Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Extending” a new Rotary club…”A Dive into a Pool of Positive Energy”

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You get to do a whole lot of fun stuff when you are a District Governor in Rotary.  But I don’t know if you get to do anything too much more exciting than “extending” or “chartering” a new Rotary club.  Nowadays, my DG classmates tell me its a lot easier to start “satellite” Rotary clubs than it is to start a club from scratch, and they are probably right.  But if you’ve ever watched a group of dedicated people come together to learn about Rotary, get to know each other, and figure out just what the heck their club is going to be, I promise you it’s a process that is amazing.  I recently had the opportunity to participate in the charter celebration for our District’s sixty-second Rotary club, the Rotary club of Downtown Silver Spring, and it was a joyous occasion.  NOTE:  Our District strategic plan calls for us to extend two new clubs each year.  Since I closed a club this  year does this count as one or am I still net zero?

I suppose what I like best about chartering a new club is that new Rotary clubs really “don’t know what they don’t know.”  Who or what is to stop these super enthusiastic Rotarians from making a gigantic impact on their community?  Why shouldn’t the members become life-long friends both in and outside of Rotary?  And why couldn’t they become true citizens of the world and become completely engaged with Rotary in all of its international majesty?  I will say it again…(sorry about this)….but there is no “Good Idea Form” to fill out in District 7620.  This group of 26 new Rotarians can do just about whatever they want to do to make downtown Silver Spring a better place, limited only by their skill, imagination, and willingness to work hard at making a difference.  Starting a new club is like taking a dive into a pool filled with positive energy.  At least for this one morning it seemed like there is nothing that this group of men and women can’t accomplish.

Here is a two minute video of Past District Governor, and District 7620 club Extension Chair, Ray Streib, giving the oath of office to the club’s officers.  You might note someone (possibly your RFA editor) calmly and politely asking Ray to hurry up with the speechmaking.  I might add that Ray has been involved with extending more than 20 Rotary clubs.  I might also point out that he doesn’t read from a script when he gives the oath of office….and neither should anyone else.

I think for once I am going to shut up and let the pictures tell the story here.  But I do hope that the new Downtown Silver Spring Friday morning breakfast club does not forget the culture of membership growth that allowed them to grow from a couple of people who wanted to learn more about Rotary, into a new club with 26 members.  I just looked it up and can report that the city of Silver Spring has a population of 71,000.  If we include the Silver Spring-Kensington lunch club we have about 40 Rotarians serving the needs of the city.  I’m just spitballing here, but I’m guessing that about 100 Rotary members would have a huge impact on the city, would get the attention of local businesses as partners, and would make an impression on city government.  Come on Downtown Silver Spring…you can do this!

Here is a quick interview with the new leadership of the Downtown Silver Spring club.  I wouldn’t bet against this club, would you?

 

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L – R  Charter President of the Downtown Silver Spring Rotary Club, Carson Henry, District Governor Nominee “Uncle” Greg Wims, and District Governor Elect, Anna Mae Kobbe.

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Club Extension Chair, Ray Streib, making certain that Club President, Carson Henry, doesn’t screw anything up during this important occasion.

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New members praying that the speeches will be over soon so that they can finally eat some breakfast.

And finally, the actual Club Charter.  You might note my signature next to some guy named Ravi.  We didn’t have the original at the ceremony so we gave them a cheap copy in a nice frame that Ray had laying around in his basement.  The real Charter will be safely in the hands of the club’s officers shortly.

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UNSUBSCRIBE

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No…No….Don’t unsubscribe to Ready, Fire, Aim for heavens sakes.  Unsubscribe to just about everything else.  I’ve decided to take a shot at reducing my email clutter.  Why not join me?

We learned long ago that one of the hardest things to do as a District Leader is to communicate by email with the Rotarians in the District.  One possible reason for this is that some Rotarians might not be interested in just about anything we have to say as a District Leader.  This might be because they are so involved with Rotary at the club level that the “District” has become at best a distraction, and at worst, an annoyance.  A second reason Rotarians might not be interested is because District Leaders don’t have much of anything interesting to say.  (I know this couldn’t possibly apply to me, but I’m just sayin….)  In other words, what if we really ARE sending spam out to the Rotarians in our District?  If that’s the case, then shame on us.

But I prefer to think that the reason its so hard to communicate with the Rotarians in the District is that they, like me, find themselves overwhelmed with email messages on a daily basis.  I know I get more than 200 emails per day and some of my friends just laugh because they get even more than I do.  In my case, I get emails from non-profits, retailers where I bought something in the past five years, investment research (I’m in the business), and yes….wait for it….Rotary emails.  Rotary emails come from just about everywhere, including Rotary International, Rotary Clubs, Rotary District Leaders, leaders from other Rotary Districts, Foundation appeals for projects from around the world, etc., etc., etc.  I realize that I signed up to be a District Governor so all of the Rotary email is just another part of the gig.  But for the typical, ordinary Rotarian, who is frantically digging through their mail so they don’t fall too far behind, then maybe, just maybe, reading a Rotary email is just a little too time consuming in the overall scheme of things.

NOTE:  I just was watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Joe and the Volcano before dinner, and writing this post made me think about the two of them in You’ve Got Mail.  Sorry guys, but this is one of the classic “chick flicks” and if you can’t stand watching this scene, I perfectly understand.  Can you imagine WANTING to watch a movie called You’ve Got Mail? I know I’ve got mail, ….about 200 of them….every stinking day.  Anyway, watching this scene makes me weep.  It does.  Really.

