In this episode, Dr. Misner Tells Us More About The Hidden Elements of A BNI Chapter Meeting, including:
- The Meaning of “Hidden Elements”
- That The Term Actually Originated In The Martial Arts
- The Visitor Host Position Was Not Dr. Misner’s Idea
- How The Visitor Host Position Was Created
- Why It Is So Important To Make Visitors Feel Welcome
- More Hidden Elements To Come In Future Podcasts
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 016 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the official BNI podcast, brought to you by networkingnow.com, the leading site of the net for networking downloadables. I am Frank Felker in Washington DC, joined on the phone again today by Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner, calling in from BNI headquarters in southern California. How are you today, Dr. M.?
I am doing great. It is a great day at headquarters and I am really enjoying doing these podcasts with you, Frank. I think we?re covering a lot of good content that is helping members all over the world.
I?m glad to hear it. I?m certainly enjoying it a great deal myself, and based on the feedback that we?ve been getting on the site, you and I are not alone. There are a lot of other people who are enjoying it as well all around the world.
All over the world. People from different countries. We had a posting from someone in Germany who said he has to play it slowly so that he can understand the English, but he is making it out and is using it in his chapter. That is really exciting to see.
That will be our goal for next year. We will have it in French, German, Spanish, you name it.
It?s good to have goals.
I understand that you have an important message for us today about hidden elements.
Hidden elements is actually a martial arts expression. It comes from katas. But it is a series of imaginary moves against one or more opponents. You go through these katas or forms- in the Chinese style they are called forms. You’ve probably seen tai chi, where people are doing these martial art forms out in a park somewhere. There are aspects of what they do in the form that are actually hidden. You don?t fully understand what it is they?re doing. I will explain this more in a future podcast.
What it amounts to is that what you are seeing may seem obvious but it?s not. Until you fully understand the moves, you don’t fully understand what is taking place. Something happened with me in martial arts a number of years ago, where I walked out of a private lesson and that really clicked with me, the fact that there are aspects of the martial arts you really don?t understand unless somebody points it out and shows you exactly how it?s supposed to be used.
I have seen that in BNI for many years where people thought that they knew what they were doing. They were going through the motions and they thought that they understood how a meeting was supposed to run, but the truth is they really didn?t understand it and master it until the process was explained to them fully.
I knew that you practiced tai chi, but I didn?t realize that you are a martial artist.
I actually have a first degree black belt in karate and do a little bit of tai chi now. My wife is now studying tai chi and I?m learning it from her. The martial arts have these hidden elements.
I started thinking about when I saw chapters who really understood that it wasn?t just a matter of going through the motions. One of the first things in the BNI agenda that is part of the hidden elements is the visitor host. A visitor host is a great example of the power of this concept of the hidden elements.
If you?re just going through the motions with the visitor host, it?s not terribly effective. A lot of people may not know the history behind visitor hosts. I am not sure if you know the history or not. There?s a good story in the book, Givers Gain, that I recommend people take a look at.
The visitor host position was not created by me. When I started BNI in 1985, I figured if you invited somebody, you should be the host. Truth is that over time, I learned that if nobody was in charge, that is exactly who took charge. It was nobody. We had problems with visitors.
I found out about the visitor host when we had a woman who called BNI headquarters and we referred her to a chapter. I happen to be at that chapter that week and I had an opportunity to meet her and introduce her to a couple of members. Then I went to a membership committee problem that was going on and it turned out that nobody really connected with her very well. At the end of the meeting I went back into the membership committee issue and she left because no one was talking to her.
I ran into her a couple months later and asked her how BNI was going. She said she didn?t join the chapter. I was really surprised because she was so excited about joining. And I said I was really surprise that she didn?t join BNI. She said she joined BNI, but just didn?t join that chapter. And I thought why? I?m surprised. Why did she join another group? And I asked her which group.
She joined a group that was nearby that had half the number of members. The chapter that she was at the week that I was there had 32 members. The chapter that she joined had sixteen members. Does that seem odd to you? If you?re going to join a chapter, you think you would join the larger chapter. She joined a group that was only sixteen members. I asked her why and she said that nobody at the other group really reached out to her other than me and I wasn?t a member.
No one reached out to her. Those were the words that she used. I will never forget that. She went to a BNI meeting and says that nobody reached out to me? I said how did this group differ? She said, ?Let me tell you how it differed. I walked into the room and there was this woman wearing this badge and below the badge was a ribbon that said visitor host.?
I said, ?It said what??
She said, ?It said visitor host.?
I said I?m the Founder and I don?t know what that is. She described what the visitor host was and how she walked around and introduced her to everybody. There was another person with another badge that said visitor host and how they took her card and introduced her to the president, and the president knew who she was. Then the president introduced her in the meeting.
After that meeting, they met with her again and did a really good orientation and gave her an application and explained how BNI worked. They said, ?Press firmly- there?s a copy.? and she said she did. She said they were so organized and the people were so nice.
What a great story. It just makes so much sense that people said this is something we need to do so let?s do it ourselves.
Yes. There was a hole. There was something missing without someone being in charge. So they created this whole position called the visitor host and it was really effective. She told me that this chapter of sixteen members within six months was going to be larger than the 32 member group. I said I don?t know this other group has been around long time and they?re not going to go down in size.
Who you think is wrong six months later? The Founder was wrong six months later. She was absolutely right. The chapter that she had just joined had actually grown to over 30 members, and the group that she didn?t join because they didn?t reach out to her had dropped below twenty. I think that was because they weren?t connecting with people.
This is the first in the agenda of the hidden elements. If a chapter gets this right, if they just don?t go through the motions but they really understand that it?s all about making the visitor feel welcome and doing a thorough orientation, the results that they get are disproportionately positive. With just a little more effort, they get substantial results. It is the first of the many hidden elements that I would like to talk with you about, Frank. over the next year in the course of these podcasts.
That?s just what I was about to say. We?re just about out of time in this podcast, but is this an ongoing theme that we can expect to hear more from you about going forward- hidden elements?
I would like to. There?s probably about six to ten hidden elements ? if it?s possible to have something obvious and hidden. They are the more dramatic hidden elements in an agenda. I think over the next year, maybe once a month, I would like to talk touch upon one of the hidden elements in the meeting and go into more detail as to how to master that so that a little more effort yields huge results. I think it would make a great topic for education coordinators over the next year.
I can see where the hidden elements become more obvious overtime, Grasshopper.
(laughing) Yeah, you?re not very good at that, Frank.
You?re right. I will leave the Kung Fu analogies to you. For Dr. Ivan Misner, I am Frank Felker saying we will see you next week on the official BNI podcast.