"Each seat on the boat has its own purpose — like eight separate parts of one great racehorse."

- Coach Al Ulbrickson, "The Boys in the Boat"

Dear Members:  

A few years ago, Corporate One evolved our fundamental values to inspire employees’ best efforts, guide behavior, govern philosophy, provide principles to make decisions, reinforce what is important to our organization, and shape our culture. While I strongly believe in all our values, one is near and dear to my heart: “Be a team player.”  

The significance of this value recently resonated with me when I watched a film that was not only inspirational and true but also reminded me of the importance of focused teamwork to achieve a seemingly unreachable goal. Director George Clooney’s “The Boys in the Boat” is based on the bestselling non-fiction 2013 novel by Daniel James Brown. The film recounts the journey of the University of Washington's rowing squad as they competed for gold at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, in 1936. Beyond its motivational themes of patriotism and underdogs triumphing against adversity, the movie struck a chord with me for highlighting the crucial role of flawless teamwork in achieving great outcomes. 

Paddling Together: Alignment is Key  

At Corporate One, our people drive the true value for our members. The only way to achieve success for our members is by working effectively as a team. In fact, one of the movie's central themes was similar to one of the subpoints in our teamwork value: Alignment leads to effectiveness.  

In the film, each of the eight rowers learned that every team member had to be perfectly synchronized with every other team member to succeed. If just one person rowed too fast or too slow, everything – speed, timing, direction – faltered. Everyone in the boat learned there was no “I” in team and how to best contribute to the team’s overall success. While Corporate One has many more “rowers” than in the movie, the synchronization principle still applies. Every single employee plays a vital part in serving our members. Each role is critical. To attain the coveted "gold medal" of delivering top-notch products and services to our members, we must collectively paddle in the same direction and be our members’ ultimate strategic ally. 

Rowing in Unison: Teamwork Leads to Success 

Though achieving entire team synchronization will vary by leader and organization, one of the ways Corporate One ensures alignment is by clearly articulating our yearly strategic plan to every employee. We review goals, initiatives, and key outcomes in quarterly, company-wide meetings, then work together in cross-departmental teams to execute these goals. Whatever method you choose to improve your organization’s alignment, it’s essential to embrace the lesson in “The Boys in the Boat” and remember that teamwork is the common denominator for success in any situation, whether it’s a rowing team reaching for Olympic gold or a credit union creating new solutions for their members.  

Like the 1936 University of Washington rowing team demonstrated: Together, we can do great things.


Melissa Ashley

Corporate One’s Values

Value everyone  

  • We are all important – every role, every contribution 
  • Respect, acceptance, and inclusion are non-negotiables   

Do the right thing

  • Member-focused  
  • Fiscal responsibility  
  • Don’t settle  
  • Your reputation – your integrity  
  • Regulatory adherence  

Be a team player  

  • Think holistically  
  • Sharing knowledge between areas creates cross-functional innovation  
  • We ARE better together  
  • Alignment leads to effectiveness

Think outside the box 

  • Embrace creativity and innovation  
  • “Can Do” attitude  
  • Failing fast/early is a success 
  • View from others’ perspectives   

Be your best 

  • Stretch yourself  
  • Be present  
  • Bring your whole self  
  • Voice ideas  
  • Positive mental attitude  
  • Believe in your capacity to achieve  
  • Be passionate