I’m speechless today. It’s the most curious thing. My mind is full, my heart is full, and I have the time and space to write. So why won’t the words come? After all, thanks to CUBFI, I recently completed the Credit Union Development Education program and obtained my CUDE designation. To a number, every CUDE I know gushes about how much they learned or how they were transformed, or how theirs was the BEST CLASS EVER. Still, for me, I have no words.
Here’s the thing: this program hits so deeply it feels impossible to know where to begin talking about it.
For those that are unfamiliar with this program, here’s the nutshell: Established in 1982, the Development Education (DE) program is an immersive experience that seeks to brings its attendees into a closer relationship with credit union culture, strategy, outreach, and impact. There are three major learning objectives of the program:
- The Credit Union Difference: Understanding credit unions’ unique business model; learning how to find opportunity and create growth by communicating this uniqueness.
- Empathy in banking: Harnessing the power of empathy to define and serve markets; finding the competitive advantage in targeting a disrupted market and serving that population.
- Development issues: Social and cultural challenges stunt the financial health of employees, members, and communities. This creates opportunity for credit unions who learn to identify and work to solve these challenges.
The Credit Union Difference. Plenty to talk about there. First and foremost, why are we referring to our uniqueness as a difference? If our uniqueness is our value proposition, shouldn’t we be calling it an Advantage? But you have heard me make this argument before…
Empathy. The DE course teaches empathy in such an amazing way, but I won’t ruin the surprise by telling you how they do it! Showing empathy to another person satisfies some of their most basic human desires: to be seen, to be heard, and to be known. The business case is obvious: our path to growth runs right through the exercise of using empathy to 1) build deep relationships with our members and employees and 2) build positive brand perception by solving challenges in our communities.
Development issues. These issues represent different barriers to economic growth and prosperity for individuals and families. There are barriers and challenges all around us. Some communities struggle with education and employment. Others struggle with access to technology or transportation. Still others (especially women and single parents) struggle with the demands of raising a family. But opportunity lies within each challenge. In DE, we learn to see past the problem and seize the opportunity.
So why am I speechless?
Because when you pour a world full of challenges into the credit union bucket and mix it with the healing waters of empathy, the problems sink, and the opportunities rise. Where to begin? What to say?
All that can be said to encapsulate the Credit Union Development Education Program is something we have all heard before: “Actions speak louder than words.” Find a problem. Solve it. Repeat. Grow.