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EP.24 Show Runner – Billie Cardenas

EP.24 Show Runner – Billie Cardenas

•Financial Services Marketing ala Chief Experience Evangelist•

As the SVP, COO, & CXE (Chief Experience Evangelist) at Sun Community Federal Credit Union, Billie Cardenas shares with us how she brought her personal style of passion and purpose to her work and how building a successful brand, around vision and values, is truly changing the lives of members and employees.

You’ll be blown away by this dynamo; she’s a transformative executive with a track record of developing sales, service and marketing strategies that drive revenue growth and achieve aggressive business goals – one of which is to revolutionize the customer experience.

Billie shares thoughtful insights and lessons she has learned from over 20 years in the financial services industry with USE Credit Union, Comerica Bank, and Bank of America; where she held executive positions, managed retail branches, contact centers, and marketing.

We go behind the scenes and learn how she and her team are developing a culture of deep, meaningful relationships with customers and thoroughly defining the role each employee plays in the customer-centric process.

Her management philosophies are inspirational, a dynamic leader, Billie has won numerous industry awards, including the Award of Excellence, Director’s Club Award, Leadership Award as well as The top-ranked District. She is also a recipient of the San Diego Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business Awards.

Billie Cardenas SVP, COO, CXE Chief Experience Evangelist at Sun Community Federal Credit Union

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • Finding your brand’s big audacious meaning and purpose-driven story
  • Crying in the workplace – how to handle it
  • The power of sharing the Simon Sinek WHY behind your leadership style
  • Using Facebook to reach communities with storytelling
  • Email marketing – how to tone down visuals and say more with less
  • Marketing worth sharing, how to create contagious brand messages
  • A leadership style of FAIR, FUN, and FIRM
  • How to motivate for excellence & build transparency and trust in decision making
  • Mentoring and leadership growth spurts, being open to honest feedback
  • How to get your internal team committed to delivering on your brand’s vision
  • Seth Godin & Jonah Berger, how solid marketing principles mix with a new generation
TRANSCRIPTS

Kathy Cunningham

Hi everybody. It’s Kathy, and today we’re networking with Billie Cardenas. She’s the senior vice president, COO, and CXE at Sun Community Federal Credit Union. And if you’re wondering about that CXE, it’s Chief Experience Evangelist. We’ll talk about that some more later. Billie is a transformative and visionary executive, with a track record of success in developing sales, service, and marketing strategies that drive revenue, growth and achieve aggressive business goals. One of which is to revolutionize the customer experience. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and has held previous executive positions with USC Credit Union, Commercial Bank, and Bank of America. Billie has managed retail branches, marketing, and contact centers. And believes in a deep meaningful relationship with customers and a thoroughly defined sales process. She’s a dynamic leader, and Billie has won numerous industry awards, including the Award of Excellence, Director’s Club Award, Leadership Award, as well as the top-ranked district.

She’s also a recipient of the San Diego business journal’s Women Who Mean Business. Wow, Billie, welcome to the Showrunner Network.

Billie Cardenas

Thank you for having me.

KC

It’s so nice to have you. I know we’re gonna have a great conversation. And you have so much wisdom to share with our listeners. So thank you for being a guest.

BC

Of course.

KC

I told a little bit about your background. And I’d like to hear some more about your professional journey and your background in the financial services industry. Can you tell us a little bit more?

BC

Absolutely. Many people that I meet in a financial institution sort of accidentally fell into it. And I’m one of those people. I worked in retail for a while after getting my bachelor’s degree. And at the time Bank of America was very actively recruiting people from retail. There’s a lot of crossovers there. And so I was recruited to open up a new branch. It’s what’s called an installing of those ones that are inside of grocery stores.

KC

Oh, sure.

BC

And so, it was wonderful that my first banking job was actually managing a branch and found almost instantaneously an automatic success. So it snowballed very quickly from there, from managing the office at our corporate headquarters to managing multiple offices. And I lived in St. Louis at the time and moved to California. And the culture was actually quite different in California, maybe a little less work-life balance. And was looking for some alternatives and that’s when I started working for Comerica Bank as a district manager. Super great experience because they were a small credit union – I’m sorry – small regional bank. However, they were in the process of massive growth. And so in the time that I was there, I opened up 11 new branches, and that was a big entry into the marketing/business development side of it, and how to market to new communities. How to basically create what is your value proposition in a community that otherwise didn’t know anything about you. And it just so happened to correlate with 2008 when banks and credit unions weren’t looked upon very well. [LAUGH] And so there was a real objective to overcome the negative aspect that people felt about financial institutions after the crisis. I was there for quite a while, eight years, and had a lot of great experience, and had a little bit of a life change with trying to get pregnant. And a credit union approached me and I thought I’ll take a chance because I heard that it’s a great work-life balance. To be honest with you I had not heard of credit unions in the best light. People who come from baking industry think that credit unions sort of take it easy all day long, but I was happy to meet some very extraordinary and smart people. But you didn’t just take themselves so seriously. And at that point at the UST credit union, I had the ability to take on marketing as well as the branches and the contact center. I’ve been with Sun for about nine months now and came here because my old boss is now the CEO at the credit union I’m at now. And really had me come out and visit, and I found a heart in the people I was working with, and a purpose and a cause, and so here I am as a COO and CXE [LAUGH].

KC

[LAUGH] Wow, so it sounds like you’ve touched just about every department as it goes in banking and credit unions. So you have a really full background.

