Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

The Politics of Business

Russell thoughts 1Tip O’Neil, the 55th Speaker of the House and perhaps one of the most influential members of the United States Congress once said, “All politics is local.” He coined the phrase in a 1992 Congressional campaign running against an attorney who was heavily financed with out of state campaign contributions. What O’Neil was referring to was the principles that a politician’s success is directly linked to his or her ability to understand fully and influence the issues of their constituents.

The last few weeks and the week ahead will see a flurry of campaigning for local office and school board by both incumbents wishing to hold onto their seats and newcomers looking for an opportunity to serve. This year’s town boards are quite competitive with perhaps the most ever seeking an opportunity to represent their community.

The last local election could have been seen as a referendum on I-77 as tolls at Lake Norman figured prominently into the debate. There is no question that transportation – whether they are state roads or under local control – are critical in the minds of voters.

The Chamber has aggressively advocated for the cancellation of the Cintra Contract and moving forward with general purpose lanes since we adopted a Resolution calling for that action in June of 2015.

At a recent trip to my dentist, he pointed out I-77 has significantly impacted his business as they almost daily have to shuffle appointments from patients who are caught in traffic. Those of course are  patients who choose to reschedule!Reagan

This election cycle, voters in Mecklenburg County will decide the fate of a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond. As I write this article, your Chamber Board has not taken a position on the Bonds and may not.

As business leaders, we understand that education – public and private – is the foundation of our economic and business development. Our schools provide our workforce and the future generation which will inherit our communities tomorrow.

One of my favorite politicians of all time was Ronald Reagan. I met Reagan when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

It is well documented that Speaker O’Neil and President Reagan were constantly at odds. O’Neil said Reagan was the most ignorant man who ever occupied the White House and “a cheerleader for selfishness.” In his memoirs, the Speaker was asked about the attacks on the President and how the two seemed to remain friends. O’Neil commented, “Before 6:00 pm it’s all politics.”

Reagan himself once quipped, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”

Our economy seems to be doing quite well and I believe our citizens are ready to get moving again. The businesses of Lake Norman have looked to the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce for 30 years to help create jobs and provide an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business development.

The bottom line is we as business, community, and elected leaders cannot go back and change any mistakes that were made yesterday but we can create a brand new beginning. A change that begins with us, one person and one community at a time. It is the charge we have from our past and the responsibility we owe to the future.

Bill Russell

This column was written originally for the October Lake Norman Chamber Splash Newsletter and appeared as a Guest Column in the October 4th issue issue of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper (Page 32), Photo taken at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) Portland Oregon, June 1992.

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October 30, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), Politics, Transportation & Road Improvement, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Climbing the ladder of success

Dad & I riding in Fort Mill (SC)

I’ve been one fortunate guy in my professional career.  I cannot begin to describe how much fun it is to work at the Lake Norman Chamber with some of the most creative, energetic, and generous business people in the Charlotte region.  A couple of months ago I attended a fundraiser for Triple Cross Ranch which helps instill confidence in young people with special needs riding and working with rescued horses.

It comes on the heels of the Ada Jenkins Ice event which raised well over a hundred thousand dollars for our outstanding outreach center.  Add to that the Chamber’s Habitat Build and the generosity of Wells Fargo and our many other businesses and you understand what I mean about the generosity of our business community.

Prior to going to work at my first Chamber of Commerce 19 years ago, I was active in a service organization called Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce).  I had no grand plan to lead the organization other than serving as a local president like my dad did in 1965.    Through hard work and a great deal of help by many people working together, I was fortunate to climb the leadership ranks of the organization eventually being elected national president in 1992.  I travelled to 47 states and seven countries speaking to Jaycee chapters across the nation.

Meeting with the Montana Delegation in Portland, site of the 1992 Convention

Years later, I had a young man ask me how a local Jaycee becomes national President.  As I talked about the lonely nights traveling hours by car to meetings as a state officer to a membership night only to find a handful of people and no prospects in the room – or turning around the next night and driving four more hours to train officers to find 3 or 4 people had shown up – how demoralizing that could be.

However, it was all worth it seeing new clubs and chapters making an impact in their community or an individual who might have been one of those handful I spoke of one day becoming a business, community, or elected leader because we encouraged and pushed them to be their absolute best.

As I spoke to this young man, I saw him glancing all around the room, not listening at all to what I was trying to tell him.  He was more interested in who he was going to talk to next.  He wanted to be the best but he was  not interested in the journey – just the destination.  That journey is the dues we all have to pay to get there.  There is no elevator to the top of success.  You have to climb each step one at a time, working hard every step of the way.

