Tom Garrity

CU Gibberish

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Ol MacDonald Credit Union

When picking up a race packet for a weekend 10K, I noticed a variety of things. A nice pen/stylus with the name of the event sponsor, a map of the course as well as promotions for a local restaurant and health club. Oh, there was also a brochure for Kasasa.

Kasa what?

Evidently, this is a trend for banks and credit unions. Instead of increasing relevance the old fashioned way by earning the customer’s trust, at least 230 credit unions across the United States (according to the ABQJournal) decided it would be best to confuse their customer by changing their institutions’ names to made up words.

What is a made up word? It is the letter version of “word salad”, gibberish. The kind of word that is not allowed in “Words with Friends.“

This article in The Financial Brand outlines a few of the gibberish heros. Comstar changed their name to an anagram of money, NYMEO. Another was Wynadotte FCU (which is one of the more challenging to spell) that changed to NuPath.

Recently, a credit union I use, changed their name from New Mexico Educators FCU to NUSENDA Credit Union. I first heard about the change through twitter then called my commercial banker to find out what the name change was all about. Was it a merger or acquisition? Are there any new services or member benefits? Does it mean that new branches are going to open near me? Is the artificial sweetener Splenda at play? Or was it a computer hack and all a bad dream?

The answer, “it was just a name change.” Really? A name change brought to us by the same industry that took years to depart from neck ties to open collared shirts because it was concerned the move might be seen as “radical” decides to change their name to a made up word?

It was either a so-called “branding expert” or a focus group gone wild that resulted in names like Kasasa, Nusenda and Nymeo.

Here is some free advice for any CEO considering a name change to either a made up or existing word: first focus on improving customer service and increasing relevance to your community. If things don’t turn around change your name or sell the business.

Will New Mexico’s Empty Churches Go on Sale?

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

An article in the Wall Street Journal this morning caught my attention and held it (yes sometimes I am a headline scanner): Europe’s Empty Churches Go on Sale.

The article by Naftali Bendavid provided insight on the flight of worshipers, resulting in the closure of churches around Europe.

Here is one paragraph from the story that jumped out to me: The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.

The article is worth a read; the paragraph doesn’t do it justice. A copy of the full article is here (subscription required): http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-empty-churches-go-on-sale-1420245359

The article ends with a quote from an overseer of a vacant church: “But there are not worshipers anymore.”

The article prompted me to see how the favorability of church/organized religion and trust of religious leaders are faring in the eyes of New Mexico residents. Those are two of the institutions and professions tracked annually in the Garrity Perception Survey.

Based on third party surveys of New Mexico residents, with a 95 percent confidence level, the church/organized religion and religious leaders have pause for concern.

In 2011, 69 percent of New Mexico residents had a favorable view of the “Church or Organized Religion.” That is a good thing for those attached to the institution. Since then, it has all been downhill. According to the 2014 survey, only 59 percent of residents are favorable toward the “Church or Organized Religion.” A drop of 10 percent.

Meanwhile trust of “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders.” Has seen an even larger decline than favorability of the Church.

In 2011, 67 percent of New Mexico residents trusted “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders.” In 2014, that number is 52 percent. New Mexico residents’ trust of religious leaders has dropped 15 percent over the last four years.

Breaking down the four year numbers by region reveals that residents Southwest (-23%) and North Central (-21%) are losing trust of “Pastors, Priests or Other Religious Leaders” at a faster rate than those in other parts of New Mexico.

What does all of this mean? New Mexico religions institutions need to heed what is happening overseas and find ways to be relevant or face a possible similar fate as their brethren Europe.

Getting ABQ Into Tech

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2014 at 1:15 pm

InnovateABQThe great recession and double dip recession in Albuquerque continues to have a devastating impact. Some reports indicate the city lost $1.5 billion in wages since 2007.

On a personal and professional level, I’ve seen friends and competitors leave the state for other, greener pastures. I miss them but don’t blame them. We all have to do what is needed to survive and eventually thrive again.

One of the great bright spots in Albuquerque’s horizon is in the City of Albuquerque’s economic development office, Gary Oppedahl. In addition to being the department’s director, Gary is also a proven tech entrepreneur.

Sitting down with him recently, it is very easy to be optimistic about the future for tech firms in Albuquerque. He is one of “them” and speaks the tech language. This is a good thing. He plays to his strength’s which is knowing Albuquerque about as well as he knows the life cycle of tech companies.

It seemed like we had a 2-hour conversation in 30 minutes. Central to Gary’s plan to promote tech entrepreneurship in Albuquerque is a blueprint of sorts, developed by Brad Feld. Feld is the tech entrepreneur who captured and best explained tech success in Boulder, Colorado.

Gary told me that in order to appreciate Albuquerque’s developing tech road map that I should, “read Startup Communities by Brad Feld.” I downloaded the audio book and listened to it twice while traversing New Mexico for company business.

The premise of the book is built on an approach called the Boulder Thesis. It is a set of four rules that will help to create vibrant tech communities. Those foundation elements include: The tech community needs to be led by entrepreneurs, it needs to be a long term commitment, it needs to be inclusive and engage the community. Make sense? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Check out this fun and short sketchbook video by the Kaufman Foundation that does a better job of illustrating it.

Here is the exciting thing, the steps outlined in the Startup Communities book are already coming to life. ABQid is a tech accelerator that already has its first class. The 1 million cups of coffee mentorship approach is already 60 cups into its Albuquerque journey.

Both of these initiatives are under the InnovateABQ umbrella. It is a collaboration of public and private sector that is dedicated to creating an environment where the tech community can test, succeed and fail (only to try again).

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