Episode 25: Neil Stevens
Banking on Community: Leading Life on Life with Neil Stevens
In this episode, we dive into the world of community banking with Neil Stevens, the President and CEO of Oconee State Bank. Neil shares his insights on innovative community banking and discusses his new book, "Leading Life on Life." Discover how Oconee State Bank has set itself apart by creating a remarkable studio inside one of its offices, redefining how they connect with their community and prospects.
Learn how Neil and his team are reshaping the concept of leadership, focusing on love, equipping, affirming, and developing others. Whether you're a seasoned banker or a new associate, this episode provides valuable takeaways on tailoring leadership, building trust, and fostering a culture of intentionality within your organization. Join us for this inspiring conversation with a thought leader in the world of community banking and leadership development. Don't miss out on the innovative ideas and strategies shared by Neil Stevens in this episode of Jack Rants with Modern Bankers.
Jack Hubbard 00:01
I've had the privilege of being in and around banking for more than 50 years. Lots of changes during that time. We've gone from Ledger's to laptops, typewriters to technology. One thing, however, remains the same. Banking is a people business. And I'll be talking with those people that make banking great here on Jack Rants With Modern bankers.
Welcome to Jack Rants With Modern Bankers brought to you by RelPro, and Vertical IQ. Each week I feature top voices in financial services from bankers and consultants, to best selling authors and many more. The goal of this program is simple, to provide insights, success practices and to bring new ideas to the table that you can use to maximize your results.
My guest today is a great longtime industry friend. He's Neil Stevens, President and CEO of Oconee State Bank. Oconee is a $550 million Community Bank in Georgia with six locations. Neil is a graduate of Mercer University, and has served in various positions at regional and community banks for more than 30 years. Neil is a great innovative community banker. He's also written a new book, “Leading life on life.” One of the great innovations that Oconee State Bank has done is develop a studio inside one of their offices, and you're going to hear about that on this program. It's Neil Stevens, on Jack Rants with Modern Bankers. Here we go!
Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, this is quite a special interview. I've known Neil Stevens for 25 years. And what a great banker he is, and what a great leader and CEO he is. And that's what we're going to talk about today is his brand new book. But Neil, as I mentioned to you, I always like to start out with, tell me something good. So tell me something good, Neil.
Neil Stevens 02:00
Tell you something good. Well, the Georgia Bulldogs are 4-0. That's good. I know Jack Hubbard, and I'm going to return that compliment. You have been an inspiration to so many people, including myself, and just a master at teaching and coaching on sales. And I still have notes from years past, at other banks that I've worked for, that you've been there and just your principles over the years have just been meaningful to me. So thank you for allowing me to be part of this.
Jack Hubbard 02:40
Well, appreciate it. As I mentioned in the introduction, Neil’s son, Caleb, does a lot of work on the podcasting of South State Bank correspondent division and so that apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. And so well, Neil, I want to get started, I want to talk about being essential, because that's part of your mission statement and your values. The whole concept of a county state bank is to be essential in the lives and businesses and communities that you serve. I'm just fascinated by the word essential. Neil, how did you come up with that? And how do you live it every day?
Neil Stevens 03:23
Well, I tell you, we thought a lot about this. And the way that came about is we started thinking, What is something in our lives that we can't, we feel like life would not be the same if we didn't have X. For instance, for me, my life would not be the same. If I didn't have my cup of coffee in the morning. I think many people would argue that life would not be the same without Apple computers, without the iPhone, etc. And we thought, man, wouldn't it be cool if people would say life wouldn't be the same? If we didn't have Oconee State Bank in our life. And so we started thinking about that. And we thought, well, that that's really the word we're describing there as being essential, being something that's absolutely necessary for our customers. And that's how that word came about is that we want to be that to those individuals, so that if we were not here then we would be something in their life that would be, you know, desperately missed. So that's how that came about.
Jack Hubbard 04:40
It's outstanding. And I know that through your leadership, you live that every day. And there's another thing that you live every day. You started the bank in 1960. So you've been around for, you know, 63 years, which is a very, very nice run, but in 2020, and it's an interesting year to start this you start something called the remarkable foundation. Talk about that and why this all came about?
