CUES SKYBOX BLOG

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Must Leaders Always Focus on the Summit?

World-renowned mountain climber Alison Levine says leaders sometimes just have to put one foot in front of the other. Life isn’t just about making it to the top, but “about the lessons you learned along the way, about knowing how to weather the storm,” says Alison Levine in the video below. In the five-minute clip, Levine talks with insight and humor about leaders and their tolerance for failure. A famous mountaineer and author of On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership, Levine will speak this December at Directors Conference in Orlando. Learn more about leadership without ever leaving your desk when you sign up for “Leadership Brand and Shadow” through CUES Elite Access, offered in partnership with Cornell University. Cornell University also is one of CUES’ partners in offering CEO Institute. The first segment of this highly regarded, CU-specific program focuses on strategic planning, and will next be offered in August at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The second segment focuses on organizational effectiveness and will next be offered in May at Cornell. Segment II also will be offered in August.

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Millennials Like Debit Over Credit

Gen Y avoids debt and may prefer debit rewards. By Stephanie Schwenn Sebring This post is bonus coverage from “Card Rewards,” a feature story due out in the May issue of Credit Union Management magazine. According to a recent Wells Fargo survey, Millennials are leery of debt after seeing what transpired during the 2008 economic recession. Many feel consumed by debt already (42 percent say debt is their biggest financial concern) while carrying excess amounts of student loans on top of a car loan and mortgage. So it’s not so surprising that Millennials don’t want credit cards. As reported by Tech Times, 18- to 29-year-olds prefer debit over credit by a 3:1 margin. Why is this so important? Millennials are also the largest generation in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ages 15 to 34 represent about a third of our total population. As statistics indicate, the implications are enormous regarding market share and meeting the digital banking needs of Millennials. Annie Cox, director/growth solutions for CUES Supplier member PSCU, St. Petersburg, Fla., says Millennials prefer debit over credit card rewards. “They’re already overwhelmed with debt, including a significant amount of student debt, so credit isn’t their […]

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Community Involvement is the Best PR

Two examples and an opportunity. By Bill Prichard Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services CO-OP Financial Services recently made available the white paper, “Best Practices: Public Relations for Credit Unions.” The paper reviewed the work of six public relations professionals at credit unions from Virginia to Alaska. A number of topics emerged in our discussion with these “practitioners,” but perhaps the one best practice they have unanimously adopted is community involvement. It’s the best public relations of all. The opportunities for credit unions to be involved in their communities are as broad and diverse as the nation. One example is $2.4 billion Redwood Credit Union of Santa Rosa, Calif., which has had a strong relationship with the Redwood Empire Food Bank, also of Santa Rosa. “Our partnership provides us mutually beneficial media opportunities, too,” says Robin McKenzie, SVP/marketing and communications. “For example, we recently got called to be the featured company at the food bank when they were contacted by KGO-TV, a San Francisco ABC affiliate, who wanted to do a live broadcast there during Thanksgiving. “We were able to have our team of volunteers featured on the broadcast, and we were interviewed about our relationship with REFB and our commitment […]

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Ready to Rethink Rewards Communication?

Know what members want. By Stephanie Schwenn Sebring This post is bonus coverage from “Card Rewards,” a feature story due out in the May issue of Credit Union Management magazine. David Eads, CEO of Mobile Strategy Partners, LLC, Atlanta, says credit union loyalty programs will be most successful when CUs can communicate benefits in a meaningful and consistent way that resonates with members. “I recommend to clients that they rethink how they’re communicating their program,” he says. “How well has it been integrated into the credit union’s overall brand? How frequently does the credit union promote rewards? The credit union should incorporate rewards messaging into all of its marketing channels, all of the time. These channels can include point of sale at the branch, website, mobile, newsletter, email blasts and alerts.” Brian Day, manager/mobile products for CUES Supplier member The Members Group, Des Moines, Iowa, suggests that an impactful rewards program, embraced by staff, will engage members and naturally enhance their satisfaction levels. Greater engagement and satisfaction will also lead to increased loyalty and less attrition. Day notes that successful loyalty programs will have a variety of options for point redemption and keep members engaged with continual education and fresh […]

