The 3 real reasons why people stay with Toastmasters clubs

toastmasters where leaders are madeHave you ever observed people involved into doing something and being very passionate and engaged in that endeavour? Haven’t you wondered why they do what it is they do, what drives them, what could be their motivator? I found myself wondering about that a few days ago and reflected on what I had observed. I am currently serving as an Area Governor with the Founder’s District in Toastmasters International and one of the big benefits is having to meet and interact with hundreds of members in about half a dozen clubs.

I visited a club this past week and I was particularly happy with how the club operated. All members were punctual and it was obvious that they were all committed to making the most of their experience with Toastmasters. Every club in Toastmasters has a unique identity, and what gives the club that unique identity is the mix of different personality types in the members. Regardless of the club you go to, you will always observe one or two members that will make you wonder why they are members, because obviously they don’t need to be in Toastmasters to get stage time and hone their public speaking and leadership skills.

Get past the fact that most club members are involved in self-mastery through continuous learning and self-development, I see the following three reasons as why people join and stay with Toastmasters International.

1. They see themselves in others.

This is particularly remarkable when you attend a club meeting with experienced toastmasters and newer toastmasters in attendance. I have observed that the more experienced toastmasters are very supportive, understanding, forgiving and friendly with less experienced members. That is because they recognize that they had been through those stages themselves. What keeps experienced toastmasters coming is that opportunity to see the less experienced grow and release the great communicators and leaders within them.

2. They want to be part of something bigger.

Most people who are members of Toastmasters International join out of necessity and stay for significance. New members focus on improving themselves  growing bigger than their fear of public speaking. Once they become good communicator and public speakers, the only thing that keeps them from leaving the club or the organization in most cases is the fact that by then have realized that Toastmasters is not only about speaking. It is much bigger than that, it is about relationships, love and care for fellow human beings in a positive and friendly atmosphere.

3. They feel safe and don’t want to venture outside of their clubs.

I think this group probably represent the smallest of all, which is very good. Most people in this group joined because they have a friend or family member in a Toastmasters club and they need help getting over their fear of public speaking. It takes them weeks to give their first speech and years to accept a club leadership role. They don’t leave because they see the improvements, but are not daring enough to accelerate their learning experience. They stay because they don’t believe they can make it in the big league, or simply don’t have any interest, which is fine.

When everything is said and done, I am glad people join and stay with Toastmasters clubs, but I acknowledge there are more reasons why people join and stay. I cannot possibly come up with an exhaustive list and I agree to disagree with those who want to disagree. ūüôā Toastmasters International is a great organization and the educational program offered is unequalled. If you are a Toastmaster club member, do you agree (or disagree) with any of the reasons above? If you are not a Toastmasters International member, why not?

Are you stretching or stressing?

stretching or stressingWith incredibly easy access to information and the wealth of knowledge available from books and other media, it is possible for anyone to become an expert in any chosen field. When the year 2013 started I personally made the decision to become an expert in public speaking.

Gladson Maxwell made the 10,000 hour rule very popular through his book “The Outliers” which is a great read. That rule can be bypassed by a host of shortcuts, for example, surrounding oneself with mentors and experienced professionals. A full list of 7 steps to cheat the rule is available on this infographic:¬†http://blog.zintro.com.

For becoming an excellent public speaker, one of the most practical ways is to speak as often as possible. In other words constantly creating opportunities to address groups of people. That is a huge commitment and once that commitment to speaking as much as possible is made, you will have to make lots of changes to your daily and weekly schedules to have time slots for preparation and delivery of speeches.

It might not be public speaking for you, but whatever it is realize that it will take conscious efforts and your full commitment to make it come true. Whatever activity you are engaged in at any time of your day, always ask yourself if that is a stretching opportunity or a stressing opportunity.

Stretching activities help you get a little bit closer to your goals, and stressing activities distract you from your goals. Are you stressing or are you stretching?

Don’t make these three mistakes when speaking in public

making mistakes for learningIf you are reading this post because the title appealed to you, then the advice I read from copyblogger.net about negative titles works. I often speak in public as it is one of my hobbies. As part of my personal growth and development as a speaker, I believe in joining associations and groups of people who are either better speakers or very passionate about public speaking. Last Monday I paid a visit to the Professional Speakers club in Anaheim and having expressed my interest in becoming a member a few months ago, I was offered a speaking spot for the evening.

I had very little preparation, but I accepted the challenge and decided to give a speech that I had given before, but I was to use 20 minutes instead of the 60 minutes I had used in the past to deliver that speech. I quickly sat down, thought about what to take out of the speech and what to leave in. The process was fun and the experience was priceless. I had a great time on stage and at the end of my presentation I had a round-robin evaluation from the club members in attendance. From that single speaking opportunity, here are three of the most valuable lessons I took away:

