by Vince Vigneri
In July, I came to realize what the words "I AM BNI" really meant to me - even after all these years. That said, it came in a rather unique way, and since then, it seems like it is all around me, all the time. We discuss the "reticular activator" in BNI a fair amount, but I must say this seems even bigger than that.
You see BNI has been in my business life for more than 19 years - when I visited what would become my first of many BNI Chapters. At the time, I was a young travel agency owner simply looking for a way to stand out in competitive market. I saw an opportunity to build our agency in a different manner than anyone else in the field, at least locally in the travel industry.
What I realize now is that BNI was more than just a business tool to me then - it was a way of life, where the Philosophy, Givers Gain, and BNI's Core Values, aligned with my own personal core values. So, read on to see what I mean... and why!
It started to come into a clearer view back in late February. I was visiting BNI's Global Headquarters in Charlotte, NC to help facilitate and train fellow international trainers. Shortly after that trip, while making a journey north to Watertown, SD, I listened to a book that I am sure many of you have heard of and some have even read. That book...
Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.
For years, I talked about the benefits of BNI (more referrals, a training team, etc.), then I shared how you received those referrals (the meeting, the team, the education, etc.), and finally, I shared my story of BNI.
I realized that I was doing this in the reverse order, but more importantly, I was leaving out an integral part of me...my story, and "why" I am BNI. A few weeks went by, and I received a phone call from one of those international training directors that attended the training in Charlotte. She asked me, "Would you be available to speak at our National Conference in July?" Of course, my initial thought was yes... but then I realized, being married, I better check before I just commit.
I accepted the invitation, and you could say the rest is history. Since that commitment was made, BNI began to gain clarity in my own eyes. As I began to get the information on the National Conference for Mexico, I read “#YoSoyBNI” everywhere. Of course, I used Google Translate to learn that it meant "I am BNI". Furthermore, my topic for the conference was "Start With Why in BNI." After realizing that I was looking at BNI backwards for nearly 20 years, others were probably too. So, I shared my story, then and now.
Many of you (locally and beyond) know that BNI started within me back in the early 1990s. The BNI philosophy was instilled in me then, but I was unable to see it until nearly 20 years later. Since having the opportunity to train globally and meeting individuals from literally all over the world, I realized BNI really isn't just something you do, or incorporate into your business to help it grow. BNI is actually something you incorporate into yourself, your inner being, and your personal life, that helps your business grow, but more importantly helps you grow.
Still having trouble seeing it? Let me share one last story, and it starts with the natural disasters to hit the US and Mexico in the last few months, and continues to shine on us, and our organization daily. BNI members from around the world banded together to help communities in Texas and Florida recover and even restart their business after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The earthquakes in Mexico were not far from our BNI friends in Mexico City. We continue to see the power of BNI here and abroad.
So from now on, moving forward, when anyone asks me about BNI, I know how I will answer. My challenge to you, is to think about your answer. How do you, your business, and your core values align with BNI? I know it took me longer than I thought to figure out mine were very much in alignment, and given the chance, yours might be as well!