2008 in review: A year of travel, YouTube and Young & Free!

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Travel, speaking and transition is how I would categorize the past year. My team and family have been extra supportive while I spent nearly 50 days galavanting all over North America. At the midway point, I stopped to reflect on the madness, and although the second half of the year was a little less hectic, it was still too much time away from home!


In January, I started podcasting. In just under 12 months, I interviewed 16 people for our Credit Union Innovators podcast. I hope you have enjoyed listening. I've certainly enjoyed putting each episode together and getting to know more about people that I admire in the credit union movement.

On January 23, 2008 and only three weeks on the job, Larissa Walkiw, the 2008 Young & Free Alberta Spokesperson, posted The Difference Between Banks and Credit Unions - Part 1. Almost one year and 43,000 views later, it is still being talked about and the blog post continues to be one of the most viewed pages on the Alberta site.


Larissa and I travelled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to present the Young & Free story to a group of directors and senior executives at the CUES Execu/Summit. To illustrate the power of social media, we interviewed attendees before our morning presentation. During a break, we edited and posted this video to YouTube. By the time we revealed it to the group in the afternoon presentation, we already had more than 30 comments from all over North America.

April through July

This period was a blur. I presented a mix of three different presentations—The Young & Free Story, Small is Beautiful and Where Does Traditional Marketing Fit into a Web 2.0 World?—at events all over North America including:

  • Doxim Exchange in Toronto
  • CUTech Spring Forum in New York
  • CUES Canada West AGM in Ottawa
  • CUES Experience in Minneapolis
  • Millennial Financial Services Forum in New York
  • Member Gateways Spring Meeting in San Antonio
  • Forrester's Financial Forum in New York
  • CUES Annual General Meeting in Cancun
  • Indiana Credit Union League in Indianapolis


We launched Young & Free Texas with TDECU based in Lake Jackson, Texas. This was a real milestone in the evolution of the program. Ed Speed, Trey Reeme and the rest of TDECU team were so open to our ideas and have been great to work with.

September through October

Back on the road for three more conferences.

  • US Central Moving Members' Money Conference in San Antonio
  • FORUM Solutions/Trabian Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis
  • Forrester Consumer Forum in Dallas

A highlight in September was BarCampBankBC in Vancouver. I helped organize this event with Gene Blishen and William Azaroff. It was a great success, drawing about 70 people from all over North America.

Young & Free Alberta had an incredible year of awards culminating in winning the Forrester Groundswell Award in the Talking Category.

On my third trip to Texas, I had a blast with Trey as we surprised DeAndre' Upshaw with the news that he is the 2009 Young & Free Texas Spokesperson.


And finally, I was off to Edmonton to let Myles Peterman know that he is the 2009 Young & Free Alberta Spokesperson.

Throughout the year, I managed to meet a lot of great people and somehow I kept up with blogging. I published 176 blog posts, Twittered regularly and was able to keep up with the rest of my work without working weekends.

2009: The road ahead

If 2008 was a year of transition, 2009 is a year of fulfillment. We have put the groundwork in place and will continue to march towards our dream of one Young & Free credit union in every US state and Canadian province. Watch for our next launch within the next 30 days (you know me and secrets)!

Thanks for every visit to our site and every comment. You've made blogging and being a part of the credit union community a real pleasure for me. I hope your 2009 brings you everything you hope for.


P.S. Two housekeeping items as we go into 2009.

  • I tweaked the CSS on the site to try a different font family and to increase the font sizes. I had a few requests from those with slightly older eyes. Hope you like it.
  • I am changing my title from chief strategist back to creative director. It seems everybody is a social media strategist or marketing strategist these days and the chief strategist title is just too high and mighty for me. Thinking is good, but my first love and strength is doing.

Challenge marketing for credit unions part 8: Encouraging participation

Merry Christmas from Currency!