The below article was written for the August issue of FLAME.
I am not sure there is a single principle more important than simply loving your people. I’ve always enjoyed reading books by John C. Maxwell, and in one of his books he had a statement from President Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
In 1985, I met a man named Ray Parlier. Ray and I were very involved in the South Carolina Junior Chamber (Jaycees) and later he would lead the state organization as President. He also became one of my political advisors when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.
While Ray was extremely successful in the Jaycees, his real impact was shaping the lives of kids at Furman University where he served as Athletic Director during the time when it claimed its only National Football Championship. Ray’s influence on me was profound, but his greatest lesson was to love your people. If you demonstrate how much you care about the people you lead, they will follow you anywhere. People always came first with Coach Parlier and he was a master at making you feel special.
He called until it was too late to talk on the phone. Then he would switch to addressing postcard after postcard thanking folks for the smallest things. Ray was a fierce competitor and he believed everyone had a place on the team. The quarterback who made the perfect fade pass was important but so was the trainer who conditioned the players. Ray gave out more plaques and incentives than anyone I ever met and sometimes it was the smallest tokens that people desired the most. It was not the size of the reward but the appreciation for the job well done. I am not sure I ever saw as many grown men hug each other as they did under the leadership of Coach. He made you feel good about yourself and your effort.
Someone recently asked me to what I attributed the success of the Lake Norman Chamber I lead here at Lake Norman. Location is a critical factor for any business, but it really benefits those who make their home at the lake. We have businesses that work their plan, take advantage of our networking events, and our outstanding personal growth and business programming. However, the thing that sets our chamber apart, which enables us to be the “Best of the Best”, is our appreciation of each other. You must show folks how much you care. It is the foundation of leadership.
I still remember a Saturday morning in Charleston, S.C. when I had just been elected President of the South Carolina Jaycees. Coach Ray Parlier put his arm around me and hugged me tight. He then looked deep in my eyes, with a wide smile across his face and reminded me, “Bill, love your people and they’ll love you back.”
As I look back on a life that has spanned six decades now, that may well have been the single best advice I ever received.
Last weekend, a longtime friend called to inform me she was moving to Colorado and hoped we could get together again before she made that trek out west.
Jill was one of the first people I met at the lake when I took over the helm of the Chamber in 1996. She and I could not have been more different in our political philosophies. She was a diehard progressive and I was clearly a conservative when it came to my beliefs and values. Yet, our love of the Lake Norman community and the potential of this region transcended our partisan differences.
As a reporter for the only newspaper in the area at the time, Jill and I were both involved in many of the milestone events for our area, such as the groundbreaking of the “New” Exit 25 on I-77 and the grand opening of Birkdale. Since she also served as president of the Lake Norman Jaycees and was active in both the Chamber and Rotary, she and I interacted a great deal over two decades.
As we sat together on her last weekend in town, we lamented how partisan, bitter, and angry politics have turned both nationwide and locally. Ironically, we also both remarked how glad we are that it will soon come to an end – at least until next fall! We spent the next two hours reminiscing friends we have lost here at the lake and celebrating how things have grown and prospered since we first met over 20 years ago.
As we started to say our goodbyes, almost on cue – a beautiful Lake Norman sunset burned brightly in the sky above The Port City Club. We watched as the sun slowly sank below the cool waters, glistening orange and yellow as the day gave way, surrendering to twilight.
We hugged one last time and she left for her new life out west. Driving home, I was reminded that during this season of Thanksgiving, how very fortunate and thankful I am to all of the many people like Jill who have profoundly shaped our community and my life. And, how much better the Lake Norman region is because of these remarkable individuals. I am also very thankful that unemployment is down, our local real estate market is thriving, and commerce is strong. The chamber continues to introduce new businesses to the Lake Norman market, engage new members and benefit from the immense dedication of our volunteers. For these things, we are immensely grateful!
Recently, the Chamber held a Public Safety Luncheon where we saluted our local Police, Fire, and First Responders for keeping our families and businesses safe. While riots and protests ensued just a few miles down the road, our communities were safe! For that and for the services this special group provides each day, we should all be relieved and thankful!
We also celebrate the growth of our Lake Norman Chamber Young Professionals who celebrate their second anniversary this month! This group is growing as we see more and more young adults get involved in their community. America can feel the power of her young people and nowhere is that more evident than Lake Norman.
Last month, we called on local businesses to help our Lake Norman Education Collaborative and you responded recognizing the need for businesses to partner with our public education. Thank you!
While I am thankful the campaign season is coming to a close – I am also very grateful to the men and women who both serve and those who seek political office.
As I watched Jill walk away, it occurred to me sometimes it’s the smallest of things and the people who have touched your life you cherish most of all. You may not remember all they said, perhaps not all they did, but you remember how they made you feel and the impact they have had on your life. It really is a lot to be thankful for.
On September 7th, I’ll be 57! To celebrate this milestone in my life, I have accepted the North Mecklenburg Rotary Club’s ZERO K Challenge. I know many of you are asking why undertake such an arduous challenge so late in life. Sure – it’s going to take some extra training to get into shape, to get my mind prepared, and not just compete – but actually take the Gold in the ZERO K.
That said, I am reminded of the Rotary Credo – Service Above Self. Sure, I could stay at home, preparing if not already getting started for the Carolina – Miss State Tailgating the following Day – September 10th. But you simply have to put community service first.
In a way, I have been preparing for this event most of my adult life. When some of my friends were running 3K, 5K, 10K… and yes, some competing in the Iron Man Marathon – I decided long ago I didn’t desire to be an Iron Man – I wanted to be a Sixty Minute Man.
While my buddies were out pounding the pavement in their sneakers, I was sitting back with a cold Brew listening to the Tams, the Catalinas, the Embers… and yes, the General himself and Chairman of the Board. Rather than sweaty socks and running shoes – I much preferred the sand under my feet, shagging to the tunes of my favorite beach music with a Carolina Girl.
I don’t take the Zero K Challenge lightly. I have already begun the difficult training required for the event which takes place September 9th 5:30-9 pm at the Oak Street Mill in Cornelius.
It begins which proper nourishment – a fried Bologna sandwich (three slices – extra thick) with Duke’s Mayonnaise piled high. It’s necessary to properly coat both sides of your bread with at least 4 to 5 teaspoons of the Pride of the South! I top it off with fresh jalapeno peppers and tomatoes from my garden and two slices of Vidalia onion. The onions and peppers should also be fried up in virgin olive oil. I use my Gandmother Feemster’s cast iron skillet to give it just that special flavor. Texas Pete also gives it a robust kick. Several splashes are recommended.
A good fried up bologna sandwich should be chased by a smooth brown liquor drink. For my northern friends who are unfamiliar with the term brown liquor – I mean a great bourbon. In this case, I’m training with Russell’s Reserve. No – its not my special bourbon but one that I really like – a single barrel bourbon from the fine folks at Wild Turkey. Some may ask would Jack Daniels work just as well?
Perhaps, but for training purposes I think bourbon over whiskey to get the mind right. Other preferred bourbons: Jefferson Small Batch, Woodford Reserve or Knob Creek to get the blood flowing.
Not everyone can expect to reach their maximum endurance in their first ZERO K and I don’t take it lightly. My experience in Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at Winthrop and the United States Jaycees have helped prepare me for this moment – and yes, I feel up to the task. Many are called – but few are chosen.
So yes, I am competing – and I will take home the Gold in the first annual North Meck Rotary Club ZERO K Fundraiser to help raise awareness for the 9/11 Monument.
John Kepner, the president of our Rotary Club wholeheartedly supports my rigorous training and diet for the event. John might I add is also the owner of one of two Huntersville Funeral Homes and Crematoriums and he along with Sam James deeply appreciates the business.
So – are you up to the challenge? If so, Join us – you can register for the ZERO K here.
73rd Annual Meeting Presidential Address
Presented by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
June 17, 2003 Greensboro, NC
Junior Chamber International President Robby Dawkins, Junior Chamber International Vice President Mejia, President elect and First Lady Shapiro, Fellow members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Past National Presidents, Ambassadors, Senators, Fellow Junior Chamber members, and guests:
I could spend my final moments as national president reflecting on the past year: my travels to your states, the training we introduced, the impact we made with the Wake Up America program and our governmental affairs efforts. However, rather than reflect on the past, I would rather us prepare for the future.
When I was a local officer in the Rock Hill, South Carolina Jaycees in the mid-1980’s, I was an inexperienced Jaycee. I made the occasional mistakes…but I learned and benefited from it all. But what I learned early on and what has lasted for me all these years – is the Jaycee Creed. As simple as those 65 words are, they are the framework that helped me deal with many challenges, especially change. During this past year as I traveled into 47 states and three different countries, I saw and read some very unsettling things. Things that the Junior Chamber could change – if we wanted to.
In December, in the Town of Vienna, Va., the newspapers ran a photo of a
group of people held at bay by armed guards. That may not sound unusual, but these were not rioters or protesters. They were Christmas Carolers. You see, the Town of Vienna had outlawed the singing of religious songs on public property. So the men, women, and children had to sing “Silent Night” behind barricades. It sounds much like Eastern Europe under communist rule…instead it was America 1991. There is a cultural war going on in America and the young people are fighting for the conscience of America. Remember that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has triggered widespread thinking that the cold war is over – there is no need to do anything else – we’re safe now. Consider for a moment the past six years, when the Junior Chamber moved behind the iron curtain and began chipping away at the walls of communism through the spread of Jaycees, and paving the way for democracy. I remember the pride I felt when I saw JCI World President Dawkins on the cover of Jaycees Magazine with the Kremlin hauntingly in the background. Starting new Junior Chamber chapters in Russia, Estonia, and now Vietnam – new pockets of democracy. We actively pursued friendships and cultivated relationships. The brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.
We hear so much that’s negative in America today. We hear things like our economy is weak, our standard of living is low, America’s people don’t want to work. There are indeed examples of that in every town and city of America. But we are short sighted if we let the nay-sayers convince us that America is worse off than it’s ever been. While there is no question there are pressing national challenges that need to be solved – we shouldn’t be sidetracked by issues that certainly do not do anything to help this nation. Our future as a country requires us to choose issues that surpass symbolism and move toward the heart of addressing today’s foreign and domestic challenges with speed and accuracy.
