Taking ROSNF from Sydney to São Paulo: How Can We Replicate the Magic?

Two ROSNF members with our pull-up banner at the ROSNF Sydney Convention booth
Having fun at the ROSNF booth!

ROSNF is growing rapidly, with more than 2000 members, a booming Facebook page and a real buzz happening in our community. It’s all looking good!

At least some of this success comes off the back of a very successful Sydney Convention, where our booth was alive with member interactions and our social media breakout was particularly well attended. As ROSNF Chair and Convention Director for 2013-14, I experienced the thrill of a very active participation in our Sydney Convention presence. It was a great experience. With three Board directors and many members joining in, the fun was infectious over five exciting days.

Realistically though, we had every reason to succeed in Sydney. The Board of ROSNF includes four Australian directors and we have an engaged local membership, so our capacity to field a strong team in Sydney Convention was only to be expected. We were in our own back yard.

Contrast that with 12 months earlier in Lisbon, where we only had a small team available to work on our booth and there were no local Board directors. Despite the terrific efforts of our volunteers, we simply did not have the numbers to keep our booth operating and as a result it was unattended for lengthy periods. Not a good look and one which drew criticism from members.

Now look forward to São Paulo. In an eerie similarity, Convention will again be held in a Portuguese-speaking country where ROSNF has no local Board members.

We will face decision time soon, as the time draws near for us to decide whether to reserve a booth at Convention ’15. To have another successful ROSNF presence, we will need ROSNF leaders and sufficient helpers committed to work on our booth. We cannot in good conscience expect a few stalwarts to forego the other great experiences at Convention just to staff our stall. That’s simply not fair.

The things that have worked in the past and could work again in preparing for Convention ’15 are:

  • Recruit more local ROSNF members to our Board group. That approach can work. By way of example, Sydney-based Kate McKenzie joined our Board less than 12 months before Convention ’14 and made a brilliant contribution to ROSNF and at Convention.
  • Encourage all our members to promote our proposed ROSNF presence at Sao Paulo. Ask them to help identify people who plan attend Convention ’15 and might be prepared to help out.
  • Equip our convention team with a new banner and all the consumables they’ll need to do the job.
  • Hold our AGM on day 1 of Convention, so that we can help promote our presence, recruit more volunteers and build enthusiasm again.

If we’re all really committed to a great ROSNF presence at Convention ’15, we do need to start planning and organising now. Can you help?

Kero O’Shea
Membership Director & Social Networking Adviser District 9465
& Past ROSNF Chair 2013-14

Building a Team

I learned a long time ago that you can not accomplish anything worth while alone.  Asking for help was a tough lesson to learn, but probably one of my most valuable.

A single zealot is akin to the guy dancing by himself at a concert.  He looks like a lunatic.  Then someone else comes over and starts dancing, and while you consider joining in, you still look at them oddly.  It’s not until the 3rd person shows up that it becomes a party.  Now, you are building a crowd, having fun and you don’t care what anyone else thinks.  More over, everyone else sees how much fun you are having.

This has been my approach to building a team and change within our district.  My pontificating on “what needs to change” makes me look like an outcast.  Getting several others to buy in early, share that belief and most importantly own it, makes it look like a … dare I say, a movement.  We have called our team the Rotary Revolution of 2012.

Granted – nothing happens over night, but the seed has been planted.   We have more energy, more enthusiasm, more excitement.

Now we have to plug the details in to make it all come together.

On the Road to District Governor pt 3

Some of the biggest changes I am attempting to implement are:

1)  Combined DG visits.  It is somewhat impractical to assume every District Governor is going to be able to visit all 40 clubs (in my district) in a two month period to share his/her ideas and goal with.   In an effort to save time, I am hoping to do 10 or so combined events to speak to the membership across our geographic area.

2)  Rely on AG’s alot. Assistant Governors are completely underutilized in my district.  I have asked my AG’s (who I have already selected for 12-13) to visit each of their clubs’ board meetings in July 2012.  This will help us to assess the club’s needs and goals.  It will also help me to address those needs and goals in my multi-club presentations.

