Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

38) #DigitalGrowthJourneys: Fast Forward: Creating Community Around a Simple Idea w/ Yury Nabokov

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Twelve years ago, Yury Nabokov arrived in the U.S. from Russia. He wore a backpack and had less than $500 in his pocket. Today, he's building Fast Forward, a platform for an online growth summit.

I wanted to know what he'd learned in the last dozen years.

So I invited Yury Nabokov, assistant vice president of customer experience & digital marketing strategy at Machias Savings Bank in Portland, ME, to join me on this episode of Banking on Digital Growth.

Here's what Yury and I discussed:

  • What's exciting about the post-COVID landscape
  • Yury's personal story and the idea of transformation
  • How he developed the Fast Forward platform
  • Yury's best recommendations for financial brand marketers over the next 12 months

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

It's a good thing to do the right thing,but it's the right thing to do it good. You're listening to banking on DigitalGrowth with James Robert Ley Ah, podcast that empowers financial brandmarketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growthpotential by generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode ispart of the digital growth Journeys Siri's, where James Robert uncovers andExplorers some of the industry's biggest digital marketing and salesstories of success. Let's get into the show Greetings in Hello, I Am JamesRobert Ley and welcome to another episode of the Banking on DigitalGrowth podcast. Today's episode is part of the digital growth journey. Siri'sand I'm excited to welcome your new book off to the show because he hassuch a great story to tell. Now you're you're the A VP of customer experienceat much I a savings bank up in Portland, Maine. What is one thing right now thatyou're excited about in this Post co vid 19 world? Well, James Robert, thankyou very much for inviting me to participate in this awesome project. Iam delighted to share my thoughts, ideas, and I am simply sincerelyappreciate if of the way you introduce me and the recognition by you of mystory, you know, means a lot. So thank you, brother, for having me on the showto answer your question. I think the most important thing right now in postcovered world is the fact that we clearly see what waas transformationaldigital innovation stories that a lot of people were sharing or talking about.And the reality is like Well, like they...

...say, you know, when the when, When thereality hits you in the face, you know, the plans go out the window. So I thinkyou know, Kobe 19 truly showed who is current and who is simply preservingthe past achievements. And, uh, the other thing is that I think thoseindividuals who took the time to actually pause during covet 19 take alook around, assess their environment, competitive internal culture, all sortsof different things that play into the success of financial institutions andprepared themselves to launch into the future are the ones who are actuallygoing to be truly successful in the policy. Kobe. 19. Well, and you saidthe key word right there they stopped, they paused. They reflected, theyassessed. Then they thought about what the opportunities are to move forward,to create, to capture the roadblocks that they need to eliminate. Becausethe world that that we've moved into post Koven, it's never going back tothe way things were before. The way people think The way people shop, theway people by relate, have conversations. It's completelydifferent going forward. And I think you and I were talking in thepreinterview. We cannot let our past, our past success, our past failuresdetermine who we are in the present or who we can be in the future. We have anopportunity. That's why I'm so excited. We have an opportunity to look at Coveit as a launching pad, to almost reinvent ourselves personally as teams,as organizations, as communities to create something even bigger and betterthan what we had before. You know, I'm a believer that you know, for mepersonally as we're talking about personal, you know, transformationaljourneys. I believe that my greatest accomplishments are still ahead and thesaboteurs off progress are no longer...

...relevant thing. I think we need Thio.We need to definitely reflect on that. You know, when I when I said about, youknow, assessing the environment to see who was truly contributing and drivingchange and what whether this change was meaningful or it was simply drivenwhere personal agendas. So let's talk about you like like that idea oftransformation, because here's the thing. Like like anyone listening? Ifyou're talking about change in your financial brand, whether it's in themarketing side, the sell side, the leadership side Stop talking aboutchange today. Make that a commitment going forward because as human beings,we don't like change. There's a very innate fear of change on thealternative side, though substitute chains for transformation. Becausetransformation is about creating an even better version of what we havetoday. It's transformation isn't scary, like change is. So let's go back andtalk about your own story. 12 years ago, you came to the U. S. From Russia. Youhad a backpack, you less than $500 in your pocket. Talk about thetransformations that you've seen over those last 12 years on and what havebeen some of the key lessons that you've learned personally along the way?Oh, man. There is a lot to talk about it. And I'm afraid that, you know, uh,we would have to record, you know, several seasons, uh, just to unpackedall of it. But I have to tell you, one of the most amazing experiences wasthat and it's truly country, you know, It's a truly a testament to you knowwho Americans are and what this country is. When it came to Maine in 2008 I wasworking in a small village and a community store or a convenience storeand the business owner of the store. He became my mentor. You know, during thetime, you know, I would open a store with him at 5 a.m. He would be there ontime. 5 a.m. Business owner. He would...