I encourage you to go home this week and look closely at the real numbers behind the economy. I think you will see that critics are off base about America’s premier status in the world. We are a nation who even at our lowest end of the economic scale – work harder and are better off than any other industrialized nation in the world. Period. That’s not just my opinion – it’s a fact! You know it as economic justice – which we believe can best be won by free men through free enterprise.
An area of the Junior Chamber whose potential largely remains untapped is our international affairs. Not one major city in America is without an international company operating and employing the people of that community. The barriers of the world are opening and today’s world is becoming a global village. The world’s challenges are very simply – our challenges. Our Jaycee chapters need to become involved in international affairs, creating bonds with chapters from throughout the world – sharing cultural and business knowledge. The future of this organization lies in its ability to offer young people the opportunities of the world.
United States Jaycees, the challenges which face us are not unsolvable. But unless we have the courage to meet them head on, our hesitation could seal our fate. Traveling around the country this year, some people asked, “What’s wrong with the Junior Chamber? Why are we losing members every year?” There are no simple answers and some of you may not agree with some of the things I’m about to say, but I feel compelled to say them. First off – there is nothing wrong with the Jaycees. The fault is not in the product – the faults are in the delivery of the product.
Each year, we send young people out to serve in leadership capacities: state presents and vice presidents, regional and district directors, local chapter officers who are unprepared for the role they play. They have the commitment, courage and desire – but they lack the knowledge and experience. I believe we should require our officers to meet certain criteria for office. I believe we should require state presidents to have been vice presidents. State vice presidents should have been regional or district directors and they in turn should have been local presidents. Some of our states might find it difficult to fill leadership roles for a while, but I believe it is a disservice to both the chapters and the officer to send them out there unprepared. Pinning a name badge on a shirt just for the sake of filling the position does more harm than good.
Each year we start new Junior Chamber chapters in communities with the only criteria being twenty filled out applications and money to cover the dues for the twenty people. The chapter does not have to run projects. It doesn’t have to teach personal and leadership skills. It doesn’t even have to conduct regular meetings. I believe this is wrong. I think we should bring back the affiliation process which would require chapters to meet certain criteria before a charter is granted. The chapter should create a chapter plan, run community projects, conduct orientations, and initiate quality programming which are going to make young people the business and community leaders of tomorrow. These activities could be monitored by the state organization.
One of the weaknesses we incur is we recruit people every day, telling them that the organization is inexpensive – only $45 a year, you don’t have to attend the meetings, you don’t have to participate in the projects and programming, as a matter of fact you don’t have to do anything – and then the member lives up to those expectations. They become the member we asked them to be. I believe you should collect their membership application and check but before they become a member, they must attend an orientation, a meeting, and a project. If they are unable because of evening classes or work commitments, exceptions can be made. This type of membership activity would ensure that people who never intended to be active, who never knew they joined in the first place, or paper members signed for personal gains never appear on our rolls to begin with.
Membership recruitment is vital to our organization. We must recruit more young people and create new Junior Chamber chapters more zealously than ever before. But we cannot damage our chapters and our credibility by recklessly creating chapters which don’t meet that standard. As a national organization, we must examine the measurement system by which we judge our state organizations – the Parade of States.
It is a system which recognizes one winner and forty-nine losers. It is a system which rewards short term performance. It is a system which condones a live for today attitude, no matter of tomorrow’s consequences. Just a quick look at our top five parade players of the past five years will indicate states which are paying for their moment in the sun. One state – Vermont – was a top five state just a few years ago, today – we have no state organization in Vermont. We simply cannot continue to recognize short term success. President elect Shapiro if you truly want to impact the United States Junior Chamber – dismantle the Parade of States. Initiate a program which recognizes states which excel in the only awards program which encompasses all areas of Jaycees on a long term basis – our Blue Chip Program.
States which have 20-30% of chapters at Blue Chip can be Blue Chip States;
States with 30-40% can be Gold; and States with 40% or higher can be Diamond States. It’s time we reexamined our measurement systems. It’s time we stopped condoning reckless and irresponsible membership activity. Understand clearly Jaycees – membership is people. And we’re in the people business. We have a responsibility to give other people an opportunity to be in the Junior Chamber. This organization has been around for 73 years because people have felt strongly enough about it to share it with others. We must recruit more young people, get more people involved than we did this past year – and we must do it because it’s the right thing to do. Not because of what we gain by it, but by what we give by doing it!
Henry Kissinger, the former United States Secretary of State, said, “The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” In the governmental affairs area – it’s time for the Junior Chamber to have a lobbyist in Washington DC to ensure we’re not overlooked on issues of importance to us. Let’s go somewhere we have not been.
In the environmental area, let’s show America we’re dedicated to preserving natural resources – but at the same time – communicate clearly that environmental awareness is not more important than human life. Let’s go somewhere we have not been.
Let’s inject ourselves into the political debate of this country – wholeheartedly and enthusiastically – to represent what young people today think and need. Let’s go somewhere we have not been.
