One of the perks of being CFO at a local credit union with deep ties to the educational community is that I am able to participate in many different events throughout the year—and I get to meet some very bright people. Nowhere is this truer than at the awards ceremony for the San Diego County Academic Decathlon event I was fortunate enough to speak at last month. This is an event in which the high schools of several different school districts compete in an array of academic fields. The award ceremony honors the top performers—both individually and as teams.
When I found out that I was going to have the opportunity to speak at this event and started doing some research, I was stunned by breadth of what the competitors went through: tests in music, art, language and literature, math, economics, social sciences, and then interviews, essays and speeches. If there was something NOT in this competition, I don’t know what that was.
As I thought about this more and more, the real hidden gem in all of this for these students was going to be the experience; the experience of working with others toward a common goal, the collaborative efforts that they would need to put forward to be successful.
The morning of the Academic Decathlon awards event, I was listening to KPBS and heard an interview with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of the networking site LinkedIn®; he had a really great message regarding the power of networking that I included in my presentation to the students that evening. And given the fact that our eCommerce team tells me that I can write just about anything in this blog, I will share with you the message I had for those students.
Reid said that the ability to build networks, or alliances, with other people was one of the most powerful ways to be successful. Everything has become so complex, and not just what we make, or what we use—everything. Even the problems facing the world economy today are the most complex problems that we have ever faced. And it is by networking with others that we broaden our knowledge base and grow and learn and solve.
So, why should we listen to Reid? Prior to staring LinkedIn, Reid worked at PayPal™, the internet payment system provider that was bought out by eBay® a few years back. His colleagues at that time? Well, after they left Pay Pal, Reid started LinkedIn, one of his buddies from PayPal started Yelp (the site that has changed the way we find and review local businesses), and another colleague started slide.com™, which, prior to being purchased by Google, was the largest developer of third party applications to a little company called Facebook. And according to the LinkedIn founder, when each of them started their companies, they talked to each other and collaborated on ideas a lot. How do we get financing? Do you know anybody at company X that can get me in the door? Classic, entrepreneurial stuff.
So, for what it’s worth, my message today is that there is nothing more powerful, enjoyable or rewarding than working together with a group of really smart people towards a common goal. And it is something that we live and breathe at Mission Fed every day. We are one of the most successful credit unions in the country, and we are big—over $2 billion in assets, 22 branches and all kinds of online banking options. But to get to this point, it was critical that everybody work together, especially given the economy today. What was our common purpose? It was as simple as our tagline, which reads: “Your success is our bottom line.”