...close the store with me with me around8 p.m. So seven days a week. 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. He is there. I'm there wereworking back to back. So and towards the end of the summer 2008 he asked mea relatively simple question. He's like So, Yuri, what are your, uh, what, Yournext steps. I'm like, Whoa, I really wish I could find a way to stay in thiscountry. But, you know, $500 back back students visa, you know, roadblockafter roadblock. I don't think there is a lot for me here. So he's like, Well,what would be one thing that you would really want to do while you're here?Wow. I'm studying public relations in Russia, like marketing social media,starting to be a big thing. I think I would really wanna learn about allthese disciplines from the American professors. So he's like, So you wannago to a local college or university? I'm like, sure that would be awesome.Is like, Well, what are you waiting for him like? Well, uh, you know, cash onhand, kind of tie eso he's like, All right, just give it a shot. See whatyou can dio and let's regroup after. So, three or four weeks later, after thatconversation, they came back with two acceptance letters like, Hey, I couldgo to a state school where I could go to a private school because, like, Well,what's the difference? Why you you know, why are we even talking about? Justpick something like, Well, the state school, you know, it seems to be, youknow, bigger and better. However, there is out of state tuition, which is, youknow, astronomical. And I really just can't afford it was like, Well, whatabout the private school I'm like, Well, the private school doesn't have thesame kind of, like requirements a little bit cheaper, and it ultimatelyis focused on all the things that I was excited about, you know, photography,design, you know, website development. Like the things that I was just likethere were so fresh and so new and exciting. I was like, that would be thething that I really wanna do is like, Okay, what do you need from me? I'mlike, um I didn't really expect that. I...

...need anything from you. He's like,Alright, let me unpack this. For how much is it going to cost, like Well,you know, the first master, You know, we're looking around, you know, $10,000plus all the savings. And you know, all the money that I made over the summer. He went upstairs. He signed the check,he came down, he gave it to me and said Hey, go make me proud. Wow, you'regiving me goose bumps. I wanna cry every time I tell this story becausehard working guy came from a regular blue collar American family, startedhis business, retired the multimillion ear and he gave me an opportunity tosucceed in this country without any strings attached. The only thing heasked me to do is to make him proud, make him proud and make him proud. Youhave, because along the way, not only did you get that initial degree youpicked up to mawr degrees along the way and talk to me about that becauseyou're a lifelong learner and I think that's a key trait for those that wantto thrive in this Post Cove. In 19 world of exponential change, we'removing beyond the service economy we've done that years ago were transition.Now, through what many call the experience economy and moving into whatI'm calling in the future, the knowledge economy are the experteconomy toe where knowledge and expertise is going to be what separatesindividuals and organizations. So let's talk about those additional academicdegrees that you've picked up along the way. Well, as of today, I I have fouracademic degrees. I have a degree from Russia in public relations marketing,undergrad from New England, School of Communications, Masters, NBN Healthcaremanagement and Masters and Human Relations. But I think the reasons thatI was so you know, passionate about learning and exploring new domains andnew fields was probably I would...

...attribute it to four key elements offthe way I am or the way I I guess you know you myself in the world or, youknow, elements that I practiced. I think it's important to stay alert, becurious, appreciate life for what it is and what it gives you and ultimatelyfocus on mastering the craft, not gaining the skill because skill seemslike a very narrow approach, like a very narrow road. But the craft ifwe're talking about customer experience as an example, you know, we're talkingabout design. We're talking about user interface. We're talking aboutcommunication. We're talking about delivery channels, all sorts of thingswe've been talking about copyrighting to make a very emotional and therelevant appeal in the short amount of time that we have. You know, betweenthe the moment the person receives the message and comprehends the message inresponse to the received message. So all of those songs, all of those thingsair, you know, Critical. But well, what was happening? The time when I startedmy undergrad journey at Nasscom in 2008. And this is another great story, andI'm very, very I'm proud off how it turned out, but I'm not proud of how Igot there. So after my first semester, while I was trying to make my mentorand a friend proud, basically make the money work right around, Kind of likethe meat towards the end of the semester. I wasn't really doing well. Iwas kind of cocky. I thought that Look at me. Here I am, top of class comingfrom Russia, graduate of Siberian State Aerospace University. And here I am,talking about some marketing. Wanna one of them. Like what? So anyway, thepoint is, my academic advisor she...

