Updated: Oct 22, 2020
—Jay Johnson, Deputy National President, JCI USA
“If you are looking to network with you might want to look into the Redford Jaycees.” This was said to me by my Father, Larry Johnson, a past president of my local chapter, JCI Senator, and life member of the organization. The year was 2009 and I was looking for growth in the second year of being a business owner. Larry was the president in the 70’s, a time where JCI was really one of the only options for young people to develop their skills, establish leadership acumen, and make business connections that would empower economic prosperity.
Fast forward to 2020, JCI membership still offers these exceptional opportunities. While the landscape of the world has changed significantly, and there are more opportunities for young people, JCI has and continues to be the best investment that I have made into myself and my business.
Professionally, I am a speaker, a trainer, and an organizational consultant (essentially, a fixer). I have delivered keynote speeches in more than 20 countries, and a significant number of these came from opportunities directly or indirectly related to JCI membership. I have developed more than 100 training courses, most of which were tested out on JCI audiences before I took them to the corporate world. I have worked with fortune 100 companies on improving culture, developing leaders, and streamlining communication. All of which, I have relied on a number of the learnings I have gained through my membership in JCI and the leadership positions I have held.
At Coeus Creative Group, we have 6 partners, 4 staff, and a host of independent contractors that work with us. To give you an idea of how JCI has impacted the company, out of the 6 partners, I met 3 of them through my JCI membership. Every partner has served as local chapter president. Every partner has served on the JCI Michigan board of directors. Every partner has trained for JCI USA, many of them serving as an officer. Half of the partners have served an international assignment with JCI. Nearly every one of our independent contractors came from JCI’s vast network. From a business perspective, I could not have asked for a better return on investment for my membership. This does not even represent the number of referrals and clients that have come through this amazing organization.
As a JCI member, I was afforded the opportunity to engage with local elected officials, eventually being asked to serve on the council. I was elected in 2012 and served for one term (choosing not to seek re-election). I have lobbied at the state and federal levels, and personally know each of my elected representatives. I don’t just mean I know who they are, but they know me and they know the Redford Jaycees. Whenever we need something, I can actually pull my phone out and call them, meet them for lunch, and get their support. I have had the opportunity to meet with international elected officials, including councils, mayors, parliaments, and ministers from a range of countries in Europe, Asia, and North & South America. From an influence perspective, I could not have asked for a better return on investment for my membership.
So, I guess my Dad was right (don’t tell him I said that, he would never let me live it down). I definitely found in JCI the opportunities to connect with influencers, grow my business, and engage with movers and shakers. 11 years later, I am still finding these benefits and more. Throughout my time, I have met some of the most amazing people, locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. I have met some of my dearest friends through JCI. I have friends across multiple continents and I know that if I travel, they would offer the finest hospitality that you could imagine (and they know the same applies if they visit Michigan). I have grown my leadership and organization development skills, which has led to faculty assignments at two separate universities (Madonna University School of Business, Wayne State University College of Engineering). Most importantly, and probably the greatest return on investment, I have had the opportunity to make a difference in my community, my state, my country, and across the globe. I joined for business and influence, but I have definitely stayed for the people and the impact we can make together on building a better future and a better world. There is no better return on investment than building a sustainable future, and through JCI, that is exactly what we are doing.
Join us, you will not regret it.