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  • Thank Those Who've Helped You

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Recently I had the opportunity to succeed my manager who is retiring after a long and full career.  As I reflect on those people who have helped me reach many of my career aspirations, including this gentleman, it struck me, once again, how lucky I have been to have had people that have taken time, effort, and energy to mentor me.  Many of these people were busy with their own work and yet they stopped what they were doing to give me some time, to lend me a hand, or guide me in one direction or another.

    My first bank manager is the reason that I found banking to be so much fun and the reason that I chose this as my career (a decision that I still feel wonderfully blessed to have made).  He took a very naïve, young man, fresh out of graduate school with no real sense of what I was going to do professionally, and guided me to think seriously about banking.  He gave me opportunities to succeed (and sometimes fail) and helped me learn from each of them.  He gave me the chance to manage others and helped me learn how to do that too.  Sometimes he taught me on the job, sometimes on a Saturday morning run.  But always he kept reassuring me that I “had what it takes” to succeed in this career if I wanted to.

    The second mentor in my career was my grandfather.  He helped me see the true potential that I had within the industry.  He guided me into an MBA program to help me learn more about business.  But most of all, he showed me every day in his business dealings that honesty and integrity were critical to true success and the ability to go to sleep at night knowing that I had done the right thing.

    Finally, the gentleman that just retired showed me that I can be successful as the manager of the business banking group.  He sent me an e-mail right before he left giving me encouragement to stay steadfast, to continue to reach for those goals, and then said, I know “you have a good skill set.  Just be yourself!!!”  What a great confidence booster he gave me.  He helped me learn so much about myself while teaching me about the business of commercial lending.

    And so it is that I write this blog encouraging every reader to find the opportunities to mentor someone.  That person may be someone you work with, it may be a customer, it may be a neighborhood kid, or it may be your grandson (or granddaughter).  Whoever it may be, when you mentor someone you give them the courage, the confidence, and the belief that maybe they can do something that they hadn’t even dreamed they could do.  And if you have been mentored, take a moment and drop that person a thank you letter, e-mail or phone call to let them know how much you appreciate their help in getting you to where you are today.

  • Who Says You Can't Have Fun at Work?

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    If asked how you would describe where you work, what would you say? If you asked me I would say challenging, caring, and fun. Yes, I said fun. Sometimes work is a place where employees take a deep breath before walking through the door each morning reciting affirmations to simply get them through the day. Not me. When I walk through the door each morning of MutualBank, I think of how thankful I am for working at a great organization who challenges me to produce my best work.

    Core values of Class, Character, Compassion, and Competition are engrained in each MutualBank employee from day one. Somewhere in these core values you will find that fun is intertwined. Culture plays a big part in this. Top leaders know that a job needs to get done, customer relationships are vital, shareholders want to see a return, and employees are more likely to do these things well when they are having a little fun.

    It’s okay to talk about having fun at work – it’s not a forbidden topic. Heck, this past Monday was national “have fun at work day”. This national "have fun at work day" indicates that having fun at work is an important piece of the workday. So what do MutualBank employees do to have fun at work?

    To answer the above question in detail would take more than this blog will allow, so I’ll give you a couple examples, and pictures, of employees having fun at Mutual.

    The Bank has a dedicated committee to ensure all employees have opportunities to have fun. Mind you, managers in our organization understand the importance of the fun factor and make sure it happens in their department when there isn’t an organized event taking place.

    Let’s start with employee luncheons. Luncheons are held and some sort of activity is usually planned. Activities have included three-legged races, corn hole tournaments, cookouts, and even piñata busting. Recently, MutualBankers wore MutualBank UCrew shirts to celebrate our MutualMan Super Hero. Not only did employees wear the t-shirts, they took pictures as a department wearing the attire with an opportunity to win a prize for creativity. See our Human Resources Department below:

    https://www.bankwithmutual.com/clientuploads/BlogPictures/superherotorescue-1.jpg

    At least once a month employees wear jeans with a donation to local community non-profits. Departments often take advantage of popular events like the Super Bowl to sport their favorite team’s colors and decorate their departments. The most recent took place in our Kosciusko County. In their annual United Way fundraising campaign employees created “Call Me Maybe” videos to tout the Call 211 feature of the United Way. This was cool and I guarantee they had fun making it! Check out the Syracuse Financial Center video where employees from different parts of the company were included. 

    The list could go on and on! The fun even extends outside of the workday and includes company parties, coffee and canvas events, and a picnic where employees had a chance to sink our Bank President in a dunk tank.

    https://www.bankwithmutual.com/clientuploads/BlogPictures/PatDunkTank.jpg

    The career I’ve had at MutualBank, going strong for 13 years now, has been and will continue to be, fulfilling because I like to have fun while getting my work done. Going to work shouldn’t be work – it should be fun! If you are interested in a career and having fun at it, then I would encourage you to check out our career opportunities. MutualBank is always looking for the brightest, most creative and fun individuals to help our customers live a better life. Now, ask yourself again how you would describe your place of employment. If you want to have fun while being challenged to get results then MutualBank just might be the place for you. 

  • The Mind of a Commercial Lender

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Have you ever wondered what it is that your banker is really looking for when they talk with you about a credit request?  Well, wonder no more, I invite you into the brain of a commercial lender (enter with caution as it is a scary place!) 

    1. Have you developed and maintained an ongoing business relationship with your banker?   Bankers need to have an ongoing dialogue with clients to best serve their needs.  We are here to provide money, certainly, but we are also here to establish a long term relationship whereby we can help our clients achieve their goals.  Whether it is remote deposit or online banking, ACH or wire transfers, your banker has the products and services that can help our customers grow.  But we cannot do that if we do not know what those goals are.
    2. Does your business need a loan -- or an equity infusion?  Banks are interested in making loans; they are not interested in being the owners of the business.  Equity is that device that helps a business weather a storm, loans are those tools that help a business grow and operate.  The two are mutually exclusive.  Banks are in business to make loans.  Equity funds should come from the business owners.
    3. Can you clearly explain your firm’s “value proposition?”  If you cannot explain why a business should do business with you then stop what you are doing, figure that out, and then resume whatever it was that you were doing.  Why should someone buy from you as opposed to your competition?  That question needs to be clearly (and concisely) articulated first!
    4. Do you have a plan that covers the good, the bad, and the ugly?  Things happen, and sometimes you have to figure out what that means for your business.  To always assume the “good” means that when the “bad,” or worse yet, the “ugly” happens the business isn’t prepared to handle the outcome.  So . . . what are you going to do in your company if it gets “ugly”?  If you can answer that question you will be in much better shape to help your banker help you.
    5. Have you developed at least two ways to repay the loan?  Bankers have an axiom that goes like this “only cash repays loans.”  There, that is our great big secret.  Now that you know that then you know how we view the primary source of repayment.  But how else can the loan be paid off if the cash isn’t being generated for some reason (see point #4 above).  If you can demonstrate how else the loan might be repaid you have helped the bank and they in turn can be more helpful to you. 

    So now that you have seen into the mind of a commercial lender I hope you will take away from this discussion that it isn’t too scary a thought process.  Indeed, the more certainty that the banker has that the loan will be paid “as agreed,” the more likely that you will not only receive a favorable loan decision, but also the best interest rate. 

    Your MutualBankers are here to help you accomplish your goal. Get started by contacting a MutualBanker near you!

     

    Chris Caldwell is Senior Vice President of Business Banking for MutualBank.

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