It’s time we rejected the old measurement systems and turned our backs on the status quo and mediocrity. It’s time to embrace our opportunities. It’s time to go somewhere we have not been.
United States Jaycees, we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been. We’ve made it through the hardest part. We had to break it all down to build it back up. We leaned on each other when times got tough and we’ve survived so much.
We shared it all this year, you and I. Thank you for giving Melissa and I this wonderful opportunity. To the Jaycee Traveling Animals of Rock Hill, we’re coming home. And to the South Carolina Jaycees – Let’s put the green back on stage.
Good luck Jaycees and may God Bless the United States Junior Chamber.
July Officers Training School Closing Ceremony
8 PM July 18, 1992
Remarks by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
It’s been an exciting JOTS. Thank each of you for being a part of it. Now, take the lessons home and share them with your fellow state and local chapter officers. Let’s turn the dreams into reality. Thirty-nine years ago, President Dwight David Eisenhower addressed the Junior Chamber Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota – a historic first for our organization. He realized the unique nature of Jaycees when he said, “Yours is one of our nation’s most distinguished and enterprising organizations. You are young and responsible people, with impressive careers and achievements already recorded to your credit. Because you are both young and responsible, you know what is your greatest responsibility of all – Tomorrow.”
Jaycees – I believe in you and I believe in tomorrow – and more importantly, I believe in what we can put into action today. Three weeks ago in Portland at the 72nd Annual Meeting, the 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan spoke to our delegates. I remember the pride I felt sitting out in the audience with you as he spoke these words: “Jaycees are special because we are committed to one specific task – training young leaders. Long before it became fashionable, Jaycees were in the business of developing leaders. The world is changing. Never before has the need for developing new leadership been so great. Our nation needs men and women of vision and determination. We need leaders of honesty and a strong sense of personal values. As I look at your Jaycee Creed, I see the place from which those leaders will come. You have the zest for what you do. You are just what we need more of in this country. Use your Jaycee beliefs to seek out volunteers and train them. Build the foundation of America’s Leaders for the next century.”
Reagan went on to tell us to “renew our commitment city by city, person by person, and day by day to make our country and the world a better place to live.” President Reagan, you have our commitment to restore this nation. To seek out those volunteers and to build that leadership – and we shall not fail in that task. It’s time Jaycees. It’s time to Wake Up the communities of Amarillo, Texas – Grand Rapids, Michigan, – and Des Moines, Iowa. It’s time to wake up chapters in Kansas City, Missouri – Berry, Vermont – and Prescott, Arizona. It’s time we wake up our communities … our chapters … and our members. It’s time we Wake Up America. It’s Time.
This speech was dleivered to Jaycee Chapters and State Board Meetings between August and October 31st urging Jaycees to get people involved in the politcal debate of the country. It was known as the Wake Up America speech and focused on that program developed in 1992. The Speech was given: Kansas Board Meeting 8/8/92; Missouri Board Meeting 8/15/92; Virginia Boar d Meeting 8/22/92; Florida Board Meeting 8/23/92; California J-Bar (Pomona) Rally 9/7/92; Eastern Institute Meeting New Hampshire 9/12/92; Vermont Chapters 9/13/92; Massachusetts Chapters 9/14/92; Connecticut Chapters 9/15/92; New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Chapters 9/16/92; Maryland Chapters 9/17/92; Georgia Chapters 9/27/92; Great American Institute Colorado 10/3/92; Nevada Chapters 10/6/92; Mississippi Chapters 10/8-9/92; Dixie Institute Meeting 10/11/92; Hawaii Chapters 10/18-23; Mid America Meeting 10/24/92; Kentucky Chapters 10/25-27/92; Illinois Chapters 10/28-29/92; Indiana Chapters 10/30-31/92
On the way here today I thought about the kind of talk I could give. I could speak about the innovative training we introduced at the July Officers Training School (JOTS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma – Teaching Jaycees about decision making, managing change, team building, and measuring performance. Teaching young people to be leaders, how to manage their chapters and impact their communities. I could talk about the creating new chapters like the one ______ was working on in and how neat it is to create a new Junior Chamber chapter in a community that needs one so desperately.
We could talk about the super Jaycee who comes in and does something great at a project or function, who gets more people involved than ever before. Or the not so active Jaycee who steps in and does something neat. No matter what topic I thought about, I kept coming back to the challenges we face – (Insert state), The United States Junior Chamber…even America itself. The Jaycees have always faced challenges – we did yesterday and we will tomorrow – and we’ve continued to stand the test of time because our young people felt strongly about what they were doing.
America faces her biggest threat. Not from a superpower – the cold war is over. Not from Saddam Hussein though he may continue to be an annoyance. Our biggest threat is from ourselves. The Los Angeles riots were not about prejudice – it was about hate. People of the same race beating and killing each other for the sheer excitement of it. I read how a seven year old boy shot a six year old girl in the head with a pistol, and after he was apprehended by school authorities, he asked, “Is this going to take long?”
America has a new generation of young people. Most of us grew up as baby boomers. According to the new literature Association Management distributes, boomers are shoppers because we’ve always had choices. Boomers exhibit certain values in the workplace and professional societies in which they belong. They have a high social conscience and a need to develop their personal development and status. They want to contribute to society. The new generation after the boomers is called the baby bust. A majority of these young people grew up in a world catering to every need and an age of exploding technology. When members of this group were ready to attend college, schools struggling for enrollment sent them postcards telling them they had already been accepted. Busters claim as heroes not John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, but Bart Simpson and Madonna.
Their theme song is “Don’t worry be happy.” They grew up in an age of technological miracles. “Don’t worry about AIDS, science will find a cure in a few years.” Why be concerned about an oil spill on the Alaskan Coast line? Science will create an enzyme that breaks it down. For most of us – the inconceivable, an astronaut walking on the moon, is mundane reality to this new generation. Television has literally brought the globe to their living rooms.
Several weeks ago, I saw an episode of Arsenio Hall. Comedian Eddie
Murphy was a guest that evening. Arsenio asked Eddie if he was actively supporting a candidate in the upcoming election. Eddie Murphy, a popular young entertainer and personal role model for some, replied, he wasn’t going to vote. “It doesn’t matter, what’s going to happen is going to happen.” His vote didn’t matter. People are disillusioned with the election process. Congressmen are misrepresenting their office. The issues aren’t being elected by the majority
Well it does matter and this year the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce is going to spearhead a drive to register voters, sponsor candidate debates, and get the issues out to the people. Jaycees are going to be the driving force against voter apathy and if the congress will not represent the will of the people we will elect leaders who do. It’s time America felt the power of her young people. This year our organization will launch a program to get young kids involved in our Jaycee activities – it’s called the Junior Jaycees. We need to share with them the values we cherish. Teach them early to work together in common goals. Teach them that service to humanity is the best work of life – because – it does matter. It’s time to Wake Up America!
Our Jaycee chapters will introduce new training techniques to our local chapters which will build the personal and leadership skills young people need to compete in the business world. Training which will allow our Jaycees to manage their chapters – providing direction and leadership to our communities and nation – because it does matter. It’s time we Wake Up our Jaycee members!
We have continued to lead the fight against disease, improving the quality of life for our people – and we will continue to fight….an lead. We will fight the spread of Aids, we will work for a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, and other afflictions until the need for St. Jude’s and MDA are no longer needed. We will work toward that end because it does matter – and we’re going to Wake Up the next generation of young people.
Mark Twain said, “Thunder is impressive, but lightning does all the work.” Your national and state organizations are the thunder spreading the message of the Junior Chamber – but you are the true lightning piercing through your local communities – striving to be the best of the best. At our 72nd annual meeting, the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan said, “We must renew our commitment city by city, person by person, day by day to make our country and this world a better place to live.”
I ask you to go out into your communities and implement the Wake Up America program Register voters, get involved with debates, and discuss the issues with members of your community. This is our chance to Wake Up America! Challenges have always faced America and the Junior Chamber – but we’ve managed to find the answers. Our biggest threat remains ourselves – but the answers lie in each of us – and in the middle of our challenges lay our opportunities.
Our opportunity to Wake Up this new generation of young people and our own Jaycee members. And we must renew our commitment chapter by chapter, member by member, day by day to make this organization stronger and our country – a better place to live.
Jaycees – its time. Our time. May God bless you and God bless the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Speech given: Kansas Board Meeting 8/8/92; Missouri Board Meeting 8/15/92; Virginia Board Meeting 8/22/92; Florida Board Meeting 8/23/92; California J-Bar (Pomona) Rally 9/7/92; Eastern Institute Meeting – New Hampshire 9/12/92; Vermont Chapters 9/13/92; Massachusetts Chapters 9/14/92; Connecticut Chapters 9/15/92; New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Chapters 9/16/92; Maryland Chapters 9/17/92; Georgia Chapters 9/27/92; Great American Institute – Colorado 10/3/92; Nevada Chapters 10/6/92; Mississippi Chapters 10/8-9/92; Dixie Institute Meeting 10/11/92; Hawaii Chapters 10/18-23; Mid America Meeting 10/24/92; Kentucky Chapters 10/25-27/92; Illinois Chapters 10/28-29/92; Indiana Chapters 10/30-31/92
This speech was given at the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce Ten Outstanding Young Americans Banquet by Bill Russell, 73rd President on January 15, 1993 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
Ten Outstanding Young Americans Banquet
Address by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
January 15, 1993 – Tulsa, Oklahoma
United States Jaycees: How does it feel to grow again as an organization? In December, I asked you to accept the challenge…to grow as an organization for the first time in two years. We set a goal of +350 people and asked thirty five states to make their goals a reality. You answered the challenge and exceeded it with 38 states and a net growth for the organization of +466. Four states achieved Century Club status with a growth of 100 or more members. For the first time in a very long time we can say that the Junior Chamber of Commerce grew as an organization. And you made that happen. It feels good doesn’t it?
However, our job is far from complete. Our organization .. this nation needs us more than ever before. America’s young people are the bread and butter of this country. Our TOYA honorees are a testament to that fact. We are the people – 21 to 39 – who are making America work. We are the car buyers, the house builders, the tax payers. We are the leaders in training. We are the down payment on the future of this country. Think for a moment what this country would not have it were not for the Junior Chamber. We would not have many of the community parks for our children to play in; we would not have many of this country’s soup kitchens.
