Madison Rotary – Speed Dating Rotary Style

Typical Rotary lunch:  “Hi, may I join you?  How’s your day going?”

Speed Rotary:  “Please take a minute to tell me what you really want out of life.”

Scary?  Maybe, but today’s speed Rotary session was so successful; a loud whistle was needed to bring the group back to order as the session ended.  It’s not that we can’t ask personal questions during normal Rotary meetings, but it may seem a bit unnatural when it is not moderated.

Today’s speed Rotary session highlighted members in short, focused conversations with people that they probably didn’t know well.  When the 5-minute time was up, it was off to the next person and the next conversation.  Judging by the buzz in the room and the reluctance of people to stop sharing, many Rotarians felt special, unique and cared about.

If you missed today’s speed Rotary, you missed a special day.   Try to make the next one; you’ll be glad that you did!  Check out this video of the action.

This video doesn’t exist

According to, “Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish HaTorah is the first to be credited with the idea for speed dating, a concept he introduced to Jewish singles with the intent of meeting and eventually marrying.”  While I’m confident that my conversations with Bruce Petersen, Paul Riehemann, Paul Ranola or Tracy Perkins won’t lead to marriage, I know them more meaningfully because of the five minutes I spent with them today than I ever have.  I even got to know John Faust better because I kept hustling him out of his seat to greet my next person!
One theory on the subject of speed dating asserts that the need to feel special, unique or cared about heightens our attraction to people that make us feel this way.  Human beings have an innate capacity to judge this level of attraction in other human beings very quickly.

(Click on photos to expand them.)

Thanks to the following Rotarians who served on the Speed Rotary Ad-Hoc Committee: Deb Raupp (Chair), Richard Bliss, Lew Harned, Heather Hopke, Donna Hurd, Craig Klaas, Paul Riehemann, Susan Schmitz, Jim Taylor and Bob Winding.

Our thanks: to Peter Cavi for this review article; to John Bonsett-Veal for coordinating photography and video for the first-ever Madison Rotary video blog post; Uriah Carpenter, a member of Oregon Rotary, for capturing video and photo highlights of our Speed Rotary session.

The Rotary Club of Madison has 500 members from business, academia, healthcare and public and community service.  It is one of the ten largest Rotary International chapters in the world and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.  Rotary International is a service club with local and global reach.  It’s 34,000 chapters in over 200 countries have 1.2 million members who meet weekly to develop friendships, learn, and work together to address important humanitarian needs. 

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6 responses to “Madison Rotary – Speed Dating Rotary Style

  1. How many conversations did people have? What questions were discussed other than one highlighted in the above article?

    (Why is there an advertisement for Sears on this page?)

    • Jacqui, There were 5 lively, engaged conversations among Rotarians. It was fun to watch the body language and listen to the laughter and jovial noise level. People were smiling and truly engaged with their partners. Some people mentioned that they got to know more about colleauges in the brief conversations. On the evaluations, people rated the program highly and requested we do it again– and devote more time.

  2. What a wonderful day at Rotary! There was such energy in the room and most of us could have continued the animated conversations much longer. Hope we will consider doing this twice a year! Many thanks to all who organized our first “Speed Rotary.”

  3. I loved our session of Speed Rotary and having the chance to learn more about my fellow Rotarians in short bursts (perfect for my ADD) My only regret is that I can’t get “The more we get together song” out of my head!

  4. Thanks Deb. My impression is that it went well. My question was what were the questions/topics that were discussed?

  5. Sorry… I meant to say my other question was what were the questions/topics.

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