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Maximum Impact: How to Reimagine Your Credit Union’s Product Strategy

Judah Musick of Red Rocks Credit Union

Want to make a meaningful difference in your community? Maybe it’s time to align your impact strategy with your product and marketing strategy. As Judah Musick, former Chief Innovation Officer at Red Rocks Credit Union, has learned firsthand, you can connect the dots by focusing on employers as the key to sustainable community impact that scales and produces financial results.

That’s to say, if you’re wondering what your community needs, think first about what your employees need. From a financial wellness standpoint, the hierarchy of employee needs typically are not met by most HR departments. Musick joins us on The Remarkable Credit Union to address this month’s BIG question: How can credit unions better align their product strategy and impact strategy, and might employee benefits be one piece of the puzzle? 

 

Key takeaways

  1. The lack of dignity in the way support nonprofits are set up means that 90% of those suffering will never get help. Anonymous support is the key.
  2. Working with employers to address employee needs is the key to scalable and sustainable community impact. The hierarchy of employee needs are:
    • Create positive cash flow and get out of high-interest debt
    • Create emergency savings
    • Get out of consumer debt
    • Save enough for long term major expenses and retirement (401k / Wall Street’s strategy)
    • Give back to the community
  3. The first three are unmet by traditional retirement plans and perfectly aligned to credit unions’ strengths. By focusing on these needs for their employees, credit unions can better align their impact strategy and product strategy.

Read the full transcript:

Cameron:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Remarkable Credit Union podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology, and community impact. We bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual, and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative, and magnify the positive impact in your community.

Cameron:
Today’s big question, why is it that product strategy and impact strategy for credit unions are so often thought of separately? Might each be more effective if they were considered together? And might employee benefits be one of the answers to this problem? Today I’m very excited to welcome Judah Music, the executive director for the community impact fund the 501c3 for Red Rocks Credit Union in Colorado. Previously, Judah served as the chief innovation for Red Rocks Credit Union in a multi-year engagement to address this very question that we’re talking about. Judah also has quite a bit of experience as a serial software entrepreneur focused on lean startup and design thinking, which we’ll hear about today. And quite interestingly, he was a commercial pilot before he got into software, which he described to me as basically the complete opposite of being an entrepreneur. Judah, thanks for joining us today.

Judah:
Thanks Cameron. Happy to be here with you.

Cameron:
I’d love to start with, can you just tell us a little bit about your current role as executive director for the Community Impact Fund as well as what you’re doing previously as the chief innovation officer for Red Rocks Credit Union?

Judah:
Yeah, so it’s actually a really interesting story. I was running a travel startup in 2017 and it was taking me out internationally quite a bit. So I was in London with one of my larger clients, and I was signing probably the biggest contract of my career to date with this client. And it hit me right as I signed that contract, that what is my business about? What is my why? How am I making an impact with this contract?

Judah:
And it just really started a line of thinking. So when I got back to Denver after that trip, I started doing a little research, a little digging into my own community. So I live South of Denver in Colorado in a community called Castle Pines in Douglas County. And really I just Google search Douglas County. And what I found was Douglas County was the fourth, highest income County in America.

Judah:
So out of the top 10, most were in like New York, New Jersey, that corridor. And then there’s this real outlier of Douglas County, Colorado at number four. And then I Googled, “What are the needs of Douglas County?” And this stat popped up, it was actually on the website of a food bank, and it said 45,000 households living in poverty in Douglas County growing at 10% per year. Now, granted this is 2017, so well before any pandemic, which would make this worse.

Judah:
That was shocking to me, 45,000 households in the country’s fourth highest income county were living in poverty to the point of food insecurity. And so I just felt like it was Christmas time. And I felt like I was looking for a little side project, maybe a passion project some people call it and started doing some lean startup design around this problem of poverty in my own neighborhood, really, in the midst of wealth.

