Category Archives: District Conference

The Best District Conference Ever

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Thank you to Rotarian Darren Easton, Vice President and Creative Director of the Cyphers Agency, Annapolis, Md., for creating this amazing image.  How cool is this?

It’s getting on that time of the year where District Governor’s around the world, having finished their official Governor visits, now revisit their clubs to sell their District Conference.  DO NOT register for your District Conference because your DG signed a very expensive contract with a swanky hotel guaranteeing  the District will sell a minimum number of rooms at fancy hotel rates.  And don’t register because if the District doesn’t sell the minimum number of rooms the District will be obligated to pay many thousands of dollars in penalties with money that isn’t in the budget.  Pay no attention to the fact that the consequence of not selling enough rooms is the DG will be held in ridicule for the remainder of his or her Rotary career by everyone in his or her District.  Completely disregard that consequently the current DG will not be able to brag about his or her District Conference as a Past District Governor, to other PDGs who are also bragging about their District Conference, endlessly reliving the wild excitement of the event, while somewhat inaccurately inflating the attendance figures and generally claiming that theirs was the “best District Conference ever.”

Instead, register for the District Conference because Rotary District Conferences offer an extraordinary value proposition for those that choose to attend.  For most members, the Conference is a wonderful opportunity to see Rotary through a different perspective than the one they have from attending their club each week.   Interacting with Rotarians from around the Rotary District is generally educational, interesting, and fun.  That’s because, as surprising as it may seem, Rotarians themselves are generally (Four Way Test Alert…..I did say generally) interesting and fun….and sometimes educational.  Attending a District Conference is one of the best ways I know to learn from other Rotary clubs about the “best practices” that work for them.  Many Rotarians who attend the District Conference lean about best practices and other Rotary information from informed speakers and interesting breakout sessions.  Many other Rotarians find that the best time to steal….er…..borrow…..er…..discover  best practices is in the club-sponsored hospitality suites.  Here Rotary Clubs from around the District are busy offering free specialty drinks and desserts to Rotarians deeply interested in world peace.    After a couple of pops in the hospitality suites the true meaning of Rotary and frankly, life itself, is generally discovered by all concerned.  What fun!

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Special thanks to First Lady, Linda Solow, for creating this amazing image.  How cool is this?

As we get closer to District Conference season, be kind to your District Governor.  He or she may take on a rather crazed look as the Conference grows ever closer and the terror of missing room guarantees looms ever larger.  You may notice a slight drop of drool escaping the corner of his or her mouth or evidence of an even larger drop on a shirt or blouse. Pretend not to notice.  They can’t help it.  Most District Governors at this time of year have no interest in world peace or “Being A Gift To the World,” or any of that other Rotary stuff. They are, in fact, much like the Maytag Repairman, simply waiting and watching for someone….anyone…..to register for their District Conference.

Ol' Lonely Maytag salesman Hardy Rawls.2003 to present. about to be replaced

If you are a member of Rotary District 7620 you are hereby officially invited to attend the District Conference on April 8 – 10 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, Md.  If you are a RFA reader in the many foreign countries that follow this blog, you are also officially invited to attend the Rotary District 7620 Conference on April 8 -10 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, Md.  And if you are a random person who has never heard of Rotary, who stumbled over this blog post while doing a Google search for “how to spell “conference” and who is reading this missive by mistake or some other tragic accident, you too are officially invited to attend the District 7620 District Conference.

To attend Register Here

It’s going to be the best District Conference EVER!!!!!

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

The Star Spangled District Conference is an Amazing Success!

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Frederick Rotarians were determined to put on a great show for the rest of District 7620 when they hosted the District Conference this year.  They wanted to brag on their historic and beautiful hometown of Frederick, Maryland, AND they wanted to show the rest of the District how the Frederick clubs work together to do joint projects.  Under the Direction of Past District Governor, Andy Baum, man….did they ever!  District Governor, Bill Fine, was proud to hold this year’s conference in Frederick for good reason.  There must be something in the water in Frederick County.  The four Frederick Clubs include two of the District’s “big five,” including the Rotary Club of Frederick (196 members) and the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (166 members.)  The two smaller clubs, Southern Frederick County ( 33 members) and Fredericktowne (38 members) also do a great job in serving the community.  Together the four clubs represent an AMAZING 19% of all of the membership in District 7620.