...called me in the office one day and shesaid your, um I'm really excited that you're here. Are you excited aboutbeing here? I'm like, Oh, yeah, of course I am. You know, I'm doing mything. She's like Well, do you realize that the contributions there thatyou're making are not necessarily on par with who you say you are? And maybemaybe this place is not for you? Mm. And I was, you know, I was trying toget defensive and explain myself in all sorts of things. Just like, No, I don'tknow the answers right now. I just want you to show what you're capable of. SoI got my rear end in gear. I finished. That's a master, you know, four point.Oh, I said I I set myself on the path that, you know, no matter what it takesis going to be four point. Oh, next semester, I was elected as vicepresident of student government. I received job as, um, resident assistant,and I also got accepted into, uh, MBA program for the following year as agraduate assistant. So, um, I got three jobs while I was on campus because asan international student, you don't you have a very limited cape. Abilities oropportunities to work off campus or whatever you're doing has to happen onpromise, so yeah. Anyway, that's that's how I started my journey off obtainingto academic degrees. At the same time, while working three jobs. Technologyhas transformed our world, and digital has changed the way consumers shop forand buy financial services forever. Now consumers make purchase decisions longbefore they walk into a branch if they walk into a branch at all. But yourfinancial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits. We get it. Digitalgrowth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financialbrand marketing and sales leader. But it doesn't have thio because JamesRobert wrote the book that guides you every step of the way along yourdigital growth journey. Visit www dot...

...digital growth dot com to get a previewof his best selling book, Banking on Digital Growth, or order a copy rightNow for you and your team from Amazon. Inside you'll find a strategicmarketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brands, and it ispacked full of practical and proven insights. You can start using today toconfidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits. Now back to theshow. Wow So and and that then transitioned you into where you're attoday as the a VP of customer experience and really, what you'redoing is so fascinating because I've been following this one perspective.Fast forward main. I've talked a lot about financial brands and theopportunities that they have to develop community. Ah, platform a business ofexpertise, if you will, business people and in person workshops. It's somethingthat I see a model other financial brands could be inspired from, but alsoimplement and really gain some valuable positioning in a post Cove in 19 Worldwhere people are looking for clarity. So you know the way I arrived. Thioidiot radiating around fast forward Man is a platform was a multi year processand, actually, believe it or not, it started with hiring a videographer. Atthe time I was, I was instructor off digital marketing and social media atat Hudson University and one of my students. He was starting to be avideographer, and I kind of reached out to him and said, Hey, would you like todo a couple of you know, side side hustles for the bank, you know, do thisand that. So the important message here with hiring the videographer, I wasfocused on content and, you know, as a marketer. You know that needs to thethe content needs to be, uh, quality...

...content. It needs to be relevant, andit also needs to be personalized. So in order to do that at scale, we wouldhave to have a significant marketing budget which you know, always, always aproblem. So it was It was actually cheaper for me to hire a student andcrank out videos on schedule on weekly basis. So after doing that for severalyears, we we started thinking about Well, how can we take this digitalengagement that is currently happening on our social media channels? With thehelp of our videos? How can we make it a little bit mawr in person, type ofexperiences recording the message is putting it out there. What can we doThio to bring people together and share their thoughts and ideas? Learnsomething and kind of like, you know, help other around them Thio thio getbetter. So we partnered with marketing agency called Flight New Media and thefounder of the agency's rich Brooks his. You know, he is a famous digitalmarketing social media persona. Anyway, you know, over the years we became goodfriends. So one day three of us corroded Chasson, videographer RichBrooks, the agency owner, and myself we were sitting there is like OK, guys,Well, how can we take this? Put it in person and scale. So we're like, Well,let's put a workshop and then record a workshop and then, you know, have those,you know, video materials available for everyone to watch after we perform thisthing. So two years ago, this pilot project didn't even have a name. It wasjust business development workshops presented to you by Matthias SavingsBank and Flight new Media We conducted, I think six or eight in person eventsand they weren't really well. And during one of the events, a person gotup because because you know the way they were structured the bottom part Imean, the beginning of the workshop was...

