MAXX Keynote Speakers Present Science, Songs, and a Vision for the Future

Hundreds of attendees packed the Spokane Convention Center ballroom to experience MAXX’s outstanding keynote speakers — an economist, a neuroscientist, and a Broadway “King” — at GoWest’s biggest gathering yet.

Futurist and economist Andrew Busch kicked off the first general session on Tuesday with a deep look into our recent economic change and what to expect over the next five years. As he walked attendees through the aftermath of Covid and the effect of the Fed’s interest rate strategy, he shared the high-level insight credit union leaders craved.

Speaker Andrew Busch kneeling on stage.

Economist Andrew Busch

Busch directed the crowd’s attention to potential opportunities like fossil fuels, which “are not going anywhere anytime soon.” He also encouraged research on climate-related venture capital investments, and while he didn’t specifically endorse any, he cited a few, including Climavision, Jupiter Intel, Teren Designs. Fintech companies, such as ones that offer fraud detection and talent acquisition services, could also be useful for credit unions, he said.

The depth of Busch’s knowledge and insight — stemming from prior roles working for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and providing economic and market briefings to several federal departments and the White House — impressed the audience.

“The rate of change we are seeing in technology and the economy is amazing, and Andy’s representation was both timely and engaging,” said Will Logan, Vice President of Lending at Spokane Firefighters Credit Union.

On Wednesday, Dr. Poppy Crum — an internationally recognized futurist, neuroscientist, and Stanford University professor — dove into the science behind our response to our environment and how that not only refines marketing and outreach efforts but also can help improve society.

Speaker Dr. Poppy Crum motions onstage

Dr. Poppy Crum

Studying the brain’s response to advertising, for instance, can reveal a consumer’s subconscious experience, while digital representations of reality (“digital twin”) can help us optimize resources and time across industries. Actions we take without thinking about it — such as swiping our fingers across our phones — can reveal our cognitive state, which can in turn predict future health issues.

“It was eye-opening,” said Gayle Rust Gustafson, chief lending officer at iQ Credit Union. “These are concepts that we don’t typically think about, and it’s very meaningful to how we lead our daily lives. It’s a very different way of thinking.”

Actor, speaker, and author Alton Fitzgerald White, who completed a record-breaking 4,308-performance run as “King Mufasa” in “The Lion King” on Broadway, ended the week with songs and stories that earned him a standing ovation.

Actor Alton Fitzgerald White motions onstage

Alton Fitzgerald White

Despite growing up painfully shy in the housing projects in Cincinnati, Ohio, he clung to what seemed like the “impossible dream” of public performance. He found success by learning from — and finding the good in — every personal and professional challenge thrown his way.

“I am so very grateful,” he said. “One of my most tremendous blessings is that I can honestly say I would not trade a second of my life. I would not trade anything to not have the life I have now.”

His spirit of resilience, which carried him through roles in “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Ragtime,” and “The Color Purple,” and prepared him for his daily performances in “The Lion King,” led to several life lessons he shared that could apply to any job, such as practicing mindfulness and recovering what used to bring you joy.

He closed his talk with a song from “The Lion King,” which brought the whole crowd to its feet in applause, and a final thought.

“Remember who you are,” he said. “Acknowledge the people who have helped you along the way.”

Miss the MAXX experience? Check out the GoWest 2024 Signature Events and Programming HERE.

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