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Big Data as Collaborative Opportunity

How can CUs of all sizes best get on board with this new trend? By Lisa Hochgraf Sometimes I get a single press release about a topic new to me and that prompts a story in CUES’ publications. Other times, I suddenly see a new topic everywhere. “Big data” is everywhere. And I’m wondering if it marks an opportunity for CUs to collaborate. For the uninitiated, big data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate for making sense of them. Getting and managing big data may be easier for big organizations. So I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise when I got a press release saying that $13 billion BECU, Seattle, had signed with INETCO Analytics to acquire rich transaction data from the CU’s ATM network. The goal is to gain on-demand visibility into member analytics, as a stepping stone to ensuring delivery of the best member experience possible. “INETCO Analytics effectively shrinks our member transaction data gathering and analysis time from weeks down to minutes—which allows us to make decisions based on timely and comprehensive cardholder analytics,” says BECU ATM Channel Manager Shirley Taylor in the release. But […]

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Win Against New Competitors

An emerging wave of competition is on the horizon. Here are tips for preparing for them. By Andrew Tilbury New technologies–particularly digital wallets and social media–and Millennial preferences and expectations are driving the creation of new business models that represent existential threats to traditional financial institutions. Denying these fundamental shifts is a recipe for failure; credit unions need to evolve their culture, business models, and products or be left behind. A recently published Bluepoint Solutions report, “Disruption in Financial Services: Threats and Opportunities,” identifies and explains the challenges facing financial services companies today. Here is advice and recommendations for credit unions looking to win against the new competitors. How can credit unions stay relevant to Millennials, and what are the key service offerings they should be providing to capture this group? Millennials look for ease of use, convenience and consistency. Because of their strong connection to mobile phones and 24/7 connectivity, Millennials value immediacy and self-service over building relationships with tellers and physically going to a branch to conduct their banking. Credit unions looking to stay relevant need to eliminate any possible need to actually visit a branch. This means having a mobile first strategy. A credit union should have […]

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Strategic Alignment Exercise

Take a pause to assess where you are. By Scott McClymonds The more I work with financial institutions, the more I find that the greatest catalyst to profitability, growth, and member loyalty is leadership’s ability to align strategy, people, and systems. This also happens to be extraordinarily difficult for most organizations, and it isn’t because leaders aren’t smart, passionate, energetic, and full of ideas. Most leaders I observe are flying around from meeting to meeting, working on numerous initiatives simultaneously, and putting out daily fires. That frequently squeezes out any time they may have to focus on strategic issues like corporate identity, customer needs, employee engagement, and communication. But pause, you must. Here’s an exercise to do in that quiet moment. It will help you gauge where you are. Answer each of the questions below yourself, then ask your board, management team, and a sampling of front line people to do the same exercise. Next, compare answers with your board and management team. If the answers are similar, your alignment is probably strong. If the answers vary widely, you have some work to do. Who are we? What are our strengths? What is our brand? 2. What is our strategy? 3. […]

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Get New Members for the Best Possible Price

Until April 8, you can help kick start a collaborative program aimed at boosting CUs’ market position. By Kathryn Clancy Remember the last time you tried to explain to a friend from out of town exactly what credit unions are, and why working in the movement is so important to you? You probably said something like, “They’re member-owned, not-for-profit financial institutions dedicated to improving their owners’ financial lives.” And then when your friend said that sounded great and he wanted to join one, you said, “Um… .” After all, what do you know about the membership criteria of credit unions far away? Helping your friend find a credit union isn’t the whole story here, however. Take a look at NCUA and U.S. Census Bureau data, and you’ll see that only about 100 million U.S. consumers are members of credit unions. With 300 million people in the country all told, that’s a lot of untapped potential that credit unions could get together and dig into. But helping anyone on the street find just the right credit union to join has been difficult in the past. Enter Credit Union Match, a website envisioned by my friend and former Callahan and Associates colleague, […]

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Get ‘Wow’ Instead of ‘Wah, Wah, Wah’