Now I don’t know what you particularly like to have at your District Conference.  For many, they want low cost and a short conference that doesn’t kill the budget or their schedule. Others rank fun, education, good speakers, good fellowship fun, and fun, high on the list.  All I can say is: check, check, check, check, and check.  By having the Conference hosted at Hood College in Frederick instead of a hotel venue, the costs of attending was affordable for all.   Attendees could stay the night at a local hotel, crash at the home of Frederick Rotarians who graciously volunteered to host, or commute to the Conference, depending on their preference.  And because of how it was structured by DG Bill and PDG Andy, and the support of District Rotarians, the District did just fine financially this year.

Friday featured a whole lot of different events that weren’t officially part of the Conference.  You had your choice of playing golf at Musket Ridge Golf Course (interesting two lowest net score format which let you play your own ball.  And yes, Musket Ridge kicked my butt…..again), participating in service projects sponsored by the different Frederick Rotary Clubs, attending a New Member Forum for new Rotarians, or taking a variety of walking tours of Frederick City.  Then the Conference officially kicked off Friday evening with a memorial service and “Barbeque  Bash” at the Bandshell in Baker Park, where The Original Booze Brothers Band rocked the house…er….Park.

NOTE:  Special thanks to Carroll Creek member and Past President, Connie Philips, for the link to Dropbox for the following pix.  Far too many to be included here.  To the many Rotarians where I’ve posted your picture without your name…forgive me.

 

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Yours Truly about to hit the ball straight right into the woods.

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Friday service projects.
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More Friday service projects.

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Even more Friday service projects.

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Standing center:  PDG’s Bob Parkinson and Claude Morissette, not sure where but        apparently prior to serious drinking.

 

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Great band played at the Bandshell Friday night picnic.

Then it was off to the hospitality suites. Cleverly, the hospitality suites were strategically located where you could actually learn about the city of Frederick, including The Frederick Visitor Center, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the C. Burr Artz Branch of the Frederick County Library,  The Museum of Frederick County History, The Visitation Academy, and the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center.  Thank you to all of the clubs that hosted the hospitality suites this year!  It was great.  The only negative I heard was that the weather was so perfect that everyone wanted to walk between the hospitality venues and it made it harder to keep your buzz.

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Hospitality suite at the Delaplaine Arts Center

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DG Bill and First Lady Kathleen morphing into insects Fri. eve.

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Myself, Member Chair Rich Glover, and Young Professional team of Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman…strategizing.

Saturday kicked off with our traditional Four Way Speech Contest, followed by a performance by the Comedy Pigs, an improv group that got the audience roaring.  Next up were some fantastic breakout sessions, including a session on attracting young professionals hosted by Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman, a session on how to use social media taught by District PR Chair Dawn Wittfelt,  a breakout for how to dress for success, brought to you by Leslie Kinkaid, and a critically important session called, Prohibition is Over, Let’s Make Beer, hosted by Ed Wrzesinski.  Last but not least, there was a session on Wellness by Mimi McLaughlin and our usual breakouts for Interact and Rotaract clubs.

The luncheon featured DG Bill Fine and District Awards Chair, Larry Leahy, making the presentations to clubs that won RI President, Gary Huang’s, Presidential Citation.  Our lunch speaker was George Wunderlich, an expert on civil war medicine, who thankfully decided that an after-lunch discussion about blood and guts might not be the best choice, and regaled us with stories about the City of Frederick instead.  After breaking for more tours (or in my case a nap), it was back to Hood College for a banquet featuring more prestigious awards including long-time District Polio Chair, Raj Saini, winning the Rotary International Award for a Polio Free World, PDG Bob Grill winning the Rotary International Service Above Self Award, and IPDG, Peter Kyle, winning Citation for Meritorious Service for the Rotary Foundation.

But perhaps the highlight of the evening was the presentation by RI Rep, Dean Rohrs, who spun some inspirational, and terrifying, tales of her childhood in South Africa and her long journey of Rotary service.  Her talk was so personal, and so emotional, that you could hear a pin drop while she spoke.  Rotary will be in good hands when she matriculates to the RI Board of Directors.

With the Conference officially adjourned, it was off to the Weinberg Center to see a Broadway quality show called, The Rock Tenors.  All I can say about them is OMG.  Their standing ovation and multiple encores were well deserved.

