Rotary – new member, new club

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I like to understand things before I make any commitment. Joining Rotary meant I had to understand exactly why I was joining and what I was committed to. Let’s be selfish here too, what’s in it for me? Getting up earlier than normal one day a week isn’t really very demanding but even so – I like my sleep!

I didn’t join on the first meeting. In fact I think it was about 3 meetings before I confirmed I’d join and completed the application form. I had to find out what Rotary was about and why. As a large organisation it does have an objective, simply called the “Object of Rotary”. Read it, and you’ll know why it took me a few weeks to understand it!

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  1. FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  2. SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  3. THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
  4. FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
Based on the Object of Rotary, the Avenues of Service are Rotarys philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:

  • Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
  • Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
  • Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
  • International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotarys humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.

The club service element positively encourages things to run smoothly. I can appreciate an organisation that includes it’s administration processes as an integral part of its aims. The more I’m involved in Rotary, the more I see an impressive infrastructure for organising huge events by spreading the load effectively over a large number of commited people.

The “what’s in it for me?” question is also covered by the word “fellowship” in that line. The people I’ve met in and through Rotary have all been nice people. The reward for being so community spirited is meeting lots of like minded people. I’ve had interesting conversations with Rotarians in my own club and in other clubs, sharing experiences, knowledge and their opinions on the way things are. I’ve also found it interesting that so far I haven’t seen too much politics getting in the way of the Object. People have differing opinions but seem to understand the importance of of the object of service over the detail that allows things to functions. One good example of this is when I visited another club. For that story though you’ll have to read this later blog posting. For now, the summary of this post is that Rotary is an organisation I felt comfortable joining.

Rotary and Rootary

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I’m sure there’s a better pun on the name Root and the organisation called Rotary, for now I just can’t think of one. Go on, post a comment and be applauded by the other visitor for your ingenuity.

This very overdue post follows an email from a past customer way back in February, inviting me to join a Rotary club. What’s a Rotary club? I didn’t know before I went along. Jarle’s invitation managed to get me along so let’s begin with that:

Hi Steve,

Long time, no speak. I trust you are keeping well. I am to be the founder President of the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise and have been thinking of who might be interested in joining us. Knowing the sort of person you are, I wondered if you might be interested. Please find below a little bit about us.

For nearly 6 months, a number of like-minded people have been meeting every Wednesday at 0715, in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, to establish a new Rotary Club in Canterbury – The Sunrise Club.

Rotary is a service organisation of business and professional leaders united world-wide who help those in need, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and work towards world understanding and peace. Rotarians meet weekly to enjoy each others’ fellowship and discuss ways to serve others.

Working full time and trying to fit in social commitments is often difficult, but our hour long meetings at the International Study Centre, in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, minimises the intrusion into normal working hours.

If you would like to widen your circle of friends whilst giving something back to the community, please come along to one of our meetings. We meet every Wednesday morning at 7.15am for breakfast (8). Hopefully, you will be sufficiently impressed with what you see to want to come along regularly.

Our current membership numbers just short of twenty and we are confident of attracting several new members. This is your chance to be in at the start of a new and exciting club – we are to inaugurate as an official Rotary Club on 23rd April 2008!

Rotary is approximately 1.2 million service-minded men and women belonging to more than 32,400 Rotary Clubs in virtually every country of the world. Membership is by invitation.

Hope to hear from you.

Kind regards,

Jarle Tatt.

So, what else could I do but go along. I later discovered my reply was fairly typical:

Hello Jarle,

Good to hear from you – I’m honoured you remembered me!

I’ve heard of Rotary for years, seen the “Rotary meets here” signs in lots of places, but have never taken the time to find out more about it. I guess this it perfect time to find out more! I’m visiting a supplier this Wednesday, how about Wednesday 5th March?

Anything I should know before hand? (Dress code? Best place to park?)

Regards
Steve

Lots and lots of people have heard of Rotary but only by name, having no idea what the organisation does or why.

If 7.15am sounds an early start – it is! At least for me. A few years ago I was a member of an organisation called BNI. The BNI group I was in set a meeting start time of 6.45 but I was typically there by 6.15. BNI is a group that focuses on business referrals. I started that in 1998 as a new person in business and finished about 2 years ago. I gained a lot from BNI, improving my presentation skills (because I’m proud of it, I’ll add here that I got an award from BNI founder Ivan Misner for a 60 second presentation when he visited our chapter’s meeting in Rochester), developing new contacts (especially when I started a chapter in Faversham) and making lots of friends in business who I still talk with regularly. The reason I left BNI after 8 years was to reduce my working hours and avoid the early starts. BNI brought business into Roots but also took at least a day of my time a week in order to do so. I wanted to move from a 6 or 7 day week into a 5 day week. Stopping BNI was one way of achieving that.

So, 7.15 is early but BNI was earlier so it didn’t seem so bad. That still leaves the question of why go? Jarle’s email said “Rotary is a service organisation of business and professional leaders united world-wide who help those in need, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and work towards world understanding and peace. Rotarians meet weekly to enjoy each others’ fellowship and discuss ways to serve others.”. That’s very wordy but as it turns out, a very accurate way to summarise what Rotary is. There’s a little more to it and there are other ways of phrasing it but unlike BNI this is a group where the aim is not generating business.

The summary of all of this is I went along to a Rotary meeting, and I haven’t missed one since. Why? What happened? I’ll continue on the next post.