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Legatus Magazine

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Joseph J. Janiczek | author
Dec 03, 2010
Filed under Columns
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The optimal Legatus experience

Want to know how can your chapter experience go beyond the usual? Check this out . . .

Joseph J. Janiczek

Joseph J. Janiczek

Legatus’ Denver Chapter just marked its 10th anniversary, and members here had a lot of success to celebrate. Over the past decade, Denver has grown from a founding group of about 20 CEO members to a thriving community of 65 executives — the largest Legatus chapter in the country.

Growth and success raise questions like, “What are they doing right, and what can we learn from them?” I have been personally involved in two efforts to answer these questions. Last year, I led Legatus’ Board of Governors in a two-day retreat to zero in on the best practices of great chapters across the country. More recently, I worked with Denver Chapter member Terry Combs to hold a conference where all members were invited to discuss what the chapter was doing well and how we could build on that. The feedback from both events provides a road map that any chapter should find useful in striving to reach its full potential.

“Full potential,” in this case, means making Legatus a more powerful tool to do God’s will. True success in Legatus is measured by more than the number of chapters or members. Success flows from helping all members to deepen their Catholic faith and grow spiritually — and to see how this growth results in stronger families, friendships and businesses. When chapters keep a clear focus on spiritual growth, they flourish. When members receive what they need most, they naturally turn into ambassadors for Legatus.

So how exactly do Denver and other great chapters put these concepts into practice? We’ve identified several key traits they have in common:

Meeting members where they are spiritually

Legates are at different points in their lifelong spiritual journey. They may have a profoundly deep faith life, or they may be just beginning to move their faith more into the center of their lives. It’s important to meet members where they are spiritually — and to humbly but decisively help them to grow through support and mentorship. The key word here is humbly. Chapter leaders must guard against any inclination toward spiritual pride as Christ warned against in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. There is no spiritual pecking order in Legatus. We don’t judge where members are in their journey; we help them to grow in love for Christ and fidelity to the teachings of his Church.

Enhancing the Legatus experience

All members are acquainted with Legatus’ core format — a monthly meeting offering the rosary, Confession, Mass, time to socialize, dinner and a speaker. But just as there’s more to being Catholic than going to Mass on Sunday, this core format is the starting point, not the end point, of the full Legatus experience. In Denver, for example, we’ve enhanced the monthly meeting with features like:

BYOP (Bring Your Own Priest), which gives members a way to thank their priests  and grow closer to them as well.

Seminarian Guest of the Month, which introduces seminarians to Legatus and allows them to provide a brief overview of their faith journey.

Member Testimonials, which encourages people to share their own personal spiritual insights and faith experiences.

Activities between meetings are also vital in making a chapter a real community. Great chapters make great use of Legatus Forums — small subgroups of members who help each other to apply their faith to life’s challenges and opportunities. Denver has also been fortunate to have a Bible study class led by the well-known Catholic writer and president of the Augustine Institute, Dr. Tim Gray. On top of these spiritual growth experiences, we have our share of social activities between monthly Legatus meetings. In short, these events build strong relationships, and they are further enhanced by member participation in their parishes, Catholic schools and Catholic charities.

Creating missionaries for Legatus

There’s a business model that underscores the value of attending to people’s needs. When you customize a product, it becomes a service; a customized service becomes an experience; and a customized experience becomes a transformation. Great chapters reach this level of transformation by helping members to experience better marriages, families, friendships and careers.

In doing so, they also move members up the commitment ladder from “I’ll try it” to “I’ll renew” to “loyal member” to “missionary member.” Missionary members drive the chapter’s success and growth by being totally engaged and co-creating an ever better Legatus experience.

Legatus’ Board of Governors encourages each chapter to focus on enhancing the Legatus experience for its members. Pick one or two experience enhancements that build relationships and strengthen each other’s faith, and your chapter will flourish.

Joseph J. Janiczek is founder and CEO of Janiczek & Company, Ltd., an investment and wealth management company. He is a member of Legatus’ Board of Governors and past president of the Denver Chapter.

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