A delay in my flight brought me home in the wee hours of today, vs. last night. After 5 days in Vegas, or at least inside of the Bally's hotel, I'm glad to be home. I have so much to talk about - I could write a post a day on the convention. Since most of my readers are NOT Toastmasters, however, I will refrain, and simply do a quick run-down on everything from the politics to the pomp and circumstance to the contests.
|2011 World Champion|
I didn't place in my semi-final. Other than my disqualification in 2005 for time, I had always taken 1st or 2nd in the semi round, so this is a new feeling. The person I thought had won took second, Michael Desiderio. Kwong Yue Yang won the contest, and finished 2nd in the finals, to Jock Elliott. I did not attend the finals - but I give all credit to Jock, who has competed for 27 years, and been to the Finals 6 times. Jock - you're finally done, and on top after all this time! (Jock and I shared the Finals stage in 2006 and 2008 - technically I 'beat' him in 2006 by taking 3rd....hmm, does that mean....no, not really!)
I learned a lot this year, and saw a lot of differences in the new format of semis vs. Regions. A difference in judging, in speech quality, in energy. Still, I think the new format is fair to all involved. Results are always debatable in such a subjective contest.
| 2011 Int'l President |
The more I hear about Dan Rex, our organization head, the more I am convinced he is a calm and reasonable man with a love for the organization, as opposed to the megalomaniac he is occasionally portrayed as on LinkedIn by dissatisfied members. Our new President, Michael Notaro, is a good man, and a friend - I'm sure we'll continue to make progress over the next 12 months toward the betterment of TI.
Yes, dues went up, and people are ticked. The Board admitted up front they could have announced it in a better way than they did. That horse is out of the barn. If you're a member of one club, and can't save an extra $1.50/month for Toastmasters, frankly, it's not important enough to you, or you probably should be spending your money elsewhere. I know what it's like to be broke - so this doesn't come from a viewpoint of wealthy entitlement. If you're a member of multiple clubs, and can afford them now, you can probably save that 1.50 a week to stay in your four clubs. One less coffee, 6 less cigarettes, one less fast food burger. Or drop a club and just attend - they'll probably be happy to have you be a part of their group anyway, if you are providing value and have another group (or four) that you regularly attend.
TI membership may see a lull this year - hopefully the board took those risk factors into account.
Honestly - I'm not a fan. The logo is growing on me a bit, but I am a traditionalist, and the gavels and such on the old logo were great. But I'm not exactly in their target audience anymore, and the new colors and graphics will likely work just fine.
The Leadership push, however, leaves me frustrated in three ways.
1. We are no more a leadership organization today than we were a week ago. The rebrand to 'Where Leaders are Made' was not accompanied by a new program, manual set, etc.
2. Speaking seems to be secondary now, a component of leadership, instead of an end in itself. We used to be a speaking organization. Then we became a Communication and Leadership group. Now we're a Leadership Training Professional Organization, where speaking is but a cog in a bigger machine.
3. Our marketing will be a bait and switch. Come be a leader, we say. But once you enter a meeting, it's 85% speaking, 15% leading. The focus of the club, the format, the activities, are all centered on speeches and speaking, with leadership facilitating the speaking. Now our branding implies the opposite. What will companies and individuals think after finding out the reality behind the brand?
For me, I'd like to see our leadership component strengthened, certainly, and sit side-by-side with speaking. Equal parts to a bigger cause - Changing the World Through Leadership and Communication. But that's too long for a business card, I suppose.
The Convention Itself...
Well put together, strong ed sessions, and, for the most part, uplifting. Dr. Dave Logan was wonderful as a speaker in the Opening Ceremony - good message on the Invention of Ideas as a Speaker being a lost art. Toastmasters gave each of us a copy of his book, Tribal Leadership, as part of the rebranding push toward leadership.
The other major speaker, Robin Sharma, our Golden Gavel recipient, left me cold. Full of platitudes and cliches, it seemed like he was trying to get in and out of the event as quickly as possible. Equally disappointing was the applause he received in the middle of his speech for the use of a particularly hackneyed story about putting a puzzle together from a torn up magazine page, where the little kids say "put the person together on the other side of the page, and the world comes together on the other side". Groan. We as Toastmasters should be a bit more discerning....
Still, a tremendous experience over 4 days. Eye-opening in many ways. For first-timers, they were able to truly appreciate the breadth of our organization, both geographically and educationally.
Toastmasters is a wonderful organization that does a tremendous amount of good for over 200,000 people around the globe each day. It has its shortcomings, its detractors, and its 'haters'. Any organization made of people, and making a difference, WILL. It means that you're doing something right. It may not be perfect - but I know of no other organization that does more for less than Toastmasters - and I'm proud to be a member.