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Building Community One Team Member at a Time: LinkedIn Live with Angi Farren of UMACHA

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Video Transcript

Justin Bieganek: Welcome everyone. This is our second LinkedIn Live. I’m excited to have Angi Farren with us today. 

I’m Justin Bieganek and I’m the Founder of Mercury Creative Group. We are the branding professionals who bring clarity and purpose to teams to propel their organizations forward.

Over the last 24 years, I’ve had a lot of fun and I had the pleasure and honor to work with a lot of these great leaders that I wanna highlight because I want to share with the world what they’re doing, their transformations, the transformations of their organizations that they’re leading them through. Share their strengths and some of the challenges and just really get to hear their stories about what they’re working on. 

So, a little bit of housekeeping. Our first 30 minutes will be a conversation with Angie and her and I met earlier to kind of go through some of the questions. So we’ll have a fun time just conversing there. Feel free to toss your questions in the comments. We will do our best, to answer them while we go. And if not, the last 15 minutes will be dedicated to question and answer.

Tania from my team will help bubble up those questions as we go, or toward the end as well. This is what I love doing. I get energy talking to the leaders. A lot of them are our clients that we’ve been able to work with and really put the spotlight on them. So for me, it’s all about community and listening to the change that they’re doing and adding them to our community and you who are joining us today, like building a much bigger, larger, stronger community. 

So with that, Angi Farren is our guest today. She’s the president and CEO of the Upper Midwest Automated Clearing House Association, better known as UMACHA. 

Angi s a natural-born leader and a selfless leader at that. She is a visionary, and a curious learner, and she thrives on helping others. She has an appetite for change and growth and she has coined the phrase, which you probably heard last month from Angela, is that you gotta go slow to grow. She’s a strong proponent of self-care for her team and their success, and she lives it every day herself. She’s on a quest for Zen. So you’ll hear a nice conversation about what she’s doing for herself and her team to embrace self-care and how that is so helpful in the organization that they build. Also. She’s a lot of fun. She’s a great leader, partner, and a dog mom. So with that, welcome everyone. Say hi to Angi digitally and Angi, share with us a little bit more about who you are, and connect us with UMACHA and what the organization does.

Angi Farren: You bet. Thanks, Justin. So excited to be here. Love seeing all the folks, giving the shout-out some familiar names. So got a lot of support out there. I actually found out about UMACHA around 2000. And if you guys remember Y2K and the world didn’t stop and the system still kept going. I actually moved up to Minnesota from Iowa in January of 2000. And so immediately I took a job at TCF Bank, which is now Huntington, downtown Minneapolis, and immediately found the local ACH association cuz that was the job that I was in is processing ACH transactions. That’s direct deposit for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “ach”. It’s money movement that happens between bank accounts. I took that job and then found the local ACH association because I was studying to get accreditation and it was important to get the education needed to pass that exam.

And I did in 2000. And then in 2003, I was asked to join the conference planning committee. And so that was my first experience with committee structure and being part of an organization, which I love, I’m very passionate about ACH the network. Being a former banker, I really aspired to be at the association. I remember sitting around talking to folks saying, someday I really wanna work for the ACH association. So my wish came true in 2007 and I was hired on and really learned a lot over those years. Then in 2019, after our president retired after 35 years, I took over the association as the president and CEO. I think coming in as a member I really understand the value of what we do and why it’s important that we exist. And so that kind of brought me to where I’m at today.

Justin: That’s awesome. So I want you to share a little bit with the organization or with everyone here. Talk to us a little bit about how UMACHA is the answer key in your back pocket.

Angi: I love that. as we’re doing some fun new rebranding and marketing initiatives, we really are seen as industry experts. Our members wear many hats at their financial institutions, the majority of our members are banks and credit unions. We have 610 of them in the Upper Midwest. We also have about 55 corporates, small businesses, you know, originators third parties. And they’ve got a lot on their plate. To be able to have a number they can call, which is our hotline, or a place they can reach out, which is to us to get the answers that they need because they, again, wear many hats and, and we’re really experts. They can just call us up, and have a conversation, and we empower them to go back with the right answer and feel good about really enforcing the rules that we support.

Justin: Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Do you have a recent story that you could share of how you’ve helped another member get out of a bind or just help them through something?

