important to them and to us. It’s a forum to share information, gain consensus on key topics, and collaborate with peers and partners to creatively pursue problem-solving strategies and growth opportunities for their institutions As I said in my last CAC blog, our intention in establishing the State National CAC was, and still is, to listen carefully to the voices and concerns of our clients, foster an atmosphere where collaborative insights can emerge, and allow our strategy and product development to be guided by those who will actually be using it every day. Specifically Designed to Add Value — For All Yes, the CAC is of great benefit to State National, because it gives us opportunities to deepen relationships with some of our closest partners, and align our organization more precisely with our clients’ perspectives. We get to hear both what’s working well as well as challenges they’re facing, not only in our area of expertise, but in all areas of their institution. As we’ve been known to say a time or two, we’re successful when our clients are successful — so anything we can contribute to help them grow and succeed ultimately contributes to our own success as a company. But it’s definitely not all about us! Our council was created with a true desire to provide members with tangible, real-world benefits that not only make it more than worth their time but also add tremendous value they don’t get from any other partner. But don’t take it from us — here’s what some of our current CAC members have to say: “By having open conversations about what’s going on in the marketplace with other credit unions who are going through the same things, I’m able to learn how others are attacking certain problems and I’ve absolutely taken some things back to my credit union and implemented them.” ~ Mike Shockley, VP of Lending, True Sky Credit Union, Oklahoma City, OK “It’s great to talk about emerging technologies or other ideas we can bring back to our specific credit unions and share with our leadership team — ideas we might otherwise not have been exposed to. The volume of information at a very high level that someone can obtain by joining the CAC is wonderful." ~ John Cotner, VP Lending, Horizon Credit Union, Boise, ID “When it comes to topics like innovation and technology and AI, I think I've learned more from the CAC than I have by going to conferences and things like that, because you can really have more intimate conversations with your peers at the council, and State National does a great job of bringing in great presenters that really position the topics well, so it's easily understood as we're reviewing certain new innovations.” ~ James Bolin, SVP & CMEO, Silver State Schools Credit Union, Las Vegas, NV “One of the benefits of being on the CAC is not only meeting some of the participants from different parts of the country and having discussions, but I have also been able to take away two specific strategic business initiatives that directly impact the credit union that came about through my participation on the CAC, including one that is a multi-year strategic initiative.” ~ Steve McIntire, SVP, Enterprise Risk & General Counsel, SELCO Community Credit Union, Eugene, OR State National is a great partner. I'm glad they asked me to join the CAC because it gives me an opportunity to keep that partnership active and very vibrant. And I enjoy the fact that I get to see what State National is doing and what’s on their horizon and how it’s going to benefit not only my credit union, but the credit union industry. So it’s been really awesome.” ~ Karen Hoeppner, Chief Lending Officer, My Credit Union, Minneapolis, MN A Real-World Example of CAC Value The council’s 3rd quarter 2021 meeting provides an illustration of the tangible benefits of this ongoing collaborative sharing of ideas and insights. The council met in August in Irvine, California, headquarters of Filene Research Institute. Filene is an integral thought leadership partner for State National, and that partnership further extends directly to our CAC members. The business portion of the event was held at Filene’s innovative West Coast outpost. Dr. Bill Maurer, professor at UC Irvine, Director at the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion, and research fellow at Filene’s Center of Excellence in Emerging Technology, conducted a working session called “The Pandemic as Practice for a Less-Predictable Future.” Group discussion led to shared best practices on how credit unions can automate communication regarding the notice cycle, which improves their member perception of CPI. Participants also explored other risk mitigation strategies credit union peers are using and how they are approaching risk mitigation overall in light of the uncertainty and turbulence caused by the pandemic and other economic shifts. Relevant, Actionable Insights Following Dr. Maurer’s presentation and discussion, CAC members and SNC directors formed working groups to discuss business challenges related to highly relevant credit union hot topics, including data governance, AI implementation, and digital automation, including mobile. After a lively conversation and sharing of experiences, each working group was tasked with conducting further collaborative research into their group’s subject area. With their curiosity sparked, CAC members made plans to dive in together to produce real-world insights they can share with other decision-makers in their credit union. The groups will also present their findings at the Q4 CAC meeting in November. Personal Connections When the day’s work was over, members joined State National representatives for an enjoyable and relaxing evening outing. After the mental stimulation provided by the day’s deep dive into important credit union topics, it was