A Decade with Toastmasters

That’s it, the last day of the decade is here. Ten years is a lot of time if you put into perspective, if anything can happen in a few seconds what can happen in a decade?

Well, the world keep spinning and no matter where you look, things are changing whether we want it or not. That’s definitely true for Toastmasters with over nine decades of countless speeches and helping people find leadership opportunities to help them develop and grow.

Let me ask you, have you ever been to a Toastmaster meeting only to find out someone sitting next to you is about ten years younger? If you’re a bit like me, you might also wonder – “ah, I wish I got into Toastmasters at his/her/their age. I’d be nailing it by now!”. While that could be true, it doesn’t deny the fact that the next ten years ahead of you can be used for the exact same purpose as if you’ve joined Toastmasters a bit younger.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter that much. What matters most is actually not even what you do in the next decade or the brand new year that’s ahead of us. It’s what you do today; right here, right now. Are you preparing for your next speech? Good. Are you jotting some ideas down for what you want your next message to be? Good. Are you practicing at home in front of the mirror or to your family members? Good.

This should not be a shocker to people, but being part of Toastmasters doesn’t make you any better at communication and leadership. Now, consistently joining meetings and devoting time to yourself, others and the community as a whole is what does. Whether it’s an OK speech, a good speech or an excellent one, or whether you’re the Timer at the meeting or some other role you’re not too excited about, it’s still something and that’s worth nurturing and celebrating. How else do you think Toastmaster became what we know of today? All thanks to people who showed up and supported in any way they could.

As far as the entire Toastmasters ecosystem goes, a lot has been done since Ralph C. Smedley founded this organization we appreciate so much. Below is a sample of what has been accomplished in the soon-to-be-last-decade:

https://www.toastmasters.org/about/history/timeline

Almost 100 years of Toastmasters and it took one man to believe in the power of his community and way after his passing on planet earth, we still benefit from something that started in a small room with a handful of man trying to improve their speaking skills. Let me repeat, it took only one man, one person, to believe and take consistent action. One speech at a time, one meeting at a time, making the best he could on a single day. That by itself is to be admired.

Let’s all make today a day for this community that’s been helping us so much, if we do that a bit each day, I assure you won’t regret when you look back a decade behind.

Thank you members and specially, thank you Smedley.

Meet Our Buddy: Tricia Grow

Interviewer Note: “Trish was one of the first speakers that stood out to me since day one at Buddies. While I still wasn’t sure whether online Toastmasters was for me or not, having her as part of our meetings gave me more certainty that I’d be surrounded by people with the skills I was looking for and eventually grow more. Thanks for all your support and commitment to our club, Trish.”

Where are you from?

Born in Rochester, Ny

Where do you live?

York Springs, PA

What are your top 3 favorite activities?

Reading, Speaking and Teaching

What brought you to Toastmasters?

I felt I needed to share my stories with others

Why Buddies?

Misako invite me to help boost this club and it’s still one of my favorite clubs

How much have you grown since your first Toastmaster meeting?

Leaps! I was not capable of speaking in front of more than a handful of people without feeling ill.

How is Toastmasters helping you in life?

It has grown my leadership skills, I feel more comfortable being in the lead

Who are your top 3 favorite speakers?

Darren Lacroix, Joyce Myers, Aaron Beverly (fellow District 38 member)

What’s your top 3 favorite speeches?

I have a dream; If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed; I see something in you

What kind of communicator and leader do you want to become?

A better one

Where do you think you can go with Toastmasters in 12 months ahead?

I hope to have competed in Paris at the 2020 International Speech contest!

Meet Our Buddy: Gustavo Matias

Where are you from?

Very proud to say that I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Where do you live?

I now live in Sunny San Diego, CA

What are your top 3 favorite activities?

Sometimes is hard to believe I’d ever say this, but I really enjoy taking speaking opportunities and happy whenever I get the chance to talk to people the way I imagined and can connect to people in a deeper level.

On a more physical side, Capoeira has become a passion of mine which I truly enjoy doing twice a week with the group I’m part of. For those having no idea what that means, I recommend Googling it, it’s a fascinating art.

Third but not least, using my brain as much as possible through building software has been a pursue of mine for over decades now, and whether is for the company I work for or a side-project, coding has been a skill I enjoy honing.

What brought you to Toastmasters?

The strong desire to turn my weakness into a strength with communication and leadership at work and relationships with whoever I get to meet.

Why Buddies?

It’s online, so it’s very convenient. It’s also the most diverse and exuberayting community I’ve ever been part of, this is precious and worth nurturing and seeing the seeds we’re planting growing overtime.

I also believe online communication is already mainstream, and Buddies platform is a way to practice for the “real”digital world we interact with on a day-to-day basis be it through a Podcast we get invited to talk, Youtube or Instagram live session we’re part of, a remote interview with our dream company, work meetings and whatnot. Digital is the present and the future, knowing how to navigate and present myself in those situations is becoming even more important to me.

How much have you grown since your first Toastmaster meeting?

