Fillin’ Stationers

Many good speeches focus on one BIG idea and this is what I’d like to focus on now.

Your reputation is what savvy people say is happening on the inside.

Your reputation is what savvy people say is happening on the inside.

What exactly is big about the idea of a reputation being an “inside” thing? Let me give you a few examples from things I’ve observed. In 2005, I became the Principal of a Career & Technical Education high school named after its first Superintendent. “CTE” is an acronym that people commonly used to describe how a “Career & Technical Education Center” uniquely distinguished itself in a rather remote area of upper New York State.

We always cringed when people called us “vocational” instead of “CTE” because “vocational” had such a dismal reputation in the minds of many. As one School Board member once innocently confided to me, “Your school is where districts send kids that just can’t make it in a rigorous college preparation track.” That was an outrageous prejudice, since we had collected mountains of data (charted on 10 year span graphs) that proved CTE graduates actually attended college at a higher percentage rate than “regular” high school grads did and tended to be more successful than many of their peers in a broad range of college programs as they progressed there. Still, too many people looked at the CTE campus from its exterior “vocational” appearance and assumed our students were qualitatively “less than” what they considered to be the, “real high achievers”.

I blamed School Counselors for perpetuating a lot of cultural myths about who should go to CTE. Why would a student that does perfectly well in academic courses go to a CTE (“vocational”) campus for half of each school day?!? More than a few Valedictorians and Salutatorians (and countless other “good students”) did insist on going to CTE, however, against their Counselor’s adamant advice! The gist of this advice was blunt and later related to us by students and their parents. If a student doesn’t excel in academics, presumably the exclusive domain of the mind, then pat that kid on the head and suggest s/he might do better in life, “working with their hands”, the domain of brutes, brawn, and physical dexterity. Obviously, there’s little brain work involved at all if you’re, say, “only” an Electrician or HVAC Technician!

You know, the “dirty jobs” that Mike Rowe champions, with humor, on the TV show series of the same name. Looking from the outside, an “ASE Automotive Technician” is just a fancy term for car “mechanic” even though the cheapest car made these days has WAY more computer power and memory capacity in it than the Apollo 11 spacecraft that safely flew Americans to the Moon in 1969. I remember watching that happen on TV as a kid and it still amazes me how our country became the first to land there!

God Bless “Gomer and Goober Pyle” that ran the “fillin’ station” on the Andy Griffith Show. Their comical appearances, with askew soiled or “Jughead” cap, outwardly suggested an earnest but simple-minded personality. Nobody you’d hope your daughter would marry but definitely with a solid reputation confirmed by countless “insiders”; the mechanics everyone trusted in Mayberry to fix whatever was wrong with their car, honestly and for a fair price besides.

How does any of this relate to the reputation of our Club?

OUR Club reputation is what savvy people will say is happening on the inside.

There’s all sorts of “outside indicators” one can cite as evidence of our public reputation. Our Club earns special recognition from Club Headquarters, from our State Zone, and our regional District. Club members earn special recognition by completing educational pathways and entering competitions that include special accolades for sustained preparation and success. The documented accomplishments of individual members surely helps to substantiate our Club’s collective vigor.

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”, is attributed to Aristotle’s writing from nearly 2,400 years ago. Turns out, Aristotle’s big idea was mistranslated. His intended notion actually was, “the whole is something besides its parts”. Careful observers notice lots of “moving parts” in any thriving organization. EVERY one needs to find and do their part. The challenge always remains, what do WE want savvy people, what some call “the grapevine”, to say consistently happens inside our Club? What do WE want our reputation, on the community street and in the corporate Boardroom, to truly be?!?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s