SaskCU Advance 2.0

And the winner is… TEAM CU BY DESIGN!!!! Congratulations to all of the finalists including Creative Crew & MarketAbility! The SYL Committee would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the groups for their contributions to the CU System, and their commitment to collaboration and personal growth.

Ahead of the CUrve
Alex Roettger, Derek Targerson, Sheena Soke

Creative Crew
Harjas Singh, Kayla Hamm, Robin Nontell

CU by Design
Josh Noble, Justin Villeneuve, Shannon O’Neill, Stephanie Burkell

Dynamic Do-ers
Alixander Landry, Chantelle Doratti, Charity Armstrong

Ashley Kennedy, Brady Maw, Taryn Grey

 Judges included Eric Dillon (Conexus), Amy Bott (SaskCentral), Adam Thome (Affinity/NYLC), Gerald Hauta (Unity) & Dan Johnson (Innovation) Judges included Eric Dillon (Conexus), Amy Bott (SaskCentral), Adam Thome (Affinity/NYLC), Gerald Hauta (Unity) & Dan Johnson (Innovation)

Finding That Balance Blend

I knew exactly what I wanted to write about when my turn came around.  It’s something that I have been battling with for the past few years – balancing work & life. We hear and read about this all the time; you have to find that perfect balance that pleases everyone. With two young daughters at home, a loving wife who is in the work force as well, along with other friends and family relationships that I value, it can become difficult to allocate sufficient time and energy to everyone. This is especially true at a time when I am looking to advance professionally and take on more responsibilities at work. I’m sure there are many people out there who can relate to my dilemma!

I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to really sit down, do some research and hammer out a perfect strategy to balance my time appropriately between work and my personal life. A perfect balance seems nice, so let’s look at a 50/50 split. No, I need to commit more time to work if I want to advance so perhaps 70/30 – heavy on the work side. But my wife and kids though; perhaps 60 work / 40 life. Wait, it’s still warm out and the kids want to do so many activities! Better go 60 life / 40 work……… This is impossible.


I soon came to the realization that there is no such thing as a perfect balance. It’s a myth! I’ve thought about it over and over again. The phrase “work & life balance” is flawed. It implies that work and life are on opposite sides of the spectrum but to me, they are not. I would suggest that your career is a very important part of your life and in order to keep yourself sane and satisfied with life, it is imperative that you are able to BLEND your work life and your personal life together.

The best way to do this is embrace what you do for work and become passionate about it and ensure that you communicate this with your loved ones. Having an open dialogue with your spouse, kids, family and friends about what you are working on and how much you care about it will help build a level of respect about whom you are and what you love to do!

Do your best to succeed on the flip side as well – that is, be sure to integrate your personal life into your work space. We are not robots that are simply completing the tasks that we have been assigned. Be dynamic! Be flexible! Interact with those around you. Take interest in what your coworkers and clientele are up to. Be genuine! Hang photos of your family and friends in your office as these are excellent conversation pieces and serve as the perfect reminder of why we do what we do. If we make our work place a fun and interesting place to be, I swear we’ll all be better for it!

Travis Leonard

The Write Stuff

I just asked my 8 year old “do you know what a journal is for?” and his answer was “for writing your secrets in”. Kind of a stereotype from movies about teenage girls but maybe he’s not that far off.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Eric Dillon share some insights about leadership and the one that stuck with me the most is “how can you know what you don’t know?”  Sounds like a secret to me. But seriously, how can we get ourselves to a higher state of self-awareness to find out those things we don’t know but need to?  Well, personally I walked away from that retreat with a promise to myself that I would start journaling (or return to it since I haven’t journaled since I was one of those stereotypical teenage girls).

So, on the spot I started to document what was happening around me, how I was feeling and things I wanted to remember for the future. By putting pen to paper, journaling immediately helped me to get my emotions and perspectives in check. Put more focus on things that are actually important, and breeze past the small things that sometimes get more time/thought than they are worth.


So, easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right? WRONG! Turns out after a few days of real life, journaling turned into another task on my to-do list. Please know that I have HUGE respect for lists but somehow my entries just turned into a documentary of the tasks I completed instead of creative thoughts and goals. That, or I completely forgot to write anything. In order for me to really grow I knew I had to dig deeper to make this journaling journey meaningful.

My first instinct was to do some online research, and I did find a few good resources like and positivityblog.

But then I remembered something a friend of mine (a real live friend, not just a Facebook friend) shared on Facebook a few years ago. “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness” from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig. With so much going on in the world around us, each person will have a different journey to self-awareness and essentially if I was choosing journaling as my own path I would do it my way.

So, I carry my journal with me so I can write in it whenever I have some down time. I try to avoid distractions like the ‘ding’ that comes from that computer everyone carries around in their pocket (credit to Justin V of Team CU By Design). I journal about work, family, emotions, goals, values, jokes…really anything that comes to mind in the moment. I try to be honest with myself and impartial rather than making judgments. I try to stay humble; taking time to appreciate the people in my life, the things I have, and the places I’ve gone. I don’t put a time or length expectation on my entries. And I flip through old entries, not to focus on the past but to hold myself accountable for the things I have written down and keep myself grounded.

