Monthly Archives: March 2015

I Love My Rotary Bling



This an auspicious post for RFA as it is the 100th post since I started the blog a year and half ago on October 27, 2013.  This experiment in building a Rotary audience with entertaining content continues to amaze, with total visits as of today of 90,256.  After plateauing for a while, something seems to be happening lately as visits are noticeably growing.  For example, the post two weeks ago, “Rotary by Design – Not By Default” set an all-time RFA record for one-day visits with 3,713.  This week’s total visits is 5,000+, again a record.  The total number of countries that have visited, according to WordPress, is a staggering 159 countries.  So…if you are wondering whether you can build a loyal audience with systematic, entertaining, and educational Rotary content, I guess the answer is YES.

I thought in order to celebrate RFA’s 100th post I would author a hard hitting treatise on an important and controversial subject that would rock the Rotary world with new insights about Doing Good in the World.  Something that would literally change our Rotary lives. Soaring prose that could fundamentally change the paradigm of what it means to be a Rotarian and solve most, if not all, of the world’s problems.  Naaaahhhh!

Instead, I offer you a Rotary poem.  This is my first effort at writing poetry and my wife, Linda, has strongly suggested it be my last.  Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this poem about our Rotary bling.


   I Love My Rotary Bling

I’m dressing up to represent,

Rotary’s praises I will soon sing,

Pins and badges tell their story,

Oh how I love my Rotary bling.


Rotarians will be wearing shades,

Today’s club program is the DG thing,

Eyes shielded from the brilliant glare,

The awesomeness of Rotary bling.


We get our theme pins every year,

Affixed too quickly ouch it stings,

Ordered 1,800 from Russell Hampton,

Add to our collection of theme pin bling.


The closet drawer is over flowing,

To each pin’s message I tend to cling,

I know they’re old I just can’t trash them,

Too precious is my Rotary bling.




If not removed before security,

At the airport alarms will ring,

Too much metal for the detectors,

There are risks to wearing Rotary bling.


Club President is a pin to covet,

Some say it’s Paul Harris wings,

Past President is a pin to long for,

Arch Klumph is ULTIMATE  Rotary bling.


It’s panic time if I can’t find one,

Until it’s found sweaty hands will wring,

Check one more time in yesterday’s pockets,

More time spent looking for Rotary bling.


At big events it’s not polite to stare,

At lapels lavishly adorned in Spring,

How to fit them on your jacket?

There’s no manual for wearing Rotary bling.


Doing Good in the World is first and foremost,

As Rotarians Service before Self is king,

Eradicating Polio is within our reach,

Our journey continues wearing our Rotary bling.



Whose Afraid of the Big Bad 2015-16 Presidential Citation Award?


NOTE TO READERS:  This post is about winning the 2015-2016 Presidential Citation.  It’s not to late to submit this year’s 2014-15 Presidential Citation award application to your District Governor.  The deadline is March 31, 2015.

I wouldn’t describe myself as being motivated by awards.  I’m pretty much self-motivated. Several therapists have told me this is because my mother didn’t love me as much as my older brother and younger sister, but that’s not the point.  The point is that for Rotary Clubs winning awards serves several useful purposes that make winning awards worthy of being included in a club’s strategic plan.  First, the Presidential Citation is one the most prestigious awards a club can get from Rotary.  While most of us are “legends in our own minds” and believe our Rotary club is phenomenal, winning the Presidential Citation is an objective and persuasive piece of evidence that your club REALLY IS phenomenal.  I understand that this according to RI-President 2015-2016 Ravi Ravindran, who only gets to see the results of 34,000 Rotary clubs…so perhaps his opinion means something.  The award lets you affirm to your members that they are in a “Presidential Citation” club every single meeting.  It allows you to promote your club to prospective new members in the same way.  It is newsworthy to your community and will garner articles about your club in the local press.  In short, winning the award is worth our time and effort.

