Stop worrying about “threats” and focus on our real advantages
The other day a credit union CEO sent me an article about Amazon potentially working on offering checking accounts to its customers. He wondered: “Why do credit unions ‘suck’ at telling our story? Is this an industry issue, local issue, or generational issue?” My take on this potential disruptor…
- Amazon is great at drawing attention to itself as a potential disruptor (e.g. drone delivery!)
- Amazon is great at attracting capital and endorsement alliances – health care insurance, etc.
- Amazon is great at redrawing boundaries where there are no boundaries – the internet, low regulation, and virtual relationship spaces.
So, the article is their MO and just another chance to stir the pot. Not necessarily unique, just a nice moment to grab some attention and see what falls out on the ground. I would bet the first thing is some large international banks that would like to have Amazon front a lot of checking relationships…maybe even the one that is involved in the health Insurance play.
As to telling our story… our story is LOCAL in 99% of the cases. Some of the emerging 10s of billions of dollars sized firms have other aspirations and opportunities, but for the rest, LOCAL and its genuine affinity is the only competitive advantage that we can leverage. What makes it genuine is the cooperative ownership structures and intent. And LOCAL can be an impactful story locally, but never on par with the reach of OPEN MARKET players. It is what it is, whether we “suck” is a matter of opinion, but judgement should be based on how we tell our stories locally against other locally leveraged players. Amazon can claim local consumer prowess, but not local genuine designs – thus its issues with sales taxes, and other competitive impacts on local players.
What is genuine about your local advantages, intent, and practices beyond just consumer ideas? How can you make those advantages bigger, sincerer, and counted on in the minds of every stakeholder you have – including you? Confidence in these needs to shine through as calm, indifferent to games you cannot play or change, and through your default responses. You live and die by your trust in the duality of your local community both as consumers and owners of their own designs. Win or lose… and how can you lose if you follow them as much as they follow you?
Remember that some people in our industry overplay the idea that our movement is not a local one, and therefore burn up a lot of resources and break hearts when they organize forgetting the need for a proper tone of a large local movement. We need local as an affinity, local as respecting autonomy, and local as seeing that it is owned by consumer communities versus an open market affinity, too much respect for group think, and thinking agents decide.
It’s not crowd control that we need, it is crowd inspiration we need to move the ball for individuals wherever they are. What you are doing is far more important that what the movement hopes to inspire. Do the work, we have a movement—worry about the movement more than the work, we have nothing.
I like the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#&%” for this reason… there are just a lot of things outside of what we do that has little bearing on what we can do. Tell me why I’m wrong!