Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

It’s my pleasure to forward to you an article written by DMC Committee member Michael Greenzeiger. Michael is PDDGM for District #107, and also bears the title of Past Grand Herald for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. He currently serves as Treasurer of his Odd Fellows Lodge (Mountain View), Vice Grand of his Rebekah Lodge (Philotesian), and Captain of his Canton (Santa Clara). In his article, Michael talks about a concept from the business world that might just be applicable to the fraternal world, as well. Food for thought . . . .

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to introduce you to a concept first described by the late, great Steve Jobs known as a “brand deposit.” It is also accompanied by it’s unfortunate inverse, a “brand withdrawal.” The general idea is that every time a company interacts with a customer they have the opportunity to give that customer a positive interaction or a negative one. If the interaction is positive, the company is making a deposit and the worth of their brand goes up. If the interaction is negative, they are detracting from their brand. While Jobs used this to describe the functioning of for-profit corporations, this is equally true for a non-profit fraternal organization such as ourselves and even for us as individuals interacting with the world at large.

Imagine we’re having a social event open to the public at one of our halls. Is the hall clean and comfortable? Is the event well-organized and the food well-prepared and appealing? How do our members speak to each other and to their guests? All of these factors will determine whether we are making deposits or withdrawals with the general public.

Now imagine that we’ve favorably impressed one of our invitees and have a new member application in hand. There are also different ways we could act from this point onwards. If we want to keep the prospective member excited and ensure they continue to look favorably at our institution, the first priority is read their application, conduct an interview, vote on them, and put on an Initiatory Degree as soon as practicable. It is very important to confer the degree with care, precision, and a great deal of ceremony as this is the first experience the candidate will be having within an Odd Fellows lodge. They will judge how important Odd Fellowship is to us by how much care we put into our work as Odd Fellows; if we are careless and uninterested in putting on our degree work, why should they take Odd Fellowship any more seriously than we do?

What is true for the degree work is also true for our lodge’s regular meetings and interactions with our members after they receive their degree. Do the meetings run smoothly without excessive focus on uninteresting minutiae? Do all the officers understand their parts and fulfill them enthusiastically and with skill? If not, maybe it’s time to hold a lodge of instruction or spend some time in Good of the Order educating your lodge members on how to perform the duties of their respective offices. The most important thing, however, is to have a warm and inviting environment where all members can feel comfortable speaking and interacting with each other without fear of judgment or condemnation. Here the outside world is shut out, and that means we should be a place of haven and solace from the brutish and uncaring world around us.

Let us also think about how we treat the Three Degrees. Do we rush candidates through them before they have time to catch their breath and understand the profound lesson of each degree? Do we hurry them through a poor rendition of the degree to get them ready to hold an office they are equally unready to assume? These degrees are part of the essence of who we are and if we don’t treat them respectfully, we are not respecting our order or our new members. There was a time in earlier days where the degrees had to be earned and this brought along pride in one’s accomplishments, pride in being a member of our order, and an enhanced connection to one’s brothers and sisters. Maybe we need to get back to a place where these degrees mean something again to our members.

It may seem daunting to consider all the ways we make brand deposits and brand withdrawals in our actions as a lodge and as individual members. There are so many chances for success or failure. We should think of this like investing, however. Maybe we only have a few pennies to deposit now, but if we put a few aside each month we will find that our brand equity grows and with it our successes build and spawn more successes. Maybe we fell down in one of our previous attempts, but each interaction we have is a new chance to make a deposit. Let’s give it a try and see what we can build if we work together.

Fraternally yours,
Michael Greenzeiger

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