Neil Stevens 05:06
Yeah, so we had a heart to give back to the community, we've always had a heart to give back to the community but we had a heart to start this foundation, because we wanted to be very strategic on how we give our money, and we wanted to bring in more of our team members into those decisions. And so we're constantly getting, you know, requests as all bankers, do, you know, can you sponsor this $200 Little League deal? Can you sponsor the hospital golf tournament, whatever it may be but we thought, let's be more strategic in that, and let's create a foundation. And so we've done that in 2020.
So we put together an employee board, in fact, JT Tomlin, who helped us produce our podcast, which I know we'll talk about later on, is on that board. But we allow them to make decisions and vet the nonprofits. And basically, that's what we do is in the communities that we serve, we're in five different communities. And we allow the bankers and those communities and our employee board to make decisions on who we give back to in those communities. And we have 60%, a little over 60% of our team members contribute to the foundation through payroll deduction, which I'm not really that familiar with what other foundations do, but what I hear is, that's pretty remarkable. It's pretty unheard of that that large of employee base actually gives back to the foundation.
So it's been good for us. It's small today. But we're beginning to put more focus on it about last month, I guess, a month or so ago, we actually did an official launch due to COVID. And all that, you know, it was just difficult to get it last, but we did want to start it in our 60th year in business. But last month, we had an official launch and is getting more and more traction.
Jack Hubbard 07:04
Well, those are the kinds of things that are really the essence of community banking, and you really do it well. And I got to believe as part of the foundation and maybe outside of it. Your bankers are very involved in community activities. Talk about that a little bit.
Neil Stevens 07:20
Yeah, we have a heartbeat for the community, and particularly in young people today. They want to be involved not just with a company, but they want to be involved with a company that has a purpose beyond just profitability, we all know profitability is as you know, using the word essential, it is essential. It's critical to our livelihood but what is the why beyond just the profit? What are we trying to do, and we use profit, as the fuel to really fuel our vision and mission and a big part of that vision and mission is giving back to the community.
So many of our team members serve on boards. You know, we all give financially, we give our resources, our time, our energy. Just yesterday, we were involved in a big charity golf tournament where a number of our people served by driving drink carts and setting up booths and tables and things of that nature so yeah, it's a big deal, because it really speaks to the purpose beyond profit.
Jack Hubbard 08:24
That's just outstanding. And you've mentioned the word remarkable a couple of times, and you do remarkable things, you do things differently than anybody else. I mentioned you and you were kind enough to send me a few slides about what we're about to talk about, which is your remarkable studio. I don't know if any other community bank in the United States has actually done this. So Neil is actually speaking from the studio, inside one of his offices in the attic of one of his offices. And you went about and you remodel this whole thing, Neil, and you've created a remarkable studio. Talk about that story and how you use the remarkable studio.
Neil Stevens 09:07
Well, the idea actually came to give him credit for my son, Caleb. He said dad, you should think about starting a podcast. He said, I think it would be a great way to prospect he said I think it would be a great way to get your name out there in the community because of social media and the popularity of podcast today and so many podcast listeners who are always looking for good podcast and so JT Tomlin happened to be working with us and sort of mentioned that to JT. He took the idea begin to run with it. He's very technical, and we had a team of people who got involved with it. And so JT, actually, for a very low dollar helped build out this little studio space, it looks probably a lot nicer and all that it actually cost. It's a pretty inexpensive video, but it's worked well for us. And what we want to do is make our customer and our prospects the Hero with the story.
So what we do, we call this podcast Make Your Remarkable so we don't even mention Oconee State Bank, when we have these podcasts. I mean, everybody knows that it's hosted by Oconee State Bank, but we don't talk about ourselves, we want to talk about the guests that we have on the show, and highlight them and let them do the talking. And then we take it and blast it as best we can to all social media outlets that they want us to and our own social media outlets to bring them attention in the spotlight. And we think by doing that, if we do it authentically, and in a real way that it will pay dividends back to us over time. And it's a sales call, I mean, how many times have you tried to get in the door of someone and you can't make that initial call but if you call and say, “Hey, Jack, I love you to be on my podcast, I want to highlight your company. And we're going to broadcast this out to you know, our social media outlets and give you a copy of it, etc, etc…”
Typically, the executives of that country accompany it gets their attention. And they will agree to be a part of and we don't hound them afterwards or anything like that. But I gotta believe they may sit and think well, I [inaudible] hasn't invited me to be on a podcast or done anything like this. So we're trying to think differently, which found to be thought leaders, and not just market leaders, but thought leaders. And so that's sort of how that came about. So I guess I have to give Caleb the initial credit for that.
Jack Hubbard 11:46
So understand, folks, that Oconee State Bank is a community bank, several offices, and they have taken it upon themselves to do the kinds of innovative things that a bank can and very likely should be doing. Now. If you think the remarkable studio is the end of that story. You got another thing coming. So Neil sends me and by the way, the inscription, Neil again, is just, brings tears to my eyes, but on the book Leading on Life. So imagine this, your CEO says, I'm writing a book. Now it's not a huge book. And it's a very practical book. And I want to dive into this thing. But first, Neil, I gotta ask you, how did the idea come to you to write this book and walk us through this process.
Neil Stevens 12:39
Well, I have always had a heart to pour into leaders and to help develop leaders. That's just all because I had that happen. That was a big part of my success in my career, is having leaders that poured into me, and in a way that was intentional. And I still have two or three very strong mentors in my life that I still call and have breakfast or lunch with on a regular basis. It's still pour into me, and I'm 57 years old and have been in this business now for 34 years. And so as I started thinking about that, I wanted to train our team in a consistent manner, or at least develop our leaders, I should say, in a consistent manner across our bank, and I wanted to make it specific to the bank.
I looked this up, there are 3.6 million leadership books. So I suppose with this one that makes 3,600,001. And so you ask the question, why, why under the leadership book, and really, the main purpose of it is to train our team, and we're taking our team through this now. And, so the, you know, we got the four principles that are in the book. But Jack, the main thing that we're hoping to accomplish with it is to bring connection within our team. I mean, the principles in the book is, they're very practical, they're sort of timeless principles, that you're not going to read anything in there that's earth shattering or Nobel Prize worthy or anything like that. But as we go through this, as an executive team, and as a leadership team in the bank, we split our teams up into small groups.
My hope and prayer is that we develop leaders through the principal will certainly, but through the connection that they make with each other, and the bond that they form, and we're and I believe connection is the key to engagement. And when you get a strong engagement, there's a lot of power behind that. Companies can go a long way when they're fully engaged.
Jack Hubbard 14:52
And you mentioned sales earlier. And of course, you and I are both salespeople, always have been always will be so you talk about internally and how you're using the book. I'm curious if your folks are leaving this as a leave behind on business development calls, I gotta believe they are?
Neil Stevens 15:11
Well, it's interesting, you should say that because just two days ago, one of our market presidents, one of our community presidents, that runs a market, called my system and said, I want to get a stack of these books, so that I can take them and leave them behind all sales calls. So that is just, it's interesting, you should say that because one of our team members, are our market leaders, is doing that. And I just said, Well, let let the bank make the donation to our foundation. And that's what we're doing with this. We're not selling the books, we're, you know, externally, we're giving them to people who make a $25 donation. But in this case, the bank is gonna make a $25 donation to the foundation then send this market president as many books as he wants. And if that helps him get more sales. I mean, that is fantastic. And when I heard that, I'm like, I hadn't thought of it in that light quite yet. But I'm like, That's a, that's a great idea, and a really good lead behind.
