From A Stand-Up Message To A Downstream One

There aren't that many people who can get attendees at credit union conferences to put down their tablets and phones for a couple of moments. But Eric LeGrand can.

LeGrand, the former Rutgers University football player who was paralyzed in 2010 while making a tackle, offered some inspiration to credit unions on hand for CSCU's Solutions Conference.

Despite being paralyzed from the neck down, LeGrand was upbeat and positive in his comments, especially about making a recovery. He shared with the audience his tragic story, talking about the moments immediately after the hit while he was laying on the field and unable to move his limbs and feeling he couldn't breathe. He recalled that while being taken off the field on a stretcher he tried to give everyone an encouraging thumbs up, but couldn't do so. Then, after concluding the story, he turned to the audience and said, "So, do you want to do a Q&A and have a little bit of fun with this?"

With CSCU CEO Bob Hackney moderating, LeGrand talked of how he excelled at sports as a child, especially baseball, before making the varsity football team as a freshman and making 45 tackles over a three-game span. That led to his first scholarship offer. "I quit baseball and basketball the next day."

After Hackney compared CUs and banks to David and Goliath, LeGrand responded, "(Coach Greg) Schiano liked to recruit smaller, faster guys. We always had to find our edge; that's what you need to find. It's not always easy, but you have to work at it."

As for his own future, LeGrand said, "Doctors look at statistics. They don't know the passion that's in my heart. That's what's going to get me back on my feet again."

And when he walks again, LeGrand said he will return to Met Life Stadium in Northern New Jersey where he was injured, will go to the spot where he fell, lie down on the ground, and then walk off the field, just the way you're supposed to at the end of a play.


* Observed by Steven Fodor during CSCU's Solutions Conference, "Fraudsters are people, too. Fraudsters have mortgages and kids and lifestyles. The only difference is that they finish work by 11 or noon, while we work for 18 hours. They get to spend more time with their kids." Fodor, a Canadian who was speaking on the advantages of EMV over mag stripe, added, "My parents are in Florida right now. Their card has been skimmed three times."


* There was a good line during the CO-OP THINK Conference by musician and former member of the underserved Daria Musk: "I used to make 20% of the door at places that didn't charge at the door."

Musk later added, "My mother said, 'Don't have a fallback, or you will fall back on it.' She said pick a dream bigger than a lifetime."


* Daymond John, the creator of the FUBU design line and one of the stars of ABC's "Shark Tank," said his parents were intelligent people-so smart that his father was moved ahead one grade as a child, his mother, two. "So, to prove they weren't impressing me," he joked, "I got left behind one time."


* CUNA CEO Bill Cheney told THINK, "I don't think that when people think of forward-thinking financial services that they think of credit unions. I think we've been successful at being followers. We tend to get things right, but we're not out front. But there is an opportunity here for us to innovate that weren't even possibilities when I started my credit union career 25 or 26 years ago. People want organizations that have their values at heart. It's not innovating with a better checking account or ATMs. It's more ATMs, it's more access."


* A rite of every CU conference, one audience member at THINK asked about a national brand campaign for credit unions. CO-OP CEO Stan Hollen, responded, "It would cost $60 to $80 million a year. So we have to downstream that messaging to the individual credit unions."


* Just a reminder, there are now just three weeks left until Credit Union Journal's innovative and informative Grow Show. Make sure you're there. For info, see page 23 in this issue.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com.