So…thank you to all of the Frederick Rotarians who made this Conference an overwhelming success.  Thank you to the over 460 registered guests who made the Conference a success.  And…thanks to Frederick City for being so beautiful, along with the weather, which also contributed to making the Conference a memorable and fun event.

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                                   DG Bill thanking Md. State Police Honor Guard Friday Eve.                                                 Alternate caption: slapping the cuffs on DG Bill Fine


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                         His Honor, Mayor Randy McClement, welcoming all to Baker Park.

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Rotarian Mark Milby failing the dress code.  With Connie Phillips.

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Four-Way Test speech contest finalists.  Wow were they good.

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The Comedy Pigs.  Wow were they funny.

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                     Half of Clarissa Harris and Justin Saltzman, our Young Professional Summiteers.

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Dressing for success

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                   President Joe Van Deuren picking up Presidential Citation for South AA County Rotary

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PDG Bob Grill winning International Service Above Self Award.

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            They said this show was going to be good.  But who knew is was going to be THAT good.

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                       IPDg Peter Kyle wins Citation for Meritorious Service for the Rotary Foundation.

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                  Frederick Rotarian, John Fieseler, handled the MC duties all weekend with perfect ease.  Great job, John!

 

If you missed attending the District Conference this year.  No worries!  We will be having another one next year on April 9 – 10 at the Hyatt Regency at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Save the date!!!!

 

YOU CAN RECEIVE NOTIFICATIONS OF NEW READY, FIRE, AIM POSTS DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX BY CLICKING ON THE SUBSCRIBE BOX TO THE RIGHT OF THE BLOG TEXT.  YOU CAN FOLLOW KEN SOLOW ON TWITTER AT @KENNETHRSOLOW.  IF YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK PLEASE LIKE THE DISTRICT 7620 FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

DG Bill’s Master Class on How to Use Video to Promote Rotary

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If you get the chance to hang out with District 7620 District Governor, Bill Fine, you will quickly find that he is 1) passionate about Rotary, 2) one of the funniest humans on the planet, and 3) one of the best salesman around.  This week DG Bill treated us to a Master Class on how to sell Rotary, both by using video as a creative media for spreading our message, and by using “the media,” which in this case is Comcast Cable’s Newsmaker show.  Hopefully we can all learn a little something from DG Bill about how to get better at spreading the Rotary gospel.  And along the way we might learn a little something about Rotary Youth Exchange and the District 7620 District Conference.

Recently District 7620 held a workshop to teach us how to use video to promote Rotary.  To see North Bethesda Rotary Club President, Gonzalo Accame’s, notes from his highly acclaimed workshop go to the following link for the Video Workshop.

Exhibit A in today’s lesson is an interview DG Bill did last week for Comcast Cable’s Newsmaker show regarding Rotary Youth Exchange.  The airtime is free as part of Comcast’s corporate community service.  According to District 7620 PR Chair, Dawn Wittfelt, most TV stations have time set aside to air community service spots.  In this case Dawn is on Comcast’s mailing list and they have contacted her to fill several different spots.  As you watch this interview with Bill you might be thinking about how you or someone in your club can make contact with a local station near you.  Check this out and then we can discuss what makes this such a great performance.

 

 

First off, Bill is obviously an expert on the subject.  If you are going to be interviewed by professional media about Rotary, make sure you know what you are talking about.  In this case DG Bill has been involved with Rotary Youth Exchange for years and it shows.  7620 PR Chair Dawn informs me that in many cases, like this one, the station allows you to give them the questions you want to be asked in advance, so as always…practice, practice, practice!  It’s natural to be nervous the first few times (and maybe more than that) you are in front of a microphone, so be prepared.

Second, did you notice how short and to the point Bill’s answers are to every question?  If you are looking for soundbites that get the message across in a short period of time, then here you go.  Think about how you are going to answer questions, like “what is Rotary Youth Exchange” without allowing your listeners to get lost in the translation.  How about these quotes?  “Student’s are like non-paid US ambassadors.” Or, “World peace, 1 to 1, one person at a time.”  Terrific.

Third, did you notice that Bill threw in a brief personal story about his own experience with Youth Exchange?  Remember that personal testimonies make for some of the most gripping, and memorable stories, which is of course what makes the difference between a good interview and a great interview.

