To answer this statement we first “NEED” to define need; a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation; need also means commitment, demand, obligation, urgency and essential. When I really want to know the meaning of a word, I like to find out what it doesn’t mean, its antonyms, which are; nonessential, comfort and luxury.
I think that you can probably see we don’t “need” the basket. I bet we needed the basket in 1985 when Dr. Misner started what turned out to be the first BNI chapter of many. I would like you to imagine with me 30 years ago and all the changes that have been made.
No internet! No email, no cell phones, no smart phones and most people did not have a personal computer in their business or homes. We used pagers, briefcases, land lines, lead was in our fuel, and it was a long distance phone call with a hefty fee to most of our neighboring towns where we did business.
Imagine with me a BNI member with a HOT referral. It might be a Friday and this member meets someone that wants to sell their home. The member might say to her contact, “I will see my realtor Tuesday morning at 7:30, would you like me to have her call you by 10?” The, would be customer would be fine with that. Tuesday morning the referring member would write out a slip and put one in the basket and give one slip to the realtor and she would share it with the chapter during the “I Have Portion” of the meeting. The realtor would be thrilled! She would run to her office and call by 10. In today’s world that would be to slow! With technology the house would have been listed and under contract by Tuesday!
I bet most members, if they did not have a one to one with a member did not talk or see most members, except during the chapter meeting. No Facebook and a long distance phone call to talk with them. Those members needed the basket! We don’t.
When I think of needs it takes me back to the 70’s while I was in grade school learning about, what was called “our 4 basic needs.” I think they were food, water, clothing and shelter. Now when you Google “4 basic needs”, there are no longer just 4. Someone added air, sunlight, and environment and then others have listed, love, self-esteem, praise and a list of positive gestures from loved ones.
Humans are more than just 4 basic needs. We are also about traditions and cultures. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Misner is “culture eats strategy for breakfast!” My interpretation of that is, if your chapter has a strategy to grow but your chapter is cliquish and unfriendly to visitors you will not grow, culture wins over strategy. Even if it is the other way around and you have a good culture and a bad strategy, your culture will win.
I think with some chapters the basket has been a tradition passed down over the years. One day I visited a newer BNI chapter that I had started as a BNI Director. During The I Have Portion of the meeting the basket had gone about a third of the way around the room. Members had mentioned their referrals and one to ones and thank you for closed business, but the basket was still empty. Some members were very passionate as their arms whirled and they waved the empty basket around. I was sitting next to a first time visitor and he asked me “what is the basket for?”
This chapter and others reminded me of a story I once heard. A little girl asked her mother why she cut the ends of her roast off before she cooked them. The mother said that she didn’t know and she would have to ask her grandma because she always did, and it was a family tradition.” The girl asked her grandma and her grandma told her that she didn’t know either and that she should ask her Nana, why she did it for she started the tradition. The little girl asked her great grandma, why she had cut the ends of the roasts off, she and her mom and grandma were all wondering why. The girl’s great grandma said “I don’t know why your mom or grandma does, but I did it because my pans were too small!”
What’s the basket for? I would like to shout the question “what’s the basket for?” I can answer that by sharing the difference between tradition and culture. Tradition is when we pass something down to the next generations. Culture is when we pass down to the other generations the attitude and the why we do a tradition.
We need the basket because we need culture! We need culture because we are human and need more than just 4 basic needs! “The culture of the basket” you ask? This is where we share our “I haves” with our tribe. This is where we are thankful for the members of our tribe and we share our culture and where we focus on our achievements and the achievements of others. This is where we say “I Have Thank You for Closed Business!” This is where we praise our members and give testimonies.
Whatever you focus on expands. Oprah says “when you are grateful for the scraps they will grow to more than enough!” The basket becomes our cornucopia and how we celebrate our horn of plenty! Our visitors hold the basket in their hands and look into that basket full of slips of paper that represents referrals! When they are asked to stand and give a referral or what they liked best about the meeting, I hope your basket is full and overflowing with referrals and I hope they say “I want a piece of this.” And then I hope they become a member of your tribe and share in the rich culture of BNI!