BC

Yeah, and there certainly are some things I haven’t done as much, I would never be a CFO. I can balance my own checkbook but there are aspects that are best handled by other people. But, I do think I have a pretty broad background, and traditionally a lot of CEOs come from the CFO realm. And I’d love that I’ve been able to bring the customer or the membership’s view into a chief level position because ultimately that is the only reason why we’re here. The finances don’t exist if we are not serving people. So it’s been nice to have that broad background and have a lot of operations as well to bring to the table.

KC

Yeah, and it’s what really drew me to your background is it’s, you’re so customer-centric in what you bring to the forefront.

BC

Yes, I’ve had the pleasure of going from a very, very large bank, Bank of America. And there’s a lot of great things I learned about that bank and a lot of great things I learned there. But over time, I’ve worked for smaller and smaller institutions because I’ve really got to focus on a member and not a number. And there are little things I took along the way, but at the heart of it, I’m very passionate about what I’m offering. And if what I’m offering doesn’t suit the members’ needs, then what’s the purpose? So I think really wowing our members and creating an experience, I think we all hear about the word experience and how we shift from offering a product to offering an experience is so important. And at the heart of it is how it makes a member feel.

KC

Yeah, wow, I just love hearing you describe that. And so that leads me into another question that I have for you. I really wanna know what a typical day is like for the Chief Experience Evangelist. And I’d love you to explain that fantastic title.

BC

Yeah, so CXO chief experience officer has actually been gaining some popularity. And it’s been a couple of years I think, but even some you probably heard him as much as ten years ago but much more popular now. And it really gives that umbrella and you’ve also heard the buzzword “omnichannel” so it’s really-

KC

Yes.

BC

It’s really that umbrella of everything that a member sees, feels. Their total experience being kind of under one umbrella, and so there is a consistency around it. And my role is basically like a CXO, although I have some operational activities there as well and we, the CEO here and I went back and forth on some titles.

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

And really landed on evangelists, and I’ve actually been hearing that word a little bit more coming up through the chain. And one of my mentors, someone who I like a lot, a former board member of the last credit union, used that word to me. And mentioned to me, I will evangelize you and your value if you ever need it. And I thought, what a great word. I think some people tie that to religion. But really it’s about feeling so passionate about something that you shout it from the rooftops. And you are the person who’s influencing others to understand what an experience is. So I think it’s a way to really get around and almost bottle the passion that I have for what I’m doing, and how much I’m really driven to make the experience great. And the officer of this really felt stale so.

KC

Yeah, yeah, and I can see where that comes from because you said when you came to this credit union, you found your heart, and you found the purpose. And I feel like that all goes into not only the title, but how you’re delivering the customer experience and how important that is to you. So to me, now that I hear that, it’s natural that you’re the Chief Experience Evangelist.

BC

Yes, so I think the emotional connection that we make with people is sometimes the thing that keeps us tied to that, rather than a good product. And so I feel like that title really embodies the emotional connection that we can make to someone.

KC

Yeah, and we’re talking a lot here in the agency about how customers wanna do business with businesses that have the same core values as they do.

BC

Right, right.

KC

So I feel like you really concentrating on that and bringing that to the forefront is perfect timing.

BC

Yes, yeah, thank you.

KC

I think that sounds great. I’d love to hear you tell us a little bit about what’s it like being such a dynamic female leader in the financial services industry. Those two things I don’t know if I see that passion combined with the financial services industry. So how’s that been for you along the road?

BC

Yeah, it’s very interesting times right now with the women’s movement, and equal pay and all of that. And not to get political or in the weeds about that, but I will say that initially, I didn’t see as many female executives in the field. And I remember one time we were interviewing the chief financial officer of Comerica who happened to be a woman. And one of the first questions somebody asked was do you ever cry, and it is okay to cry? And I thought well, that’s a question that we’re gonna ask? However, I thought it was an interesting question and I definitely wanted to know the answer. I think women in their DNA might be more emotional. One thing I’ve learned over time is that there might be a difference of, the way that you react to something might be similar to a man. However, it might be looked at differently, and it’s sad but I think there’s some truth to that. What you mentioned about people not being passionate about the financial industry is very true. And that is what I’ve seen over time moving from a big mass-market bank to very grassroots helping members. If you think about it, in all of the biggest stressors in life, finances are one of the biggest and we all know that that’s one of the biggest reasons why people divorce. Money can’t buy you happiness, but it certainly can keep you up at night. And if we can help people overcome the finances that are issues, we can really change their lives. The power of having a decent credit score and what that can offer you. So I don’t think about it in the way of numbers, even though I’m good at them. I think about really having something that can be so significant in your life, being under control. And that’s the core of what banks and credit unions should do, but we don’t do that often enough.

KC

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And it’s interesting, going back to the question do you cry, that’s such an interesting question to ask.

BC

Yes, and they wouldn’t have asked that if it was a man there [LAUGH].

KC

[LAUGH] I know, that’s really interesting.

BC

Although I loved her answer, she said yes, I have cried before to my boss and I think it’s fine. So I think it depends on who you work for and what happens.

But yeah, I thought that’s an interesting first question to ask the CFO [LAUGH].

