New call-to-action    New call-to-action    Spotify

Download

Read the Transcript

James Robert Lay: 

One of the most powerful words that can unlock future growth for you and for your team is formed with two simple letters in No, yes. Saying no or even not yet might just be what you need to level up your loans and deposits at your bank at your credit, nurture fintech. So how can you say no to grow with courage and confidence? Well, let's find out on today's episode of the banking on digital growth Podcast.

 

Greetings and Hello, my name is James Robert Lay. And I'd like to welcome you to another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. This episode is part of the real solution series where we take real challenges from real leaders to transforming them into real opportunities. And joining me for today's conversation is Jill Sammons. Jill is the Senior Vice President of Marketing, wellbeing and wealth advisory at VCU. And today, we're going to dive into how you can say no, to grow. Welcome to the show. Jill, it is great to share time with you today.

 

Jill Sammons: 

Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely.

 

James Robert Lay: 

And before we get into transforming obstacles into opportunities, roadblocks into a path forward to future growth, what is good for you right now, personally, or professionally? It is your pick to get started on a positive note.

 

Jill Sammons: 

All right, well, I love positivity, it's in my top five. And I also love it when anyone asks about my personal life, because I can't be good at my professional life if things aren't going well, personally. So right now I'm coming off of a great holiday season and have every reason to celebrate good health, happiness in all of my family. So really happy about that. Thank you for asking.

 

James Robert Lay: 

No, I affirm that. And this idea of the personal and professional integration, it's a key theme in my upcoming book banking on change that I have framed around exponential growth. And I define exponential growth is when an individual a team in an organization perceives that they are growing professionally and personally at the same time, because what's happened to you professionally is going to impact you personally. What's going to what's happening to you, personally is going to impact you, professionally. And on that note of professional growth. What's what's a roadblock? What's a challenge? What's an obstacle that is confronting you confronting your team right now that if you could eliminate that that roadblock, transform that obstacle into an opportunity, it would lead to future growth? What's what's standing your way right now?

 

Jill Sammons: 

Sure, I would say what's standing in our way is that the difficulty and knowing what to say no to you know, we're an organization who you know, and I think it's inherent in credit unions a little bit, that you try to be all things to all people, be that all things to all your employees, all things to all of your members, all things to all of the company partners or communities or business partners that you serve. And ultimately when you do that, years and years and years later that upon your itself, it leads to being stuck sometimes and knowing what you can eliminate in order to amplify the things that you're really, really good at. And differentiate.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I hear you on this. And it's been a pattern that I've heard from other leaders as well, particularly when they're thinking about strategy. They're wanting to get really clear into the few things that they can focus on that will create the greatest value going forward. There's a lot of history, there's a lot of legacy. I want to ask you. Why? Why is it hard to say no? What? What makes that such a challenge, either for yourself, or from hearing from others telling, you know, what is that?

 

Jill Sammons: 

Sure. I think it's a few different things. I think that it's it's this ability for anyone who wants to do something, you know, I like to believe their heart is in the right place. They they see opportunity for us and something that they bring forward. And we don't have a history of being really clear about what our North Star is, and then bumping everything that comes to us to decide on what to dedicate time talent and financial resources to against that North Star. And so in this last year, we have put together a framework, and it will, it's certainly still a decision that's made by a number of people it isn't you know, something but these aren't decisions that are made in a silo. Sure, but it will help us. And if you if you want me to describe it, I can talk about the framework. But ultimately, it gives us the benefit of having structure where there hasn't been structure in the past. So it forces decisions to be made all using the same context.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I want to pause on this point for a little bit more context, and I will call it Perspective Perspective is the sum of context and framing. And when you're working in an organization that has a lot of history, it has a lot of legacy. And we want to celebrate the history want to celebrate that legacy, because we wouldn't be where we're at without that history and that legacy. But the question, and the hard question is, is that history is that legacy going to be the next thing that gets us to the next level of where we're all looking to grow and go together? So with that in mind, you've already made some progress here, to have a North Star a litmus test, I think it would be helpful for those watching and listening to get some some clarity into what that is for you hear?

