Getting To Know James Casey: The Saxophonist For Trey Anastasio Band And Meghan Trainor

first_imgJames Casey has made quite the name for himself lately. As a previous member of the Lettuce/Soulive family, he’s been an official member of Trey Anastasio Band for the last few years, and is currently wrapping up his first full tour with pop star Meghan Trainor. Hired as a saxophone player for the Trainor tour, Casey now sings John Legend‘s verses for the radio hit “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” in their live performances. The two-time Grammy nominated Berklee graduate, who grew up playing in his family’s church choir, has seen quite the diversity in his accomplishments. A go-to player for all things musical, meet James Casey.Live For Live Music: Can you tell us about your very first experience with music?James Casey: No, but my dad tells this story all the time of me … My dad was a choir director at the church that we grew up in and my mom played piano, and obviously when they’re both at choir rehearsals, the kids had to be there too. They had me and my brother and my sister there. I was 2, my brother was 4, my sister was just born, something like that.They had rehearsal and my dad was teaching a song and apparently I just busted out laughing and couldn’t stop laughing the whole time. He came over and was like, “Hey, what’s wrong? What are you doing? What are you doing?” I said, “The tenors are off.” I just kept laughing. That was at 2. I don’t know the veracity of it, but my dad’s been telling that story since I was a kid.L4LM: Did they start you on an instrument or were you gravitated towards something in particular?JC: The first instrument I picked up was drums. I was probably three when I first started playing. I would just sit behind the drummer at church and literally just watch him. My whole goal back then was to be able to play for my dad’s choir. Yeah, I was like a little kid, that’s how it all started! That was the end all and be all for me at the time. That was my goal.L4LM: When did you finally reach that goal?JC: When I was 9. Well, 8 really, but 9, I guess. I got my first drum set when I was 9, but I was that kid who would like build a drum set out of pillows and blocks and pots and pans or whatever, and when I finally got my first set was when I first got my first gig playing at a church.L4LM: Did you ever see yourself becoming a touring musician?JC: Man, I was supposed to be the best football player ever. That’s what I wanted to be. In my mind, football was it, you know? Music was just something I really liked to do, but football, that was going to be my ticket. I was going to make it and blah blah blah. Then I got hurt my freshman year in high school and all that just ended. Can’t really play football when you’re a 13 year old with a torn ACL.L4LM: So when did saxophone come into the mix?JC: I started playing saxophone the same year I got my drum set when I was 9. When I was in 2nd grade, my brother was in the 5th grade and started playing saxophone in the school band. But in 2nd grade I was 6, so I didn’t really have any front teeth at all, so I couldn’t play it. He brought it home to play and everybody, my sister even, got to play it. I didn’t get to play it and I was really really sad about that.When the time came for me around 5th grade, I had to play the saxophone. I could have played anything, but I really wanted to play the saxophone just because I didn’t get a chance to do it back then. I mean, we were broke. My mom said – I remember this plain as day – she said, “If we rent you this saxophone, you can’t quit.” So, yeah. My brother quit after that one year, so I kept it up.L4LM: And here we are. The first time I remember hearing your name was when you were playing with Soulive and Lettuce. Tell us how you went from playing in the church band to with some of the funkiest bands in all the land?JC: Well, there’s this club in Boston called Wally’s. Wally’s is where Lettuce came out of. Up until recently, any instrumentalist who was worth anything that came out of the Berklee, N.E.C., Boston place, they all had a night at Wally’s. When I first got to school there, Sam Kininger had a night at Wally’s. Sam Kininger is the old saxophone player for Lettuce and Soulive, in fact the original- him and Zoidis.Sam was up there and I had no idea who Soulive or Lettuce or any of that was, so as an 18 year old, people got me into the little small club and I would just stand up right next to the stage because I was 18 and not 21. I’d watch Sam play twice a week every week on Sunday nights and Tuesday nights, never, ever making my 9 o’clock class on Monday or Wednesday because we all were out there until 2:30 – I was taking it all in. I had learned vocabulary there. After I left, I was in a band with Louis Cato, who’s now my brother in law.So me and Cato went to school together then we worked in a band together called Six Figures and we all lived together in this house in Brooklyn when he had just started playing with Eric Krasno in Chapter 2. Krasno was starting up this new group called Chapter 2 and Cato was playing either bass or drums depending on the situation, I don’t remember which one. They had a show and there was a little after party thing – this was in 2009. There was an after party.They invited me and I went to it, you know, and at the after party they had a band