My Journey to Finding Me!

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

This is my first blog ever. Even when blogging was cool, I wasn’t cool enough to do it. I decided to write my first blog about a passion of mine and something that affects my life on a daily basis: Superheroes.

Now some people think that superheroes only exist in comic books, movies, or tv shows. If that’s the case, I encourage you to take a look around and see what you discover.

For instance, I work with numerous superheroes. The people I work with everyday are amazing. They fill in when people are away, are always willing to help, and being part of the regulatory team, work with credit unions to ensure that the Saskatchewan system as a whole remains strong. Speaking of the system, credit union employees are superheroes to all members. Even in these trying times of the pandemic, credit union employees are there to help you when and if you need them. They have found new ways to stay connected to members and new ways to support their local communities. Credit unions have not missed a beat when it comes to supporting member financial needs, showing the dedication of their employees and of cooperative values in everything they do. These are the everyday superheroes; always there when you need them, even without a bat symbol.

Moving on to a group of superheroes I know, the Sask Young Leaders Committee. This committee works tirelessly to bring events and information to the SYL community. Although some of the usual events couldn’t be held this year, the brilliant minds that I have the privilege to work with came up with new events such as the Leadership Webinar series. Additionally, the SYL Awards will be presented soon, which showcases some superheroes from various credit unions that I alluded to above. The SYL Committee is one of the most rewarding things that I have been a part of. Getting to know these brilliant people has been amazing and puts my mind at ease that the future of the credit union system will continue to be in good hands. These individuals go above and beyond for their credit unions, their coworkers, and their communities on a daily basis, and do not get near the recognition that they deserve. They are the encouraging superheroes; always growing and always helping others reach their goals, without ever asking for anything in return.

Then there are the silent superheroes; family. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without my family, including my friends. In good times and bad, my friends are there for me whether I ask them for help or not and always willing to hang out and lend an ear. My mom constantly invites me for supper (and sends me home with leftovers), listens to my rants about my day, and provides advice and a shoulder to cry on in my darkest of days. My dad is there for me in a different way, as he is not much of a feelings kind of guy. He just genuinely likes to spend time with his sons; chatting and watching sports, and still comes to all of our baseball games to support us. My brother keeps me constantly entertained with his antics, stories, and snapchats, making me smile even when I’ve had a rough day. When I was younger, if you would’ve told me that my little brother would be my best friend one day, I would have said you were crazy; but here we are! I’d do anything for that kid and I know he would do the same for me. Finally, I have my very own Bruce Wayne. Whether I am in a good mood, bad mood, or just having one of those days, my dog is my rock. He’s seen me laugh, cry, have some of the best times of my life, and some of the worst. If I’m upset, he lays next to me and for some reason it makes me feel better. He brings me his toys as a way to distract my mind, and as much as he may drive me crazy sometimes, he always cheers me up with his expressions or his actions. He has such a fun, outgoing, and loving personality that you can’t help but smile when you’re around him.

So as you can see, some superheroes are hiding in plain sight. They don’t wear capes or have cool gadgets or drive cool cars, but they’re there every day making the world a little better place for those who are lucky enough to be in their lives. Take a minute to think about the superheroes in your life. Maybe you are a superhero for someone else and you don’t even know it! Sometimes the smallest acts can make the biggest difference in someone’s day. Superheroes are everywhere in this world. You just need to stop and look.


To Infinity…. And Beyond! Life lessons from SYL

Well hello SYL community! If you’ve had the chance to attend any of our events the past few years, you’ve likely seen me hop on the mic to say hello. My name is Ashley – I am a third year SYL committee member, former Chair, and general Saskatchewan Young Leaders super fan. I hope this blog finds you and yours healthy and safe. This being my final blog as a member of the SYL committee, I wanted to write to you – our community – on a more personal note and share some of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way.


Lesson 1 – Lead from where you are  

Allow me a moment to rewind the clock for you. The year is 2013. Macklemore has taken over the airwaves with his hit ‘Thrift Shop’, the Royal Family has just welcomed Prince George, Alberta was overcome by flooding and politician Rob Ford has just admitted to a personal battle with crack cocaine. It was a simpler time, friends. I had just entered the Credit Union system, and had already started learning some valuable lessons about credit and financial health through my role as MSR (teller). I was shocked by how much I didn’t know about maintaining financial health; I felt like I had been duped about how simple decisions could majorly impact our future. I was still rolling this newfound knowledge around in my head when a new SYL contest was announced – SYL Sask CU Advance. The aim of this contest was to develop a ‘big idea’ which would advance the system for young CUers. I was inspired. I wanted to share what I had learned with students – we could teach them early; let them learn before they had to do all of the adulting. I was nervous though – brand new to the system, hardly an expert, and still getting my footing in my job. With the support of a great manager (thanks Janet!), a strong SYL rep (thanks Lindsay!) and some guts I entered the competition. After late nights perfecting my video, campaigning for votes, and finally presenting my ‘Big Idea’ to a room of executives, I’m so proud to say that I won. I used my scholarship money to further my career in the system, and my love for SYL was born. They did not care that I was new and still learning; they welcomed me to bring my ideas to the table and encouraged me to act on them. I was hooked.


