Carlos V


Carlos Velazquez

Change is not easy.  Change can be confronted with resistance or uncertainty.  Nonetheless change is inevitable.  I went through a change when I switched to a new car that had many features, accessories, and innovations.  I was told that I was “not driving, but hosting an experience.”  The same can be espoused for the change I experienced in becoming a Pathways Guide. 

I became a host of a new kind of ride.   

I was asked in a very sweet and persuasive manner that I should assume the responsibility of becoming a Pathways Guide.  At first, I was resistant and I turned down the offer.  Finally I received enough pleas for help that I accepted the challenge as my guilt got the best of me.

I soon discovered that driving a new car is very much like learning the Pathways program.  I learned that the ignition switch which is now a button on my dashboard is like the website for Toastmasters International.  I learned that 70% of Toastmasters never visit the website and establish a profile for themselves.  That was a key message during my site visits as a Pathways Guide.  Turn on the engine.  Visit the Toastmasters website.

Secondly, at the car dealership I was introduced to the owner’s manual, control panel and touch screen that have many features that support the comfort of my ride.  Similarly, I was introduced to the Navigator, a digital orientation, and Base Camp which is the online gateway to the Pathways experience.  Base Camp supports a member’s educational and leadership journey as they work on projects, track progress, connect with members from their club, view badges and certificates and access several resources that will ultimately make their ride smoother and innovative.

My car came with a service team dedicated to keeping my vehicle’s performance maintained.  Every 3,000 miles I get a text, call, and e-mail reminding me that it is time to visit the service team.  As a Pathways Guide I was part of a larger support team that included Ambassadors, World Headquarters (WHQ) staff, fellow Guides and some District team members who came together to support members into a change that allowed for customized learning and professional growth.

Change is not easy. 

I did face some resistance.  I did encounter some hesitancy and doubt from other members.  I had one hostile confrontation.  Nonetheless, I stayed focused on the destination and I found comfort in the encouragement from WHQ staff rewarding as I moved forward with my “change plan” or road map.

At the core of my plan was communication.  How I framed the change was well received.  The metaphor to a car-buying experience made the narrative relatable—less threatening.  I emphasized the metaphor in the way I set up the Virtual Support Sessions (VSS) and the manner in which I sought out the support of fellow Guides to co-moderate several sessions.  Several Guides became a part of the Pathways service team.   

It was important to set up for transitions as part of my change plan so I encouraged the clubs I visited that they should select a VP for Pathways to plan for a smooth transition of a new VPE for the new program year.  I assumed the role of VPE for Crystal City Evening Toastmasters and I have been mentoring a new VPE for Old Town Toastmasters which has boosted opportunities for early adoption of Pathways.  The new VPEs have become the navigators for change. 

Lastly, I decided to map out three virtual support sessions to allow newly elected officers in July to be exposed to the Pathways experience in collaboration with the outgoing VPEs and Presidents.  The level of interest and motivation is rewarding and I think in the long run we will witness a shift in the uptake for Pathways at the District level especially as TLIs have included three separate training electives from some of the Guides and Ambassadors.

I am truly hosting a new kind of ride and I am glad to be a part of a service team that is making change a smoother and innovative experience.