setup set up so me and Cato just went up there and wrecked shop. That was the first time they all heard me play. That year from 2009 to 2010 New Year’s was mostly the first gigs that I played with Lettuce and Soulive. I was subbing for Ryan Zoidis, and that was my first foray into Lettuce and Soulive and all that.Right after that, Sam decided he was going to take a hiatus and I literally got a phone call at midnight asking me if I could fly out to L.A. the next day and then learn all this music on the flight because Lettuce and Soulive were on tour and they needed a saxophone player. That was it.Learned all the music that night and played it the next day. I was playing with them for the next four years.L4LM: How did that turn into your gig with Trey Anastasio Band?JC: Okay. I want to say the third Bowlive … 2012, Jennifer Hartswick was a special guest, and I’d never met Jennifer, I didn’t know who Trey [Anastasio] was, I didn’t know who Phish was, I mean, I had heard rumblings of something called Phish because I had started playing all these festivals with Lettuce, but I really had no idea. Jennifer had never seen or heard me play before, and I’d never seen or heard her play before, so we just kind of kicked it off and I was like, “Yo, you sound great.” And we were both like, “Yo, we should talk and play.” “That’s cool, let’s play.”That year at Jazzfest, I saw her again. I saw her and I met Natalie [Cressman] there as well, and again, I had no idea who they were and I was joking, I said, “Hey, Jennifer. This is the year of James getting all the gigs. Let’s all get gigs for James.” Like in a joking manner, of course. But she said, actually, I’ve submitted your name for a few things, so I said, “Well, I appreciate it!”Cut to August, I was in Arizona writing an album and I got a text message that woke me up from Jennifer saying, “Trey’s about to call you.” I didn’t know who Trey was, and then I got a phone call. I was asleep, I was tired, I didn’t answer it. It went to voicemail and it was this dude on the other end, it was like, “Hi. This is Trey Anastasio. I have a band called Phish and I want to talk to you about joining my band the Trey Anastasio Band. Give me a call when you get a chance, blah blah blah blah blah … ” Okay. I woke up, listened to the recording, turned my phone off and went back to sleep. I didn’t know who he was. It didn’t matter.Later I wake up and then I called up Adam Deitch because I was sure that he would know who this other person was or who these people were. I called him and said, “Yo, who is this person?” He just kind of flipped out. He was very happy for the whole situation.L4LM: Given the extremity of this offer, was it easy for you to make a decision?JC: I mean, at the time, nothing overlapped. Any time that there were Trey shows, there were no Lettuce shows, so it was just kind of sure, why not? I wasn’t positive on doing it at first, but then Deitch and Kraz were like, “No, you have to. You have no choice. You have to join this band. You have to, you have to.” To their credit, they’re definitely two of the reasons why I was in that band at all.L4LM: How did you deal with the transition from touring with a band like Lettuce to going on the road with Trey’s band? Musically, they are different. But also the whole logistical side of it was probably a lot different than what you were used to – getting a phone call and flying across the country to join a funk band.JC: Well, yes. Everything I had done up until that point, and even through now is just kind of like a stepping stone in a sense that the next thing is just a little bit bigger, you know? Overall, just a little bit bigger.I was in a pop rock band right after school and we were touring around in an SUV, in a Toyota Highlander. There were five of us and we were carrying a trailer up and down the east coast. I go from there to Soulive and Lettuce and from there to Trey. Those were pretty interesting leaps. It’s not necessarily musicality, because music is music. It’s more just a leap of … without making it sound too fucked up, it’s just a leap of money. You know? Financial backing. That’s definitely a big thing. The amount of people you’re playing in front of, everything. It’s a huge difference.L4LM: You were on Paper Wheels and Big Boat, correct?JC: Yeah. I got a pretty interesting story about that whole thing.I’m on my way to do this Phish record, going to the studio for Big Boat. While I’m on my way there, I get a phone call from a friend of mine who’s a producer asking me if I could put together some singers for a song to go into the studio. We were in the studio for a day already, so we had this one day before I had to leave town the next day to go on tour. I’m like, “Yeah, yeah. I can put something together for you. I can’t do it, but I can put something together.” So I put these singers together for this song that needed to be re-cut and what not and it turns out … I mean, I put my sister on it because my sister can sing really well. It turns out that it’s Chance the Rapper‘s new single. It was his new single and is now up for a Grammy, so now my sister’s nominated.L4LM: Wow. That’s incredible.JC: Yeah, so, that’s pretty cool. I was literally in the studio with Phish while I was dealing with that.L4LM: Then you left for Trainor tour. How did that come to be?JC: I have some great friends, I have some great friends. I