Every July, I teach at the University of Colorado’s Graduate School of Banking for two weeks. This is an amazing experience for these bankers since they are being groomed by their institutions to become future leaders. Many of the students I teach will become C-Suite members in the years to come, so I take my role in this school very seriously–myself, not so much.
These students have so many hard classes covering the nuts and bolts of banking, and they are learning from university professors, former bankers, and regulators. This is heavy stuff, so I try to make my classes fun while still informative. And yet, even though I generally receive good comments from students about how much they enjoyed my class, I really don’t know how effective I have been. I want them to think differently about what it means to be a banker in the face of changing customer demographics and expectations–I just hope it sinks in and makes a difference in helping them “think about how they think.”
One of my classes, Transformational Growth, is specifically geared toward exposing students to Metacognition (thinking about how we think). For this class, I use the topic of branch transformation to emphasize the need to think about problems differently and come up with unique and innovative solutions. I do this by splitting the class into smaller groups, roughly organized by asset size, and have them ideate on how they would transform the branch by asking them, “What would you do to change the branch experience so customers and prospects would want to come?” I use a variety of techniques to get them thinking, including an incredibly fun exercise called Reverse Brainstorming. Then they present their ideas to the class.
After we finished this exercise, a student approached me and explained how one of her fellow bank employees, who had taken my class four years ago, uses every opportunity to advocate thinking differently about branch transformation. She had heard him offer some of the same ideas I had shared with the class, and recognized the same branch transformation animations I used (this employee shows the animations to anyone who will watch and listen). She added he was a little “fanatical” about the need to transform the branch, but now, having attended the class herself, she “understands” and shares the same passion for transformation for their bank.
It’s extremely rare to hear how my teaching or speaking impacts attendees. More than great reviews from current students, hearing I’ve made an impact that has spanned years makes the effort I put into these classes well worth it. I remember hearing a lay minister from Alabama once say, “Anyone can open an apple and count the seeds inside, but only God can count how many apples are in a single seed.” While I believe this to be true, it’s gratifying to learn about a single “apple” that grew out of a seed I planted years before.
What kind of seeds are you sowing? Do you give back in terms of educating your future customers? Maybe none of those in my classes are buying anything from U.S. Dataworks, but I believe my advocacy will yield long-term fruit. We don’t have to cut open an apple and count seeds to have an activity be valuable and worth our time and attention.
Also published on Medium.