Judah:
And I did an interview with the CEO of that food bank. His name is Dennis Gordon, he’s the CEO at C Corp, the largest food bank in Denver. And he right away identified the problem. And he looked me in the eye after I asked him a few questions and he said, “You know what, Judah? The real problem is the lack of participation because of dignity.” Meaning the majority of those families, he estimated 90% of those families would never step forward and admit that they’re struggling with their finances if it meant that they got exposed, that their dignity was compromised, if you will.

Judah:
And so most of those families, the reason you don’t hear about it, suffer in silence. And so I took that kind of as our problem worth solving and started kind of ideating around dignity. And it really kind of just dawned on me that privacy was really the solution to overcoming someone’s issues with being exposed with money problems.

Judah:
And so we came up with this crazy idea to do a delivery, a food delivery that was anonymous. And we partnered with the local grocery store King Soopers. We said, “You know what? If we don’t call people out, but they need food. How do we get it to them? Well, let’s keep it private.” So we did a little MVP, a little prototype app. This was Christmas time of 17, to deliver groceries where people would order online with their mobile phones on the grocery store’s mobile ordering app. And then we just paid for it and delivered it.

Judah:
And we were really testing around this notion of would people participate. And the impact from that was so tremendous. It was so real, meaningful, lives literally they changed over $200 worth of groceries delivered into the suburbs of Douglas County, that when people heard those stories after Christmas time, we delivered five deliveries by Christmas of 17 and stories went around. And by January of 18, I had over $300,000 donated to the cause.

Judah:
Now I wasn’t even a cause at the point. This was just side project. So there’s no non-profit until we figured out we couldn’t cash those checks without having a non-profit. So literally cashed the first check through my church and then used that money to pay the legal fees to get a nonprofit set up so that we could invest that money into furthering what we had kind of stumbled into.

Judah:
So I’ll pause there and see if there’s any questions. But that was really how CIF of started. And then there’s more to that story and especially how it relates to the credit union.

Cameron:
Yeah. I mean, that’s what I’d love to know, is it seems like this was a inflection point in your life. And so how did that lead you to Red Rocks Credit Union? What were you hired to do? And how has that evolved to what you’re doing today?

Judah:
Yeah, so like I said, we uncovered that respecting dignity was really the key to helping our neighbors. And so, what we used that money for is we built an app. At the time, it was called You Raise. The notion was you could help your neighbors. You could raise them up by donating to needs that otherwise you would not know about. So the stats show that your neighbor is likely struggling with financial scarcity with pretty big financial problems. But they’re not going to tell you, so how do you help them?

Judah:
And so we invested that money into an app. And I started once it was built, speaking all over town. So I would speak at chamber of commerce, churches, school district, all over. I spoke at my kid’s back to school night. And we were just sharing this app that we built to help you basically meet a need of a neighbor.

Judah:
And what I noticed was that every single time I spoke, there’d be even your typical line of people with questions afterwards. But what I realized was that the line of people in this case were always business owners, CEOs, or executives. And at first I was like, “Nice to meet you. You want to donate to the cause?” And-

Cameron:
Right.

Judah:
They’re like, “No, not at all. I’m actually really interested in what you’re doing because my employees are struggling with all of these issues, these financial issues, whether it’s cashflow, lack of emergency savings, too much consumer debt, et cetera. And I was just curious if I could take a look at the app to see if I could use it in my workforce.” And that happened, Cameron. I mean, literally that probably happened six or seven times before I actually figured it out. And it was that employees are the community. And it’s the employers that are getting hurt by this idea of financial scarcity.

Judah:
It’s really disruptive to the business. And that if we could create a benefit that just like a 401k benefit helps people save for retirement, could help people with their immediate needs, their financial needs, whether it’s a form of removing a roadblock in benevolence, it’s covering cashflow with some type of income advance loan, it’s building an emergency savings for the first time or it’s getting out of debt. We could build a FinTech benefit platform. And so that’s what we did.

Judah:
In that process, one of those CEOs happened to be Pat Ahern the CEO of Red Rocks Credit Union. And once we started talking, it was really evident that the credit union was perfectly suited to write the products that met the needs of the community and that we should start doing this. He kind of gave me a promise that, “Hey, we want to be best in the world at employee and member care.”

