I popped into DC yesterday (translation: “fought my way through nearly NYC-level traffic while trying not to run over all the joggers with iPods who don’t care that the light-up hand means DON’T WALK”) to have lunch with Lydia Cole and Dane Coalson, the Gen-Y Industry Analysts for Callahan, Inc. They were plenty friendly, taking time out of their day to go to a swanky little pan-asian joint a block or so away – thanks, by the way, to Cafe Asia, for terrific Pad Thai and a very funky atmosphere.
The things we talked about were mostly resume comparison – they went to different universities than I did (Dane’s a Wahoo, Lydia went to Wellsley), they were different majors (Psyche and American Studies, respectively), and they went through Callahan’s very involved orientation process. In that respect, they learned credit unions from the inside out and then went right into cutting them open like a biology-class frog. A gross analogy, I know, but worth noting because the two of them get credit union’s concerns. They’ve been given a glimpse behind the curtain that very few get, and they really do know how to get that information across to readers. I’m from a much different spectrum – I didn’t even know what a Credit Union was starting out. So, what did I know? I knew about the internet, I knew about where it was going, and I knew what was/wasn’t working for businesses trying to cash in. Beyond that? I find out the answers when the questions come. It’s a learning process for me, and it’s shared by Lydia and Dane, too. They want for their stories and blogs what I want for mine – readership. And they’ve been getting it. I’m envious in a good way.
It’s strange, thinking that I’ve gotten to the point in my life where college is on the way out and real life is creeping on in. The work I’ve done, the things I’ve tried, what little of that handful of things has succeeded – yesterday, it hit me that all of that has become my experience. The fact that there are two other people in the world that started where I did and made their way to something important is sort of enlightening. For the record, both Lydia and Dane are considered “analysts”, which is pretty big in my opinion…I’m still working on becoming the “Czar” of something, because honestly, what better title is there? But, I digress.
“You have to learn a lot about the industry,” Dane said, spilling some manner of sauce on his shirt. “We can all bank on our youth as a selling point or point of interest, but better to know the industry and have plenty to say.”
“That’s true,” said Lydia over her delicious looking fried rice platter. “I wrote an article about the recent upswing in borrowing. It’s been well received.” It’s true – Lydia’s article has, to date, received 535 reads, which is terrific. We talked about a lot of things during our all-to-brief lunch: where’s the best calamari in town; who’s coming out with what Webinars; how we didn’t have internet for the longest time before seeing our first dial-up connection come to life; how we’re all working to make Web 2.0 something that is useful to the credit union industry. But beneath all our crazy ideas and our real-life snippets, the air of dedication. The kind of dedication it takes to believe that what we’re doing is helpful – to people, to the industry, to our companies, to the future and the concept of growth. If we didn’t care about what we do, it wouldn’t just fester beneath the surface and never show. A lack of dedication online means the whole world can see your displeasure. It’s our goal to always put our best foot forward and to do unto the internet what it’s done unto us: inform, inspire, enlighten, and expand.
Leaving DC yesterday taught me two outstanding lessons:
1) When planning a trip, know not only where you’re going to go after you’ve parked, but where you’re going to be parking. $14 for a decent garage and I still nearly had a coronary when I thought the valets lost my car in the lot.
2) Don’t be afraid to reach out to others in the industry that can give you advice, help, and encouragement. Lydia and Dane know what it takes to reach the “youngsters” in the credit union arena. They’re sharp, they’re self-aware, and they’re willing to show you the way. I’d be a fool to think my own experience/the information I gather is enough – I have to rely on the people who really do know the ins and outs of making this business – or any business, for that matter – work.
Which brings me to DigitalMailer, my “handlers”. They’ve been good sports about unleashing me on the internet like some terrible hurricane because they trust my judgement. I’ve been through the gauntlet of the online world from a few sides now and each trip through has taught me something new and useful. I’m gaining more knowledge every day, finding new ways to pigeonhole it into my work here. In the end, I give them the best I’ve got and they give me a check that’s worth the time it took. How do they get the money for that check?
Because they do what I do, but on a much larger scale.
DigitalMailer gives credit unions a look at their experience and their knowledge in the form of hard numbers. They’ve helped credit unions make millions in new loans and new members. Their systems are, quite literally, second to none in terms of dependability, speed, reach and return. There are few, if any, people that do this as well as we do. We learn more about our potential to serve all the time, and we apply that learning to the process of improving and maintaining our systems. It can seem risky to hire an outside company to boost marketing, increase member participation, and increase ROI. But people hire DigitalMailer for the same reason Dane, Lydia and I all wound up with our jobs – they want to improve their relationships with the people that make up their business. In my study of Public Relations, I’ve learned about brand loyalty. The folks that use us do so for one specific reason – there’s nobody better.
I get the feeling that, barring anyone finds out about my beautiful singing voice and suave, manly looks (are you getting this, Hollywood?), I’ll be at DigitalMailer for a good long while. I’ll keep doing my best to let you know that DigitalMailer is the best at what we do. You just be sure to pay attention.