  • Don’t overload your speech with stories: My speech opened with a story and ended with a call to action. The problem was, I had too many stories for a 20 minutes speech and some of my stories could have been left out if I had spent a little more time expanding on the points the stories were illustrating. Someone in his feedback said I could have used only story and weaved it into my speech, let the story unfold and reveal all the points I was making. That’s a great idea I can’t wait to implement.
  • Don’t call on your audience to participate without warning them: At a point in my speech when I felt I was losing some of my audience members, I did something totally unplanned. I randomly picked audience members and asked them for their input on some of the points I was making. That is a good thing to do when working with a small audience and having had the opportunity before the speech to interact with each of them individually. But even if you know every member in the audience (which won’t happen often the more you grow), calling on people in surprise is not very recommended. Don’t get me wrong, you can ask for someone to volunteer an answer to your question, but randomly picking someone to give you an answer might not be well received.
  • Always acknowledge your audience: I opened my speech with a story and because some of the details of that opening story were not clear in my memory (no time to practice), I stumbled upon a few of its details that were relevant and would have made an impact. Thus, already distracted by those early mishaps, I got off track and forgot to acknowledge my audience. Always remember to acknowledge your audience. It could be with a short or long smile before you begin speaking, or with a simple greeting, or with an opening question. You are speaking to an audience and if you don’t take time to acknowledge them, they might decide not to acknowledge you and begin walking out on you, but that’s an extreme.

For a speech that I gave with not much preparation, I thought it went very well and the feedback I received was great. Speaking without or with little preparation is a challenge I welcome as stage time for me is priceless. Which one of the mistakes above have you made in the past? What are some of the things not to do on your list when speaking in public?

Learning from Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) on Mastering Any Skill

Success has a way of packaging itself in a way that you only experience it when you have accepted failure as an option, but not as a destination. I was watching this interview of Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Work Week:¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AysWsbrtzMU. Tim Ferriss’ first book was rejected by 26 publishers before it went into print. He has authored 3 books and at a point during the interview, he says that his friends author recommend him to divide his books into multiple, but he won’t because he wants to give maximum value to his readers.

In this video interview, Tim Ferriss recommends to the following book and article to learn about marketing and better writing:

I have placed orders for the two books and finished reading the 1,000 True Fans article. If you have not read it yet, I strongly recommend you do. If you don’t have time to go read it (even though you should), here is the best piece, my takeaway from the article:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

When you think about that statement, it makes perfect sense. Regardless of what type of activity or enterprise you venture in, all you need is 1000 true fans and you will be able to make a good living. If you have a product that you make a small profit on (regardless how small), getting your thousandth repeat customer (true fan) should be your goal. I will keep this in mind when thinking about developing business ideas in the form of this question: How can I make 1,000 people become true fans of my product or service? I found a great article on www.copyblogger.com which contains a 20 steps process for finding your 1,000 true fans. Good read.

If you sell a product or service, how was your experience when you had your 1,000th repeat customer? If you have not yet had your thousandth customer, what can you do differently to have repeat customers and attract more customers?

Starting a new business is easier than you think!

business ideaAll it takes to start a business is an idea. But if all it took to make a business successful was an idea, we would have more business owners than employees. It would be interesting to be around when that happens, because it can happen, believe it or not. During the Millionaire Mind Intensive seminar last weekend, I and my friend Sanika decided to start a tutoring business. Sanika is an experienced tutor and she specializes in working with children with special needs. She does wonders with kids between the ages of 7 to 14.

All lasting business is built on friendship. Alfred A. Montapert

Yesterday evening, Sanika and I had a 4 hour long video chat through Google Hangouts and we used the 100 Dollar Startup one-page business plan to create a basic blueprint for the success of our business. I am sharing this story in the hope that it inspires someone to start a business without over thinking about it. All it takes is an idea and someone to develop the idea into a business with. Following the guidelines on the one-page business plan, here is the process we went through:

  • Chose a business name. This is one of the essentials. The business name is important but can be changed. We brainstormed, a few names came out, and we eventually settled on one which Sanika liked most.
  • Define the product. This activity took us most of the time we spent discussing the idea. It is critical to determine exactly what the product is and in what form it will be sold.
  • Determine a price. This was relatively easy because we researched competitors’ prices and positioned ourselves in the right bracket to make a profit while having enough resources to create maximum value.
  • Create a unique selling proposition (USP).¬†Here we defined exactly what it is that we will do and how that will be different from competitors and create value for our clients.
  • Find out how to accept payment.¬†With Square, Paypal, Google Checkout, and the host of other payment processing services out there, this is easier than ever. We will work with Square, simple UI and good reviews.
  • Create a marketing strategy. We did not go into details of marketing, even though this is the most important aspect of the business. But we thought about 5 simple ways we will spread the word in our community.
  • Determine success criteria. We decided what will be measured to establish that the business is being successful. Even though we thought about and discussed rapid growth and scaling up, we set our expectations very low for the first few months. That way it will not take much to keep us excited and going. We set our success criteria based on the number of customers as opposed to net income.
  • Discuss potential challenges. We played the devil’s advocate and poked holes into our business idea and business model. Then we came up with potential solutions and created a series of action steps to follow to mitigate those risks.

After going through each of the steps above, we gave ourselves assignments and agreed to meet again a week later to create marketing tools for the business. If you know of anyone who has a child with special needs and needs an affordable and experienced tutor, call my friend and business partner Sanika Lim on 562 208 8971.

Do you have any advice or suggestion that will help us in developing this business? What are your experiences?