Category Archives: Fun

The Cure For Polio Exhaustion

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I’m not sure everyone has heard the term “polio exhaustion” before.  It refers to Rotarians who are tired of hearing about polio eradication.  I suppose its entirely understandable as Rotary has been at this polio eradication game since 1979…or 1982, depending on what constitutes Rotary’s start date battling the virus.  No matter what date you use, three decades is a long time to be focused on eradicating one disease.  And it’s a long time to be asking Rotarians to be donating to the cause.

If you talk to “old timers” in Rotary they often will tell you (with a little bit of a sigh) that they have heard that we are “this close” to success many times in the past.  I can’t speak to what happened back in the day, but I can’t imagine that the Director of Polio Eradication for the World Health Organization has stated that “we are months away” from seeing global polio-free months before.  I dunno.  People tend to exaggerate when they are raising money so who knows who said what in the past?  Here’s what I do know….there ain’t no polio exhaustion in District 7620 nowadays!

I suspect that the actual numbers, combined with the news that the Continent of Africa has been declared polio free, combined with public statements from WHO Polio Eradication Director, Hamid Jafiri, and others, forecasting even better news in the immediate future, has everyone feeling a new level of excitement about our commitment to eradicate polio.  I guess the cure for polio exhaustion is polio success.  Who knew?

Nowadays many Rotary clubs have been meeting Rotary International’s goal of contributing $1,000 per club to polio for so long that the amount is baked into the club’s budget, and consequently is just another club expense that is paid when a member pays his or her dues.  It’s not much different than paying the restaurant bill.  When the club is making the donation the average club member isn’t as engaged in supporting polio AS THEY WANT TO BE.  Yup.  I’ve been hearing from Rotarians all over the District how excited they are about the news and how they want to be a part of our success.

Ever eager to meet the demands of our members, District 7620 is holding a full day workshop to learn about how to handle conflict at home, in the workplace, or in Rotary.  The workshop costs $125 for the entire day of training led by Conflict Transformation Associates.  These pros at corporate training are donating their time for the day.  The venue is Charlestown Retirement Community, which is also donating space as well as being a sponsor for the event.  Oh…the video promoting the event was produced by Rotarian Dave Bittner at Pixel Workshop.  (Yup…donated the time.)   And the comedy is supplied by good friend and Rotarian, Roy Felipe. (I wouldn’t say Roy donated the time. No one would pay him, anyway. )  The straight man?….Yours Truly.

All of the net proceeds go to our effort to eradicate polio.  If we sell out the event we can raise about $25,000…and with the Bill and Melinda Gates match we could be talking about raising more than $75,000 for polio.  I know Tuesday is a work day, but folks, you will want to tell people you dug into your pocket to support Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. And as you are about to see, we can all use a little work at managing conflict.

Shameless promotion?  You bet.  We need to sell a lot more tickets.  Registration is open at www.rotary7620.org.

And for those who want to know….the next big project for Rotary International?  Can you guess?  The cure for male pattern baldness!

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In Search of the Perfect Caipirinha

 

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Your Ready, Fire, Aim editor busy with research for this post.

Cachaca is an alcoholic beverage made from fresh sugar cane juice that is fermented and distilled.  If you cut a fresh lime and add sugar, crush it together, and then add cachaca and shake over ice, the resulting drink is the local beverage called a caipirinha.  While I still can’t pronounce it (or anything else in just about any foreign language,) it appears that I can drink a caipirinha….depending on how its made. Too much cachaca and the drink is verifiable rocket fuel.  Danny Parker, our intrepid 7620 tour guide, offers that you have to mix the sugar on the bottom of the glass to get the flavor exactly right.  I’m no expert, but it appears to me that compared to rum cachaca is very smoooooooth.  Interestingly, the more you drink the smoother it gets.

