Sauntering on a Digital Journey Does Not Work

In New Orleans where I grew up, sauntering is a necessity. Laissez-Faire is the lifestyle, and all that good gumbo of creativity flourishes in that slower pace. Also, a slow pace helps deal with the sweltering, sub-tropical environs. In drier and cooler Utah, where TAB Bank is located, I can afford to pick up the pace because, as they say, life is elevated there. The digital journey that TAB has undertaken needs that elevated vibe and a different pace.

Mile Marker 76 of xx?

I am not sure exactly how far along we are on our digital journey because we haven’t yet clearly defined our destination. Google Maps is of limited use if you don’t have a specific endpoint. Our team has described the place, we have drawn process maps and we have declared the customer as the inhabitant of this mythical land. We are excited to have found a passion, but these things alone aren’t getting us there. We are moving forward, but lacking aim. As a result, we are lacking focus, and this leads to a lack of a specificity of purpose. That’s a lot lacking…

We are a couple of years into our journey and have found ourselves pausing to do some discovery. We have ideas and passion but haven’t fully defined our customer personas. We have customers, but we haven’t yet discovered why they are loyal. We haven’t dug deep enough to understand what jobs we solve for them, nor what jobs they may need us to do. We have high Csat and NPS scores but can only speculate as to why.

Paper, Paper Everywhere

We should have done this customer-journey work first, but we were unsure of ourselves. In our particular bank, we had been doing things the same way for almost twenty years. We have always been an internet-based bank without branches, but we weren’t digital. We still had lots of paper and fillable pdf’s. We had people printing documents, marking them up and scanning them back in. It was discouraging.

We also needed confidence that we could change. Our objectives were big, but we weren’t yet polished at change-management. We first needed some wins. We needed to get to the first few mile markers and celebrate. We needed to get to the top of the first ridge so that we could scan the horizon for the next leg of the journey. So, we began.

Data is King – The Influencers Told Me So

We studied, we traveled, we endured countless webex pitches. We are told we needed data-platforms, warehouses, lakes, and data-at-speed. We had found our first mission. After fifteen months of work, we were producing a steady clip of ETL jobs and big beautiful data.

Meanwhile, we are hearing whispers of APIs – oh sweet APIs. Yep, data and APIs. That’s all we need. If you are a fan of Steve Martin and the movie “The Jerk,” you can rightly picture us walking down the street in a pink bathrobe clutching a chair and a lamp mumbling to ourselves about data and APIs. We were drunk with possibilities.

Well, we have our data now, and we have our API stack. And, we have had our share of wins. Our digital loan-approval and onboarding have dropped turn-times from weeks to hours. We have completed numerous projects automating and streamlined many functions. Our assets are growing, our income is soaring, and our expenses are dropping.

And yet, we are still unfocused.

We are winning, but we have only traveled a small way on our journey. A lot of our wins have been incremental. We are improving a lot of our existing processes. Now it is time for some big lift. Now we are aiming our sights on a big sexy future-state. We are erasing all of the whiteboards and clearing out the post-it notes to start from scratch.

It is time to define clearly our purpose and draw that map.

Picking a Canvas

I learned something about creativity recently. If you give a novice a good set of paints and a big raw wall as a canvas, chances are, they are going to paint a large mess of something. It would be hard for them to paint at that type of scale without training and experience. On the other hand, if you give them a 6 inch by 6-inch canvas, in most cases they will compose something recognizable, with style and decent composition. We realized that we first have to narrow our canvas.

Our canvas is going to be our customer “jobs.” We are embracing the JTBD world and are becoming detectives. We need to discover the details and emotional underpinnings of our beloved customer. While we think we understand why our customer chooses us, we are pretty far off-base. We need to bring the canvas down to size by creating human personas instead of customer cohorts. If we aren’t designing our new services to particular customer needs, then we are simply redesigning our current product-focused infrastructure. That won’t do.

The secret to the mystery seems beyond surveys and focus groups. No matter how hard you try, those methods are rife with bias. It can’t be helped. People respond in ways that they think they should. What we need are conversation-detectives. We have hired a partner to head out into the www to listen in to what people are saying about TAB, banking, and their JTBD.