 

Back to reality.  Here’s where this unsubscribe thing comes in.  Have you tried it?  It’s one of the most satisfying, entertaining, and thoroughly enriching experiences you can have.  I compare it to the feeling you get when you go through the easy pass lane on the freeway and watch the suckers waiting in a long line of cars to pay the toll.  Or the feeling you get when you go to Disney World and use your Fast Pass and walk right up to head of the line.  It’s glorious!

Unsubscribing from an email solicitation feels even better, because it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Here’s the thing, though.  Don’t confuse unsubscribing to an email solicitation or newsletter by going down to very fine print at the bottom of the email, with clicking the unsubscribe button at the top of your email browser which “blocks” the mail.  (Anyway, thats what my twenty-four year old son told me and he is my personal tech support and I try to do exactly what he says.)  If you hunt through the microscopic small print at the bottom of the mail you will find something that says “click here to unsubscribe,” or “safe unsubscribe,” or “change your email preference.”  Any of the above allow you to click on a box that says unsubscribe.  Many times a quick quiz comes up and they want to know why you unsubscribed.  There is no option to answer, “I unsubscribed because I am desperately trying to recover at least some portion of my sanity and/or some portion of my life.” Therefore I just click on “I no longer want to receive this email.”  Direct, to the point, and absolutely accurate.  Just not dramatic enough for me, but again…that’s just me.

Every time you do it you feel great.  I mean, you FEEL GREAT!  You gotta try this.  Even so, I’ve been at this for a couple of weeks now and it still doesn’t seem like my email garbage is getting any better.  But sooner or later it will have an impact, right?  Once you make a dent, you will find yourself sitting back with your favorite beverage, with a half smile on your face, without a care in the world, opening and reading your Rotary email.  I promise to only send Rotary stuff that is life changing, like the last one I sent about attending my District Conference.  That’s not spam….that truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

No time stress while reading Rotary emails.  Doesn’t that sound great?

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YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO THE READY, FIRE, AIM BLOG BY CLICKING ON THE SUBSCRIBE BUTTON TO THE RIGHT OF THE BLOG TEXT AND RECEIVE AUTOMATIC NOTICES OF NEW POSTS.  YOU CAN FOLLOW KEN SOLOW ON TWITTER AT @KENNETHRSOLOW.  PLEASE LIKE THE DISTRICT 7620 FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

Steve Jobs and Rotary…reading things that are not yet on the page.

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I just got finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.  The book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years, ever since I received it at our Rotary club’s gift exchange a couple of years ago.  We play that game where you can “steal” a gift from others up to three times, or you can choose from the gifts that haven’t been opened.  You know that game, right?   No offense to whoever wrapped this particular book but I’m pretty sure the book wasn’t exactly “new” when I opened it, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, with the release of the new Steve Jobs movie, I thought it might be a good time to finally get down to reading it.  So over the Christmas break I’ve been totally immersed in the incredible and compelling story of Steve Jobs.  As the Founder and CEO of Apple and Pixar, Jobs literally changed our world in more ways than I realized before I read his story. And, as your hard working RFA editor, I managed to find many lessons on Rotary leadership in the book.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Jobs about his views on customer satisfaction:

Some people say, “Give the customer what they want.”  But that’s not my approach.  Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.  I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.  That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

Here’s how this might relate to Rotary leadership.  When our task is to rethink how to make Rotary more relevant in our community.  How to reengage Rotarians in our clubs.  How to have more impact and make more of a difference in how we serve others, and how to attract the next generation to Rotary, perhaps the last thing we should do is to take a poll of our club members to see what they think the club should do.  It’s possible that they will say “they want a faster horse.”

Maybe what is needed is a leap in imagination. We need our Rotary leaders, at every level, to leapfrog what seems to be the desires of our customers (our current Rotarians) and create a vision that is so powerful that they realize that the new, bigger vision, for Rotary is what they wanted all along.

The Think Different ad campaign for Apple ran from 1997 – 2002.  To be honest with you I never paid that much attention to it before.  Think about Rotary as you listen to this message.  Breathtaking!  (By the way, that’s Richard Dreyfus doing the voiceover in this commercial.  Jobs also recorded the voiceover, but he decided not to use it for the commercial.  They played his recording at the memorial service for him after he passed.)

You might think I’m being overly dramatic, and maybe I am, but our organization allows us to do exactly this.  We have our own Steve Job’s right here in District 7620, and his name is Dr. John Sever.  What kind of dreamer…..or visionary…..or delusional person, would write a letter to the RI President, Clem Renouf, in 1979, and suggest that “we eradicate polio for all the children of the world?”  Sever, Renouf, and Cliff Dochterman, among many others, came up with a vision to eradicate polio more than thirty years ago.  They really did help the rest of us to Think Differently.  I wonder how they must feel today about what Rotary is about to accomplish?

Steve Jobs changed our lives.  Rotary, with our partners, is about to do the same worldwide.  It would be great if this year we all allowed ourselves to be “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels…” Let’s reimagine Rotary this year.

 

YOU CAN RECEIVE NOTIFICATIONS OF NEW POSTS TO READY, FIRE, AIM BY CLICKING THE SUBSCRIBE BUTTON TO THE RIGHT OF THE BLOG TEXT.  YOU CAN FOLLOW KEN SOLOW ON TWITTER AT @KENNETHRSOLOW.  PLEASE “LIKE” THE DISTRICT 7620 FACEBOOK PAGE.