May 25, 2021

Leading ongoing transformation with Andy Grimm | Changemaker

Leading ongoing transformation with Andy Grimm | Changemaker

In this episode of Partnering Leadership,  Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Andy Grimm, CEO of Apple Federal Credit Union. Andy Grimm shares leadership lessons learned as he rose through the ranks at Apple Federal Credit Union, eventually to earn the position of CEO.  Andy Grimm also shares leadership insights on how he has led the organization through different transformation initiatives.  

Some highlights:

  • How Andy Grimm’s early years influenced his resilience.
  • The role Andy Grimm’s mom played in his drive to help people
  • Leading with empathy and providing an opportunity for all team members to contribute. 
  • Andy Grimm on the necessity for leaders to learn and grow and for organizations to continue transforming.  



Also mentioned in this episode:

Larry Kelly, former CEO of Apple Federal Credit Union

Beth Yingling, Apple Federal Credit Union Chief People Officer 2017-2019


The Circle of Innovation, by: Tom Hopkins

Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown

Shoe Dog Phil Knight Story of Nike, by Phil Knight




Connect with Andy Grimm:

Andy Grimm LinkedIn

Apple Federal Credit Union Website


Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

MahanTavakoli.com


More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

PartneringLeadership.com
















Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli:

Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I am really excited this week to be welcoming Andy Grimm. He's the chief executive officer at Apple federal credit union and he has served in that role since July 2017. He started at Apple federal credit union back in 1995 as a strategic planning manager and he has held different roles in the organization and has led different transformations. Really enjoy this conversation, partly because of Andy's great sense of humor and partly because of his humility and the great leadership advice that he gives. 

 

I also really enjoy hearing from you mahan@mahantavakoli.com keep those coming. There's also a microphone icon on Partneringleadership.com. You can leave voice messages for me there. Don't forget to follow and or subscribe to the podcast depending on your platform of choice. And finally, for those of you that enjoy these on Apple podcasts, leave a rating and review, that way more people will find these episodes and benefit from them.

 

Now, here is my conversation with Andy Grimm.

 

Andy Grimm welcome to Partnering Leadership I am so excited to have you with me in this conversation.

 

Andy Grimm:

Hi Mahan, I'm excited to be here. Thanks for giving me the invite. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Knowing about your story, the significant impact you've had, and the kind of leader that you are, that's what excites me, Andy.

 

So first off though, would like to know whereabouts you grew up and how did your upbringing influence the kind of leader you became? 

 

Andy Grimm:

Sure. I grew up in a New York City area, Westchester County, New York, most of the time. All in all, I had a wonderful childhood. New York's a wonderful place to grow up.

 

Especially for somebody like me who loves music and sports, there's an overabundance of those activities so I was always stimulated by my environment around me. Plus I love the people in New York, everybody's the same underneath, but that brash different kind of humor, I've always thrived on that and I've always had a real soft spot for the New York area. All in all, great childhood.

 

Although, I did have one tragic event that I think really influenced me going forward when I was seven years old, my father passed on and of course that's very difficult for a young kid, especially a young kid that's playing in sports. You know, you miss the father, son dinners, a lot of my friend's dads were coaches. I never really had that felt little left out there.

 

But I think that incident helped me in some ways and it's kind of always led me to believe that there is a silver lining with every cloud. Yes, tragic. Yes, it hurt me and yes,  it took a while for me to get over it.

 

But a couple of things I learned. One, that old saying that time heals all wounds. I think that is absolutely true and I think the second thing is that the human spirit is incredibly powerful and I was able to overcome that, get through it, and as a leader, moving forward, all the different things I've faced throughout my years, working for Apple and being in the financial services industry, there's a lot of stuff gets thrown at you, a lot of crisis catastrophe, you can get through it and I got the confidence to know that the worst of things you can get through. 

 

And I think Mahan there's another thing that I really got out of this and this was another leadership lesson for me was my mom. Now, of course, my father passed away back in those days, my mom was a housewife that was common in my neighborhood at that time. When my dad passed away, she had to go back to school, she got a four-year college degree. She went full time with the kids and she was over 40 and she had wonderful stories of the kids saying, Hey, Rose, you want to party with us? And she's like, no, thank you, that's all right. 