The AG’s are also being trained to be experts in a particular aspect of Rotary.  Whether it is foundation, grant applications, youth programs, administration, etc – each AG is becoming a specialist.  This allows the AG’s to rely on each other for information to help support their clubs better.

3)  Transparency – I am removing the veil that seems to hover around the DG.  I am active on the Social Networks, I talk to people about what is going on in the district, solicit opinions from every one and am rather loud. 🙂

4)  Team work:  I dislike the impression that the DG is the final vote is all things related to the district.  The AG’s and Committee Chairs have been, and will continue to be an intricate part of every decision that is made in moving the district forward.

5)  Get to the PE’s now:   The clubs are encouraged to write their club plan in March.  Visiting them in July to share what the district goals are makes no sense at all.  By involving myself with the 2012-2013 presidents now, I have the opportunity to find out what they need, how they see their club’s moving forward and make those the district goals.

Every meeting I go to, I ask two questions, “Are we doing this out of habit, or are we following a rule.”  If it’s out of habit, does it best serve our district, or is there a better way?

I’ve been changing a lot of habits.  I’ve ticked off a number of people.  I’m ok with that.

On the Road to District Governor pt 2

Three things become crystal clear to me as I became the newest member of the DG Track.  One is, people expect a lot from the sitting District Governor, two, people poke a lot of fun at the DGND.  The “wanna – be” is the joking term.  My response to most of it was, no, not wanna-be, gotta-be.  The third item:  we need to change to survive.  This is the biggie.

My goal in planning and moving through the DG track is two fold:

1)  To change the perception of Rotary to people on the outside.  By giving the general population a diametric opposite visual of the stereotypical Rotary leader, it is my hope that they will see the organization as diversified.  The reality is, it is.  We are probably one of the most diversified organizations in the world, but noone except those in Rotary know that.

2) To change the perception of the leadership within the district.  Most of our members have little idea what “the district” actually does.  Most DG’s visit clubs with their hand out – reminding them of the importance of giving to the foundation, their “duty”, etc.  I want to flip that around and remind the clubs that the district is here to serve them.  Have a project idea – we can help.  Need information – we can point you in the right direction.  The district exists to support the clubs – end of story.  We fail at that, we fail at everything.

I also want members to see that it is more then possible to maintain a life and still be a big part of the district leadership.  It is my hope, that if I do this well, that more leaders will step up and volunteer for district positions.  That is the only way change will take place.  While PDG’s are certainally valuable mentors, having all district positions filled by them is counter-productive to progress.   Most are set in their ways, most rely on experience, most rely on what has worked in the past.  And while it is not my intention to devalue those experiences, we need to encourage new blood to come in to offer their skill set and move forward.

It’s a balancing act indeed.

On the Road to District Governor pt 1

It was a Saturday morning, kind of dreary out.  I pulled into the office parking lot, dressed in my suit and a tad nervous, as I had no idea what to expect.  This was the day I was interviewed by the nominating committee for District Governor.

I walked into the office, greeted by the current District Governor and sat in a waiting room for a some time, while the committee got together to discuss what questions I’d be asked.  I presume the chair gave the committee members some direction on how the whole process would work, no one gave me any information at all…. so I sat.

After a while I was called into the room.  I recognized many of the faces seated at the conference table – most of which were friendly.

The interview progressed without much fan fare.  I was asked questions about where I saw the district going, what I believed our priorities were and how I was going to manage my time and my finances should I become DG.  Some members had their “pet programs”, whether it was youth, international, foundation related, etc.  I kept my responses somewhat short but very sincere, and my responses to the personal questions rather curt.  I am a volunteer, how I manage my time and my money is my business.

It’s easy to understand some of the committees concerns, I do not fit the “typical DG profile”.  Being in my mid 40’s, I work full time, I own my own business and I am a divorced, a single mother of two fabulous teenage girls.  Time is somewhat a luxury, but I always seem to manage.  Regardless, when I was nominated by my club, I felt I could meet the commitment – but we’d have to play by some different rules.

When the committee reached its decision, my sitting DG called to congratulate me.  I was a little surprised, but honored none the less.  As I hung up with him, I called the District Trainer, and told him “We start planning now, it’s the only way we’ll survive”.

And so began the journey on the road to District Governor….