KC

Really interesting, especially the first one, out of the box. I’m sure it’s probably meant to sort of see, how are you gonna react to this one. But it’s kind of interesting because I think maybe in a male-dominated industry, they might be afraid when a woman cries. But you know what? The interesting thing is it’s not anything to be afraid of, it’s a natural emotion. And if it happens, you just deal with it, and if you cry, you recover yourself and then you can go on with a conversation. So I think it’s very interesting to have more women in management positions who understand that kind of emotion.

BC

Yeah, I mean you think women come with empathy and sympathy. There are studies that show female leaders and companies and in countries, how very progressive they are and so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If I’ve ever cried in front of my boss, he kinda knows it’s a chemical DNA reaction, that I still am in control of what I’m doing.

KC

Right.

BC

But sometimes it’s a physical reaction and that’s what it’s. But I cry at commercials, at Facebook movies, I mean it doesn’t take much for me.

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

[LAUGH] My heart’s right out there.

KC

[LAUGH] And you know what? And that’s good, and that’s perfect for your position. And you’re trying to bring heart to the brand, and so I can see, that’s what we’re all really trying to do too.

BC

Yes, yeah, exactly.

KC

Well, let’s talk about marketing and financial institutions. I’d love to hear what you feel is the most significant challenge that you’re facing regarding the marketing of a financial institution.

BC

So as I mentioned, and something that we’re focusing on here at Sun is really making more of an emotional connection to our members, I guess representing something they wanna be a part of. And we’re in a time where having deposits is a very important thing. A lot of banks and credit unions have liquidity issues, and so I think everyone’s trying to avoid having to have the best rate out there. And I think about some of those dealerships with the crazy fluorescent percentages on their windows, and the flappy guy, the balloon thing… And that’s not really what we’re looking to do. And how do we keep people interested in who we are, what we wanna do, and building deep relationships versus chasing the best rate. And I think that is why I think it’s a challenge for everyone. I also still think after all these years, we still are overcoming challenges of financial institutions feeling like the bad guy. And there’s a negative stigmatism that comes behind that sometimes. And we’re trying to highlight what we’re doing good in the world, in the field out there, as opposed to trying to earn money. But I think the emotional connection and just shifting the conversation is important.

KC

Yeah, and I can see where branding comes into play for that. Because really building a brand and the emotional tie to that, and the process, and how you can make that easier for your members is a lot of times more important than the rate. So why do we get so focused on rate?

BC

Well, I think it’s competitors. And we’re in an industry, somebody else is offering something. And don’t get me wrong, there are rate shoppers out there.

KC

Sure.

BC

There’s definitely a strong group of people who will go wherever the best rate is. But it’s that broad and deep relationship that you can’t easily pull out of, right? And so even when I started here, one of the things that I mentioned to people was the only thing that we talk about is our good rate, but What would it be like for us to shift the conversation. We’re still going to remain competitive in the market. But now, people know us for keywords that represent our vision or values, like the word extraordinary, that we’re in the business of changing lives. What would it be like for people in the community to say, oh, I’ve heard a lot about them. They’re so cool. I wanna bank there. I wanna be a part of that. Oh, you bank there? I do, too. And not, oh yeah, they have the best rates right now. Because if we are only making the connection through our rates, then our relationship with them is only as deep as that number. And if that number changes and someone else offers a better rate, we’ve lost that member. And it’s just like relationships, and it’s trying to get them from being surface level to really being deeply rooted members who believe in who we are. And also, we have good rates.

KC

Exactly, and that’s the perfect way that Simon Sinek would describe it. You start with the why, and we’re changing lives and providing value and vision, and oh, by the way, we do have good rates.

BC

Yeah.

KC

So you don’t lead with that.

BC

Right, we actually just went through a process at the end of the year with a brand, firm, who basically somewhat like Simon Sinek, but they call it the purpose. But I think it’s similar to understand our purpose, come up with our big audacious meaning. What are we really here for? And it was a good journey. Two weeks ago, we held an all-company rally in which we took them down that journey of what is it like to discover why we’re actually here. Okay, now, how do we communicate that internally and externally so that that becomes who we are? And it’s right in line with Simon Sinek’s starting with the why.

KC

Yep, it sounds just like that. And I think that’s brilliant, I think that’s brilliant.

BC

Yeah.

KC

With the Internet and social media rapidly changing everything we do in communications, I’m curious to know if you have a favorite marketing or communication innovation that you’re using.

BC

I wouldn’t classify what we’re doing as innovative just yet. I will tell you that I was at a marketing conference two weeks ago and saw Gary Vaynerchuk. And he talked so much about Facebook that I have a renewed interest in it. Outline basically your bang for your buck, how much you can purchase and how much you can get in front of people and target through Facebook and how it’s so much less expensive than traditional advertising. So I think we have a renewed interest here to really think about that. We’re in a community where we don’t have as many people using things such as Twitter, etc. And so for marketing purposes, that’s really gonna be a renewed focus for us. Personally, I am more of an Instagram follower. But I actually have to sometimes pull myself away from social media and regulate myself so I can have good family time and-

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

Time to be in there. Otherwise, I’d be addicted to all of that. But yeah, I think recently we’re really focused on Facebook, which again is not that innovative, but surprisingly so, still probably the best place to be doing it.

KC

Yes, and it makes sense that you’re reaching out to communities. And so all advertising is good and all platforms are good, traditional, digital, social. But I feel like your vision to use more Facebook really aligns up with your vision, and your mission, and your goal.

BC

Yes, and that’s the place you find storytelling, I feel like.

KC

Exactly.

BC

And that’s one of the things that we are using to get our brand across is through storytelling. And I think eventually we’re also going to have a lot of videos on YouTube, and so we’ll have a YouTube channel. But we will have shortened versions of those on Facebook. And again, it’s for the cost. I think it’s an effective way to do it. It has a broad audience. And I agree with you, it aligns with that community base.

KC

Yeah, it makes sense. So speaking of branding, is there a brand out there, one or two, that you’re following that you think is doing a good job in marketing, and what lessons do you think we can learn from them?

BC

I have two, actually, and one of them is probably similar to many people out there. But I love love love Southwest. And I mean, down to little things like looking forward to seeing what’s on the napkin that I’m given. There’s always a game or a catchy phrase. I love the playfulness of them, the cleverness, very simplistic marketing, the transparency. There’s something so great about them and they are very, very, very member, customer-focused. Most every time I’m on the plane, I’m reading through their customer service stories. And I actually usually take them back to show what an extraordinary experience really looks like. Going above and beyond, I think they emulate that well. Last year for my birthday, and I think I showed everyone in the company this, but I received an email for my birthday and it allowed me to pick whatever music genre I wanted. I think there were six genres, rap, country, opera. And basically, once I chose that genre, it was Southwest employees at the bottom of a stairwell in some corporate office that was actually singing Happy Birthday via that genre. And I thought it was so personal but from such a large company. So I love them, I love them.

KC

That’s a spectacular example.

BC

Yeah.

KC

I love that variable and unique and just singing to you in your favorite music genre.

BC

Yeah, and of course, I picked every genre, right? I listened to all of them and they were great.

KC

Of course.

BC

Yeah, the other one I really love is Warby Parker, and I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them. They actually have a location here locally in San Diego that you might be aware of. And I’m wearing their glasses now, but they’re eyeglasses.

KC

All right.

BC

They have a similar proposition as Tom’s, the footwear, that for every pair of glasses you buy, they donate one. Early on, they understood that although that was good and they were gonna continue to do it, it wasn’t what was special about them. They also have very clever things. They started online. The easy to do business with is wonderful. And they ended up going into stores and their storefronts are very simplistic and clean and modern. But when I open up my eyeglass case, it says nice to see you. And that’s-

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

It’s just wonderful. I also love their emails. I show their emails a lot. They are one of the first people I felt really embraced whitespace. And so their emails are very user-friendly. They use symbols. They only have a couple of colors that they use. Everything is sort of center spaced. And I love the cleanliness and simplicity of the marketing and the way they use the whitespace. And so early on when I was getting some of their emails a few years ago, I was showing that to my entire team as a way to say we can tone down the visuals that we have in our collateral and really say something with less.

KC

Wow.

BC

So Warby Parker.

KC

Yeah, that’s a great lesson, toning down what you’re delivering and really focus in on what’s most important, because I think we do. I think clients and agencies, I think we try to put too much in a message. And really, there’s so much strength in simplicity.

BC

Yes, and our attention span doesn’t allow us really to take all that anyway. The average attention span is eight seconds. So if I’m gonna look at something for eight seconds, what am I going to notice? And if it’s too much, we become overwhelmed and we turn away or we turn it off, or we breeze right past it.

KC

Yeah, and I would love to get on that email list of yours. When you find something really interesting like that-

BC

Absolutely.

KC

Send it to me. [LAUGH]

BC

Absolutely.

KC

And that’s when you know you really have good branding when people are sharing. And that’s really what viral marketing and advertising Is, is something really interesting that somebody wants to share. And you’ve reached the epitome of marketing and, advertising if people are sharing your message in that way.

BC

Absolutely.

KC

That’s really special. Those are two great examples. Thank you for sharing those.

BC

Of course.

KC

Let’s talk a little bit about your personality, and your brand, and your leadership philosophy. Can you describe that for us.

BC

Yeah, recently, I read, I think it was on Linkedin, some article that had 11 different styles of leadership. And I had a hard time with it because there were only two that I didn’t relate to.

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

So I’m like, oh, what really am I? And one thing that may or may not be unique about me is I’m not a left or right brain, I’m kind of very both. I’m very, very creative, but I also am very good at math and analytics. And so I think there’s a balance there, but as far as what I would say about my brand, people who have worked with me, under me, around me, have always shared and always saw that I have very, very high expectations. I always believe in giving your very, very best in everything you do, but at the same time, I don’t really take myself too seriously. So l like to have fun along the way, very work hard play hard. My leadership philosophy is really, I believe that I report to my employees. Sometimes my boss doesn’t like that. But [LAUGH] oftentimes, when he calls a meeting with me, and I have something on my calendar, I say, well, I already have a meeting with one of my employees. And I really feel like if I’m not adding value to them, what is my purpose? And that has helped me a lot because really my goal is to make people stronger, to bring out things in them they never thought they could do all while building them up, but again high expectations. I had one person that said, what I say about you is that you’re fair, you’re fun, but you’re also firm. And I think it’s kind of a combination of that, being able to empathize with people but still pushing them. Yes, I understand, but I see more, I see that you can do more. And that’s how it sort of worked for me and sort of my perfect little, I think the philosophy that I have on it. I’m also big about transparency and trust. I’ve learned from leaders early on to create a context to what it is that I’m trying to accomplish or we’re trying to accomplish, and to be transparent about it and bring them into the process. I’m very inclusive in strategy sessions and decision-making. Not fully democracy, but very close to that, so that people can have a buy-in. And I think people have appreciated that for the most part now.