Judah:
And what that means is to actually understand what the problem is from a lean startup standpoint, what is the problem that you’re solving? And then use our experience and our product set to actually align or merge our impact strategy with our product strategy. And so that’s what I’ve been working on for the last two years with Red Rocks. And ironically CIF, the nonprofit that was founded in the beginning of the story is a major component of how do we leverage charitable giving in this equation as well? Because everyone’s on a journey from survival to impact on Maslow’s hierarchy of need. But once you get towards the top, you have this amazing opportunity to help those below you through giving. And so the Community Impact Fund, which I’m leading now is our 501c3 giving strategy that allows the credit union to actually help its employees and members with things that they’re struggling with. And it also unlocks impact with those that are able to give.

Cameron:
So, as a business owner myself, when we first spoke, I guess this is our third or fourth conversation at this point, your passion in what you guys were doing really resonated with me. And I’ll tell you a brief story about it, was several years ago, we had an employee and I’ve had this, I think, occasionally off and on who didn’t opt in for our 401k. And it really kind of bugged me because as a business owner, I’m like, “Hey, we provide this for you. We’re incentivizing retirement savings. It’s free money.”

Judah:
Yeah.

Cameron:
All you have to do is take 3% of your paycheck, and I realize now how bad this sounds right? But in my mind, I’m like, “All you have to do is take 3% of your paycheck, it’s actually pre-tax money. So what’s not going into your pocket is actually even less, it’s like 2% of your paycheck that you’re forgoing and putting straight into savings. And we match that a hundred percent. Who wouldn’t want to do that?”

Cameron:
And so it’s something I always watched and we really kind of encouraged people to do. But I basically learned that, you talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that this person had because of specific life circumstances it was basically an impossibility they felt to take that money out and actually that it was irresponsible, that they needed more short-term cash flexibility.

Cameron:
And so I felt like now this program that I thought was this great thing. And this is someone I very much respected, very smart, very capable, that I’m actually kind of penalizing them because they have more difficult life circumstances, which is of course the opposite of what we want our benefits to do. And it really got me thinking like, why are benefits designed the way they are? Do they really meet the needs of our employees? How should we structure them differently?

Cameron:
And so that led us on a mini journey that I think you can hopefully help us to get even better, but including things like the income advanced loans you talked about of offering 0% interest, payday advance loan, so that people aren’t going to payday lenders under certain circumstances. But you’ve really thought about this holistically, that this kind of villain you talked about of not understanding what our employees really need, as well as just that human need for dignity, that it seems like so many programs don’t account for.

Cameron:
So I’d love to hear, can you tell us about this made to impact program you’ve built and especially I feel like you’ve done a lot of good thinking about why do you think employee benefits are structured backwards in terms of what employees really need?

Judah:
Yeah, that’s a great question. Everybody’s heard the brother-in-law or the boss or the father-in-law say, “It’s free money. Take advantage of free money.” And yet we’ve really not considered what the problem is that individual is dealing with. So 401k is retirement plans, for example, right? Brilliant strategy by the retirement industry. The first 401k came to market in 1978. Nobody cared about it. Finally, the tax consultant that figured out, started doing it with his own employees. And now you look around, everybody’s got a 401k plan. And that’s what we consider a financial benefit.

Judah:
And yet we haven’t really looked at the hierarchy of needs to understand what people are going through in their own personal finances. And so if you’ve got, stats will show 30% of American workers have a negative cashflow every single month, every paycheck, negative cashflow, which is sending them further into debt. And that’s the villain in the story, by the way. High interest consumer debt, in my opinion, is the villain in this story.

Judah:
But if you’ve got negative cashflow, you have no emergency savings and you’re accruing more and more high interest consumer debt, which is a large population of our employees, your 401k benefit with your quote unquote free money is absolutely not attractive. I’m trying to survive. I’m trying to put food on the table. I’m bleeding cash. And I’m trying to figure out how to pay rent. And so your idea of free money and a match and a retirement plan is actually four levels up the hierarchy.

