It often takes societal discontinuity to trigger and stimulate change. To create a burning platform that motivates decision makers to make a courageous change in direction.

By 2007 all the infrastructure for online marketing and advertising was in place, but take up was slow, results viewed with suspicion and progress slowed by inertia. Then the GFC struck, companies overhead budgets were slashed by in excess of 60% overnight and marketers were left reeling. Almost immediately marketing expenditure was switched from expensive print, press and magazines to online options at a fraction of the cost. Massive savings were realised and results were just fine. The global economy bounced back in the decade that followed, but behaviours that had changed were entrenched. Online marketing is the new normal and one of the strongest and fastest growing segments of the modern economy! Resilience, innovation and progress through adversity are one upside of the human condition.

 Twelve years later, a virus arose in the east and spread across the world. It has triggered the most devasting and sharpest contraction of economic activity for centuries and the greatest disruption to the normal pattern of life since the second world war. More than half of humanity has been isolated in their homes for their own protection. Work, family, school and all forms of social contact have either disappeared or been shaken to the core. The old ways are suddenly inaccessible and unsuitable for supporting commerce and contact. Also for Rotary.
30 years after chartering The Rotary Club of Half Moon Bay (RCHMB), and having just celebrated this anniversary in the same rooms as the first and every subsequent meeting, we found ourselves locked away. No meetings, none of our comfortable routine,  no Friday coffee and no service or long standing program delivery. The world had changed in a blink and survival of the Club and our social fabric demanded a swift pivot.

 The immediate priority was a simple, ubiquitous and instantly interactive network to keep us all connected and aligned, a 21st century conch shell or jungle drum. A WhatsApp group sprung up with almost all members engaged and we were quickly reassured of one another’s safety and situation. We now had a platform to share pictures and news, to stay aligned and facilitate development our response to our  new environment.

 The video conferencing app “Zoom” had been around for eight years, almost to the month, and had grown well in the online economy providing companies the ability to hold virtual meetings with people  in a number of distributed locations. Solid but not spectacular. Until now.

 With Zoom on every ones lips and laptops and no clarity on how long it would be before we could all meet in person,  we took the plunge and moved our meetings onto this platform, long available but whose time had now come. Starting mindfully and deliberately with a number of smaller “hang outs” of 5 to 8 members we tried and tested the technology, became used to the experience and the functionality. Within a week we held our first full virtual meeting, club business, a speaker and even a sergeant session.