 

But I recall waking up in the middle of the night, seeing my mom asleep on a kitchen table. That's how hard she worked and she did it for me and my brother. My mom was at 12 out of 10 Mahan, she was just an incredible, incredible lady and she was an ultimate extrovert, which I am not and we can get into that later, but she could put anybody at ease. She was the most giving person I've ever met and a typical Sunday with her as we go to visit elderly people in the neighborhood who had no one to talk to. And as a kid like Oh God, we gotta do that again. But now when I look back at it, I was like, wow, what an incredible lady my mom was. 

 

And to cap it off, she was a incredible Italian chef. She made some best lasagna you'd ever have in your life. Through that tragic incident, you learn how great your mom is, but you'll have to learn how easy it is -not easy, but how you can overcome adversity down the road.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

What a wonderful role model for you, Andy, with her discipline, with her work, and with her empathy in spending time and energy with people in the community that needed it most. 

 

Andy Grimm:

Yes, I think that rubbed off on me somewhere down the line, maybe took a little while for that to emerge in my career. But at the end of the day, helping people in the community and helping people that need it the most is very important to me and it's very important to my organization. And that's something I think we've really thrived on over the years. In a sense, it's almost a moral imperative that you help those that need help.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

So in addition to that, obviously you were also really into sports from baseball to football, to street basketball, and some of that competitive spirit in sports must have also impacted you. 

 

Andy Grimm:

Sure. I think it helped me and it hurt for me. It helped me because it gave me that desire to do well. Sports is often times you have to come back when you're losing and that also is very helpful. I think the other really helpful thing about sports is that you're operating in a team. You realize it's not just you, you've got to cover for the other guy, they gotta cover for you all the time. 

 

But I would say the one thing I had to overcome was I had this desire to win, win at the numbers, make that next goal. And sometimes that desire to win overruled people. And I'm not saying I was ever a brutal individual I don't think I've ever brutalized- anybody can tell you that knows me. 

 

But they would say, Oh, Andy is really focused on goals. One of the critical points in my leadership journey is I had a 360 leadership review, you know  with everybody that works for me and some peers, they review me, I wasn't used to that and I was like, Oh, well, how bad could it be? But one of the things that came out that was critically low was the reception of my compassion for other individuals. Now I know deep inside that I cared about other people, but I wasn't showing it and there's a big difference between what you feel inside and what actually emanates and what people perceive of you.

 

So it gave me something to really work on. I took that test, roughly- seven years ago. I took another one about a year ago and the results were dramatically different because I actually intentionally worked on it. I want to let people know that I care. And that's a theme that runs throughout our organization at Apple.

 

We want to be a caring organization. You know, what I always say to everybody is service, everybody talks about service, everybody gives good service, but what we supply is caring service. We want to make those connections with human beings.

 

Mahan as a CEO, I get two types of letters. I get the ones where people don't like us, and there's not many of those thank God. When we get the ones where they love us, but the ones they love us isn't- Oh, I love your CDs and I love this product and I love the location of your branch. It's the love of the caring connections that are people that made them over the years. You can feel the love they have for our people- that word love actually gets into the equation when it comes to business, who would think I would know, but I think that all works together all that stuff.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Well, what beautiful leadership lessons, Andy, first of all, your willingness and your openness to take the feedback that you got into 360 and work on yourself. One of the biggest challenges leaders have is that they have big blind spots and aren't willing to shrink those blind spots and if anything become angry and resentful when they get feedback that doesn't align with their self-perception.

 

But you took it as an opportunity to help improve yourself and the way you're interacting with everyone around you. 

 

Andy Grimm:

Well, don't get me wrong Mahan I cried for three days after I got the results. I felt a dread over me that I had never felt before.

 

I mean, it's just, what'd you think of yourself when other people think you can be so dramatically different? But man, it motivated me and it really just helped change my mindset. And that mindset also is to be more purpose-driven. I think over the years, I've become really obsessed with us being a purpose-driven organization.

