Believe, Innovate, and Fight the War for Talent, Says Filene’s Meyer

Filene CEO Mark Meyer challenged credit unions to lean into disruptive innovation and engage in the war for talent.

The all-star opening session at Amplify closed with a talk from Filene Research Institute President and CEO Mark Meyer, who challenged the audience of Northwest credit union professionals to “Think Bold(er).”

He harkened back to Ed Filene, early credit union pioneer and namesake of the organization Meyer leads. “If Ed were here, I think he’d tell us three things,” said Meyer. Those three things: Believe, Innovate, and Engage in the War for Talent.

Believe

Meyer said that credit unions have every reason to believe in their movement and their business model. To show why, he first drew an imaginary line down the room, cutting off a thin slice of the audience. “That’s about 85 people,” he said. “That is the number of people in this world who own the same amount of wealth as the half of humanity.”

“That means there is an opportunity for a model like ours to help,” he added.

Meyer clicked to a slide that showed hundreds of financial technology companies. “Do you smell it?” he asked. “It’s the smell of opportunities. Companies are dying to get into our backyard, which means there is opportunity here.”

Meyer acknowledged that the digital revolution in financial services is scray, “But you gotta lean into it,” he said. “You gotta play.”

Innovate

Meyer then shifted his focus to innovation. He showed the audience a video about Google’s self-driving cars.

“You say, ‘This won’t affect my credit union,’” said Meyer. But then he asked the crowd how many people had taken a ride with Uber. Hands shot up.

He explained how Uber had hired away one of the best robotics teams in the world from Carnegie Mellon University in order to build self driving cars.

“My car just sits and depreciates most of the time,” said Meyer. “What if we could just subscribe to a self-driving car service? How many people would take out an auto loan?”

He encouraged credit unions to budget for research and innovation, to make innovation part of their organizational goals, and to “enable the concepts of pilots and prototyping, and support small failures.”

War for Talent

Meyer then moved his focus to people. “Do you have the right people on the bus?” he asked. “It all starts with the right people.”

And the right people, Meyer said, have passion. He showed a video of Steve Jobs, who said, “It’s so hard, if you don’t have passion for it you’ll give up.”

Jobs continued, “You have to be a great talent scout. Hire, see how they do, and refine your intuition.” That’s how you build a great organization, said Jobs.

Meyer asked the audience if they were willing to let go, change, and grow. “If you don’t engage in the war for talent, your organization probably will not survive.”

He ended with Teddy Roosevelt’s quote about “the man in the arena.”

“You’re in the arena,” said Meyer, “you’re on the ground. It inspires us at Filene to do what we do.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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