Pub. 2 2021 Issue 6 10 In Touch T wo years ago, I approached Chris Kelley (Barret’s Executive Director) with an idea for a book I wanted to write. My idea was a book on strategy for community banks based on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Graciously, he didn’t laugh me out of the office. As most crazy ideas do, it was shelved, but morphed into a podcast series we ran on Main Street Banking occasionally, and, honestly, it received numbers comparable to some of our other content. Initially, it started with these deeply rooted analogies in superhero and Star Wars lore, comparing bankers to Batman and Luke Skywalker coming in to save the day. However, I realized I missed the point of a superhero and what I missed is not best illustrated by Batman, the Jedi, or Xavier’s Gifted Youngsters. It is illustrated by a Guy Clark song called “The Cape.” Yes, it has a superhero theme, but it is not the tale of Jedis with lightsabers or aliens that look like us defending our way of life. It is the tale of a regular little boy obsessed with jumping off his garage, and throughout his life, he is singularly focused on whatever goal he has in front of him. He ignores what would be considered common sense. He ignores the jeers of those around him. He just trusts his cape (which is really a towel his mother ties around his neck). The best lines in the song are “He did not know he could not fly. So he did.” And “spread your arms, hold your breath, and always trust your cape.” And that is what a superhero community banker is. At the moment, they may not know the answer, but they “trust their cape.” They believe they can fly. In a sense, all of the content around The Art of War is really the next step after the banker ties the towel around their neck and climbs up on the garage. The strategy part is figuring out how to fly. Once you’ve made the decision to be different, climb up on the garage. They are singularly focused on their bank, their team, and their community. It’s easy to do what other bankers in your community do. You may even win a few loan deals away from your competition if you bid the rate down low enough. However, we’ve been taught (or we have taught ourselves) that we can’t fly, that we can’t make a difference, that we can’t change the world one community at a Community Bankers Association of Kansas is there for you and your local community. Getting involved with their advocacy initiatives and their educational programming has the double benefit of growing your skillset and building a community of support for you. What is a Superhero Community Banker? BY BYRON EARNHEART, BARRET SCHOOL OF BANKING E n d o r s e d P a r t n e r