 

I'm obsessed with having a common thing that we're all working towards. And what we do is we have our purpose, which is to improve lives- real simple. I believe in simplicity. It doesn't have to be anything complicated and is something that everybody can memorize and I can tell you that everybody in our organization knows- improve lives and fulfill dreams because that's the motivation for coming to work every day. That's why we exist. And that's what we're doing. We're improving the financial lives and in other ways, the people around us, right? 

 

So in order to support that purpose, we have our core values that support that. We have four core values, one of them which has served the purpose of course, and the key for me, and what I'm really fanatical about is having our processes reflect those values. So in other words, when we hire, we want to make sure we're hiring people that fall underneath those core purpose. Can they reflect those core purpose values? Will they be good representatives of Apple that way?

 

And that goes to the evaluation process. Everything you do organizationally should flow back and tie together with your purpose and core values. And I'm getting a little obsessive about that. I'm starting meetings now, where I quiz people, what's our purpose? What's our core values? Because you really want everybody to be in line with that because yeah, it's funny, I just, literally right before this interview, I saw an article in the Harvard business review, how numbers don't motivate and they had some empirical evidence in data that said that when you get people in the miracle goals, it just doesn't do the trick. And it just kind of reinforced what I've been thinking and the evolution in my career where you really got to move towards that purpose-driven leadership.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

It is, purpose is absolutely critical. You have that purpose for yourself, you have the purpose for Apple and as the leader, it's critical to continually connect that purpose with what the organization is all about and what the organization is doing.

 

Now as CEO of Apple, obviously you've also had to constantly think about reinventing and changing the business model of the organization. How have you been able to do that Andy? 

 

Andy Grimm:

Well, the world around us is just constantly changing. It's incredible how much change I've seen just in the time- I've been working for Apple for a long time, 26 years, but the change has dictated three shifts in our business model.

 

I do want to say one thing, by myself, I have done nothing. I have helped drive stuff and I played an important role in a lot of the changes we did, but I got a lot of great people along the way that helped me with all these things. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

And just to interrupt you, Andy, I want people to listen to that. A lot of leaders say it, having interacted with you. I know you believe it, and you mean it, and that's how you deal with everyone around you. And that's absolutely critical. So you do give them credit, not just in speeches, standing up in front of groups, or in this instance on a podcast, but it is how you lead your organization. 

 

Andy Grimm:

I think you can learn from everybody and I give a particular credit to my former boss, Larry Kelly, who taught me a lot of things. He taught me about vision, but one of the things he really taught me about was how to show that you care for people and in doing it on a regular basis, he was the master of that and he was a great leader. 

 

So getting back to your question, business model changes. Yes, we've gone through a lot of fairly dramatic changes. When I first started working at Apple, I would consider us to be a plain vanilla rate leader. We didn't have a lot of frills, we didn't have a lot of products, but we had fantastic rates. 

 

Now I remember Mahan, this was before the advent of the internet. So back in those days, when you went shopping for certificate rates, you would call people up. So being a great leader, wasn't that hard to do if you had the internal structure. We had very low expenses and we were able to put that across, but as the internet came into Vogue and you could find a rate anywhere in the country, that could probably be somebody somewhere at any time. We realize, Oh God, we've got to shift our business model a little bit. 

 

So then we started getting into a more community-based branch-centric model and we added a lot of branches in a short period of time. And that was a dramatic change going from plain vanilla to a community branch-based organization.

 

We also really want to focus on the education aspect. Apple was started and formed by teachers way back in 1956. And I'm proud we've been around that long, that's another thing I'm proud of. And I want us to be around to 2056 as well. We want to keep that going. Education is important, not just to teachers and students;  it's important to everybody because communities with great education systems are great communities.

 

So we branded ourselves that way. That's another change we made. We'd always serve educators, but we didn't explicitly brand it and do all these things in terms of education with community, for example, We partnered with junior achievement to have this thing where every eighth-grader in Fairfax County goes through a life financial lesson. And we were right in front of that reality store, reality world is quilt and a real financial experience with you, but all that kind of stuff, we just started doing all that stuff to really brand ourselves as an education credit. So that was kind of evolution two. 

