Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.


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Financial Education: A Bank Do-It-Yourself Project

Me at CV1

Repping my Brass T-Shirt during a financial education discussion at my alma mater, Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, OR

Benjamin Franklin said, “An Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), furthered this sentiment with bankers at the American Bankers Association’s annual convention on Monday, when he told bankers to “push for financial education for young people at the state level in order to bring up a new generation of responsible borrowers.”

This is all well and good, but how many times do speakers stand up in front of a crowd and inspire them, yet only give very general and unspecific solutions?  I would say most of the time.  Here, Cordray went on to say that, according to a recent article by Philip Ryan, an Associate Editor of Bank Innovation; “Financial responsibility, fostered by education, is far better. Bankers should realize, however, that not all participants in the financial system will receive financial education in the home, and that, therefore, an effort must be made to get this education into the schools so that young people learn the virtues of saving and responsible borrowing early in life.” This may still seem general and unspecific, but it’s a start.  The solution lies within the commitment of the banks.

There is a very specific solution, but it only comes from consistent action.  At Brass we have one such solution; the Brass Student Program, but don’t think we are the only one.  If anything it serves as an example of a program that works by creating a stronger relationship between the bank and local high schools. When looking into other programs or when you are looking to create one yourself, make sure you understand that, for a bank, there are NO SHORTCUTS to being involved yourself.  This is not like doing a home project yourself to save money.  Curing this problem comes down to relationship building, something that was stressed every hour of every day when I was a banker. I think millennials are starving for banks to put in more authentic time with them to foster a relationship and to help them with money, as seen in this short case study of 6 young adults.

American Author Napoleon Hill once said, “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ” So if you, as a bank, are really serious about relationships, make sure the only shortcut you take is not waiting half your life before realizing the obvious…with help of course.

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SIRIously: Just Type, Read and Follow Directions

SiriToday’s post may be a shorter one as the concept is simple and simply requires the ability to type, read and follow directions.  When I am not working at Brass Media, I work with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Linn-Benton Community College, advising business owners, helping them with most of their online/marketing needs.  When I was first asked to do this; I was confused as to what I could offer, but I quickly found out many business owners didn’t know how to use some of the basic free tools at their disposal.  The most basic: Google search.  Now with the existence of Siri on iPhone, folks are making a game out of asking Siri questions that “she” just turns around and searches for.  For example, my brother asks Siri questions all the time and most of the time I can search for it faster on my phone than he can using Siri.  Apple has been masters of innovation time and time again, but Siri can be more gimmicky than helpful.  Just stop being lazy and type once in a while!

When I meet with a client, here is what happens too often: The client asks me a question, I type in that question into a Google search and send the client links.  I show exactly what I did, but they come back asking me more questions.  It’s almost like they treat Google as a trusted expert that only I am allowed to talk to. Why?!?!

At a Corvallis City Club event, discussing the type, read and follow directions "strategy".

At a Corvallis City Club event several years ago, discussing the type, read and follow directions “strategy”.

A big part of the problem is their past experiences with paid consultants.  I tell them to maintain and cultivate their specific area of expertise, but in some ways…become a jack of all trades.  If you don’t have a basic understanding of a product, tool or task, than how can you assess if the consultant you are paying is doing their job?  I met with someone years ago that was paying a  web/social media consultant $30,000/year.  Thanks to the state and federal funding the SBDC receives, we are able to give clients free advising.  My first piece of free advice was fire your consultant; they have done nothing for your online presence.  I preceded to give them the basic tools that will prevent them from making the same mistake again.

So…if you have Siri (and especially if you don’t), take sometime to just type, read and follow directions before you just ask an “expert” how to solve your problem.  As my dad used to say, “be careful in asking advice from someone who stands to monetarily benefit.”


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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Montessori

M is for MontessoriIt seems the education in this country isn’t getting any better, yet there is a constant: Montessori.  Montessori is in at least 120 countries and this manifested itself best when I was on the Corvallis Montessori Society (CMS) board.  Corvallis isn’t exactly an ethnically diverse town and take Oregon State University away and Corvallis might as well be renamed Anglo.  I found that CMS had a lot of diversity, partially because of the open mindedness Montessori fosters and since the teaching around the world are congruent.  The curiosity of learning that Montessori fosters creates a better community and really has made me a much better marketer.

So what did I learn while I was in Montessori?  According to my title, everything, but let’s get more specific. My Montessori experience (although brief) has helped mold me into the person I am today in part because those were my first vivid memories growing up.  Many years later I would join the Montessori board in my hometown of Corvallis.  One of the requirement of sitting on board was doing classroom observations, which I loved.  Since Montessori education has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century, it felt more like the Ghost of Christmas Past took me on a journey of my own past.  To be honest, I was always nervous about these visits because when a Montessori child ask you a question, they truly were interested in how you crafted your answer.  Learning was a privilege to them and curiosity; the catalyst.

Me - I'm This Many

APPARENTLY I’M 4 HERE. I PROMISE I LEARNED MORE THAN JUST THE “I’M THIS MANY” GAME IN MONTESSORI.

Do you remember your first traumatic experience?  I do!  I bet millions of people share the same cause of their traumatic experience, but not the same reason.  Kindergarten was a scary time and for many their first big social experience, so of course it is going to be traumatic.  I was a VERY shy child and so this type of social experience scared learning out of me.  The really traumatic part came from the transition from Montessori to public school.  In Montessori, guides (teachers) fostered my shy curiosity and I was rewarded for the person I was, while in Kindergarten (RIP Mrs. Stone) I was rewarded if I followed everyone else.  I am not saying the public school is terrible; the best teacher I ever had was Mr. Eldon, a public school 6th grade teacher.  I got lucky, but so many don’t get lucky.  Montessori, because of its structure, is much less of a crap shoot as the importance it put into the curiosity of one’s environment and less on the teacher.  The teachers were called guides  for a reason; they guided you to unlock your curiosity of learning and didn’t simply teach.  Don’t get me wrong I do have a lot of appreciation for teachers as most of my family at one point in time were public school teachers (this is not the same as saying I am not racist because I have a black friend).

The majority of the work we do here at Brass Media, centers around creating engaging personal finance content to help the ADD generation find their love of learning in an entertaining fashion. The benefits of this content in social media can be seen in the conversations that are happening, instead of the majority of information that is best served behind  a lectern. In the end I am not advocating that every child should attend Montessori, but as Maria Montessori once said, “We cannot create observers by saying “observe,” but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses”


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The Heart of my experience

Corvallis, Oregon

Corvallis, in latin literally means Heart of the Valley.  It is more than that to me.  As much as I would love to say I was born and raised here, I can’t.  I was born in Seattle, Washington and moved here when I was 2-years-old. Nothing against Seattle, but a big part of what defines you is not where you were born, but where you are from.  Many of my passions (education, faith, fitness and sports) stem from this place.  Corvallis has a higher education rate per capita than any other city in the State of Oregon and one of highest in the country.  While I live in one of the most unchurched counties in the U.S. I still have a faith stemming from my Pasor Uncle relocating here in 1990.  In regards to fitness, Corvallis boasts to be one of the most bicycle friendly towns in the U.S. and one of the healthiest. To fulfill my sports passion, I live in Beaver Nation, home of Oregon State University (my girlfriend literally lives across the street from the football stadium).

Admittedly, I went to Washington State University and have a strong passion for the Wazzu Cougars (I even was the mascot), but I also love and follow the Beavers. I could go on and on about Corvallis being the greenest city in america, the safest city in america and one of the top in pushing out pattents, but I’ll spare you.  I think you get the idea.  I just love my home town.  If you would like to know more about the town that helped mold me into who I am today check out the Visit Corvallis page.  For the more visually inclined, here is a Corvallis song complete with capured images of the town I love.  Cheers.