There are simply no short cuts to success.  That’s why sports teams practice each day leading up to the game.  That’s why successful business men and women seek out business coaches, mentors, executive training and never stop in their search to learn and be better each day.

As I mentioned, I simply love what I do.  Each day I get a chance to work and learn from the very best.  People who dare to reach for the stars every day and even if they fall short of the sky, they clear the tree tops and leave the ground far behind.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As you go about your job today – ask yourself what kind of business are you in?

Dorothy Hamill and Bill Russell at the 1992 Healthy American Fitness Leaders Conference

A few weeks ago, Hilary Broadway, our Public Policy Chairman and a local realtor with Allen Tate Realty was sharing a book she really enjoyed – “Positively Outrageous Service” by Scott Gross.  Hilary stated that one of the great take aways of the book is that real “POS” is random and unexpected.  The element of surprise is part of its power.     Listening to Hilary share some of the branding and customer service tips from the book, I could not help but reflect on an incident in my life that made an indelible impression on me.

In 1992, I was serving as President of the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) and had been asked to co-emcee the Healthy American Fitness Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with Dorothy Hamill, 1976 Olympic Champion.  Our Keynote Speaker for the event was Arnold  Schwarzenegger.    It was a real delight to be on the stage with Dorothy and another  thrill was working out with Armold the next morning.

My wife Melissa & I with Arnold

Only problem was Arnold and the hundred or so fitness leaders in the room were a great deal more commited than I was.  I dressed in my sweats, thanked the people in the room for the difference they were making in their communities and went to breakfast.  Leaving Arnold with all the fitness zealots, I told him, “Unlike you – I won’t be back….”  Nearly twenty years later, my exercise routine still lacks commitment, always taking a backseat to a warm Krispey Kreme donut and a cup of coffee. 

I was flying in from a speaking engagement in Minnesota and our staff at the Junior Chamber had me booked on the last available flight leaving Minnesota that would get me into Atlanta just in time to change and then attend the banquet.   This particular flight out of Minnesota was delayed because of heavy inclement weather, delaying our flight and in the process impairing my ability to catch my connection.     The moment we touched down, I was running full throttle through the terminal, dashing madly to my gate, only to find the flight attendant shutting the door.  Out of breath, I managed to state I needed to get on the flight.  The attendant shot back that I could hardly expect to get there at boarding time and catch my flight.

I explained the situation, indicating who I was, and what I was going to be doing, and then emphasized that was the very last flight that would get me where I needed to go.    The attendant merely looked at me and told me she was sorry.   The flight was already departing and she would get me on the next available flight.  To say I was upset would be putting it mildly.

 In the meantime, a young man had been standing behind   the counter listening to our exchange.  He asked for my ticket, looked me dead in the eye, and said, “Mr. Russell, I heard your situation.  We’re gonna’ get you on that plane.” I watched as the plane backed back up to the gate and they had me take the first available seat.    To this day, I remember taking a seat by the window.  Looking out, I could see back to the terminal gate and in the window I saw the gentleman that helped me.  Dressed in his blue suit, the tiny lock of black hair dangling gently on his forehead, the red cape flowing in the breeze, and the big yellow “S” on his chest.

Well, maybe he wasn’t really Superman.  But he saved my day and what I thought about that airline and whether I would ever fly them again might have depended on his actions that day.    But one thing was for sure – the flight attendant – she was in the airlines business.  The gentleman that got me on that plane, he was in the “people business”.  He knew about Positively Outrageous Service before there was a term for it.

As you go about your day at the lake, working to grow your business, you need to ask yourself  one question – what business are you in?

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The day daddy died … or didn’t

Bill Russell Sr. & Jr. - 2010 Father's Day

On a Saturday morning, August 9, 1969, WRHI, the leading radio station in Rock Hill, led breaking news that a tragic boating accident had occurred during the late evening hours the night before on Lake Wylie.  Several prominent business and community leaders had been killed and among the missing was Bill Russell, past president of the Rock Hill Jaycees – my father.  The tragedy occurred following a regional meeting of the South Carolina Jaycees.  At the conclusion of the meeting, several officers from the Clover, Gaffney, and Rock Hill Jaycee Chapters (seven Jaycees in all) decided to enjoy a late night boat cruise.