 

Jill Sammons: 

Sure? Well, I think I'm, like all of my peers who would say that even if you were crystal clear on your context, and framework, pre pandemic, the pandemic shifted all of that, and 2023, in particular, for financial institutions. Everything that we've all been good at, has been tested, and continues to be tested. And so you know, I'm proud of VCU for accepting that challenge, not ignoring it, not, you know, explaining it away, justifying things and saying, No, you know, what, we can do better we, we have been outstanding at being a lending institution, for a number of years. And 2023 was a year where borrowing took a backseat. And it was hard to, you know, if you're not bringing in the pot, you know, loan to share, then starts to get out of balance. And so this this seismic shift, organizationally, to go after deposits, just as an example, is something that we didn't, we hadn't built a lot of muscle for over the years.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Yeah, I think also have another credit union that we have worked in advise, for probably seven years now. They felt that same pain, even to the point to when their CEO, went to open a CD Certificate of Deposit Account on our website, ran into some roadblocks. That opened up this whole can of worms in a positive sense, because it shed light into the dark, and then inspired a lot of positive action. And so we then went in and facilitated a digital secret shopping study on that particular product line, and found even more opportunities that they could, you know, gaps, they could bridge things that they weren't aware of, and it was no one's problem, just that that part of the business hadn't been a focus, but because of the way the environment shifted, like 2020 23 shifted very quickly. Change is hard change is scary. Change is painful. But coming back to this point of having a framework, a Northstar, a litmus test, that gives us the courage and I think that's the key word to courage to say no and use you use the word. So yeah, we've we've done good things, but we can be better. I would, I would add to that context, we can be even better, and be very mindful when using that word when working with others within the team. Because what do you mean, we can be better with that we've been great. No, no, we can be even better because that that one word celebrates the progress that we've made, and also sets the path forward. Now, on the point of saying no. One thing that I've actually found helpful, obviously, if you have a path forward, and you have a framework, and we do call this the digital growth, blueprint growth is an acronym, and it starts with your goals. What are the three things you're really striving for? The question is why three? Well, Omni try and perfect them. It's Latin. All good things come in threes. So you have these three things that you're striving for, but then the RS, the roadblock, what stands in the way, and I think the more that we at least gain clarity into the potential roadblocks. We can identify them. And then that takes us to the oh what are the opportunities to overcome eliminate the roadblocks are transformed the the obstacles into opportunities to make progress towards the same goals for growth? Then we move into the W it's putting the who before the how, where the collaboration is going to come from? Is that an internal collaboration or do we need to work X internally with external partners to bridge internal capability, capacity gaps, takes us to the tee. It's the tools and the technologies that we need to move forward, whether it's the internal or external collaboration. And finally, it's the W. Now it's the how now we're getting to the tactics of how we can move forward. But breaking those down into smaller 90 day sprints. So we call this the 90 day growth method. And that's where you are cycling through four different environments every 90 days, you're learning, you're thinking you're then doing. But then you're going to create space and time to review what you've done to then learn think do even better through the next 90 day period of time. So when requests do come in, hey, we need to do this or hey, can you help us with that? Having that 90 day growth method says, Let's pause. Do we have the capability? Do we have the capacity? Do we have the capital to do this? Will it help us move towards and make progress towards our goals for growth? Or is it a distraction? Is it a roadblock? And a lot of these tools, if you think about where conflict comes within the organization, it's typically between people, it's communication. And so you have Person A on one side, person B, your team on the other side, but then the tool becomes an objective third party that sits at the top of a triangle. And now you're speaking through the tool instead of to the person, you're speaking through the tool through the model through the framework, common language comes back into play. And that can eliminate a lot of the conflict right there. But the other thing, too, is when it comes to saying no, not yet. Because a lot of times people don't like to hear no, no, we can't do this. No, we can't do that. I hear you. You want to do this, I love it. It's a fantastic idea. Let's go put that in our innovation jar. What's the innovation jar? Well, the innovation jar has typically been called the parking lot by other organizations. The back burner by other organizations, well, the thing with back burners is, things get cold on the back burner, that things in the parking lot. They just sit parked there. But the innovation jar, if you're going through that 90 day growth methodology, now, every 90 days, we can come back to the innovation jar, review what has been added to the jar and then prioritize them against the goals, roadblocks and opportunities that we've set out for the context of this particular year. So it makes the pain of No. And I know before we hit record, we're talking about our kids and families. My kids hate No. So one of the things that I've used over the years, can we do this? I don't know. Not yet. Maybe. But they've they've started to wise up that they think well, that's gonna be a no. And I'm like, does it mean? No. Because sometimes those not Yes. or maybes, they end up becoming yeses, but it's all contextual to time. And so whenever I say no, but let's let's come back and revisit that. It gives them that hope and expectation that you know what, he's not going to forget about it. So we write it down, we come back, we revisit it. That's the idea of the innovation jar, because the not yet is less painful than the sting in the pain of know, what's your take? Where's where's an opportunity to apply some of this thinking within your your own framework and methodology here.

 

Jill Sammons: 

I'm gonna I'm gonna back up a lot. I mean, I, I celebrate everything that you just said. Because I you know, it definitely resonates with me, there's a couple of things I would add, and maybe just something also to inject. One would be to add, no is actually a positive thing in a lot of ways. Very true. In our organization. You know it when we talk when we get to talking to the employees, and the supervisors and the middle managers, they're praying will say no, occasionally to some because it creates a lot of pain for them. Yeah. And it's more systems to learn and it's more you know, workflows to have to follow. Can you please simplify things and say no to more sort actually seeing the organization celebrating? I do love your comment, though. The not yet. Because I don't think I think the reason I love that so much is because I also wouldn't want our employees to think that no, is a permanent thing, and it will never happen, because we might put it in the innovation jar and pull it out a year from now. And we don't want there to be you know, just send a mixed message around so I love the idea of switching that to Yeah, to not yet. Yeah, the other thing I would add or you know, add to or maybe look at it through a different lens, you went through your acronym, and I'll share with you that in our part of the that strategic framework was first identifying our strategic identity, four pillars of the strategic identity that we were going to evangelize around. And in our case, our W, the WHO relationships is one of our, our tenants, our strategic pillars. If we aren't connecting with one another, if we can't rely on our business partners, rely on our internal teams, you know, rely on the the quality of the leadership that we've put together, and our company partners and our members, in some cases, then we aren't going to win. So you know, relationships is the who it's really, really important to us to cultivate and foster those relationships.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I'm glad I'm gonna go ahead. And I just wanted to pause you real fast, I'm glad you brought the WHO up. Because in the idea of relationship, if I look ahead, and I will first if I look back to 2020. And how much that chaos, put people into a state of conflict and just negative emotion, same thing. It's like It's like 2021 2022 2023. So can we just get a break, please? As we look ahead into 2024, and even beyond, I am predicting that ex employee experience will be a key determining factor of those who provide a positive HX human experience that can then be multiplied through a positive dx, a digital experience. So I just wanted to pause you on that point. Yeah. And reinforce that there for those watching and listening.

 

Jill Sammons: 

And you know, your equation, your dx plus hx equals growth and how you define HX as help and hope. We talk about that at VCU all the time. And there isn't enough empathy, there isn't enough empathy in you know, in our peer to peer relationships, there isn't enough empathy in our employees to member relationships, in our business partner relationships, we need to constantly be bringing that to the forefront, which is another reason why I'm so pleased that both relationships, and one of our other strategic pillars is technical agility. So that technical agility and relationships are two of the four strategic pillars we have, I think, is a nod to that. That idea that you can't have a great digital experience if you don't have a great human experience. And vice versa.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Very true. And you use the word technical agility. Once again, I want to just amplify this for those watching and listening. So you mentioned the the equation dx plus h x equals growth. Well, that was banking on digital growth. And then I realized very quickly through the pandemic experience that I missed such a key element, I had to go back and write a whole new book, which is where banking on change came from, because the read the reformulated equation is in parentheses, e x plus h x, outside parentheses, and another parenthesis is dy dx. That's the multiplier right there. But come back to this idea of technical agility, agility, or AQ, adaptability quotient. From my experience in working with other leaders. This is not something that a lot are thinking about right now, if you think there's three levels of intelligence, you have IQ, it's kind of like what you know, EQ back to your point of relationship. It's how you connect. But then there's the AQ component is how, how adaptable Are you and for simplicity sake, we'll look at the works of Carol Dweck, growth mindset. And Angela Duckworth, grit. So grit and growth mindset are two key elements for a cue. The good news here is AQ, and something we're working with organizations AQ can be benchmarked. And that can be coached and elevated. And so if you look at formulas and equations, EQ plus AQ, is greater than IQ alone, particularly now more than ever before in the age of AI. I think the more that we can encourage those to build their EQ muscle but also their AQ muscle that really creates another growth multiplier. God want to know the fastest way you can build your AQ tell me take a cold shower every single day. Scientifically proven, scientifically proven to increase your endurance To adapt to environmental stimulus. And that's what this is COVID environmental stimulus, loan to deposit environmental stimulus. When you take that cold shower, you are forcing your body into a new environment. And you know, it's gonna be painful. So your, your mind is like, don't do this, this is gonna hurt. But you're overriding you're you're responding, not reacting, you're responding and saying, No, I'm doing this because I know, the ability to increase my adaptability starts here. And then there's a slew of other health benefits with cold therapy. We're gonna put that on the pause and the backburner innovation jar for this moment. But I just wanted to add add to that thought here for you when you're thinking

 

Jill Sammons: 

Oh, thank you for that tip. I appreciate it. Although I will say because you're in Texas, right?

 

James Robert Lay: 

And I'm getting some really, I mean, we got 20s Come in, and I'm getting some really cold water come out of the shower. Like, I'm not gonna lie, I went to Amazon about a rubber ducky. So I could test the water temperature. And we're getting like out of the faucet now about 4550 degrees.

 

Jill Sammons: 

So okay, we're just gonna say, I'm in Chicago, right? So maybe this is the wrong time a year to be advocating for cold showers. But I'm up for it. I'll, I'll give it a whirl. My husband will be very happy. Yes, yeah.

 

James Robert Lay: 

When the water bill comes, that's, that's right. That's right. In my four kids, they've actually taken up this behavior, this practice themselves, not coached, not encouraged, but just they watch, and they observe. And I'm like, wow, you're you're gonna have some very strong minds going forward. It's awesome. As we start to wrap up here, what's one thing that you can take back and apply to continue to move forward on your journey of growth here?

 

Jill Sammons: 

Well, I think, in the context of this conversation, what what I really would say to any of my peers, any listeners, watchers would be that be brave enough to invert the pyramid. And I know you talk about that in your book, your first book, as well. So yeah, I need I need, I need the new book to come out. But have the courage to invert that pyramid and and say Not yet. They Yes. And when we're doing our brainstorming, but keep human at the forefront. And and by human, I mean, talk to your frontline staff, talk to your middle managers, just like the example you gave about the secret shopper and the CEO trying to open up a CD. If you want to know where the holes and the gaps are in your organization, talk to the the frontline people talk to your middle managers. And so have the courage to do something about that and keep forging the path on an AQ and the technical agility. But really don't lose sight of the the emotional intelligence that it takes to bring it all together.

 

James Robert Lay: 

And add one more thought practically speaking, create a don't do list. So I think a lot of times we say, well, what are we gonna do this year, we're gonna add something new, we're gonna add, we're gonna add to the list. But anything you add to the list, you got to take something off the list. And this is the hardest part, what are you going to let go of? What are you going to say no to, to grow? What are you going to let go of, to continue to grow. And when you create that don't do list. And I'm writing about this in the banking on change. It really creates a strategic asset in a hard, challenging discussion. I like discussions like this, because diamonds are forged under pressure. But it's what are we going to say no to what are we going to stop doing so that we can start doing these new initiatives that create that much more value going forward? For these particular members for these particular employees, all transformation that starts within then it goes to the team, from the team to the organization for the organization can spill over into the lives of the members and the communities that we're serving. Jill, this has been a fantastic discussion, fantastic conversation. If someone's wanting to connect with you, and we're always looking to just continue to expand the digital growth community at a larger global level. What's the best way for them to reach out say hello to you?

 

Jill Sammons: 

Oh, I'd love for anybody to reach out to me on LinkedIn or reach directly to me at VCU. I'm it's jill.salmons@bcu.org.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Connect with Jill. Learn with Jill. Grow with Jill. Jill. Thanks for joining me for another episode of the banking on. 

 

Jill Sammons: 

Yes, this has been a lot of fun. appreciate being here. Thank you

Brief Summary of Episode #366

"No" is one of the most powerful words that can unlock future growth for you and for your team.

Saying "no" or even "not yet" might just be what you need to level up your loans and deposits at your bank, credit union, or fintech.

In this episode, part of the Real Solutions series, we're joined by Jill Sammons, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wellbeing, and Wealth Advisory at BCU.

Together, we'll dive into how the strategic use of "no" can be a catalyst for growth in loans, deposits, and overall business success.

Join us as we uncover practical ways to say "no" with courage and confidence, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth.

 

Key Insights and Takeaways

  • Overcoming obstacles to growth in a legacy organization (1:27)
  • Employee experience, relationships, and technical agility (13:28)
  • Leadership and personal growth (20:47)