Jack Hubbard 16:14
Well, you think about it, so many bankers go out on sales calls, and what do they leave behind the annual report? That's fine, or some kind of collateral that people throw away? Why not leave them something that's going to have an impact on their lives. And this book certainly does. So I opened the book. And of course, as you would expect, I've written a lot of notes and underlined a lot of stuff. I gotta read this quote, because the book starts off in the very first paragraph. Now remember, this book is about leadership. But in the very first paragraph or reach of the sentence that Neil wrote, followership is not bestowed by a job title. It is earned by the person you are and the actions you take every day, your character, and consistency. Those are absolutely brilliant words, talk about leadership and followership and compare and contrast a little bit.
Neil Stevens 17:14
Yeah, so obviously, you don't have a leader unless you have a follower. In the sense of the word of managing people, I thought, well, even if you're not managing people, there are leaders who don't even manage anyone who have followers. But you want to be a leader worth following. I think so many times in corporate America, people follow a leader, not because of their necessarily worth following or not because they're inspiring, not because they're intentionally investing into their team is because of the title, they carry the title of vice president of marketing, or, you know, CEO, or Chief Lending Officer or whatever they may be named the title, and they're the boss. And so, of course, people are going to do what they say in order to protect their job and things of that nature. But the followership we're talking about in this book, is to create the type that a team member desires and wants to follow, because they're following a leader that's worth following that they look up to that they look up to their character, their competency, the way they invest in people, things of that nature. And that's really the premise of the entire book. That's why it's called Leading Life on Life. It's about intentional investment in the lives of others.
Jack Hubbard 18:46
And you've come up with an acronym called lead, and I want to get to that, but in the book, you talk about two real key traits of leadership that really stand out for you, Neil, what are those and why are they so important?
Neil Stevens 19:02
Yeah. So over the years, I've observed that great leaders have two common characteristics. There's many of them, I'm sure if we sat and thought about it, but two that really stand out to me is one, great leaders tailor their leadership to the individual, they're very intentional. So they don't manage Jack the same way they manage Joe, because Jack's, you know, it's like sales, right? I mean, it's like when you go into a situation, I mean, a CFO may be different than another CFO, and you got to figure out, you know, how to. So I think that is the one key that I've seen great leaders do, they don't blanket their leadership. They tailor it in order to be very specific to the team member.
The second thing that I've noticed is every great leader has a trustworthy operating system. They have a trustworthy process by which and the way they lead and how they lead is based on that process. And so that's the L EA D, that's those are the four principles is the process there. And, and the first that I mentioned as it relates to tailoring your leadership, that's the life on life part. That's the intentionality. And that's combined with that process. Those four acronym, but every great leader, I think, has those two common characteristics.
Jack Hubbard 20:34
Well, it's interesting, you bring this up, because we're just talking at our banking school here today, about when you hire someone, you really need to understand them as a total person. And I come to work for a very different reason than for other people. And when you talk about life on life, it's really if you think about it, life in life, because I have a life as a banker, I have a life as a father, and a grandfather, etc. And those really are very, very intertwined. And when you talk about trustworthy, Neil, and I'd love to have you come in on both of these. When you talk about trustworthy, the word congruence comes up to me, life is all about, say, Do I could say anything to you that I want. But if I say it, and then I do it, I'm a congruent individual, which builds trust with me as a leader. And now I'm willing to follow you. I'm curious, your comments on those.
Neil Stevens 21:32
I cannot agree more, I'd put a big old stamp of approval on both of those comments. I mean, I think that's what I'm getting at, too. When we talk about creating followership people follow, you're not going to follow someone you don't trust, you may do what they say to do, because they're the boss, and you want to keep your job, but you're not truly following them, unless you trust them. And I think trust is something you're right, but it's earned over time. But it's not just saying, you know, it's not just telling or saying it's putting it in action and backing up what you do with a level of authenticity. And look, I'm far from perfect. We all are, we all make mistakes, we all fail. I think any leader who doesn't admit that, I mean, they're living in a bubble or, you know, or they have a big ego or something. You know, we all make mistakes, we all fail. But I think that’s part of being trustworthy is admitting that, you know, we fail to, you know, as a leader, I make mistakes every day. But I couldn't, I couldn't agree with you more. I think building trust is massive as it relates to creating followership.
Jack Hubbard 22:56
So building trust, I get it, but help me be more specific. And you are, because you put together the L E A D process, love, equip, affirm, and develop. That's what lead is. I'd love it too. And we can't go through every one because you don't have the time. But talk about each one of these as it relates to Life on Life.
Neil Stevens 23:23
Yeah, I'll hit them all at a very high level. So love, let's take the first and all this has to you know, centered around. Like I said, life on life. It's intentionality. It's one on one time, but love is loving others, loving your team. And it's a verb, okay? So it's not a feeling, and Oh, get that out of your mind. It's not a feeling it's a verb, it's an action. So in the book, we get into eight everyday action steps, and how you show love and safety is one discerning compensation is one, intentional listening and communication is one. So we get into those. But it's demonstrating love through the way you treat others and in the actions that you take. I think that’s the most important of the majority of the book is devoted to that one because it's so critical.
The second is equip. And I think as a leader, we are charged with equipping our team. Having Jack Hubbard come in, for example, to do sales training for your team is that's part of equipping, it's giving them the tools. It's giving them the resources, it's giving them the confidence in order to prepare them to win, right. So it's more than just giving the tools, it's teaching them how to use the tools, it's situational. How to use those tools in certain situations, is preparing them with the mindset, but it's equipping them to be successful. We get into those things in the book and what that means.
And then the A is affirmation. And of course, we need to be affirming our team when they do things well but when you think about affirmation, it's also creating the environment by which your team will hold themselves and each other accountable. We all have to have results and accountability is important but we want to create an environment where our team owns their actions because we affirm them. I'll give you a great quick example. I was on a sales call with a guy named Lawson Forrester, this has been years and years ago, he was at CNS National Bank back in the 90's when I was there, maybe 92. But we went on a sales call, I was a young Sales Officer, and I flubbed it up. I mean, I was not prepared. I mean, I had not taken the jack Hubbard sales training.
I was driving back and Lawson didn't say a word to me. And I knew he had a high standard. And we got back to the office. And I thought I was gonna get away with this. And Lawson hadn't said a word. And I walked in my office, and he walked in right behind me and closed the door. But here's what he said. He said, Neil, he said, How do you think that went? And I said, I was Lawson, and I didn't do very well. And he said, Well, I would agree with you on that point. And he said, You're good at what you do. He said, You have a lot of talent, Neil and he said, We will not have hired you had you not had the talent.
And he said, I know you can do better. And he said, Tell me some things on this particular call, you could have done better. And I told him, at the end, he said, Tomorrow, we got a sales call at two o'clock. He said, You're gonna be ready for that one? And I said, Yes, sir. I will and it went really well the next day, but Lawson allowed me to own my, you know, my actions and take responsibility for those actions, and hold myself accountable in a way that was affirming. He did not jump all over me and tell me what a bad job I did and beat me down or anything like that. So that's what our formulation really gets into there.
And then finally develop our team. And some say, well, what's the difference in equipping and develop? I would say that equipping is skill building and develop is more people building. So it's career success. It's a blueprint, our team, every one of our team members needs to know that they have a path, you know, for success, if they want my job one day, what does that look like? What do they have to do to get there, and when it's our responsibility to be building that bench strength and to be building that development plan. And so I think that's an important part. So those are the four, love others, equip others, affirm others and develop others. And the last chapter gets into the glue that holds it all together. And that's the connection that a team must have to be successful. So I think that's the operating system that we use here at the bank.
Jack Hubbard 28:13
It's amazing. I'm curious about two audiences. One is the board of directors. And being on the board myself, our bank gets us very engaged in a lot of what's going on in the bank. We’re strategic, not not tactical. So that's one audience. The second audience is I'm a brand new banker, I could be a teller, a personal banker, Branch Manager, this book really has meaning for both of those constituencies. I'm curious how you integrate the book and your process into the board and in brand new employees?
Neil Stevens 28:52
Yeah, it's the same principles. For sure. I think the presentation and the way those principles are communicated differ vastly from those two groups. And I'll try to give an example, the best I can so a board for example, most of those, much like yourself, I mean, they're business owners, they're seasoned professionals in their trade, I probably have, you know, some battle scars, because I've been around the block a time or two, otherwise, I would probably not be asked to be on a bank board. So probably the level of complexity and the situations that those individuals deal with are much, much greater just because of their years of experience and their position and status and things that they are involved with.
And so you may take those principles and tailor those to more specific things that they deal with On a regular basis, whereas a brand new employee coming out of college, I mean, I don't know that they even want to stay in banking. I mean, I may say, I'm going to give this a try. I don't really know what this is all about. And so for them, we just want to model, we just want to help them, you know, see maybe how to treat their customers how to treat the people around them. The way we go about our business every day, the DNA of our organization follows those little four principles, and helps to get them indoctrinated and who we are. So probably for them, there's more specific and more of a basic level on you know, how to implement those things in their life.
So that's probably the best one on how to answer that, we have had a number of companies outside of the bank who have asked for copies of the book they've given to the foundation. And a real close friend of mine, who's done very well financially, is volunteering his time to lead roundtable sessions for some of these companies. And right now, we're doing some test runs with companies, but we're taking companies through this book, in eight sessions. We break these sessions up and love, there's two parts of loving others because there's eight principles, we do four and four and quipping as a session, you know, the end connection is a session, there's an introduction, there's a recap at the end of the book. And so we're gaining some traction there, just because these particular companies, you know, are yearning for a system. And I think they have found this to be beneficial to them. And I'm in no way trying to be a leadership guru or expert. In this. It's just principles that I think have worked for us and things that I've learned from others.
So that's another audience that we're using this book to, you know, to hopefully help it as time goes on. And one more thing quickly as it relates to the internal employee. We are putting our team in groups, where an executive leadership team member facilitates the discussion. There's probably seven or so people in these five to seven people in the small groups. Executive leadership team member leads the discussion, but we're putting individuals in those groups that aren't necessarily all executive level or senior level people. One, we may have a part time person and a group or we may have, you know, a market leader in the same group, along with a personal banker in the same group. And so my hope is that they all learn from each other and that's another beauty of creating connection among the entire entire bank.
Jack Hubbard 33:04
It's so interesting, if I'm a CEO of a bank, or an executive of a bank, I go, Yeah, I like this idea. I like writing books. I think there's so many applications to it but where did you find the time? I'm curious how long it took you Neil, to write the book, and how you were able to find the time to do this with all of the responsibilities you have?
Neil Stevens 33:27
Well, that's a great question that took about two years, probably about four years, if you count the times that I just took copious notes but it took about two years, and I came up with a document it was probably about, I want to say it was nearly 200 pages, I want to say it was like 198 pages of, you know, type written on Word. And I have a friend that goes to my church and I said, he actually has done some ghostwriting for a number of individuals. And I said, will you, take a look at this and tell me what you think. I said, I'm using for training material. And he came back and he said, Neil, he said, This is great stuff. He said that. He said it really is and he said when all this could be said and less than 100 pages. He said, You know, he said we can cut this way down because there's a lot of redundancy and things of that nature.
So we work together, Jack, I would probably tell you for six months, maybe four months, four to six months, calling us down and we had weekly calls and we would talk through it and then have to give Christy Donahue, you credit in our bank and Casey Reese, my assistant they were both Christie is an English major and editing is her strong suit and she spent out I was editing, making sure every comment was right and, and things of that nature of the English language flows from her like, river like a river flowing, you know, it's just unbelievable. Casey is a graphics design major. So she helped with the graphics and then JT Tomlin actually helped create the book cover and ideas surrounding that.
And so all these individuals work countless hours. So I have to give all of them credit, you know, for making this come to fruition? Well, it's my thoughts and ideas and, you know, all put together, number of people helped make this one it is and so therefore, you know, if I had to do all by myself, number one, it would not have been as eloquent wouldn't been as likely stated, the written word, and I'd still be working on page one, because you're right, there was a time commitment.