Enhance your communication skills to effectively deliver your message. By Sheri Staak Effective communication is not always a given—it’s a skill set that can be learned, enhanced, and shared with those you lead. Transparent, fair, and reciprocal communication is vital to the success of any team. If you are a “wow” leader, as I like to call exemplary leaders, set the example by being a positive, clear communicator who encourages the same from others. Presentation skills, public speaking, executive presence, or platform skills (no matter what you call it), a “wow” leader needs to be good in front of people. To inspire others to rise up and go the extra mile, the clarity, passion, and sincerity of your words must be properly communicated. If you deliver a lackluster, insincere, or rambling message to your team or audience, what they’ll hear will be little more than what Charlie Brown and his friends hear when the grownups speak: “Wah, wah, wah.” To develop and maintain exemplary platform communication skills, you must work at it. You must resolve to wow by identifying what may be tripping you up at the podium or in the boardroom. Try some of these techniques: 1. Prepare. Make […]

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Growing Into Leadership

Individuals and the industry benefit when credit union executives undertake professional development. By Soma Sarkar I’ve learned a lot about growth during my credit union career. When I was hired in 1994 to fill a branch manager opening at the Credit Union of New Jersey, I was my CU’s 12th employee. Back then, CU of New Jersey had $42 million in assets and was a cash operation. Now, it has 99 employees, $317 million in assets and is a full-service financial institution. As the credit union has grown, so has my role in it. Now I’m EVP/chief operations officer, overseeing all the CU’s retail branches, plus lending, compliance and a call center. I think my plan to attend the three years of CUES’ CEO Institute is an important next step, not only toward my own professional growth and the future success of the credit union, but also the overall development of leaders for the future of the CU industry. I’m excited to begin next month by attending CEO Institute I at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. As credit union executives, we need to prepare ourselves and our peers as strong leaders to keep the movement going forward. With the […]

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Delivery: My Way or the Highway

Millennials cast their vote for omni-channel delivery.  By Andrew Tilbury Sponsored by Bluepoint Solutions Members, especially the coveted Millennials, want financial services delivered to them “where” and when they want them—whether that’s in a branch, via their laptop or tablet, on their smartphone, or (soon) on their wrist. This has serious implications for credit unions of all sizes and will undoubtedly favor those who are innovating in delivery channels for their members. It also looks like we are looking at new shifts involving tablets. A 2014 report from Javelin Strategy and Research predicts that 138 million adults will access their financial accounts through tablets by 2018. Notably, Javelin believes that financial institutions are not well prepared for the tablet boom, and that they must strive to provide robust tablet banking apps, especially for the complex Android market. Indeed, areas of rapid growth in service delivery right now include mobile and social media-based banking, according to our latest report, Disruption in Financial Services: Threats and Opportunities. The report indicates 72 percent of Millennials are active users of mobile banking. Additionally, the report notes that while online banking usage has remained relatively constant over the past three years, mobile banking has nearly […]

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Mobile Account Opening and ‘Switch’ Kits

Mobile sales is the next front in the share-of-wallet battle. By David Eads Every year in the United States., $1.8 trillion in retail banking assets switch from one financial institution to another. This number is growing as Millennials join the workforce. Credit unions continue to invest heavily in mobile member service tools – and rightly so. However, most credit unions have overlooked the mobile member experience of joining the credit union or adding new products. On average, mobile accounts for 37 percent of attempts to join credit unions–but 80 percent fail, according to a Mobile Strategy Partners study. Even worse, prospective members with a negative experience trying to join the credit union are less likely to respond positively if approached again. Credit unions must shift their mobile strategy from service to sales and service. Retailers already have shifted their mobile strategy. Mobile accounted for 45 percent of all holiday shopping traffic in 2014 and 22 percent of all online holiday sales according to IBM. Credit unions should take note and empower their members to do the same. But despite this evidence, financial institutions as a whole have been slow to enhance digital sales. Why? Because institutions have ignored their mobile […]

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Is PINless Winless?