...basically presentation from two orthree different experts and the end of the day waas, the mastermind sessionwhere people would present their, you know, business challenges and everyonein the audience would participate and try to offer their insights. Or maybejust simply ideas on how to address that. Because, you know, we get in theaudience and you have a, you know, a restaurant owner or consultant or youknow, C p a or so are sort of, you know, different individuals in the same room.So anyway, one person got up and said, Guys, how can we continue the samelevel off engagement And how can we continue Learn from you? Yeah. So we'relike, Wow. Well, first of all, it's kind of cool that someone says thatthey're learning from us and they also want us to continue. So we, uh, weplayed with the idea off, you know, content creation, valuable information,and developing a community because what we really love during the pilot programwas not necessarily the presentation of the content or, you know, positioningyourself as a business coach in the way, but uniting people to bringing peopletogether to discuss their issues and move forward together. You can see youknow how the idea started to shape up, and one day we're like, fast forwardmain Love it. I love it so really kind of to recap this program, this platformhas been multiple years, 2 to 3 years in the making. It's not like you justwe have this idea and we're gonna get going. It started with the pilotprogram. That pilot program showed proof of concept, and it really showedproof of concept. Three ways. One. It was about building a community of, likeminds to position the bank beyond. Hey, we've we've got these commoditized loanproducts that every other financial brand has with these these depositaccounts, you built the community you...

...produced content to help first createvalue for this community. And as a result, you expanded this communitiescapabilities by playing the role of the helpful guide in the journeys of thesebusiness owners in Maine and as a whole, you have a purpose you're workingtowards to fast forward main. So absolutely love this, you know, itresonates with the DNA of the bank. It also resonates with the people whoinvolved in the project. Because we, you know, we commit our personal time.We work on creating content training materials were sourcing differentexperts and we encourage them to participate in fast forward man And Ialso wanted to add several weeks ago, well, we were planning for a while toconduct an in person, not a workshop. But all day conference and I saw that350 people and this was Rich Brooks. 350 people had registered to attend andthen Covert hit. But that didn't stop you guys so that awesome. You know Ilove you, James Robert, for paying attention to the things we're doing. SoI appreciate the support. So instead off, instead of canceling or postpointing, the event were like, All right, just let's refund all thetickets sales. Let's make a digital and let's make it free. So, uh, they thesecond day of the event we had 450 people who participated in the eventacross the state. We managed to bring a new, incredible incredible individualsranging from social media experts like John Lee, Duma's and Chris Broke. ChrisBroken was there. Yeah, that was That...

...was an incredible, incredible podcastbecause we were recording a live podcast, you know, like we basicallymade them like a keynote speaker. But we wanted to collect his insight andthen ultimately syndicate this information and share it not just livewith the audience that was there with the listeners off the fast forward mainpodcast after the event and again all the presentations. Everything isavailable free of charge. All you have to do is share your name so we know whoyou are. Enter your email address so we can inform you about the upcomingepisodes. Here you have it. So if you're listening your financial brandmarketing team member, you're on the sales team. You're on the leadershipteam. Yuri. You've got such a great story because you've brought together450 individuals from around the state of Maine. Let me ask you, because Imake similar recommendations for financial brands that I'm working with.How do you overcome the objections and roadblocks? Because I think that's akey part of the story to develop a platform like this that has anexponential factor for years to come. I think you know, it may sound a littlebit philosophical. It's a good thing to do the right thing, but it's the rightthing to do it good. So when you when you know that there is, uh, that thereare no other agendas besides creating value and creating a community aroundone simple idea, as as the name says says fast forward main. So, you know, Ibelieved in it as well as the people who committed to be a part of the fastforward main. I had to work with people that did not share my vision. I had toovercome the challenges off, you know, explaining what a podcast is to peoplethat never listen to podcast and were...

...saying that they couldn't find it ontheir local radio channel. So there was a lot of education. But, you know, itmakes it the process actually exciting. Because when you start when you whenyou're facing the objections and you're facing the challenges those people whoare willing to persevere and and endure that, uh, the hardships offimplementing change or nurturing change in somebody's, you know, perspective,that's rewarding in itself, you know, because ultimately you still get to dowhat you love to do. You still get to launch what you believe is the rightthing. And, you know, honestly, we were going to do regardless if we would, youknow, if we were going to be supported. Not. But at the end of the day, I haveto say that, you know, I worked with very talented and forward thinkingleaders who read the proposal, who saw the business case, who listened topodcasts and kind of like, I don't want to say that we're all on the same levelbecause, you know their vision is 30,000, you know, foot view versus, youknow, my kind of like a small Elaine. But, you know, we found the commonground. We decided to give it a shot and people were just We're just waitingto see what we can do with it. And we are going to be We're going to berecording. Well, we have 52 episodes, but way have 52 episodes for fastforward main. But we're gonna be recording a special 50th episode. Kindof like a half a millennial type of, you know, celebration. You know, half acentury celebration. So, you know, we're excited about it. It z awesome.So I hear a couple of things. Number one. You had to help the unaware becomeaware of what the opportunities were in the first place. You had to give themclarity that this is a growth...

