Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 2 months ago

Paying Forward Positivity w/ Innovation & Authenticity w/ Chris Bower


Innovation isn’t always flashy gadgets or software.

Sometimes, it’s making an effort to meet your employees where they’re at through authenticity and patience. As a leader, innovation can be as straightforward as reevaluating pay structures to address the needs of your team.

In this episode, I speak with Chris Bower, CEO of Endurance Federal Credit Union, about how building positive company culture comes from authenticity and paying it forward in your community.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Community impact
  • Innovation and inspiration
  • Building company culture
  • Navigating change through the pandemic  

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen Hi. Welcome to our PODCAST, innovation nation. This is your host, Jasmine more to Rossian, and our guests today is Chris Bower. Here's the CEO of Endurance Federal Credit Union based in Doncan, Oklahoma. Welcome Chris, good afternoon. How are you great? It's great to see you on the podcast and I'm want to thank you for a lot of the positive, inspirational messages you've been posting on linked in. So what's driven you to that? I don't know. I get the answer. I guess asked a question a lot actually, because I do have a lot of followers and people are always asking me like how do you get so many followers? I said, I don't know, just patients, I guess. Just posting stuff and people want to follow you and you'll be connected to you. It's kind of become a life of its own really over a period of time. I just started doing it initially based upon some leadership quotes that I felt were very inspirational to me and really meant something to me, to where you keep growing, just following and they you just want to continue to feed and feed and feed them more and more of these inspirational messages and you just realize how much it means to people, because people reach out to you and tell you. You know that you don't have an idea what I've been going through, and the things that you sent me or the things that you posted really struck home with me and really helped me get through a difficult time. And that's...

...why they say you just don't know what people are going through, you don't know what kind of struggles that people are having, that just one simple act of kindness can really go along way in someone's life, even someone that you really don't even know that well, that they follow you and they watch things that you post. So that's been a thing that kind of keeps me driven because if I can help one person every day get through a struggle or some sort of trials that they're having in their life. Because, as you know, you and I were talking about earlier, you know, I went through a couple of things last year by so that I didn't really publicize a lot of what was going on, you know, within my my mom and my dad last year. So again, sometimes people can do the same thing and reciprocate that back to me by making me feel good that I'm that I'm helping them and it also helps myself. said, this is where the concept of a personal brand comes in and clearly, as you mentioned, and you started evolving it right, I did not just happen overnight. That's innovation of sorts and what you've been doing. Yeah, I think so. I mean when I first got on Linkedin, I I was initially set up to help administer our actual credit union accounts. Yeah, I don't really. I don't use social media in any of the way. I have instagram, snapchat or whatever. All those other ones are essentially this is my own, for my only form of social media. So, you when I started just posting things, just kind of grew from there and grew from there and I started, you know, seeing articles I thought would be something good to share that would help people in their career and ladder because, like me, I just came up the corporate ladder, just worked my way up from the bottom to the point of where I am now. And so, yeah, I think so. It's definitely a process takes time and patience. So it's a good example of growth through discovery and doing and improving Appo incre mentally upon what you've been doing... grow a voice and recognition where you become known for that. Yeah, you know, you need to use that also in your your business life to as an organization, we're not anywhere near the the same place that we were when I took over thirteen years ago. I mean we've innovated all kinds of new technology and implemented different products and services, because you have to be flexible and you have to transform yourself with what's going on, you know, at that current time, or or you're just going to die off because you just won't be relevant anymore. And we try to stay as relevant as we possibly can. So clearly over the thirteen year period your customer behaviors have changed right. Buying patterns are changing, having patterns have been changing and evolving. Investment Potters, and shout out to you and your team. I know that for thirteen years running you, you folks, have been voted Best Credit Union in the by the Community of Duncan, Oklahoma. That's a huge honor. Congratulations. Yeah, I mean we're very proud of that. Thank you very much. I mean, you know again Duncan's a small community. There's not a ton of credit unions here, but we still are very honored the fact that we've been voted best credit union the thirteen years I've been here and and I'm certain they were voted that way before I arrived as well. But the fact that we know keep staying in front of our competition and keep implementing new ideas and fresh ideas were very we're very excited and very proud of that. So you've worked hard to stay relevant. Now I know you personally. You will voted best influencer by employee humanity on Linkedin in two thousand and twenty. How did that? I was you know, I came completely out of blue. I didn't you know they were do it. You know, sometimes I would share a lot of their contents and I would you know they would. I think they interviewed me at some point in either nineteen or twenty to promote on...