Fourth, notice how Bill keeps eye contact with the interviewer and doesn’t get distracted by the camera.  Also notice that he allows his personality to come through as the interview goes along.  A few smiles and a little humor goes a long way.

If you didn’t know about Rotary Youth Exchange don’t you think you would be interested in learning more about the program after this very short, four minute interview? Do you think you might be interested in learning more about Rotary?  I think so.  Here’s something else to consider.   Regardless of who does or does not see this on Comcast (most of us are surprised at how many people comment that they saw you on TV or heard you on the radio, even for public interest spots), can you think of other creative ways to use this video?  Let’s move on to Exhibit B.

The next Bill Fine video performance is a promotion for District 7620’s District Conference. Bill assures me you are all invited to come and I’m pleased to extend this invitation on Ready, Fire, Aim.  But there are some teachable moments here worth mentioning as well. First, this YouTube video cost less than $200 to make.  Bill did this performance in ONE TAKE.  YouTube is a great resource for those who want to use video to promote Rotary. You can make your own videos by using your smart phone or home digital camera, or you can hire someone to help and find out that it isn’t as expensive as you thought.  This District Conference promo is a great example of a high quality product for a lot less money than you thought it would cost.

 

If you create a video like this, then how would you use it?  The obvious answer is social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, your club’s website and Facebook page, Twitter, etc., are all looking to feed on good, relevant Rotary content.  Why not show your video (or this video if you are in District 7620) during your club announcements?  Or, share the link by Pmail or Email to various networks you’ve created?  I’ve been guilty of using video shot on my smart phone to educate and entertain RFA readers.  You can do the same.

Thank you DG Bill for reminding us how to use these tools to their best effect to better promote Rotary in and outside of our District.  I hope all of my readers are taking good notes on this.  Awesome stuff!  CHECK OUT THE LINK TO THE VIDEO WORKSHOP!

 

YOU CAN RECEIVE NOTIFICATIONS ABOUT NEW POSTS TO THE READY, FIRE, AIM ROTARY BLOG BY CLICKING ON SUBSCRIBE AND NOTIFICATIONS WILL BE SENT TO YOUR EMAIL.  YOU CAN FOLLOW KEN SOLOW ON TWITTER AT @KENNETHRSOLOW.  IF YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK PLEASE “LIKE” THE DISTRICT 7620 FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

Please Don’t Even Say “District Conference”

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From right to left, the extraordinarily business-like, hard working, and good looking (well…not Rich) Frederick conference committee, including Tiffany Ahalt, Rich Glover, Kara Norman, Nancy Eller, Leah Jones, Caroline Pugh

At least you said “please.”  But, as the writer of RFA I get to exercise my prerogative to  say “District Conference” as often as I feel like writing it.  “District Conference.”  Ha!

Why, you might ask, when it seemed safe to avoid any and all references to District Conferences so early in the Rotary year, am I bringing up this subject?  Because I am spending a lot of time planning not one, but two, District Conferences for District 7620. Yup.  May 2015 and April 2016.  Which begs another question, why do it at all?  You might ask, as DGE, and then DG, don’t you have more important things to worry about?  Like Foundation giving, membership, PR, scholarships, peace fellows, exchange students, RYLA, RLI, etc.?  In a word…. Yes. (sigh)

Nevertheless, having complained endlessly about District Conference planning for an entire year, it is now evident that District Conferences are kind of like gravity, or other forces of nature…you just can’t avoid them.  Speaking of gravity, did you see the movie? Here is a clip that (I think) gives you a tremendous feeling for what it feels like to be on the District Leadership Team.

 

Unbelievable movie, wasn’t it?  George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.  But, as usual, I digress.  Since the Conference is going to happen with or without my enthusiastic participation, I’ve decided to get with the program.  And guess what?  It turns out that we have some pretty neat programs to look forward to.

I am not going to ruin the gigantic marketing campaign coming your way about this year’s District Conference being planned by PDG and Conference Chair, Andy Baum, under the direction of our esteemed DG, Bill Fine.  Andy and his dedicated conference committee are already deep into the details of this year’s conference.  They are working so hard that, on second thought, I think they deserve a well-earned plug.  Here’s just a few tidbits of what is coming your way:

The Conference is being held in Frederick.  If you haven’t heard, one out of two citizens in Frederick is a Rotarian.  You might not believe this, but you are not allowed to own residential property in Frederick without being a Rotarian.  OK…so I exaggerate, but the fact is that the Rotarians in Frederick, which means by default, the whole town of Frederick, is preparing to be the enthusiastic host of this conference.