I didn’t come to Brazil in search of the perfect caipirinha, but the trip is kind of turning into a quest of epic proportions.   I’ve looked everywhere for the perfect drink.  Three nights in Rio de Janeiro turned up some interesting contestants.  Then we went  to Iguazu Falls and actually looked under a rainbow to find the perfect caipirinha.  See if you can see it…

Not to be deterred, we were off to Sao Paulo and the Rotary International Convention, where we thought we would find it (the perfect caipirinha) at Carnival.  It turns out that Carnival appeared at a couple of different times here in Sao Paulo.  First was at the opening plenary session.  OMG.  The performers made you feel like you were already drinking caipirinhas even if you weren’t.  Here’s a taste of Carnival at the plenary session:

Or…perhaps you like your Carnival in a parade?  If so, you could catch the parade after the plenary at the sambadrome.  Aside from the brilliant costumes and the exciting dancing and music, if you were there, you can testify to what its like waiting for the show to start sitting on concrete steps and eating Brazilian cheese balls and popcorn.  Just when you lost all feeling below the waist, the show started and the parade got everyone cheering.  Here’s a brief look:

And after the entire parade goes by and your thoughts are turning once again to your favorite cachaca-based beverage, here comes a float with RI President, Gary Huang, who perhaps had already imbibed a few too many of this Brazilian treat?  Here’s President Gary in the Carnival parade waving to the crowd having already exhausted himself leading happy claps earlier in the evening.

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Aside from the hunt for the perfect caipirinhas, an International Conference did break out this week with the plenary session on Monday focusing on the Rotary  Foundation.  (Here is where we get to brag more than a little.)  The 2014-15 Global Alumni Service to Humanity award recipient was District 7620’s own Dr. Geetha Jayaram, Psychiatrist and Associate Professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine.  Geetha was honored for a career’s worth of service in her home country of India helping women get treatment for mental health through her project Maanasi .  Here’s a few pictures of Geetha addressing the plenary session.

20150608_103927(0)20150608_103152We are so proud of Geetha, her husband, PDG Jay Kumar, and her newly chartered Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Howard West.

What else?  How about an address by Nobel Peace Prize Winner and new Rotarian, Dr Oscar Arias, Former President of Costa Rica?  He gave a stirring speech based on a Paul Harris quote about making “war on war” and about the need for the world to buy less weapons and focus our resources on peace. Dr. Arias received an enthusiastic standing ovation that was well earned.

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Finally, to end the session on a stunning note, Hamid Jafari, the WHO Director of Polio Eradication, gave an amazing report confirming that the Continent of Africa has been polio free so far this year, and Nigeria has not reported a case for 10 months.  He also said THAT A POLIO FREE WORLD COULD BEGIN IN A MATTER OF MONTHS INSTEAD OF YEARS!   I took this to mean that our eradication efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan may result in months where there are no new polio cases anywhere in the world beginning very shortly.   I’m pretty sure this is the most important  news we’ve heard in years regarding Polio.  I can’t imagine the head dude at the WHO saying this to a Rotary audience unless he was pretty darned certain about it.  We’ve been “so close” for so long.  I wonder if we are really on the cusp of the single greatest accomplishment of our Rotary lifetimes?  Of course, polio free doesn’t mean certified eradicated, but it’s close enough for me to reach for the cachaca.

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So…tonight is the Major Donor Dinner, and another shot at finding the perfect Caipirinha.  The search continues….

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A World Peace Conspiracy Revealed at One Rotary Center

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No matter how many times you count them, you won’t come up with 19 floors.  Trust me….there is a 19th floor, and you won’t believe what goes on there.

I have been asked, on more than one occasion, to explain how and why the Annual Program fund is set up the way it is.  Could it possibly be that it was intended to be the most complicated and completely incomprehensible method of funding humanitarian projects ever devised?  It turns out that the answer to that question is an unqualified YES!  I’ve recently learned that the notion that Rotary clubs can best determine how Rotary should achieve its objective of advancing the cause of world peace is a fraud.  A sham.  It’s a giant cover up for one of the biggest secrets ever revealed about Rotary International.  That’s right, dear RFA readers, I have uncovered an amazing story that I reveal to you now at great personal risk because 1) it is my sworn duty as the editor, writer, and class clown of RFA, and 2) I am still hoping to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism.

I have learned through a variety of covert sources at RI headquarters, located at One Rotary Center in Evanston, Ill, that world peace is actually planned and executed around the world by a super secret organization within an organization called the Rotary World Peace Division.  (WPD) This group of highly trained world peace professionals work on the 19th floor of One Rotary Center.  Yes. Yes. Yes.  I know that you think that Rotary HQ has only 18 floors, but you would be incorrect.  What you think you know about the building is an illusion, a carefully planned diversion to take your eyes away from the incredible and unbelievable work of the WPD.  (Don’t try to find the actual architectural drawings for the 19th floor.  Several have tried to retrieve them and let’s just say they all had an unfortunate accident.)

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19th Floor Staff member dressed in required gray robe and hood.  The gold bowl is required for maximum empathy and helps 19th floor staff determine the best ideas for world peace.  

Let me give you a brief tour of the 19th floor.  As you come off the elevator the immediate first impression you get is calm….and quiet.  All Rotary employees on floor 19 dress in garb similar to ancient druids….robes with cowls that cover most of their faces.  The walls are hospital white and the robes are shades of gray.  The only sound you hear is the air conditioning that keeps 19th floor temperatures to within 1 degree of the required temperature for optimal peace work, and the low whir of super computers directly linked to the National Security Agency in the U.S. and the C.E.R.N. computers near the Franco-Swisss border near Geneva.

Elevator entrances to secret organizations have been well covered by the media. Here is a surprisingly accurate depiction of what its like from the ancient TV show, Get Smart.   Younger Rotarians may not remember CONTROL Agent, Maxwell Smart, as he enters HQ through a series of super secret doors.  This is similar to the 19th Floor entrance at One Rotary Center.

There is select Rotary staff working on the 19th floor, but the stars of the show are the six WPD “areas of focus” directors.  These six men and women are the individuals who are actually responsible for all Rotary world peace efforts.   With the help of super computing power, and their ability as trained empaths who can feel the pain and suffering of people in 200 countries around the world, these Area of Focus Directors (AOFD’s) spend their days silently contemplating peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention, maternal and child health, literacy, water and sanitation, and economic development, and then telepathically communicate their correct and infallible view of how to develop and finance the very best programs that will lead to world peace to more than 500 Rotary District Foundation Chairs worldwide.  The Foundation Chairs, of course, have no idea they are being manipulated in this way, and have been for close to 100 years.  For that matter, the International Rotary Foundation Chairs are also victims, helpless against the incredible power of the 19th Floor.

Hollywood once again helps us understand just how super secret and powerful 19th Floor WPD Operations can be.  Will Smith’s transformation to Agent J in Men in Black is similar to the six AOFD Directors at Rotary WPD.  They too transformed when they donned the robes and cowl of the WPD and subsequently lost their identity.

It is admittedly creepy to think that this has been going on for so many years.  But it could be worse.  Here is the always super-duper creepy Terrance Stamp explaining how “they” control free will in the movie, The Adjustment Bureau?  These folks make 19th Floor Operations look positively benign. The lesson for us is 1) Don’t try to get between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, 2) Don’t try to figure out who is better looking, Matt Damon or Emily Blunt, and 3) The super powerful operatives of the WPD are doing the best they can to forward the object of world peace.  You will never meet one of them.  But if by my some miracle you do, don’t give them too much grief about the current state of the world.  World peace is a tough nut…even for a bunch of super empaths.

This amazing hoax has been perpetrated on Rotarians since 1917, the year that RI President Arch Klumph decided to form a Foundation for the purpose of covering up the activities what would soon become known as the 19th Floor operation.  “19th Floor programs” DO receive top priority funding from what we think of as the Rotary Foundation.  (yes…Charity Navigator and the other independent rating agencies are in on this, but that’s another story.)  Rotary clubs only think they are creating innovative, productive, and amazingly helpful programs to advance the cause of world peace around the world.  They, we, us…are all pawns in a world peace power game being conducted under our very noses.  It was the genius of Rotary leaders, like Arch Klumph, to realize that world peace could only be attained by a super select group of professionals working in the middle of North America, strategically located in Evanston, Ill.

Well now you know the truth.  There is a super secret division of Rotary druids on the 19th Floor of One Rotary Center who are empaths who determine the best programs to advance the cause of world peace, and telepaths who convince Rotarians that these projects were their own idea.  Did you really think a program with an APF, World Fund, SHARE program, DDF, three year investment period, etc., etc., etc.,  could possibly be anything more than a diversion to so mystify Rotarians that they wouldn’t recognize 19th Floor Programs?

Authors Note:  I hope you enjoyed today’s conspiracy theory post.  If you believe any part of this…I just can’t help you.  The SHARE program at the Rotary Foundation is one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve seen.  It allows Rotary clubs around the world to work together to further the object of world peace through humanitarian service.  There is still one month left to give to our Foundation this Rotary year.  Please give generously.

One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois, USA, on 11 May 2009.
One Rotary Center in Evanston, Illinois, USA, on 11 May 2009.

 

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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.

 

Warren Buffett’s Take on Rotary….(kind of)


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Since the Four Way Test applies here at RFA, I should start by disclosing that I have no idea if Warren Buffett, probably one of the best known investors in the world, has any opinions about Rotary.  And if he did, I would be the last to know.  Most people know Buffett as a witty, “grandfather figure” who gives us great investment advice as well as being one of the richest men in the world.  They probably don’t know that Buffett is the greatest living disciple of two other investing icons, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd.  Their book, Security Analysis, first published in 1934, gave investors a framework for determining the value of publicly traded companies.  By using discounted cash flows and other financial tools to determine the fair value of a business, investors learned to find stocks that traded so far below their market value that they were considered to have a “margin of safety.” The term “value investor” is applied to investors who insist on evaluating the financial fundamentals of businesses, including profits, sales, cash flow, assets and liabilities, in order to uncover businesses that the average investor, or “Mr. Market,”  has priced incorrectly.  Buffett is the acknowledged master of the value investing game.  When he buys or sells shares the entire investing world pays attention.  He is a one man repudiation of the notion that financial markets are efficiently priced.

So now that you know why Warren Buffett deserves to be the investment icon that he is, let me help you look at Rotary through his eyes.  (Forgive me Warren, but you are a multi-billionaire and I’m just having fun writing a blog post on a Sunday morning before the final round of the Masters.  Cut me a little slack.)  One other note:  We all know that Rotary is not a publicly traded company, AND it isn’t a for profit organization.  It is a service organization full of wonderful people trying to make the world a little better.  So please let me make this analogy without getting your underwear in a bunch.  Not even 2015-16 RI President Ravi wants to take Rotary public.

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Warren Buffett would have a strong buy on Rotary.  He would see our organization as being “mispriced” in terms of our stakeholders expectations for our firm, based on more than one indication that our assets are underutilized.  He would see several catalysts to unlock the value of our shares, and use membership as a proxy for stock price.  He would urge his shareholders, in his famous Berkshire Hathaway annual report, to be patient while “Mr. Market” discovers our brand and our value explodes.  In short, Buffett would be long Rotary and short Polio.  However, he wouldn’t put his shareholder’s money at risk without good reason.  Here’s what Buffett would see if he analyzed Rotary as a value investor.

Product and Productivity:   Rotary is delivering a product of community and global service that is dedicated to the notion of world peace through humanitarian service.  This particular proposition often gets lost with Rotarians who tend to look at community service through the lens of how we have always done things in the past in their particular club.  There is a huge, largely untapped, opportunity for Rotary clubs to reinvent how they actually serve others both locally and globally, where the only barrier to bigger and better service projects is a failure of a Rotary Club’s imagination.  In Buffett’s view this is very bullish and he would make the case that Rotary Club’s are significantly undervalued from the perspective of the potential to increase the productivity of our community service goals.  Interestingly, Rotary “bears” don’t believe that Rotarians can change in this regard.  They would say the organization is so focused on the past that a “turnaround” isn’t possible.  As a value investor Buffett would disagree.  So do I.  Buy this theme.

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The Catalyst:  Value investors like Buffett often look for what’s known as a “catalyst” before they buy.  The issue is that stocks are often underpriced for a reason and buying companies, or organizations, when the stock price is low can often be a “value trap.”  That means the price is low for a good reason and buyers should be cautious that the price could move even lower.  A catalyst is an event that changes the market’s perception about company value.  In Rotary, we have a new potential catalyst in the organization every year. The catalyst is our Rotary club’s new leaders.  EVERY YEAR new club leaders are given the opportunity to make a massive, positive change in their Rotary club and in their community.  Again, this is a bullish development as the value of the current club could be dramatically oversold prior to the arrival of the new club leaders. Imagine, a built in catalyst every year.  Buffett loves it.  You can buy this theme as well!

The other catalyst, in Buffett’s eyes, is Polio Eradication.  He would see the five-year path for the Polio End Game as an amazing opportunity with a clearly defined time horizon.  He would want to own Rotary shares well before the news breaks and Rotary’s stock, in terms of prestige, honors, membership, opportunities for partnerships, and other service opportunities, goes vertical.  Again…buy it.

Our Market:  Baby Boomers are healthy, wealthy, new empty-nesters, who are very aware that many didn’t serve in the armed forces and feel an obligation to serve.  This huge cohort of potential community servants lies almost entirely untapped with no organization laying claim to this particular market share.  In fact, if we consider Rotary’s international membership to be comparable to our stock price, the price has been flat for decades.  Our 1.2 million total members hasn’t changed even though the world’s population, wealth, and need for our services, has increased dramatically.  Rotary is ready for a “breakout” in membership.  Any technical analyst trained in reading stock charts would tell you that any breakout to the upside following such a long period of price (membership) consolidation is extremely important.  (Buffett would throw up at this reference to technical stock analysts but at this point, what the heck?)  This is a case of increasing demand meeting our fixed supply.  Buffett would argue membership, and consequently Rotary’s significance as a force in “doing good in the world,” has huge upside potential.  This is especially true in many communities in the U.S.  Buy it!
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Underutilized Assets:  Buffett would love the amazing infrastructure that Rotary has built around the world of 34,000 Rotary clubs with 1.2 million Rotarians all living by the Four Way Test.   No other organization offers it.  AND I doubt that any other organization can build it from scratch.  In short…we have a monopoly on controlling a 200+ country grid of service providers who have the freedom to direct funds and labor directly to where it is needed almost anywhere in the world.  Bullish.  Buffett would also point out that the Rotary Foundation allows funding decisions to be decentralized around the world so that assets can be deployed extremely efficiently directly to projects overseen by Rotarians. Bullish.  Finally Buffett would love Rotary’s upper management and their increasing recognition that change is necessary to remain a vital and relevant organization in today’s crowded market of service opportunities?  Bullish again.

I am very familiar with the notion that for every buyer there is a seller, and if you want to take the opposite side of this trade you certainly can.  But I wouldn’t recommend anyone trade against Buffett.  His deep value trades have a high percentage chance of paying off if you are patient.  How long it takes for “Mr. Market” to recognize Rotary’s value is anyone’s guess, but I think this monster is about to wake up.  And when we do we are going to cause quite a stir.  Go long Rotary.  Get your friends and associates engaged in what we do.  Try something new in your club.  Make a bigger difference in the world.

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I Love My Rotary Bling

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

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

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

 

   I Love My Rotary Bling

I’m dressing up to represent,

Rotary’s praises I will soon sing,

Pins and badges tell their story,

Oh how I love my Rotary bling.

 

Rotarians will be wearing shades,

Today’s club program is the DG thing,

Eyes shielded from the brilliant glare,

The awesomeness of Rotary bling.

 

We get our theme pins every year,

Affixed too quickly ouch it stings,

Ordered 1,800 from Russell Hampton,

Add to our collection of theme pin bling.

 

The closet drawer is over flowing,

To each pin’s message I tend to cling,

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

Too precious is my Rotary bling.

 

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If not removed before security,

At the airport alarms will ring,

Too much metal for the detectors,

There are risks to wearing Rotary bling.

 

Club President is a pin to covet,

Some say it’s Paul Harris wings,

Past President is a pin to long for,

Arch Klumph is ULTIMATE  Rotary bling.

 

It’s panic time if I can’t find one,

Until it’s found sweaty hands will wring,

Check one more time in yesterday’s pockets,

More time spent looking for Rotary bling.

 

At big events it’s not polite to stare,

At lapels lavishly adorned in Spring,

How to fit them on your jacket?

There’s no manual for wearing Rotary bling.

 

Doing Good in the World is first and foremost,

As Rotarians Service before Self is king,

Eradicating Polio is within our reach,

Our journey continues wearing our Rotary bling.

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Rotary By Design – Not By Default


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

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

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

1)  Fix your Product; Define Your Brand

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

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

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

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

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

If you would like more information about Darrell’s membership seminars, he has produced two different membership booklets that have all the details you need for clubs to experience explosive growth.  You can find the booklets, “Ready, Get Set, Grow” and “Extreme Makeover, Small Club Edition” on the District 7620 website under the Membership tab at www.rotary7620.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

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Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

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So I find out that everyone else in my Zone class of DGE’s has already scheduled their club visits for next year, and I realize that I really don’t have a great idea where all of the clubs are in my District.  Geography was never my thing.  So I think to myself, why not buy a map and lay out all the clubs in the District using pins so that I can use good time and territory management while I schedule my visits?

The first thing I find out is that AAA does not have a free map of Maryland.  Instead they offer a map that includes the state of Delaware, assuring that the scale of my project would need a magnifying glass to see. But since I’m way too cheap to actually purchase a map of Maryland, the Delaware/Md. map would be the way to go.  The next thing I realize is that I have morning, lunch, and evening clubs, so I need different color pins for each time of day.  No problem here.  It turns out you can buy pins in a variety of colors.