went to school with a lot of musicians who are great musicians already, but they’re some great friends too. We all kind of look out for each other. When there are things that we can’t do, we put each other on just so everybody comes out. I have some friends who have been trying to put me on pop tours for years. I’ve always said no for one reason or another, but this time I had no reason to say no. I got a phone call and he was like, “Yo, man, can you do it?” I looked at my schedule and I said, yeah. The things that I have, I can move around, so let’s see what happens. It’s been way more than I was ever expecting it to be, so it’s a pretty interesting scenario.L4LM: Are you happy with that decision?JC: Absolutely.L4LM: Did they hire you knowing that you could also sing on top of playing the sax?JC: About a month into the tour, we were having a soundcheck. We do this thing called soundcheck parties where people who paid for VIP tickets can come and watch us do a soundcheck. We were doing that and the band was playing something and I was messing around singing into my saxophone microphone, and [Meghan Trainor] had her in-ears on and so she could hear it and I didn’t know she could hear it and I didn’t even know she was around. She comes around on stage in her onesie with her arms wide screaming, “Oh my God, James! You sing, I didn’t know!” I was like, wow, that’s what’s up. She’s like, “You’ve got to sing a song with me. You’ve got to sing a song with me.” I’m like, “Ha ha ha ha ha. Sure, of course.” In the back of my mind, I figured there was no way. She’s going to forget this tomorrow.The next time we had soundcheck, she’s like, “James, you just let me know when you’re ready.” I’m like, “Okay, yeah, I’ll let you know.” Literally the next day, she’s like, “James, I’m serious. You let me know when you want to sing.” I’m like all right, okay. Okay. This is more than enough time for her to be safe, but she’s still bringing it up, number one. Number two, I felt like I would really regret it if I said no.I watched this movie that Trey actually got me onto. It’s called 20 Feet From Stardom. It’s about all the people who were background singers who wanted to be leads and they never got the opportunity to literally just step on stage, and I’ve had all these crazy opportunities and I’ve always said no. So this time I said, why not? That’s really why that happened.L4LM: Obviously, the size of the room has increased enormously from the church to these huge stadiums and arenas. I can’t even imagine what that’s like for someone who originally wanted to play football.JC: Yeah, I mean, I was thinking about this the other day and I actually called my mom to talk to her about it. It’s like everything that I’ve gone through, musically – even the “failures” that I’ve had – really really positive things have come from it all. Everything that I’ve really put my mind to when it comes to music stuff has come into fruition pretty much. Some things have taken a lot longer than others, but it’s kind of nuts. It’s easy for me to not think about it like that, and just say like, okay the day to day to day, what am I doing tomorrow? What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?A couple of days ago, I was sick in my room, so I couldn’t really do anything. I couldn’t go out or go to the studio or anything, so I was actually thinking back on everything that I really wanted to do musically, from way back when I was a kid from playing in my dad’s church to when I wanted to play a saxophone solo one day in a jazz band to when I wanted to see what it’s like to go on tour to when I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to write my own music, I wanted to be on the radio, I wanted to … It’s all pretty much happened.L4LM: Today you’re a two-time Grammy nominee (J Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive and Trey Anastasio Band’s Paper Wheels). Have you received any particular advice that has really stuck with you? Or was there an experience that particularly affected you?JC: As far as experiences are concerned, every experience changes your course in a little way, whether you want it to or not. I would say to just be open to whatever comes your way, because you never really know what’s going to lead to what. For instance, the trumpet player that I brought with me on this tour, he was a Julliard student, and he played trumpet in my boy Igmar [Thomas]‘s big band, which I mean, we all do it because we love music and Igmar’s a homie and it’s a lot of fun, but it doesn’t pay very much. It doesn’t pay very much, and it’s a nice amount of commitment for something that doesn’t pay that much, but we did it anyway, and we do it anyway, and that’s where I met him. Him doing that one 70, 75 dollar gig made it so that he can do all this other stuff, because I wouldn’t have known who he was if he didn’t do it. So, number one, say yes. Say yes to whatever musical opportunities that won’t be detrimental to your health. There’s a lot of bad music out there too.The thing that it took me a really long time to understand … or really grasp a hold of … is the concept that failing is fine. It’s okay to fail, you know?We’re all going to fail, but how you respond to that failure is what changes your life, you know? I mean, I’ve failed so many times … There are videos of me playing awful, awful, awful solos, there’s videos of me