Judah:
So what we figured out was, there is a hierarchy as it relates to our finances. Survival is the first level. And this really relates to cashflow and this whole idea of income advanced loans, and just bridging the timing of pay, not necessarily increasing the amounts of pay, unless it needs to be. My bills are due on Wednesday, but my paycheck doesn’t come out until Friday. I’m going to get hit with hundreds of dollars of penalties and fees and late fees, overdraft fees, if I don’t make it. So what do I do? Where do I turn? Who can help me? My credit might not be great. So I can’t get traditional loans. Where do I go? And that’s when it gets really bad.

Judah:
So survival’s a big deal for a large percentage of your employees. You keep moving up, you then see safety and security is the next level. Well the stat before the pandemic was that your average American employee had less than $400 liquid for emergencies. So you cannot feel safe and secure driving to work on a Monday with less than $400 in liquidity. It’s absolutely impossible. So you combine those two levels and you’re now talking about 60 to 70% of all employees, regardless of industry.

Judah:
Go up one level further, consumer debt has to be tackled and then long-term savings, retirement savings, retirement readiness. So your 401k is close to the top of the hierarchy of needs. The only thing left beyond it is your desire to have an impact or to leave the world a better place and to give. So we’ve kind of prioritized cashflow, emergency savings, debt elimination, long-term savings, and giving as the steps to a financial plan that would work for anyone. And ironically it’s credit union products that make up the first three levels that have been for the most part, not ignored, but they haven’t been focused on employee benefits like the retirement industry has with the 401k. Does that make sense?

Cameron:
Yeah, absolutely. And can you tell me, I also love this comment you made about, we’re trying to align our impact strategy with our product strategy. Because what I hear most often, and I’m sure this is also an artifact of the fact that pixel spoke is a digital marketing website company, so people don’t really talk to us about designing their checking accounts, which is probably good because I don’t know that we know how to do that. But what I hear most often is kind of, “Oh, how do we use impact to better market ourselves?” And very rarely do I hear people thinking holistically about, well, what kinds of products do we sell? What kind of impact did they create? And how could that be an opportunity?

Cameron:
So can you talk about why you see this is an opportunity not just for impact, but also for improved financial performance and growth for the credit union?

Judah:
Yeah. We really see a huge opportunity for credit unions to make an impact in their communities, but also be okay doing well in the process financially. And the reason that’s possible is that through the product, like you mentioned, not the side giving strategy. And so what most businesses do in this country to have an impact is they create a corporate social responsibility department or division. They figure out what their cause is. And they fund work in that cause. And that’s their form of impact.

Judah:
And what we know is that things are changing pretty fast where businesses are actually figuring out how not to segregate their impact strategy, their corporate social responsibility from the actual products that they sell in the marketplace. And there’s really no better opportunity or alignment than in the credit union space because these products have impact. And if you align your product strategy with your impact strategy to do good, you can’t help but do well in business because there’s so much need in the marketplace for those products.

Judah:
And so that’s all we’ve done over the last two years at Red Rocks is really identify our own products, really kind of strip them back to the core, and figure out what we can do to have an impact with our own suite of products. And so for example, we found the Rhino Foods case study on income advanced loans, and we really that. And we figured out how they were doing it with local credit unions and they’re a B Corp that got a lot of publicity around this income advanced loan.

Judah:
And we said, “Hey, I think we could do it as well, but do it slightly better, improve upon it. And what if we attached the income advance loan to a emergency savings account? And we did it at a emergency overdraft line of credit. So every savings account that a new member opens with us automatically has this overdraft line of credit if they need it at the same, very low interest rate. And what if we could tap into the payroll and do a payroll deduction so that we could incentivize the 401k, these employees to contribute to their savings account, every single paycheck? And if they hit a goal of a certain dollar amount, say a $1,000 or $2,000, we actually could incentivize them for meeting that goal. And we could cheer them on. We could coach them. And then what if it didn’t stop? So you went from helping someone bridge cashflow to build an emergency fund for the first time in their lives of $2,000, to then tackling their high interest consumer debt through a debt elimination loan product.”