...opportunity. But number two, you hadthe support of the organization because it seems like purpose is essentialtheme of how you operate, how you believe as an organization,particularly through the lens of of this fast forward main program. I'dlike to know where do you go from here? Because in the pre interview we weretalking about like you're creating all of this content that is now beingtransferred to your loan officers, your business loan officer, your communitydevelopment people to where they can share this and help to build their ownpersonal platforms. So it's almost like a perpetual, evergreen like sustainingprogram that's just going to create more value them or that you do this.And the more that you get this content out to the people in the communitiesthat you serve, you know, I don't want to go anywhere from where I am. I Ifound my place. I know my worth. I'm constantly working on polishing myskills and expanding my craft and the impact of my craft. You know, I thinkit's the most rewarding and, you know, very humbling thought to have when youknow that it's not that I have arrived. So where I wanna be, But I'm doingexactly what I wanted to do. I love that I love that you're It's been sucha good conversation. And I appreciate all the insides you shared about yourown personal digital growth journey. Let me ask. You know, I'm listening.I'm a financial brand marketing team member. I'm on the sales team. I'm onleadership team. The world is very different. Post Cove in 19 and you'veexperienced a lot along the way. What is one thing? One practical ideainsight action item that you could recommend for me to take over the next12 months to focus on going forward. One thing that is going to be importantfor me is and I really hope you, you...

...know, you find some value in it isfocusing on identifying open, complex, dynamic and network problems andfinding solutions. So when you when you when you're when you're presented withthe challenge like that, you start thinking about things like storytelling,design, thinking, empathy, mindfulness. So I can't just box it into a one thing.It's like, Hey, this is one thing. You know how the marketers do like, Oh, youknow, the top five things that you must do. You know in order to increase yourconversion optimization. Great. Right. So these are the elements that aregoing to be important for me for next 12 month, next 24 month, next fiveyears, Because we are going to be faced with the new set off challenges. Knewthat off expectations. And like we talked earlier when you presented mewith this notion off the circle that is divided in for, you know, for parts, wehave competition that, you know, we need to properly assess who is thecompetition and where we can be competitive technology. Are we on parwith the customer expectations, or are we on par internally? Do we have theskills to operate the technology effectively and efficiently? Then youknow, we're talking about, you know, consumer and customer behavior becauseyou need to also remember that the expectations are shifting outside ofyour organization as well as the inside of your organization, and thenultimately, what the environment is going to present you. So how can youtackle those major four domains without expanding your horizons and practicingthe skills and craft in the new way? So I love that four key recommendationsfor the listener design thinking, putting people at the center of all ofyour thinking, all of your doing You...

...mentioned storytelling because storycontent, if you will. It's what connects people together. Empathy e que.I believe in this digital world ISMM or important than I Q. And something thatwe're starting to study Here is a cue or the adaptability quotient, whichreally leads to the last point that you shared of mindfulness. Just being awareof what the opportunities in the future are looking for roadblocks that we caneliminate looking for value that we can create together as an organization butalso as an example with the fast forward program looking atcollaboration opportunities with other entities, organization brands within afinancial brands community. You're a great conversation. If someone wants toconnect with you to continue this discussion to continue this dialogue,what's the best way for them to reach out to you and say hello? Well, beforeI share my contact information? James Robert Absolutely. I'm a huge fan ofthe work you're doing. I'm a believer that you are on track to changefinancial institutions that engage with you, and I'm continuing to learn fromyour insights. I'm proud to call you my friend, my man trick person whoinspires my work on daily basis. So thank you, brother. For those you knowwho who were still interested after hearing my story to connect with me,Hit me up on LinkedIn. You know, it's the fastest way to connect. My name isYuri Nabokov. And you spell your e as why you are. Why, And Nabokov as afamous author. So, yeah, brush up on your literal skills and, uh, let'slet's have some conversations. Hey, Yuri. Thanks for joining me so much.Seriously, thanks for joining me on another episode of Banking on DigitalGrowth Man. Awesome. Until next time be...

...well, do good and wash your hands.Technology has transformed our world, and digital has changed the wayconsumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now, consumers makepurchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if they walk into abranch at all. But your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits.We get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelmingfor any financial brand marketing and sales leader. But it doesn't have thiobecause James Robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the wayalong your digital growth journey. Visit www dot digital growth dot com toget a preview of his best selling book, Banking on Digital Growth, or order acopy right Now for you and your team from Amazon. Inside you'll find astrategic marketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brands,and it is packed full of practical and proven insights you can start usingtoday to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits. Now back tothe show. Uh huh.

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