singing terribly, and it’s all documented because everything’s documented and it’s just terrible. I’ve done shows with my own band that had more people in the band than the audience. I’ve done all sorts of stuff, so I’ve realized that if things don’t necessarily end up the way you want, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing. If you keep at whatever it is you’re trying to do, chances are you’ll get to where you’re trying to go if you put enough work into it.L4LM: Tell us what’s been the best experience in your career thus far.JC: The best moment of this past year on stage was in Madrid with Meghan Trainor. We played the Barclaycard Center to like 18,000+ and at the time it was the biggest single room I’d ever played. The surreal part was going out to sing the duet (“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”) with her, and the stage had a catwalk into a big circle at the center of the arena. It’s a ballad, so people turn their phone flashlights on. Having all those people in a room surrounding you and singing all the words to a song that’s not their original language…was amazing. It was one of those times in life where after it’s over, you kinda sit back and log it away to think on later.L4LM: And what’s the craziest moment of your career been?JC: The craziest moment of my career came in 2009. The Roots had recently moved to NY to do the Fallon show and they were doing a ‘jam session’ every Wednesday at Highline Ballroom. (I wouldn’t really call it a jam session since there were around 1000 people there every week, with lots of special guests and artists there all the time.) Thanks to Meghan Stabile (founder of Revive Music) and Igmar Thomas, he and I played many weeks with them as the horn section along with others who were either locals or on tour and passing through.This particular time, Igmar and I were playing with 1 or 2 other horn players who were having a very difficult time hearing and playing back the horn parts I was coming up with (side note: a lot of times, especially in situations like this, we make up horn lines on the spot and play/harmonize them immediately. It’s not something everyone can do offhand, but it is a vital part of being a horn player and a necessary skill). I was frustrated with the horn players who weren’t getting it quickly enough to play, so i walked to the back of the stage, stood next to Questlove and seethed internally while I contemplated the fact that something had to change. Then something did. It just so happened that night was less than a week after Michael Jackson died and everyone was still kinda in shock about it. While I was standing back next to the drums, The Roots went into a Jackson 5 song. I don’t remember exactly which one but I do know that there was no lead player/singer as the whole crowd was singing. Then, they went into “I’ll Be There”. Kirk (The Roots’ guitar player) has a pretty high singing voice and he started the song out singing MJ’s part. I was singing the whole time next to Questlove and when Jermaine (Jackson)’s part of the song came up, he pointed to me to sing it in his mic. So I did. Thing is…it happens twice in the song. When it came up again, he told me to go to the front of the stage and sing it….so I ran up and did it. I had never really sang lead in front of people at the time, but I was too scared to be nervous and it was too surreal to think about, or I would have probably been terrified. Song’s over, and I put the mic on the stand thinking it’s over…then they go into another MJ song. I know the words, so I sing again. And again. And again…I must’ve sang like 5 MJ songs cause I knew the words to everything they played. I remember trying to get both Louis Cato and Gretchen Parlatto (both waaaaaaayyyy better singers than I am) to come up and help, but they waved me off to keep going…..That was the night I decided to be an artist, not just a musician.L4LM: You’re on the second leg of MT tour right now. Are you going to stick with it? Will you be doing any of the upcoming TAB shows?JC: After this leg of Meghan’s tour ends, I will be doing the Trey tour. Unless something crazy happens between now and then, I’ll be doing the Trey tour. And that’s where I’ll leave that.L4LM: I’m curious about the status of your solo project, Animus Rexx.JC: Okay, so one of the reasons why I took the Meghan Trainor tour in the beginning was because it’s hard funding your own band. It’s extremely hard to fund. Everything’s expensive, everything costs so much money. When you’re taking gigs to pay for other gigs, it’s hard to accumulate. So the goal, as of today, is that I’ll be finished with this tour and everything that I have to do at the beginning of next year. Then, I’ll be putting as much time as I possibly can into Animus Rexx and other projects that have had to go on the back burners because, you know, a freaking 8, 9 month tour.L4LM: Sounds like next year is the “Year of James Casey.”JC: It’s going to have to be. It’s going to have to be.L4LM: Or really, every year is the “Year of James Casey.”JC: It is, man. Next year, I’m looking forward to it. Everybody’s way more excited than I am. I’m just a little apprehensive about what’s going on, but everybody’s really excited to see what’s coming up and things are coming into place and hopefully stuff gets to a point where everybody knows who James Casey is.last_img read more

