Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Executive Meeting in 2011

Yesterday, the CITL executives gathered at the NYCL for the first meeting of the new year. There were many things to be discussed so we had to get straight down to business the moment we arrived. One of the most important items on our agenda was our new year resolution. What will our goals be in 2011? How do we plan to achieve that goal?

From left to right: VP Michael, Executive Director Kevin & me

Below are the minutes for this meeting:

1) Expansion
- current situation: 12 locations in Toronto, 2 in Ottawa & 1 in Victoria
- regional goal: 20 locations in Toronto by the end of 2011, which is 20% of all TPL branches
- national goal: start-up in two new provinces, namely Quebec and Alberta by the end of 2011

2) Volunteer Training Package & Handbook
- contract & basic handbook are already completed
- volunteer selection & training procedures are to be added

3) Website
- our Webmaster Yutong Luo, who has been with us since the beginning of this project will soon retire from this position
- our Executive Director Kevin Wu will temporary undertake this position until a new Webmaster is found
- google maps are to be integrated on our home page

4) Volunteer Banquet
- planned for sometime during March Break
- location, budget are to be confirmed
- invitations will be sent out no later than Feb 26th, 2011
- possible "Volunteer of the Year" award will be given (method of selection has yet to be determined)

5) CITL 2nd Annual Festival
- a few possible locations are considered, will be confirmed soon
- date will be Saturday, June 25th, 2011
- annual trophy (sponsored by the Southam family) will be purchased
- media will be contacted well in advance this year
- invitations to players & special guests will be sent out no later than March Break
- 2011-2012 CITL executive election details will be announced soon

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CITL Promotional Sessions: Learning How to Become a Salesperson

My mid-terms are finally over (*cheers!*) but when it comes to Chess in the Library, promoting chess is never over.

For the past two weekends, I helped to conduct 2 promotional sessions for the program - one at Fairview, another at North York Central. These promotions are conducted on a frequent basis, for the purpose of enlarging the Chess in the Library club at a given branch. As the president of this organization, it was my responsibility to be present at these important events, especially if it meant bringing more Canadian citizens into the world of this wonderful game.

However, I was inclined to be there for another purpose- teaching my fellow teammates the most efficient way of selling a product. In this case, that would be peoples' registration for the program. We would set up a table around the entrance of the library along with a few chess sets. Next to the sets were a stack of flyers and a registration sheet with a pen lying on its side anticipating a chess enthusiast or two to pick it up and scribble their names. When conditions allow, we have the luxury of using a large poster or demo board to attract the public's attention.

I did not take any pictures for the Fairview promotion but luckily I remembered to bring my camera along for the one at NYCL.

The lobby of NYCL with people flowing in and out on both sides - perfect place to situate a chess table here!

Actually we only had chairs on the other side of the table, where volunteers sat and handed out flyers. But then all of the sudden two guys came along and challenged our volunteers to two serious games of chess! As a result, they got themselves two chairs from the Teen Zone and blocked the public's view of the demo board (you can see only half of it here).

The What's On heading is a must for all Toronto Public Library flyers. With a stand to hold the flyer up, it does look pretty neat, eh?

I still clearly remember the very first time that I did this kind of thing. It was for the opening of our very first location - the one at the Brookbanks branch. I was walking around handing out flyers outside of the library and I was honestly scared to death. Never in my life had I felt so little confidence in myself. Each time I gave a flyer to a stranger, it took a great deal of self-reassurance and courage. And rejection was the most embarrassing thing yet. However, after a year and a half, I have practised, practised and practised countless times. Now I feel like a decent salesperson who is confident and not afraid of the word "no". It was Chess in the Library's numerous promotional sessions that gave me the opportunity to overcome this psychological disorder, of which I believe many people possess.

So I know exactly how the volunteers feel when they are introducing the program to strangers. The timidness and shakiness in their voice says it all. However, having a buddy beside them for mere encouragement is simply not enough. They also need a mentor who can help them become a great salesperson. That's the role I perform at CITL's promotional sessions nowadays. I truly believe that my fellow teammates, the ones who have conducted promotional sessions in the past will one day completely overcome the fear that was once inside them through this program. Secretly watching their entire learning process, I inevitably feel the joy that teachers do when their students improve.