...their own linkedin site. And then now the blue, they just send this thing that you know, you're the top influencer of two thousand and twenty. So I had no idea was coming. It was a it was a huge honor for me because it shows that people, you know, we're paying attention to what it is I was trying to do and what I was trying to post out there. So now it was really cool. I was super excited about it. So it's not something that you were doing, say, even twenty years ago, because the platforms did not even still yeah, you stayed romance and Linkedin, King, I think, was created in two thousand and four and I don't think I even got on it initially until maybe like two thousand and ten or two thousand and eleven. Maybe might be the first time that I and even then I used it very rarely. I mean again, it was a lot of it was maybe sharing something that the credit union, it posted or, you know, you again working in administrative role, or if I had to add users or remove users or what have you, I bear and then all of a sudden it just started using it. And then here we are years later and you know, I got a lot of followers and a lot of people who really feel inspired by the things I post, which means a lot to me. You build recognition just by doing. You started innovating by doing and incrementally driving the improvement's right. It was not an overnight success. Is that a fair statement? Oh yeah, I completely agree with that and I tell people. You know, a lot of times I've talked into vituals on Linkedin who reached out to me and ask me some of the very questions you're asking me today, and you know, I welcome them to, you know, have a conversation with me about how I got to where I'm at and your mentoring, especially the young people, and I know that's one thing I tell them. It's over time. You have to be patients. You know, a lot of them feel like they want to be in my seat tomorrow and it just doesn't work like that. I mean you're like got to bide your time. Be Patients, put in the work,...

...establish yourself and then over time it will happen for you if you truly believe it. So if you truly believe it and you're authentic about it right, it's yeah, exact continuity of effort. How do you inspire your own employees? I mean being voted thirteen years in a row to be the best credit union. They clear they must deliver on the customer experience, no matter the size of the community, because people do let it be known when they're not happy. Probably, yeah, trust me, yeah, they do, and we're not perfect. Money stretched, but I think the main thing is that they know that you care about them. You know, servant leadership, leading from the front, you'll know, the leading by example. I think doing that, you know, an actual experience, not just a transactional experience. They give them an actual, you know, experience that's authentic. People can see through that and they want to work for organizations that truly do care about them and I think you know they that. They the family thing is thrown around a lot, you know, as far as organization, Shriver for themselves as a family and like all families, you know there's in fighting and there's all kinds of stuff going on, you know, but I think for the most part, if you're authentic and you really do have a relationship with because I show you love my employees, I care about them, and I think that that's what we try, from from me down to my executives, try Zude that type of attitude towards our people, who know we don't always agree and we don't always get along. It's not perfect by stretch, but we're proud of the type of stability that we've created here and, like I said, you know we were talking earlier, the great resignation really hasn't affected us. Maybe we've held on to a great deal of our long term employees in are, you know, the core of our organization. You're going to have people come and go no matter what, but for the most part we've held on and I think a lot of it is because of the culture that we've created here. Interesting observation. Now some experts do take strong exception to the...