Turkmen ruler establishes holiday to honor local dog breed

first_imgASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s autocratic leader has established a national holiday to honor the local dog breed. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the holiday praising the Alabai, the Central Asian shepherd dog, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of April when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, according to Tuesday’s report in the daily Neutral Turkmenistan. The Central Asian nation of 6 million prides itself in horses and dogs, honoring its centuries-old herding traditions. Berdymukhamedov has ruled the gas-rich desert country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq,’ or protector.last_img

Biden administration to survey schools on COVID-19 impact

first_imgThe Biden administration says it will soon begin collecting data from thousands of U.S. schools to find out how they have been affected by the pandemic. Led by the Education Department, the effort will collect monthly data from 7,000 schools on a range of topics related to COVID-19. It’s the first federal effort to gather data on the pandemic’s impact on education. President Joe Biden called for the data in a Jan. 21 executive order on school reopening. The Trump administration declined to collect data on the subject. The data will provide a national look at schools’ operating status, including how many are offering remote learning.last_img

Alumni enjoy working for alma mater

first_imgStephanie Mola graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 and moved to Florida to work for Johnson & Johnson, but a “Notre Dame itch” brought her back to South Bend a year later. “Along the way there just seemed to be a big part of me missing and a lot of it pointed me back here,” she said. “And this just kind of fell in my lap and seemed like the perfect fit.” Now, as the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s young alumni programs manager, Mola is one of many young graduates to work for her alma mater. While Mola said she is happy to be back at Notre Dame, there are differences between being a student on campus and being an employee. For example, she said students are not necessarily aware of the number of people who work on campus as full-time University employees. “Now I walk around and see all these people I work with that I didn’t really know existed before,” she said.  One difficult part of returning to Notre Dame as an employee, Mola said, is separating herself from student life because she has friends who are still undergraduates. As a former Notre Dame softball player, it is especially difficult for her to be on campus but no longer playing with the rest of the team. “It’s hard to seem them. It’s hard to go by the field and hear about them going to practice, and I’m not going with them,” she said. Because Mola graduated recently, however, she said she is better able to do her job at the Alumni Association, where she organizes programs for both for current students and alumni who graduated within the past 10 years. Mola said she has also learned since she began working at the Alumni Association that people who work for the University, even if they are not alumni, are just as enthusiastic about Notre Dame as the student body. “I guess an easy parallel from both perspectives is Notre Dame’s pretty well-known for having great people,” she said. “Everybody here is so welcoming and wants you to do well, just like when you were a student.” Mola said she does not know what she will do in the future, especially since her current position is best filled by a young alum. She said she would be open, however, to other positions at the University. “I’ll tell you, I left this place once and it’s going to be hard to do it again,” she said. “So I can definitely see myself staying here for a long time.” John Whitty, a 2010 Notre Dame graduate who now works for the athletic department’s Joyce Grants-in-Aid Program, said he also experienced a transition from being a student to being a University employee. Unlike Mola, Whitty began working for Notre Dame immediately following graduation. “I think it’s definitely a different experience working for a university than attending a university, but it’s been a good opportunity to see the different sides of the University as a whole,” Whitty said. “And I’m bummed that my card doesn’t work at the dining hall anymore.” He currently works with donors who give enough to the Athletic Department each year to fund one student athlete’s scholarship. Whitty did not plan to stay at Notre Dame following graduation, but he began working in the athletic department during the second semester of his senior year.  “As the semester progressed, I talked to my superiors and they expressed interest in keeping me,” he said. “It was pretty much too good of an opportunity to pass up. So I decided to stay here and it’s actually worked out pretty well.” Because he works for the athletic department, Whitty said the contrast between his life and that of undergraduate students is perhaps best exemplified on home football weekends. “I get to see a lot of insider stuff from places we take the donors, but it’s definitely not … the student weekend football experience,” he said. “I’m pretty busy on football weekends, but I definitely don’t get to tailgate.” Although he would like to go to graduate school for business or sports administration in the future, Whitty said he is happy in his current role at the University. “I like where I’m at right now, but I’m always open to options other places as well,” he said. “There’s no question that if there were positions available … I would stay at Notre Dame.” Sarah Rodts, also a 2009 Notre Dame graduate, began working for the University’s athletics media relations office following graduation. Rodts had planned to go to law school following graduation, but said she realized last spring she was not passionate about it. During the final semester of her senior year, she cancelled her plans to work at a law firm in Chicago and decided to work toward her dream of being a sports broadcast reporter. Now, she splits her time between two jobs: one at Notre Dame, and one at WNDU, a local television station. “In terms of whether or not I thought I would end up doing it last year at this time, absolutely not, … but as it’s all falling into place, it could not be more perfect,” Rodts said. “I’m learning a lot about athletics and how it is to work in the media, but then I’m on the other side of it, too.” Rodts said one of the highlights of working for athletics media relations thus far was serving as the University liaison to an Adidas production crew that came to campus on a football weekend to shoot a commercial.  While it is difficult to transition from student life to working 13-hour days, seven days a week, Rodts was prepared for the change. “I was going to have to separate my undergrad life from the post-grad life,” she said. In addition, she said her busy work schedule does not allow her much time to miss being a student.  Even though she was prepared to face this transition, Rodts said it is hard when she does not have time to see her friends who are still undergraduates. But her current positions are perfect for her planned career path, and she is happy to remain at Notre Dame. “I’m still so much a part of the University, and I don’t feel like graduation has made me any less a part of it,” she said.last_img read more

7 key considerations in a hosted phone service to improve your credit union’s efficiency ratio

first_imgAs outlined above, choosing the right phone and contact center capability is a critical decision.  By selecting a Cloud based solution that understands your needs, your Credit Union can be on its way to top rated member service.   This opportunity is a way to affordably add key functionality to better serve your efficiency and your efficiency ratio.    When looking for a hosted phone service, or Cloud based service, ensure that the company providing the system has the experience, security, design and integration. At AltiGen Communications we provide our members with the most secure and innovatively designed systems that help them obtain an excellent efficiency ratio. Register HERE for our 30-minute webinar: A Unified Communications Solution with your Credit Union and Members in Mind 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Mike Plumer Mike Plumer is the Vice President of Sales for AltiGen Communications.  Mike has been with AltiGen since 1996, and has worked with thousands of companies migrating to Voice over IP.  … Web: www.altigen.com Details One of the leading reasons for poor efficiency in credit unions is the lack of use of paid technology. Less than 50% of credit unions are utilizing the technology they pay for, which is damaging to overhead costs and efficiency ratios. Last month, the article “How Would Members Rate your Phone System” discussed why credit unions should consider a hosted phone service to improve efficiency ratios.  By choosing a “Cloud” based or “Hosted” service, you can significantly reduce the upfront investment and ongoing cost of maintenance for your phone system.  It’s also an opportunity to affordably add key functionality to better serve your members. However, Cloud-based phone systems are not one size fits all.   Here are 7 key considerations when selecting a hosted service for your Credit Union’s communication needs:center_img Experience- Does the company providing the hosted phone system understand Credit Unions?  Members depend on you for key services and the protection of their assets.  Does the company understand what it takes to gain and keep a member?Security- This should go without saying, but with some hosted services, the majority of the employees aren’t even based in the U.S.   Choose a service that develops products here and supports you with U.S. based employees.  In addition, verify that all communications between employees and with members are encrypted to ensure top security.Design- Ideally your CU receives its own dedicated hosted system in the Cloud, not a shared system with the potential for shared problems.  You shouldn’t be on the hook for mistakes made by other customers. Robust Functionality-  Does the Cloud service provide robust contact center capabilities?   Would you like to chat or text with newer members in addition to a phone conversation?   Would you like to record all of the calls so that agent/member interaction can be evaluated later?  A complete service should provide those capabilities as well as real-time metrics and historical reporting.  With a hosted service, it should be possible to add contact center affordably, one agent at a time.Affordability- In many cases, a CU should see a reduction in telecom expenses by migrating to the Cloud.  If you are maintaining a phone system or phone lines at every branch, hosting will greatly simplify management while consolidating and optimizing your carrier connection with SIP services. Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity– Is your phone system included in your Business Continuity plan?  With a hosted service, that can be an easy “yes”.  The hosted service should be completely redundant so that if a problem occurs it can automatically fail over to a backup.  The service should also include capabilities such as mobile applications and softphones to allow employees to securely connect to the hosted system even when they are unable to be at the office.  Integration – Microsoft Office 365 is being rapidly adopted by credit unions across the country.  Does the service allow you to leverage Microsoft’s Instant Messaging and presence?  It can be a great way to improve communications throughout the CU and allow employees to know whether other employees are in and available.  Advanced features such as video and desktop sharing can significantly enhance personalized service for your members.   Make sure these capabilities are offered and integrated with the service.last_img read more

Together is better for optimal success

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Paul Robert Paul Robert has been helping financial institutions drive their retail growth strategies for over 20 years. Paul is the Chief Executive Officer for FI Strategies, LLC, a private consulting company … Web: fi-strategies.com Details There’s an old proverb that says: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. As your credit union enters strategic planning season, think about the powerful impact that “togetherness” (or teamwork) can, and will, have on your ability to fully and effectively execute those critical plans next year.Along with the needed investment of money and resources into new technology or delivery channels or product lines, consider an investment in solidifying the teamwork in your organization. The long-term success of those other investments could be significantly amplified by the ability of your teams to collaborate and synergize.Recently in this column, we’ve written about the need to invest in your people, especially your top performers and future leaders. Today, we’re talking about investing in a culture that will allow those, and all, employees to thrive. Two key drivers of employee engagement are being connected to others and contributing to something meaningful. Fostering an environment of teamwork and connection will position individuals to be optimally successful but also position your credit union to grow and fulfill your meaningful common goals and mission.I know … culture investment has rarely been considered a strategic investment. Investing in employee development has often been a tactical plan usually developed and deployed by the Human Resources department. This time, however, we’re talking about investments in the critical trust-building relationships in your organization that result in strategies being executed, problems being resolved, and, most importantly, members being satisfied.“In order to thrive in this climate of rapid growth and continual disruption you need teams that communicate well, learn quickly, experiment and adapt.” says Jillian Reilly, Creative Partner at BraveShift . “Team building has therefore transformed from a feel-good human resource investment to a strategic necessity.”  (BraveShift is a partner of ours and Jillian and her team are great at nurturing teams, leaders and workplaces by placing human connection at the center of everyday operating strategy. Check them out at www.braveshift.com.) Today’s changing workplace dynamic has accelerated the need for an optimal teamwork environment. As individuals bring varying skills and personal qualities to the table, organizations need to find ways to maximize the contributions of those individuals to the betterment of the team. It’s no longer good enough to just focus on the development of individuals; credit unions that invest in the development of teams will standout with their overall positive production and performance.Ultimately, it will also allow them to recruit and retain better talent. The focus of workplace culture is shifting from individual roles and tasks toward social and team relations, especially when that collaboration results in innovative new ways for individuals to make more significant contributions to the collective success of the organization. Individual performance is still important, of course, but the manner in which someone performs in a team environment has become a critical aspect of how many individuals define success.Creating this team-based culture won’t happen overnight but here are three steps you can take during your upcoming planning process to initiate your organization’s efforts:Conduct an assessment of how well your teams work together in today’s environment. To do this thoroughly you may need an outside, unbiased perspective but, at least, start by surveying your staff to get their perspective on current strengths and weaknesses. Focus particularly on instances where lack of teamwork impairs the member experience.When assessing the performance of individuals, place significant emphasis on their contribution to their team’s performance and the quality of their interactions with other teams across the organization. “Teamwork” is often a category on performance appraisals but enhance its weighting and look at it with a much more discerning eye.Find ways to get teams working together as much as possible. In the past, individuals were expected to be talented enough to solve problems on their own; today, problems can be solved just as fast and often more thoroughly by leveraging the collective talents of a team. Don’t assign projects just to individuals, get cross-functional teams working on that assignment. Even as an executive, don’t tackle an issue singularly, assemble a team and get them engaged in resolving that issue. In his book, Together is Better, Simon Sinek said: The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people can pull together as a team. Therefore, simply talking about teamwork isn’t enough. You can’t just sing kumbaya around the company campfire and expect teams to form and perform successfully. Leaders must make concentrated efforts to create teams, give them clear goals, and hold them accountable to desired performance.“Twenty-first century teamwork requires leaders whose focus isn’t simply on executing a plan or hitting a target, but on creating a sense of belonging,” says Reilly at BraveShift. “Team members need to feel valued, respected and invested. Foster a sense of belonging and you unleash your team’s full capability and ambition into your workplace.”  When a new recruit shows up at the US Marine Academy one of the first things he or she learns is that they will never be successful as an individual – they must always depend on the overall success of their team to succeed. The words “I”, “me”, and “my” are stricken from their vocabulary and quickly replaced with the team-focused pronouns. Your employees aren’t soldiers and banking certainly isn’t combat but the metaphor presents a valuable lesson: your credit union can go much farther with a highly-functioning team-focused approach than just an individual one.last_img read more