Judah:
And so we’ve just been innovating. And here’s the funny thing is there’s almost zero true innovation in these products. We’re not fundamentally changing them. In fact, when the credit union was founded by employees at Red Rocks case of Lockheed Martin, Martin Marietta, they were founding the credit union for this very exact purpose, to help each other bridge cashflow, save for emergencies and get out of debt. And so what’s ironic as my title is chief innovation officer was really more about innovating around how we see ourselves, how we align our impact strategy with our product strategy, and how we tell that story.

Cameron:
So let me just see if I can state this back to you, see if I heard you correctly, because I’m keenly interested both as a podcast host and a business owner. So the villain in this story is, as you said, basically high interest on basic cashflow needs and that you’ve outlined that this is all on madetoimpact.com, by the way.

Cameron:
So I’m looking at this site and it’s basically a version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This kind of notion that as human beings, the highest level is actualization some kind of deep connection of purpose, but that we can’t even really think about that stuff unless we have food, shelter, water, and healthy relationships. And so it kind of goes up this pyramid.

Cameron:
And you’ve recast this around what you call human centered benefits. And so that our employees are mostly concerned about level one, which is just basic needs are met, as you call it, to create positive cashflow. Level two is an emergency savings fund for those things that come up, a car breaking down, et cetera, losing a job, medical emergency.

Cameron:
Level three is consumer debt is paid off. So that’s where you’re no longer basically constantly spending cash servicing your debts. And then only at level four, do you get to most traditional benefits around retirement readiness, saving for long-term major expenses. And then level five, as you said, is where from financially, it would turn around to sort of like charitable giving contribution where you have enough abundance that you want to give back. That basically employee benefits are all built around level four and that credit unions, right in their hands, have access to everything needed to address level one, two and three.

Cameron:
And so I guess I’ll stop there. Is that a pretty correct statement of what you see the opportunity is?

Judah:
Yeah, it’s the greatest missed opportunity in the last 50 years, in my opinion, is credit unions not doing the exact same thing in the benefits space that Wall Street did. Wall Street as a marketing strategy, as a messaging strategy, tying into the employer benefit payroll to fund every single paycheck, their own accounts. It was brilliant. And we’ve all bought into that. And there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s great. It’s an amazing benefit for those who need it.

Judah:
The missed opportunity is that 80% of the employees in America don’t need it. I mean they do, but they’ve got more pressing higher priority issues to solve which the credit union can solve for them and with them. And so to not take advantage of that opportunity is really what I think a lot of us have missed and that I’m excited to be kind of testing out in the marketplace.

Judah:
And I’ll tell you, the demand for these types of services could never be higher. The demand was always high. But then you throw in a global pandemic and now people, CEOs cannot ignore the fact that a well deserved paycheck and good benefits is enough. And one of the key things that we found is that it’s truly the employer that is the key to sustainable and scalable community impact, regardless of what the industry is.

Judah:
It’s not the government. It’s not nonprofits. It’s not the churches; it’s employers. And that starts with some real key building blocks around and a paycheck to be able to do what you need in life. But how else can we help our own employees?

Cameron:
Yeah, I mean, that just resonates completely. And I think to your comment about credit unions, having all those products, but I can say as a business owner, it’s really hard. We sort of cobbled together our own income advanced loan, and it’s just very frustrating to feel like we’re, even as we’ve become aware of these problems, we’re having to invent it on the fly.

Cameron:
And you know, we’re a small business. The idea of having a partner who would have something tailored around this is incredibly appealing. So it makes sense to me that the demand is there. I’d love to hear a little more of your thoughts about, because you kind of touched on this with the story of origin at Red Rocks and how things maybe had evolved over time. But why do you think credit unions as a whole have such a strong commitment to impact, but don’t know how to bring that forth into the market consistently? There seems to be very little kind of consensus or alignment around how to make that a reality.

Judah:
It’s such a big question, right? I think it stems with how they were founded, the tax status, 501c14 tax status around being not for profit. So for all intents and purposes, banks that have a certain set of products that are profitable, but the profit’s reinvested back into the member and in the community. I mean, that’s the essence of why I believe credit unions are wired to have an impact.

Judah:
Now, why don’t they have maximum impact? Why are they not having more impact? Why are their impact strategies not aligned with their product strategies? Is really an interesting question. And I think we’ve just gotten comfortable with business as usual, with the status quo, with growing membership and deposits and loans without really wrestling with some of the hard questions around the problems in our own communities and how to best solve them.

Judah:
I think it fundamentally comes back to the big question that you asked at the top, is are we just trying to generate a profit so that we can give to charities that are doing the good work in our community to causes that we care about? Or are we fundamentally made to impact? Is our credit union the answer that our community is looking for from an impact standpoint? Can our products solve these problems better than the alternatives that are out in the market?

Judah:
And I’ve heard some people talk about income advance loans around, “Well, if you know that your employees and your members and your community are getting taken advantage of by predatory lenders because there’s no other way to go, are you part of the problem by letting it happen? Or should you be innovating around how to be part of the solution?”

Judah:
And so I don’t think it’s good enough for companies going into the future who are trying to have an impact to just generate a profit and give it away and feel like they’ve done the most they can do to better their own community. I really believe that B Corps and companies that are trying to have corporate social responsibility need to innovate to figure out how their products and services are the solution to the community’s problems.

Cameron:
Yeah. I think that holistic approach really appeals to me. And I’m curious to hear more. I know in your past, you did a bunch of work in social entrepreneurship, so just kind of general businesses that are trying to create positive impact and produce a profit. And you’d mentioned that you had some successes and some failures. And I’m just kind of curious, what was your key takeaway? And how does that relate to where you’re at today?

Judah:
Yeah, I think I just mentioned it. I really believe there’s a whole new school of businesses that are starting to figure this out. Whether you look at the business round table or what Harvard or Oxford business schools are doing around the economics of mutuality, they’re all having the same exact conversation around how does my business model create sustainable and scalable impact on my value chain, my employees, my customers, my members, and my community? And that’s the only way it’s sustainable.

Judah:
In fact, the work that Mars Incorporated did with completing capitalism, they wrote a book that I highly recommend called Completing Capitalism: Healing Business to Heal the World. They studied 900 corporate social responsibility programs and found out not one of them broke even financially because they’re not aligned with the business model. They were simply vessels for charitable giving. And why does that matter? Your charitable giving should just be charitable, right?

Judah:
Well, it matters because when the economy tanks and times get tough and you’ve got to buckle down. Can you sustain that impact? Can you scale that impact? Is it fundamentally a part of your growth? Or is it a side project? And if it’s a side project, then it’s not going to keep going. And so I think that’s the main thing I’ve learned over the last five years or so in studying this is that there are businesses that are figuring out how their core business model is the delivery mechanism of impact to their own communities. And those are the businesses that are absolutely going to thrive going forward.

Judah:
If you look at your cause as just a side investment in charitable giving, it’s going to be hard to scale and sustain. So from social entrepreneurship, I just really believe it’s the businesses that can merge those two things that are going to win, not only have the most impact, which we all want, but also do the best financially and from a profitability standpoint.

Cameron:
Well, and hence, I think what you said of the importance of merging product and impact strategy. I love that framing. And I know you and I are both, as entrepreneurs, part of it is just anything I’m associated with, I want it to make money because I know otherwise it won’t survive. It won’t scale.

Cameron:
And we’ve talked a little bit about this, how strategy is hard and this effort to figure out how to merge an impact strategy with an organization’s product and financial strategy in a way that they’re all kind of amplifying each other is, let’s just say this, if it was super easy, everyone would have done it.

Judah:
Yeah.

Cameron:
So I know this is the problem you’re working on and thinking deeply about. And you’ve got your background in lean startups, and I’m curious a bit of jargon, the MVP, the minimum viable product is a term that gets used a lot. Tell our audience a little bit about what’s your MVP that you’re asking them to consider that you think is a win for them, for their members, and their community.

Judah:
The first step is always going to be to identify whether there is a problem or not. And so I would challenge anybody listening to really just do a little research. Do what I did back in 2017 and just do a little digging into the financial health of your employees and your members and your community. And it won’t take long, I promise. And the results will really shocking.

Judah:
In fact Callahan did a report that showed that credit union employees are worse off financially in their own personal finances than their average member. And that’s not surprising at all. But I would say identifying the problem, if you don’t know there’s a problem, you’re not going to act because you don’t even know that there’s a problem. And I think that’s where a lot of us are. So identifying the problem.

Judah:
And then the second one is how do you facilitate it? And this is where we’ve been envisioning and having conversations with other leaders. And I’d love to call anyone listening to action, is let’s trade stories. Let’s trade strategies. Let’s show each other how we’re facilitating impact, how it works. The Rhino Foods case study and B Corp is a great example of a strategy that we could all kind of learn how to adopt. And we are working on things around that. But I would love to see that happen.

Judah:
Third would be measuring. How do we measure impact? We can’t keep going forward thinking that we’re doing good without actually measuring it, and knowing, and being able to report on it. So how does impact actually show up in the P and L, is a great question. What are the metrics? What are the KPIs that all credit unions or employers should be tracking around their own impact?

Judah:
And then the fourth one probably gets me the most excited, is how do we share the stories of impact that we create? Once we create them, what is the way or the mechanism to share? And this is where, in today’s day and age, our society is absolutely starving for a positive story. And it’s those positive stories that tend to go viral and get the most attention online. And those businesses that are part of creating them, as long as they’re genuine, they’re not manufactured fake marketing, but they’re actual lives changed; I just think sharing impact stories has so much upside potential.

Judah:
So identify the problem, facilitate it, measure it and share it is really kind of where we’re thinking needs to happen next.

Cameron:
Can you tell us a little bit about the madetoimpact.com website you’ve built and what someone will find there, and how you’d like them to engage?

Judah:
Yeah, I mean, it’s very much an MVP, like you said, a minimum viable product has been kind of in a skunkworks beta process for about a year now. We are working with about a dozen employers around the country. So it’s a national program. It’s had tremendous results. We’ve seen upwards of 80% of employees enroll in the program, which they’re committing to a payroll deduction to a credit union savings account and other products.

Judah:
So it’s been a real success story for Red Rocks and for us. We’re now in a very aggressive build out phase where we are investing in further technology to make a program like that more sustainable and scalable. And part of that is allowing other credit unions to participate in the same thing if they so desire.

Judah:
And so, we’ll probably start growing that program again, about the beginning of the second quarter next year. We’re pretty serious build-out mode. And so, I would say if anyone’s interested in learning more, we do have a number of white papers, webinars, videos that I’d be happy to share, madetoimpact.com, just fill out the request for a demo or more information, and you can be in touch with me.

Cameron:
Such a great story. And the growth you’re talking about is incredible. I think there’s just huge opportunity on every level. All right, I’m going to pivot and we’re going to do some rapid fire questions that you’re totally unprepared for.

Judah:
All right, shoot.

Cameron:
You ready?

Judah:
Yeah.

Cameron:
All right. Judah, what is your favorite word?

Judah:
Favorite word, growth.

Cameron:
It’s looking like a true entrepreneur. This is especially weird one in a pandemic, what’s in the trunk of your car?

Judah:
Kid’s sports equipment, soccer, lacrosse, and dance.

Cameron:
All right.

Cameron:
What is a place you’d like to visit that you’ve never visited before?

Judah:
You know what? It sounds cliche, but Bora Bora. I’ve spent a lot of time in Hawaii, but the bucket list trip is French Polynesia, the islands.

Cameron:
Love it.

Cameron:
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Judah:
Man, it’s really about consistency. And so I don’t have a quote or anything, but have a clear vision and stay consistently motivated to bring that into fruition. And so, I’ve been really blessed with some good mentors and fortunate to be able to consistently pursue a dream. And so, what we just talked about is that dream. It’s my why. It’s my personal why. How do you not as an entrepreneur, get distracted by all the shiny objects that come across your desk or your email every day? It’s consistency.

Cameron:
All right. And we’re going to close this with a really serious question. What is your favorite kind of cookie?

Judah:
I’m a sucker for those, what do they call them? Monster cookies. So it’s the-

Cameron:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Judah:
Peanut butter, chocolate chip, M and M, oatmeal. Just throw it all in there and make it good.

Cameron:
You just got it all. All right. I love it. Judah, is there anything else you’d like to leave our audience with, anything you want to reiterate or that you didn’t get to?

Judah:
No, I would just encourage everyone that there’s so much opportunity. I know it’s a scary time with a global pandemic and elections coming up and all of that. But there’s never been a greater opportunity, not only for credit unions, I mean, especially for credit unions, but for all employers, regardless of what you do. We have a saying is if you employ people, you have the greatest opportunity to impact those people out of anyone else on the planet. And so, just an encouraging word of hope and optimism for what we’ve been through and then where we’re headed.

Cameron:
All right. Thank you for your optimism, your why, your wisdom, and for sharing this with all of us. It’s been a pleasure having you on.

Judah:
Thank you.

Cameron:
All right, folks. Another enjoyable episode, I really love chatting with Judah because I think he really understands the importance, the heart and soul of impact, but also as someone who’s run multiple businesses, just the importance of really making it healthy and scalable and profitable financially.

Cameron:
So my key takeaways, the first one I just found really, really meaningful on a personal level is just this focus he has on solving for dignity and his experience with his Christmas 2017 project around food insecurity and learning that because of the way that a lot of these programs were set up, that a lot of those suffering we’re never going to get help. And he had to do it in a way that was anonymous and respected the dignity of the individual.

Cameron:
I was also really struck by Judas comment, how he’d give these presentations and CEOs would keep coming up to him. And he said, okay, okay. You want to make a donation. But what he really heard was they need this kind of help with their employees. And I guess I can personally attest as a small business owner, that’s a hundred percent true for us as well. We’re trying to make this up and we lack good partners.

Cameron:
My third takeaway was just Judah’s comment that, and this of course is only one impact strategy, but how for them, they found that working with employers is the key to scalable and sustainable community impact. And it’s a version of going back to the heart of the credit union, and this is what Red Rocks Credit Union was started to do. And they’re kind of back to the future in a sense.

Cameron:
I also found Judas framing of what’s the hierarchy of employee needs. I think this maps to obviously the average person, but just thinking specifically to employees who would be in segs of any credit union is framing that level one is just your basic needs are met, having positive cashflow and getting out of high interest debt.

Cameron:
Second one is creating emergency savings. We all know these stats about, I’ve seen different exact numbers, but close to half Americans struggling to come up with $400 in an emergency. The third level of getting out of consumer debt. So they don’t have consistently losing what they’re making into interest payments. And then the fourth level being saving enough for long-term major expenses in retirement. And of course the highest level of being able to give back to the community.

Cameron:
And I just think it’s very astute to say that most employee benefits are focused around that longterm retirement 401k. But as Judas said, it got them thinking about how can we align our impact strategy and our product strategy. And I think I often hear more about impact strategy and marketing strategy and that those needs one through three of creating positive cashflow, getting out of high-interest debt, creating emergency savings and getting out of consumer debt are just what Red Rocks Credit Union was founded to solve, or really what most credit unions were founded to solve.

Cameron:
And he believes they have great products or can build them to address all three of these. And that’s just a big, exciting opportunity. All right, thanks as always for joining us today for another great episode until the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

 

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