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IAM1773 – CEO Leads a Remarkably Successful Enterprise

Podcast Interview with T.W. Shannon

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews T.W. Shannon, the CEO of Chickasaw Community Bank, a unique bank wholly owned by the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma City. T.W. shares his insights on leadership, entrepreneurship, and the challenges of running a successful enterprise.

Throughout the interview, T.W. emphasizes the importance of treating people fairly and inspiring them to do their absolute best. He also discusses the unique mission and structure of Chickasaw Community Bank, which focuses on serving the needs of the local community and supporting economic development.

T.W. shares his CEO hacks and nuggets, which include staying flexible and being open to new ideas and opportunities. He defines being a CEO as fulfilling the vision of the company and inspiring people to do their best.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into the importance of leadership and community engagement in running a successful enterprise. T.W.'s experience and expertise in the field make this episode a must-listen for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and business leadership.

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Transcription:

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T.W. Shannon Teaser 00:00

Being CEO means that you're the chief executive whose sole purpose is to fulfill the mission of the bank. But to set vision and to hold people accountable to that vision by inspiring them every day to do their absolute best.

Intro 00:18

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs and founders. Without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, You've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:45

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO Podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Or what I like to call the CB Nation architects, those that are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focusing on knowing thy numbers. I could hear the phrases from Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, and if you understand or don't understand exactly what numbers is, think finance, economics, accounting, capital, investment, funding, bootstrapping, anything that's around numbers. We have to understand how important it is to know your numbers and how important that is for you to forecast, make decisions, and to be able to truly strategize around your business and do that successfully.

So things are gonna be a little bit different obviously, this month. So look for CEO hacks and CEO nuggets and interviews that focus around this. But more than everything else, make sure that you know your numbers because they're extremely important to the life of your business.

Gresham Harkless 02:01

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the IAM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have T.W. Shannon of Chickasaw Community Bank. T.W. it's awesome to have you on the show.

T.W. Shannon 02:10

Hi, thank you Gresh. Honored to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:13

Definitely super excited to have you on and for all the phenomenal things that you're doing. Before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about TW so you can hear about all of those awesome things. T.W. is an accomplished leader with a diverse experience in business, public service, and community engagement.

Today he leads one of the most unique banks in the country. As the CEO of Chickasaw Community Bank based in Oklahoma City, he leads a remarkably successful enterprise that is wholly owned by the Chickasaw Nation. Under his leadership, Chickasaw Community Bank completed the year 2020 at a record six-fold projections and prior to his tenure at the bank, T.W made history by becoming the youngest speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives as well as being the first Chickasaw in first African-American to hold the host.

T.W, great to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

T.W. Shannon 03:01

Man, I'm honored to be here. I appreciate what you doing, highlighting, the great things that happen. Honored for having me as a guest.

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Gresham Harkless 03:09

Yeah. Super excited to have you on. Like I usually say, I just like to hold up the microphone and ask the questions. You're doing all the great work.

So to really kick everything off, I wanted to hear how you got started. Could you take us through what I like to call your CEO story? What led you to do all the awesome work you're doing.

T.W. Shannon 03:22

You bet. So our bank started with the 20 year history nearly. The governor of the Great Chickasaw Nation, Billy Anoatubby had a vision to start a bank in Oklahoma City. He saw that there was a gap in services for Native Americans, but he wanted a bank that could serve not just Native Americans, but the community at large. So, he planted a bank here in Oklahoma City. The bank was relatively conservative bank, a small bank with initial investment of about 7 million.

When I came to the bank in 2017, the assets have been grown to about 127 million or so, about a 125 million. Since my time here in 2017 we've grown the bank's assets. I think today we've said just over 300. So we've over 300 million. We're still a small community bank, but that's pretty record growth that we've had. I'm excited to be here because we're really a mission-oriented bank and that's the part that excites me the most.

Gresham Harkless 04:22

Yeah, that makes so much sense. I'm sure that's what you're getting to when you say mission-driven because I almost feel like, and correct me if I'm wrong, when you see the growth, especially in a bank within a community like a community-based bank, I imagine that you probably have also been able to have a huge impact upon the community as a whole to basically carry out that mission.

