Eddy Merckx’s surprisingly affordable ReadyMade steel road & gravel bikes

first_imgOn Monday we got a glimpse at the return to full-custom, premium steel MyCorsa road bikes made by Eddy Merckx, after one was ridden in the Paris finale of the Tour de France. But if your budget isn’t limitless, you still can get a high quality steel Merckx bike, thanks to their new Ready Made complete road, gravel & urban bikes.Eddy Merckx Ready Made, affordable steel road & gravel bikesc. Eddy Merckx BikesThe new made-to-order custom Eddy Merckx MyCorsa road & gravel bikes look great, but at 3300€ for the frameset alone, they are beyond the budget of most cyclists. But don’t worry Merckx is bringing back a wider range of premium steel bikes, at much lower prices. Sure, these aren’t made-to-order in Belgium, but every one of these complete bikes is cheaper than a custom MyCorsa frame, and still delivers that modern, lightweight steel ride.Eddy Merckx Strada affordable steel rim brake road bikeThe Eddy Merckx bike brand started with the premium Corsa Extra road bike, but by the late 80s a couple of more affordable road bikes were introduced with the same racing heritage – the Strada & Criterium. And now both are back.The Strada continues to be more of the everyday road bike for those who dreamed of racing a Merckx Corsa.The new Strada is now a modern performance road bike, welded from light Columbus steel tubing, with oversized tubing, a carbon fork with tapered steerer & internal headset, and traditional external cable routing.The new road bike is only available with rim brakes, and comes in five stock sizes (48-60cm). Geometry is directly inspired by Merckx carbon race bikes, sharing the same angles & Reach as the Stockeu69 race bike, but with slightly longer chainstays & a few extra mm of Stack to accommodate the steel construction.At only 2500€ complete, you can pick the Strada with either a Shimano Ultegra mechanical rim brake build, or a Campagnolo Potenza gruppo. Both options are available in the white with candy red details or this Molteni brown with dark blue & beige details, both with a high gloss finish.Eddy Merckx Hageland affordable steel disc brake gravel bikeA completely new concept for Eddy Merckx Steel is the new Hageland gravel bike, which is also the only of the new Ready Made steel bikes to feature disc brakes. It apparently takes inspiration from where Eddy grew up on the Belgian gravel roads that formed the Dwars door het Hageland race and give the gravel bike its name.The Hageland also gets traditional external downtube shift routing, and adds in a set of downtube guides for the rear brake hose as well. The carbon fork does however, route the front brake internally for a clean setup.The Hageland also features an oversized steel tubeset (although not called out as Columbus, so we suspect it is a beefier chromoly tubing) with an internal tapered headset. The bike has flat mount brakes, 12mm thru-axles, plus full front & rear rack & fender mounts.The gravel Hageland is also available in five stock sizes (47-57cm). Geometry for the Hageland also is adapted from the carbon Merckx line – here with the same angles from the Strasbourg71. The steel gravel bike though gets a slightly longer Reach numbers paired with a bit taller Stack to create a better all-rounder ride.A machined chainstay yoke provides extra space for wide tires (think up to ~700x40mm) and the ability to run either road compact double or 1x drivetrains.With that the Hageland is available for 2500€ complete with a SRAM Rival 1x build, or for 3000€ with a Shimano Ultegra double drivetrain – both with hydraulic disc brakes. Both builds are also available in either the glossy Mist gray with brown metallic & dark gray details (at top) or this sand tan and Prussian blue.Eddy Merckx Criterium affordable steel city commuter road bikeLast up, the Criterium was always meant to be the most affordable steel Merckx. It remains more of a traditional road bike, built from a low-cost & versatile steel tubeset.While the Strada & Hageland are fully modern performance bikes, this is meant to be a budget roadie to zip around town. It features a lugged crown fork and a straight 1 1/8″ steerer with an external headset.Cable routing is external, and the bike features long reach rim brakes, plus braze-ons for full coverage fenders and rear rack mounts for commuter versatility.The budget Criterium comes in an abbreviated four sizes, but still generally covers the same wide 48-60cm fits of the road Strada, just with bigger steps between sizes. It also gets race-focused handling, adapted from Merckx’s premium road bikes.The 900€ Criterium is all about affordability, and gets a Shimano Claris 2×8 road compact with a shiny silver FSA crankset and other polished aluminum components for classic looks.All of the new steel bikes are available through select shops out of the Eddy Merckx dealer network. So, you can either check if your local shop is a MyCorsa shop via the new steel bike website, or get in touch with them directly to see if they have the new Ready Made bikes in store.MyCorsa.com/Ready-Madelast_img read more

First Impressions: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 series’ new Di2 R9170 disc brake groupset