I am now going to show you how your club can win the Presidential Citation next year.  We covered this at our PETS with Club President Elects and the verdict is…We Can Do This!  (Note:  We are about to discuss how to win the award, which is different from improving your club.  It’s kind of like the difference between studying to ace a test versus wanting to actually learn.  Two different things.  This is all about WINNING the award.  I’ll bet you will improve your club along the way, but that’s another matter.)

Before showing you how to win the award, this blog title got me thinking about the origins of “The Big Bad Wolf” which is obviously referenced in the notion of the “Big Bad Presidential Citation.”  According to Wikipedia, The Big Bad Wolf’s origins go back to folklore that probably had to do with the real danger of wolf attacks in ancient Europe.  Aesop’s Fables (The Boy who Cried Wolf, The Wolf and the Crane, etc. and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, etc ) are probably best known.

However…here is a Disney take on Big Bad Wolf Daddy that is just incredible.  I always wonder who the studio musicians are who record this stuff for cartoons.  For them this was just another day at the office.  The art is fun…but the soundtrack is awesome.  I’m not kidding.  Turn the sound UP for this.

OK.  Back to business.  Winning the Presidential Citation.  You can download a PDF about the 2015-16 Presidential Citation at My Rotary, Learning and Reference, Awards.  Which brings me to my first point.  This business about using online tools making the award hard to win is just nonsense.  It’s a huge advantage for anyone who has heard of this brand new technology called The Internet.  This blog is written online, Outlook 365 is online.  My Salesforce calendar is online.  Using online tools is usually easy…and this is no exception.  All the handwringing about using online tools?  PLEASE.

There are only two mandatory activities for the PC (Presidential Citation…but you knew that.)  They are 1) Enter 15 goals in Club Central, and 2) Pay your dues on time.  Any requirement, like entering goals, that does not involve a committee, the community, other clubs, a vote, or more than 15 minutes of effort, is just too easy.  It really is the easiest one on the list.  Club Presidents just do this and that’s all she wrote.  NOTE:  Checking this off does not mean this is how clubs should set meaningful goals, but we already covered this “in it to win it” thing earlier.  Oh..and paying your dues on time?  Duh!

Next: Membership Development and Retention.  There is no denying that for many clubs any kind of net gain in membership is a stretch goal.  If you get net 1 for small clubs and net 2 for large clubs congratulations on a great effort.  But this percentage change thing for member retention is curious.  If you have a 20 member club at the beginning of the year and you don’t recruit any new members but lose 3 during the year, you end up with 17 members and a retention rate of 85%.  If you lose 2 during the year the retention rate is 90%.  I don’t see how you can’t do better than 1% retention gains.   (NOTE:  If you want to read a great blog on Rotary membership and other great Rotary stuff check out Retention Central, written by retired Zone 34 Membership Coordinator, PDG Jim Henry, at  He writes about calculating membership retention in his March 1, 2015 post.

You might also notice that we get credit for recruiting net new female members, which is curious because we are/ or should be, doing that anyway if we want to have excellent Rotary clubs. Editorial Comment:  Could we still be having this conversation about female members? You’ve got to be kidding.  It’s embarrassing that we are still talking about the gender of our members instead of the energy, talent, and enthusiasm of our members.  (sigh!)  Anyway, the good news is the net gain in female members counts towards your overall net membership gain goal.  Heck…you could be losing overall membership and hit the 1 net new female member goal.  You need three out of four here.  Hit the overall net gain number and everything else will fall into place.

Next: Foundation Giving.  2 of 4.  Have the club give $20 to the Rotary Foundation.  REALLY? A TOTAL club giving goal of $20?  Another possibility is increase Paul Harris Fellows by at least one.  Yup…you got this.  SOMEONE in your club is hanging around within a few hundred dollars of their first Paul Harris.  And you might consider using recognition points to match a new members contribution as an incentive to give.  Just sayin.  Here’s another one.  You need 10% of the club to do recurring giving.  Have members bring laptops and handhelds to a meeting and take ten minutes to get everyone who chooses to give online signed up.  You see….this is really isn’t so hard.