KC

Well, it really sounds like you have a clear sense of who you are and how you lead. And just really a perfect balance between, I like that fair, fun, and firm.

BC

Yeah, [LAUGH] yes, I’m sure sometimes I lean towards one more than the other, but don’t we all?

KC

Sure.

BC

Yeah. [LAUGH]

KC

Sure, and really, I can get a sense of the inclusiveness that you have, and the transparency, and how you give your employees enough information. So the context, I really like the way you explained that, so they understand where you’re coming from, and where you’re going, and why.

BC

Right, and that’s probably something I’ve learned that I personally feel and I think when we become leaders, it’s usually based on our preferences too, what we expect from other leaders, right? And so what I learned from myself is that if somebody gave me a directive, but didn’t help me understand the Simon Sinek why behind it, I had a harder time really being successful at it. But once I understood what we’re trying to accomplish, man, I could go fast and go hard. And so I think the things that I learned were important to me and that motivated me. Maybe it doesn’t always work, but I’ve learned that for the most part if I can emulate that with my team, it’s a value to them. So again I learned to deliver that type of leadership to someone else because it’s what worked for me and what motivated me the most.

KC

Yeah, boy, the way you describe that, it really hit home to me, and I wanna go think about that. When we’re done here, I’m gonna go think about the Simon Sinek leadership values. Because I’ve always thought about it as a product or a service, but now I’m gonna go and think about his teachings as leadership and how you can factor that into leading. I love that idea.

BC

Yeah.

KC

A fantastic concept.

BC

Yeah, I think it doesn’t have to apply to some big strategy or company, it can even be just in an everyday conversation you have with someone. Why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish today in this conversation? And if you lead with that, it also has a lot of tie into the 7 Habits, right? Begin with the end in mind.

KC

Yeah.

BC

A big study of the 7 Habits, every team that I’ve ever worked for reads the entire book with me, and we go through it very deep and broad like a book club. And I really believe that if you start with the end in mind, which should be the “why,” then it’s your guiding principle in all things big and small.

KC

Yeah, boy, that’s great. I just learned that from you. I learned a fabulous lesson.

BC

[LAUGH]

KC

Because really with me, my personality is bottom line, and I like to get to the end [LAUGH] quickly. And sometimes I don’t take the time to explain that, and the full transparency, and letting everybody know the why. So I’m gonna go and think about that some more. Thanks for sharing that.

BC

Well, of course, [LAUGH] glad to help.

KC

[LAUGH] Let’s talk about a personal learning experience. A time or a situation in your career where you faced a professional obstacle and how you overcame it.

BC

I would say you mentioned kind of working quickly, and one of my strengths has been an activator, which means that I think, I act, and I go quickly. And I have to pull myself back quite a bit. I am my best when I slow down for a moment in more than one way. I don’t think other people maybe learn at the same pace, and so sometimes me learning quickly shows up as being empathetic or unapproachable when other people are trying to learn something. I could have someone give me an idea, and I can be gone with it as long as I understand the context around it. And I have had a few occasions, big and small, where I have worked too fast. And people have felt like I was focusing more on the outcome rather than them as an individual. And it could be simple things between starting the morning off by shooting an email out that doesn’t start with a good morning. And it’s such small things, but they mean over time so much more about your relationship with people. And there have been a few times where I’ve shot off an email that has just not been received well it’s taken had a chain reaction that has taken time to build back the trust that it’s taken away. And so for me, it’s really about, I love to communicate, but I have to be deliberate in my communication, especially when it’s through forms that are not face-to-face. That I slow down, that that’s not the time to activate. It’s time to reread what is the intention and really challenge myself to say, is this best sent in an email, or should I take time to take someone to coffee to have this conversation? And again, I’ve had some near misses and critical missteps with that in the past and have learned my lesson. But there are some times where I still go very fast and have to say, okay, [LAUGH] how are you today?

Are you feeling better? Now here’s what I need. [LAUGH] Really valuable lesson, and it sounds like you have received some really critical feedback, and maybe mentoring on how to identify that in yourself so that you’re seeing it. Because that’s really the brilliance right there, because we all have our communication styles, but it’s really brilliant that you understand what yours is. And you’re able to slow yourself down and communicate with somebody sort of on the same wavelength that they’re at.

KC

Yeah.

BC

And I think most people are at their best when they’re face-to-face because they can look at the emotion, the body language, and understand. I also think that if we’ve had the ability to build trusting relationships that we don’t necessarily take and email or gesture as a wrong tone.

KC

Right.

BC

Because we trust the relationship behind it. We know that there is value in the person in what they are doing, and so that was something that I’ve learned from mentors in the past as well is that. If you build a solid foundation with people, if you take time to invest in people, then you can have missteps. But those aren’t judged so heavily because they know your intent. They know that you want the best for them. And that what you’re requesting or what you’re saying or what you’re asking in your tone, all has a positive meaning. And so you’re not judged as much when you have those deep relationships. And so that was something that I was taught too, that the people that I really need to be interacting with the most, I have to take time to build those relationships as well. Like I mentioned, go grab a coffee. Have reoccurring meetings to really understand how we communicate. The Speed of Trust is another great book that I love. And it really proves true that If you have good relationships with people, you can work with them much quicker, because there’s trust behind it.

