Category Archives: Fun

Increase Rotary Membership and Don’t Call Me Shirley

During the development of the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, we intended to make the film available to every Rotarian in the world for free.  We felt the story was so important, and so entertaining, that Rotarians would reengage with the polio eradication story….a necessity when you consider that we need to support polio eradication for three years after the last official case of polio is recorded. Surely getting people to watch the movie when it didn’t cost anything wouldn’t be a tough sell.

I thought changing the distribution plan for the movie to make it a fundraiser for polio was a good idea.  After all, we are charging $25 TOTAL for the movie, INCLUDING the $18.75 contribution to Polio Plus, and having walked down the DVD isle at Best Buy I could see that the price point wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t outrageous either.  Especially when you consider we are selling the movie for $6.25 and the rest of the price is a charitable contribution to Rotary’s most important project.

The new distribution plan is to make the first 18-minutes of the movie a FREE club program.  We’ve given Club Presidents a FREE downloadable PDF on how to conduct a discussion with club members about the movie and Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. What better “teaser” to buy the film than to show the first 18-minutes? Surely Rotarians will want to see how the story ends, right? (Forgive me for this, but I can’t help but add this clip from the movie, Airplane, where using the term “surely” has been forever ruined for me and for other Airplane fans.  This is Leslie Nielson in the first of many movie parodies that resurrected his career and Robert Hays as the ex-pilot, Ted Striker.)

Surely (I dare you not to say it) Club Presidents won’t show the 16-minute download plus the two minutes of credits and think that’s the end of the movie? Surely they won’t skip the discussion about polio? Surely they won’t miss this opportunity to sell the movie to their members so that everyone actually sees the end of the story and learns the important lessons offered by the great Rotarians who put us on the path to polio eradication? And surely they will stress that the movie is a much needed, and Bill and Melinda Gates matched, contribution to Polio Plus?

As importantly, will Rotary clubs avail themselves of the opportunity to use this film to recruit and retain new members? For example, why not gather all the new members from the past twelve months and have a “new member dinner” where everyone is invited to a club officer’s house to watch the movie, enjoy good food and frosty beverages, and generally discuss their Rotary experience so far? What better way to bond new members to the club, to Rotary’s greatest goal, and to each other?

Same thing with new prospective members. Why not have a special evening where anyone who has visited the club in the past is invited to a special movie night at a club member’s home who has a wide-screen TV, where they watch the film, enjoy good food and drink, and then discuss Rotary membership? What better way to introduce someone to club membership and Rotary’s illustrious history in a fun and non-threatening way?

Time will tell if changing our movie distribution plan to a fundraiser was a mistake. If Rotary clubs watch the free 18-minute club program and individual members don’t buy the film and learn the full story it will be a shame. Even though raising money for Polio eradication is important, if we don’t use this film as a tool for public image and membership retention and recruitment, we will be missing a big opportunity.

I can’t let you leave this post without enjoying one more famous (imfamous) clip from the movie, Airplane. My apologies for the violence depicted. As I recollect, we were all slapping each other for weeks after the movie came out. Here is Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack, among others, creating chaos in the air and on the ground.

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If You Build a Terrific Young Professional Recruiting Event….Will They Come?


“If you build it, they will come.”  Kevin Costner’s character in the movie, Field of Dreams, hears a mysterious voice with this message while walking in his corn field in Iowa.  “Build it” refers to building a baseball diamond, and as James Earl Jones says in this iconic clip, if Ray Kinsella (Costner) builds the field, fans will come to watch the game. This is a three minute clip so skip it if you like, but this is truly one of the great scenes in a great baseball movie.

Anyone who knows anything about the business of major league baseball knows that baseball is wrestling with developing its next generation of fans.  And while James Earl Jones speaks poetically about the timeless and somewhat old fashioned virtues of baseball, the sport is in a lot of trouble if they can’t market a better value proposition to a younger demographic.  Rotary has much the same problem.  We need to get serious about how to position Rotary as a great value for young professionals.