A boat piloted by a Clover Jaycee was struck head on by a cabin cruiser.  The coroner’s report later determined it to be an accident. While no one was injured in the larger vessel, two young men from Gaffney, Thomas Baines and Michael Campbell, both 26, were killed along with the President of the Rock Hill Jaycees C. Well Hayes. Wells was just 28 years old. John Every, another Rock Hill Jaycee, who would later be elected South Carolina Jaycee State President, was severely injured and never fully recovered from the incident.

When members of the Clover and Rock Hill Rescue Squad arrived on the scene, the Jaycees involved were either badly injured or missing leaving officials to speculate who might have been on the boat. My dad was Rock Hill’s chapter representative to the Clover Jaycees having helped establish the organization and it was assumed he too was on the boat and missing. Ironically, it may have been his commitment with civic service that he was not. Dad was also a Commissioner on the Rock Hill Pony League sponsored by the City of Rock Hill Parks & Recreation.  The Championship playoffs were scheduled for that weekend.  Both the Jaycee and baseball events were scheduled for a Friday night. Dad was required to be at the Pony league game in case a protest arose and a decision would have to be made at the time of protest.  That requirement may well have saved his life.  Instead of attending the Jaycee meeting, he attended the Pony League ballgame with his nine-year old son “Billy”.

My mom received a phone call early that Saturday morning from Joyce Tucker, a close friend, whose husband Charles was both a firefighter and volunteer rescue squad member. Tucker was among the first to arrive at the scene and was told Bill Russell was thought to be among the young men who were missing.  One can only wonder now the phone calls that were made that morning before the advent of cell phones and answering machines.

Upon hearing the news, my parents immediately headed out to the lake to find out first hand what had happened to their friends while at the same time, put to rest any concerns as to the safety of my father. Mom and dad proceeded to the public boat landing where the rescue and recovery was being conducted.  Upon arrival, the first person they encountered was Mary Colvin, the director of the Rock Hill Red Cross.  At the time dad was also president of the Red Cross chapter. Dad said Mary on seeing him, ran up and hugged his neck telling dad the squad was in the process of dragging the river for him.

John Every Memorial Award - Bill Russell, Doug Griffin & Ray Parlier

Twenty one years later, I was elected the first president of the Rock Hill Jaycees whose father had also served in that capacity.  We had a great year and it culminated with the Rock Hill Junior Chamber being recognized as the #1 Jaycee Chapter in the state.  We were presented a #1 Trophy and a plaque citing our outstanding achievement.  While I was thrilled with that recognition, my hands literally shook when I was presented the C. Wells Hayes Memorial Award as president of the Best Jaycee Chapter in the District.

A couple of years later, I was presented with the John Every Memorial Award for my service to the South Carolina Junior Chamber of Commerce.  I still remember the tears which streamed down my cheeks accepting the award. For all the reasons many in the crowd may have thought I was shedding a tear, I could not help think how fortunate I was, not for what I was receiving but for something I had … and never lost.

The Jaycee organization taught me to do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise.  I have tried to live out that philosophy in my role with that organization, the chambers of commerce I have served, and the many organizations I have chaired and been a part of as a Board or involved member.

Outgoing Junior Chamber President presenting dad the highest award from the U.S. Jaycees

I’ve come to realize three things as I approach each day. Having lost two close friends of mine recently, Scott Hinkle and Mike Shipley, both young men with their lives in front of them, I can’t help but think how precious and short life really is.  There is no promissory note.  No guarantees of what we have to look forward to in this life.  Simply, we have today and that is God’s gift to us. What we make of it is our gift back to God.

The second thing is God must really have a sense of humor. That’s why he made me a Gamecock fan. I’m convinced God made me a Gamecock to keep my humble as I go through this journey of life.

And the last thing. Well, it’s the thing that keeps the smile on my face. Knowing all the northerners will be shocked when they get to Heaven and God says, “Ya’ll come on in.” She’s got a southern accent you know.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

McDonald’s isn’t a hap, hap, happy place for the Food Gestapo

Ronald

To paraphrase the words of Ronald Wilson Reagan, “There they go again!”  Whether it’s the speech police or the antics of the Health Gestapo, the fast food fringe fanatics are winding up their little hysteria and this time have their sights set on none other than Ronald McDonald.  Yep, the loveable red haired clown has become Public Enemy #1 by the self appointed purveyors of public health.   Last week, representatives from the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International attended a shareholder’s meeting for McDonalds, and requested that poor Ronald be given his honorary gold watch.  They weren’t real sure how to package the golden arches. David Klinger, a retired Chicago physician represented the left winged loonies proclaiming “Ronald McDonald is a pied piper drawing youngsters all over the world to food that is high in fat, sodium, and calories.”