Online Tool Adoption.  2 of 4.  Have 50% of club registered in My Rotary.  This doesn’t mean they have to know anything about My Rotary.  They just have to register on My Rotary.  Do this the same time you do your recurring giving.  EASY.  Post one initiative on Rotary Showcase.  Total time for this one is 15 – 30 minutes depending on who is doing it.  CHECK.

Humanitarian Service.  3 of 7.  Here’s an easy one.  Have a member join a Rotary Action Group. There are lots of Rotary Action Groups (RAGs) worthy of your time.  I’m particularly fond of RFHA (Rotary Family Health Days and Aids Prevention.)  To join go to and fill out the online form.  Total cost for annual membership..ready?…$25. If you don’t like RFHA go to My Rotary and check out the other choices.  EASY.  Here’s another easy one. Have a member attend a grant management seminar.  Get this…your MOU training counts!  Awe come on.  Last…you need 75% of members to participate in a hands on project. one of your club meetings instead of the usual fare do a service project.  Get 75% of your members to attend.  It’s your normal date and time for your meeting so the attendance goal shouldn’t be too hard.  Make sure your members know this is for the PC in advance.  You got this one, too.  And you might even have fun and do some good in the community while your at it.

New Generations.  2 of 4.  OK…I’ll give you this one.  If your club doesn’t already sponsor an Interact Club or Rotaract Club this is going to be a challenge.  Mentoring 3 Rotaract or Interact students requires a simple phone call to your District Interact or Rotaract Chair or to your Area Governor to find out local clubs that DO sponsor clubs and ask to partner on mentoring.  But let’s face it, if your club hasn’t sponsored a New Generations club it’s time you did anyway.  If you already sponsor a club, this is a done deal.  If you don’t….get to work on it starting now.  You have until April 1, 2016 to sponsor a club.

Public Image.  1 of 2.  1) Update your website or 2) update your brochure using Rotary’s new brand center tools.  This is just a gimme because New Generations might actually take some work.  This is no different from designing a golf course with a short Par 3 after a long and difficult par five.  President Ravi is just feeling sorry for us with this one.

So there you go.  Your club is now a legitimate Presidential Citation winner with official bragging rights to claim your club is truly a superior, amazing, excellent, Rotary-Leading club.  It really IS doable.  Get the Club’s Board together and go for it.  YOU CAN DO THIS. Here’s the not-so-secret sauce…along the way….while your club is doing what you need to do to win the award, you are going to be getting members interested in all of the tools and techniques of being a great Rotary club.  The result is going to be a more vibrant, fun, Rotary club.

I’m sorry, but I can’t close today’s missive without one more clip.  This is Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs performing “Lil” Red Riding Hood.”  The Pharaohs also had the smash hit Wooly Bully, which I remember as part of the soundtrack for the Tom Hanks movie, Splash.  This was recorded in 1966 and I was 9 years old when this hit the charts.  I’m ashamed that I still remember it.  In fact, to all the younger Rotarians who are about to watch this clip…I’m ashamed that this was recorded at all.  This is so unbelievably bad. (This clip goes out to current Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent President, Tom Allen, who was attending U of Md. College Park at the time ….and tells me he remembers the first U. of Md. co-ed dorms being opened during his college career.  Yes, younger Rotarians…Tom is very old.)  This clip features bad music, the worst lip-syncing in fifty years, real live authentic Go Go girls in the background, and an almost R-Rated cartoon Red Riding Hood.




Rotary By Design – Not By Default


If you happen to attend one of Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin’s, Membership Workshops, you have to be prepared to learn about a lot more than just Rotary membership.  Nevin insists on informing the audience about just about every aspect of Rotary.  You can agree or disagree, but Darrell’s views on Rotary have been embraced by many of our clubs over the years, and not surprisingly, several of those clubs have experienced explosive growth.  Last night’s meeting was held in the training room at Darrell’s office at Keller Williams Real Estate, where one wall is covered with a whole bunch of sales-related / inspirational thoughts.  We were asked about this one thought specifically.  Instead of thinking about Life by Design, Not by Default, we were asked to think about “Rotary by Design, Not by Default.”  The message resonates because at the International Assembly in San Diego  we were all asked to question “WHY” we do things the way we do in our Rotary clubs.  Clearly Rotary by Design is in our organizational future.


