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Daniel Valdez - Consistency is Key

We all know the saying, everything is bigger in Texas. Well when it comes to young professionals and career development Texas is doing BIG things. I had the honor of meeting several YP Groups at Cornerstone League Conferences over the years and further connect with Daniel Valdez after a conference and his story needed told. He is extremely eager, gives back more than he gets, and really is one of the people in the industry that people should look up to.



Texas has been doing big things for YP’s and creating opportunities. Especially with Cornerstone Young Professional Advisors. Tell me about how you are paving the way for other states and leagues to shape young credit union leaders. 


As Young Professional Advisors with Cornerstone Credit Union League, we’ve made a presence for ourselves in our communities and the credit union industry through social media, by word of mouth, and by holding educational meet-ups. Our consistency in keeping YP’s in our regions engaged in the movement and the quantity of social media content that we have promoted through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have really assisted in spreading our movement like wildfire. With these efforts, we’ve had many CEO’s, CU industry folks, and YP’s in other states reach out to us to see how we created all of the hype in our regions.


In conjunction with our online brand, we’re also deeply involved with the Cornerstone Young Professional Conference that is created each year. This conference is what paved my path into getting involved in the YP movement and is largely focused on branding, leadership, and career development to prepare us for leadership positions in the future. It’s been amazing to be a part of a program that started only a few years and to watch it evolve into this major force in the CU industry. 



Hosting a conference is huge, we have also seen the Illinois League have great success with this. Tell me more about the educational resources as well as your local CU Chapters.  

Cornerstone Credit Union League delivers educational resources and essential needs to its 550 credit union members. You can think of it as the “big brother” of credit unions. They are there to provide training in leadership, governmental affairs, and in relevant topics while increasing credit union influence at a national level. Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma are the states that are currently utilizing the league and the YP Advisors are a branch of Cornerstone that was created a few years ago. 


The chapters are designed to engage, educate, and actively recruit credit union young professionals that are interested in paving the way for future leaders in our industry. There are a total of 13 Advisors who are assigned to their region and are responsible for promoting the YP movement. We work hand-in-hand with our local chapters around community involvement, governmental affairs, and leadership education. While the YP Advisors are responsible for creating meet-ups in our communities, we also encourage any other young professional that might not have a local advisor in their area, to do the same. One of our goals last year was to create a “Meetup Toolkit,” to assist anyone interested in creating a fun and relevant meetup in their area. We provide the tools on our website to any registered young professional in the Cornerstone region. 



Also every year at our Young Professional Conference, we have a group of Reverse CRASHERS who attend or "CRASH" the conference! These CRASHERS are a group of credit union CEO's from the Cornerstone region who are there to share their wisdom, knowledge, and experiences with all the attendees. Every year a new set of CEO's are selected, so we get to hear different stories and perspectives with each conference.  During YPC, we actually have a Reverse CRASHER panel where the YP's get to ask questions regarding the journey of the CEO's and what it took to become leaders of their organizations. It's always amazing to hear their stories and to gain insight as to how we hold the power to our paths to becoming future leaders in our careers and organizations. 


You can visit our website at: https://www.cuyp.coop/


I love this concept of having a group of Advisors, this is a very well-rounded approach. Outside of 9 – 5 you seem very busy. What are some of the specifics you are working on now outside of work hours?


Being a Young Professional Advisor is an extracurricular activity that does require time outside of work to really dive into what the role entails. We strategize and plan during our spare time as to what our meet-ups will look like, the content that goes on social media, and articles for the monthly newsletters. These newsletters include content regarding the big things YP’s are doing in our regions. Aside from content, we are also very involved in our communities and work together to give back through different organizations. Community service and engagement aren’t all we do either! We have a few of our Advisors who are assigned to governmental affairs and are dedicated to ensure we are up-to-date on legislative issues impacting credit unions. While all of this can be time consuming, it’s well worth it with all of the great connections and people that we’ve met along our journeys. 



That really is what it is all about, forming connections and surrounding yourself with like-minded hard-working people.


Staying motivated is quite easy when you work with peers and team members like the ones that I work with. I’m currently an Assistant Branch Manager at A+ Federal Credit Union in Austin, TX. Before coming over to A+, I worked for a large corporate bank, where everyone was terrified to lose their jobs over not hitting quotas. After working in this type of environment for many years, I came over to credit union land where it was a night and day difference. My credit union offers a culture of inclusivity, creativity, and values its team members’ ideas. The opportunities they give their team members to really explore leadership and to give back to their communities, are the reasons that I’m excited to come into work each and every day. 


After working with A+ for two years, I was given the opportunity by my CEO to become the YP Advisor, shortly after attending my first Young Professional Conference. This role has opened up many different doors for me and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people along the way, especially the other Advisors. 


When we first began the role as Advisors, we set goals for what we’d like to accomplish over our term. These goals kept us focused, determined, and motivated throughout the last two years and stretched us in both our role as advisors and in our careers. Goal setting has played an instrumental part of keeping me motivated and each time I’m able to accomplish the goal that I’ve set for myself, it’s given me great satisfaction to look back at the success that I’ve attained. If someone is having trouble staying motivated, I would say change things up and try something different in your career or set small attainable goals for yourself to keep you focused and on the path of growth. 


You all do a great job posting content, photos, and information to get more involved. How do you continue to push and post content? What has the reception to this been like?


Our Engagement Committee, specifically Kobey Mabry, have been the gurus of social media and content. They are constantly reaching out to YP’s for interviews, bouncing creative ideas off of each other, and looking for ways to keep the content young and fresh. We are YP’s, so we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously when it comes to social media! Kobey does an amazing job of finding out what’s trending and then spinning it into something credit union. He then shares it with the rest of the committee, and it goes out to all of our platforms, so it’s consistent across the board. 


The reception to our posts has been great and we even had a few Facebook posts that went viral! We look at each post as a chance to immerse YP’s into what we’re working on and to catch the attention of leaders within organizations to become intrigued in what we’re trying to accomplish. I feel like we’ve done a great job at it so far and look forward to seeing what the new Advisors (who start in January) come up with! 


Tell me your favorite people helping people story. 


My favorite people helping people story happened a couple months ago and really gets me choked up thinking about it. This year is A+FCU’s 70th anniversary, so our CEO and leadership team decided to focus on giving back to our communities, with different “give back” initiatives each month. 


In September, we were going to local HEB’s and handing out $20 gift cards to help people in our community with groceries. An A+FCU team member gifted, a family that was shopping, one of the gift cards and the father became overwhelmed with emotion. He shared that they had put back some dinner items for that week, because they didn’t have enough money to buy that AND diapers for their youngest child. With the gift card, they were now able to buy BOTH and have enough food for dinners that week. Our team member, of course became emotional, and went and to find other team members who still had gift cards to handout. That evening we gave them a total of 3 gift cards, which really impacted their family for that week and probably the entire month. 


It is astonishing how something so small and that we probably take for granted, can positively impact someone’s life. It’s these stories and situations that genuinely assure me that I’m on the right path and working in the right industry. These are the moments I think about when I’m having a rough day and it really helps put things in perspective for me!


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CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at CultivateYP@gmail.com

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