We woke up on Saturday after getting home from our first Seder at 1 AM in the morning. What a wonderful night with a wonderful family. I planned to spend Saturday at the Rotary District Conference with Suleyman Girit. Suleyman was introduced to me by Janice Kurth, the incoming District Governor of Rotary in San Diego. Janice recommended to Suleyman that I speak at their district conference and they offered me an opportunity to be one of their main speakers back in January. I was originally scheduled to speak on Saturday, but they moved my talk to Sunday right before lunch. Of all the speaking slots at the event, this was probably the best one. So, I planned to spend the day on Saturday meeting with the different district officials and learning more about the local Rotary community.
I was picked up around noon and we headed over to the conference together. I enjoyed my conversation with Suleyman on the 30 minute drive over and arrived at the event as everyone started to arrive. What I quickly realized is that everyone was speaking Turkish and I was left out of every conversation between those in attendance. There were many people that spoke English at the event, but when they spoke to each other it was all in Turkish, including every presentation over the next two days. The only presentation in English was mine!
I ended up meeting some amazing people on Saturday, including Safak Alpay and his wife Deniz. Safak is in charge of a huge territory, including most of Eastern Europe and Africa. He was the main speaker on Saturday and when speaking with Deniz she told me that I needed to talk with her husband about Success Redefined and what I was doing. I also met a number of the existing and incoming District Governors from around Turkey. They were all very nice and had lots of passion for making a difference and giving back. After Safak spoke to the entire assembly, we had a chance to connect one-on-one.
I spoke with Safak about the concepts I have been working on for the past few years and he was excited to learn more. Next year he will be heading up the Rotary International Executive Committee. That is the group that runs Rotary operations day to day. I asked him what he thought the biggest problem for Rotary was and he said “recruiting” without a hitch. It seems like everyone knows that recruiting is a big problem they are trying so many different things to address the issue. I look forward to getting back to San Diego and working with Janice and our district to do something about this in San Diego. Rotary is an amazing organization and can do so much good with the right members, it’s just that the message seems to be old and there is a lack of clarity on how to recruit new members beyond a personal invitation.
I ended my day by heading to my second Seder with the Tari family. Joseph Tari is Suleyman’s business partner and mentor for the past 30 years. Joseph and his family, including his wife Odet, their daughter Beril and her husband Scott, along with Odet’s cousin, were so gracious and kind to me. Ilise and the kids were off with our new friend Tijen so I was doing the Seder solo. The Tari family went out of their way to make me feel at home and shared an amazing meal with me. I enjoyed the conversation and the food, but by about 10:30 I was getting tired and I had a big day today for my speech at the Rotary conference. So, Joseph decided to drive me home and I was in bed by 11:30 pm. Sunday would be a big day!
To be continued …..