Two Great Speakers, Hundreds of Great Bankers

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the national convention of the Independent Community Bankers of America. ICBA always hosts a spectacular event, and this year lived up to the billing. The general session last Tuesday featured two of the best speakers I have ever heard … and I have heard scores over the years. The first presenter was a young man named Jason Dorsey, who leads a company that researches and disseminates information about Generation Y. Members of this generation, also known as millennials, differ vastly from their mostly baby boomer parents, whom they incidentally outnumber. Dorsey provided an entertaining yet thought-provoking assessment of millennials, assigning credit (or blame, depending on perspective) for their behavior to the baby boomers who raised them.

For example, Dorsey pointed out that when boomers turned 18, they were instructed that, as adults, they had to decide what to do: Go to college, find a job, or join the military. By contrast, when millennials reached 18, they were assured that Mom and Dad would support them throughout their college careers, which could take as many as seven years to complete! Even after college, they often would move back home until they could get a job. On average, Generation Y will graduate from college, begin a career, marry and start a family five years later than their boomer parents did.

Another Gen Y trait: They were raised to believe they were special, unique and one-of-a kind. Consequently the best way to connect with them is to utilize their special, unique, one-of-a-kind self-image. Also, computers have always been part of their lives. Millennials have never used a map, read a newspaper or written a check; consequently, communicating with them means sharing a screen for them to talk to. I have only scratched the surface of Mr. Dorsey’s engaging presentation. If ever you have the opportunity to hear him speak, I would urge you to do so.

The second speaker is much better known in financial and political circles: Karl Rove. He was the political strategist responsible for George W. Bush being elected president twice, and he served as chief of staff under President Bush. Whether you agree with Rove’s politics or not, he is a brilliant man and an impressive speaker. In recent years, Rove has become a lightning rod for liberal Democrats, much as Rachel Maddow is a lightning rod for conservative Republicans. His speech last Tuesday pointed out that Republicans must develop meaningful answers — beyond simply saying “no” — to issues such as universal healthcare. While we have all heard that advice from many quarters over the past few years, it has apparently become obvious to political insiders, such as Mr. Rove. Again, whether you love him or hate him, if you have the chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend that you do.

Last Tuesday was an outstanding opportunity to hear two memorable speakers and, best of all, share that experience with community bankers from throughout the country.

S. Joe DeHaven, 03/12/14

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