We would not have trained leaders like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George
Bush, and Bill Clinton – all of which were Jaycees. Dominos Pizza, started by former Jaycee Tom Monaghan, might not exist today. There would not have been a Flight of the Spirit of St. Louis, sponsored by Jaycee Charles Lindbergh and the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce. There would not be Junior Chamber Chapters in 109 countries and we would not be honoring this weekend some of the best and brightest young people in America.
We are an important demographic of people in this country and its time young people had a voice in their future. The AARP lobbies for the rights of seniors. Now it is time young people have an organization to lobby for us in terms of health care, legal reform, education, and the environment. And that organization is the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. We’re on a roll and we’re ready to rock.
We can do whatever we choose to do. You have proven that during the past 73 years. We are coming into Junior Chamber Week across America. It is time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. During the summer, I like many of you watched the Summer Olympics. I will never forget the 400 meters semi-final race of the Barcelona games. Britain’s Derek Redmond was in the backstretch some 200 meters from the end when he collapsed on the track with a torn right ham string.
The crowd looked on in disbelief. Injuries are, of course, common in Olympic Games where men and women are performing at their peak. What the crowd saw on this day was quite uncommon. They saw Olympic valor and raw determination. As medical attendants were approaching, Redmond fought to his feet pushing the Olympic trainers to the side. Later he would say, “It was out of animal instinct.” With tears of pain streaming down his face, he set out in a quest to finish the race he had started. When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came out of the stands, hurled aside a security guard and ran to Redmond embracing him. This was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father.
“You don’t have to do this,” he told his weeping son. “Yes I do,” replied Derek. “Well then,” said his dad, “Well do it together.” And so they did. Fighting off security men, the son’s head sometimes buried in his father’s shoulder. They stayed in Derek’s lane to the end as the crowd gasped, then rose, and then cried. They recognized true courage and sheer determination.. .. that thing we Jaycees call “Commitment.”
Our Jaycee year is in the homestretch. Some us feel injured. Some of us hurt. We feel we have given everything we could but it does not matter because we can never win the race. But you can win the race – the race that is inside you. You can lie on the track and wait for someone to take you away before the next race begins – the next state officer takes over. Or you can be like the great Olympian and get up and finish the race as hard as you can. And I’ll tell you what my Jaycee career has taught me. When you start working to finish something…giving it all you have – People will cheer. And more importantly, they’ll join in.
Last month we set our goal and together, working hard we achieved it. Late one night last month I was in my office writing postcards to some of you. Thanking you for your special effort – reaching past the limits many thought possible. Everyone had long gone home. Just the picture of our founder Henry Giessenbier hanging on the wall for company.
A song came on the radio – a song that made me think of what little time we had left, but so much still left to do. The singer say’s he’s in a hurry to get things done, he rushes around till life’s no fun. He’s in a hurry and doesn’t know why. He say’s all he’s really got to do, like so many people in America “is just live and die.” But as he starts to think about it, he realizes why…you see he’s on a roll and he’s ready to rock.
There’s so much more to life than just sitting back watching people be successful around you. He starts to pick up the pace, because he’s in his race…there’s no room for second place. State presidents and officers, district and regional directors…Junior Chamber leaders we all must run as fast as we can…when your people see you, they’ll want join in.
It is time for out gutsiest performance. It’s time we realize the goals we set earlier in the year. Each of us made a commitment to leave this organization better off than when we took over and it will take real courage to make the decisions which need to made over the next few months. We cannot afford to look the other way in our challenges, we must meet them head on and overcome them. For our Jaycee Chapters to make the impact we need to make in our communities, for our members to develop and mature we must put into play an aggressive public relations campaign, getting our message across into the hands of the major television and radio markets.
Our Jaycee Magazine must be expanded and given real substance, providing information which will be beneficial to our membership. A governmental affairs area needs to be created so our voice can be heard across this country and in Washington DC. Field reps and qualified trainers must be sent out in greater numbers to train our state and local officers. A Foundation program needs to be put into place to give our chapters grants – opportunities to once again build the community parks, carry out the projects, and make the difference in our communities we once did.
Our generation of Jaycees must prepare for the future. We must have the courage to make the decisions we need to and return this organization to national prominence…and I’m asking you to be a part of that change. John F. Kennedy said, Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are sure to miss the future.” Let us embrace our challenges…take advantage of our opportunities and like the great Olympian, finish the race we started.
Listening to the Alabama song, I understood the message (Begin Audio: Alabama song I’m in a Hurry faintly in the background and rising). United States Jaycees there are only 105 days left in this Junior Chamber year. We’re in a hurry to get things done and as the leadership of this great organization, we know why! Together, let us gather in Greensboro, North Carolina at our Annual Meeting. Having given everything we had. Let us push for our members to be their absolute best and let us do it because…
We would settle for nothing less! Good luck Jaycees. God bless each of you and God bless the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.