nice to move to a casual setting on the water and interact on a more personal level, while enjoying excellent conversation and lots of laughter. Then, the next day, it was time to head back to their credit union homes, bringing knowledge, insights, advice, and inspiration with them as they work on their findings and look for openings within their institutions to leverage what they’ve learned. Discover More Are you a curious credit union professional, always looking to grow and give back to your organization? Do you enjoy bouncing ideas off like-minded people in your industry and get a little thrill when you see these synergies expand what’s possible for you and for them? Are you a believer in true connection with those you work with and mutually beneficial partnerships with your service providers? Contact Heather Clyde, State National’s Client Advisory Council Program Manager, at HClyde@StateNational.com to explore the possibility of council membership. “The CAC has exceeded my expectations. On a fun note, the group is great. My colleagues on the CAC and the staff at State National are all very enjoyable and very professional. State National does a wonderful job of putting the events together. They’re well thought out, well organized. I think it’s a great two-way relationship, the CAC. I think we’re benefiting State National, and they are certainly benefiting us.” ~ John Cotner, Horizon CU “State National has always considered our clients as more than just clients — we truly do see each and every one of these connections as an authentic partnership. Our goal for client relationships is always more than transactional; we’re always going for a win-win situation and strive to evolve all of these partnerships to serve the long-term strategic business goals for both parties. Our CAC is growing to be a vital component of State National’s overall corporate strategy, and it’s very gratifying to see that it is already helping to serve the long-term strategic interests of our CAC members and their credit unions.” ~ Heather Clyde, Client Advisory Council Program Manager
Safety Through Security: Because Cybersecurity Awareness Isn't Just for October In October, security organizations around the world have focused extra efforts on cybersecurity awareness, urging individuals and businesses of all types and sizes to pay attention to and examine their systems and their daily habits in every area of online life. Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CSAM) was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2004 as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online. While this year’s observance may be coming to a close, it’s important to remember to keep the ideas emphasized this October top of mind all year long. Did You Know: The average total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million and took an average of 280 days to identify and contain. (IBM) The use of new breach techniques has boomed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 35% of breaches having leveraged new techniques in 2020. (Cynet) 88% of data breaches are caused by human error. (Tessian) 61% of data breaches used compromised credentials, and phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents. (Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report) The situation especially impacts the financial industry: Although only 6.5% of breaches were suffered by financial services firms, those incidents comprised 61.7% of affected information. (Bitglass) The NCUA further warns that smaller financial institutions with less than $35M in annual revenue are especially vulnerable to hacking, malware, and ransomware attacks. Because financial institutions are disproportionately impacted — and the consequences of breaches in this area are so consequential — carefully vetting business partners and partnering with other businesses that share your vigilance is critical. Here at State National, the security of our customer data is incredibly important — it’s a critical factor in our business and the service we provide to our clients. Our security team is on a mission to not only meet but exceed all security standards — often well past what others think is strict enough. “Security threats don’t stop when the whistle blows at 5 p.m. and hackers don’t take vacations,” says Michael Weiskircher, State National’s CIO, “so protecting against attacks has to be an ongoing, real-time process of fixing vulnerabilities immediately.” Our security team is constantly monitoring every variable and system to stay on top of all new vulnerabilities as soon as they are identified. There’s no waiting for patch day or weekly updating — we’re monitoring and assessing security 24 hours a day. Another thing that makes State National a leader in terms of network and data security is our status as part of the Markel family of companies. The strength of Markel and their security teams coupled with access to the security tools and resources of a multi-billion dollar, multinational insurance holding company adds yet another layer of protection when it comes to keeping sensitive client data securely locked down. So, while the threat of cybercrime in our world is certainly real, it’s nice to know that you can focus your efforts on other actions, like practicing good password hygiene, being savvy about not clicking on “phishy” links, and keeping cybersecurity at the forefront of your mind as you connect daily — and rest easy knowing that when it comes to your portfolio protection program, State National has you covered. For ways on how organizations and individuals can incorporate cybersecurity best practices into their decision-making processes, visit www.cisa.gov/cybersecurity-awareness-month. Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart