Beginning interview. Today is October 1, and the time is 11:30. This is Ryan Bean from the Kautz Family YMCA archives interviewing Bob Hastedt. Mr. Hastedt, thank you very much for agreeing to share your story with me today.

Ryan Bean

Mr. Hastedt

It's good to be here, Ryan.


Ryan Bean

My first question for you is, what was your first YMCA experience?

Mr. Hastedt

Unlike probably a lot of Y-staff, I did not grow up in the Y. My mom actually worked for the Retirement Fund while I was growing up. My first YMCA experience was more or less of bring your kids to work day when probably in the mid-70s, 74 something like that. Y-USA, the national headquarters which I think was called the National Board at that time was headquartered in New York. The Retirement Fund was in that same building.

I came in with mom, did that, ended up then working for the Retirement Fund during college. Which is really my connection as to how I got into Y-work at least for my first specific finance point of view.


Ryan Bean

When did you begin working for the Fund?

Mr. Hastedt

My first summer there was 1978. It was just after my freshman year in college. I worked several summers, and then came there right at−I started there eight days after graduation.


Ryan Bean

Did you know you would end up working for The Fund when you were younger?

Mr. Hastedt

I don't think that's true. As I suppose with a lot of folks, my original thought was, I'll just take this job until something else opens up. Fortunately, the Y is such a flexible organization that even if you're on a very unique path, you can find your way through a YMCA career on whatever you want. If you ever thought you were going in for personal finance and would spend your entire career with the YMCA, that probably would have been something you would have scoffed at as you started that up. That's the way my career has taken, and it's been an enjoyable career all the way through.


Ryan Bean

What was one of the first flexible turns your career took as you were in The Fund?

Mr. Hastedt

Part of any career probably is timing is just about everything. I was fortunate enough to come in young, when a lot of the other staff were of retirement age. As they retired out, I was able to really move quickly through the ranks, able to connect with a lot of YMCAs. Because I was the one guy in the office who wasn't retiring. Really by the time I was 26, 27, I was at a position in the organization I probably had no knowledge or experience to be in. As things happened, it happened that way.

That doesn't mean that you with a certain level earlier on in your career, but that flexibility in the Y, in those days everything was on paper so you weren't restricted by what the computer was helping you do. If somebody said, I'm moving from this Y to this Y, you would go over to the bins of cards and pick out their card and then just move into the new state.


Mentorship is a strong philosophy in the YMCA Movement, did you have mentors in your career?

Ryan Bean

Mr. Hastedt

Officially no, but when I came in on to the staff, Bill McAllister who was at that point the head of HR at Y-USA, whatever they were calling it at the time was on our board and was certainly someone who taught me how to be a Y-professional on the personal level. Not a lot of the skill stuff, but how to conduct yourself, how to interact with folks, how to make sure you represent the organization as positively as you can and make sure it's fulfilling its mission in everything you do.

Bill ultimately came on to our staff to be my boss, so that strengthened that relationship as well. The other person I looked to for a lot of that was Jim Stoops. Jim Stoops actually started as the president of APD the same day I started on the Retirement Fund staff. Due to my travel schedule and his, we hooked up at a lot of meetings where we were both on the program or whatever. He also taught me a lot about being a YMCA manager and what it means.

Not so much more mentorship, but a lot of those HR folks that were in the movement at the time, Sarah McKay, Rose and Bill Hawk, those were people I connected with fairly frequently. What they taught me about was as someone who did not come from the YMCA and had never worked in the YMCA, what exactly the struggles−Maybe the wrong word, but what the opportunities and pitfalls of local YMCAs were. To understand more as we operated our fund how we could help YMCAs deal with those particular issues.


What were a couple of the persistent issues that they enlightened you to?

Ryan Bean

Mr. Hastedt

Well, when I was starting, the Fund was just conforming the plan to ERISA, so were moving from a plan that was basically discretionary, at the discretion of the CEO of the YMCA to one where everybody came in after they reached a certain level. Because that was such a change in the thought process for YMCAs, it took many YMCAs a long time to figure out how that works going from someplace where I just pick and choose on the staff who is going to the plan, to one where I now have to monitor all the part-time staff to see how many hours they work to get in.

The one funny story is always Farris Warwick who was Harry's predecessor at the Fund was going around introducing the structure of that plan. Somebody asked him, how do you expect us to count 1000 hours? Farris stood in front of the room and said, "I, 2, 3, and so on." It was a difficult struggle, and there were a lot of Ys that certainly missed people, so went through many years where−I guess their advice to me, their demonstration to me was just we're Ys. Not like we've got $40,000 in the back room we can do on this.

We need to work on some schedule so that we can get this taken care of and get it integrated. At that point everything was on paper, so everything was a struggle once we got on to the more complex and all the rules.


Ryan Bean

You mentioned that the individual Y-USA and HR was coming on at the same time and he introduced you to some of the norms of the YMCA and how to conduct yourself. What are some things that new YMCA employees should know?

Mr. Hastedt

I think for me at least on the professional level; it's that wherever you are you are representing the YMCA. Whether you think you are or not because there are people who know you from the Y that you have no idea know you. Always be concerned about what image you're presenting in a public forum. The Y itself has certain values and mission which probably puts more restrictions on personal activity than if I was working at Citco or Walgreens or somewhere else.

Just like somebody who is in the ministry or teachers in schools, our public behavior is viewed as reflecting on those institutions. We don't want to reflect on it in a bad way. As I retire I'm always thinking they'll miss me when I'm gone, but more of me is thinking I hope I left this as a better organization when I leave than it was when I got there.


Ryan Bean

What does the YMCA mean to you?

Mr. Hastedt

In many ways for me it's tougher to talk about the mission than somebody who is working in what I continue to call an actual YMCA. For me though it has been an organization that has a strong family feeling throughout its being. People from one state have that−It's that six degrees of separation game. Whenever I get together with a group of YMCAs staff, they can ultimately connect themselves by who they've worked with. I worked with so and so here, who worked with so and so here, who worked with you.

There's immediately some family connection almost between any two random professionals. I'm not sure you'll find that in a lot of other work places. Certainly as a work family and the ability for those of us in very siloed careers in the YMCA to be able to participate in the mission. Even though we don't do a ton to advance the mission, but to be able to participate in helping in ways that our special skills allow us to. To me that's the most important thing about being in the Y.


How about the Fund? What does the Fund mean to you?

Ryan Bean

Mr. Hastedt

It's certainly been my home for the past 33 years. To me the wonderful thing about the Fund is it's an outreach of the YMCA's expression that we wish to care for our staff. We cannot pay them the best salaries they've ever seen or whatever else, but we know it's important for them to participate in a job, in a career where we take care of all aspects of their lives. It's not only about the salary, it's about the benefits, packages, the ability to partake in what the YMCA does for the community.

We know salaries are not the best in a lot of those things, but the fact that the YMCA continues to be one of the few employers that says, "We're willing to care for you for your entire lifetime. Not just the hours you're here, we want to care for you 24/7 while you're our employee. We want to give you some of the resources we have as part of our compensation for you to take care of you even after you're gone."


Ryan Bean

Today, you're retiring.

Mr. Hastedt

I am retiring today.


Ryan Bean

Over your career you've advised individuals on their day of retirement, so what advice are you giving to yourself on your first day?

Mr. Hastedt

For me it's just as you're retiring, recognize that it is not the end of the something. It's the beginning of something else. Part of it being the beginning of something else is you need to give yourself an orientation, so I've given myself six months to say, "You know what? Let me do all the fun and frilly things." Everybody continues to talk about making a bucket list, I don't agree with that concept. Because it implies that once I'm done, I have to kick the bucket. There are fun things that I've always talked about doing that have seemed neat, that I'm going to take the first six months to take care of.

I'm going to down for a couple of weeks to spring training in Florida just to do that stuff that I never had the time to do when you're on a committed schedule. Because if you look at a YMCA calendar in March, it is crammed full of meetings. I'm going to take six months to do frilly stuff, and then see exactly how much I want to continue in my profession. I'm a financial planner, so part of is just there are certain things I need to do to maintain those skills. How much I want to do that for remuneration, and how much of that I just want to do to help out friends I have made in the Y over a while in my career?

Once I'm retiring just because nobody is paying me for my time doesn't mean I want to interact with these people any less. As we talked about the Y as a family, at this point this is my family.


Ryan Bean

Circling back to the Fund, you had mentioned that when you first started everything was on paper. If someone made a change you could just go and then pencil that in. What are some of the other significant changes you've seen in the Fund? Maybe if you can speak a little bit to how they changed the work, or the scope, or the approach of the work.

Mr. Hastedt

To me the first really big change is when I first started there were basically two sets of employees who were treated differently. The professional staff, however you want to apply that designation got a certain contribution rate and the support staff, other staff who were not considered to be professional staff got a much lower contribution rate. In the 90s, more and more it felt like, "You know what? If I work for the YMCA, it does not matter at which level of the organization I am at. We need to provide the same level of benefit to everybody."

In the later 90s everything combined into the one plan which was helpful in that. As the plans gone on, more and more YMCAs took on more and more of the responsibility. Because when I first started, in practically every Y-job there was retirement. The YMCA put in some money and you put in some money, but more and more YMCAs have taken over the required contribution part and have just encouraged their staff to save additional money. That's been a certain change in how things go and at this point there are about 80% of the people on the plan who never put a dime of their own money into the plan. It's all provided by their YMCAs.

