More Thoughts On the Retention Crisis

I point my finger at leadership on the Board and at the Secretariat over two decades when I say they are not people of action. Just because they do things, it doesn’t count unless it is the right things given their responsibilities. Yes, great matters are accomplished by Rotary every day, and I admit that leadership has a role in that. But their FIRST priority should be coming up with answers for Clubs in the US and elsewhere to turn around this retention problem.

[Let me preface this post by explaining the origin. On PDG Jim Henry’s great blog, Retention Central, on March 1, he posted  a piece with the title “What Happened to 2,200,000 Rotarians?” which started with the fact that this number of people were recruited and lost over a 15-year period. It still astounds me! I commented on his blog in part to the effect that many Rotarians are indeed people of action, but clearly the “people at the top” are not. I received a reply to that from Director John Smarge, who asked me to whom I was referring? I started to reply, only to get what is probably too long-winded for a response on PDG Jim’s site. So I brought it here, with a forwarding note on Retention Central. I have tremendous respect for Director John, and I wanted to express myself as fully as possible. I also made a post on the LinkedIn Rotary forum about PDG Jim’s article.] Continue reading “More Thoughts On the Retention Crisis”

A Meditation on RIPE Rassin’s Vision Statement

With all respect for Mr. Hewko, his leadership experience may not be what we need now from the Secretariat. I would look to someone from the business world of international franchises, with experience in franchisee support. The talents we need to revitalize the dynamic between RI and Clubs have less to do with delivering foreign assistance, more with managing and supporting a herd of cats

“I believe now is the time to understand who and what we are and where we should be going. Rotary International is a formidable and complex organization that is at a crossroads and needs to broadly consult the Rotary world for guidance and rebuild relationships with the clubs.

The current three Presidents will positively adjust our culture and I would like to continue that process. I feel strongly that we must focus on strengthening clubs, including with efficient digital tools, as there is a disconnect between Rotary International and Rotary Clubs.” — Vision Statement, Barry Rassin, RI President-Elect 2018-2019, 1 Sept 2017 Continue reading “A Meditation on RIPE Rassin’s Vision Statement”

Why Be A Rotarian?

For many of us, being a Rotarian is the easiest way to fully be who we want to be. Without this vital connection, too often an important part of our lives would go undernourished if not unfed. There would be a lack that would make us less of the person we want to be. We often think about what Rotary does for others. But it is really first about what Rotary does for us.

Being someone in a Rotary Club isn’t for everyone. Aside from whatever standards that a Club may have, there are claims for treasure and time that are in increasingly strong demand in our westernized lives. Just the idea of committing to being at a particular location at the same time almost every week seems unmanageable if not undesirable. For most, there’s the equally unusual commitment to eating in the same place 40 or 50 times a year. And, there’s always the risk that you’ll have to be bored for twenty minutes or so by some organization trying to further extract more treasure from your pocket. Continue reading “Why Be A Rotarian?”

My Reaction to RIPE Barry Rassin’s Speech to the International Assembly

Trying to inspire people is work. And it is a skill not all people possess equally. Yes, anyone can inspire another by something they do or say. But what Rassin is calling for is the conscious acceptance of this task and the deliberate effort to be inspirational.

Barry Rassin’s speech to the International Assembly was about Inspiration. And it worked, at least for me! I frankly had despaired of ever hearing such a speech again from a RI President. He said what to me is obvious: that leadership’s first duty is to inspire and motivate Rotarians, to touch their hearts and minds with the zeal of the Rotary Movement. He reminded all of Rotary of who we are as Rotarians, and why we join together under the banner of Service Above Self. Continue reading “My Reaction to RIPE Barry Rassin’s Speech to the International Assembly”

My Rotary Narrative: An Attitude of Belief That Results in Action

We are so much more than just People of Action. Let’s face it, many people are that in many ways. We are people who believe in something bigger than just ourselves. This is what makes us Rotarians. I think that we too often forget that it is not just what we do; it is what we believe that defines us.

We humans love a story; in fact, we need them. They are what we use to explain just about everything we do and are. Within our lives we have a patchwork of smaller stories we have woven together into the one personal story we tell ourselves that defines us to ourselves, which I call our narrative. It is the one story that binds together all the other ones and allows us to make sense of who we are, what we’ve done, and what we want to be. Continue reading “My Rotary Narrative: An Attitude of Belief That Results in Action”

Make Rotarians the Prime Focus of Our Service Projects

It is service work such as this that can inspire the hearts of our existing Members, and the new recruit as well. If we are seen by our communities as a team of professionals taking on the hard stuff, we begin to have a story that not only deserves to be told, but will rally others to join. We need to challenge our Members to fully engage their minds and hearts, and not just rack up volunteer hours in warm body projects.

I don’t know how many Rotarians make New Year resolutions on July First to make Rotary better in some fashion. But as we start a new calendar year, I’d like to suggest a resolution for now. Although all Rotarians should make it, I ask leaders in Clubs and beyond to particularly take this to heart:

I resolve to work to make Rotarians the focus of our service projects. Continue reading “Make Rotarians the Prime Focus of Our Service Projects”