Raspberry Pi 400 personal microcomputer fits into a compact keyboard » Gadget Flow

first_img– Advertisement – The Raspberry Pi 400 hides a whole PC into a compact keyboard and is great for remote workers and children. This gadget is an upgrade of the original Raspberry Pi and features a quad-core 64-bit processor. Therefore, it runs much quicker and remains cooler than its predecessor. The Raspberry Pi 400 is packed with 4GB of RAM and features a MicroSD card slot for storage and running the operating system. There’s also plenty of USB ports to connect to a monitor and other devices. Furthermore, it features wireless networking and Bluetooth, so you can remain connected on the go. This personal microcomputer also offers 4K video playback. Although it’s compact design is a highlight, the gadget still features full-size keys. Overall, this affordable device mirrors the minimalism of earlier devices with a modern touch that’s simple to use.last_img read more

German basic pension raises questions of financial sustainability

first_img“We have never been able to afford the basic pension,” the spokesperson said, adding that funds for the measure are based on EU financial transaction tax that will never exist.A national debate has erupted yet again after, on May 15, the German parliament reviewed in the first reading a draft law for the introduction of the Grundrente for long-term insurance in the statutory pension, based on a gorvernment proposal.The coalition partners, consisting of the SPD, CDU and CSU parties, included the basic pension in a contract to support Angela Merkel’s government in 2018, reviewed last November, but still a source of doubts on essential points.The SPD originally required that the income would not play a role to assess whether a person had the right to a basic pension, while the Union (CDU/CSU) asked to take into account not only their income but also their entire financial situation.The pension expert for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Peter Weiß, now believes that a basic pension will start in 2021, but one condition, he said, is a solid financing concept.The government intends to present various financing models, including a European financial transaction tax, but “we lack a binding, clear statement of where and when this money is available. This is a basic requirement for the Union. The financial concept must also be in place if we give the final consultation (on the law) in the parliament,” he explained.Under the new scheme, additional pension will be paid to anyone who has at least 33 years of contributions to the statutory pension insurance based on periods of employment, child-rearing or care work.The basic pension is calculated in steps, from 33 to 35 years of contribution to ensure that also below 35 years additional payment is provided, according to the legislator.The Grundrente is guaranteed after assessing that single earners own a maximum monthly income of €1,250, or €15,000 per year, and €1,950 per month (€ 23,400 per year), for married couples or partners.The parliamentary commission labour and social affairs” will hold a hearing on the draft law on May 25. The Deutsche Rentenversicherung (DRV), the administrator of the state pension scheme, has submitted a series of proposals to streamline the financial and bureaucratic processes to grant a basic pension.In a statement, the DRV had considered an “enormous challenge” assessing the requirements for granting a pension. For the first time, pensions must be retrospectively examined and, if necessary, insurance biographies upgraded.The authority foresees July 2021 as the earliest date possible for the payment of the additional pensions because the IT architecture has to be adjusted in a highly complex pension system, and the 26 million already existing pensions can only be processed by the end of 2022.The DRV thinks it is possible that the basic pension is financed with taxes, but “parameters” for financing the measure in the new rules have not been determined exactly.An increase of the federal subsidy may not be sufficient in the long run to cover the additional expenses for pension insurances.The DRV, therefore, supports a reimbursement scheme that would also take into account additional administrative and procedural costs. Reimbursements are made, for example, by the federal government in the context of the Claim and Benefit Transfer Act (AAÜG) or by the Federal Employment Agency for reduction of earning capacity.The spokesperson for Gesamtmetall said: “The basic pension creates new injustices. Everyone involved would be well advised to forego the basic pension.”To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. The introduction of a basic pension in Germany – or Grundrente – has been raising pressing questions over its long-term financial sustainability.“Pension policy decisions will cost money for decades to come and the basic pension will not help against old-age poverty,” a spokesperson for Gesamtmetall, the organisation representing companies in the metal and electrical engineering sector, told IPE.According to Gesamtmetall, the costs to provide a basic pension are “enormous”, with €400m in administrative expenses to calculate in 2021 alone for a pension insurance pot of €1.3bn.A total of around 1.3 million people will benefit from the basic pension from 2021, including 70% of women.last_img read more

