I have been a member of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives since about 2003, but I had my doubts about rejoining the organization this year. There were several reasons for my hesitation, but primarily I think it was somewhat of a bad taste I had in my mouth for some of the other ‘professional’ organizations in Philadelphia. In January of 2009 I had pretty much decided not to renew, but something changed my mind, or rather someone.
Adam Rineer, the reigning president of N.A.C.E. Philly, phoned me when he saw I didn’t renew. Unlike folks from some of the other organizations, Adam didn’t try to sell me on rejoining, and didn’t seem overly concerned with pushing me to make that monetary commitment to membership.
Instead, Adam simply asked “Why?”
My response was partly sarcastic, yet genuine at the same time. I said “Well, I’d be more than willing to tell you if you’ve got a few hours to kill.”
To which Adam cooly replied, “I’ve got an appointment in a few minutes, but can we talk after that?”
I was honestly taken by complete surprise. I agreed, and he phoned me back about an hour later.
I’m not sure how long it was that Adam and I spoke on that day, but from what I recall it was easily over an hour. Adam asked some questions, but did a lot of listening. He expressed genuine interest in not only the reasons why I wasn’t rejoining, but in the ways I felt the organization could improve. Adam cared what I had to say, and although he ultimately wanted me to come back to N.A.C.E. Philadelphia, he afforded me the time to communicate not only what I wanted to get out of the organization, but also what more I felt the association could do for all of its members.
At the conclusion of our conversation, I offered to renew my membership.
Adam Rineer is a great salesman, but more so, he’s a great leader. It was the fact that Adam was willing to take time for me that made me so willing to be a part of the organization he was the president of. I suppose that might have been the premise of my whole issue in the first place, and Adam reinforced for me the belief that N.A.C.E. was not just about the association or the membership dues, it was about the people and the professional relationships established in such an organization.
A leader’s greatness is measured by the willingness with which people choose to follow them.
Recently Adam moved to Houston, Texas and will be stepping down as chapter president very shortly. He will be missed. He has praised me when I deserved it, and brought me to bear when i needed to be. I cannot imagine him to be anything less than an amazing manager of people, as he is truly a people person. Adam did not command my respect, he earned it.
Good luck Adam, and Hail to The Chief.
Photo by Phil Kramer – www.pkphoto.com