Angi: Oh, there are so many. You know, I think back to even when I was more out in the field it was always, I did audits compliance services. It was always awesome when we would be out there at the financial institution. At one point I was like, written into someone’s procedure. They literally called me out, “Angie from UMACHA said”, and it was in their procedure. And so it was like that really made me feel like our membership really takes what we say as gospel and so we have to be very careful that we provide correct rule guidance and just advice around rulemaking. That’s really what we do is help keep them compliant with the rules. I thought that was kind of an interesting situation where wow, they wrote my name into a procedure so they really, really value our opinion.

Justin: That really screams trust to me as well. A partnership that you’re literally listed. Talk to us a little bit about your leadership style and how you lead your organization.

Angi: I’m very collaborative. I like to bring folks together for a common goal and like to empower others. We all lift each other up. We all rise together. So really just creating servant leaders, right? We serve members and so I like to foster that kind of environment because I’m very collaborative.

Justin: If I was sitting with some of your team members right now, how would they describe your leadership style?

Angi: I would hope “collaborative” as well as “transparent”. I hope that would be another word they would use. I’m a gratitude pusher so that’s been said to me before. Or, obsessively grateful. We were in an office environment before, and now we all work remotely. We had a Monday morning team meeting and a gratitude board and we would go around and everyone would write down what they were grateful for and we’d pin it up on the board and it was just a really nice way to start the week on a positive note. And so I’ve heard that be called a gratitude pusher.

Justin: Is that one way you’re building community with your team or can you share other ways that you’re building community outside of the gratitude Monday?

Angi:  I think now that we’re virtual, we really embrace some of the online tools. That has been a really awesome way for us to stay connected. So we took that physical gratitude board and moved it into the virtual Teams environment. We have just one spot where it’s just gratitude. Whether it’s a shout-out to a coworker, a positive vibe, somebody you know is having a bad day, or you wanna recognize somebody for going above and beyond. Then we have another group. It’s just for when a member calls and we don’t know if we wanna brainstorm with the staff, right? Cause we wanna make sure we’re given the right answer. We have a different Teams group for that. And so my staff’s very active in making sure we’re checking with each other, on rule updates and information. So, I like those tools we were able to embrace to continue that community in an online way.

Justin: I love that. Do you have anything recent that really stuck out to you that one of your team members might have posted or just shared that, that really caught you in a really positive way?

Angi: Earlier this week I was traveling, but one of my employees has a granddaughter and she posted a video of her talking in a different language. So it’s just that fun personal side that we also get to see from our staff through those tools, posting photos and videos. And that really just warmed my heart as I was on the road to be able to pop in there and see that. Again, it fosters just such a nice, warm, caring environment.

Justin: Did you feel more connected at that stage or what were you feeling?

Angi: Oh, absolutely. Especially because I was across the country and so it’s like, you know, I’m out of practice with the travel and so you get lonely when you’re away from home. So absolutely. It totally brightened my day and helped keep me connected to my staff while I was away.

Justin: Tell us a little bit about your water coolers and how you use that both virtually now and when you can be in person with your team.

Angi: Thanks for asking about that cuz one of the things that we created as a fun committee and so I thought it was important when we moved into a virtual environment, that we have some coordination around how we do that. And so one of the things out of that effort was a monthly water cooler. And so it is a day, Friday typically, where we ask a volunteer to share one of their crafts or talents, or basically just volunteer to lead. We have bingo, which somebody’s called out bingo we’ve had some artists share some you know, various ways that they kind of detach right? And, and do self-care. And so that’s what that’s all about. So it’s not “work”, it’s a time during a work day that we carve out once a month for our employees to get to know each other better and just share talents.

Justin: So you’ve evolved how you’ve gone from this hybrid approach, but you also do offsites where your whole team is together. Can you share what happens with that and how that builds a tighter, more collaborative team?

Angi: Yeah, just I think it’s important cuz that’s one of the, I think, challenges that I faced as a new leader is I, I took over just about a half a year before the pandemic. And so it really kind of created a, an opportunity for me to have a, a new slate, if you will, of, you know, we were all forced to kind of work from home for a while, but we’re a type of business where we can, we were easily able to adjust and do that. so definitely having, you know, more of a distributed workforce since the pandemic. I’ve hired additional staff that is not near our central office. And so making sure we come together a couple of times a year in person and carve out time for team building and, and fun together. In addition, our annual conference that’s in the fall, that’s another opportunity where we want all of our staff to kind of travel in and be together.

We’ve done this last one we had kind of a paint and sip. So we did have somebody come in and so, you know, in addition to brainstorming and work again, we wanna balance that with fun. And so that was awesome to be able to do some acrylic painting had somebody come in and facilitate. We also did an exercise that I wanna continue doing each year with my staff and that’s the the stop start keep. And so you have everybody, you know, what is it you want us to start doing? And then everybody writes it on a sticky and goes and pins it up on the board and what do you want us to stop doing? And then the same thing, what do you want us to keep doing? So that was really helpful for our management team. Not really, you know, not only gauging where our staff is at making sure that we can respond to that. It’s like some of ’em, if you’re longing, wanting to be together, you know, do we need to get together more often? what are some of those concerns out there? And of course the stop, there’s always too many meetings, right? We could always be more productive in how we communicate and could this be done by email? And so I thought it was nice. It’s a good way to hear from staff. So that was a great exercise. We also did,

Justin: So you answered one of my questions that were popping into my head is like, what’s something they all maybe was consistent that you should stop doing? What about what is something we should start doing? Or when I say we, what is something Yamaha should start doing?

Angi: That was what was kind of a great thing about it is some of the things it was the get together more often. I think we heard that a little bit, you know, got bubbled up. The truth is, what I really liked is, and it was some of the stuff we’re talking about is that, you know, caring nature and the gratitude and, and having the open door and being able to let people be people and, and not micromanage and, you know, the trust, I think you mentioned that up front, trust is huge in being able to manage a remote team and so yeah, I think it was, they, even though we’re not all, nobody was rushing to return to the office the opportunities to get together more often was definitely one of the things they would like to see us do more, sort of incorporate that into next year’s plan.

Justin: I love that work. and it’s pretty simple, right? and the sharing and the getting everyone to, it’s just deeper buy-in and a better, tighter collaborative team. we also did an offsite about three weeks ago with our team and it was very productive cuz there were so many internal projects that are just kind of a little bit on pause or we don’t get enough time to do it. So we dedicated two days to just trying to finish up some of these projects, plus have fun, which has been the best offsite I’ve had in probably 23 years with my organization, so yay to my team for that. Also, I have to share, and I know you’re a dog lover, Angi. We were at a client’s last week as they recently redone their office or moved and did this beautiful build-out, but they had all of these pets on their walls and they were paint-by-number, so kind of going off your sip and paint.

And the owner had them all in pictures of their dogs and this was when during the pandemic, so sent them these canvases so that they could paint their dog. and now they’re all on there, this big display wall, so it’s kinda cute to, to see all the different, and they’re not all dogs. There were lots of different animals. So, Emily, you could probably toss that link in the comments to share with everybody. I wanna be conscious of time and I really wanna get into self-care, Angi, and we really had some really nice discussions about, you’re on a quest for Zen, but as you’re going through that quest for Zen, how you’re bringing your team and, and bringing them in part of the process and, and talk to us just a little bit about how that started and what, what kind of centers your group with that and how that really helped all of you right now.

Angi: Yeah. Well, I think I’ll tie it back to something that I do for my own self-care and then I was able to share it with my staff and I return to pottery or ceramics after doing that in high school all four years, I really found a love into throwing on a wheel, the process of working with, you know, the earth, right? Dirt and clay and creation. and so during the pandemic, and it was early on, I, I was just seeking creativity and I believe everything happens for a reason. And so I just happened to Google pottery classes near me and there just happened to be one that was starting like in the next couple of weeks near my home. And so it was like the stars aligned and I started taking a class at the local studio and really immersed myself, got back into it just a total zen moment, right?

And so then I decided, well, I should just, you know, I wanna do this all the time. So I got a potter’s wheel and put it in my laundry room and I’ve gotta kiln, had to have the electrician come out to do all the fun stuff to get it set up and created kind of my own zen space in my basement. And then through the water cooler process, introduced that to my staff. And so not only that was interesting, right? To do a demo of throwing on the wheel, little nerve-wracking some other people watching. But we returned, I had a round two and did some glazing. And so with pottery, one of the things, and I think this is, and I see some of my staff on here, so hopefully they can remember and resonate with this or gimme the shout out in the, in the chat, but when one of the techniques with pottery that I was doing is called firing.

And so I was kind of explaining this is a whole different way of going about pottery and I prefer things to be very centered, symmetrical, and that’s why I love the wheel throwing it. It needs to be perfect. Well, with Raku firing or process, it’s not supposed to be perfect. It needs to be off-centered or a little bit wonky. And so one of the things that I said is just embrace the wonk, right? That came through on one of the last water coolers as I was talking to them about, you know, Raku and it’s okay not to be perfect, right? We are all a little wonky. So embrace the wonk was one of my pieces of advice to them, and they got a kick out of that.

Justin: So embrace the wonk, go slow to grow. You’re adding to your key phrases here. To any of Angie’s team that’s on right now, share  what your takeaways or what that meant to have Angie come in and share her pottery with you. 

What is a challenge you are facing as a leader right now, Angi, yourself?

Angi: Well, you know, I thought about this and definitely with our membership being financial institutions, it shrinking membership, I think is the main way to say that. I, I remember when I got into banking many, many moons ago, even just looking back, I’ve been doing this for quite a while. We were saying there’s only, you know, in five years it’s gonna be 10 main financial institutions, there’s over 10,000 still. So that number is still very large, but financial institutions, banks and credit unions are still merging and being acquired. And then that is a result of our membership shrinking. So I think you know, the positive of that is we also serve corporate members. And so some of the offset to that issue is, you know, getting the word out that there’s a ton of education that needs to reach all of the different stakeholders or participants in our ACH network. It’s not just banks and credit unions. And so that opportunity is with our program and that’s a way for companies to also get education and support around the ACH rules.

Justin: As we have this group in front of us, is there an ask you have to this group to help you with that challenge?

Angi: I would say be aware of what, what we do. Because payments are everywhere, right? And even though we say electronic payments, we’ll talk about check processing. I know checks have now gone to electronic because you take a picture with your cell phone, right? To make a deposit. And so there’s a lot of different ways that you as a consumer or even a small business out there might come about either a challenge or a situation with payments. So to just know where to go to have a resource or point people to us that we can provide that education and support you know, our sweet spots, ACH, direct deposit Automated Clearing House. There are definitely other types of electronic payments that we know about and can help you with and can be a resource. And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it and get back to you.

Justin: Is there anything new coming down the pipe or anything that you can share with us? Both as business leaders and consumers?

Angi: A hundred percent Justin. It’s faster payments. We want everything to move faster, right? As we, we live in the “now” kind of society. So with some of our traditional types of money movement tools it does take longer. Over the last five to seven to eight years we’ve been talking about it, things take a while but there are rails out there now that allow payments to move faster, like the debit card network, right? So you think about a card and you’re at the point of sale and that hits your account immediately. That’s running down credit card rails, well there are other payments. and we do have same-day ACH in our network, but that’s not an instant payment, right? Where it’s happening faster. And so there’s a lot of discussion and excitement around products that are out there in, in the industry to help move money faster and keep it secure because there’s fraudsters out there and not some of the, you know, kind of what keeps you up at night is the fraud and the risk and the regulatory compliance that our financial institutions are faced with. Another reason why they need us to help them with all the noise.

Justin: Yeah. And I’ve heard like our seniors usually get hit up the most, but it’s actually a lot of our young family members that are also getting hit by fraud. So knowing some of the challenges that you’re having in your industry, if we gave you $200,000, how would you use that money to make some big change? Or how would you invest that money to help in this situation?

Angi: So of course technology, right? and it’s more specifically like a, it would be awesome to have a video studio, right? To be able to do some of this. A platform that allows us to reach our members virtually. I mean, we love our in-person events and we missed our members when we weren’t able to get together. But I think there’s a lot of money that could be put into modernizing our education. So that’s where I would put the money if I had it.

Justin: So technology, right? Utilizing technology to leverage and I don’t know what industry isn’t trying to move faster and faster at some point. Can we all just slow down? Kind of going back to that self-care question, what do you do to slow down? What do you at night or maybe on the weekend, what is it that Angi does to just hit pause or stop and regenerate, rejuvenate for herself?

Angi: Well, I found yoga and Pilates, so both of those I try to do at least once or twice a week. So I’m not really great with that. Every day I try to create those habits, but the one thing I do try to do is meditate every day or in, in the evening. And I have to tell you, it’s a, I have a hatch. I don’t know if anybody is, knows what a hatch is, but it’s like an alarm clock. It’s another internet of things device, right? That hooks up to your app on your phone and it’s more than just a clock cuz it, it’s a mood light and it also has some kind of guided meditation. It has some nighttime stories. how it wakes you up is very subtle. It’s the coolest little device.

So that’s certainly a recommendation if you haven’t heard of the hatch you can get this little fun. And so that’s at night before bed, I’ll just go out and see if there’s a nice little meditation and just try to shut off my mind. To be able to shut that off and find that space between calming and, you know, quieting your mind and sleep. 

Justin: So if I googled the hatch, I’d be able to find out what that is.

Angi: I got it on Amazon, so Yes.

Justin: Yes. put that in your back pocket, everybody. We’re gonna run a little bit late, but I wanna hit a couple more questions and then do a little firing round. So one piece of advice that you were given that is important to you.

Angi: Well, this one is from our former president and its life is too short. You’ve gotta have fun. And I think that’s why the Fun Committee was created for me. So yeah, definitely life’s too short.

Justin: Love it. How about sharing, what’s a piece of advice that you give?

Angi:  I can’t just give you one. That’s alright. I know it’s, don’t take yourself too seriously, you know, or the job and I don’t know. I think attitude is everything and to always assume the good. Those are the things that I try to live by.

Justin: It kind of comes back to embrace the wonk, right? I’m gonna jump into kind of a little speed around right now. Favorite book you are reading or listening to via Audio?

Angi: For the second time I got through Brene Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart”. So right after that came out, I’ve also watched the Netflix documentary that is on that whole book and she’s got a group of folks. So I’ve consumed that a few times, in various ways.

Justin: So I’ve been hearing a lot from people saying they have to listen to podcasts twice. I like to read the book the second, or third time. I’ve always heard that about movies, but I’m a slow reader. I enjoy reading. What have you taken away from watching that the second time or reading it the second time?

Angi: You just pick up on things and I don’t know if it’s because you can’t focus, but I think, and it’s funny because being vulnerable, the vulnerability, and she goes through all these terms and I think that that just shows, you know, folks that you’re human. I think especially in a leadership role, I want to be able to relate to people. Absolutely. And having that, that vulnerability is an okay thing, you know, I’m embracing that.

Justin: Amen to that. Thanks Eric for sharing that as well. 

What song are you playing most right now?

Angi: So it’s this yoga playlist and we found it during our yoga class and I’ve got a couple of ladies that I do yoga with a similar age group as mine. So it’s eighties yoga music, so it’s really calm, but it’s guns and roses, sweet child of mine, and it reminds me of my mom. And so I love that. And that actually that song came up at our annual conference this year too with our keynote speaker. She played it and had no idea I had this connection to this song. So when the yoga instructor found this playlist and the first one that came up was Guns and Roses. I’ve got that on repeat now. So I just listened to that in the background. But there’s some other great, you know, easy-listening kind of playlist, but that’s my favorite.

Justin: I love it. I think music is such a game changer for kind of resetting mood and just kind of just everything.

Do you have a shameless plug or anything for yourself or Yamaha that you wanna share with us? And then I’ll get to Q&A.

Angi: Sure. Well, we’re having a BOGO sale right now at UMACHA and I love it. it’s a buy one get one on our webinar library and it goes to the end of the month. And so, you know, whether we’ve got members out there or even just, you know, you guys are like, huh, what’s this electronic payments thing? Now would be the time to like, there’s some basic 101 stuff, but check out our webinar library. Definitely wanted to give a shout-out to that special that’s running right now.

Justin: I love that. 

Who should we be listening for that we could point them to? So if I may not, or anyone listening right now might not know everything about UMACHA, who should they be listening for that UMACHA can really help?

Angi: Well it’s anybody really who works with electronic payments and so as you know, this crowd’s more company, right? Or businesses, small businesses. So if you’re not a financial institution, really payments and, and us as consumers too. But our education is geared more towards banks, credit unions, and companies. Perfect. So you’d say small businesses out there if you, you know, you usually have a banker that you work with but we’re also a support system for all types of electronic payments.

Justin: Great. Well, everybody, this is your turn to ask Angi any questions. I’m gonna put that post back up that Eric had shared, I really appreciate Angi being vulnerable with our team too. She mentioned doing the pottery demo in front of everyone was nerve-wracking. It’s an example of how being vulnerable leaders can help promulgate a culture.

I think that vulnerability is so key cuz it does make you much more approachable in a way to get to know and understand somebody in like through art. And also this is a hands-on way to rejuvenate. Just like go, go away. kickboxing for me is something that I, I have somebody telling me what to do and you’re on a bag sometimes sparring with another partner, but that, that time to not have to think about anything other than what you’re doing at that moment or what you’re building is, it is very helpful. 

You had talked about how to run a committee and I think for a lot of the associations who are either here with us or will be watching at another time talk to me a little bit about why that’s important and how that’s helped your association.

Angi: Yeah. Well and that’s, I think, you know, mentioning my first experience with being introduced to a committee and I shout out to Kate Cole, she’s actually on, and she’s the one that invited me to be on that committee. So love that. and still a supporter. So love that. just understanding that, and really for me as I was coming through the association, having that explained to me, or, you know, I think it’s just important in the work we do when we are servant leaders or serving members, that you have that experience of the bringing people together. And maybe it’s my collaborative nature, but I think it’s important that if you’re working in a nonprofit and serving members with a committee structure, you should either have an experience to by being on a committee, contributing or lead. And it’s a great way to, in a not threatening way, get experience from a leadership perspective. It’s, it’s really a coordination of efforts. You know, if you’ve got administrative skills, it’s, it’s really satisfying to pull a group together for a common goal do the work and then dissolve the committee. It doesn’t have to be a standing committee. Those are fun too. So, you know, it could, depending on what’s needed the committee could vary, but just having a younged experience in, in all types of capacities I think is important. Especially again, if you’re working at a non-profit association.

Justin: Do you have a particular structure for your committees for onboarding and sort of setting up a framework and structure that?

Angi: We don’t. And so that’s one of the things that I’m working towards as a governance school that came out of our strategic plan is to just put a little bit more structure around that for those who need things more in writing and spelled out, you know, we’ve, sometimes it just comes to you naturally and over the years you’re just used to kind of, you know, going with the flow. And I think it’s important. Folks need better direction when it comes to how to do things. And so you don’t wanna over again, micromanage, but just given some tools for you know, refresh committee charters. Just so if people have an expectation. It’s also been a challenge to kind of get engagement with volunteers, especially through the pandemic. We’re all rethinking where we spend our time, where we, we wanna put our time where it’s valuable, where we can get something back. So if you can really have a structure that explains not only what the commitment is how long it is and what you’re signing up for, think you have better success engaging those volunteers.

Justin: And I would definitely say what you’re signing up for, but what are the outcomes? What is this group looking to achieve in the end? So we all know where we’re headed is very helpful. I have a question from one of my teammates, Angi, as we get close to the end of 2022, what’s one big win for your organization this year?

Angi: Our annual conference is hands down probably the most exciting and, and a huge win for us. Not only from a couple of aspects bringing our members back together after being virtual for two years. That was huge. But it was really seeing my team. and again, I talked about, I’ve hired a few people through the pandemic and we haven’t really had that chance to all come together as, as often right as we would like. And so it was the best coordinated effort from my staff over the whole time that I’ve been at Yuma. And that to me is a huge win as a leader because I’ve hopefully created an environment where everyone is respectful to each other. No task is too small. everyone picked up when it was time to clean up at the end, it was an all-hands-on-deck event. And that completely just, I, I can’t even explain how awesome it made me feel as a leader and to see my staff come together in that way.

Justin: That definitely has to come from the culture you’re building of everyone on the same level. and again, coming back to that vulnerability you had said, released your team. Did I hear that correctly?

Angi: No.

Justin: Okay. I was like, what do you mean by released your team? So I wanted you to talk a little bit more about that. One more question. This might be a little self-promotion but I don’t think that’s intended there from Nicole, but as you were digging into the brand work with your team was there something that surprised you in the work that we did together that came to the top for you, Angi?

