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District 4 Toastmasters Spring Conference

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The Event

The District 4 Toastmasters held their Spring Conference, It’s Vegas Baby, at the Milpitas Embassy Suites on May 14, 2011. I attended the all-day conference that featured keynotes speeches and a table topics competition in the morning and district officers’ meeting and international speech competition in the afternoon. We thank the conference support staff whose hard work led to the success of the conference.

Keynote Speaker Jana Barnhill

Past President of Toastmasters International Jana Barnhill inspired us to stay on mission to improve our public speaking and our communities at home and worldwide.  She related her experiences visiting clubs where she found each club has its own flavor, yet each club helps each member to improve his or her speaking, gain leadership skills, and grow the circle in influence.

Speech evaluation is a club’s foundation for improvement, so Jana reviewed the keys for a  Toastmaster to deliver a great evaluation:

  • Focus on the positive to be effective.
  • Lift the speaker to a higher level.
  • Never let the speaker settle for what’s comfortable.

Jana chided that you don’t get to Vegas, baby, by settling. Surround yourself with successful people, and work to your full potential as a better speaker and person.

Jana asked, Why join Toastmasters? Because being a Toastmaster affects how people see you, Jana replied. A Toastmaster everyday demonstrates learned and practiced skills in listening, analyzing, and leading. That is why you should join and stay with Toastmasters.

Toastmasters’ Key Tool for Improvement: Mentoring

Kevin Dolye, DTM and International Director, Region 2, why mentoring is important and how to approach mentoring in a Toastmasters’ club. He drew the distinctions between a mentor as coach and mentor:

  • Coaches correct and mentors support.
  • Coaches tell and mentors listen.
  • Coaches lead and mentors partner.
  • Coaches want results now and mentors look for long-term improvement.

To motivate us to mentor, Kevin asked us to name the teacher that helped the most in grade school. Everyone in the audience had a name in mind; proof Kevin said of the power of mentors and their everlasting impression on us. And, I say, thank you Mrs. Faulkner!

The International Speeches

The international speeches and speakers inspired me and their messages can inspire you. Here are the seven speakers I had the privilege to hear:

Arnie Buss, Losing My Baggage – Arnie recounted a lifetime of emotional baggage that he’d collected. These personal defeats and rejections weighed down his spirit and ability to move forward. Outside help provoked him to reconnect with the defeated and rejected Arnie and ask him, What could I do? The answer most often was he did the best he could then and now he could make peace with his past. His emotional baggage got left behind, and unimpeded Arnie  continues his journey.

Belinda Chua, Singing – Belinda wanted to sing, but her voice betrayed her, leading to feelings of being a failure in the eyes of her parents, teachers, and friends. The shame haunted her and dampened her spirit, until the day she decided to take singing lessons. Belinda hasn’t become a professional singer, but she has learned important vocal exercises that improve her body and spirit, and she’s learning to sing in harmony one note at a time.

Maria Leone, What Does it Take to Make It? – Maria shared three lessons from her audacious work to be a successful business executive, loving mother, and cancer surviver: indulge your love of learning at every stage of your life, feed your determination to succeed even if you don’t know the outcome, and realize each choice taken is yours alone.

Chris Lozano, Surfing Life – Chris used the metaphor of his favorite sport of surfing to remind us that whether you’re riding a surf board or standing on life’s ground, the difference between taking a spill or riding to shore depends on staying in the moment,  recognizing opportunities and deciding which is right for you, and being persistent. And, know how to tell the difference between the dorsal fin of a dolphin and a shark.

Emmanuel Mayssat, One Million Lights –  Emmanuel, a Silicon Valley engineer, told us about One Million Lights, a project to distribute one million solar lights to replace dangerous and polluting petroleum lanterns and give children a better chance to learn and live health lives. He called on each of us to take on a project to make a better world.

Lucillee Sarkisian, Keep Moving – Lucillee challenged our belief that our brains are static and do not grow. She further exhorted us to do what’s right to care for our brains. She told us brain research has found that no matter your age, you can grow both new neutrons and connections in your brain through mental and physical exercise. Walk your brain to better health and thinking was Lucillee’s message.

Jean Tsong, Battle Hymn or Siren Song? – Jean discussed Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother  through her own experiences as the daughter of Asian-American parents. Jean pled her case that parenting is more than implanting a fierce desire to achieve. Children want and need love, Jean testified from her own experience. Nurturing children puts them in harmony with themselves and those around them. Jean said Chua’s thinking may be the symptom of the personality disorders that are hidden from sight and unacknowledged in Asian cultures.

Seven inspiring and educational speeches from seven individuals that lived what they learned and shared with us. I thank them all!

My Personal Thanks to Page Edwards

On a personal note, thank you, Page Edwards, our newly elected Division E Governor, for placing your confidence in my leadership skills when you selected me as a candidate for the incoming E3 Area Governor for Division E.

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