first_imgThere is a lot to be said for app-based Di2 setup and customization. Whether you want to decide how many gears to drop with each front shift in Semi-Synchro, or how fast and how many gears to dump in Multi-Shift, the possibilities are there for you to play with, and find what suits each rider (or team) best. And after having to just plug my watch into my laptop to update its firmware, there is a lot to be said for being able to update your electronic drivetrain to the newest firmware (and possibly additional functionality) all from your Bluetooth paired mobile phone or tablet.There really are lots of small refinements in the new R9100 series Dura-Ace Di2. There’s that new smaller Wireless Control unit that now fits inline in your E-tube wiring harness to give you the Bluetooth connectivity (and that can be installed inline anywhere in the system, especially helpful for internally routed setups). You can even wire in the external display that is a part of the mountain bike Di2 group if you want to see gearing info, but don’t want to just pair the groupset with a Garmin GPS. There is even a slightly updated remote shifter layout that includes zip tie channels so that it can also be securely mounted on bar tops outside on the bar tape.Final Thoughtsphoto by Irmo KeizerWe spent a few days riding the new R9150 & R9170 Di2 groups in the worst weather you could ever hope for on a road. bike. Through hours in freezing rain in groups exclusively on new Di2 (and even some flooded roads that were probably past the point of being reasonable) we never had an trouble with the electronics. And with many a rider finishing with less feeling in their finger tips than when we started, no one complained of mis-shifts or difficulty braking.Like any new groupset the new Di2 takes a little getting used to. But coming off of the previous generation, it really was easy to hop right on the bikes and ride away. It does seem like with each new drivetrain iteration, their setup becomes a little more technical and even finicky. We spoke to Shimano’s designers and service course mechanics about the new group and both really stressed how important it is to follow the step-by-step instructions for setting these groups up. While in the past you could slap a new group on a bike and just tension four wires to pedal away, now there is a precise order of operations that if you jump over one step you might end up not getting the full braking power or instantaneous front shifting that are otherwise designed into the groupset.Shimano is all about a total complete system as designed. Not many consumers are going to buy part of a Dura-Ace group, but after seeing a few pro teams piecemeal together 9000 and R9100 groups it is clear to see that the benefits of the new group are the top-level performance that comes from riding a complete group. The addition of brake and shift options though means that there really isn’t much of a need for compromise. Whether you want the fastest shifting Di2, lightest setup for road racing, or the improved braking and no reliance on batteries to shift, the new Dura-Ace has got you covered. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the new Dura-Ace disc brakes and maybe a bit more head-to-head between the mechanical and Di2 varieties.Bike.Shimano.com We’ve covered the tech of the new Dura-Ace group in detail in a few different iterations since its debut this past summer, so I’ll try to separate that which stands out after actually spending time riding the new Di2 groupset here. You can find the tech from the entire R9100 series group here at its introduction, pricing details on the individual components here, a look at the new tubular, tubeless & clincher Dura-Ace wheel offerings here, and then the actual weights of the new Di2 components on our scales here.That said, the reason we continue covering the new R9100 series Dura-Ace groupset in so much detail is that with the addition of options for rim brakes, disc brakes, mechanical shifting & Di2 electronic shifting there really are four distinct Dura-Ace groups available for 2017. And while it may seem like there is a lot of overlap (ie. cranksets, chain, cassettes, and even lever ergonomics), each variation seems like it might cater to a different element within the premium road market. Out of the four, I’ve now spent time riding R9100, R9150 & R9170 and I get the sense that I would personally spec them on three completely different types of bikes, and have an idea that the forth would suit an even different style of riding.For these riding impression, I’m going to stick to new Di2, with the R9170 Di2 shift/hydraulic disc brake group the focus. As premium disc brake road bikes have started to catch up with their rim brake counterparts in pretty much every aspect, it is hard to argue with the improved braking of hydraulic discs.Di2 Rear DerailleurThe core of the new Di2 groups R9150 & R9170 are the new electronic derailleurs. They borrow a lot of their shaping and layout from years of Shimano mountain derailleurs and the reasoning that made sense off-road makes equal sense now on the road. Two key technologies you see are a Direct Mount hanger option and an out-of-the-way Shadow profile.Additionally, the slightly longer cage design adds compatibility with Dura-Ace’s new 11-30 cassette. This was apparently a direct response to pro riders and mechanics who weren’t happy to have to switch to mid-cage Ultegra derailleurs to get the wider 11-32 gearing they wanted for some of the recent races that started to include incredibly steep stretches of road. The 11-30 gearing was deemed to be sufficient with compact chainrings, and let the R9100 Dura-Ace stick with a single short cage length.Shimano reiterated something we see quite often these days, that with the close spacing of modern 11 (&12) speed cassettes out of alignment derailleur hangers are the number one cause of poor shifting. Especially since Di2 derailleurs are both so string and precise, they need something stable to bolt onto. Shimano has decided to move to direct mount derailleurs going forward, and says they’ve been working with bike makers to start producing road bikes with direct mount hangers. No official word yet on which brands will take up direct mount hangers, but we’ve been told to expect it from at least a couple big brands within the next year.That is additionally helpful with the move to thru-axles and short chainstays, as it moves the derailleur body’s first pivot a bit further back on the bike allowing more room to more easily and quickly drop the wheel out for fast wheel changes. Besides speed it also make the derailleur less likely to be bent in a wheel change.photo by Wouter RoosenboomOf course the much lower profile MTB-inherited Shadow layout also goes a long way to keeping that expensive derailleur out of harm’s way. Looking at the bike from behind, it is easy to see that the body of the derailleur now barely sticks out beyond the end of the axle, no matter what gear you are in. That makes the derailleur less likely to get torn off in a major pile-up in the peloton, but also reduces the impact to the derailleur and hanger in the most common crash where the rider just washes out in a turn.A side benefit is that the new Di2 R9150 rear derailleur looks substantially less bulky visually with its servo motor tucked inside, more attached to the back of the parallelogram than the previous 9070 rear derailleur. That makes the group look more consistent from mechanical to electronic versions.Di2 Front DerailleurThe new R9150 Di2 front derailleur gets a pretty good overhaul as well. It also incorporates a slightly less bulky looking servo motor, mostly as a result of reducing the large shiny silver body from the 9070 version. With the growth of wide tires on the road and short chainstays, Shimano has made an effort to improve clearance between the front derailleur and tire. That is most obvious on the big redesign of the new mechanical front derailleur, but this Di2 one gets trimmed as well.At the same time the new R9100 crankset has increased its chainring spacing and refined its tooth shaping to make it work better with short chainstays, so the R9150 front derailleur gets updated accordingly. That is especially important as Shimano redesigned the new Dura-Ace front derailleurs so that they will work perfectly with either standard 130mm road spacing or the effective 135mm spacing (actual axle spacing of 142mm) that has become the norm with the addition of thru-axles and disc brakes. Shimano now says that you can get perfect shifting when using either standard width rear ends, down to short 410mm chainstays. Key to the continued development of Di2 is customization. The newest version of the group is controlled by a suite of customization apps for mobile phones, tablets, and PCs that let you set how each button on the Di2 ecosystem reacts. We’ve seen the top buttons (above left) controlling everything from cyclocomputer screens to headlights, and even as additional shift buttons. There are a lot of options for flexibility, and Shimano continues to be willing to work with third parties to partially open up the group’s ANT Private communication protocol to allow more electronic integration going forward. Besides slimming down and updating the spacing on the new Di2 front derailleur, it also gets updated wire management. It is a rather small item, but on a system that was already seen to offer the most precise shifting on the market, the small refinements are what make the case for the upgrade to R9150.Again with tighter clearances between rear tire and front derailleur, the 9070 derailleur left cable routing up to the mechanic. As we have seen most recently in our Pro Bike features at the TDU, top mechanics have gotten good at cleanly routing the wires, but the new plastic guide that clips onto the end of the front derailleur wire and holds it in place promises lower profile routing without any guess work.Disc BrakesWith the proper addition of hydraulic disc brakes to Dura-Ace the big concern was fitting everything inside the small lever bodies we’ve become accustomed to with mechanical Di2. While the non-series RS685/785 and RS505 hydraulic levers are much wider and more bulky than anything branded as Dura-Ace, Shimano promised with the R9100 series to deliver the same feel across all groups so that the pros could seamlessly jump from one bike to the next with the same feel.To be honest I was personally a bit skeptical, but with the three 9100 levers I have ridden so far, they each feel the same to my hands. I broke out the calipers to measure each one to back up the feeling, and sure enough they are each the same width on the hoods (measured as 29mm wide just behind the brake lever pivot.) Back where the lever body transitions to the bar the disc brake bodies are slightly larger (42.5mm vs 41mm) where Shimano says they needed a bit more space to get the hydraulic lines into the body. After having spent a good bit of time riding the RS785 levers, the new R9170 levers just seem much smaller in the hand.What hasn’t gotten much notice is that the new Di2 buttons offer improved tactile feedback of the click to shift. This has specifically been an issue for me (first world problem alert: regularly riding several different brand groupsets on the road and cross), where I didn’t always feel like I was getting positive feedback at the levers with each shift, especially when wearing cold weather gloves. Well, riding the new Di2 (in both rim & disc brake variants) in the foul weather resulted in cold, wet, and sometimes stiff fingers even in cold weather gloves, and I’m happy to say the shift action of the buttons seemed more tactile. It is still pushing a button vs. clicking a shift lever, but the feel is certainly improved.Of course strong, reliable, and predictable stopping is the key to the addition of disc brakes in Dura-Ace’s new R9170 group. I’m a strong supporter of disc brakes on the road. I ride too often in nasty conditions to ever want to own a rim brake road bike again. But while I’ve ridden any number of road disc setups, this new Dura-Ace group is certainly the most refined and unified group I’ve pedaled and stopped.It really is hard to beat Shimano’s IceTech and Freeza rotor technology. On the road I have yet to try any combination that matches the balanced performance of initial bite, predictable modulation, and overall power. The new Dura-Ace RT900 rotors – available only in centerlock and either 140mm or 160mm diameters – seem to offer all the performance I have come to appreciate from their XTR RT99 predecessor, and even claim improved heat management performance.We’ve seen computer renderings of another Dura-Ace rotor design with the same product numbers that does not use a separate alloy spider like these (or the XTR rotors) and promising improved heat dissipation, but this is the only design we’ve seen in the real world. Curiously, with aerodynamics being a key driver in current road bike design, Shimano tells us that they didn’t specifically test or measure the drag effects of this more closed rotor vs. the more open previous IceTech or Freeza designs. Instead the rotor fins were designed in order to optimize cooling.photo by Wouter RoosenboomOne issue to not forget when adding an integrated hydraulic disc brake solution to your road bike is that setup is certainly more complicated. While installing and bleeding most mountain bike disc brake setups has become more simple and straight forward over time, the new Dura-Ace is not there yet. With complicated internal hose routing, even inside of some handlebars, dialing in your disc brake road setup can be a challenge. And with the constrains of fitting the master cylinder into that small hood, Shimano didn’t manage to position the bleed ports on both lever and brake body where they are easily accessed.Bleeding the brakes isn’t something you are going to be doing often, but when it is required, it will be important that you or your friendly neighborhood mechanic follows Shimano’s instructions closely so you get it right the first time.All in all the combination of Shimano hydraulic disc braking and Di2 shifting was pretty much everything we had hoped for, especially when riding in rain and snow right around freezing temperatures. Braking was perfectly consistent and powerful from my first pull of the lever, and shifts popped off as quickly as I tapped the shift buttons.The only ergonomic thing that didn’t entirely please me with the R9170 levers was the limited reach adjustment of the brake levers. With the Di2 setup placing one shift button behind the other (both behind the brake lever blade), there isn’t a lot of extra room for your fingers behind the levers. If you are like me and ride on the hoods with one finger on the brake lever and the remaining three wrapped around the bar behind the lever, you might also pinch your fingers between the lever and bar when braking heavily (especially with gloves on). The levers do offer reach adjust, but mine were set in the long (all the way out) position, and since there isn’t a real way to adjust pad contact position like on the mountain bike, it took me a couple of rides to get used to where best to position my hands for optimal braking.Synchro ShiftNow with the core details of the Di2 group out-of-the-way there are a few other tricks up its sleeve worth looking at, some of which we’ll get into even more detail another time. The first is the new A-Junction box which now can be mounted inside of your bar end, so you get rid of having it hung by a rubber band under your stem. Functionality carries over, but it also adds control of Synchro Shift.Like we saw on the mountain bike Di2, Synchro shift has application on the road now as well (and can even be retrofitted to 9070 with a few small component upgrades). While off-road the goal is to drop the left shifter, on the road the point is to ease regular operation and to add full front & rear shift capability with two simple buttons in a aero position.Synchro Shift has three modes in Dura-Ace: manual were you shift normally; Semi-Synchro where the rear derailleur moves one or two shifts to maintain smooth cadence with each front shift; or Full Synchro that lets you shift just the rear derailleur and controls the front automatically at preset shift points to maintain the best gear combinations (while also still letting you shift the front derailleur manually if you want).To switch modes you need to double push the small stiff button on the bar end controller, which we found to be something you have to stop the bike to execute reliably. We spent time in each mode and probably still prefer full manual operation, but the Semi-Synchro is a nice feature and does a fine job of performing just like I already ride Di2, dumping a couple of rear shifts at the same time as shifting up front, although in theory the automatic control should be better at timing the paired shifts for the most reliable performance. Full Synchro we’ll reserve for the time trial bike, when it could be nice to have riding stretched out in an aero tuck.App-based Customization We had the chance to join Shimano and their development team last week in Calpe on the Valencian coast in Spain for what had promised to be some warm winter miles test riding the new Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. In the end the weather dictated a different story. Unseasonably cold temperatures and a week of heavy rains made for conditions that did more to test the waterproofness of the new Di2. Then when rain turned to snow up the climbs away from the coast, it also meant a perfect playground to see how the first-ever Dura-Ace branded disc brakes would deal with bringing us back to a stop.Luckily I came to Spain from Central Europe where we’ve had weeks on end of sub-freezing weather, so I pulled on the waterproof shorts, warmers, and gloves and got down to riding the new gear. Looking closely at the tech updates and refined details that make up the new group, Dura-Ace Di2 delivered the shifting that has become a benchmark with improved braking, more consistent ergonomics, and some interesting Synchro shift options…last_img read more