The next problem to be overcome was that there are meetings five days a week and I need to differentiate Tuesday meetings from Wednesday meetings.  So again, with the Type A spirit driving me onwards, I cut out little rectangular colored papers where each color represents a day of the week, and then write the club name on the slip of paper.  This is all done meticulously in microscopic size handwriting that is pretty much illegible.

With these issues surmounted, I next mount my AAA map on a piece of cardboard that I find jammed into a trash pile in the garage and begin putting pins in the map for every club in the District.  The result is spectacular.  The map has separate smaller maps for DC, Baltimore, Frederick, and Annapolis, so all is good.  Of course, dealing with the stupid pins and papers is a pain, but hey…this is all in the service of Rotary.

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The end result?  A beautifully laid out map full of pins and papers with club names showing where every club is in the District, the day of the week they meet, and the time of day they meet.  Next step?  Trying to figure out what order to visit clubs to maximize my time.  So, after two days of getting maps, pins, and paper, writing down club names in tiny handwriting, and struggling with putting pins in maps, I am ready to get to work.

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That’s when a thought occurred to me.  Didn’t our District Directory have some helpful information in this regard?  Why yes, it turns out it did.  Turning to page 6 I find a section called, Clubs Sorted By Area and Day.  And lo and behold, here is all the information I needed.  And so, dear RFA readers, I have proven, once again, that I am not the sharpest tool in the shed.  But I do have some really cool pictures of pins in a map of Maryland and Delaware that give a great view of our Rotary clubs in District 7620.

By the way, that unbelievably large mass of pins in the middle of the map represent the mighty Howard County Eight Rotary clubs.  Yup eight…you can count the pins.

This weekend I’m off to Chesapeake PETS where I get to hang out with my club presidents, make speeches, introduce our RI Director, and generally cause all kinds of havoc.  What fun!  I will be reporting it all here at Ready, Fire, Aim!

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Speaking at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)

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The good news was I had the opportunity to speak at the RYLA 2015 Conference last evening at the National 4-H Center in Washington, DC.  The bad news was I got caught in the freakish snow storm that blew in right when I was leaving and it took two and half hours to get home.  For those who don’t know, RYLA is a leadership program designed by Rotarians for high school students in grades 10 through 12.  Special thanks to RYLA committee members Rochelle Brown, Mary Dudley, Ed Kumian, Navin Valliappan, and Judy Cappuccilli, for another amazing job done.  Oh heck, I might as well let Judy explain what RYLA is all about:

 

As always, the energy and enthusiasm of the students who attend is impossible to resist.  I thought I would share my comments to the group last evening.  If you have an Interact club associated with your club, perhaps they would benefit from some of these thoughts about Rotary, Youth, Leadership, and Awards.

Saturday Evening Comment for RYLA 2015

 As I was thinking about this talk, I was struck that the name RYLA, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, is one of those great names that tells us much of what we need to know about your efforts here over the next few days.

Let’s start with Rotary. I sometimes wonder if our High School Students, Interactors and Rotaractors realize the size of this amazing organization called, Rotary. Imagine if you will, 1.2 million Rotarians organized into 34,000 Rotary clubs, in more than 500 Rotary Districts, and 34 Zones of Rotary Districts, in more than 200 countries around the world. I just came from my own District Governor training in San Diego, called the International Assembly, where every Rotary District Governor in the world is required to attend. I mention this because there were more countries represented at the International Assembly than there are at the United Nations. Amazing isn’t it?

What about Interact clubs? You might be interested to know that Interact has a membership of over 250,000 youth in more than 11,000 clubs worldwide. It’s one of Rotary’s fastest growing programs with clubs in over 120 countries and geographical areas.

Here in our District 7620, we have 63 Rotary clubs from as far north as Aberdeen, as far south as Lexington Park on the Chesapeake Bay peninsula, as far west as Frederick, and east to Annapolis. We have about 2,300 Rotarians in our District alone, all following Rotary’s 4-Way Test: 1) Is it the truth, 2) Is it fair to all concerned, 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships, and 4) Is it be beneficial to all concerned. Rotarians hold their service projects to the standard of “Will it Do Good in the World.” All 1.2 million members are dedicated to the goal of world peace through humanitarian service, where we define the six areas of focus of our Rotary Foundation as peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention, maternal and child health care, clean water and sanitation, literacy, and economic development.

Last year the Rotary Foundation funded over $35 million of humanitarian projects. Our number one priority is the eradication of Polio, a disease that causes you to be paralyzed and has a terrible effect on children under the age of five. Rotary has been fighting this disease since the mid-1980’s and we’ve reduced the number of cases from more than a thousand  per day to just about 300 cases per year in only three remaining countries. Our partners in this effort are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and UNICEF. As we like to say, we are “this close” to our goal of eradicating this disease forever.

But that’s not to say that Rotary doesn’t have its challenges. And one of them is that our organization is aging. Here is a recent statistic: 70% of Rotarians are age 50 years or older. So if Rotary is to remain relevant. If what we do is to remain important, we need all of you to join an Interact Club and then graduate to a Rotaract club either in your community or at the college you attend, and then eventually join Rotary at some point in your career of doing service for others.

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The next letter in RYLA is “Y” which stands for “Youth.” The Rotary “Youth” Leadership Awards. I would make the following comment about youth. When it comes to service, those you serve, for the most part, could care less about your age. It turns out that young people are amazingly creative when it comes to “hands on” service projects. Why? Because you ain’t got no money! You are not yet at that point in your life where your role is to provide the financing for service projects. This is when you DO service projects. In the eyes of the lonely, the hungry, the sick, the elderly, and the others who need your help, I promise you that they don’t see your age at all. All they see is what you are doing on their behalf…and as many of you already know, they are extremely grateful.

Here’s our secret though. Helping someone that you get to meet, someone who looks you in the eye and says “thank you,” someone who is going to immediately benefit from your time and attention, is an experience that gives us enormous personal satisfaction. I hope you get to experience this feeling.

The next letter in RYLA is, of course, Leadership. I’ve taught leadership to Rotary club presidents for more than a decade, and it occurs to me that one of the most important benefits of joining a service club, at any age, is the opportunity for personal development AND the opportunity for you to grow as leaders.

Here at RYLA, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try to assess what leadership skills you do best and what you need to improve. Public speaking, persuasion, listening, evaluating, project planning, motivating, team building, critical thinking, and leading by example, are all attributes of effective leaders. You will be able to translate these skills to every area of your life, including, of course, high school, college, family, and career.

When you eventually do matriculate from High School or Interact, to Rotaract, and then to Rotary club membership you will take these skills to a new level, and you will be able to practice and network with the Rotary leaders in your community who have years of experience and know how to get things done. That’s pretty good stuff…don’t you think?

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Finally, the last letter is “A” in RYLA which stands for Awards. It may sound cliché, but I can assure you that by virtue of the fact that you are here for this RYLA conference that you are all award winners already. But here’s the thing. In the real world you usually don’t get awards for doing the things that you do every day as a leader. The awards come from watching your team succeed, or from helping others to achieve their goals. As a true leader, you will get the most satisfaction when the people you are working with on your team win the awards. Here’s another cliché for you: Being a great leader is its own reward.

Lastly, I would share with you that at your stage in leadership development, I would give you an award that no one else is likely to give you, which is the “I tried to do something outside of my comfort zone and I failed” award. I would be thrilled to give you an award for failing because this is the time for you to explore new ideas, take risks,  and develop new skills. This is your chance to push yourself to try things that make you uncomfortable, and then fall on your butt, dust yourself off, learn something from the experience, and give it another try. I hereby challenge all of you to earn the “no one knows that I was terrified to try this” award over the next couple of days. Just remember, courage, in my opinion, is one of the most important attributes of great leaders, of ANY age.

So…mercifully for all of us I’ve run out of letters. I sincerely hope that your RYLA journey is a life-changing one for all of you. We ask all of you to eventually bring the leadership skills that you are developing here to a Rotary club in your community, wherever your life journey takes you.  We desperately need your knowledge, energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. As you head off to college, if you don’t have a Rotaract club in your community, or at your school, then please consider starting one. Make service an integral part of your life.

I will be encouraging club presidents all over the District in 2015-2016 to be open to doing joint ventures with our Interact clubs and Rotaract clubs, and to help you implement your projects.

Oh…I forgot one last letter than isn’t in RYLA, but should be. That letter is “F” which stands for FUN. I know you are all going to have an amazingly fun time over the next few days.

Good luck to all of you, and thanks for coming.

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