You don’t have to tiptoe or communicate slowly or you can move quickly because there’s a foundation of knowing the intent that both of you have.

KC

The Speed of Trust, that’s a good one, I wrote that down.

BC

Yes [LAUGH].

KC

We have a tool here at the agency that we use, and it’s a communication style tool. And it’s very akin to what you’re describing because I think it’s important that we understand each other’s communication style. So it’s a questionnaire that everybody on our staff takes and we reveal the answer to everyone, so everybody understands what our communication style is. So if my style is bottom-line, get to the point, and I’m talking to someone who has the communication style that’s adjacent to mine. They want to maybe have more of a personal conversation in a dialogue, or I may be talking to somebody that wants all the facts.

BC

Yes.

KC

And I’m the bottom line, but they want all the facts. Or somebody who has a real social personality and communication style, that you need to understand that they’re having what we call a yellow moment. So we all kind of have this language that we use and we understand each other’s style. And I think it’s about building the trust just like you said. So we all trust each other’s communication because sometimes you don’t have the time to say that, or sometimes people need a little more time for you to explain it. And you have to realize who that person is that you’re talking to, and says, oh yes, well, I understand your communication style, let me backup-

BC

Yes.

KC

Give some more information, that kind of thing.

BC

Yeah, I think the communication test or the personality test, the red, yellow, green, or the peacock, all of those different things, the strength finders.

Those are all great ways to understand that we all can be successful and yet be unique. But once you know who a person is at their core, then that style isn’t going to be as abrasive to you if it’s not in joint with how you are.

KC

So it’s so much of the love languages, right, those love languages as well in relationships.

BC

[LAUGH] We can apply that all across the board.

KC

Exactly.

BC

And the same with clients too because it’s very interesting. We have clients that have very different or members or customers or someone that you’re on the phone with. Everybody has a different communication style. So if you’re educated in that type of thing, it makes building rapport with somebody a little bit easier.

KC

Yeah.

BC

In my field, I have a very, very big range of people that I manage and typically in the companies that I’ve worked with. More than 50% reports under me, because I have that branch network, right? And so, that’s something over time where I have had to work with so many different types of people at so many different levels that I can a little bit more move quickly into it after a

30-minute conversation.

KC

Right.

BC

It’s not pre-judging, but I can almost say, okay, here’s this person’s style, here is who they are. And that’s been very helpful for me, having so many people that I’ve served in knowing their different styles, even just the leadership style that they need and how they learn. Whether they like supportive or more directive. And so it’s been good to have that versus, I’ve had a few people who have only managed a couple at a time. And they don’t necessarily get all of those personalities, wonderful personalities but sometimes challenging too, right?.

KC

Yeah, a really good lesson. Good lesson, you’re teaching us today, that’s really good stuff. [LAUGH] So important, it kind of leads me into a discussion I wanted to have with you about mentoring. And maybe what it’s meant to you to have a mentor or to be a mentor, and how maybe you have applied that to help you become the successful business person you are today.

BC

Yeah, I am very passionate about mentoring. Although I will say that I have not had a consistent professional mentor For a period of years on years. Nor have I mentored someone consistently for years on years. So I actually was part of a mentoring program in one of the institutions I worked for. And it was, I did two different mentoring programs, one that was with one person for a six month period of time, which was wonderful. And another where I actually mentored five people at a time who all were on the phone together. And I felt that it was so gratifying because there were so many, and they’re all women, by the way. And that was purposeful, and I loved that. For instance, when I lived in California, I was on the phone with people who are in Michigan and all of these different places. And it was such a great experience to talk with them. And there’s been a few times where I’ve been a speaker at an event where it was very back and forth questions. And one of the things that I have always shared with people is it doesn’t matter what your past is, you can be something bigger than what you ever imagined. And because I’m a product of that, where I came from, how much money we had, where we went to school, nothing that was in my past should have necessarily lead me where I am. And so, I think there’s something that I can talk to people about. But flip over to being mentored, I went through some periods in my life where you have those growth spurts with your body when you’re growing up as a kid. I have had tremendous growth spurts of my leadership where I’ve seen me be at one level and just exponentially grow through the people who have led me. And I consider those my mentors, some of them I haven’t done as good of a job of keeping up with, but a few leaders who have challenged me to read leadership books. When many people of my age were not really picking up leadership books, who challenged me to take a personal interest in my employees. So I think mentorship is important. I’ve always said this. However, I have never really been able to successfully do it. But everyone needs sort of that Board of Directors of their life. Who are those four or five individuals who have unique skill sets that you can call upon when you need help, and when you need an advocate, and who can be honest with you.

The transparency and the directness that I have, I think can help. Because I don’t believe that someone should withhold feedback from someone. I think it’s

actually dissatisfaction or disservice to someone to withhold that. And I’ve had some great mentors who have looked me right in the eye and said I believe in you, but what you are doing is going to stand in your way. And it is powerful and I loved it. And so I wish I had more time to do it, but I think it’s one of the reasons why I have been as successful as I am. Because people took an interest in me who didn’t really need to and I loved that I had an opportunity on several occasions to pay it forward.

KC

Yeah, it sure sounds like in sharing your past and the thing about mentorship and growth spurts, I wrote that down. That’s really interesting on how, when people really give you good feedback and you take it in, that’s really the catalyst for a growth spurt in your leadership and all of that. I can see how that works.