Angi: I don’t know that there were any major surprises, but I think it was nice to have some validation, right? And having an outside group seek our, you know, insights from our members, right? And so it wasn’t us asking our members, so to be able to hear from a third party what our members are saying about us as we were gathering that information collaboratively with you guys early on this year. creating our branding guide and we’re excited soon to be releasing a refreshed brand as far as logo and such. And so I think it was more so not any major surprises, but hearing it from a different way I think validated what we think we know and then be able to kind of align and just have some consistent messaging going forward. I think that also continues to build that trust and what our members are used to seeing from us to not disrupt that.

Justin: Awesome. And just everyone, little education to brand is not a logo. It’s so much more than that as one small little element. So I’m gonna kind of close this out today unless Angi has anything else to add or question for me or anything?

Angi: No, just thank you for the time. This is a lot of fun, Justin. I appreciate it.

Justin: Thank you. And thank you for your partnership. everyone, thank you for joining. This is something we’re gonna continue on a monthly basis. I would love it If you would provide any feedback, maybe it’s questions you’d like me to ask some of these leaders, or are there leaders that you would like me to talk to bring them on the stage and highlight them? Please share that with us here and comments or send me a personal LinkedIn message. Angie, where can everybody connect with you?

Angi: I think my email would be the best place and it’s and then our website is 

Justin: Oh wait, we have another question,  hang on everybody. From Eric, do you think there are unique challenges of leading the UMACHA team with everyone working remotely compared to when we were all in person? If so, how are you overcoming those challenges? 

Angi: That’s a good one. Yeah, I guess it’s because we were sort of forced into doing something so different. I think we kind of embraced the wonk, right? so I don’t know that, I think the challenge is that being able to have that person in-person, you know, there’s so much around relationship building that’s hard to do over the video or even through Teams. And so that I think is where we have to do a good job to make sure we continue to be with each other in person. Cuz you know, losing that I think has been difficult, but finding new ways to be able to come together I think will be, you know, I guess keeping an open mind too, to some of the ideas to be able to come together I think was important. So I don’t know that that answered it exactly, but it’s, it’s just such a different environment and I think it really, it took all my staff. I can’t do this alone, right? And it, it takes all of you guys out there creating what, what we’ve got going that’s really good to continue to support our members.

Justin: I think it’s that relationships matter and you’re so good with people that the one-to-one and building your team and the groups and that, that open transparency and culture are important and it shows. I would turn the question back to Eric and say, can you put into comments Eric, how you’re seeing Angi lead and make things stronger relationships and, and, and kind of talk reinforce what Angi has just shared. 

We have one more question.. So Dana’s question is, what is the current size of your membership and what percentage of growth are you hoping for in 2023?

Angi: Yeah, that one’s a little bit complicated cuz of the way our, we measure our growth, but our membership, we have about 665 total. So financial institutions, partners, and affiliates. And we really just look at the financial institution around about 610 members. But we measure growth based on the volume in our network. And we’ve actually, the last couple of years with some of the stimulus payments that came through our ACH network increased some of that network volume. 

So we kind of, as far as how we grow is based on that and that’s going to level off. So what we’re trying to do is project what that’s gonna look like just more from a network volume perspective. It’s a little bit unique in how we look at it, and we have to kind of follow what’s going on with the transactions in our network. And as those, you know, come down then you know, where do we make up that revenue and that’s what we’re looking at for next year and beyond.

Justin: Would you say you’re looking for non-dues revenue opportunities more than ever?

Angi: That’s exactly right, Justin. And be through the services we provide that affiliate membership I mentioned that we can grow. Those would be the ways to offset some of that.

Justin: Alright, everybody,  I’m gonna wrap. I want to respect everybody’s time. Thank you. Next month we are going to be interviewing Clara Albert. She’s the executive director of the electrical association that is on December 8th, 12:00 PM Same place here, LinkedIn live. 

And thank you to all that everyone does building our communities. And thank you for joining. Until next time, embrace the wonk. Check out the Hatch, eighties yoga, guns and roses, calming music. I gotta check that out. That’s got me super curious and life is too short. You gotta have fun. So make it fun everybody. Thanks, Angi! 

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