$151,000 in regional economic development grants awarded

first_imgLieutenant Governor Phil Scott and Buildings and General Services Commissioner Mike Obuchowski awarded $151,000 to eight projects from a new grant program established by the Legislature in 2012.  The Regional Economic Development Grant program will assist projects ranging from pre-construction work in Bellows Falls to entrepreneurial support in Poultney. This is the first time that this program has been made available and there was a limit of $25,000 per project.Lt. Governor Scott praised the winners of the REDG awards. The flexibility of this program allows for applicants to be very creative and I am very impressed by the projects that were funded.Commissioner Obuchowski leads the Department that administers the REDG awards, as well as the Recreational facilities and Human services and educational facilities grant programs.I am delighted that the Legislature added a new grant program to our portfolio, Commissioner Obuchowski said. These funds will provide much-needed capital to eight very good economic development projects.Projects that received funding include:Islands Center for Arts and Recreation – $15,000Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation (Randolph) – $25,000Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation (Hartford) – $25,000Friends of Algiers Village – $22,500Poultney Downtown Revitalization Committee – $3,500Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation $25,000Vermont Junior Voltage Foundation, Ltd. – $25,000Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce – $10,000  State of Vermont 1.8.2013last_img read more

MOTI 2XU South West Series 2009

first_img Related Thirteen events have been selected for the 2009 MOTI 2XU South West Series, representing five months of racing over the forthcoming UK summer season. Competitors have to complete at least four races, one of which has to be an open water swim event. (For those completing more than four races, the best four scores will count to their overall points total).Competitors must be either members of Triathlon England and live within the South West region, or be a member of a Triathlon England affiliated South West Regional club.The Series sponsor, MOTI 2XU, will be providing quality apparel to all winners of each five year age group and there will be certificates for the first three places in each age group.www.mymoti.com www.trienglandsw.orglast_img

Village Shops, Corinth Square provide COVID-19 updates from tenants

first_imgVillage Shops, Corinth Square provide COVID-19 updates from tenantsThe Shops of Prairie Village and Corinth Square have a running list of COVID-19 updates and guidelines for their shops and restaurants.Tenants from each shopping center provided an overview of current guidelines and practices. Some restaurants like Minksy’s Pizza and Great Harvest are open for curbside and online options, while others’ dining rooms are open, like BRGR and Tavern in the Village.A full list of Village Shops guidelines can be found here, and a full list of Corinth Square guidelines can be found here.Merriam participating in COVID-19 personal protective equipment drive through July 1The city of Merriam, alongside Advent Health and other partners, is participating in a COVID-19 personal protective equipment drive through July 1.Donated items will go to healthcare personnel at long-term care facilities, hospice and other community organizations that serve vulnerable populations. Items can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. any day of the week at any of the three AdventHealth Centra Care locations.Accepted donation items include:N95 masksSurgical masksHomemade masksEye protection such as gogglesHair or head capsNon-latex exam gloveslast_img read more

The CUInsight Experience podcast: B. Dan Berger – Extreme member service (#3)

first_img 81SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Randall Smith Randall Smith is the co-founder of CUInsight.com, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust.As one of the co-founders of CUInsight.com he … Web: www.CUInsight.com Details Welcome to episode three of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Hosted by Randy Smith, co-founder and publisher of CUInsight.com. In each episode we have wide ranging conversations with thought leaders from around the credit union community. What issues are facing credit unions? What are they working on to help? What leadership lessons and life hacks have they learned along the way? What’s the greatest album of all time? These questions and more will be asked and answered.The goal of The CUInsight Experience is to dive deeper with the people of the credit union community and find gems from their experiences that add value to all of us.Our guest today is B. Dan Berger (@BDanBerger). Dan is the president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), a direct membership association for federally-insured credit unions committed to representing, assisting, educating and informing their member credit unions to help them grow, and help grow the credit union industry.Dan brings more than 25 years of government relations and political affairs experience to the credit union movement and has held key association and business management positions. In addition, he served as chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives.For 15 consecutive years, Berger has been listed as one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington D.C. by The Hill. He has been a commentator on Fox News, CNBC and CNN, and is quoted regularly in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and numerous financial services publications. Read more about Dan here.Listen to the full episode or scroll down past the short video and show notes to read the full transcript. You’ll even find out what the B in B. Dan Berger stands for is you listen all the way through.  Enjoy.How to find Dan:B. Dan BergerPresident and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU)dberger@nafcu.orgwww.nafcu.orgTwitter | LinkedinSubscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, StitcherShow notes from this episode:NAFCU’s advocacy effortsDan’s recent article: Top advocacy priorities for credit union growth in 2019NAFCU’s 2019 conference lineup and trainingNAFCU’s federal compliance assistance and resourcesCredit union shoutout: CAMPUS USA Credit UnionLearn more about NAFCU Services and their trusted partners.Read more about NAFCU’s advocacy efforts on data security here.Company shoutout: Q2Check out the Berger Leadership Blog. (you won’t regret it)Leader mentioned: Ajaypal Singh BangaBest album of all time: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Damn the TorpedoesBook mentioned: Anything by Stephen CoveyBook mentioned: Awesomely Simple by John SpenceFind all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here.Full episode transcript:Randy Smith: Hello boys and girls of the credit union community, and welcome to episode three of The CUInsight Experience, our podcast. My name is Randy Smith. I am one of the co-founders and the publisher of CUInsight.com, and it is my job on the show to bring you the best and the brightest from around credit union land. The movers and shakers, the people that are changing and pushing our movement forward. And today’s show is no exception. I’m excited to have our guest today, Mr. Dan Berger, the president and CEO of NAFCU. From my previous interactions with Dan, I knew we were going to have a blast. He has a very engaging, awesome personality and the show did not disappoint. We talked about everything from NAFCU priorities for credit union growth in 2019. We talked about advocacy, how Washington’s changed since his time there. From there we moved on to management, life hack and leadership issues. Dan runs a leadership blog, so he had a lot of great information there. I was really looking forward to that part of the conversation. We wrapped it all up as we always do with the rapid fire questions. If you stick around until the very end, you’ll even find out what the B stands for and B. Dan Berger. Without further ado, I give you my conversation with Dan Berger. Enjoy.Randy Smith: Dan, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I’ve been excited to talk to you.Dan Berger: Hey, I’m glad to be here, anytime. This is my very first podcast. I’m being real hip here.Randy Smith: We appreciate being your first podcast, being one of our first guinea pigs as well. Anyways, I want to just jump right into it. With the dysfunction in Washington, has it made the job tougher?Dan Berger: Yeah. That has made things a little bit tougher from the standpoint of getting some real things moving forward on behalf of the credit union industry. Probably the silver lining in all this from an advocacy standpoint is the fact that nothing happens negative to the industry. That’s a win too, so if you’re looking for that silver lining, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about the bankers going after our tax exemption or some of the other bad actors out there, predatory lenders trying to do some things. There’s a pretty good balance approach, but from a proactive standpoint, it does make things a little bit more difficult.Randy Smith: I can only imagine. Recently, just in the past week or so, you published an article about the top advocacy issues for credit union growth in 2019. What’s most important for credit unions the way you use it?Dan Berger: It’s a lot of things. We use a multipronged attack here. We’re really focused on advocacy. That’s our job. Number one, people join NAFCU for advocacy. We do only three things here, at NAFCU. we do advocacy, education and training, and compliance assistance. That’s it, but advocacy is number one and is number one for a reason, so we’re really focused on a couple things. First and foremost is data security, second is data security and third is data security and then there’s some reg relief issues and some more powers and authorities that were looking at, but also looking at to play a little defense too. The bankers, again on Capitol Hill, they just sent a letter up again today attacking credit unions and so we do this rapid response and then we have responded to Congress and so advocacy is nonstop. So what we try to d, we’re always doing it. We’re always focused on it. Yesterday we were at the CFPB, yesterday. I met with leader Mitch Mcconnell for a couple of hours day before that we were at Treasury, couple of weeks before Christmas we had a meeting at the Federal Reserve, but the NAFCU board, we’re on Capitol Hill every single day and so it just. Advocacy is 24/7, 365 and that’s what we do.Randy Smith: You’re saying advocacy is every day. That was the question that a little bit further down my list, but it plays right into it. We think of the big wins, we think of the big fights, but what does NAFCU do every single day for credit unions?Dan Berger: Just like I said, we put ourselves in front of the decision makers and the policy makers and the elected officials every single day. We have meetings on Capitol Hill everyday. We have NAFCU lobbyists meeting with members of Congress and their staff, everyday. We’re meeting with the leaders in both the House and the Senate. We meet with the folks at the White House. We were just at the White House not too long ago. Again, we meet with all these decision makers, whether it’s the NCUA, CFPB, and that’s what we do, day in and day out, and we have a passion for it. We truly love NAFCU members and my colleagues at NAFCU do such a wonderful job, but it all start, quite frankly, with the NAFCU board of directors. The men and women make decisions that are in the best interest of NAFCU members in the credit union industry and everything flows from that.Randy Smith: I’ve heard you say that working on behalf of credit unions is personal NAFCU. What does that mean to you?Dan Berger: I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and I’ve been a member of Campus Credit Union down there since I was nine years old. Gave me my first auto loan when i was 16, and so I’ve been passionate about credit unions. My parents used the credit union. My mom, who’s 84 now, still does, so that passion is there. It’s rooted. They helped me, they helped my family, but I see all the good they do in their communities, so it’s passion our mission. We have a mission statement here and NAFCU and it’s to strengthen credit unions. Okay. That’s it. To strengthen credit unions. And behind that or values. Our values is to be member-driven, to be passionate and to really focus on being excellent. We really focus on excellence and so all those three things, it brings out the passion that we have and so we work really hard and focusing all our advocacy efforts with that type of passion.Randy Smith: Stick with the excellence, what do you view as the greatest strength of your team at NAFCU?Dan Berger: I think it’s not just having the skillset in lobbying. A lot of people have the skillset and the networks and the contacts on Capital Hill or within the administration to get a meeting and things along those lines, but it’s also having the attitude and the aptitude. Here at NAFCU we have what we call the no jerk policy and so we hire people for attitude and aptitude. You want people that genuinely liked people that genuinely like credit unions and our members and so that passion you see it and you’ll see from top to bottom. They care about the members. Internally, we call it extreme member service and so God forbid you get lost in our phone tree here at NAFCU, the young lady in the mail room can help you as much as I can and so top to bottom, left to right, we work really hard and really enforcing that extreme member service and they do it with passion. My colleagues do such an amazing job and so it all focuses in and having that passion and that excellence day in and day out. We’re known for our responsiveness. You send me an email or give me a phone call. You’re getting responded to immediately and it’s the same throughout the building.Randy Smith: That’s pretty cool. We were just looking at the NAFCU calendar in our office last week. We were putting a bunch of the NAFCU events into the calendar on CUInsight and you guys have a lot going on in 2019. Are there topics that credit unions want information or are a there a few topics that when you look out at your events calendar for this year, that from an education standpoint, information standpoint that credit unions are craving at this point in time?Dan Berger: It’s nothing new. It’s the same year in and year out. If you talk to credit unions, they’re telling us every single day I need tools to grow. I need new powers and authority so my credit union can grow. I need more lending so we can grow, membership growth so we can grow, so our entire focus from an education and training standpoint really focuses on that seed of growth. That’s where we talk about. That’s the lot of the content that you see at our conferences, whether it’s our board of directors conference or CEOs and senior executives conference. All these conferences that we have, the underlying theme is grow. We’re going to try to help you grow and so that’s what we focus on all year long with our conferences.Randy Smith: I’ll throw a question in that I just started thinking about here recently in the past few days that that goes along with the credit union growth. Are there any current beliefs held by credit unions today that you think will change significantly over the next few years?Dan Berger: Nothing really major. I think a lot of from a belief standpoint, that core belief being not for profit financial institutions, being volunteer boards, being member driven, that’s not going to go away. That core belief that credit unions have, they developed an incredible trust that the banks will never have, that Fintech will never have, and so to maintain that trust is going to be really important, but at the same time you have to do what the membership wants. The members want access to their money. Having your watch. People go to Whole Foods you can pay for it. That’s the stuff that I think credit unions really need to look at is having that technology necessary for members to have access to their money. And to make sure that credit union account or the credit debit card or credit card as it top of mind, so it’s on top of wallet. It’s convenient and it’s right there so you don’t have to carry all those credit cards anymore. I have it on my watch or I’ll have it on my smartphone and so credit unions more and more are embracing that technology because members want access to their money and they want to be able to pay for things relatively frictionless.Randy Smith: I actually think that technology can be the great equalizer. I think we’ve seen that switch and fintech where instead of them wanting to go directly to the customer or the member, they’re like, that’s tough. Maybe we can partner with people. More marriages there that can happen.Dan Berger: No, I agree. Randy, so from a standpoint it’s even more important now we have NAFCU Services Corporation here at NAFCU, and they have these incredible partners that will help bridge that gap with technology, so to have those kinds of partnerships that give them the opportunity to have that type of technology is extremely important and more and more beginning to do that.Randy Smith: Yeah, I agree with that completely. That’s for sure. If we were to sit down at a year from now, what’s NAFCU’s biggest win or what are you most proud of? We’re sitting down in 2020, let’s just say.Dan Berger: NAFCU biggest win for 2019, I think we would really like to see a data security bill get passed that holds the merchants and retailers accountable for all these breaches. You see almost seemingly every day that’s going on. They needed to be held to the same standards that we do as financial institutions. We would like to see that bill passed and of course victory also would be fighting off anything that’s thrown at us, whether it’s CRA reform or taxes, something like that, with the bankers going on the attack, and playing some strong defenseRandy Smith: CRA reform is so interesting because it’s kind of what credit unions do anyways, right? Like it’s built into the fabric of us.Dan Berger: That’s exactly right, and you have to go back to the history of CRA as it was put in place on banks because they were predatory lenders. They were taking money out of communities. They were red lining, so it was a punitive measure. Credit unions who’ve never been redlining, ever, and so why would you subject them to another layer of regulation that’s unnecessary and extremely costly. It’s an unnecessary component of this time.Randy Smith: I want to switch directions a little bit here and talk about leadership and life hacks. First question, what was it about credit unions that inspired you to take the job as the CEO and president and NAFCU?Dan Berger: Well, first and foremost, it’s the members and it’s the credit union industry and how they help members, how they help their communities. That’s different. We are the white hat folks in the financial services arena, that matters to me. You’re not lobbying guns or alcohol. I’m lobbying for credit unions. We just have a different mission and different belief system, different value system. That was important to me and so when I had the opportunity to become CEO, not only do we have a great industry and a great membership at NAFCU, I have an incredible board of directors, and the men and women that make up that board do a wonderful job taking some very difficult positions. They see it through the filter of, and this is how they talk and board meetings by the way, the NAFCU board, how is this going to affect the man and woman running that credit union? How’s it going to affect that institution? And so those are the positions they take, whether it’s legislation or rules that have to be promulgated. That’s how my board looks at things and so how could you not want to be part of that?Randy Smith: Sounds like a fun gag, right? Has the inspiration changed with time on the job?Dan Berger: Inspiration has not. The seriousness has. Because you see credit unions almost one a day going away and it’s a combination of factors first and foremost, of course the regulatory burden. That’s expensive. I mean a credit union is lucky to have one compliance officer maybe two some of the smaller ones actually share a compliance officer. Where Bank of America may have 250 or 300 compliance officers, but all those compliance officers that the credit unions need to understand the 20,000 pages of rules the same as those 250 compliance officers that the larger banks need to have. So that’s a huge burden. But you know, technology costs, technology’s not inexpensive. So back to your original point is important that credit unions partner with Fintech for the mobile banking, for their online banking with companies like Q2 and others. It’s just real important to have that kind of relationship with the Fintech folks that are out there. And then of course his competition is competition from the banks, community banks, regional banks, Fintech, other credit unions. So all of those pressures, it’s a very difficult environment. So the issues that we deal with on a daily basis, I think it become even more important and more serious over the years.Randy Smith: How has Washington changed since your time there?Dan Berger: I’ve been here since 2002 and I’ve been lobbying for almost 30 years now. And in the financial services space it has become more polarized and I think a lot of that is from, if you look back in the history of it all, I think a lot of it has to do with the state legislatures. And then drawing the congressional lines. There was a time you remember congressional districts, we’re 51/49 or 45/55 and so they work together across party lines to get things done. But if you look across the country, the party lines, the congressional districts in our 70 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat or 80 percent Democrat, 20 percent Republican, and there are so far apart in the political spectrum that they just, there’s nothing in common to work on and so the environment has become pretty hostile right now. Probably the most difficult that I’ve seen in my career. There is some hope and some light at the end of the tunnel and some things like data security and things along those lines. Financial Education, financial inclusion. I think you’ll see some of those things worked on in this next congress, but the political environment overall probably been the most difficult that I’ve seen.Randy Smith: Talking about that polarization of Washington and it’s not only Washington, it seems like it’s also main street. So when you’re dealing with NAFCU members, sometimes you’re working with people in that maybe they don’t support politically. Is a difficulty to keep that core credit union message when you’re talking to people, credit unions, that are on both sides of the aisle, let’s just say?Dan Berger: No. And as you can imagine, the credit union folks are not shy. Credit union CEOs are not wallflowers. They have opinions and strongly held beliefs and they pick up the phone and they let me know the good things we do and things that we could improve upon. And some of that’s in the political arena as well, but we are a bipartisan organization. We had some folks call upset that we met with President Trump, but we’re, again, we’re bipartisan and to be able to push our agenda and to get our stories across to the administration and to Congress, you have to have those bipartisan meetings. We met with President Obama and President Bush and President Clinton. We do this in a bipartisan standpoint and that’s what we do. I don’t have to agree with people that are in the Oval Office or in that seat in Congress. But I believe in the credit union industry. I believe in the NAFCU members. I have to tell their stories. I don’t care who’s holding that seat or that gavel. I have to get our point across and advocate on behalf of NAFCU members in the industry. And so that’s my focus and everybody understands that, once you walk a couple of them off the ledge but might be a little torque at me a little bit, they understand that from the bipartisan standpoint.Randy Smith: Have you noticed a change in credit unions since 2006? When you started?Dan Berger: I think they’re doing a really good job in changing with the times. They are really beginning to look at data, looking at the technology. They’re really looking at cybersecurity and data security so those things have changed over the last decade or so for the good and you’re seeing them because members, and it’s not everybody talks about millennials. Millennials want the Apple Watch so they can go buy their stuff at Whole Foods. Members want all these shiny squirrels and bells and whistles and stuff along those lines, but you want to make sure that you have a technology platform that allows them to have that access, which is a lot different than it was 10 years ago and so the problem that credit unions wrestled with is the cyber security standpoint because people do want access to their money. They want it quickly. They want it frictionlessly, and the trouble is when you make it easy and quick, sometimes those cybersecurity dynamics get a little bit more difficult and so you have to really keep an eye on on that side of the ledger as well.Randy Smith: I spoke with a member of your team, and this is switching gears, but they use the term servant style leadership when talking about you, first of all, what does that term mean and what does it mean to you? Why is it so important?Dan Berger: I’ve seen different definitions of it, but for me is genuinely showing that you love and care for your team and your staff. I have the best colleagues in the world. They are truly NAFCU’s best asset and so when you take care of your colleagues and you take care of your team, they in turn take incredible care of NAFCU’s members and so we take a real focus on providing training opportunities, executive coaching opportunities, things that really helped them in their careers and their personal life and their professional life, and so I think staff and my colleagues, they recognize when you truly love and care for them and that matters and in turn they love and care for the NAFCU membership. I know it sounds a little hokey, but it from the standpoint you take care of your folks, they in take care of the others.Randy Smith: Take care of your members, right?Dan Berger: Absolutely.Randy Smith: I’m a huge fan of your blog, the Berger Leadership blog. It’s one of our favorites to pull in on CUInsight. To me, it feels like it’s quick hits of information, quick leadership tips, links to other things that you’ve read. What was the motivation behind starting a leadership blog?Dan Berger: Well, I read about a book a week book, every two weeks. I alternate between fiction and nonfiction. The nonfiction is usually like process improvement, leadership books, things on those lines and yours get nuggets. Nothing really new comes out necessarily, but it’s always really good reminders and tidbits and know what I need to try doing that a little bit more often. I should focus on that a little bit more with my colleagues or with my board or my personal life and things along those lines, so I look for things that I find useful for me, hoping it’s useful for other people, other CEOs and folks that are plugging into the Berger Leadership blog is that, hey, this helped me reminded me about this every once and a whileI learned some new tidbits, but usually it’s reinforcing something you already knew were having thought about in quite some time.Randy Smith: I’m a huge fan of it. Is there something at NAFCU that your team has heard you say so many times they can finish your sentence as soon as you start to say it?Dan Berger: They would probably barf if I said extreme member service again. We talk about it nonstop here and we’re passionate about it. We believe in it. If you take care of your members, that’s how we keep the lights on here. People know that we’re responsive, they know that we’re effective and efficient and so we call it extreme member service and again, everybody in this building is empowered to help NAFCU members solve the members problem. That they’re upset about something, fix it, and then put some process in place or SOP in place where it doesn’t happen again. So everything’s all around extreme member service. So if you asked anybody on my team what is Dan’s catchphrase through the building, it would be extreme member service.Randy Smith: Has there been a piece of advice or a life lesson that you received, maybe earlier on in your career, that you just constantly keep going back to?Dan Berger: The advice that I go back to is something that I learned very young from my grandfather, I won’t be as crass as he was, and it says it takes the same amount of energy to be nice as it does to be a jerk, so why not be nice and helpful. That’s always a component we try to strive forward here. Lets be helpful to folks, Lets be helpful to one another. We’re all on the same team. We’re all rowing in the same direction and so that’s the reason we work really hard or hiring people with attitude and aptitude and so you have the right attitude. Everything else fills in itself.Randy Smith: That’s cool. That’s something from grandpa that you still hold onto. When you run into a problem, something that you know you’re hitting your head up against the wall on. Is there something that you do to take a look at things from a different direction or step away from it?Dan Berger: I have a nice circle of CEO mentors, not necessarily in the financial services space, but who are relatively new at it, like myself, people who’ve been doing it for decades, you know, one of those things, if you sit there and you look at it and I’ll bounce things off, say hey, did you try this? What worked, what did not work? And so I have a sounding board, a fellow association CEOs. Some of them have seen everything. I mean some of them, I mean I’ve seen their industry implode and come back. I mean they’ve seen the whole gamut of things and they really helped me be that sounding board that I want. Also I have a tendency of taking a deep breath and going for walks. If something that’s frustrating, you know, I’ll leave and come back and grab a cup of coffee and then try to think things through. But I think with the bouncing things off with my fellow senior execs here and people in my management team as well as other association CEOS has been really helpful to me personally.Randy Smith: To have that network. If you have a free day, there’s nothing on the calendar, what are you doing?Dan Berger: There’s two things I’d love to do. One is fly fish, anytime outside in nature or with my feet in the water, fly fishing. It is good to me whether it’s down in the Florida Keys or in a river up here. Also I ride a Harley and so I love getting on my motorcycle and I’ll go visit CEOs on my motorcycle and stuff and so I love doing things along those lines. Anything that gets me outdoors, I’m a big lover of the outdoors. That’s kinda my balancing act is anything outside.Randy Smith: Get some fresh air. Absolutely. As a leader, how do you make sure your message stays fresh to your team, and how the NAFCU is message say fresh to your member credit unions and as well as to Washington?Dan Berger: Well, it’s things like your podcast here, communicating and telling them what you’re doing. Everybody knows we’re focused on three things and we talk about all the time. I talk about it and have for I guess three, four years now. We do advocacy, we do education and training, and we do compliance assistance. That’s it. If you want all this esoteric pixie dust stuff, there’s plenty of other places you can get that kind of stuff where those are the three things that we focus on and we talk about it all the time. We have a monthly management team meeting. We talk about it there. We have a monthly all staff meeting. We talk about it there. We talked about in our communications. We’d keep our members informed of NAFCU Today in articles through CUInsight and other places, talking about the things that we’re doing to show them what we’re doing and so we have to communicate that and that’s a responsibility we have to tell my colleagues what we’re working on and tell a membership what we’re working on, so we just reiterate it and we’re not going to change that focus. I mean, they’re going to have to kick me out of this office in order to change it. Then focus isn’t changing. This advocacy, it’s education and this compliance assistance. We’re not going to change that focus. That’s what the CEOs have asked for. That’s what our members are asking for. That’s what my board of directors demands of me. That’s all we’re going to be focused on.Randy Smith: Very cool. So now we’re going to have a little bit of fun. We wrap up every show with some rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid. Your answers don’t have to be.Dan Berger: Cool.Randy Smith: Any daily routines that if you just don’t do your day feels off. I’m going to keep saying for me it’s journaling. I should be sponsored by moleskin. Maybe if I keep mentioning it, they’ll send me one, but is there something for you that you just have to do everyday?Dan Berger: I have to work out. I get up in the morning and have coffee and breakfast and a workout for 45 minutes, an hour. I get up early, five, 5:30 and I get it done. I’ll do cardio on a rowing machine or on the treadmill for about a half hour and then I lift weights for another 20, 30 minutes, but I have to. If I don’t work out, I don’t feel right for the rest of the day.Randy Smith: I need to get in that habit (laughing). This question I don’t send out because I want it to be top of mine. First person you think of when you hear the word success, who is it?Dan Berger: Wow. For success. Part of the CEO of Mastercard, Ajaypal and the transformation that he’s done. He’s done a magnificent job with transforming the company into a technology company. It’s not just a payments company. Not just a payment processing company, it is a technology company and then watch him operate in and change the culture and everything at Mastercard I think it’s been fascinating to watch.Randy Smith: I’ll have to look more into that. Maybe a month ago or so, I listened to a podcast, that the CEO of Walmart was on and he talked about that are a digital company, not a brick and mortar retailer. They’re a digital company, so that transformation that all these companies have to make.Dan Berger: It’s interesting you say that. I have spoken at board of director meetings at credit unions and we’ll sit there and we’ll talk about what they’re looking for in the future and you’ve seen some young dynamic CEOs coming out. They’re really going, you know what, we’re not a credit union anymore. We’re a financial services technology company with Credit Union mission. Okay. He or she is trying to change the thought process and a culture within that credit union. Going we’re financial services technology company that has a credit union mission and so that just changes it. Everybody wants to explore new ways to provide services. Everything’s digital and looking at their online platform, the mobile platform, the wearable technology. And so it was just a completely different mindset and on top of it actually helped in their recruiting too. So putting ads out there, hey, come work for a financial services technology company is more appealing to a 22 year old technologists than maybe a credit union would be. And so I’ve found that really fascinating and I think if I were a CEO of a credit union, I would preach that. I would say, hey, we’re a technology company with a credit union mission, and I would probably talk about that a little bit just to get that mindset where they’re being innovative and they’re looking at new technologies and they’re looking at new ways to service their membership. I kinda liked that thought process a little bit.Randy Smith: The random question. What’s the best albums of all time from front to back?Dan Berger: Tom Petty. Damn the Torpedoes. Front to back. I can’t get tired of listening to it. My hometown musician.Randy Smith: He’s from Gainesville?Dan Berger: Gainesville. Yup.Randy Smith: After he passed, the song that I kept listening to was Wild Flowers. Fantastic.Dan Berger: Great Song. When he passed away, NAFCU pac actually had an auction, the folks at Chartway Federal Credit Union donated a sign guitar that Tom Petty and all the Heartbreakers who signed on it. I am now the owner of that guitar.Randy Smith: To circle back to something you’d mentioned earlier, you’re a reader, so you know, generally a book a week. Is there a book over the course of life or maybe even just recently that you’ve either gifted or that everybody should read that book? They talk about over and over and over again?Dan Berger: Stephen Covey, anything by Stephen Covey is good and then anything by John Spence, those are the two that I recommend the most. They write it in a way that you can apply. There’s a lot of really esoteric, real high level leadership books out there that are good and they were fine, but I like when they’re broken down and examples in what if scenarios, if this happens, these are some things that you should consider doing that’s helpful to me to read a bunch of scientific information and data, that’s fine, but how to apply it in certain scenarios and situations. That’s what I find helpful. And so those books, anything by Stephen Covey, anything by John Spence is broken down in a way that’s digestible quite frankly.Randy Smith: Is there one that you would recommend that listeners start with?Dan Berger: Awesomely Simple by John Spence. It’s a terrific book and it’s done in a way that you can understand it. He’s got a lot of research, does a lot of training with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies around the world. And so he’s seen it all, he’s heard it all, and I mean he’s helped us here at NAFCU in some of the stuff and growth and things along those lines. He helped us with strategic planning and so he’s seen it all and so he really helps us and helps me personally with the blind spots that everybody has or every company has. So to find a book that really breaks things down that you can utilize in everyday life at your association or your company. I find that helpful.Randy Smith: Last question in here, as you’ve gotten older, has anything become more important to you? Has Anything become less?Dan Berger: My family has become more important. I have a 14 year old daughter. I rarely miss, she’s very athletic, she’s a straight A student, but really focusing on her and those things. I take my job very seriously at NAFCU. I love my job, but I make a concerted effort not to miss her dive meets or tennis matches. And that was part of my life that I truly enjoy. I find it absolutely nerve wracking watching her compete, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. It’s one of my favorite things to do. What would I tell myself at 25 years old is continue to reinforce, be nice and helpful to folks, and I think when people start off in their careers, I think they have a tendency sometimes to be overly aggressive and it’s kind of the me, me, me, they get to the next level of things on those lines, but I have really seen to cross through my career. The more that I helped my boss, the more that I helped my boss look good. It’s a win. You look good and your boss looks good, so it’s a twofer and so those things early in the career. I wish I would learn that a little bit sooner, but I think really do your job right away. Do it with excellence. If you’re in of making copies and coffee at an office, make the damn best coffee you can and the damn best xerox copies that you can make and be the best at it. And then just keep moving on. We’ve all had terrible jobs. Okay, we’ve had. You’re going to have to do it anyway so you might as well do with a positive attitude and do it with excellence and that’s your reputation. So you have a reputation with a strong work ethic and that you don’t do it, you know, half ass. You give it a 100 percent all the time. People notice that and they recognize that. And I think that’s important.Randy Smith: The last question, probably the most important. What does the B stand for?Dan Berger: Brian. Brian Daniel BergerRandy Smith: My managing editor. John, actually guessed Brian. The last thing. Thank you again for taking the time and be on the podcast. I greatly appreciate it. I’ve had a lot of fun. Do you have any final asks of our listeners or any final thoughts?Dan Berger: For the listeners, for the credit union folks out there. Keep taking care of your members. Stay focused on your members and your community and everything else will work out itself. And then you’ll have NAFCU up here in Washington DC being your Washington watchdog, taking care of the rest for you, but take care of your members and take care of your communities and everything else will work out.Randy Smith: That’s fantastic. Everything we talked about, we’ll link to in the article below. Is @BDanBerger on twitter the best way for people who have additional questions or email? How do you want people to get a hold of you?Dan Berger: Sure, and I’m on Linkedin as well. People can feel free. My email and phone number is on our website, so anybody wants to contact me, talk issues or policy or membership or whatever. I’m on the nafcu.org website. Visit.Randy Smith: We’ll link to all your contact information below as well. So again, Dan, thank you very much for taking the time. I greatly appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun and I will see you soon down the road.Dan Berger: I look forward to it. Hey, thanks for the opportunity. This i my first podcast, man,Randy Smith: You did great. I greatly appreciate it though, Dan. Thank you very much.last_img read more

‘Stop neurons’ in the brainstem make us halt when we walk

first_imgShare on Twitter A population of ‘stop cells’ in the brainstem is essential for the ability of mice to stop their locomotion, according to a new study by scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. In an article published in the journal Cell, they report a brainstem pathway specifically dedicated to enforce locomotor arrest; its selective activation stops locomotion, while its silencing favors it. The study thus identifies a novel descending modality essential for gating the episodic nature of locomotor behavior.Locomotion is an essential motor behaviour needed for survival in both humans and animals. It has an episodic nature: we move when we want or need and, equally well, we can terminate ongoing movements. This episodic control has generally been attributed to descending excitatory signals in the brainstem that contact and activate neuronal circuits in the spinal cord. But is the stop of locomotion only due to a lack of activating signals from the brainstem or is there a dedicated stop signal?In the present study, the researchers Julien Bouvier and Vittorio Caggiano together with Professor Ole Kiehn and colleagues studied how the complex brainstem neuronal circuits control locomotion in mice. They used advanced methods, including optogenetics, which makes it possible to selectively activate specific groups of neurons with light, as well as genetic silencing to selectively block neuronal activity. Share on Facebook Share LinkedIncenter_img Somewhat unexpectedly, they found a population of excitatory neurons that turned out to be essential for the ability of mice to stop. When those ‘stop cells’ are activated, mice immediately halt their locomotion. Conversely, when those neurons are silenced, mice had difficulties when trying to stop walking.“We found that the stop cells depress the neuronal networks involved in generating the locomotor rhythm, the clock in the network, and not the motor neurons that directly contract muscles”, says Ole Kiehn, who leads the laboratory behind the study at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Neuroscience. “In this way activity in the stop cells allows the animal to make a gracious stop without losing its muscle tone, just as we experience ourselves when we voluntarily stop for example in front of an obstacle.”Although the study addresses the normal brain function the findings may provide insights to how locomotion is affected in the diseased brain.“For example, in Parkinson’s disease, a pronounced motor symptom is a gait disturbance with freezing of the gait”, says Ole Kiehn. “t is possible that the stop cells have an abnormally increased activity in Parkinson’s disease, contributing to the gait disturbances.” Pinterest Emaillast_img read more