Am I an expert on self-awareness? Far from it! The internet is full of great information and lots of bloggers that can shed more light to this subject than I. However, I do think that journaling is the first step for me, and as I enter into this personal journaling commitment (and share it with the world wide web…bye-bye comfort zone), I challenge you to do something similar. Find a hobby, or space, or outlet that can help you slow down and reflect on your values and ambitions. Your feelings are your own, they are unique and never wrong but if you ignore them, you could lose sight of your goals and where you want to be.

Brittany Halkyard

Embracing Change

When I think of people I respect and admire, they all share similar traits. They’re authentic, giving, present, grateful, and have a balanced life outside of their work. Another thing they have in common is their ability to handle and embrace change pragmatically, head-on, and with grace.

Change is inevitable. It is a vehicle for the growth of our communities, workplaces, team members and families. However, when there is a large change in our work life, the uncertainty can be overwhelming. Thoughts of “Will I have a job in 6 months?”, “I don’t understand”, “I’m falling behind”, and “Maybe Freedom 55 isn’t realistic for me” all fill your head. Here are some helpful tactics to manage workplace change.

  1. Perspective shift – a.k.a. Suck It up. The change is happening, so you might as well find the positive in it. Dwelling on the negative feeds the anti-change movement and gets us nowhere. Don’t think, “I like the old way better”; shift your perspective to be open to learning and broadening your horizons. When we struggle, we grow and improve. Learning a new skill will look good on your resume. Perhaps shifting duties now allows you to spend more time with members, or if an admin task is done quick, maybe you can focus on big projects that you’ve been putting to the back-burner.
  2. Remember the WHY – Ask yourself: Why are you doing these new tasks? Why is your job impacted? Why are you applying for a new position? Answering the why gives clarity to the day-to-day functions and keeps you and your team motivated. Maybe the why is to enhance the member experience, advance your career, or simply to print less paper to save our beautiful trees and improve the ever-important operating efficiency ratio. If you’re unsure on the why, have a candid conversation with your Supervisor/Manager/VP/GM/CEO or anyone who is leading the change. It’s their job to help you see the organization’s vision and your role in getting there.
  3. Have a Laugh – Humour is great medicine. Remember, others are likely feeling the same pressure and confusion as you. Take 15 minutes to go for a walk or coffee together to tell a joke, share an article or hilarious stories about what your children have done to bring you great embarrassment. My personal favorite is when I realize my day is playing out just like an episode of a TV show. Applying wisdom spoken by Michael Scott or Mindy Lahiri is guaranteed to lighten the mood.
  4. Be Patient – Not everyone accepts or applies change at the same rate. Develop your emotional IQ to be sensitive to different personality types and help out where you can – we’re all on the same team!
  5. Communication and Self-Care – Reach out to those around you if you’re struggling. Ask your superiors to assist with clarity on future possibilities and timelines. Perhaps they can assist you in ways you didn’t expect. Remember to take care of yourself. Endorphins are powerful for creating a positive attitude – get some exercise and a good night’s sleep.

Change can be empowering. It allows us to seize opportunities, develop new skills, and learn more about our co-workers and members in order to serve them best. At the end of the day, we all benefit from a healthy, forward-moving change when we choose to buckle up and get ready to get better!

If you want to learn more about embracing change, apply for our next learning session. Applications are being accepted until June 7th for our August 21-23rd retreat!

Pamela Anderson, CPA, CGA

Money is not the only motivator

In a society where money and various tangible rewards seem to be significant drivers both personally and professionally, how can credit unions and other co-operatives effectively motivate their employees without increasing year-end bonuses? It’s difficult for credit unions to compete with larger financial institutions in terms of tangible rewards, as we don’t have the resources to do so. Although extrinsic motivation such as bonuses, commission, and other tangible rewards are useful in guiding employees to meet performance targets, ultimately contributing to the success of the organization, this type of motivation is not sufficient to fully engage employees as it narrows our focus to one set of goals. This is contradicting to the values of the credit union as credit unions strive to better the community as a whole.

When I think “how can I make a difference in my community?” extrinsic motivators certainly aren’t the first thing that come to mind. When credit unions provide their employees with opportunities to appeal to their own values and personal growth this fully engages employees to be the best they can be. As Holly Herman says “personal development is as important as specific professional development. It shows you (the credit union) care about developing better people, creating better employees.” This is more consistent with credit union values as creating better people and employees will help create a better community.

Dan Pink’s Drive video stands out to me as he discusses the connection between engagement and autonomy, and how self-direction significantly increases engagement. He argues that if organizations start treating people more like people, they not only have the ability to make work lives better off, but make the world a little better. When credit unions provide employees with volunteer time or opportunities, such as participating in the SYL community, they are giving employees the chance the make their own decisions outside of their regular daily work and effectively motivate themselves. This autonomy contributes to not only developing the employees within the credit union system, but strengthening the credit union system as a whole.