This speech was given to the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce State Presidents at the Governmental Affairs Leadership Summit held in Washington, DC September 1992 by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd National President.
Speech to the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce State Presidents
Governmental Affairs Leadership Summit
In Portland, Oregon, I stood before you and identified a challenge we have as a national service organization. We have in the past concentrated more effort on recruiting new members and beginning new Jaycee Chapters and we were not placing enough attention on the existing members we already have representing Junior Chamber Chapters throughout our great nation. I have said, and I believe firmly, that we must deliver the training to allow our Jaycee Chapters to manage themselves – that teach personal and leadership skills so that our young people can compete in today’s diverse business world.
We went into our July Officers Training School on a mission – to deliver on that promise…and I think we all agree…we did just that. The JOTS training was one of the most comprehensive programs the United States Junior Chamber has ever conducted. You and your state officers of vice presidents and district and regional directors left Tulsa, Oklahoma with new skills and creative training techniques that will allow them to pass on that training at the grass roots level – building new Jaycee Chapters which will have a profound and lasting impact on their respective communities.
Now, where are we today? Many of us are sitting back waiting for the training to sell itself. “We’re the new and improved Junior Chamber … Come on down and look us over!” I have spoken about the success of Lee Iacocca at Chrysler. We have the cutting edge product – bright, shiny, and candy apple red. It’s fast and can hold the curves…stop by and test drive it today!
We may sit here like those salesmen around the showroom thinking of what a great product we have and all the smart marketing ads we’re running. My question to you – do you really think people are just going to amble on down to the showroom? Are they just going to flock to your chapters once they hear about your nifty training?
Folks…it doesn’t work that way. You have to take the product to the people. Each of you as State Presidents are your organization’s number one salesperson. If you believe in the product – you have to set the example in selling it. You lead by example. Some of you are scared to death to talk about membership to your folks back home. Well if you do not talk about it – who will?
Let me by crystal clear – membership is people…and we’re in the people business. You cannot run projects without people. You can’t put on outstanding programs without people. You cannot make an impact on your community without people. You have to get people involved.
You cannot hide behind a shield of programming anymore. If you do not start recruiting new people into your organization, there will be no one left to train. It is extremely important to engage the folks you already have as members…get them involved…but let’s give those folks who are not Jaycee members a chance to be a part of something that can change their life – an opportunity to be a member of America’s premier young person’s organization – The Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Some of you are living in a field of dreams….create neat programming and they will come…run some great projects in the community and they will come… Well, this isn’t a Field of Dreams and people don’t just come. Things don’t just happen. You’ve got to make it happen. We better all get out there and get people involved – current members – new members – get them involved today! Or all we will have left are empty dreams and unrealized promises.
Someone long ago had the courage to ask you to join the Jaycees. Each of you know what that moment has meant to you. In many cases it has changed your life. I’m asking you to return that favor. Change someone’s life. Give them the special gift someone gave you. There is no feeling like knowing you have made an impact changing the face of your community. Making someone’s life just a little bit better. Leaving your community better than you found it. When you leave here this weekend – make a commitment to go home and lead your people. Inspire them to be their very best…to reach goals they never dreamed they could. Do what you were elected to do. Sell the product you all believe in. Be your state’s number one salesperson.
We have a chance to change the face of the world. Let’s make this organization, our organization, the United States Jaycees the organization of choice for today’s young person…and let us not fail in that task!
This speech was given during the annual business meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce by the 73rd National President Bill Russell asking the delegates to approve a $5 dues increase per member, an alumni membership, and a blue ribbon commission to create a plan for the future of the organization. All three initiatives were approved later that day.
Address to the 73rd Annual Meeting Delegates
United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, June 16, 1993
This speech was given during the annual business meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce by National President Bill Russell asking the delegates to approve a $5 dues increase per member, an alumni membership, and a blue ribbon commission to create a plan for the future of the organization. All three initiatives were approved later that day.
Delegates to the 73rd annual meeting, there is a word that keeps popping up time and again when we talk about the Junior Chamber and that word is leadership. You have heard it this year. I hope you come to understand it better. Leadership is our chance to create a stronger organization. An organization that will be there for your children and your children’s children.
You can define leadership many different ways but in the Junior Chamber we know leadership is the key to everything else we do. Without leadership, we become just another fundraising organization like so many other groups out there. We lose our credibility, we lose our history, and we cut our roots. While community service is the best work of life, we must not lose sight that our community development projects are just one slice of that work. The entire pie is created with leadership as the pan that holds it all together. Leadership that understands where it is going and how to get there.
Jaycees, we have an obligation to prepare for the future. Today we have that opportunity. The opportunity to return our organization to financial stability, to tap resources previously turned away, and to create and implement a plan for the future. I am asking for your support of the much needed dues increase, our alumni membership, and the proposed blue ribbon commission.
Robert F. Kennedy, a young person who left us 25 years ago this month said, “Progress is a nice word but change is its motivator and change has its enemies.” I believe in the American Dream because I believe in Jaycees. You and I stand on the threshold of a new America…a new Junior Chamber…and America and a Junior Chamber filled with opportunity, challenges, and change.
