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Chris Morris - Credit Union Geek :)

Updated: Aug 7

Chris Morris is one of the greatest people we have met in the credit union industry. He is a credit union fanatic that enthusiastically tells his amazing credit union story, works with credit unions all over the mid-west, and even has a credit union band with Chad Helminak - that we personally think needs to make a comeback. He is genuinely an amazing person and loves to just meet new people and help in any way possible. He is a DE that drives DE and local credit union volunteering efforts in the Madison area and just lives and breathes the credit union philosophy. We were able to snag a bit of Chris’ time and hear about his story, gain some insight, and learn how to get more active on the social media screen. Check out our time with Chris below!

You are an extremely busy guy for the last few years, tell me about some of things you are working on and what still excites Christopher Morris?

Yes, the last few years have been quite busy. Up until late 2017, I was Director of Communications at the National Credit Union Foundation after many years. Then I worked for about eight months as a Client Strategist at CUNA Mutual Group’s AdvantEdge Analytics, helping credit unions with data transformation. Then my current opportunity opened up! For the past year, I’ve been the Engagement Consultant at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) covering the Midwest, which I absolutely love and excites me every day.

My whole role is to work with credit unions and leagues in my area as their liaison to their national trade association. This includes a lot of listening, speaking/presentations, writing, connecting credit union people with resources and much more. It’s a dream come true to holistically provide support in a variety of ways to ultimately help their member’s financial lives.

Those that know me, know I’m a big credit union geek, so I love being able to visit credit unions and hear firsthand their inspiring stories of the credit union difference. For example, last week I was just at a local credit union that does a lot of agricultural lending. They were telling me about how farmers were having a rough year for a variety of reasons and thus their cash flow was getting more complicated. The CU’s loan officers are not only are working with them in a variety of ways to find solutions, but they often do it sitting at the farmers’ kitchen table. That’s people helping people.

Another thing I’m working on is raising awareness about the new Awareness campaign (pun intended)! Again, as a huge credit union advocate and as someone who has heard how badly we need to do a better job of “telling our story” for years and years, this is a game changer. We now have this robust national campaign to debunk the main myths of credit unions and get more consumers to open their eyes to the awesomeness of credit unions.

Outside of work, I also volunteer a lot around issues that I’m passionate about, which I highly recommend. I’m a big believer in the old credit union adage of “keeping purpose constant” in everything I do.

Working remote can be a challenge; I know music is a huge outlet for you as it is for myself. Tell me about how you keep work life balance and perform day in day out working remotely and on the road.

Great question. When I first transitioned to working remotely full-time at CUNA Mutual Group, it definitely took a month or two to get into the groove so to speak. I’ve talked to others who have said the same. Just like your routine going to an office, you have to set a similar routine for yourself at home and keep distractions to a minimum.

I build things into my routine now to maintain that work life balance and my own serenity. For example, I don’t check work-related emails on the weekend or at night anymore. Life is better that way and let’s me recharge. If something is super important outside work hours, we text each other, but that’s rare. CUNA is awesome about respecting our time off and vacation time.

Yes, I love music and a big fan of vinyl, so I pick out a nice playlist for my day every morning (and usually share on my Instagram story) before I start work. I complement that with some good upbeat Spotify playlists or podcasts too at home or if I’m traveling.

Also, whether on the road or at my home office, I’ve found it invaluable to make time to slow down a few times throughout the day. That means taking ten minutes to meditate with an app (I use Calm) in the morning and a walk at either lunchtime or after work. That has really helped me be more productive and happier personally and professionally.

You do social media really well, I wish others embraced social media outlets fully and in the same way you do. How can others improve their content sharing and what are some tips you have for social media newbies?

Thank you! I’ve been heavily involved with social media since most of the outlets were started and in a variety of ways throughout my credit union career.

I first got into social media because it’s a great way to network! I use Twitter most often when I’m at a conference, following the conference hashtag to meet new people and different interesting takes on sessions.

Also, as time has gone on, I’ve really learned to appreciate LinkedIn. It’s worth the time to bolster your profile as it can lead to many interesting professional opportunities, as it usually comes up on the first page of Google results when someone looks for you. I have found it a great place to post and find some great articles as well.

In terms of content sharing, half the battle is making a concerted effort to post something! Unless I’m on vacation, I post a few times a week on LinkedIn and Facebook, daily on Twitter & on my Instagram story.

I share articles and links that I find interesting, useful, or in line with what I’m passionate about. I also make a point to only share mostly positive pieces too as there is already way too much negativity on social media in my opinion. If I make any commentary, I try to be honest, transparent, real and sometimes funny. People really seem to respond to that.

What challenges are credit unions facing in 2019 and what can we all do to help.

Oh wow, what a big question! Obviously, I encourage readers to check out CUNA news for all the latest and greatest on what is happening with credit unions and how to get involved, especially around advocacy issues.

Personally, and I know it sounds simple, but I still think the more people can do to share and inspire each other with the philosophy of credit unions, the better. Whether it’s attending Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training, re-looking at your new employee orientation, or simply celebrating stories internally of how you are helping members, it’s really important to not lose sight of our difference. That is what will sustain us.

Also, during my time with AdvantEdge Analytics, I spent a lot of time helping credit unions identify member pain points in doing business with the credit union and what could be done to overcome it. With the rise of FinTechs, big banks’ technology investments, Amazon, Apple and so on, member expectations have changed. Therefore, continuously take the time to step into your member’s shoes and make working with your credit union as friction-less, easy, fast and intuitive as you can, both offline and online.

Related to that last point, so many big bank customers are unhappy, but likely don’t leave because they don’t even realize they can join a credit union! The Awareness campaign I mentioned earlier is focused right now on debunking the myths of “I can’t join” or “it’s only local” to consumers so they consider credit unions as a financial partner. If we as a movement want to grow, we’ve got to raise awareness and move the needle on the 7-8% financial services market share we’ve had for far too long.

Lastly, stay engaged. Stay relevant to your member’s needs. Stay hungry and keep purpose constant!

CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at CultivateYP@gmail.com #CUltivateTheMovement#CUltivateTheMovement

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