Jack Hubbard 35:58
It takes a village. And you know, just a couple more questions. You know, I respect you as much as any community bank president I've ever known. And you have a real good sense of this industry being out there and you go to conferences and things like that. Where's the Community Bank headed? Going forward?
Neil Stevens 36:16
Yeah, you know, I get asked that a lot. And I think there's always going to be community banking. I don't think it's ever going away. However, I do believe that it's going to be those community banks who willingly embrace technology, that think futuristically beyond just today, I think those banks that are absolutely relentless on finding top talent that they hire, and not just saying that they do, but I mean, absolutely backing it up with hiring top talent. I think one of the key things that create strong leaders within their organization and grow their leaders in a remarkable way, I mean, I think that's going to be key in the backbone of any organization is leadership, I think those are the ones that will survive.
I think if you're not thinking in that direction, I think at some point in time, a board is going to get frustrated, because they don't see the growth path or the growth potential, and the bank will probably end up, you know, having to sell in order to create the shareholder value they want to create, we're blessed in that we have a very patient board. And you know, and we've got a plan to continue to grow the bank for several years down the road but I feel like what's going to make that happen is our ability to execute.
And it all hinges around getting great talent, and a great culture, with great leadership, not just CEO level, but I mean, throughout the entire organization. And in thinking differently, and being a thought leader, and being willing to embrace change, and, you know, get out of the stalemate, banks historically have been very stale, and terms and slow to adopt new things. And, yes, we've got regulators and we have things we have to be cognizant of as it relates to a risk and things of that nature. But at the same time, we've got to be willing to embrace the future and think back several years. I mean, you know, if 15 years ago, how different if we were still thinking the way we did 15 years ago, I mean, we never would have survived.
And I think the banks that think differently today, the things that we're working on today are things that we hope to implement, two, three years from now, the things that are happening today, we thought about two or three years ago. And so I think it's constantly keeping your eye on the future, and embracing change. But there will still be consolidation. I mean, that's just the nature of the beast, I think that we're in. I mean, I think that will continue and banks will continue to shrink. But those who want to survive, I think, can if they are willing to think differently and be thought leaders and hire the best people they possibly can hire and, and create great leaders in their organization. So that's my take on it.
Jack Hubbard 39:40
Well, Oconee State Bank hired a great leader when they brought you on Neil. And this book is truly outstanding. And I know there are people out there who say I'd love to get a copy of this and you should read it. So what I heard is you want a copy of this book? Make a donation, $25 donation to the remarkable foundation. But the last question then in Neil is, how can people get a hold of you so they can talk to you about the book, Make a donation and, and pick your brain a little bit?
Neil Stevens 40:12
Absolutely. I'd love to talk about it. [email protected] email me. You know, I'll share my number with you. You can share your number with me however we want to connect and, yeah, it. We don't profit from this. It's not a money grab in any respect. It all goes to the foundation. But the hope is that we help, we're able to help others and that's where I get my joy and charge every day is to be able to help others because I've had so many people in my life that have helped me along the way.
Jack Hubbard 41:00
Absolutely. It does take a village. Well, God bless you, Neil Stevens, I appreciate your time and all the best to you and Oconee State Bank and your team and certainly your tremendous family. Thanks for your time, Neil.
Neil Stevens 41:11
Thank you, sir.
Jack Hubbard 41:14
Thanks for listening to this episode of Jack Rats with Modern Bankers with my good friend Neil Stevens. This and every program was brought to you by our friends at RelPro and Vertical IQ. Join us next time for more special guests, bringing you marketing, sales and leadership insights as well as ideas that will provide your bank or credit union that competitive edge you need to succeed. This LinkedIn live shows also podcast subscribe and get the latest Jack Rants with Modern Bankers and don't forget to leave us a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and several others. Visit our website at themodernbanker.com for more information. And don't forget to sign up for our free public library at themodernbanker.com/publiclibrary and as I say at the close of every program, make today and every day, a great client day.