 

Evolution three is, there's only so many educators in the world you can serve and growth is critical in our industry. It's a big banking world. As you see those big dominant bank of America's and they put pressure on a little guy like us. So we have to have a niche. We have to differentiate. But what we did was we expanded out to a more community-based organization and right now, There's not as many community-based banks and credit unions as there was back in the day because the big banks have bought them up. You know, there's a lot of consolidation in history, but there's still a need for that. So we transformed our business model to be a more community-oriented institution that involved a lot of community service, like community work, business products, commercial products, all the things that make a great community institution. So that's kind of evolution number three. 

 

And then evolution number four now is the digital imperative. And we do have digital services, but we want to make them as good as they can be. People need both, they need the physical structure and the digital structure. So we are working very hard now and improving ease of use. And it's really been dramatized by wow, the pandemic, and the need to have incredible digital services. It just shows you how important it is and who knows what's going to happen when this is said and done. And I believe it will be at some point. How much of the digital life that people are living now is going to remain. Are people going to still use the foodservice online? They're going back to restaurants? I assume they will, but will anything be taken out? So all that is taken into consideration in our business model. 

 

So four fairly radical changes and that 25 year period, and who knows what's coming. I think the key is to be open and be resilient and understand that what worked before might not work again, that I've learned that real hard lessons with that.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Now, in leading those changes, Andy, obviously part of it is having the right strategy to move the organization to where it needs to go. However, a lot of change initiatives fail because the people in the organization don't embrace the change as. Visualized then communicated by the senior leadership team.

 

How have you been able to get the team members at Apple to buy into and embrace change after change as you lead the organization forward? 

 

Andy Grimm:

Well, I'd say a couple of things. One would be constant and mind-numbing repetition, and, you know, that's the hardest thing for me. Saying something over and over again. It's not really in my personality. I like to try different things. I'm always trying something new, this and that, but you have to realize that you have to constantly repeat what's most important. So that's number one, is the message has to constantly be repeated. The other thing is just the textbook stuff in terms of leadership and change management and the understanding of why, communicating the why.

 

Because sometimes things can get lost in the translation. I'll give you a couple of things we've done to help this out. One thing is I instituted about four or five years ago, something called the CEO roadshow. And a roadshow- it's like a rock and roll tour, except there's no fans, there's no money and there's no fame.

 

What I do is I go out to each and every department and branch of the credit union, but at least once a year, I'll have a formalized meeting where I'll go and I'll deliver what I deemed to be the most important message to everybody. Everybody hears the same message. But in addition to that, I give them the opportunity to ask me any question, anything about my message or anything about anything else.

 

And I think, just that listening, that open communication, and allowing people to have that kind of input often really helps. And in fact, what I have found is when you give people that kind of input, they actually help to change policy. I mean, you can have only so many people at a table devising strategy to a given time, but when you give people the opportunity to ask any question they want, make any comment they want. Hopefully, without any retribution, you don't want that, you want people to be free to speak much as they can. You have problems with that sometimes, it's something you got to work on, but that actually helps you to shape policy. 

 

I'll give you another example. Mahan, during the pandemic, we're holding monthly town meetings. And the town meeting goes like this, I'll get on there, I'll try to be funny for a minute or two, which usually fails. I'll give a message, you know, an important message about how we're doing what's going on and maybe take five minutes but then the rest of the meetings devoted to questions.

 

And the questions come in and honestly from the staff, we will answer the majority of the questions, but every once in a while, something would be like, what's your favorite color or something? There are times we might have to throw a couple out just for the sake of time, although I enjoy answering those as well. You know what we'll do as an executive team is we'll come back after that meeting and we'll look through all the questions and you know, what was asked that we really didn't have an answer for, or what was asked that can help us shape policy better.

 

And it's just amazing how many contributions our staff has made to how we respond to the coronavirus, pandemic, and other things. Just, wow, I never thought about that because I could tell you what 470 people think about a lot more things than six. So I think this has been a really fruitful experience for us. And I think, as a result, I do feel are our employees to become more engaged because they can contribute.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

What a masterful way to lead change in organization and lead continual change Andy, as you know, none of our organizations reach a point where we can say change has stopped, if anything, the pace of change has picked up.

 

So the kind of leadership that you guide your organization get input from all the team members is critical to having your finger on the pulse, making sure the organization embraces disruption and change, and the team members buy into the change that you're asking them to make.