You may not have been to Frederick, but those of you who have know that Frederick is “way cool.”  And the conference planners are making the city of Frederick the star of the show.  Think beautiful parks and band shells, a fabulous downtown shopping district, historic sites everywhere you look, fantastic restaurants, all of which will be part of the conference.

Musket Ridge Golf Course.  Nuff Said.

Weinberg Center for the Arts

A conference registration that is so inexpensive that it’s just sick.  SICK.

The Conference is scheduled for May 7 – 9 in 2015.  Do yourself a favor and mark it on your calendar now.  I’m SO tired of hearing Rotarians complain that they missed this year’s conference and they are depressed because they heard it was amazing.  It WAS amazing.  Look for more information about the conference as the year progresses.

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The Maestro, PDG, District Grants Chair, District Conference Chair, and willing to sit in tree stands for hours at a time eating jerky while patiently waiting to shoot a perfectly harmless deer, Andy Baum. Who also, in a stunning display of bad judgement, awarded me an award as Best Club President in his DG year of 2001-2002.

 

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Speaking gig at District 7630

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District 7630 is in the state of Delaware and the Eastern Shore.  I’m no expert about Delaware, but I do know a few things.  For example, I know I get mad paying Delaware tolls on the drive from Maryland to South Jersey.  I know (I looked it up) that the state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia’s first colonial governor.  I know that half the  people I know either own a home, or want to own a home, along the Delaware beach on the Eastern Shore.  I know that if you visit Rehobeth you had better like Grotto’s Pizza because there is one on every corner, and I know the state is full of GREAT Rotarians.  Last Saturday I was invited by DG Dan Houghaling to be speaker at the 7630 District Conference.  It was my job to get the Conference kicked off on Saturday morning so I thought I would play some of the video clips I’ve been sharing with my RFA readers.  I tried to make a few points about Rotary Leadership and at the same time get a few laughs.  I’m pleased to report that no one threw rotten fruit at me during my talk and I think that, all in all, I earned my keep.

Since I can no longer help myself, here’s a 58 second clip on leadership that I didn’t share at the Conference, but it cracks me up every time I look at it so I thought I would share.  (Forgive me but I’ve lost all control amusing myself with these video clips.)

Yup…Madagascar.  Teachable Moment:  If you have stand up and tell people that you are the leader, then somewhere along the line you screwed up.

It occurs to me that many Rotarians don’t really understand the size of the organization that they belong to.  I don’t just mean 1.2 million Rotarians internationally.  I mean that there are more than 500 Rotary Districts around the world organized into 34 Zones.  For those of us in District 7620 we have three Districts in our immediate area, 7630 in Delaware, 7610 in Northern Virginia, and 7600 which goes all the way south to Norfolk.   District 7630 encompasses most of the state of Delaware and has more than 1,500 Rotarians as members.  At the conference I saw a “family tree” of 7630 clubs where the grandaddy of them all was the Wilmington, Delaware club.  The club was chartered in 1915 and was the 148th club in Rotary International.  The chart showed how many/most of the clubs in District 7630 could trace their roots to this one club.  How very cool.

So thank you to all of the Rotarians who were so kind to me at the District 7630 Conference, and who laughed at my jokes…which makes them, to my mind, the very best Rotarians around.  My classmate, DGN Rob Hemmen, DGE Jen Reider, and of course, DG Dan, couldn’t have been better hosts for my brief visit.  Our District Conference for 7620 is right around the corner, and I’m looking forward to being entertained.  It’s gonna be a hoot.

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Here’s REALLY why you should go to the District Conference

 

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You must have heard by now.  No?  Here’s the question…..should you go to the District Conference?

How about going to hear fantastic speakers about all kinds of subjects?  Not just Rotary subjects, either.  Although I’m guessing we are all interested in how Rotary International is going to be branding us with a professional PR program for years to come.  I’m talking FOR  REAL interesting speakers.