Which brings me (blessedly) to the subject of this post, which is share with you a creative event for recruiting young professionals to Rotary.  Past President of the Dupont Circle Rotary Club, and well-known expert in recruiting young professionals, Clarissa Harris, and the District 7620 YP team, including Nomie Hamid, Katie Blyth,  Tiffany Nesfield, and Justin Saltzman, are out to change the paradigm for how to recruit Next Gen Rotarians.  Here’s the secret….they are not promoting a Rotary membership event.  Instead they are “selling” YPs on how community service can help jumpstart their career.  That’s right.  It turns out that YP’s are looking for opportunities to build their network, be mentored, and practice leadership skills. And yes, they are very interested in doing “hands on” community service.  NOTE:  This does not mean selling tickets to fundraisers.  Just sayin.

The event is called, Generation Lead.  To be held on Saturday, September 17th, the agenda is a clever mix of information about leadership development in the morning and a service project in the afternoon.  They have created a professional and informative website at Please go there immediately to steal….er…..get the details.  Here’s how the day goes:  Participants do some basic warm-up networking and then participate in an interactive leadership workshop run by Sarah Alexander with the University of Md.’s Office of Community Engagement.  Next is a panel discussion with John Hill, CEO of Pinnacle Advisory Group, Kristin Post, former Peace Fellow and researcher at the Marine Corps Culture Training Center, and Sarah Alexander, discussing how community service has an impact on who they hire, how community engagement impacts how they view their employees, and how community service has impacted their personal career development.


YP guru Clarissa Harris.  

After the morning sessions on professional development, the YP’s are off to an interesting service project where they will be planting more than 5,000 bee friendly plants to support three new swarms of bees.  The mix of hands on service and high quality information about professional development will clearly illustrate the unique value proposition of Rotary.

The economics of this event can be replicated by any club or District with an interest, although this particular event is funded by an RI grant.  (You can substitute corporate sponsors for the RI grant and pull off a similar event.)  They key is for sponsors to realize that they can have their company associated with a valuable demographic (YP’s) and also be seen by potential customers and current clients as supporting youth and community service….a powerful combination.  In this case the District 7620 YP team found a powerful partner in the University of Maryland, who generously donated the space for the event on campus as well as busses to transport participants from the morning session to the afternoon service project.  Perhaps more importantly, U of Md. is marketing the event to the U. of Md. Alumni Association’s Young Professional Group.


What about Rotary involvement?  The YP team is directly emailing to Rotary Alumni.  (Yes, the data on that list is a little sketchy.)  Additionally, each club in the District is invited to send up to five YP’s to the event.  Each participant will be strongly encouraged to visit their sponsoring Rotary club after the Generation Lead event.   Rotary clubs are also asked to provide volunteers for the day to serve as potential mentors to participants, further demonstrating the value of Rotary as a career building move for YPs.  7620 DG, Anna Mae Kobbe, has written several times to her Club Presidents asking them to participate, and now the YP committee has committed to making follow-up calls to certain clubs making certain that they get the message.

Current attendance is 100+.  The goal is 200+.  Clarissa and her team have built an extraordinary opportunity for Rotary Clubs to reach out to their local business community and invite young professionals to attend a free event.  Generation Lead would benefit any business owner interested in furthering the development of their young professional employees.  Why wouldn’t they send them to a free seminar sponsored by Rotary?

Another question might be, why isn’t the event sold out already?  (By the way, having 100 registered two weeks prior to an event is somewhat short of amazing considering this is Rotary after all.)   Here are a few obstacles to be overcome:

Rotary Club Presidents are now focused on their own agenda as its still very early in their year.

Rotary Club Presidents are getting bombarded with a variety of messages from their DG and from RI and this is just another thing on the list.

For this to work best, Rotarians should be reaching out to the local business community to find YP attendees.  Rotary clubs ain’t so good at the “reaching out” part.

Many Rotary clubs don’t recognize the need to get younger.  They are fine talking to each other about the grandkids every week.

