This speech was presented on the 22nd of April 2017 after the election to serve as District Governor Nominee Designate of Rotary District 9212.
For life and for the ability to do his work, I thank God.
I owe my deepest gratitude to Mike Eldon, who introduced me to Rotary and has been a mentor through many years in life, in career and in Rotary. From him I have gained a rare insight that inspires dynamic leadership of self and thus others. I am forever indebted to the past and present District Governors who offered highly coveted roles in their teams and gave me responsibilities that tested me, and for that, made me a better man.
Past Rotary International President Ray Klinginsmith gave me my first international role and when I met him the first time in a boardroom in Rotary’s headquarters in Evanston, I asked him if he was going to start tweeting so that he could reach a younger groups of potential members.
In response he said that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, and that Rotary was encouraging the election of younger District Governors around the world who have the natural ability to embrace new communication technology and seamlessly connect with the new generation.
Since then I have been privileged to attend the best training Rotary has to offer, where I have brushed shoulders with the most motivated and inspired people such as Steve Snyder a Past Rotary International Director and the President’s Representative to this District Conference. I met Steve a number of years ago when we were both facilitators at the Rotary Coordinators and Rotary Public Image Coordinators Institute in Chicago.
At one point I thought that all the training I received was only going to be of personal benefit, but over time it dawned on me that it was my obligation to share what I have learned with fellow Rotarians in my home district and to strengthen the organization. To pass on the skills and knowledge that I have gained over the last 8 years to you would be the greatest reward.
Yinka Babalola, Rotary International Director Elect and a good friend, blazed the trail and demonstrated that younger District Governors can motivate the grassroots. He was named the Game Changer District Governor because during his tenure Rotarians gave the highest amount the district had ever raised, recruited the most number of members in any year, and boosted awareness of the organization in the region like never before. For this he was honored among the top performing Governors at the international convention in Bangkok that year.
I depend on a personal philosophy to see me through life and make decisions. It comes in four parts which I check against any activities that I desire to participate in before getting involved. The first element is vision. If it offers an inspired vision with a long term view, one that we can lay short and medium term plan on, then it is worth consideration. The second is progress. We must demonstrate progress towards achieving that vision, and if we are not making progress, then we must change one of two things — adjust the vision or change our actions.
The third element is learning. If we can’t learn anything from the experience, or if it doesn’t change us in a positive way, then perhaps it is not worth doing. Remember, that it is also through our toughest moments that we gain life’s greatest lessons. The final part is fun. There has to be enjoyment and enthusiasm in our activities otherwise there will come a time when we will not wish to carry on, thereby making it unsustainable.
In applying this philosophy, for vision I turn to RI President Nominee Sam Owori, who hails from East Africa and is only the second African to hold this position. Sam’s membership vision defines a world where the proportion of Rotarian membership to the overall population is at 0.0001% resulting in a count of 100,000 members in Africa and 15,700 in our District 9212. That accounts for 10,000 in Ethiopia, 4,600 in Kenya and 1,100 in South Sudan.
I know we cannot achieve this growth in one year, and that is why I will work with the District Governors’ Troika, the ongoing generation of governors, to understand our greater goals and devise ways to adopt Sam’s vision, and to work together towards achieving it over time.
In foundation giving and donations I intend to utilize Yinka’s approach to raising money in small denominations from a majority of the Rotarians by utilizing mobile money technology. This is the best time to do so because the advancements in mobile telephony have reached a crescendo which can be tapped to benefit our cause in bigger ways.
Rotary International would like to see more members who have public image experience become leaders of the organization so that they can advance our brand strengthening efforts. I intend to use the 24 years experience as a senior executive in advertising, media research and content production to strike a chord with our audiences and make Rotary well known for its noble work.
For the element of progress, I desire to replicate the excellent project initiative we have between the Safaricom Foundation and Rotary so that we can do the same with other corporations and with government, thereby greatly enhancing the impact we have in our most needy communities. Together we have a access to deep rooted resources and a far reaching ability to touch lives of the many.
In learning, we will focus on strengthening our leadership with skills that are not only relevant in Rotary, but that are very relevant in their personal and professional lives. If we equip our leaders with the right tools and abilities, then we will bolster the entire organization.
We will drive engagement and fun by creating Rotary programmes that are suited to the demographic groups that we are want to attract. We can evolve our event schedules such as the district conferences and other activities to suite women and the youth and make them more appealing with the needs and aspirations of these groups in mind.
This conference will always be significant in my mind, not only because in it I have been selected to lead the district, but also because of the talent and effort that the team led by Conference Chairman Isaac Gitoho have put into a wonderful and memorable experience.
Finally, I’d like to request Past Rotary International Director Steve Snyder to pass a message from me to Vice President Jennifer Jones, who has been a great supporter and major inspiration to me over the years. Please inform her that I have finally been elected to serve as District Governor for the year 2019-20.
God bless you all.