‘REACH’ 2nd Morning: Sasha Strauss, Special Guests, and REACHtalks

Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol and Adjunct Graduate Professor at UCLA, UC Irvine, and USC
Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol and Adjunct Graduate Professor at UCLA, UC Irvine, and USC

Sasha Strauss’s words hung heavy on the minds of attendees during the REACH 2017 annual convention’s Tuesday morning general session, where he drove home the idea of how brands can fill the void inside consumers.

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“People are skeptical about religions, corporations, institutions and governments—they were all built for a time before the internet and social media,” he said. “You have to give humans something to believe in.”

Through his delivery, Strauss brought two decades of experience in brand strategy and development for corporations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and universities to attendees, all with a unique and proven perspective on how brands should be built and communicated.

He said consumers need something they can cherish, watch, listen to, read about, share, and be excited about these days. All humans across demographics are looking to pride themselves in something. “If your credit union doesn’t fill their void, someone else will,” Strauss added. Being on “information overload” in the age of all-things internet and technology has compelled them to put up their defenses.

He gave seven rules for talking to consumers and prying open how they think and act “in the new normal”: assume nothing about them; empathize for and with them; advocate for them; act in relationship to them and not in transaction; curate a relationship with them and don’t overwhelm them with choice; teach them instead of selling to them; and care for them both physically and actually (show them how your credit union uses its core competency to “save the world”—and they will buy from you).

“There’s actually something going on in your employees and members every day: They want to feel loved,” Strauss said. “Businesses, political campaigns and religious organizations have known this for millennia, that you need to give people something to love, something to care about. It must be something that makes them feel engaged. If you get a person emotionally involved, they will be engaged and participate.”

Special Guest: ILCU Chairman
The day also included a visit from special guest and Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) Chairman Brian McCrory.

He applauded California and Nevada credit unions for their “on the ground experience” in learning about and contributing to credit union members’ lives, both locally and around the world—especially when it comes to helping recover from hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters. However, the “credit union family” extends way beyond the borders of the United States, McCrory reminded.

“Our challenge to the international credit union movement is to get behind your brothers and sisters as an act of solidarity in those countries,” he said. “I appeal to you today to consider how you can further your contribution to their efforts. You have already helped greatly, but let’s consider the people less resilient than ourselves who have less opportunity, and where a small donation can make a huge difference.”

REACHtalks and Breakout Sessions
The REACH convention on Tuesday was also filled with plenty of mini-presentations on innovation, disruption, new ways to deliver products and services, financial capability for members and consumers, and thriving in today’s business environment.

Other discussions included engaging key talent and employees, culture leadership, cybersecurity, cannabis banking, financial trends and cycles, driving membership growth, member-engagement opportunities, regulatory issues, industry hot topics, and a special update from National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board leaders.

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