Targeting Delight

We don’t yet know what our customer needs to make their financial life better, but we will do our best to explore this, with their help. There are some things that we already know – TAB has been serving anxious “mobile” customers for all of our 20-year existence. And when I say mobile, I mean it literally.

We have long served truck drivers, hard-working people who have conducted their banking miles away from home. We understand this space. Our customers are not wealthy (at least I don’t consider our competition to be wealth-managers). We have also learned from the influencer tribe that money drives emotion, and those emotions are frequently negative. As an example, our customers often need to get an advance on a delivered load so they can pay for fuel to pick up the next load. We have been doing these advances many times each day for years. We are here to relieve that anxiety.

We are good at what we do, but FinTech will make services like ours more ubiquitous. A driver has many more options to access funding today than when we started twenty years ago, and the future will only expand that. While we provide added value today (it’s in our DNA), our ability to do so will soon become obsolete. Financial services are already as mobile as our customers. So, what do we do next? How do we react?

Service. While we call the things that we deliver products, at their heart, they are services. We have always been in the service business. Our money is just green paper (or coins, or bits). Customers have always looked to us for safety and reliability. “Keep my money safe, lend me money with certainty and be a trusted advisor. “

We need to pivot to value-added service using new sets of tools. We will use data and AI and machine learning to customize our approach. We will nudge and guide our customers to better financial health. We will delight them with this new power. We will harness the power of our new-found FinTech partners and design personalized services that delight.

Focusing Comes from the Map

We will settle on a canvas and we will draw a map to a beautiful destination. I’m not sure if our target destination will be in the mountains or beachside because it’s not TAB’s destination, it’s our customer’s. We need to discover this endpoint in order to firmly set a flag marking the spot. We need that beacon to focus our efforts. We need that beacon to firmly cement our purpose as an organization.

Once we get this purpose-driven roadmap, our passion will go from broad-spectrum to laser-focus. Our engagement will be driven by a common purpose. There are a lot of other players out in the fields and forests, all trying to find a path to the customer. Some intend to delight, others expect to squeeze the customer for profit. We see them, but we won’t follow. Our path will be unique, and with that comes value – for our customer and for us.




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My Family’s Testimony

February 27, 2020

Dear Chair Maloney, Chair Raskin, Ranking Member Jordan, and Ranking Member Roy:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit my testimony to the Committee for the hearing on The Administration’s Religious Liberty Assault on LGBT Rights. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story, and to share why Congress must act to end discrimination in foster care and adoption, by passing Congressman John Lewis’ bipartisan Every Child Deserves a Family Act, HR 3114. I am submitting my testimony via Family Equality, an organization representing LGBTQ families and LGBTQ people wishing to form families.

My husband and I were the second gay couple to adopt through the foster care program in the State of Utah, welcoming our children into our home as foster parents in May 2015 and completing the adoption process in November 2015. Our experience with the Utah Foster Care Foundation and the Utah Department of Child and Family Services exceeded our expectations. We were encouraged throughout the process and felt welcomed and respected. I am writing today to support the positive impact that adding LBGTQ families into the pool can have for the children.

Simply put, love and security are the foundation for healthy outcomes for the children. These attributes are not “owned” solely by religious or heterosexual individuals. The best interests of the children should always be forefront and I believe that our story of success offers an example of the power of family, no matter the gender makeup or religiosity.

After reviewing the kids’ files, who were 4 and 2 years old at the time, we got a sense of physical abuse and a lot of neglect up to this point. The children had been homeless with their birth-mom for a period, couch-surfing and living in transitional housing. 

Today, our kids are 8 & 6 and are as happy and stable as any of their peers. Our daughter has pivoted from an aggressive personality to one of the most caring and empathetic kids around. Our son, who was feared to have developmental issues has just been recommended for an advanced-learning magnet school. He is in kindergarten and reading at a second-grade level. He is funny, bright and loving.

In sum, if you remove couples like us from the potential pool of families, you are lowering the chances of positive outcomes for the children. Discrimination of this kind certainly hurts us by denying our rights, but more importantly, it harms the children. The positive story of our family is just one of many. The most important consideration should be improving the chances of success for all of the children.

This is a social issue of great magnitude. In 2017, nearly 20,000 young people “aged out” of foster care across the country – placing them at higher risk of involvement with the criminal justice system, homelessness, unemployment, and being trafficked.  Adoption and parenting should focus on creating safe, stable, loving forever homes for kids. All child welfare decisions should be made in the best interests of the child, not based on the religious beliefs of child services agencies or workers.

LGBTQ people are more likely to adopt older children and children with disabilities – children who have the most difficulty finding forever homes. “License to discriminate” laws allow child services agencies to refuse to place LGBTQ youth – who are overrepresented in the foster care system – with affirming and accepting parents. These laws also mean that a worker could place an LGBTQ youth with a family that intends to place them in harmful conversion therapy. 19% of foster youth identify as LGBTQ and report twice the rate of poor treatment while in care, as well as greater rates of placement in group homes, multiple placements, hospitalization for emotional reasons, involvement in the criminal justice system, and homelessness.

Children of color are overrepresented in the foster care system, constituting over half of children in care. States are required to recruit a pool of foster and adoptive parents that mirrors the population of kids in care. More than a third of same-sex couples raising children are people of color. Marginalized youth in the child welfare system, including those who are LGBTQ, Indian or Alaska Native, and youth of color, deserve culturally competent, safe, and supportive care.

I Tripped While Admiring the Horizon

I don’t like stumps, rocks or snakes – I actually hate snakes…

One of the great things for me about living in Utah is exploring the unbelievable amount of trails. The sensory-satisfaction that occurs is amazing. Personally, I like to run on the trails and challenge myself to see how far, fast and high I can go.20180923_100250

One piece of advice given to me recently was to be sure to look up from the trail frequently to take in the view. My problem is actually the opposite. I am always scanning the horizon. I love coming across a view that stops me dead in my tracks.

This also sums me when approaching our FI’s digital transformation. I am obsessed with what we can be, where we can go and how mightily we can delight our customers. Seems like it makes sense since I am paid to lead our FI’s strategy and execution. Oh yeah, execution…

I am a daydreamer. Sometimes when I settle into a great cadence on a trail, I get incredible clarity. I can see that digital omega – the place we are going with vivid detail and imagery. My brain synthesizes all of the learnings from this great tribe of influencers into a symphony of complex clarity.                       Caution Will Robinson.

First come the stumps

It is important to keep your eye on the path. A couple of weeks ago, on a descent, a buddy was gaining on me from behind. In the split second that I glanced behind to see how close, I caught a stump and performed a Pee-Wee Herman dance back to stability, almost careening off the path.20180923_091344

It happened so fast. These things do.

We recently launched a new security upgrade to enhance our screening for fraud. Before midnight, our system began duplicating ACH files, then summarily rejecting them all as duplicates. I detest security upgrades. They aren’t sexy. They don’t delight customers. BUT, they do keep us away from stumps. You actually do not make it very far on your journey if you aren’t watching for stumps. You never get to that perfect vantage point. You miss that view at the end if you forget to look.


Oh, did I mention the snakes?

My friend also gave me this advice – you really should be looking up and down at the same time, because if you stop looking down, you may miss another one of Utah’s gifts…

dry animal gift dangerous
Photo by Pixabay on

Did I mention that I don’t like snakes? Even thinking about them possibly being on my trail can really take me out of the moment. This important moment! The exact reason I am up here is to experience these moments, not to have images of snakes in my head. How dare that imaginary snake rob me of this!

Perspiration, Inspiration, Ideation

I just want to run and lose myself, swimming in my endorphins, looking at the incredible vistas and visualizing successes. I cannot do that. You can’t get to the summit without perspiration. My team needs to see me sweat. They need to know I’ll roll up my sleeves. After all, the views aren’t just for me. Pictures are nice, but nothing beats getting there together and sharing the view.