Kid you not!  I almost strangled on my Krispy Kreme donut reading this drivel in the newspaper. Klinger added, “On the surface Ronald is there to give children enjoyment in all sorts of way with toys, games, and food.  But Ronald McDonald is dangerous, sending insidious messages to young people.”   You have to be kidding me!  I think Klinger and his battalion of bumpkins might actually be the dangerous ones.  I’m not sure if this dudes’ any relation to the MASH Klinger or not but he’s certainly well on his way to his own section eight.

Mr. Clean

I didn’t say anything when the urban legend got started about Mr. Clean.  I figure any guy running around dressed in all white sporting an earring in his left ear is probably asking for it. Nor did I shed a tear when the Health Gestapo went after Joe Camel and strung up his buddy the Marlboro Man.   Although I did get a little annoyed when they questioned whether the Lucky Charms elf really had magical powers. Certainly he does and his little charms are magically delicious – we all know that!

But I draw the line in the mustard when they go after Ronald.  Ronald McDonald is not just a fast food mascot or a nifty little branding icon.  To many children throughout the world, he is a symbol of hope when many face a world seemingly filled with hopelessness. His house, any Ronald McDonald House, is a place where the parents of children in a nearby hospital can stay for a reduced price or even a small donation.

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates.  The study showed that Ronald McDonald House was ranked as the 2nd “most popular charity/non-profit in America” of over 100 charities researched.
When I was president of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1992-1993, the Ronald McDonald House was one of the leading projects for which our Junior Chamber Chapters conducted fund raising projects.  Jaycees were, and still are, enthusiastic about raising funds for a charity in which 83 cents of every dollar is spent to fund programs globally. For nearly 35 years, Ronald McDonald House Charities have been creating, funding, and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well being of nearly four million children worldwide every year.

Last week, McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner told the corporate accountability group to get a life. Well, maybe he didn’t say it in quite those terms.  But he did state when confronted by Klinger and his merry little band of dumb dwiddles, would McDonalds retire the 50-year old clown, “The answer is no.”  Good for you Skinner!   It’s time Corporate America stood up to these fringe groups. If I want to “Biggie Size it” get off my back. Quit trying to remove the calories from my Breyers Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream and lay off Tony the Tiger.   Better yet, take your greedy paws off my trans fats! Personally I think the whole world would be better with a little sweet iced tea, barbecue pork, and a few hush puppies on the side. Oh, and bring on the ‘nanna puddin’.

Now that I can rest easy that the world is again tilted back on its axis and the curmudgeons of crazy town are scampering back to the mushrooms from which they hide, I can get back to my rendezvous with Little Debbie.  We have a standing date every night at ten. And baby can she bake a mean oatmeal cake!

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Social Causes | , , , , | 1 Comment

73rd Annual Meeting Presidential Address

73rd Annual Meeting Presidential Address
Presented by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
June 17, 2003  Greensboro, NC

gboro0001Junior 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

National Advisor Madsen, USJCC President Russell, JCI President Dawkins, JCI Advisor Pridgen

National Advisor Madsen, USJCC President Russell, JCI President Dawkins, JCI Advisor Pridgen

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.

world-congressAn 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;

Outstanding State Presidents

Outstanding State Presidents

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.

Rock Hill Jaycees - The Traveling Animals

Rock Hill Jaycees - The Traveling Animals

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.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

JOTS Closing Ceremony – July 18, 1992

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

jots0001It’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 reagan-20001person, 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.

Music up: Springsteen – Born in the USA

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake Up America Speech – August – November, 1992

wake0001On 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

Hawaii Jaycee Membership Night

Hawaii Jaycee Membership Night

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.

commitment0001Our 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

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Speech to the U.S. Junior Chamber State Presidents – September 1992

Speech to the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce State Presidents
Governmental Affairs Leadership Summit
Washington, DC
September 1992

dc0001In 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 choice00011organization – 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.

1992-93 USJCC National Officers and State Presidents

1992-93 USJCC National Officers and State Presidents

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!

God bless you all and good luck back home!

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , | Leave a comment

Address to the 73rd Annual United States Junior Chamber of Commerce Meeting Delegates

Address to the 73rd Annual Meeting Delegates
United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, June 16, 1993
Greensboro, NC

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.

delegatesYou 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.blue-ribbon0001

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.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment