Office Doors: A Day with Jeff Meshey

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Posted By on February 25, 2021
Jeff Meshey, president and CEO of Desert Financial Credit Union

4 a.m.  >>  INVESTING IN PERSONAL WELL-BEING 

The first thing I do every morning is my daily devotionals, immediately followed by exercise. Fortunately, my wife and I have an exercise gym in our basement, including two bikes, a treadmill and an elliptical. I ride eight miles on the exercise bike almost every day. It’s just one of those things. If you don’t feel like it, too bad; get your butt on there and do it. I feel better if I do it. After I’m done working out, I check emails and social media as I’ve made it a habit of not having my cell phone in the bedroom at night. Once in a while, I’ll miss an important text or call, but I’ll get it the next morning. When you get up at 4 a.m., it’s kind of easy.

8 a.m.  >>  A LEADER’S EVOLUTION

I like to schedule all critical meetings in the morning because that’s when I’m at my best. I have five direct reports and try to let my people run their own departments, so I’m pretty hands-off but do like to have a sight line to what’s going on.

I consider myself a servant leader, so my questions for my team are, “What can I do to help you? What do you need from me to be more effective or do your job better?” I feel like I work for our 1,100 employees. I know I’m still the boss and so there are times when I have to make calls, and I’ve had to make a lot of those this past year. The one thing I always try to do is never let anybody see me sweat, because that’s not what you want to see out of your leader. Sometimes that’s hard and your stomach’s churning and you’re feeling stressed, but I try never to let that show. We have to be confident and put on an optimistic face because that’s who we are as leaders, and that’s who we want leading us. I work on this as it doesn’t always come naturally.

When I was younger, servant leadership was not my leadership style. I have evolved to where I am now, in part, because I was the long-time number-two person at my company. That allowed me to get involved in every aspect of the business and be ready to jump in and help wherever I was needed.

9:30 a.m.  >>  A HEART FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

There are two main charities I am heavily involved in right now. One is Valley of the Sun United Way, which is near to my heart as I have been a donor since I started my professional career. I am on the board and currently chairman of the Tocqueville and major gifts committee. I say this is the “show me the money” committee with a focus on fundraising and reaching out to people to bring in funds. I’m proud of what we’ve done since I’ve chaired this committee, as we have improved our fundraising efforts.

The second charity is the American Heart Association as the 2021 Heart Walk chair. We cannot have a physical walk so it’s going to be virtual again this year. I’m in the midst of raising $1.5 million and getting the word out about the importance of heart health. COVID has highlighted the need to focus more on heart health because these people have a much greater risk of dying. The credit union has 26 employee teams this year that are all soliciting donations and will walk virtually that day. My family and I have mapped out our route where we will walk

in our neighborhood.

1:15 p.m.  >>  PUTTING THE ‘FUN’ IN FUNDRAISING

Desert Financial has a long history of supporting Phoenix Children’s Hospital. We are currently organizing our annual golf tournament that raises $500,000 and completely funds “1 Darn Cool School,” a program that allows kids to keep up with their schooling while they are in the hospital.

I enjoy fundraising and find it fun when you have the right purpose behind it. I like a challenge and seeing a plan come together and being successful. I look at it as, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It is similar to baseball in that the more at-bats you get, the more hits you’re going to get. So, go out there, be ready to swing and good things generally happen.

3 p.m.  >>  COMPOUNDING GOODNESS

The first year we participated in “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” one of the children asked me a question that stopped me. They said, “Mr. Meshey, what’s your favorite thing to do?” I listed three or four things because I couldn’t pick.

But I was ready the next year and explained my favorite thing to do is give big checks to charities.

We have a strategy at Desert Federal we call “give and grow” and feel the more we give and put ourselves out there, the more people will look to us for their financial needs. And we had our biggest growth year by a mile last year. We try to be as generous as we can and pick things that make the most significant difference in the lives of people who live in our community. This highlights our desire to share success, so that people know our hearts. At the end of the day, I ask myself, “What did you do today to make a difference? Whose life did you improve?” I think if everybody takes a moment to think that way, you start thinking of things you can do. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but to that person, it might have been great and needed at that moment.

5 p.m.  >>  QUALITY FAMILY TIME YIELDS DIVIDENDS

My wife and I remodeled our kitchen before COVID, which turned out to be a godsend. I cannot tell you how many dishes I have washed since eating out doesn’t occur anymore! I really enjoy having dinner with my family. It’s a good way to unwind, talk about the day and check in with everybody. It helps me recharge my batteries and makes for a soft landing to the day.

To learn more, go to desertfinancial.com.

Karen Werner

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.