I still remember to this day. Toastmaster sounded great in theory as I researched about this non-profit organization, but very awkward and uncomfortable at my first meeting; Imagine I get called to answer a Table Topics, and although I have the courage to do so, it’s one of the most terrifying few seconds. I remember feeling like time is going slower than usual and that words are slowly coming out of my mouth without making any sense at all, until I almost run out of breath, have no more thoughts in my head to share and decide to abort by going back to my seat as quickly as possible while my inner-critic gets louder and louder.

Nowadays, I nearly don’t care as much and am way more comfortable talking to a group of people regardless of the perceived outcome, specially if I know I did my best.

How is Toastmasters helping you in life?

I’m happy to say now I’m able to more comfortably stand for much longer in front of a group of people to talk about various subjects and have done for probably hundreds of times by now, whether it’s at work or any other group I happen to join, I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

Who are your top 3 favorite speakers?

  1. Haroldo Dutra Dias (Brazilian Spiritualist Speaker)
  2. David Goggins (Ultra-endurance Athlete and Speaker)
  3. Trevor Noah (Comedian and TV host)

What’s your top 3 favorite speeches?

  1. Conhece-te a ti mesmo (Know yourself) – Haroldo Dutra Dias
  2. David Goggins Interview at Joe Rogan Experience Podcast (It’s an interview, but there are amazing bits and power on how he speaks to the audience)
  3. Elon Musck’s Interview at Joe Rogan Experience Podcast (Another interview I know, but I loved how he talks in a very intelligent and thoughtful way, I like speeches that feel more like a conversation than a one-way only speech)

What kind of communicator and leader do you want to become?

I’m going to become a leader and communicator who is natural, relaxed, comfortable and confident on my ability to deliver and talk despite the situation or event, able to answer and ask questions to engage people and facilitate conversations in a harmonious and entertaining way.

Where do you think you can go with Toastmasters in 12 months ahead?

In the next year, continuing giving speeches, signing up for roles every meeting taking the most challenging/difficult/uncomfortable roles and expanding the practices in Toastmasters to my work, social situations and family that is going to drastically continue to help me find opportunities to serve more people around me as I’ll be better at expressing myself, communicating and leading as opportunities arise.

Network For Service

If you’ve ever been to a networking event such as a conference or meetup (like Toastmasters), it’s natural to ask – “What’s in it for me? What will I learn from the people at the event? What will the organizers and speakers teach me?”. While this is a totally fair question to ask, sometimes it made me feel deficient of knowledge and experience, that I had to participate and learn to get something out of it.

Not too long ago, as I start thinking about going to my next big tech event. I end up receiving an email from the organizers promoting the conference. I get so excited by the line up of speakers and their talks, the venue and location, which I never been before! I was so exhilarated for my next travel adventure and going to this event that I almost miss the barely readable words at the footer of the email that read “Want to volunteer? Click here!”. This immediately gets me thinking – “Huh, I wonder who are behind the scenes. This is an enormous event and I wonder how much work it’s put before, during and after each of these conferences…”. Without hesitation and a good dosage of curiosity I Immediately start composing a new email inquiring about this volunteering opportunity.

Not too long in just a few days, I receive a reply from one of the organizers; I was in! I’ve volunteered before at few smaller events, but this one wasn’t only going to the my first time, but I’d be also going to volunteer at an event that was expected to receive thousands of people! The venue? A hotel that had hosted six presidents, The Beatles and was were the Oscar statue was first sketched, on a napkin. Though those are not the type of things that fascinate me too much, I thought it was pretty cool 🙂

The event venue

The day is finally here, and I hop on plane and travel all the way over to Los Angeles, CA. Where the conference is happening, and from day one I realize how much work is put into just to prepare things for the volunteers themselves. Most things were already unpacked and ready for us to begin organizing and sorting in preparation for the attendees. From filling up bags with some cool swags, to putting everything in place at the registration desks and making sure things are in order all around the venue, it took us hours, and I was very enthusiastic all the way throughout the first day.

The following day is finally time and I can’t wait to see how it’d all unfold. Thousands of people coming early morning to register and grab the best seats for the conference’s keynote speech and a first opportunity to network with their fellow other attendees. Right up-front, during the registration period signing people in, I get to greet and chat with so many people. For some, a few seconds to check them in, handout their badge, lanyard and wish them a great day ahead. For others, a first quick eye contact that open doors for more connection to happen on the days ahead. It’s fantastic to see people’s excitement in their eyes, it lights me up!

As a volunteer, I got to watch the most fascinating talks, was steps away from some of the brightest people our community has ever seen, met some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met and had close experience on what it takes to run the entire show. Would I have had such a blast hadn’t I decide to be at service to the community? I doubt it.

The most incredible and unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had in my life were rarely the ones I was receiving something, they were the ones where I was giving. Giving my time, my sweat and my heart. It’s never enough. Give to the people around you, your family, friends, your communities, and since we’re here, give to your fellow Toastmasters. 😉