Marty Dickenson

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am the Chief Operating Officer for Spokane Teachers Credit Union. STCU is a 4 Billion dollar credit union and it operates 35 different locations in three different states. We are in the process right now to grow it into an 8 Billion dollar company in five years.

What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?

I have a daily routine I like to stick to because right now I have 380 people that report through my division, 5 direct reports (vice presidents), and just so many projects and moving pieces that are always in play. My routine begins the day before; where before I leave I put together an electronic folder that has everything, from emails to project lists etc, and then I always try to reach out to at least three people that are not in my direct line (people that I wouldn’t interact with on a day to day basis).

What is your morning routine and how does it help you get the most out of your day?

I get up at 5:25am, go to a bar or yoga class three days a week, and then I am home until around 7:00am where I get ready then head to work. From 8:00am to 8:30am I dont schedule any meetings so I can review my folder from the day before to get my day organized. By 8:30am I usually lose control of my day and just roll with whatever is on my calendar. Then I block out the time from 4:00pm to 5:00pm so that I can work on responding to any email from the past 24 hours and prepare for the next day.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

For me it has been getting off of an airplane. I commuted to Portland every week for four years. I would fly to and stay in Portland on Monday and Tuesday night, come home Wednesday and Thursday to see the kids and family but still working, and then back to Portland on Friday for the day. For Covid I haven’t had to travel near as much so it has been very nice to have more time at home.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

I check out. If I am having one of those days where I am not firing on all cylinders, I’ll set it all down and go for a walk or a drive or whatever, and give myself 30 minutes to reset and come back to it. It tends to help me to take little breaks.

What is one piece of software or a web service that you get immense value out of? How do you use it?

When you get to a chief marketing level, you don’t do the day to day work like number crunching or analytic based work yourself. I tend to do more things like working with a third party company that will evaluate my marketing teams work in each of their separate divisions. Then they recommend certain actions that allow me to strategize and make decisions to move forward with.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

It’s called Leading from the Middle, and the author is Bill Robinson. Bill was the president of Whitworth University for a while, and the concept is that if you lead from the middle and empower the people around you to make decisions, lift them up to do the leading, and you stay in the middle of that rather than lead from the top down, it is a great way to direct a team. Bill is a wonderful man and has been a mentor to me for a long time.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Advice I give all the time to recent college graduates is that you are never above the job. What I mean by that is sometimes you just need to get in the door and do the grind of whatever the job is. That can be any grunt job, but if you can learn it and take as much as you can out of it, then you set yourself up in a good position in order to advance in the company. This allows you to see a different side of things that allows you to think differently than you would otherwise be able to.

Advice not to listen to.. I don’t know if it’s necessarily advice, but it’s the stigma that if you have a degree you are entitled to make a certain type of money or have a certain job. I usually gravitate to hiring people who are ernest and who want to prove their worth through their work effort. For me it is about attitude and aptitude, rather than what is necessarily on your resume.
Also as a female, often in male dominated industries and usually one of the only women around the table, I just don’t buy into that bullcrap that as a woman you have to be quiet and conform to fit in. You need to be yourself and have authenticity and be willing to just go and grind. You read all these books and they say to be yourself and have aptitude and demonstrate a good work ethic and that is the truth.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

“You can be the smartest person in the room and the stupidest one at the same time.” I teach a class about this at Whitworth in their business program. You can really be a super smart, wizbang finance person, but if you don’t know your audience and are too stupid to look around and realize what you are saying, ‘no one is listening’, then you really are the fool.

Another one I say is “don’t borrow trouble”. Stay focused, control what you can control at the moment, and don’t try to control what you can’t at the moment.