 As retailers move to capitalize on PINless debit, CUs need to re-evaluate their fee and reward programs. By Joe Woods Sponsored by CU24 Credit unions have seen a recent spike in PINless debit transactions as Walmart, Target, McDonalds and other large, national merchants have begun implementing PINless as part of their business strategies, reducing interchange that flows to issuing credit unions. (Also read, “Retailers Reduce CU Debit Income” on this blog.) What are “PINless” transactions? When a consumer uses her debit card for a purchase that is less than $50, a merchant may decide to route that transaction over one of the PIN debit networks, without capturing the PIN. Merchants may not even offer the consumer the choice of PIN, but routinely capture the transaction and forward it as “PINless.” PINless transactions aren’t new; however, they have been used infrequently, generally for transactions where both parties are known to each other with an established relationship, such as utility bill payments, rent payments, tuition and the like. The original intent was to provide a quick, low-risk transaction for cardholder and merchant. PINless was rarely used for routine POS debit activity. With this shift in merchant transaction routing behavior and the accompanying […]

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A CEO at Every (Employee) Desk

Leadership should come from every level of your organization. By Jeff Rendel, CSP Several years ago, I was speaking for a credit union at its all staff in-service day. Before the activities began, I was going about the meeting room visiting with staff. I introduced myself to a young lady and asked what role she served at the credit union. “Oh, I’m just a teller,” she replied, with a sinking tone that focused on the word “just.” Swiftly, I pointed out the credit union’s CEO, who was chatting with colleagues. “Do you see your CEO?” I asked the teller. She responded with an affirmative nod. “I’ll bet that you see and serve more members in one day than your CEO sees and serves in one month, maybe one year,” I continued. “In your members’ eyes and experience, you are the CEO of the moment and transaction.” A credit union CEO friend of mine backed up my “from-the-hip” claim and analyzed the number of member interactions among five staff member levels over one month. In a month, the credit union conducted 19,564 member interactions. Of those interactions, the CEO interacted with members five times; front-line leaders interacted with members 17,548 times. […]

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The Mobile Front Door to Your CU

Implementing on-the-go banking can serve your members–and your CU. By Brooke Strohman Sponsored by Transamerica Group Have you ever left home without your phone? The fact that it is normally in use makes that hard to do, but when it happens, do you feel an overwhelming rush to turn around and go get it? Mobile devices, including smartphones, have become a staple in everyday activities. According to Flurry Analytics, in 2014, overall app usage grew by 76 percent and time spent on mobile devices grew by 9.3 percent. In fact, last year the average person spent almost three hours a day on their mobile device. Where years past have seen massive growth in games and entertainment, according to Flurry, 2014 was the year apps got down to serious business. The biggest increase in usage was for utilities and productivity apps. These apps help keep lives organized; they help with on-the-go shopping, working, and communication. This confirms that phones and tablets have become indispensable devices that help us work and keep our lives organized. So, out of those three hours a day, how much time did you connect with your members and prospective borrowers via mobile devices? Mobile functionality and communication […]

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Know Your (Apple Pay) Customer

New payments technology doesn’t remove the need to take ‘traditional’ security step. By Lisa Hochgraf I’ve helped CUES publish a fair bit of information about how Apple Pay will be a key tool in credit unions’ security arsenals going forward. (In particular, the post “Apple Pay and EMV Security” comes to mind.) So imagine my dismay when my boss sent me a link to a blog post entitled, “Turns out Apple Pay Can’t Solve Credit Card Fraud.” The post author says the hardcore Apple Pay security technology works well–but can’t overcome issues with cards themselves. “According to Drop Labs,” the post details, “people are buying credit card numbers online, then loading those same numbers into Apple Pay, in essence making themselves a handy fake credit card, without going to the trouble of making a physical fake.” Blah. So much for staying ahead of the fraudsters. For perspective, I touched based with the experts at Cornerstone Advisors Inc., a CUES Supplier member and our strategic partner for technology and enterprise risk management services based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Here’s what Director Ryan Rackley had to say: “Apple Pay is not an excuse to bypass the ‘know your customer’ guidelines. Apple Pay has […]

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4 Steps to Becoming a Core-Focused Leader