T.W. Shannon 04:38

Yeah. Community banking is interesting Gresham. The thing that I love about, you were kind to read my shameless biography. But the thing I love about community banking is that we're really on the ground level of helping people's dreams come true. So here at Chickasaw Community Bank, whether we're investing in somebody's business or we're helping someone build their home, those all started with dreams. Somebody had a dream about that.

The thing about a community bank is we're on the ground level. Unlike the two big def banks who serve a purpose and they have certainly a niche. But it's pretty defined based upon particular standards that they have, whether it be credit underwriting standards or niche markets. The great asset of being a community bank is we look at pretty much any deal, and we don't just consider our customer as a number. We know our customers.

This was really demonstrated during this last pandemic that we're still coming out of. But last year when the pandemic first hit, Chickasaw Community Bank, we were one of the first banks to not only sign up for the Payroll protection program PPP, which was designed to provide forgivable loans to small businesses. We were one of the first banks to also extend it beyond just our customers.

You'll remember there was a lot of media attention because a lot of businesses were left out, especially minority businesses, because they didn't necessarily bank at one of the big banks or their bank that they were banking didn't offer PPP. So there was a huge gap. There were community banks that really stepped up first and said, this is part of our mission. This is what we do. We're gonna be involved in this program. So I'm so proud of what we do at community bank. We really build better lives for everyone. That's our motto, but it's more than just a slogan or motto. It's really part of our DNA.

Gresham Harkless 06:26

Yeah, it definitely sounds like it and I definitely see it coming to fruition, as you said so well. A lot of times people have these dreams, these visions of what they want to do, and you provide that vehicle for that to happen. I appreciate you highlighting that too, because I think a lot of times maybe especially in the business community, didn't realize how important it was to have that relationship, with a community bank.

But during times like the pandemic where you needed that personal relationship, you wanted to be able to have a bank where they know your name and knew what you were doing. It was so important and vital to keeping them successful.

T.W. Shannon 06:57

Gresham, I'll give you an example of how important that is. So when the pandemic first hit, of course you'll remember, it was just several weeks after Congress even appropriated the money and passed the bill and was signing the law first by President Donald Trump. It was shortly, just a few weeks after that the program was made available. So, SBA was scrambling to put together guidance on what would be required and for banks whose job is to evaluate and measure risk, it was really when you don't even know what the guidance fully is or how SBA will interpret their guarantee, how do you ensure you're gonna get your money back?

It was a bit of a risk that community banks, frankly, we're willing to take because we believe in our customers. But not only that, at Chickasaw Community Bank, and I'm sure other community banks we called every one of our customers and said, Hey, you need to know about this program, this is why we think you qualify, and this is why we think it would be good for your business. So it's just those kinds of touches of service that I think highlight the unique niche that community banks really serve.

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Gresham Harkless 08:00

Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you for providing that leadership and being at the forefront of that, for definitely the Chickasaw community and impacting, reminding us of how important that is all across the globe, especially, there as well too.

So I know you touched a little bit upon like how you serve your clients. I wanted to see if there was anything additional you wanted to touch on like how you work with your clients and what you feel is like your secret sauce and what you feel sets you apart and makes you unique.

T.W. Shannon 08:21

Yeah, I mentioned it already, but really it starts with your values, right? Values are beliefs, but values are different from culture because culture is action, right? Like we can have great philosophical beliefs that never actually get put into action.

But our community bank, when we talk about building better lives, the first thing that I tell all of our employees is, it starts by taking care of our employees first because if we don't take care of our employees, I guarantee you they're not going to take care of our customers.

Gresham Harkless 08:57

Definitely appreciate that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

T.W. Shannon 09:09

The greatest value that I bring probably as a leader to my organization is that, man, I'm all about team, right? Great team is really what I'm called to do. My job here is not to do every aspect of the job. My job here is to make sure I've got the right team and that I keep that team motivated and inspired. To do that, you have to get to know them on an individual level because it's not different than when you're a leader.

It's not like being a leader of a family. Like I have a 15-year-old daughter, I have a 12-year-old son and you know what I try to tell to my son who's younger is, he's always complaining about the older one needs to do this. It's not fair. It's not fair. It's not fair. What I try to explain to him is, no, it's not equal, but it's fair. You guys have different needs. You have different wants. Now while you can focus on the additional privileges that your 15-year-old sister has, the reality is she also has a lot of other responsibilities that you don't have.