BC

Yes, and it’s like your exposure. It’s like someone opens up this door that you never knew was there and you’re looking in this room. And wow, I didn’t even know all of this existed. And so I’m thankful. And I always tell people, if I’m quiet, that should concern you. If I’m giving you feedback, then you know that I really am invested in you. And it’s kind of like when your mom used to spank you and say this hurts me more than it does you.

KC

[LAUGH]

BC

It’s a little bit along with that theory of if I’m giving you feedback, positive or negative, if I’m spending time with you, it’s because I really think that there are some things here that you’re doing wonderfully and can do even better. And if I stop not calling you, if I start pulling back on my feedback, that’s when you should be concerned. Because I think there is a lot of people who have come across that have not received any constructive feedback. And the people who have led them have done them a disservice, and they have a really hard time hearing feedback. Review season at the end of the year, I’ve had a handful of people throughout my career that when they’re doing their reviews, they’re giving themselves perfect scores all the way across. And I think about what took them to that place where someone didn’t share with them about how they could grow. No matter what age we are or where we’re at, we still have so many things that we can grow and learn, because life is changing so quickly. We’re never going to be an expert for too long. And so yeah, I think feedback is a gift. I think mentoring, I think really pushing people, celebrating what they do good, but always looking for that untapped potential is so important.

KC

Yeah, there’s a fabulous book. I don’t know if you’ve read it or not, but I recommend it. It’s called Radical Candor.

BC

Oh, no I haven’t.

KC

It really is great advice on how to give feedback and real feedback. Just the kind that you explained that somebody gave to you that really lit you up, and was honest, and can help people grow. And it’s a great book, I think you’d like it a lot.

BC

Oh, I love it, I can’t wait to pick it up.

KC

Radical Candor, because I wanna talk a little bit about your advice for women and how they can excel in the workplace today. And just one of the things I’m thinking about in my head when you’re explaining this is I think women are much more likely to give really good, valid, constructive feedback. Cuz I can’t really remember too much of that from male managers, but I think maybe a female manager may be more open to giving that kind of feedback.

BC

Yeah, I do think that there is something in our DNA that allows us to really hone in on the helping aspect. And even if you haven’t been a mom, there’s something in our DNA that really is nurturing in that way.

KC

Right.

BC

And I think it shows in the relationship that women have with each other versus men. My husband and I discuss how much my best friend knows about me versus how much his best friend knows about him. There’s a clear difference in what we will talk about and we’re so much more invested. And it’s also about how offended we might get at our friends. And guys, their friends are always their friends. And no matter what they say, there’s still that type. But I think there’s a deepness and a rawness that we have. And don’t get me wrong, I think men are great, but there is something that I think we can pull out of, something that naturally is within us. And when it comes to advice for women, I’ve never gone through my career thinking because I’m a woman, things are not going to work as well for me. And I think that’s been helpful for me that I’ve never felt that way. And I’m not saying people who do are a victim, but I’ve really not felt the constraints of me being a man versus a woman. And part of that I think is it could have been happening to me and I just didn’t even notice. But the belief that I have in myself and what I can accomplish has always been what I think about versus whether someone’s male or female. With the exception, like I said, as there have been times where I may have said something or a woman has said something and it is perceived as forceful. But if the same words came out of a man, it’s perceived as leadership or a command skill. And so I do think we have to be cognizant of that, whether it’s fair or not. Sometimes, things are the way they are and we have to work around them. I think the statistics say that as many women, if not more now are officially graduating from college than men. I think this is our time and I don’t think that we should even focus on whether it’s a man or woman. Just be the best person that we can be regardless, and that’s what’s going to happen. And that’s what’s gonna really be valuable, and using our skills, whether it’s our education or it’s book smarts or street smarts, whatever it is. As long as we’re the best we can be, I really think there are few and far industries where we can’t succeed and be valuable leaders in the community.

KC

Yeah, and just being good role models – I mean, just you being on the show and talking to us about your background, you set a great example for both women and men to learn from. And so I thank you for that.

BC

Oh, thank you. [LAUGH]

KC

We’re just about halfway through the year 2019. I’m just wondering, as a manager in marketing, are there any challenges that you and your team are really gonna focus on for the rest of the year? What do you have on your plate that’s super important to you as far as marketing?

BC

Yeah, really it goes back to what I mentioned and starting to focus our entire team around our brand. And two years ago, the company rolled out a list of cultural values as well as their vision which is rooted, it’s a long phrase, but rooted in changing lives and creating extraordinary experiences. And although it’s been printed on a few walls, as marketers, we are not just involved in the external marketing, but we do the heavy lifting with the internal marketing. And so we are really trying to pull back a little again on the campaigns and products when you go into a branch. Several of our branches have multiple pieces of collateral out. And frankly, it would be dizzying to any member. And so we are going to be going through a process. Starting now, we’ve actually hired a new person who will help us do this moving to the end of the year where we start to, [BLANK_AUDIO]. Not only have we focused internally about who we are and what we do, but that a member can experience it. And it starts internally, so we have to get everyone in the company to believe in the values, in the vision, understand what is your personal connection to it. We went through a great exercise where even the person who works in facilities has to find a connection to what they do day to day, actually creates a positive member experience. And it may not be directly. You may not be the person that’s out in the branches. But indirectly, that’s your purpose and how do you commit to that. So we have a lot of work to do internally, and we’re actually going to be embarking on creating brand ambassadors. Not necessarily externally, which is what we normally hear brand ambassadors doing, but internally how do we keep talking about delivering on Our vision. So that it isn’t, that someday it’s not a vision, is actually truly living and breathing what we do every day. And I think once we bridge the gap of having us internally believe who we are, then we can now deliver the consistent experience externally. Not only from branch to branch but physically how our branch looks, what our advertising, our collateral, what our content is. So it all can align with something we have now committed to delivering consistently. And six months is a short period of time but we are going to make some very very positive advancements in that. And again, as I mentioned, we kicked it off in an all-company rally that was solely focused around our brand, around our vision, and our values on who we are to our members. And we mention that it starts with us internally. And we have work to do to get there before we can externally deliver on it.

KC

That’s so powerful, really just building your brand around your purpose. And we were just having a podcast today and someone was presenting a podcast that was focused on that and how important it is. Because it’s not only important to your members’ experience but how important is it to the employee experience too.

BC

If I have a purpose that I know that I’m working towards or working because of, I have a personal purpose. And it just makes me feel better about what I’m doing, and that automatically translates to how the customer feels when they come in, and just everything around.

KC

So oh my goodness, I’m just so excited to hear about that.

BC

Yeah, and you brought up a good point which is kind of the other side of the coin of ‘brand’ I think. It’s brand and then we’ll flip it over, it’s really the culture. And I think there is some internal marketing that marketing does for the culture but it’s also a very tight partnership with HR. When we talk about what our vision and our value proposition is, and being people-first, which is our overarching value, one of our cultural values, it’s all internal as well. If our employees don’t feel valued, if we don’t feel like we’re trying to change their lives, then we’re missing something. So that was a great point that we focus on them feeling as special as we make our members feel. And if not, they can’t deliver on that.

KC

It’s so important, wow. And another fabulous lesson that you shared with us today. [LAUGH]

BC

[LAUGH]

KC

Thank you so much for being a mentor to our listeners. And it’s just been so great having you on the show. I have one more question for you.

BC

Absolutely.

KC

I’d like to know if you have any other marketing resources, books, or podcasts that you would recommend to our listeners?

BC

I am kind of spread all over the place because I’m very creative. Some of what I look at is more on the design and creative side. But I would say from marketing resources, the Financial Brand, if you’re in the financial industry, the Financial Brand is one of the best, most holistic marketing sites to follow. I love HubSpot, I don’t know if you know of HubSpot. It’s a great way to get free education on content and social media. When it comes to books or people that I follow I am very influenced by Jonah Berger, who I think is the younger version of Seth Godin. Jonah Berger wrote a book called Contagious, and it’s really all about things that catch on. And but it reminds me a lot of something that Seth Godin has been talking about for ten plus years in the book All Marketers Are Liars. He talked about how [UNKNOWN] got its start, and that people just wanted to be a part of it. But it was something different that you focus on a tribe. And you get a select group of people to really be, now, your marketers out in the community. And so I think, I continue to watch Seth Godin TED Talks and books. And he’s as relevant today as he was 10 or 15 years ago.

So I very well like him. But Jonah Berger I think is a new a younger version of him. That’s saying a lot of the same things but almost for that millennial generation. Awesome, great recommendations.

KC

Yes.

BC

And and it’s funny because you mentioned Seth Godin. Here’s what I find fascinating being in this industry for over 27 years is that really good brand principles hold up over time.

KC

Yes, absolutely, absolutely.

BC

I mean, yeah. [LAUGH]

KC

We actually had our team, we have an executive squad that we call it here. We are all reading books together and we were bringing white pages. And so someone presented a video of Seth Godin to watch. And we all watched it, we had a great conversation about it, and then someone noticed that the date that it was recorded was 12 years ago. And we thought like, how great that 12 years ago, and the things he’s talking about is so relevant to today. So I totally agree that the good people out there, their messages stand the test of time for sure.

BC

Yes, and we have all kinds of new tools and tactics for us. But it all has to align up with the principles of branding and marketing.

KC

Yes, absolutely. Always go back to that. Well, Billy, thank you so much again, it’s been wonderful having you on. Anything else you wanna share with us before you go?

BC

No, I think that’s it. I appreciate you having me on. I’ve loved having to go through, to be in this conversation and kind of rediscover some of the things that I love about my job and what I’m doing. So I appreciate the opportunity. Yeah, you’re welcome. And I kinda feel like that’s sorta what happens. And part of the reason why I wanted to do this podcast is I think we all need to do this. I think we all need to reflect on what we’re doing and why we’re doing and why we’re really, really good at what we’re doing. And share that with other people.

KC

Absolutely, then-

BC

We don’t get a chance to stop and think about these things very often.

KC

No, yeah, some of them are head-scratchers, but you’re right.

BC

[LAUGH]It’s good for us to self-reflect on that, so I appreciate it. And I love the work that you’re doing, so thank you.

KC

Yeah, well, thanks and thanks for sharing again. Thanks everybody for listening. And check us out at the showownermarketingpodcast.com where you can see the entire interview with me and Billy and the show notes. Thanks, Billie.

BC

Thank you.

KC

That’s our show for today. Our latest interview and show notes have been added to our Showrunner hall of fame at theshowrunnermarketingpodcast.com. Don’t miss an episode by subscribing now to the Showrunner Marketing Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. And to network, motivate, and gain some more wisdom from the top, follow advanced marketing strategies on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Keep learning and growing, and thanks for listening.

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