Thomas Edison, the great U.S. inventor of the light bulb and phonograph, knew that innovation was the touchstone of modern life. “There’s a way to do it better—find it,” he insisted. We Lions are fortunate that we have the perfect service organization. There is no better way to serve our communities than becoming a Lion. Yet we must always fine-tune what we do and sometimes introduce new programs and procedures. Moving forward sometimes means blazing new trails. Innovation, as well as growth, will be the touchstone of my presidency. This year we are holding the first-ever Global Youth Music Competition. Our new Lions in Sight initiative in January will increase the public visibility of Lions. The introduction of the Second Vice District Governor position and the Global Membership Team also attests to a willingness to try new approaches. The Ginkgo Awards and other awards program will encourage and recognize innovation. This year our service will remain the same but we also will broaden our horizons and tap more deeply into the desires and enthusiasms of Lions. We also need to be more open-minded in terms of membership. We have nearly 260,000 female Lions, which is about 20 percent of our total membership. But many clubs need to do better about reaching out to women, especially spouses of members. I personally advanced this cause at the international convention in Minneapolis when I inducted Margit, my wife, during a plenary sesssion. The Lions responded warmly, and I’m sure your club also will find that adding women, however many you have now, will only add to its effectiveness and vitality. So my emphasis on innovation is not really about me but about you. Stay true to our basic ideals but don’t hesitate to innovate. The future belongs to those who shape it. In your club and in your community, be creative and inspired. The great thing about innovation is that it attracts a crowd. People want to be part of what’s new and exciting. Your family, friends and neighbors will want to attend Lions’ events and join in our service as Lions themselves. Lions, Move to Grow this year. More than 90 years ago our founder Melvin Jones turned the notion of a businessman’s club on its head and focused on service instead of self-interest. His legacy of change is our current inspiration. We have a great history but the way to build on the past is to position ourselves at the starting point of a new and wonderful enterprise.
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