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Friday, November 18, 2016

It’s the “Why”

A message from PNW District - Optimist International Governor Rick Matkin


optimist international pnw districtUndoubtedly all of us have seen a club that appears more successful. They have more members, they keep more members, and they recruit more successfully. We also see other individual Optimists that just appear to be better recruiters. We wonder and frequently pass it off as they are more gregarious, easy going or extroverted. So what is the difference?

We have attended meetings and seminars that stress the need to practice our “elevator speech”. We recognize we may be offered an opportunity to talk with a prospective member or a stranger who expresses interest in one of your projects. These opportunities tend to be very brief, thus resulting in the utilization of what we have come to refer to as the “elevator speech.” Is this the answer?

A typical inquiry by an interested person tends to start with, “What do Optimists do?” That is the kick off of your elevator speech opportunity. You tell that person about your community projects and possibly some facts about how it fits into your own community. That input on your part tends to prompt the question, “How do you do all of that?” That launches you into a mention of all of the successful fundraisers you may do or describe your benefactors and your appreciation of their involvement. This tends to be your opportunity to slip in the fact you could do much more if this person would be willing to join in with you or your local club and strengthen your involvement in the community. Why is this method not more successful than it is?

A person who may ask you about an Optimist project is more often than not a caring individual. They care for their community. They care for the opportunities their child may be offered. Usually the inquiry comes during a time when you are involved in a project and are witnessed by the person making the inquiry. A person who asks at this time is a caring person. Caring is done from the heart of an individual. So here is the difference.

When we answer the inquiry about the “What?” and the “How?” we are satisfying the individual’s needs for their head. It is just like you answered a business question. Things that are good for business are handled differently in the brain than are those believed to belong in the heart. A long term Optimist is a person who spends more time operating from the heart than from the brain. These are the people that make good Optimists and stay with your organization a number of years.

People who join for reasons of the head or brain tend to see how Optimists may benefit their business, their contacts in the community, or their visibility to others. These are all good reasons but tend not to be the reasons a person remains productive and invested in your club activities.

The question people who look for details about Optimist International seldom ask is the “Why?” In a way to personalize your elevator speech it is best if you make it personal from you. You are inviting them to be with you, so make it personal. That is where the “why” comes in. I was asked, “Why are you an Optimist?” My response is, “I love doing projects for the kids in my community with all of my best friends.”

After looking back at my life in my community over the past eighteen years, I recognized that most of my best friends are Optimists. Why do many of us drive sometimes across two states and occasionally a province to visit with other members at conference? Some of them are my best friends and I can be assured when I attend a conference I am spending time with another person who shares a caring for their community as much as I do mine.

You can make a connection with an individual more completely if in addition to answering the “What?” and the “How?” you also include the “Why”. You already know how to take care of the business or the head and brain questions. There are those people who join Optimists for reasons of the head, but the ones who stay with your club do so for reasons of the heart.

So continue to practice your elevator speech, but in your own words plan on making it a more personal invitation by telling them “Why” you are an Optimist.
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