 

Andy Grimm:

You're right. And change to be Frank, it's exhausting, constantly having to about-face and try different things and part of the management process is just making sure people know that we care about you and giving them rest. Like this year- you know, all the stuff that happened with the coronavirus, it's been very, very tough on people. So, we did something special this year. We gave Christmas Eve off to everybody, which we had usually when the federal reserve is open, we're open, but we- and we took that day and said, everybody, take a day off. So we’ll recharge. 

 

Just things like that, just because of the pace of change, I think you also have to be particularly careful about how people react to it. Really take the pulse on how people are dealing with it mentally. You gotta be careful. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

And to a certain extent back to the empathy that your mom had, that you have Andy in leading your team members through this crisis.

 

Now, I know also there have been times where you have not done as well as you would have hoped for including potential merger that didn't go as well as you had expected it to. 

 

Andy Grimm:

Right. So, I think I've had an evolution in my career where- you have to understand, I was a finance guy. I came up training as a numbers guy. I'm a bean counter. Unfortunately, there are certain stereotypes that are associated with a bean counter. Well, they're not people persons, and can't do that. They're just so focused on the numbers. They're numbers people, and I knew deep inside, I'm not.

 

You know, earlier in my career, I'd say to some degree, that was true. I think I was overly focused on numbers. So, we had a merger opportunity that came up and I was, wow, this is just great for both organizations, this is amazing, look at the synergy, look at all this, but the one thing I forgot about is the people you need it to make it happen. So, I was selling the wrong power brokers to get the job done and the most important person in the merger, I neglected if not alienated.

 

And we lost that opportunity. Wow, what a lesson for me that was- is that people come first. You just can never underestimate how much emotion can overrule logic. You know, I had the most logical reason for that merger in the world. Would have been the best merger ever. 

 

Man, if the people don't buy into it, it's just like what we talked about before buying into change, forget it. So that really helped me. I would consider that to be a pivotal moment for me in understanding how important people were around me, but I knew they were important, but just showing it, showing it.

 

If I may expand that out a little bit, the CEO job became open at Apple, and remember what I'm saying? I came up in the finance, I did the investments, I did the accounting, I did all, all these things and I was the number two guy in your organization so you would think, well, Possible shoe-in for the CEO role and the CEO retires? No, that wasn't the case. I had to really work for that job because the perception of me was being countered. This is the guy that's not going to deal with people well. 

 

So when the job first came open- One of the directors came up to me and says, you know,  we'll be doing a search for the job. I was crushed. You know, you read articles in the trade publications- so, and so it will become CEO when the other guy retires. There was no search or no- like, wow. I thought I earned that. I thought I deserved that. And you know, I kind of sulk for a few days like one does. I remember talking to our head of human resources and another wonderful lady, Beth Yingling and she said that to me "well, just prove that you're right for the job, you know, you're right. We'll just do it. Just prove that you're right." 

 

So what ended up happening is I did a big gap analysis of what perception of me was and what we felt was needed for the job and I went out and I did all the things I felt like I needed to do to change that perception. It took me about two years, I joined a lot of community boards, met a lot of wonderful people doing that, by the way, that was such a great side, benefits, all that. But I did all those things. I did CEO training, all kinds of stuff that I had not done previously because I said, Oh, I know the job, I'm in operation. I know the operations and all the stuff that people think. And I closed the gap. And when it came time for the interview, well, preparation, of course, is also a very, very important thing as well. Mahan, I probably studied 36 hours before that interview. I had my wife quiz me with every question known to man because I really wanted that job. And then, you know, I was interviewed by 15 people and they were throwing all kinds of questions to me, but I was so well-prepared. So preparation, but also filling in those gaps.

 

You know deep inside where your liabilities are, you know what you need to improve on. And I guess the overall message I would say to anybody listening is that leadership can be learned. Yes, I mean, there are some born leaders, so to speak, you're the born leader, but there are a lot of things you can learn. There's a lot of things you can change.