It’s a natural motivator to know who you are. By Theresa Witham To be successful as a leader, you need to be focused. To be focused, you need to know who you are at your core, said Doug Nielson, CSP, MSW, LCSW, author, performance interventionist, coach and psychotherapist, at CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange earlier this month. “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want,” he said. If your core doesn’t immediately show itself, the following exercise from Nielson will help. There are four value components of your core, Nielson said. Become: In one word, who would you like to become? Write a core statement around that word. Then think of actions that will help you achieve it and when you need to complete them by. Experience: What experiences would you have in your role in the next 90 days? Again, think of one word for the experiences; then write a statement based on that word and define the actions you need to take. Contributions: What contribution would you like to make? How would you like to contribute in the next 90 days? Follow as above with […]

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Leadership and the Next Generation of CEOs

Collaboration and values-based credit unions are at stake. By Henry Wirz I just returned from the Western States Summit Round Table, founded many years ago by Stan Hollen, Rudy Hanley, Ed Callahan and Gary Oakland. These former credit union CEOs, all retired now or in other roles, were part of my generation of CEOs. The question I ask myself over and over is who will assume the kind of leadership that they and others of our generation brought to their credit unions and the credit union system in general. Many CEOs at the recent round tables are of the next generation, and it is too soon to see if they will be great leaders, too. The last generation of CEOs created the modern credit union with professional management, they developed the CUSOs (CUDL, CO-OP, PSCU, CSCU, MBL, etc.) and they played a great role in political advocacy and regulatory advocacy, possibly saving credit unions with HR 1151. What made CEOs like Stan Hollen, Rudy Hanley, Ed Callahan and Gary Oakland effective is that they were doers, thinkers and advocates. I have attended many round tables and what I recall is that our generation of CEOs used the round tables to […]

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The iPhone Effect

What do all these smartphones mean for branch delivery? By Suzi McNicholas It is clear that now, more than ever, today’s consumers are heavily influenced by technology that is simple, cool and connected. Take for instance the smartphone. This device has completely pervaded consumers’ everyday lives, and now credit union members expect similar technologies to accompany more and more of their daily tasks, especially when it comes to banking. This so-called “iPhone effect” has encouraged many credit unions to give an enormous amount of time and resources to expanding their online and mobile banking offerings. Rightly so. However, even though foot traffic in retail branch locations has decreased, the branch still remains the No. 1 sales and member engagement channel among credit unions across the country. While digital channels are critical to meeting members’ transactional needs, the physical branch is still a key component of engaging with members face to face. Contrary to popular belief, consumers still value human interaction when it comes to their personal finances. But now CUs must find a way to service tech-savvy members who demand a better in-branch experience. IDC Financial Insights predicts branch transformation will be an area of major investment over the next […]

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Creativity vs. Career

The distinction is valuable. By Lisa Hochgraf My New Year’s resolution is to read more for pleasure. And wouldn’t you know it, my first pleasure read of 2015 inspired two work-related blog posts (this one and “Fifteen Years to Famous,” which published last Wednesday). The first book I read this year was Yes, Please! by comedienne Amy Poehler, famous from her time on “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation.” (Poehler would be proud of me for writing two posts referencing her book, I think. The back cover says, “As a reader of Yes Please I hereby swear to purchase book and read it. … All parties agree to discuss book with family and friends and purchase multiple copies if so inclined. … ” But I digress.) I thought what Poehler had to say about the different between career and creativity was worth talking about: “Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you,” she writes. “That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, ‘I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.’” The parts of my work that fit Poehler’s creativity bill include […]

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Retailers Reduce CU Debit Interchange Income

Alert CUES members note that Walmart, others now exercising their processing choice for small transactions. By Karen Bankston You may be noticing the latest impact of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act on your credit union’s interchange fees. It appears Walmart and some other large retailers have begun processing signature debit transactions as “PINless PIN” transactions, thus reducing interchange fees—and credit union revenue—even when members opt to sign on the signature pad. The giant chain may be at the head of the pack of merchants aiming to reduce card processing expenses by adjusting the routing logic on their point-of-sale terminals to submit debit charges of $50 or less as PIN transactions whether consumers key in a code or sign for their purchases. “Merchants are beginning to exercise their new transaction routing freedoms, made possible through the Durbin Amendment, which gives retailers the option to do network routing as they see fit,” says Ryan Rackley, director with CUES Supplier member and strategic provider Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz. The PIN networks, such as STAR and Pulse, introduced a PINless debit option for low-risk transactions in certain categories, including retail purchases, a few years back, Rackley notes. With their small-ticket sales, fast-food […]

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Fifteen Years to Famous

Great jobs sometimes come after a lot of hard work. By Lisa Hochgraf Last week my 11-year-old was worried about what job he would have in the future. In addition to telling him that he had some time to figure things out, I  suggested that typical career paths are a bit more windy than just deciding on a career and then making it happen. Over the holidays, I read Yes, Please! by comedienne Amy Poehler, famous from her time on “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation.” In the book, Poehler underscores the idea that careers aren’t made in a moment, but rather from hard work and experiences along the way. “Good or bad, the reality is most people become ‘famous’ or get ‘great jobs’ after a very, very long tenure shoveling sh** and not because they handed their script to someone on the street [who’s famous and could help them],” she writes. “People still think they will be discovered in the malt shop, even though no one can tell you what a malt is anymore. “Everyone wants to believe they will be the regular guy from Sioux City who becomes a reluctant movie star despite his best attempts to […]

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5 ‘Youtility’ Ideas for CUs

CUES Symposium attendees brainstormed ways CUs can be useful to members online. By Theresa Witham Being useful (rather than just selling) is a key way to establish a positive social media presence, according to Jay Baer, marketing strategist, best-selling author and president of Convince & Convert. During his session at CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange last week, attendees had a chance to brainstorm “Youtility” (the title of Baer’s book) ideas for credit unions. They came up with fantastic ideas! Here are five: Custom ATM messages: Program ATMs to display messages related to life such as “Don’t forget to floss,” “Call your mother,” or “Don’t forget to vote.” Welcome to Life Basket: Work with a local hospital to celebrate births. Open memberships for each new baby and provide the mother a basket of items she’ll need for the first week at home. Repair and Maintenance Program: With home repairs, new roofs, car repairs, etc., credit unions have a vested interest in what’s being repaired. The CU would become a sort of Angie’s List where it could recommend local companies. And if something goes wrong with the repair, the CU could step in as a mediator. Wellness Hub: The credit union is […]

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Is Your Marketing Useful?

CUES Symposium speaker offers insight. By Theresa Witham Online, we have an overwhelming amount of competition for our attention, said Jay Baer, marketing strategist, best-selling author and president of Convince & Convert, speaking at CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange on Monday. He shared some examples from his personal Facebook feed and it looked something like: picture of a friend’s cute kid, post from a company that he follows, post from his wife, another post from a company. “Yours looks exactly the same and so does the Facebook feed of every single member and nonmember,” he said. The same goes for Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. It’s a combination of personal and commercial relationships. As a brand on social media, “are you more interesting to me than my wife?” he joked. Probably (hopefully!) not. And on the day after Sunday night’s big game, Baer said: “We’re all competing with Katy Perry and the Super Bowl.” So what should you do about this? How does a credit union shine through posts about the halftime show and someone’s adorable nephew? “Stop trying to be amazing and just start being useful,” he said. It’s a concept Baer calls Youtility (and it’s the title of his […]

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This Innovation Got My Mojo Running

Reimagined grocery checkout has lessons for CUs. By Christopher Stevenson For many in Wisconsin and Illinois, a trip to Woodman’s Markets, an employee-owned grocery chain, is a weekly ritual. For the uninitiated, Woodman’s stores are huge and offer a variety of foods not available at most other grocery stores at terrific prices. In a typical week, I can save upwards of 50 dollars on my food purchases by making the 20-minute trek to my local Woodman’s. That’s reason enough for me to love it. That said, a trip to Woodman’s has its challenges. The stores are huge and until you learn where things are, a simple trip to the store can be time consuming and frustrating. It’s swamped on weekends when people are stocking up for the week. Packer game days? Don’t bother. Pre-game, the store is packed to the gills with people in green and gold jerseys trying to cram in their shopping between church and kick-off. If you venture in after kick-off, the store looks like a swarm of locusts has swept through, leaving behind a few wilted leaves of lettuce and a couple Cheerios. Still, these challenges can be overcome once you develop your “Woodman’s Mojo.” After […]

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