Or maybe you would like to go because of the Hospitality Rooms.  Do you even know what they are?  Individual clubs and clubs in certain areas of the District basically hold a party in hotel suites and everyone is invited.  You get to drink and carry on for the price of just being a Rotarian who wants to hang out and catch up with some old…and new friends.  We are talking some seriously good food and drinks here.  If you want to find me I will be in whatever suite is serving the fresh oysters.

How about my new slogan for all District Conferences.  Here it is:

THE DISTRICT CONFERENCE IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK IT IS…..IT HAS TO BE.

Do you like block parties in Downtown Baltimore right on Utah Street outside of Camden Yards?  Or maybe you want to hear what is, by all accounts, the hottest dance band in Baltimore?  A ten piece horn band you say?  I’m there.

Have you ever heard the actual final round of the Four-Way Test speech contest?  It is guaranteed to blow you away.  We should all have the enthusiasm and passion of these young contestants.  I’ll bet you’ve never heard even one speech about the Four-Way test.  These young men and women are the best of the best.  You might like it.

But if you really want to know why you should attend the District Conference, I suggest you study the following video, cause this is how you are going to feel if you take a chance and actually spend the night in Baltimore spending time with your fellow Rotarians at the District Conference.  Hopefully I’ll see you there.

NOTE: You only need to watch about one minute of this video to feel good.  Watch the whole thing if you want to feel REALLY good….just like I’m going to feel after visiting two or three Hospitality suites.

 

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“Rotary’s Gone Mad”

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If you don’t know that this is Jack Nicholson in arguably one of the best unscripted moments in movie history, from the movie The Shining, and If you don’t know the famous line, “Heeere’s Johnny!, ” And you don’t know who Johnny is, or who said that line every night on the Tonight Show…..I just can’t help you.

For some it might be a stretch to see this image of Jack Nicholson going mad in the movie, The Shining, and instantly relate it to our current District Governor, Peter Kyle.  But not for me.  Because one of DG Peter’s favorite phrases when he gets frustrated with Rotary bureaucracy is , “Rotary’s gone mad!”  This line is usually uttered with his hands waving in the air and a look of pure disbelief on his face.  Rest assured he doesn’t mean that Rotary has literally gone mad, as Nicholson does in the movie.  He means that Rotary has become an organization that has lots of moving pieces and ever growing complexity.  For District Governors, and for the rest of us, there is a lot to know if you want to excel at this Rotary thing.  Rotary gone mad is just an expression of frustration that there seems to be too much to know about Rotary for those who want to just show up and do good.

This blog is about how to deal with helping club officers get the information they need to best “do good in the world.”  But before I get to all of that, sit back and watch two minute and ten seconds of what Rakutenplay.com says is actually the single scariest moment in movie history.  After polling audiences for what they thought were the scariest movies, they hooked viewers up to heart monitors and showed them the films.  They then measured the jump in the audience heart rate during the movies to get the exact scariest moment in each movie. They then compared jumps in heart rates to see which movie moment was the scariest. This two minute clip is the winner of the scariest movie moment of all time award causing audience hearts rates to jump an incredible 28%!  WARNING:  There is no violence, blood (well…just a little knife slash at the end), foul language or anything like that in this clip.  But I hate scary movies, and this two minutes, which doesn’t even have the benefit of being in the context of the rest of the film, still scares me to death.  Don’t watch it unless  you either like being reminded of the few scary moments you’ve spent in the movie theater, or,  you just have a morbid curiosity to see if this scares you as much as it scares everyone else.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I was the guy who watched the movie, JAWS, and thought the shark looked real.  FURTHER DISCLOSURE: My daughter thinks I’m a wimp.

 

If you’ve composed yourself after watching the clip (Shelly Duvall plays opposite Jack Nicholson) let’s get to the issue of trying to overcome Rotary’s “madness” of complexity.  One of the best ways I know to learn what you need to know to effectively run your club is for you and your club’s officers and committee chairs to attend the upcoming District 7620 District Leadership Assembly on Saturday, April 5th, at the Sheraton North hotel.  Why?  Because your club’s “skill players” can go there and for $25 learn what they need to know to be a great committee chair, treasurer, secretary, foundation chair, etc.  Here are the session titles:

Area Governor

Community Service

and Partnering

Membership

Community Service and Partnering

Foundation MOU 2014-15 Certification

End Polio Now Panel

Foundation Global Grant Nuts & Bolts / Panel Discussion

Fundraising

Strategic Planning

Membership

Presidents-Elect

Your Club Meeting as a Show

New Generations

Public Relations

 

Public Relations

Secretary

 

Strategic Planning

Treasurer

 

 

Seriously?  Everything your club needs to improve is on the agenda.    In short, it is no longer enough to have good intentions about Rotary do-gooding.  You actually have to know how to plug into all of the fantastic resources available to you through Rotary AND our Rotary District so you can maximize your efforts and be as productive as possible for the time you invest.  None of us have unlimited time for Rotary, so this is a great investment in doing more with less.