So it's my job as the leader of our family, along with my wife, who also helps lead the family. It's for us to make sure that people are treated fairly. That doesn't mean necessarily that they're treated equally.

Gresham Harkless 10:22

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

T.W. Shannon 10:34

Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break. I'll give you an example. When the pandemic hit about March, when we finally realized how things were happening and shutdowns were happening, I told you about the growth we've had, where we've grown from a $20 million bank to well over $300 million bank. Most banks don't grow more than 5% a year. So we were really hauling it and we anticipated another big year in 2019. This is a good year, not a really big year.

We had a couple of really big years, but when 2020 hit, we had a plan. We had a good strategic plan for the year, we had a good budget for the year. But we saw some headwinds coming. We were looking at data like everybody, we thought the sky was falling and in many, many industries it was. And so we reevaluated. We made some adjustments. We wound up having the biggest year the banks ever had in 2020 and I think it's because of the flexibility we were willing to have in going back to our values. We didn't hesitate on allowing employees to work from home.

I got my HR team and my IT team together and I said, listen, this disease apparently is highly contagious. That's the piece of it that is different from any other thing we've seen, is the contagious component of it is high. So what do we do? What employees can work from home and what investment do we need to make that happen? And we did it. So we wound up with maybe 80 of our employees working remotely. Took a big investment upfront. Getting computers and not just, we're banks, so you can't just plug in any internet and start surfing. We've got client confidential information that we have to protect.

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So it's not just, go buy a laptop. It's a whole movement for a small bank, but a small IT department. But we did it because it's the right thing to do. We said, listen, we've got employees, it's not just about the disease. Employees have kids at home and there's no daycare open. What can we do to support those employees? At the end of the year when we had that record year after we turned employees' lives upside down, and I made a commitment in March after the pandemic, I said, listen, my commitment to you is to make whatever adjustments I have to make sure that nobody here loses their job as a result of this.

And I'll tell you, we sent people home and there's always some uncertainty about that. Employee product, I could get emotional about it. Employee product productivity went through the roof because I made a commitment to them as the CEO, I'm gonna do everything I can to ensure that you have a job for the next year. So whatever adjustments we have to make, even if it means we have to reduce salaries overall, we have to stop bonuses and we have to liquidate some physical assets, your job is our first priority along with taking care of our customers and sustaining, making sure there's a continuity of business.

And man, our employees responded to that. At the end of the year, we had this record year, every single employee, I surprised them at Christmas time, a couple weeks from Christmas, and every single employee of the Chickasaw Community Bank, whether you had been here one day. We had an employee, it was their first week. We had another employee, she was retiring then. Every single employee got a $3,000 bonus from the bank. For a teller who's in college, that $3,000 is a substantial difference that you weren't expecting at Christmas. Again, we did it because it was the right thing to do.

But the return we get on that from employee satisfaction, the way that they take care of their customers, it's invaluable. It really is.

Gresham Harkless 14:10

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. T.W I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show.

So TW what does being a CEO mean to you?

T.W. Shannon 14:20

Being CEO means that the executive sole purpose is to fulfill the mission of the bank, but to set vision and to hold people accountable to that vision by inspiring them every day to do their absolute best.

Gresham Harkless 14:38

I definitely appreciate that definition and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

T.W. Shannon 14:52

First of all, let me say this, I've really enjoyed this opportunity Gresham, to visit with you. I appreciate what you're doing by highlighting the important work that's happening in our civic involvement that's happening around the country. America is still a place of opportunity. I like to talk about America really being a place of systemic opportunity. There is still an opportunity for people to thrive, to find and understand their purpose and to live out that purpose and by doing so, contribute to their community at large.

As I've said before, Chickasaw Community Bank, we're about helping people's dreams come true. We're off it. We do it every single day. When that happens,  we receive the greatest reward by helping people fulfill their dreams. That's why we were created. That's what we do best. We do it every single day. For people who are interested to learn more about us they can go to ccb.bank for our website, or they can follow us on any social media outlet, Chickasaw community bank, or CCB.

So thank you for having me and it's a privilege to be in this role and also to share the great things that happen here in Oklahoma at Chickasaw Community Bank.

Gresham Harkless 16:00

Yeah, I definitely appreciate you T.W and we will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can get ahold of you and see all the awesome work that you all are doing, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:09

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Get your driven CEO gear at ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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