Network physicist sheds light on Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia

first_imgShare on Facebook Share Share on Twitter Pinterest Emailcenter_img Researchers comparing mouse and macaque brains have found evidence of an evolutionary universal brain structure in mammals that enables comparisons of cortical networks between species. A new study from a researcher at the University of Notre Dame could provide insights into brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.Zoltán Toroczkai, professor of physics at Notre Dame, was lead author on the study, “Spatial Embedding and Wiring Cost Constrain the Functional Layout of the Cortical Network of Rodents and Primates,” published July 21 in PLOS Biology. The work, which also describes differences between the brain networks, shows that the rule that the exponential decay of connection strengthens with distance in the brain, called the exponential distance rule (EDR), is a central feature of their common architecture. Toroczkai and colleagues had previously published evidence of the EDR in a study of macaque brains. However, the general validity of these observations now allows extrapolation to the human brain and insights into brain disorders.Brain network connectivity structure is especially important because information in the brain is encoded by the spatio-temporal firing patterns of groups of neurons, in contrast with the internet, where a message (e.g., of an email) is encoded into the packet itself and as long as there is a delivery pathway for the packet, the specific structure of the network is secondary. Neurons must interact with each other in a certain way, and different areas of the brain create meanings from these spatio-temporal patterns in a mechanism that is still not fully understood. Scientists believe that the brain identifies relevant patterns from incoming information, stores it and uses it to make predictions — for example, the brain will recognize a familiar face if it sees only part of the image. If links, and especially the long-range links, are disrupted by injury or chemical imbalance (hence disrupting the patterns or the mechanism), a person might lose the ability of predictive recognition, as in Alzheimer’s, or might imagine something that is not present, as in schizophrenia.Anatomical observations show that increase in brain size in mammals with more neurons leads to a proportionate decrease of long-range connections in the larger brains. The rodent brain, with fewer neurons but a more interconnected network, is smooth, while the macaque brain, like the human brain, is folded to increase surface area and contain more neurons, but contains much fewer long-range connections. Although the actual numbers of neurons are different in different mammals’ brains, their connectivity networks contain statistically similar features, so-called architectural invariants. Toroczkai intends to continue the research by investigating these invariants and certain circuits in the brain and connecting their findings with information from experiments and data on diseases. LinkedInlast_img read more

News Scan for Sep 30, 2013

first_imgStudy: Vaccine exemptions helped fuel California pertussis outbreakClusters of children who had nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) from vaccines appears to be one of several factors that played a role in California’s 2010 pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic, researchers reported today in Pediatrics.Other studies have shown that NMEs cluster geographically and that such clusters play a role in disease outbreaks, but several factors—especially waning acellular vaccine immunity—likely contributed to the spike in pertussis rates, according to a team, from Maryland, Georgia, and California.The researchers first analyzed state department of education data on NMEs for kids entering kindergarten from 2005 through 2010 and health department data on pertussis illness onsets in 2010. Then they looked for clusters of NMEs, as well as spatial and temporal pertussis clusters, with an eye toward identifying any overlap between the NME and pertussis clusters.They found 39 clusters of high NME rates and two pertussis clusters. NME and pertussis clusters were both associated with high socioeconomic characteristics, including lower population density and higher median household income. Census areas in exemption clusters were 2.5 times more likely to be in a pertussis cluster during the outbreak period (odds ratio = 2.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.22-2.75).And more pertussis cases occurred within NME clusters compared with outside the clusters (incident rate ratio = 1.20; 95% CI, 1.10-1.30). Researchers found that the association was significant, even after adjusting for demographic factors.The team concluded that NME clustering may have been one of several factors that contributed to California’s 2010 pertussis outbreak, and that large numbers of unvaccinated or undervaccinated people can lead to pertussis outbreaks. They noted that sustained community transmission in the face of limited vaccine effectiveness and waning immunity can put young infants and other susceptible people at increased risk.Sep 30 Pediatrics abstract Meta-analysis: About 9% colonized with VRE on ICU admissionAbout 9% of patients are colonized with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) on admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), and about the same proportion will acquire VRE during their ICU stay, according to a 37-study meta-analysis published in PLoS One.Brown University scientists searched PubMed and EMBASE databases through May 2013 for studies that reported the prevalence of VRE on admission to an ICU and performed a meta-analysis to assess rates and trends of VRE colonization. The 37 studies involved 62,959 patients.Their pooled prevalence estimate of VRE colonization rate at ICU admission was 8.8% (95% CI, 7.1%-10.6%). For a more conservative estimate, they excluded studies with results in the 90thpercentile as potential outliers and got an adjusted VRE prevalence of 7.9% (95% CI, 6.3%-9.6%). The rate did not vary significantly from 1995 to 2010.For US ICUs, the estimated prevalence was 12.3%. Reported colonization rates were lower elsewhere in the world: Europe, 2.7%; Australia 4.4%; and Asia, 5.3%.VRE acquisition rates in ICUs were obtained from 26 studies. The rates varied widely, from 1.1% to 29.4%, with an estimated pooled VRE acquisition rate of 8.8% (95% CI, 6.9%-11.0%), which did not vary when eliminating the 90th-percentile studies.Egger’s test, however, was significant, suggesting a bias from small studies. After exclusion of studies that had fewer than 1,000 population at risk, the combined estimate was 4.8% (95% CI, 2.8%-7.2%).Among VRE-colonized patients, VRE infection rates in the ICU varied even more dramatically, from 0% to 45%.Sep 27 PLoS One study WHO reports more than 6,000 recent dengue cases in PakistanMore than 6,000 suspected dengue fever cases have been reported recently in the Swat district of Khyber Pakthunkhwa province in Pakistan, a regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday.From Aug 7 to Sep 25, 6,376 suspected cases, including 23 deaths, were reported in the district, the WHO’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMBRO) said in a statement. “Laboratory test[s] performed at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad, Pakistan, confirmed the diagnosis and detected three sero types of dengue fever (DEN-1, DEN-2 and DEN-3) as the causative strain of this current outbreak,” the statement said.Sporadic cases have also been reported in Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces, according to EMBRO. District health and WHO officials have increased response activities, including public-awareness and risk-mitigation campaigns.The WHO does not advise any travel or trade restrictions targeting the Swat district or Pakistan, the statement said.Sep 29 WHO EMBRO statement Pakistan confirms 5 more polio casesFive new cases of polio have been confirmed in Pakistan, bringing the 2013 total for the country to 36, according to a story in Pakistan-based The News International today.The new cases include three children from North Waziristan agency who are 7, 13, and 17 months of age; one from Khyber agency who is 6 months of age; and one from Peshawar (age not given).The infected children in North Waziristan had not received any vaccine because of a Taliban-imposed ban on polio vaccination that has been in force for 15 months. The child from Khyber had received no doses either; the vaccination status of the Peshawar child was not given.Vaccination workers have been the targets of terrorism in Pakistan, with multiple murders of workers and their security forces fiercely curtailing immunization efforts. The country is one of three in the world in which polio is still endemic, in addition to Afghanistan and Nigeria. Sep 30 News International story Most recent (Sep 25) related CIDRAP News scanlast_img read more

Zia Credit Union Issues Over $233,000 In Emergency Loans

first_imgZia Credit Union News:With all the disheartening news lately, we’re all looking for stories of goodwill around the world. To that end, Zia Credit Union has good news to share right here in our own community. In less than a week, since announcing that it would be offering emergency loans to its members, Zia Credit Union has helped nearly 60 families.For many, the threat of being out of work and needing to make ends meet is a real concern.“The recent pandemic of COVID-19 was something I didn’t think I needed to worry about or would even be affected by personally,” said a Zia Credit Union member who asked not to be named. “It wasn’t until my company had us prepare for the worst, to send employees to work from home for an unknown amount of time, that I started to worry. Being in Texas away from a local branch, once I heard about the emergency loan that Zia CU was offering to its members, I acted fast. Without it, I’d be in a situation that would have gone south really fast. The last thing any employee at Zia wants is to see you struggle.”Zia Credit Union members who wish to learn more about emergency loans and other measures such as loan payment extensions should contact the local call center at (800) 392-7629.last_img read more