I can’t end this post without a shameless plug for the session I will be running with Laurie Reuben of the Columbia-Patuxent club on strategic planning.  Laurie is an expert in strategic planning, and lot’s of other organizational development stuff….like….experiential learning, and she is currently helping the Columbia-Patuxent club go through the strategic planning process.  She has put together many of the tools the club is using to develop it’s plan, and she is willing to share!  For my part, I just like hanging around with people smarter than me and cracking a few jokes.  If your club either 1) doesn’t have a strategic plan, 2) has a strategic plan but isn’t engaged with it, or 3) already has a functioning plan, then you should have a few club members attend.  It will be an invaluable one hour show. Just remember to tip your waiters and waitresses before you leave.  (This is a joke….there will be no waiters and waitresses during our session.)

ALL of the sessions are going to be fantastic.  Our District’s Training guru, Paul Frey, has done his usual outstanding job in pulling all of this together for us.  Between the District Leadership Assembly, RLI, and yes….attending the District Conference, we don’t have to turn into Jack Nicholson in The Shining and “go mad” trying to keep up with Rotary.

PLEASE forward this blog around to your club’s leadership and ask if they are attending. The Assembly is April 5th at the Sheraton North in Beltsville from 8AM to 2PM.  The $25 includes continental breakfast and lunch.  The link to sign up is on DACdb.  If you don’t know how to sign up on DACdb you REALLY need to go to the District Leadership Assembly.  See ya there!

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A Really Stupid and Futile Gesture

If I had to name one aspect of leadership in Rotary that is the most interesting to me, it would be to find out what it is that becomes the catalyst for action in a Rotary club.  Rotary club’s are notorious for clinging to the status quo…until something….or someone….comes along to change the equation.  In this clip from Animal House (which is not the full clip –  which is too bad because the best lines come earlier but you have to wade through some R- Rated language to get to them) you can see that this organization has reached that point where desire gets turned into action.  If you saw the whole clip you would know that the catalyst was not Bluto’s (John Belushi) eloquence in front of his audience.  He beseeches them to “remember when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.”  Not exactly accurate, but as one of the characters says, “he is on a roll.”  Bluto’s final scream of “Let’s Do It” has become the rallying cry of many organizations, and it’s worked out OK for NIKE…don’t you think?  It probably wouldn’t be too awful for a lot of Rotary clubs I know.

If you want some clear examples of Rotary clubs that have decided to “Just Do It,”  Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin, recently sent along this list of clubs that have gone into incredible new member mode.  Check out these clubs:

D7620 Clubs to Acknowledge with a “Significant Growth” Award for 2013-2014

Woodlawn Westview                6  to  14

BWI Rotary                            10  to  16

Olney                                    16  to  23

Gaithersburg                          18  to  27

Metro Bethesda                       29  to  36

Towsontowne                         40  to  51

Bel Air                                   43  to  48

Bethesda Chevy Chase             68  to  74

Lexington Park                        98  to  105

Annapolis                             152  to  162

 

As Darrell said in his email, these clubs alone are responsible for adding 70+ net new members to the District.  What do you think the energy level is like in these clubs right now?  Electric.  For these clubs the issue is now how to KEEP these new members, how to integrate them into the club, how to educate them about Rotary, and how to get them into leadership positions.  What a great problem to have.  (By the way…high on the list should be to get them to a District Conference….hint….hint.)

But for me, I’m mostly interested in what, if anything, happened to set off this membership explosion in these clubs?  Was it random?  Did it happen by accident?  Or did  someone in the club decide that it was time “for a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part?”  If so, don’t you wonder who it was and how they did it?