...idea of likening any work environment to family, because I posted something about that. They tried, but families don't really find people on was they're hugely dysfunctional. What's your take on that? Oh, I agree. I think you can look at that both ways. To mean there's an argument to be had on both sides of the fens. I think you can have more of a community type culture. I've heard, you know, the people say it's more community than his family. Okay, I mean you can semantics, you can say whatever you want to say about it. You can't. Can Fire people out your family if you want to. I mean there's Times that you have someone dysfunctional. I'm sure we've all had it that. You know, they've basically been, you know, sent away, out in kind of excluded from the family. So you know, I we don't necessarily go around you're calling it a family. We just try to say we're family friendly and we wore or less focus on culture and just wanted to be an inviting, you know, culture that people want to be a part of, and we try to be very socially conscious about things we're doing and and invite our employees do the same that. That's very important. So let's talk a little bit about their social consciousness and sustainability. How does it reflect itself with the organization? Well, I think you can see us out. Yeah, I think you see it's out of the community. You know, you see us involved in all of the well mostly the events that we feel like it's important to us to be involved in. We're very big in the school system here in the in the area, and not just dunk in public schools, but some of the rep surrounding schools. We put on a trade charity golf tournament every year that we give money back to some of the local organizations like the United Way. You any type of little thing in the park or whatever it is, we try to get involved with. One thing we just rolled out the chibe is super excited about, is are pay it forward program that we the this was...

...the first time that we rolled it out where we gave every employee a fifty dollar gift card to go out in the community and get back and it wasn't something that, yeah, it wasn't like they needed to go out and say, Hey, this is from the Credit Union. I mean they could, but the main thing is we wanted to know that it was important that our organization gives back in the community and it could be something simple like buying groceries for somebody or buying gas or somebody or buying someone's meal or, you know, paying for their copy, whatever that is, and we didn't even put any prerequisites on it that they had to come to us and tell us what it was, unless they felt comfortable with it. We just wanted them to feel like we cared and wanted them to go out and get back. So that's a very innovative approach. And do you have any results, like what kind of positivity, what kind of really effected a task? Well, I mean we just rolled it out so I have not heard of anyone utilizing it yet. Are If they paid anything forward. And again, we didn't put any restrictions on it by saying, you know, if you do it, you got to give you this laundry list of things you did and who you help. I mean, essentially we left it up to do you know, our employees and trusted them to go out and pay it forward and if they again, if they felt like sharing with us, they could. If whoever they helped want to share with us, they could. But I'll be curious to see in the next few months, once people had the opportunities to get out there and really utilize it, you know what kind of feedback we have. I will tell you when league, but close to the idea on Linkedin. A few weeks ago I got tremendous feedback from people on Linkedin that they love the idea. To Talk to some other individuals. It's some other institutions that wanted to actually get some feedback on it and how we did it's because they were thinking about rolling something out very similar themselves and because the thing is...

...about the creating movement is that we're all about people helping people. I mean that's been the mantra for a long time of the entire cooperative, you know, way of doing things, and that's what crazes are and we just feel like this just an extension of what we already were. And but we were super excited about giving our employees the freedom to do that. That's exceptionally creative and you've actually even given people an opportunity to innovate themselves and see how to best supplies. So that lack of limitations is a good thing, I think. Very curious to see how it ripples through the community and what stories come out of it. I mean that could be changing for some people or just really twist people's perspectives in the positive direction, giving somebody hope. It's the gesture. That makes a difference, not even the amounted right and and that's kind of what we we have you have to trust your people, and that's one of the things that we talked about was not putting restrictions on you hire these people, you work with them all the time, then you should be able to and trust them into going out and and utilizing the the program the way that it was you you intended for it here and your vision of how you saw it playing out. But I agree with you. I think no matter how bigger how small, the gift is, the fact that you do it means a lot. That's what we're trying to do, is show people in the community that we care and that we want to help anyway we can, and you have empowered your own people to kind of use the discretion make the judgment call on the right situation. So I'm very, very curious, you know, to hear the stories that come out of this, because it could trust me, I'm too too. It's this is the first year of doing this. I'm super curious and I hope that we do get some feedback... some really, really good stories and I hope that it works out the way that you know we intended for it to so. Do I understand the setup correct? They said you handed a fifty dollar gift card to each employe to give away as they find fit to paid forward. HMM, and it wasn't even really so much. And we told them because we had a big staff meeting and we rolled this program program out, and we told him too. It wasn't that you have to tell these people are that you want these people, because you're helping them, that they have to go help somebody else. We're just calling it internally are pay it forward program but essentially it's a gift to these people that you feel are in need. Are you feel like at a point, because you know, we've all been there when you seen someone checking out of the grocery store struggling to pay for something or you know, sitting there having dinner and you just built compelled to pick up their check or whatever, and this is empowers them to be able to do that excellent, and that then they may not use somebod these individuals may not be able to do it. Otherwise I may want to help, but maybe they financially can't help, but they want to help. This is very, very creative and innovative. You said You have not had much attrition in terms of the great resignation, but what are you doing to really keep the employee engagement going? How you innovating internally to keep that excitement and in place with the people? Yeah, I mean, like I mentioned before, I think what we've done with our culture. For one thing, we did go back and evaluated our pay scale and we adjusted that some. We looked at our bonus structure and seeing how we pay out some bonuses during especially during the pandemic, because, you're a lot of these individuals were here with us through that. A lot of them were, and you know, we felt like there was some sort of merit bonus that was deserved for them, as well as some sort...

...of pay scale adjustment, and not only for individuals coming in, but obviously individuals that are here with us. We made adjustments there as well. But you know, as a lot of people say, and it's and I believe to be true, people don't leave, you know, because of pay. Generally, they leave because they don't feel like they're getting enough from their boss or it's a bad boss or a toxic environment or something like that. So you can pay them, but you also have to have that culture that they feel, you know, that's positive for them. So they have to have a sense of being appreciated in a sense of mission and growth. Right, excellent. Any thoughts before we conclude discussion on how to keep on drive innovating? He said new technologies had to be brother in the world place. How have you still build the engagement for people to adopt those technologies and internalized their usage? Well, I think one thing that the pandemic, especially on the in the financial interest industry world, is that it made people adopted. I mean that's one of the things that we were very happy that we had implemented some technology on you before that happened, that we weren't behind the curve on it, because when you started shooting everything down and people couldn't come into the branch locations anymore, they really needed the technology to be able to continue to do their their business from home or wherever it was that they were that they were unable to come in and conduct their banking, and I think that that's one thing. It's always going to continue to change and continue. We have to continue, as as a industry, to be flexible with is, you know, keeping up with any kind of to new technology that that's out there and every day of changes, I get in and ded with all kinds of emails and, you know, stuff that people are wanting me to look at...

...and to look at implementing into our institution, some of which fits our culture, some fits our membership and some it dozen. We're not all cookie cutter institutions. We may do banking, but you know, our memberships different or geographies different. You know, we it's some of that just doesn't necessarily work for us. But I would say the main thing is the technology itself was implemented a lot by membership and I think it's good because you had a lot of the older membership that just did not want to utilize a lot of technology that was out there because they didn't have to. But then, you know, when the pandemic came around, they were forced and foot and I think they've learned that it's something that they can utilize now. Excellent. Any parting thoughts? Chris says we were absent. No, I don't think so. I mean I think that it's nice that we are consiquably coming out of the pandemic and that you'll I'm seeing more and more that people are not wanting to work so much remotely as that they were before, and which I think is good because we've never were we never went remote. I mean we closed our branches down, but we never went remote and, you know, I'm excited about the future now that we've kind of started to put some listing, you know, in our Review Mirror, and I'm just excited about the direction of our organization going forward. Keep on motivating and we really appreciate your joining today. This is innovation nation. Your host is Jasmine March Roustin, and our guest was Chris Bower, CEO of Induence Federal Credit Union, from Duncan, Oklahoma. Thanks for joining us. Thank you, Jasmine. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for listening.

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