Rotary clubs think they should be sending their own YPs to this event, as opposed to PROSPECTIVE YPs to this event.  If they don’t currently have YP members they think this event doesn’t apply to them.

Well….they apparently built a baseball field in an Iowa corn field and people came to watch baseball played by ghosts.  Now the question is, “If you build a fantastic recruiting event so that Rotary clubs can get younger, will they come?

Let’s hope so!




Proper Rotary Bagel Etiquette



I have been besieged with thousands of inquiries about what I’ve been doing in my new role of Immediate Past District Governor.  (Perhaps the actual number of inquiries is zero but my therapist says I specialize in self-delusion and the thought of thousands of inquiries makes me feel better.)  It has been several weeks since my last post so it is time to bring you, my faithful RFA readers, up to speed with RFA’s most recent insights into the world of Rotary.   Having missed my self-imposed deadline to bring you world peace by the end of this past Rotary year, today I’m breaking a very important story about bagel etiquette at the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent. (ColPax)

First some background.  Like many Rotary clubs, Col Pax is deeply engaged in finding new and innovative ways to make the club more attractive for the next generation of Rotarians. On the list, of course, is to explore ways of reducing cost.  And one of those options was to serve a continental breakfast instead of a hot breakfast in an effort to save money.  One of the popular items on the breakfast buffet is bagels with the obligatory lox and cream cheese.  The problem being that waiting for those connoisseurs who enjoy toasted bagels created a long line at the breakfast buffet.  My job as your RFA reporter? To get to the bottom of what is or is not acceptable in terms of bagel toasting behavior.

Here’s long-time club members, and Area Governor, Charlie McCabe, giving his view on the subject.  (Note the cameo by DGE, Greg Wims, as he slides by on his way to get his bagel toasted.  There was no way Greg was getting caught on camera discussing this issue.)

To give you some idea of how quickly Rotarians try to deflect responsibility for a problem to someone else, here’s another long-time Rotarian, and former District 7620 Membership Chair, Darrell Nevin, pointing the finger at Anne London, the club’s Community Service Chair, for a bagel toasting violation.  Note how gracefully Anne passes the blame on to some other nameless Rotarian.  In case you missed it, the revelation here is that is seems to be unacceptable to put your bagel in the toaster BEFORE the meeting starts.

In the next clip, Rotarian (and my dentist), Walt Mazzella, freely admits to leaving his bagel to toast while leaving the area to kibbutz with Rotarian Mark Stoner.  NOTE:  I’ve made it a practice to be very careful about what I say in print about anyone who puts sharp metal objects in my mouth that have the potential to cause me pain.  Mark Stoner , on the other hand, is the club’s President-Elect and is smart enough not to weigh in on this particular controversy.  I personally thought his response showed a lack of courage (or some other peculiarly male part of the anatomy), but it is the political season and club PE’s around the world are being careful with what they say about just about everything.  Interestingly, they are already experiencing the phenomenon of Rotarians not returning their phone calls.

It is ironic that the ColPax Board of Directors has now discontinued continental breakfasts, no doubt due to the extreme tension and conflict caused by bagel etiquette violations.  Or because they have other more effective means of lowering club costs, although I can’t be sure.  And it is interesting that the ColPax Club, under the direction of Mark Stoner and Club President, Alan Jefferson,  recently raised $10,000 for the Summer Enrichment Program which benefits kids in the Head Start Program here in Howard County, Md., with a new and innovative fundraiser, and I thought it was more worthwhile to write about the club’s bagel etiquette.

All of which is my long-winded way of answering the question about what Immediate Past District Governors do.  We reengage with our home Rotary clubs and begin to cause real problems based on imagined issues.  What fun!

Stay tuned for more hard-hitting journalism from your RFA correspondent.




What I Won’t Miss Now That My Term is Over

7620 DG Anna Mae Kobbe and First Gentlemen, Doug Newell.

The past few weeks have not been profitable for the “smart money.”  First, the Brexit vote was horribly miscalculated by bookies who had the “stay” vote the heavy favorite. Pandemonium ensued.  Your RFA correspondent can now report that the bookies lost even more as the “over and under” bet on Yours Truly making it all the way until the end of his term was just as lopsided.  For Rotarians willing to bet against the odds, BIG MONEY was made when we peacefully transferred power to new District Governor, Anna Mae Kobbe, on July 1rst.   I won’t miss the Vegas crowd…that’s for sure.


The Vegas smart money crowd tries to cover their bets.

Another group that I will not miss is the District Governor’s secret service detail.  You may not know that Rotary provides a security detail to provide for the protection and safety of Rotary’s biggest  power brokers, namely District Governors.  Rarely seen, but incredibly effective, the Rotary secret service does not like it when the entire District leadership team is in one room at the same time. (For obvious reasons.)  I can now reveal just how stressful it was for Linda and I to put up with these guys for the entire year.   I’m looking forward to going out to dinner without the stupid dogs sniffing for explosives prior to my arrival.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have to admit I will mess flying in Rotary One.


Rotary One hovers in the background prior to one of my club visits last year.

There is one other group that I won’t miss as I pass the District’s leadership baton to Anna Mae, and that is the paparazzi.  While Rotary’s secret servants are annoying, the paparazzi that followed me around all year were downright rude.  If I would have known how intrusive they would be as they tried to photograph every aspect of my personal and professional life, I wouldn’t have accepted the gigantic groundswell of support and adoration that forced me to me accept the DG nomination last year.  Good riddance to all photographers.  Hey pal, If you want a picture of me going forward, you will have to see my agent!  Oh…and no more requests for autographs….please.


What WILL I miss?  I will miss helping  Rotary clubs achieve their goals as DG.  I will miss the seemingly unending goodwill of Rotarians everywhere who seemed so appreciative of the time and effort it takes to do the job.  I will miss representing RI President Ravi Ravindran, who’s theme for the year, “Be a Gift to the World,” was a gift to the rest of us.  As was his choice of class tie.  (Just sayin)  I will miss working with the leadership team in my District. I will also miss working with my Club Presidents.  As the year progressed it was impossible not to be impressed by the collective good that is done by our Rotary clubs.  I will also miss working with our Area Governors.  They made me look good, which was quite a feat.  And of course, I’m grateful to our District 7620 Rotarians.  They do all the work and they do it because they truly want to make a positive difference in the world.

What’s left for me, now?  Well first, its time to collect on my Rotary stock options.  On July 1 my options on Rotary’s stock, symbol BGIFT, vested.  BINGO!  Next I have to speak with my Rotary agent about my upcoming worldwide speaking tour.  (sigh)

Here’s a few photos from Anna Mae’s big night.  Enjoy!

What a fantastic Leadership Team.  From Left:  DGE Greg Wims, DG Anna Mae, and DGN Rich Glover.
Past DG’s from Left front, Raj Saini, Bette Lewis, Anna Mae, Pat Kasuda, Bob Hanson.  Top Left: Bill Fine, Bob Grill, Andy Baum, Claude Morissette, Ken Solow, Bob Parkinson, Ray Streib, Jay Kumar, Peter Kyle.
Immediate Past First Lady, Linda, affixing a well-earned Past DG pin.
Award Winning Columbia Patuxent Club President, Laurie Reuben, gets a IPDG hug.
DG Anna Mae finally collects her much coveted margarita machine.
PR Chair, Dawn Wittfelt, and Awards Chair, Larry Leahy, scheming on how to get 26 awards delivered in 30 minutes.
Three of my Rotary mentors, from Left:  PDG’s Bill Fine, Andy Baum, and Peter Kyle.
Can you see whose name sits atop this leadership org chart?  That’s right!  District Secretary Sherry Whitworth,


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An Amazing International Conference in Seoul Korea


Yours truly clowning around at Gyeongbokgung Palace

I took more than 500 pictures during my trip with District 7620 First Lady, Linda, to Japan and then to Korea for the International Conference.  Because the pictures are incredible I thought I would cherry pick 20 or so to share with you and try to give you a little flavor of what its like at an International Conference.  RI President Ravi didn’t have the final numbers, but thought this might be the biggest ever International Conference with 45,000 or more attendees.  The biggest news from the Conference?  Be prepared to take advantage of the biggest single PR and membership windfall in Rotary history next year as Rotary begins to string together a number of polio-free months.  Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

The scale of the plenary sessions and opening and closing sessions was massive.


Colorful outfits were everywhere.  Korean performers taking a break.


I just wanted another excuse to try to spell Gyeongbokgung Palace.  The weather was beautiful all week.


A Shinto shrine in downtown.  The colors were amazing.  The culture is amazing.

I had a hard time choosing the right skyline shot.  This is just a small view from Seoul Tower.  Seoul impressed everyone as being gigantic, clean, modern, efficient.  The whole package.  The people were incredibly friendly.  If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.


Korean barbecue is as good as advertised.  Kimchi, a popular Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables?  Not so much.  Can I have a side of fries, please?


We stayed in the Gangnam section of Seoul, which is in the Southeast section of the city.  Just about everyone seemed to have a one hour or more bus ride to the Kintex center.  Gangnam is the young, hip, place to be in Seoul.  I fit right in.


Current You Tube star  Psy is a cultural icon in Korea and probably its biggest star.  His song, Gangnam Style is famous worldwide.  His performance at the closing ceremony was sensational.  Turns out his grandfather and father were Rotarians!  


The House of Friendship was always packed.  Here is a random shot of some serious shopping going on.


The Kintex Center is actually not in Seoul, but west of Seoul in Goyang City.  Here I am at the rose festival, just two short stops away on the Kintex shuttle.  


The Rotary Host Operating Committee did an outstanding job.  Everywhere you traveled there were signs like this welcoming Rotarians to the Conference.  This was at the flower festival in Goyang City.


Arch Klumph?  Anyone ever heard of Arch Klumph?  I think he must live in Atlanta, Georgia.


For all of my snobby, craft beer drinking friends, you should know that I LOVED Korean (and Japanese) beer.  Crisp and light.  Just like Coor’s Lite!


Early in the morning before the crowds came pouring in.  The place is just gigantic.




Rotary Club of College Park, Md., Rotarian, Chris Puttock, with soon to be former Zone 33 RPIC, Sue Poss, hanging around the House of Friendship.  Sue doesn’t know it but she is about to win a free Samsung tablet from LG.  Guess what?  So did I!


More ancient mixed with the modern.


The Koreans are nutty about baseball.  But imagine my surprise when we arrived at the airport and the Orioles game was playing on a giant screen at the departure gate.  Turns out that Hyun Soo Kim, a lifetime .318 hitter over 10 seasons in Korea, is currently batting over .400 coming off the bench for my beloved Orioles.  Koreans are not especially happy with O’s manager, Buck Showalter, because Kim isn’t starting….yet.


More colorful costumes at Kintex.


I gave out plenty of Dare to Dream business cards during the trip.  Thanks to everyone who agreed to pitch in $20 to help us get this fantastic documentary about the “founding fathers’ of polio eradication produced.  If you haven’t done so already, please check it out at


Hard to believe how close North Korea is to Seoul.  This is from our tour of the DMZ between North and South Korea.  Strangely beautiful, isn’t it?


I’ll see you next year at Atlanta.  I’ve gotta meet this Arch Klumph character.





ALL About Hospitality Suites


I’m just back from Chesapeake PETS where President-Elects from four Districts (7600, 7610, 7620, and 7630) gather to get trained to be a great Club President.  The Multi-District PETS is a massive operation with more than 200 PE’s getting the best training that Rotary can provide.  And they also get the best speakers.  The picture above shows RI President-Elect, John Germ, exhorting the PE’s to be “All-Stars.”  (Notably, this had to do with some nonsense about next year’s DG Class wearing red Converse All Stars sneakers in San Diego at the International Assembly.  Converse All-Stars?  Can you still buy them?  Has anyone ever heard of NIKE?) But the point was, as it is every year, that being a Rotary Club President is one of the best opportunities an individual can have to make a positive change their club, their community, and the world.

But I submit that despite the highly trained and motivated facilitators that volunteer to teach at PETS, and the professional curriculum for PE’s developed by RI for just this purpose, the very best training for Rotarians doesn’t occur in the breakout or plenary sessions.  The best learning occurs in a unique environment called “the hospitality suite.” Regardless of whether the hospitality suite is located at a Multi-District PETS, or located at a District Conference, if you want to find out what is REALLY going on in Rotary clubs in your District, Zone, or around the world, head immediately to the nearest hospitality suite, grab your favorite beverage, and listen to the conversation.

To prove this hypothesis, I bravely decided to shoot some video at the District 7620 suite this year.  You will note that many of the attendees have somewhat glazed looks in their eyes due to drinking a few too many margaritas.  (Another Note:  Yours Truly brought the margarita machine.  Special thanks to my partner behind the bar, Rotarian and soon to be First Husband to DGE Anna Mae Kobbe, Doug Newell, for helping to experiment with the ingredients until we ended up with the best margaritas of the evening.  Uh….we were actually serving the only margaritas of the evening.)  I think the video shows the incredible intensity of the Rotary information being exchanged.  You can see how productive everyone was until I showed up.

The next clip is a rare view of a District Governor-Elect motivating and educating her Club Presidents in the Hospitality Suite environment.  Here, 7620 DGE Anna Mae Kobbe, was in the middle of explaining how Rotarians can actually finish the job of achieving world peace when I interrupted her with this interview.  Unfortunately, even though Anna Mae had the answer to achieving world peace and prosperity by the end of the 2016-17 Rotary year, after she finished her margarita she forgot how to do it.  She does remember something about red sneakers, though….

Finally, another benefit of hospitality suites is that you get to interact with the very best and highly trained support staff that Zone 33 has to offer.  In this clip I was fortunate enough to capture our Zone Coordinator, Paula Mathews, explaining some of the most intricate and complex issues in Rotary to PE Brahm Prakash, who was desperately trying to understand Paula’s southern accent.

It’s really too bad that none of the Rotarians who attended the hospitality suite seemed to be having a good time.

Not that it matters, but the Rotary clubs in District 7620 are sponsoring seven (count-em) SEVEN hospitality suites at our District Conference.  If you want to learn a whole lot about Rotary, that no one will teach you in a classroom, that will change your life, AND have a whole lot of fun, you might want to find one of the hospitality suites and hang around with some interesting and knowledgable Rotarians.   TOO MUCH FUN!




RYLA 2016



I have written in this space more than once that being a District Governor comes with a  variety of perks.  (NOTE:  If you EVER get the chance to do this DG gig….do it!)   Being able to speak at RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) is certainly one of them.  In our District, Rotary clubs will sponsor one or two delegate to RYLA.  Many of them come from the club’s Interact club and some don’t.  All of the delegates are full of smarts, energy, and fun.  If you spend time with them I promise you will feel better about our future leaders.  These high school students are terrific!

Most of the time short video clips speak louder than words, and this is one of those times. Before you check out the clips of these extraordinary young men and women, let me thank this years District 7620 RYLA committee members, Rotarians Judy Cappuccilli, Ed Kumian, Mary Dudley, Rochelle Brown, Navin Valliappan, and Jimmie Gorski.  They do amazing work every year, handle all of the catastrophes that occur on a regular basis with perfect calm and understanding, and most importantly, manage to bring this program in on budget.  (Sorry….I’m a DG…..I couldn’t help the last comment.)

Enjoy the clips of the delegates:



Just one more.  These young leaders are amazing, aren’t they.  Definitely more mature than the Rotary District Governor taking the video!



The Best District Conference Ever

rotary program cover2

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……  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!


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… 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!!!!!

final conv logo



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


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?



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.


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


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.







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?