I’m not sure if all of you feel this way, but I have felt a disturbing trend in America on how we treat each other. It seems to me that our society has gotten to a point that being selfish, inappropriate and inconsiderate are now not only popular, but a show of strength. It doesn’t feel right to me.
Social media and emails are a normal way of life. It now only takes seconds to really hurt a person or company by throwing something out there just to see what kind of reaction it gets. Many times, emails are sent before really considering the tone of the communication. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to read the correct tone in written form.
I believe it’s different at home today too. I remember when I was in high school (way back in the early 80’s) if I did something wrong the punishment from my teachers/principal would be nothing in comparison to the uncomfortable feeling I received (and deserved) at home. I’m guessing that this doesn’t happen that much anymore, and while I didn’t enjoy it back then, I think that it made me a better person. Inappropriate behavior wasn’t acceptable in my house growing up and I hope that our two sons would say the same.
What happened to the day when we tried to create “win/win” solutions? What happened to the day that we would compromise to get things done? What happened to the days that two people would sit down and talk an issue out instead of just hammering away on Twitter? I miss those days, and I hope to see them return someday.
The next time something is bothering you, pick up the phone and offer to buy the person a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop. I’m extremely confident that this is a great way to improve the relationship both now and going forward. In many cases you will find that your goals are similar and that there is a common ground. Find that common ground and nourish it.
In Union Grove, Wisconsin there are two great organizations serving students with intellectual disabilities, Shepherds College and Shepherds Ministries. In fact, Shepherds College is the country’s leading three-year post-secondary educational program. It’s a little gem hidden in this small Wisconsin village of 5,000 people. I can tell you first hand that it’s a special place, with dedicated employees and great leadership. The Village of Union Grove is very fortunate to have this remarkable place located here.
If you have a moment, I’d like to tell you a story about a Shepherds College student named Tony, and one of our Market Presidents at Community State Bank named Neil.
It’s a well-known fact in Union Grove that Tony spends much of his free time picking up aluminum cans around town. He rides his bike from spot to spot collecting all the cans he can find. An employee at CSB found out about Tony and his can collecting, and told Neil about it. The employee told Neil that he saves and smashes all his cans, and that he currently had 2 full bags of cans in his garage. The employee asked Neil if he thought Tony might want them.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Neil and his Dad showed up with their trailer and picked up the cans. Now this isn’t that unusual, except that Neil was giving up some cherished family time, and time away from work to do this. He gave the cans to Tony, and Tony sold them for $50.
However, the story doesn’t end there. As I said, Tony spends a lot of his free time doing this. You might be thinking that Tony does this for personal gain as I did. I was wrong. Tony works diligently collecting the cans, and he donates the money he gets to his favorite place… Shepherds Ministries. Tony is one of many people living at Shepherds with a heart bigger than Lake Michigan.
When you get a chance today, do something nice for someone. When you do that, think about Neil and Tony.
Want to learn more?
Check out the podcast we did with Dr. William Amstutz, President of Shepherds Ministries. [Click to listen]
I would like to first thank everyone who is following/reading my blog. I hope you enjoy it, because I enjoy doing it! The topics I write about will vary week to week. If you ever have a specific topic you’d like me to write about, let me know. I’m always happy to hear your suggestions!
Today’s topic is about working someplace special. Here at Community State Bank in Southeastern Wisconsin we talk about our “work family” and how important it is to us. Now some companies only do that… talk about it; not here, we live it.
We have an employee here at CSB that is a wonderful example of living our core values. They’re a true supporter of the greater good, are a community leader, have a wonderful family, and are one of the nicest people you will ever meet. There is one problem though… this employee has a very serious health condition, which requires some extended healing time.
One of our employees felt that we as a bank needed to step in and help out this important member of our work family. So, she recruited a few other employees to brainstorm ways in which the bank could help. They came up with some great ideas! One of them was organizing a “time bank” in which other employees could donate some of their precious vacation time to help their coworker as they healed.
Recently, I sent out an all employee email requesting the need for donated vacation time. The response was immediate and unbelievable. I was floored.
Keep in mind that we aren’t a huge corporation with thousands of employees; CSB has about 100 team members. Within hours the generous employees of CSB had donated over 90 days of their personal and vacation time to their co-worker. I called the person receiving it and I could tell that it took a huge burden off of their shoulders.
I talk to a lot of people who don’t have the privilege of working with such caring, respectable and trustworthy people. I really feel for people who don’t have that privilege, because what we have here at CSB is special.
If you don’t have the pleasure of working at a great company, I encourage you to make a change. Life is too short.
Recently our Compliance Head (who I might add is excellent at her job) came into my office with a big smile on her face. I asked her what was on her mind and she said “after months of work between my department, loan officers and the loan operations team we got TRID figured out”. For those of you that don’t know what TRID is, it stands for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure. This is the largest mandated change on how we make home ownership a reality since Dodd-Frank that buried community banks back in 2010. After she delivered that great news we did a high five and I thanked her and all the others involved in making this happen. I was truly happy for her and the bank. I went home that night with a feeling of accomplishment and proud of my staff. We made the nearly impossible… possible!
I don’t know what made me think of this but another thought came to my mind over the weekend. My lovely wife and I were vacationing on Mackinac Island in Michigan a few years ago. While we were waiting in line to take a tour of the island a lady came up to me with a big smile on her face, similar to our compliance officer’s, and said “hi Scott”. I was somewhat embarassed when she asked me “you have no idea who we are do you?” Well she was right… no idea. She proceeded to tell me that I made her and her husband their first mortgage loan which helped them buy their first home in Ankeny, Iowa in the mid 1980s. She told me that I should be happy to know that they have since moved up to different homes 3 times since we “took the risk with them” at that time. She gave me a hug and thanked me for making their dream come true for them and their family 30 years earlier. It made me feel really good inside and I told my wife Andrea… that is what being a community banker is all about.
Where have we gone wrong in America? When did we go from being overwhelmed with joy for a young family buying a home to be overwhelmed with joy about being able to adhere to 2 huge government regulations? I have to tell you, it made me sad. When did we decide that it is appropriate to punish everyone instead of the large banks and brokers that decided to make and sell no income or assets verification loans which we in the community banking field called “liar loans.” When did we go from helping our neighbors build strong families and businesses to instead by scared of messing up a regulation that helps no one and knowing that we will be hammered on if we make even an honest mistake?
Now I’m not one of those guys that thinks all government is bad. In fact I think some is really important. I do wonder though how our founding fathers of this great country would look at us today. I wonder if Franklin D. Roosevelt, while giving his speech on March 12, 1933 about the Banking bill that established the FDIC, would believe the direction we have now taken this. I have to believe all of them would be in disbelief as I was thinking back the past 30 years.