 

And particularly for me, who, when I take those fancy tests, the letter I always comes out. The introvert, which is not a bad word inherently in itself. It just means you get energy from ideas, right? Not from people, but sometimes people look at an introvert and then they say, Oh, well, he's not going to do that people element of the job or anything, but you can. You can, if you work on it so is like anything else, practice focusing on the principles that will make you better. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

When I look at your success, Andy, and even the stories that you've been telling, it shows your empathy, which is absolutely critical. Something you had. You had a role model in your mom, but you have continually developed. And also your self-awareness and constantly looking for how others also perceive you and what gaps you need to bridge that has enabled you to become an effective leader and now CEO of your organization. So you are still a very young man. You're going to lead Apple to great places.

 

As we reflect over the next few years, what are your goals and ambitions with respect to leading Apple forward? 

 

Andy Grimm:

That's a very difficult question for me to answer, but I would say this, I talked about, you know, Apple being around since '56. When I retire, I want the organization to sustain its success and growth. And I want to set the table for many, many years of growth. That's one thing I would like to see happen. 

 

The other thing I'd like us to be the preeminent community institution in this region. I think we have the ability to do that. I think we have the people we have the purpose. We have all the elements needed in place to do that. I would like to see that happen as well.

 

But the other thing is, you know- if anyone looked back and looked at Apple, I want people to say, that's an institution that really is honest and they really try to do the best for their members and the community and everybody around us. They try every day to do that and look, we're not perfect, but the constant effort in the success in being honest and transparent is something I want Apple to be known for.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

You are a purpose-driven leader of a purpose-driven organization, which comes across loud and clear both in your journey and the leadership lessons that you have shared. 

 

Now, if you were asked for leadership advice, and if there are any leadership resources that you typically find yourself recommending Andy, what would be some of your recommendations on leadership?

 

Andy Grimm:

One thing that always stuck with me that I learned really early in my career, I used to sell mutual funds when I first came out of college and I gotta tell you I was starving Mahan, starving because there's one thing I could not do when I sold those funds. I couldn't close.

 

So I'd go into a sales meeting and I would get the rapport with people and I described the product and I'd say, this is great. But when it came time to ask for the business,I was a failure. So I started reading books. How do I become a better salesman? And I think there was a book by a guy named Tom Peters (Tom Hopkins). I forget- maybe the art of selling. I don't remember the exact name, but in that focus, there was one line that it's always stayed with me. I always think about this line whenever something seems foreboding to me or something I don't want to encounter going forward. "Do what you fear the most and you control that fear."

 

Love it, love that line. It doesn't mean I'm going to dive off cliffs and crazy stuff like that, but the things that you need to do to progress as a human being and to help your organization progress through those things, even if you're afraid and the more you do them, the more practice you have. The easier everything becomes.

 

So that, that was the one thing I always like to give. I think the other advice I like to give is have a sense of humor. I think it makes you more approachable. I love to laugh. I love when people make me laugh. I think it just makes it easier to work. Everything's easier in life, when you have a sense of humor about it.

 

The third thing I'd say is simplicity. Keep it easy. I know, start remembering all these things you read when you were younger and one of the things I always read was do things on an eighth-grade level, right on an eighth-grade level. Talk on eighth-grade level. I don't want people to listen to me and have a dictionary in hand with them, trying to understand the words I'm saying. I want to hit them emotionally. I want them to understand. No question about what I'm trying to say and what I mean. So I do believe in simplicity and trying to take the complex and make it easier because Lord knows some of the problems we face in this business are complex. There's so many twists and turns and everything, but the more we can get to the heart of the matter and make it easy, I think that's really important as well.

 

One of the things I've done a lot- is take part in round tables of leaders and training for leaders. For example, a few years back, there was a gentleman that ran sessions for number two people in the organization, and it was training on how to become a CEO. And you sat at the table with 10 or 12 people that were of similar position to you from all around the country. And that's very valuable, those kinds of things. 

 

Today, I'm actually a member of Vistage CEO group, which is Vistage just an organization that CEO's joined to- well to learn to get better, but also to network with CEOs from other industries, which is different, which I think has been, been very valuable for me because it has me looking at things in a different way. But the other thing it shows me, does it matter what industry you're in, we're all facing the same issues. 

 

I think constantly reading is critical. I have to, what I consider to be go-to periodical, the wall street journal, and the Harvard business review. Love them both. Try to read them as much as possible.

