Education Blog

An Early Start to Success: Tips for Achieving Distinguished Club Status

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Carlos V

The Distinguished Club Program (DCP) is a set of goals developed by Toastmasters International
to help clubs achieve education, membership and administrative objectives. Crystal City Evening Toastmasters (CCET) met our first goal of becoming a distinguished club very early in the program year. In fact, we were the first club in District 27 to do so and it is the earliest that CCET has accomplished this goal in the last decade.Toastmasters International has found that Distinguished clubs tend to be successful, fun, strong clubs of which members enjoy being a part.  Members of these clubs are completing Traditional manuals and Pathways levels, and receiving recognition for their achievements. Distinguished clubs are continually growing and improving. These are essential steps for achieving a Distinguished club status. We also know that early planning is best. At CCET the officers mapped out objectives for the club in our Club Success Plan early in the program year. Achievement of these goals is well underway.

Toastmasters International has found that Distinguished clubs tend to be successful, fun, strong clubs of which members enjoy being a part.  Members of these clubs are completing Traditional manuals and Pathways levels, and receiving recognition for their achievements. Distinguished clubs are continually growing and improving. These are essential steps for achieving a Distinguished club status. We also know that early planning is best. At CCET the officers mapped out objectives for the club in our Club Success Plan early in the program year. Achievement of these goals is well underway.

For example, we have recruited nine new members since July 1st and our hope is to increase our membership by five percent from our base membership last year. We also had an objective of having 100% of all active members register for Pathways by the end of the year, supporting our education goals. We currently have 66% of our members registered which is a strong indication that our club is actively engaged in the Pathways journey. By the end of November we are slated to have five of our six education goals met through the Pathways program. At CCET we also believe that becoming a Distinguished club means that we lead by example. Our officers were sworn in with the Toastmasters’ Promise in mind. We signed off on the Promise formally through a pledge that we would fulfill our commitment through service to the membership and the District. Within CCET we have three members who serve as Area Directors and they have all eagerly volunteered to support Area and Division contests as well as TLI sessions, in addition to the District Fall Conference. I have the honor of serving as the TLI Dean for District 27 and as a Pathways Guide for Districts 27 and 36. This level of service is leading by example and our members rise to the occasion
when we engage them for club meetings and District-wide events.

In addition, we pride ourselves in creating a supportive and welcoming environment where a strong diversity of members feel comfortable taking risks, challenging themselves to grow, and sharing their successes with others. The officers are also committed to act within the Toastmasters’ core values of integrity, respect, service and excellence while conducting all Toastmasters activities. Our values serve
as a guide to achieving our DCP goals as they serve as another measure of our success. The success we are experiencing this year as a club starts within our leadership but is sustained by our members. We have a “can do” attitude that is making our club thrive. We hope to sustain this level of commitment and success by integrating a new mentor program that will foster future leadership. In summary, our early success within the DCP is based on three simple tips:

● Early planning
● Lead by example
● Exemplify core values
I am convinced that our success this year will be replicated for next year as we have established a pathway for ongoing growth and results-driven leadership.

 

The Ethical Toastmaster

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Carlos V

The Ethical Toastmaster

Carlos Velazquez

Helen Keller reminds us that “the most pathetic person is someone who has sight but no vision.”  A vision that is built on ethics is of great value.  It is a position that should be adopted by all clubs as per the core values of Toastmasters.  Integrity is a core value we take to heart at Crystal City Evening Toastmasters in the manner in which we manage our meetings; support our members’ growth; and conduct our business. 

We work as a team to hold one another accountable and support each other to get things done.  This sense of support and flexibility is an important attribute to leadership. The longer we sustain our membership in Toastmasters the more such leadership skills become second nature.  Recently, I observed members quickly responding to a need to fill meeting gaps when a couple of our members were unable to fulfill their roles.  Their responsiveness was immediate and seamless so the meeting flowed beautifully.  This is great teamwork and demonstrates our capacity to get the job done beyond any challenges.

We also honor the system that was created to foster growth which means that we trust in one another and build self confidence in following the program that Toastmasters has built to master many communications and leadership skills.  Growth comes in many forms and for some members that means that they move towards becoming highly competent and professional speakers for others that may translate to organizing a special event such a club contest or summer picnic.  No matter the level of mastery, the level of effort is valued as members grow in their abilities.  Trust is an important part of that process.

At Crystal City Evening Toastmasters we demonstrate our trust in one another by being supportive in the evaluation process.  We take risks as speakers and leaders and we trust that fellow members will guide us through lessons learned and self-reflection.  Our ability to listen to feedback and to accept our room for improvement has much merit.  Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us that a great person is always willing to be little.  Such a person will stand tall in our club as we foster an environment where we can serve, learn and grow together. 

The ethical Toastmaster is one who adopts the value of integrity while following the formal and informal programs and practices of our club.  Ethical Toastmasters trust themselves and the contributions of their fellow members and wear their membership with pride as they advance their club’s capacity and of their own.

Blog for District 27

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Carlos V

BLOG FOR DISTRICT 27

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.