For many of us, Nevin’s membership training program is as comfortable as an old shoe, but it is impossible to listen to Darrell get on one of his rants and not get totally fired up about Rotary.  We had twenty five attendees last evening, many of them making the long trip north from Southern Md. in order to hear the “Nevinisms.”  Well…they either came for the Membership Training or the Chick Fil a dinner.  (I found out that Chick Fil a nuggets taste different from Chick Filet tenders.  Who knew?  I keep telling people, Rotary is where you go for personal and professional growth!)

But I digress.  Nevin covered his 6 Key Steps to Energize Your Rotary Club for Sustainable Growth.  Here they are:

1)  Fix your Product; Define Your Brand

2) Form a Committed Team; Meet Weekly; Create a Culture of Accountability

3) Prepare the Hit List; Post it to Drop Box; Plan an Open House

4) The Fireside Chat – THEE most important hour in Rotary

5) New Member Checklist; check the checklist; Red Badge/Blue Badge

6) Get New Members to Rotary Leadership Institute/ District Conference

If you would like more information about Darrell’s membership seminars, he has produced two different membership booklets that have all the details you need for clubs to experience explosive growth.  You can find the booklets, “Ready, Get Set, Grow” and “Extreme Makeover, Small Club Edition” on the District 7620 website under the Membership tab at


This is Nevin’s last year as District 7620 Membership Chair and the D-Man is going to stand aside and let new Membership Chair, Rich Glover, take the Chair for the next few years.  Rich is going to do a great job as Membership Chair, and he’s smart enough to ask Nevin to hang around and still do some training.  Here’s a short video take of Darrell after last night’s training, trash talking about “the new kid” taking over the Membership Chair.  (Note:  Darrell claims he’s been Chair for six years  but I know he was doing District Training more than a decade ago. )

New Chair Rich Glover is already filling in the organizational roles needed to move our membership efforts to the next gear.  Look for Membership Coordinators to be recruited and trained around the District, and I’m looking forward to how Rich and his team are going to be working directly with our Club’s Membership Chairs.  Too much fun!

Next up?  Our District Club Officer Training, formerly known as Club Leadership Assembly, formerly known as the District Assembly.  I’m sure that Training Chairs, Mary Nagle and Sean McAlister will do their usual spectacular job putting  on a great show for our Club Officers.  That will be on April 18th at Charlestown Retirement Community.  Then yours truly, having weathered PrePETS 1 & 2, San Diego, Chesapeake PETS, and the District Assembly, will have the nervous breakdown that I’ve worked so hard for and so richly deserve.


DGN Anna Mae Kobbe, hubby and Rotarian Doug Newell, and PE Chuka Ndubizu.  (Doug explained he had to attend if he wanted any dinner last evening.)


Foreground:  Obviously the cole slaw was a smash.  L to R: Jim Adams, Lizzie Abraham, Rich Glover, George Abraham, Yours Truly, Tom Neff, and Susan Thomas.


L-R Back row:  Bruce Fowler, Larry Foster, Gary Greenwald, Matt May.  Front row L-R: Area Governor Jimmie Gorski, Judy Cappucilli, Joe Slert, and Pat Slert.  



Top Ten Challenges for 2015-2016 District 7620 Rotary Club Presidents

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I was trying to count em up and I think this is my twelfth PETS, where the first eleven were acting as trainer in the service of another District Governor, and this being, of course, the one and only PETS where I am serving the Club Presidents as their DG.   I can tell you that it sure is different when your the DGE.  The bad news?  You want so much for your PEs to have a great experience that you can get pretty stressed out hoping that all goes well.  The good news?  It’s nothing that the proper medication can’t fix!

I want to thank Mary Nagle and Sean McAlister, our District 7620 Training Chairs, for doing a magnificent job putting together our PrePETS 1 and 2, and now Chesapeake PETS.  (For those not in the know, PETS stands for President Elect Training Seminar).  This was their first year of doing the training and they did a magnificent job.  I also want to thank our facilitators, Area Governors, and Sergeant At Arms, who took their time last weekend to help support our presidential “newbies.”  They were terrific.  And, this is a special shout out to Chesapeake PETS Chair, Eric Grub, and the DGEs and committee members from three other Rotary Districts, who made this possible. (Note:  Eric, in a very brief fit of common sense, is retiring this year from running Chesapeake PETS.  Well done, Eric!)

I find myself comparing this time of year to baseball’s spring training where hope abounds that this will be the year we win the World Series.  Except in Rotary we hope this will be the year where our new Presidents are all fully engaged with creating vibrant and enthusiastic Rotary clubs.  This is when we hope all PEs will actually input their goals into Rotary Club Central, and they will take active steps to follow District 7620’s six-step leadership program of 1) Create your Go-To Team, 2) Make a Plan, 3) Write it Down, 4) Recruit Great Committee Chairs, 5) Have them engage club members in their committees, and 6) Hold Everyone Accountable.  It may seem easy, but doing all six steps is a tough challenge to meet in a volunteer organization like Rotary.

Like every year at this time….I hope every Club Presidents step up to the challenge.  They all don’t succeed of course, but that’s baseball….er…..Rotary.

Here is the class, with just a little rehearsal, attempting to shout out the 2015-2016 Rotary Theme, “Be a Gift To the World.”  Be kind…this was at the end of a long day of training.

This year at Chesapeake PETS I offered our President-Elects a list of ten priorities for our District this year.  This list was prefaced by a reminder that Rotary District’s are nothing more than a group of Rotary Clubs, and that the “One Thing” that makes a great Rotary District IS GREAT ROTARY CLUBS.  No list of five, ten, or one hundred items proposed by a District Governor makes any difference at all unless our Club Presidents take them to heart.  Hopefully they did.  Here they are:

1)  Supporting new Membership Chair, Rich Glover, as he helps our District to grow.

2)  Attending our first ever Young Professional Summit, under the leadership of our two YP         RI Summit attendees, Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman.

3)  Generate quality content for our District communications pipelines, including our                    Facebook Page, Blog, Linked In Group, and Twitter account.

4)  Use 2015-2016 RI President Ravi Ravindran’s Presidential Citation as a model for being         an excellent Rotary club.

5)  Focus on building our Paul Harris Society as a means of achieving our $200 per cap                 Annual Programs Fund giving goal.

6)   Extend two new Rotary clubs in 2015-2016 with special attention to Prince Georges                County and Baltimore City.

7)  Have our clubs be more engaged with creating partnerships to participate in District               and Global grants.

8)  Attend the District Conference for the strategic reason of increasing member retention.

9)  Support Polio Eradication with two District-wide Polio fundraisers

10)  Change the culture in District 7620 about using Rotary’s on-line tools.

OK.  I get it.  This is a very ambitious agenda.  But if you were there with us in Reston you would have seen the enthusiasm, energy, and skill  that the 2015-2016 PEs are going to bring to bear on achieving these goals.  As I said at the PETS training last weekend, “There is no “GOOD IDEA FORM”  that must be filled out in District 7620 and approved by District leadership. The only barrier for our Rotary Club’s to the amount of good we can do in the world is our own imagination, energy, skill, and determination to change things for the better.”

I am so proud of the Rotarians who stepped up to be Club Presidents next year.  You have to admit…this IS a good looking group of PEs!


RI Director, Robert Hall, survived my introduction and gave a great speech to the Plenary session on Friday night.


Can you see the name on the name tag matches the name on the bottle?  Chateau Morrisette.  Too bad Claude’s name is Morissette.  They got the wine name wrong.

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PDG and Polio survivor Ann Lee Hussey gave an inspirational talk to the Plenary session and also found a few minutes to stop by our District breakout session to chat with our PEs.

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Putting the District 7620 puzzle together for how to build an excellent District.  Only one way….with excellent Rotary Clubs and excellent Rotary Club Presidents.