Do not overlook the personal development and volunteer opportunities that are available to you. I challenge you to participate in more activities outside of your day-to-day tasks, in order to develop yourself and your community. Although there may not be a monetary benefit, at the end of the day you’re given a chance to grow yourself and help your community grow. As giving is one of the post powerful gestures, you will be surprised at how fulfilled you will feel. As Shannon said in SYL’s February blog post, “if we take time to step outside of our own lives and look for ways to help others that is truly where we find fulfillment.”

Climb photo –
Dan Pink Drive Video –

Podcasts – Have you tried them?

The wonderful world of podcasts is a largely untapped learning resource. Already use them you say? Well then help us add to our list! Have no idea what a podcast is or how to listen to them? This sweet old lady would love to explain it to you
We’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourites for your listening pleasure:

The UnPodcast – a marketing and customer service focused smorgasbord of awesome

Afford Anything – a financial literacy podcast helping people of all ages with money savviness

TEDTalks – covers a variety of topics, ideas worth spreading from people who are sure to inspire you.

Freakonomics Radio – hosted by the author of the popular ‘Freaknomics’ books have fun discovering the hidden side of….well everything.

Beautiful/Anonymous – this one’s just for fun. Listen to 1 hour calls where individuals from all walks of life call in and simply chat about whatever is on their mind.

Take a listen, tell us your favourites on twitter @SKYoungLeaders or email us ! We’d love to hear from you.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Spread the #SYLove (and possibly get free coffee!)


SYL has an exciting year coming up and we’d like you to help us spread the word!

Here’s How:

Step 1:
Print this newsletter.

Step 2:
Hang it, display it, SHARE IT in your Credit Union for your Co-workers to see.

Get creative:, in your break room, in the bathrooms, by your photocopier. We can’t wait to see because….

Step 3:
Take a selfie, with the newsletter in your branch and share it on social media using the hashtag #SYLove (tag us too! @SKYoung Leaders)

5 participants will be selected at the end of April to receive a gift card. Coffee on SYL! And it’s not just any coffee – it’s TIMs! The more you post and share the better your chances are of receiving a prize.

Learning Opportunity: Evidence Based Decision Making

To register visit: or call: 306-966-8686

Data is woven into every sector and function of our global economy; however, few organizations are using an Evidence-Based Leadership approach. During times of economic turmoil, sustaining your competitive advantage and maximizing your resources is paramount. To be a leader in your industry, you must utilize and implement data into your strategic decisions, making data-driven decisions part of your organization’s strategy using evidence-based leadership.

When organizations learn to employ facts while managing big data, it allows them to perform most efficiently. Learn what information you should be collecting, how to collect and analyze it and how to use what you learn to support your organization at the 2017 Leadership Conference held May 18, 2017 in Saskatoon, SK.



Each year, the National Young Leaders Committee, a committee of CCUA, holds a leadership intensive called CU NextGen. CU NextGen is an event where high-potential emerging leaders from throughout the Canadian credit union system gather to receive unparalleled leadership training, build relationships with emerging and senior leaders, and leave feeling energized about the credit union movement as well as their futures within it.

The one and a half day CU NEXTGEN™ Leadership Intensive will be held Sunday, May 7 to Monday, May 8, 2017 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We wanted to make sure you have the opportunity to register—space is limited and based on a first-come, first serve basis.

This year, Gregg Brown from Tidal Shift will lead participants through a thought-provoking program focused on change resiliency. In addition to exploring why change can be challenging, the program will introduce seven “change muscles” that help individuals use their energy more effectively as they move through the adaptation process. Attendees will receive individual feedback on their own resilience, and engage in exercises that provide practice in applying each of the characteristics. They will leave with an action plan for strengthening their own, and their team’s resilience, providing tangible takeaways for leaders at all levels of the credit union system.

Following the full-day change resiliency workshop, young leaders will participate in the exclusive Human Library learning and networking session. From there, they will continue their learning along-side leaders from across the Canadian credit union system as they actively participate in “Charting the Course” – CCUA’s 2017 National Conference for Canada’s Credit Unions.

NYLC WebEx: PayCo and the evolution of the payments ecosystem

 Eric Dillon Eric Dillon

Payments are a critical strategic driver for future credit union sustainability and growth, the CEO Payments Strategy Committee dedicated three years of work to conclude that PayCo is the right choice for the credit union system. Join the National Young Leaders Committee on April 5th at 1:00pm CST where Payments Strategy Committee Chair, Eric Dillon, will discuss the PayCo initiative.

PayCo intends to collectively address payment challenges and build next generation payments capabilities for credit unions. The WebEx will provide an overview of the current payment landscape and key areas of opportunity. It will address the financial and strategic importance of payments evolution and how the end-state model will better position the system to attract new members and new business.

The WebEx series allows the NYLC to act on its mission to develop, engage and connect young leaders across the country through raising awareness of highly relevant and strategic topics. PayCo and the work of the Payments Strategy Committee is a perfect example of leaders coming together to address a system-wide opportunity. The NYLC certainly supports and encourages system collaboration and foresees this type of activity as essential to ongoing sustainability and growth. We hope that you are able to join us for this event.