Let us not be enemies of change. The progress we seek in the Jaycees is not for personal gain, influence, or power. It is change for our organization. It is changing our way of thinking…thinking of leadership training and preparing our members to go out in their communities and lead. It is change that is required if we are as a viable organization are to once again obtain our position of national prominence. And its change we must have if we are to continue to call ourselves the organization of choice for today’s young people.
In the 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King stood at a podium in the deep south and reflected on where the civil rights movement was going when he said, “The measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at the times of challenges and controversy.” I ask you today….where do you stand? I stand on the side of change.
Change not for the sake of doing something different, but progressive, enlightened change. Change that will make our organization strong…and remain strong…year after year, in chapter after chapter. It is taking a leadership stand. Let us all stand against mediocrity. Let us take a stand against the status quo and business as usual. Let us go somewhere we have not been.
Let us today…in this moment in time…go somewhere…we have not been.
This is the speech 72nd President Bill Russell delivered to the delegates at the 72nd Annual Convention of the Unites States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in Portland, Oregon on June 25, 1992.
Inaugural Address Closing Ceremony
72nd Annual Convention Unites States Junior Chamber of Commerce
June 25, 1992
Junior Chamber International President Herrberando, Junior Chamber President & First Lady Thomes, Fellow Members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, JCI Vice President Yoshida, Past National Presidents, our Good Friends from the Japan Junior Chamber, Ambassadors, Senators, Jaycee Delegates, and guests:
This organization has been filled by generations of young people, each with the challenges of their day. It was through commitment and courage that we as an organization have stood the test of time. Challenges have always faced us…they did yesterday and they will tomorrow. Like the past generations of Jaycees, we embrace those opportunities…and not one Jaycee member out there tonight … would shrink from that responsibility.
We will meet them head on. Together! Like Plato once said, “The beginning is the most important part of any work.” Tonight we embark on a new beginning… a new Jaycee year. There is a new world facing us out there. It is a world filled with discovery and promise. It is a world that we can use to unlock the potential of America’s young people.
Our future is unstructured as a dream. The only limitations we have are those we impose upon ourselves. Someone once said that the world changes at such a pace, that each day writes a fresh page of history before yesterday’s ink has even dried. Today, the task at hand is simple – the Junior Chamber of Commerce must lead again. As it always has – as only we can. It is time to write history. Not content to merely be a part of it.
June 30, 1971 an amendment to the constitution was ratified giving 18 year olds a right to vote. Young people making decisions about the future direction of their nation. This is the 21st anniversary of that amendment. Throughout America, people are disillusioned about their government leaders. They are desperate for leadership. However, our country has always survived and leaders have always emerged. It is time for that leadership to emerge again… It is time America felt the power of her young people.
It falls to our young people to lead this nation…to restore her. This year our Jaycee Chapters will register voters, sponsor candidate debates, and get the issues out to the communities through a program called “Wake Up America!” We will again be young people of action.
Over the last couple of decades there has been a decline of family values. Times are different from when you and I were in grade school. Teachers have been replaced by TV’s and VCR’s. Kids learn more from Doogie Howser and Bart Simpson than they do from mom and dad. This year the United States Junior Chamber will answer the needs of our single parents and young families through a program called Junior Jaycees. Getting our kids, young kids involved… instilling in them the values we cherish as Jaycees.
Over the past few years we have placed more emphasis on short term goals and rewarded people for short term success. People are recognized for what they do this year with no consequences to what becomes of their chapter next year. Our Blue Chip program is the key to chapter success. Long term goals and the commitment to carry them out. We must not sell ourselves out to short term success. We must stop living for today with no plans for tomorrow.
Most of all – we cannot and will not settle for mediocrity. We must build a strong Junior Chamber chapter – one that is better today than it was yesterday. Continuing to fulfill our mission of providing leadership skills to America’s young people. We are a leadership training organization and it’s time we got down to the business at hand. Teaching young people the skills they will need to be more productive and competitive in the business world. Give them the chance to nurture networking skills, meeting other young people, fostering strong relationships, building bridges to the future.
The number one reason people leave our organization prematurely is because we do not deliver on our promise. People leave feeling they have not received what they were looking for and they walk away…empty handed. We must train our chapters to deliver on those promises…today.
It is time the United States Junior Chamber came out of its isolation and joined the Junior Chamber organizations of the world. Junior Chamber International is growing, prospering, and delivering on its promise of leadership training through community service. It uses the principles of those young men from St. Louis, Mo. whose dream it was to give young people business and community leadership opportunities. I am asking each of you, if your chapter is not already, consider twinning up with another Jaycee Chapter in another country. We can learn so much from each other as we move to an age of Global Citizenship.
There is the story of the great French General Lyautey who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for hundreds of years. The Marshall replied, “In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon.”
We are faced with unbridled opportunities – let us embrace them. The affects of our programs may take months, years to see…but let us plant the seed tonight. Jaycees…Founder and Past President Henry Giessenbier said, “In your hands lies the destiny of a great organization. Let us build it to national prominence and let us not fail in that task.”
United States Jaycees, I believe in you with all my heart and all my soul. Let us prove this year, we are the premier young people’s organization in America…and let us not fail in that task. Thank you.