Lesson 2 – Disappointment

Shortly after my big SYL win, I was riding cloud nine career wise. I got a promotion, was pounding though my brokerage courses, and got the opportunity to actually take my ‘big idea’ to the students. It was incredible. When SYL put out the call for new committee members, I immediately went to work on the application. I had some quick wins and thought I would be a shoe in. So, when I wasn’t chosen to join the committee that year, I was devastated. Now for some people this may have just been a volunteer committee so no harm no foul, but this volunteer committee had given me the confidence, training and financial support to develop into my career. This was a hard lesson for me. Fast forward the next year; things had changed and my Credit Union’s SYL rep had left the system. It was time for applications to go in again. This time, it was decided internally at my Credit Union that this would not be my year. You can imagine how tough this was for me. I now understand that these decisions are based on so many factors, including the make up of the committee as a whole, and were not personal. But at that time… it hurt. It took me time to process, and it was not pretty. I was so disappointed. Fast forward one more year to a happy ending – third time was the charm! And what a charm it was – the year I joined terms were extended from 2 years to 3. It was a WAY better time in my personal life to take on the challenge that is SYL, and I got to join the committee with the best possible people. This was a lesson in humility for me, grace and ‘what not to do’. Always learning.


Lesson 3 – Trust

Have you ever heard about those little girls who get told in grade school that they’re bossy, and then everyone giggles and says they have ‘leadership skills’? That’s me. Except when I joined SYL I was still about 92% bossy and 8% leadership skills. Being on this committee taught me to let go and trust (stop laughing fellow committee members 😉 ). I have volunteered my entire life, but I can honestly say this was the first group I had been a part of where committee members ALL committed to things and then either followed through or had the vulnerability to ask for help. There is no ‘that’s not my job’ in SYL. The system is bigger than all of us, and we are stronger together.  My second year on the committee I had the absolute honor of being called Chair. This was a stretch for me. Previously I had adopted a ‘if you want something done right, you do it yourself’ attitude, and this was not easy to let go of. Through a lot of soul searching and support, my committee members helped teach me the pleasure of working as a team and watching those around you shine in the spotlight. This year was the year I truly learned what servant leadership was all about. I had to practice teaching over doing, listening over fixing and giving the credit while taking the blame. I could not be prouder of what our committee accomplished the year I was chair, and the lessons I learned from each committee member will always stick with me.


Lesson 4 – Failing Forward

During my time on the SYL committee, one of my absolute favorite things was the freedom and encouragement to fail. Sound crazy? It’s not! This team encourages that blue sky, big idea thinking. Even if your idea fizzles, your thought can encourage conversation that can lead to something amazing. Our calls are loud – our meetings are louder. It is absolutely essential that everyone on the committee participates with passion and creativity. This is why we are so strong. We laugh with each other, we work with each other, and we never say, ‘I’m good with whatever’.


Lesson 5 – Everything changes

Coming into my 3rd and final year of SYL, I could never have predicted what the year would bring. I ended up accepting a job at a different Credit Union; leaving my coworkers and community when I never thought that would happen. Throughout all of that career change, I had a health scare that absolutely rocked everything I believed. And then there was the little issue of the global pandemic, affecting not only everything in our day to day lives, but bringing my last SYL year of events to a standstill. This year though… this year I was better prepared to roll with the changes. I watched my family and friends lean into me with so much support and enthusiasm. I watched my fellow committee members grow and develop new ways to enrich our credit union system; learning and mastering new ways of communication faster than you can say ‘Leadership Series’. I watched at the world adapted to this ‘new normal’, and yes – we did bend – but we did not break. It has not been any easy year, but we are still here and I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.


Lesson 6 – Some things stay the same

I know, I know. Lessons 5 and 6 are contradictory, but just stick with me for a second here. Since 2013 and my first introduction to SYL, there have been some steadfast truths within the committee and community. Passion in your career will get you everywhere, even if it’s not when you expected. The credit union system is designed to listen, but you cannot be afraid to talk. All it takes is a couple of days locked in a meeting room, so many m&ms, and a slight touch of day two flu to make lifelong friends who will be there for you no matter what. Leadership knows no age and no title. If you want something, it’s not enough to say it – you have to go out and work for it, and surround yourself with people who inspire you to push to be better.



A final note to my fellow committee members: I wanted this so badly, but I had no idea just how incredible you would make this experience. Tamara – the calmest, most organized leader talking me down from the edge all the time. Larissa – such a bias to action; every task was done quickly and with an unrivaled quality. Chris – your creativity is second to none, and I’ve loved growing together on this journey. Ryan – my right-hand man, Ricki’s twin, biggest confident and most likely to argue with – I appreciate you more than you know. Shaundra – I wish I could capture your way with people, and how easy it is for you to connect. Amy – you have made me feel welcome from day 1 in Unity, and you have an unrivaled way of correcting without judging. Darcy – you get stuff done with a flair and humility that is a joy to be around, and without being asked to boot! Stephanie – you show grace in the face of transition, and you are not afraid to speak up and champion this committee. Alex – your talent is incredible; you always bring 150% to the table. Jarred – you work for CUDGC but I still like you. But for real, I’m impressed by your quick mind and you are always the first to volunteer for a task – you jump in without fear even if it is brand new.


This was not how I saw my third year of SYL ending, but I cannot think of a stronger group of leaders to take on the important work we do in the system. Thank you for teaching me everything, and for making a math nerd like me always feel like part of the team.


All the love,



Guest Blog: The Most Important Leadership Quality

There has been an endless debate on which leadership quality is more important, experience or intelligence (IQ). After more than 25 years in leadership roles, I would argue that both qualities are essential, but are less important than a third quality – emotional intelligence. In fact, some studies have shown that emotional intelligence is the strongest predicter of performance and accounts for almost 90% of what sets high performers apart. The good news is that, just like any other skill, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence (sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand emotions (both yours and others around you), and then manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, make sound decisions, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in a meeting when it seems like everyone is talking over each other, trying to get the loudest or last word? This is not only a sign of egos taking over and a lack of respect for others; these are also tell-tale signs of a lack of EQ. On the other hand, when people are allowed to speak, and others listen, without constant interruptions, it’s a good sign of EQ at play. It shows a mutual respect and is more likely to lead to a constructive conclusion in meetings.

3 Steps to Developing EQ

EQ is often defined by four attributes, each of which is a skill that can be developed in order to improve your ability to manage emotions and connect with others. These skills are self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management. Developing EQ starts with gaining insight into which aspect of EQ we should work on. Some of us may have solid social skills but lack in self-management while others may be high on self-awareness but poor in relationship management.

1. Assessment – The first step is measuring where we stand on each of the EQ attributes. EQ tests or quizzes are widely available online, or if you’re seeking training in a professional setting, there will be materials provided to you for assessing your emotional intelligence. The scores from the tests signal which emotional skills we need to learn, and where do we stand as an emotionally aware human being.

2. Training – Assessment opens us to a range of training options. Depending on what part of emotional intelligence we need to work on, we can decide what sort of training would best suit us. There’s no shortage of resources to support the development of EQ, including professional coaches, online activities and exercises, online EQ tools, online worksheets and workbooks, programs, workshops, webinars and videos (e.g. TED Talks, YouTube and even movies).

3. Practice – The final and the most important step of developing EQ is incorporating training into real life. Like any other training, it’s only productive when implementing in real-life situations. The skills and techniques from training can be used when: (1) interacting with people at personal and professional levels; (2) understanding and labeling our own emotions; (3) expressing what we feel in a way that will not upset others; and (4) understanding others’ feelings while listening to them without judgment.

Humans vary greatly in the way we experience emotions. Even after practice and effort, you can’t control how you feel, but you can control your reactions to those feelings. For example, you’ll still get angry, but by developing a method to deal with that anger, you work to avoid hurting yourself (and others). And remember, while you might excel at your job technically, if you can’t effectively communicate or collaborate with others, especially in stressful situations, those technical skills will eventually get overlooked. By developing EQ, you’ll continue to advance your career and your personal relationships.


By Richard Schwan, Executive Vice President, Affinity Credit Union

Have you flexed your muscles today?

A few years ago, I read an article [1] from Harvard Business Review (HBR) that altered my thought patterns and continues to make an impact on my daily life. It introduced me to my favourite muscle, resilience.





1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.


No, it doesn’t mean people with high resilience are always joyful and happy, a common misperception of the word. Instead, having resilience gives you the ability to not be so quick to label something that happens to you “good” or “bad”, but rather be quick to accepting what happened. Resilience is emotional elasticity at its finest.

The HBR article prompts you to alter your thinking and use the question “Good thing, bad thing, who knows?” when confronted with a situation. It allows you to self reflect and find a path of possibility. The more I’ve pondered this question when faced with situations over the years, the more strength I have in controlling my initial perception. Caution: it may cause you to become an eternal optimist and see the good in situations.

Check out this three-step process from HBR and reflect on a situation in your life where you could apply it:

Now I ask you…

Have you flexed your muscles today?



Alex Roettger

Creative Director | Saskatchewan Young Leaders

Weyburn Credit Union


What’s your view?

A couple of months ago I attended a seminar where I had the privilege of hearing Darci Lang, motivational speaker and author, she spoke to us about focusing on the 90%, the 90% positive that is. Before I attended I really took time to stop and think how I spend a normal day wondering, how it looked for me and whether or not I was focusing on the 90%.


Much to my surprise (and I like to consider myself a pretty positive person) I was literally focusing more on the negative than the positive. All the “hiccups” in a day – work, kids and home life and getting caught up in all the bad, if you will. I really couldn’t wait to hear what Darci had to say about how I could start focusing on the 90%.


From the moment she started speaking I was hooked – but there was one line that struck me… “how are you looking at life and everyday challenges?!” That was it! It was how I was choosing to see things! I needed to make a shift and look through a different “lens.” I needed to stop focusing on all the “hiccups” so to speak in a day because it was consuming me, I needed to start focusing on all the positives in a day, and believe you me the positives truly do outweigh the negatives. As soon as you shift that perspective or change your “lens” it’s quiet amazing how much it can change your outlook on a day.


So, while I was thinking of a topic to share with everyone this month, I knew this was the one I needed to share, “Focus on the 90%.” With all that is going on in the world right now let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the 90% instead of the 10%, start spreading the positive outlook on life and view life through a different lens.


March 16, 2020


Dear SYL Community,


It is with heavy hearts that we announce that we are postponing all in-person SYL events, including Retreat and the Young Leaders Inspiration Awards. These events were set to take place May 26-28, 2020.

As our province and Credit Unions manage the ongoing threat of COVID 19, we want to be proactive in supporting the health and safety of everyone within our communities. Pending updates from Provincial and Federal health authorities, we will update our event details as the situation pans out.


Thank you so much for your continued support; we look forward to seeing you at our events once the situation has passed.




2020 Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee


Have You Pooped today?

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege to volunteer with the Saskatchewan Co-operative Youth program and serve as sector staff at their annual Co-op Camp. The first ever camp that I staffed was the junior level, ages 11-12. I’ll admit, I was nervous being responsible for 35 kids at a remote camp in northern Saskatchewan for a week. What I didn’t factor in was how nervous the kids would be as for some; this was their first experience being away from home and a completely new environment.

In the beginning, there were the first day jitters. By day two, friendships had been formed and the participants were much more social, however, they seemed to be tired, lethargic and complaining of upset tummies. All symptoms of being home sick or nervous to try something new. Suddenly, I was met with a question asked by another staff with an audience of 35, “Steph, have you pooped today?”

This quickly became a moment of reflection for me and I instantly connected this experience to my day to day work and personal life and it all made sense. I took a moment to reflect on my response as I had a very impressionable audience. Then, it hit me. These kids haven’t pooped! That is why they are so tired and lacked energy and focus. They were not hydrated enough, and their nerves had them completely bound up. I replied, “Yup, this morning! Everyone needs to poop!” This of course was met with hysterical laughter. After a few hours, the participants continued to joke about it and there was a lot of talk about poop. This resulted in them not being embarrassed to go and the energy level soared.

By now you are probably wondering how this relates to self-development? We all have things that make us nervous or worried and can hold us back from new experiences. We are naturally inclined to fear change and disruption. When you are met with situations that make you feel stuck, unproductive, nervous or disengaged, you might just need to poop! In other words, discard the things or ideas that are weighing you down and approach new situations refreshed and inspired. This is always easier said then done, and sometimes it’s the simple fact of being able to identify contributing factors that you can then start to chip away at that helps find relief. This has had such a big impact on my own personal and professional development in my career in the credit union system. Even telling this story to a room full of professionals at the National Young Leaders conference helped me to get over my fear of public speaking. I thought I might poop right then and there but it turned into a moment of strength and the opportunity for me to leave my nerves at the door and absorb as much as I could from that experience. It resulted in some incredible networking opportunities and resources.

I’ll leave you now with two requests. First, when you are met with challenges, disruption and change, ask yourself, have I pooped today? You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you are energized and fueled and leave behind the waste that weighs you down. Second, please remember to leave some toilet paper for the rest of us!

Stephanie Burkell SYL 2020 Vice Chair

Affinity Credit Union


The Brain & Business