Can we talk about the need for self-awareness? This journey is a delicate balance of skills. There are times to sprint, times we must dodge obstacles, times we jump, and finally, times when we must stop dead in our tracks and take everything in. (This is when I snap some pics)

Self-awareness. Mindfulness. Call it what you will, but we have to understand a lot here.  I know that I am probably not going to jump over large rocks after two hip replacements. I am not used to this altitude, having grown up in swampy New Orleans. My lungs constantly remind me of this. I know my limitations. I wear my scars as battle emblems.

The path forward isn’t just about the surroundings either. I carry a lot of obstacles in my head. People seem to love to tell me about all of the snake-sightings on these trails, but I can’t dwell on that if I want to reach the summit. I need to overcome my fears. I need to look up and down (and inside and outside), all at the same time.

Context is Everything

The history of an organization is a wonderful thing, in that it allows us to learn from experiences, giving context as to how we arrived where we are. We have taken a winding path of switchbacks, steep ups-and-downs and even tumbles to get to this wonderful place of success. We have scars. We need to look around and know that we are a sum of all of the parts of the journey so far, but we are also the beneficiary of the current view of success.

The path forward can only begin from the place where we are.

We have arrived through a collective journey. Very few of the tribe that set out on this journey are still on the team. Nevertheless, we arrived here because of all of them, and because of all of us. Hypothetically, if you were to replace our entire staff, the new tribe is still required to start from this very spot, but without the benefit of context, learnings and our passion. This new tribe only has the raw materials we left behind. They don’t even have a path. They certainly don’t see our vistas.20180923_093247

I’ll take this path, replete with the rocks, stumps and yes, even the snakes and build from this very spot. I will do so knowing that I have to exercise all of my senses, clinging to the history of the path while looking ahead, and down and around. I will break a sweat. I will pause. I will dodge. I will stop to rest. But just you wait… you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Innovation – For the Sake of Our Customer

“At the end of the day, innovation needs to be about improving the quality of life, making things better, and solving real problems. Focus on the real change that will bring benefits to your customers and help them thrive, instead of paying lip service.” Jim Marous.

At TAB we are committed to blazing a new path based upon innovative thinking. This path will require us to let go of our old ways of thinking and embrace trying new things – over and over again until we find the answers. Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Money tree

You don’t need a fancy title or a silicon valley-esque workspace to be innovative.

To create and sustain change, you need people with the heart and passion to make a difference and challenge the status quo. That’s what we have at TAB and why we excel. We are willing to fight the good fight to bring the best solutions for our customers. That hunger is what drives innovation and progress.

So go ahead, roll up your sleeves and remember who you are serving. Inspire, lead, and dare to dream.

My Clumsy Start

Thanks for joining me!

I am the only me. And I’m right here, right now. My blog is the place to coalesce a few of my passions.

Context is Everything

I am not sure that my writings will be much original content because one of my passions is a permanent quest for learning (Now you get the site title). I am the one-and-only Curt Queyrouze, but I am still an accumulation of all that I absorb. In that vein, context is everything. I love to learn and I love to share my take on what I learn. If you ever see me talking to myself, I am probably trying it on for size. Frequently, things make perfect sense to me until I try to turn around and explain that the very same thing. Therein lies the reason for this blog site.

Most of the writings on my blog will focus on my passions – the digital transformation of financial services, my family and diversity and inclusion. One day, my kids may read some of this and they will know me a little better – allegedly. My 23-year-old asked me, just a few years ago, “I know you are in banking or something, but what is it you actually do?’  Context = her mom and I divorced when she was one.

A Comfortable Introvert

Many people are surprised when I tell them I am an introvert. I get why that may be confusing because I can easily stand in front of a room of people and speak. I am comfortable at that moment, but not afterward when I have to mingle with the crowd. Long interactions can be very draining. I don’t like talking on the phone. But, I do like being around people – just as long as I have an escape route.

That’s It

I don’t really like talking about myself so I will exercise my prerogative to end this post here and get on with writing about other things. You have enough context now. At least you have some context.



For me context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything. Kenneth Noland

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