Nine reporter has big plans for little workers cottage

first_imgChannel 9 reporter Alex Heinke has bought a fixer-upper in Ashgrove. Picture: Supplied.CHANNEL 9 reporter Alex Heinke has snapped up an Ashgrove renovator with a big yard and plans to create a character stunner worthy of its leafy location. The two-bedroom, one bathroom workers cottage is on a 607sq m block and features separate living areas, a sun room, timber floorboards and high ceilings. Mr Heinke said the home fell into the category of a fixer-upper but he was prepared for the challenge. “I like that Ashgrove look with the big deck and pool out the back (so) … I’ll raise the house and get rid of some of the asbestos, but I’ll keep that cute cottage feel,” he said.Mr Heinke said he planned to move into the home and “chip away” at the renovation. “There’s no real timeline,” he said. “I’ll move in within a few months and hopefully it will start looking a bit different by Christmas.” More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus13 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market13 hours agoThe two-bedroom workers cottage is in need of some TLC.The Brisbane local admitted he was more at home behind a microphone than a nail gun, so he would be relying on the expertise of his carpenter brother and his more handy mates.He said he was prepared to compensate them appropriately, though.“I think I’ll be buying quite a few cases of beer,” he said. Mr Heinke spent his teenage years in Ashgrove and currently rents in the popular suburb.He said he saw Ashgrove as a fantastic area with “so much potential”. “My parents live about a kilometre from the new place. They know how good Ashgrove is,” he said. Mr Heinke bought the home through Murray Pegg of Place Newmarket.last_img read more

Pool savings to lap up with program aimed at reducing energy costs

first_img Homeowners who already have a pool can visit www.spasa.com.au Easy living in chic styling Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pools has Climate Care Certified plunge pools.A Brisbane pool company is the first in the country to introduce a program aimed at helping pool owners reduce energy consumption and save hundreds of dollars annually. Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pools is the first Australian pool installation company to achieve Climate Care Certified status with the introduction of the Climate Care Certified Plunge Pool.The Climate Care Certification Program is an initiative of the Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) of Australia and is the industry’s efficiency and sustainability certification program. An installation by Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pools.Through the Climate Care Certified program, homeowners are supported to reduce water and energy consumption by making a positive decision to own an environmentally-sustainable swimming pool while saving money at the same time. MORE QLD REAL ESTATE NEWS: Luxury whole-floor apartments hit the marketcenter_img Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pools has a Climate Care Certified status.Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pool owners Geoffrey and Amy Smith said their team had responded to consumer demands to provide an environmentally-friendly swimming pool.“We are empowering consumers to make informed choices when purchasing their next swimming pool,” Mr Smith said. “Our Climate Care Certified Plunge Pools allows consumers to love their swimming pool and the environment at the same time.“Water and energy are precious resources and commodities in Australia, particularly during periods of prolonged drought and peak energy demands.”Mr Smith said for pool and spa owners concerned about water and energy usage, the Climate Care Certified Plunge Pool assists to minimise the environmental impact, while maximising all the obvious benefits of a backyard pool. More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus10 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market10 hours agoVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:05Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:05 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHow to pick an up and coming suburb02:06 Mr Smith said having a swimming pool with Climate Care certification provided homeowners with the knowledge that their investment would provide their family with years of enjoyment and at the same time deliver independently verified water and energy savings.SPASA Australia CEO Spiros Dassakis said the Climate Care Certified Plunge Pool by Brisbane Prestige Plunge Pools was a significant step for the pool and spa industry as well as consumers.“Many retailers and technicians know that sustainability sells,” Mr Dassakis said.“Builders, retailers and technicians are now gaining a better understanding of who their customers are insofar as the environment and costs associated with their pool and/or spa.“Consumers, now more than ever, are seeking assurance that the products they buy are sustainable and responsibly made.” Hinterland motel for salelast_img read more