To their credit YMCAs have maintained that through economic times that have been challenging to say the least, but certainly as you look at the retirement environment in general, it's not employers taking on those risk. More and more they are pushing in investment risks and saving risks unto their employees. To me it is a great honor that the YMCA has chosen to maintain that point of view with YMCAs, and their staff throughout the country.


I've been digging a little bit, I have just question about the one plan. Where did the drive to combine the plans, and to have all staff treated the same, who is pushing for that change?

Ryan Bean

Mr. Hastedt

I’m not sure there’s a who as much as a what. The federal government continued to pass legislation which did not apply to us as to how plans had maintain themselves. We certainly did not choose to take on those restrictions which penalize YMCAs, but there were certainly things that were admirable in those things. In order to conform with the law but not necessarily legally comply with the law, we moved towards getting all YMCAs to cover all staff.


Ryan Bean

What are some challenges that you see on the horizon for the YMCA and or The Fund?

Mr. Hastedt

Let me start by really talking about YMCA staff as opposed to either the YMCA or The Fund. Over the past 30 years we've been kind of lucky. Investment returns have been consistently high. There may have been short period of times when they have been low, but you could make mistakes early in your career and let investment returns make up for those mistakes.

I'm not sure I'm seeing investment returns going forward in the next 30 years being at those same levels on a consistent basis. Staff really need to start digging in early to ensure they’re going to be able to get to a place where they can have the retirement benefit they want.

For the past 30 years even if you screwed up everything between ages 20 and 30, really no penalty. If you started up at some point, you could get to the point where you've accumulated enough for a decent retirement. This next set of staff certainly have to start much earlier to do that savings consistently. What we are going to find is that as we hire more and more people from outside who have had no retirement benefits, they’re going to struggle to get through retirement and have a livable benefit based on just what we pay and whatever social security ends up paying. For individuals, social security also becomes an issue in the future. Exactly where it's going to be? What that benefit level is going to be?

Everybody panics about it not being there. I'm not sure I see that as the future. I think it will always be there. At this point it’s ingrained into the culture as to how we retire, but whether it's going to be able to provide benefits at the level that it's providing now is the issue. Whether it's going to provide those benefits at the ages it is providing now is also an issue.

For YMCAs, it is always a struggle managing a compensation program that includes retirement benefits like ours. The for-profit world is more and more moving away from taking responsibility for their staff for retirement. As you have a board of people who work at your industry looking at your budgets and saying, “Wow, you're paying a lot for retirement. Maybe we can lower that and balance the budget.”

Trying to move the Y away. Now for-profit land if we can call it that, there's profiting sharing, and there's bonuses when times are good and that really doesn’t happen at the Ys. That's the one reason we're trying to maintain a consistent retirement benefit over time. Because there just aren’t these ups and downs in compensation as there are out in the corporate world. As more and more folks come into the Y from outside, more and more boards take a look at benefits and say, “How can we reduce cost?” That's probably a struggle going forward both for YMCAs and for the Retirement Fund itself.


Ryan Bean

When the YMCA has a board member that asks those questions, what do you say to them? How do you make the case that The Retirement Fund is the right choice?

Mr. Hastedt

Part of the case is just the fact that as we were talking, there are not a lot of other benefits in the Y other than these basic benefits. The second thing is, as much as they look at the CEO and what they’re providing for them as a benefit, that's not who makes up our plan. It is mostly staff at very low salary level; about 40% of the people in the plan make less than $25,000 a year. It is a contribution for them, but it's a fairly small one. It does help them get to a place where they can retire, and the YMCA said, “You know what? As an organization, as the values we take on as an organization and as an employer, that's important to us.”


Ryan Bean

What is something YMCA leadership should be aware of?

Mr. Hastedt

I guess for me the thing is, just remember taking on that employer cloak you have some responsibility to treat your staff fairly. As much as we like to train and cut corners and everything else, the important thing with our values as an organization, as an employer, is to treat everybody fairly and the way they should be treated. A lot of people say, “Oh, we don't have to do that. That's not the way we were treated.” We don't want to treat people the way we are treated, we want to treat them in a way that we would like to be treated. To me as an employers, I said let's look at our staff and treat them with caring, with intelligence, with professionalism.


Ryan Bean

Is there anything that I haven't asked you about today that you'd like to share?

Mr. Hastedt

I'm not sure there is anything. Certainly, it's been a ride. This is my first retirement day, so I'm swimming in thoughts today. Certainly, it's been a wonderful career. I certainly look forward to be staying connected with YMCA, and maybe working with it more on mission than I ever have in the past. Because in the past it's been all about personal finance, being here and there and at meetings, posturing. I'm really looking forward to being a little more involved in what it has done in communities throughout the world, so that the world become a more perfect place.


Ryan Bean

Well, thank you for sharing your time, and thank you for sharing your story.

 

Mr. Hastedt

Okay, thank you Ryan.