I, myself, your intrepid Rotary reporter and District Governor Nominee, will be researching this question with each of these clubs and will get back to you with some answers.  Perhaps the data is inaccurate?  I hope not, because I love “futile and stupid gestures” in Rotary.  For our organization, at least half the time they turn into something that others call progress!  Remember, Ready, Fire, Aim.  Stay tuned…..

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Rotary and Hollywood

I’ve been asked to be a speaker at the District 7630 District Conference and in the interest of having some fun, my theme will be Rotary and Hollywood.  At the risk of giving away my talk, I just can’t resist sharing some of these clips…mostly because I’m entertaining myself tremendously.  My first clip is from the movie Catch Me If You Can, the story of one of the world’s most successful con artists, Frank Abignale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.  This scene is one of those rare moments where Rotary is actually portrayed on the big screen.

Do you remember this?  Christopher Walken, playing DiCaprio’s father, is being honored at a big Rotary event.  This really IS your father’s Rotary.  Notice that the room is full of white guys.  No women.  No people of color.  And notice the look of totally admiration on the face of DiCaprio as he worships his father in this big moment.  The Rotary wheel is on the podium and hangs proudly over the auditorium.

As I watch this clip I can’t help but focus on some other aspects of Rotary in the 1950’s.  This is OBVIOUSLY a room full of powerful people in town.  This is where the LEADERS are.  Back in the day it was unthinkable that a successful businessman wouldn’t belong to a fraternal organization like Rotary.  I know.  I know.  If you are looking for diversity you won’t find it in this accurate portrayal of Rotary in the old days.  But can’t we agree that we should  aspire to be this kind of force for good in our communities?  To the extent that Rotary is our chance to make SIGNIFICANT positive change locally and around the world, then why not give some thought to asking more people in the business community to join our clubs?

Why would they join?  How about these oldies but goodies in terms of an elevator speech for Rotary membership:  1) Your customers will appreciate that you and your business serve the community, 2) Your employees will appreciate that your business adheres to the value of community service, 3) You will meet other “movers and shakers” who you might want to do business with of all ages, 4) You will never feel better then when you give something back to the community, and 5) Rotary just happens to be a lot of fun.

More clips to come.  I hope you enjoy them.  Oh, and thanks to Dan Houghtaling, DG of District 7630, for inviting me to speak.  What fun!

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3 Great Reasons to Apply for Rotary Club Awards


award_ribbon_gold_1st_T

Why should we care about “winning” a District club award?  Or for that matter, an RI Presidential Citation?  Good question, don’t you think?  After all, I don’t know any Rotarians who serve the local or international community because they want to win an award.  And actually applying for the awards does take a certain amount of effort that could be better spent….serving the community.  Larry Leahy, our District Awards Chair, has made the process as easy as possible with simple forms to complete that allow you to win Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards based on earning points for Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, New Generations, and International Service.  But even so….why bother?

Here are three good reasons to apply for and WIN an award (in no particular order):

Reason Number One:  It will help you recruit new members.  It will especially help small clubs recruit new members.  How?  Because the award allows you to say that you are “an award winning” club, and for many potential recruits that could be meaningful.  In fact, it is an important third-party confirmation that you have a GREAT Rotary club no matter how big your club is.

Reason Number Two:  It will help you to retain your current members.  The old saying is, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and unfortunately at times that can be true in our clubs.  Long-time members may no longer appreciate just how good your club is and the breadth of services you provide.  Winning an award is a great confirmation that they have made an excellent choice to be a Rotarian in YOUR CLUB.  Winning always feels good.  Remember, Rotary is a team sport and in this case winning an award give the team something to cheer about.

Reason Number Three:  The award could be newsworthy.  At a minimum its worth letting the local paper know you are an “award winning” club.  Any further PR you do as a club can include the fact that you won your award.  It turns out the community just might be interested that the local Rotary club is an award winning club.  Be creative in letting them know.  While you and I know that it is isn’t that difficult to win some kind of District award, let’s keep it a secret between us.  As far as the community and the press is concerned, your club just won a very exclusive award.

There you go.  Three good reasons to apply for and win some club awards.  Deadline for the submission is March 31, 2014.  If you have any questions about District awards contact Larry Leahy at Leahy620@verizon.net.  And by the way…it’s perfectly OK to be a little cocky while you strut up to the front of the room to accept the award for your club at the District Conference.