 

And then books. Of course, there's so many wonderful books out there. Brené Brown- I've been reading Dare To Lead. Recent one. I read was Shoe Dog, Phil Knight, story of Nike. Wow, what a story that was, and the risks he took and them on the precipice of failure throughout his career is amazing. 

 

So books, periodicals, anything you can do to learn.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

It is, and that's a great way for you, Andy, to lead by example for everyone in your organization, the kind of growth mindset you want them to embrace. 

 

Now, before we wrap this up, I know you love music. And in addition to that, you also played in a garage band. What is all of that about Andy? 

 

Andy Grimm:

Yes, I'm a frustrated musician. Back in the, let's say in high school, I started playing guitar when I was young guy, maybe eight, nine years old.

 

And in high school, I played in a lot of the garage bands, the kind of thing where we'd be playing in my garage and then next thing you know, the police would show off cause we are exceeding the decibels of the neighborhood ordinances. I have some neighbors that, were not too fond of me because of that.

 

But we tried to do our best, you know, as a young man, you're not as worried about that kind of stuff, but we played a lot in our garage and then we ended up eventually playing in local bars in the evenings. 

 

My biggest moment of fame is my favorite football player in the world, Lawrence Taylor from the New York giants hall of fame, New York Giants player linebacker came in while we were playing in a bar and he sat there in front of us. And I looked at him, I was like, is that Lawrence Taylor? I stopped playing for a second. It ruined the song basically. He grooved with us, you know, sat through about two or three songs, was nodding his head, dancing around a little bit and then he left, which told me, maybe we're not that good. I couldn't keep the attention of Lawrence for as long enough, but. 

 

Yes, I've always loved music, playing music and listening to music. I have a really extensive music collection. It ranges anything from John Coltrane, jazz to the Grateful Dead, to hard rock to heavy- I love everything. I love all music. That'll be a constant in my life. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Well, that's a lot of fun to hear, Andy. I really appreciate you bringing a smile to my face and everyone that hears this conversation. Most importantly, with the kind of empathy you have been leading Apple. With the kind of growth mindset you have that helps you constantly work on yourself as a leader and setting an example for everyone in your organization. I really appreciate you joining this conversation Andy Grimm.

 

Andy Grimm:

Thanks, Mahan. And I appreciate the opportunity. I also appreciate your kind words and thanks again. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Thank you Andy. 

 

 

Andy Grimm

CEO of Apple Federal Credit Union

Andrew C. Grimm was named chief executive officer at Apple Federal Credit Union in July 2017. In this position, he is leading Apple’s quest to improve the member experience and fill the growing void in prominent community financial institutions. To achieve this, Apple will re-engineer branches, enhance digital banking capabilities, offer personalized commercial services and acquire like-minded financial institutions in adjacent regions.

Prior to being named CEO, Andy was executive vice president/chief operating officer (COO) beginning in 2004, where he was responsible for all functional areas of the credit union. In this capacity, he oversaw the execution of many major strategic initiatives, including nearly a dozen new branches, technological enhancements, and a greater emphasis on the educational community, an employer of choice initiative and several mergers and acquisitions.

Before his position as COO, Andy spent four years as the vice president of finance, beginning in 1999. In this role, he was responsible for accounting, financial analysis, investments, financial statement preparation and the supervision of Apple Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary that provided back-office operations for smaller credit unions.

Andy’s tenure at Apple FCU began in 1995 as a strategic planning manager, where he initiated new products, budgeting, ALM and numerous other “firsts” for the organization.

Andy kicked-off his credit union career at Montgomery County Teachers Federal Credit Union, where he spent four years as a call center manager and another four as finance manager. These roles provided invaluable experience in front-line and back-office operations. Andy began his career as an investment advisor prior to moving to the credit union industry.

Andy is a certified public accountant. He earned a Master’s of Science degree in Business from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business from Fordham University. Andy is a member of the American Institute of CPAs. He is also a board member for the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools, a Board member of Leadership Fairfax and a member of the Fairfax Rotary Club. Andy has served the community as a mentor for elementary school students, a volunteer for various youth sports programs and as a member of the finance council for St. Mark Catholic Church.

Andy is a native New Yorker. He is married, has three children and lives in Fairfax, Virginia.