Hearing the President Elect of Toastmasters speak…in person

Does seeing the President Elect of Toastmasters International speak sound interesting to you? What if I said that the leader of an organization of more than 345,000 people in 142 countries was coming to speak? Might you listen to that?

Would you want to see this gentleman speaker from the island country of Sri Lanka? What if I mentioned that this man would speak about how his country gained independence from Great Britain after World War II? Perhaps he will talk about how Sri Lanka recently freed itself of the ugliness of a 30-year Civil War in less than ten years ago. Would hearing about his experiences surviving the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake of 2012 interest you?

President Elect of TM 3

Today, I get to hear Balraj Arunasalam, Distinguished Toastmaster and president of an organization serving almost 350,000 others and me speak in my community about leadership, communication, service, and possibly some of the life experiences that formed his passion for all three of those interests.

President Elect of TM 2

Today’s events bring Mr. Arunaslam from Sri Lanka to my midwestern US community. For a volunteer organization in 142 countries, you can imagine that visiting us is a significant event. In addition to a keynote speech of more than an hour, Mr. Arunasalam will perform another hour of education for our club. Other educational events will be included in the day. A minting of Distinguished Toastmasters occurs today, as does a pair of contests for an area serving more than 100 of the over 15,000 clubs in the larger Toastmasters organization.

As a person that has spoken about Toastmasters International before, today is an exciting day.

Matt – Saturday, April 29, 2017


5,863-days to a new career

Today’s post has it’s beginning in early December last year when we had the Kleenex tissue meeting at my workplace. My colleagues and I were told over the course of the morning how my business unit had been sold in a fashion where the jobs would disappear in waves over the coming 18-months.

A small number of us with specific jobs other than my own would be given the opportunity to transfer over. Others would be asked to stay through the 18-months. Most of us would be provided with a 60-day notice and a severance package.

Unlike some of my colleagues, Lynn and I chose to keep this news pretty close to the vest. That is, I waited to see Lynn in person before sharing the news with her or the in-laws. Sharing Facebook friends with other less reticent people, Lynn captured knowledge of the news before my chance to look her in the eye and address concerns that you’d expect to appear in this case. Overall, Lynn understood my rationale and accepted the news pretty well. To this day, the means of sharing the news coupled with sharing my plans for working the problem pragmatically worked. Focusing on accepting the fact of the setback while acknowledging that it hurt seemed to have offered a sense of normalcy and optimism.

Through the time since, Lynn and I have updated our LinkedIn profile, become acquainted with Glass Door, Zip Recruiter, and Indeed as services. We worked with the displacement services to finesse a more professionally written resume; much has changed in the approach to resumes in the 16-years since landing the job I was losing. I reached out to people across my current industry, from school, in Toastmasters. The idea was to network with resilience and a positive demeanor with those in a position to help.

The decisive turn in finding our next opportunity came about three weeks ago when a former boss responded with his willingness to help. In less than a week, I had interviewed with five different people while passing a skills assessment with this company. Over the weekend that then appeared, the group that wanted to hire me extended an offer. Yesterday, news came back that my background check went well. My new role will start in 10-calendar days.

Today was the end of my 60-day notice period. The job I learned would disappear in December ended today, after 16-years and roughly 2.5-weeks. Next week, I get a “spring break” of sorts as I get to enjoy some relaxation before starting in full force in my new adventure. Today, as I joined many of my colleagues in saying goodbye on our respective last day, is emotionally sad, bittersweet, and a chance for saying farewell after 5,863 days.

Life happens. You feel sad, deal with the feelings, and then use the hurt to focus on moving forward. Lynn and I are happy that things are working out for us. Things are working better for us than for others; I am extending help and empathy where I can. Offer thanks for good fortune and support where possible; do the same with a helping hand where practical.

Matt – Friday, March 31, 2017

Meekness Onions and Toastmasters

While considering a blog that has discussed landing on the moon, car purchasing approaches, books, movies, football board games, or how Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25th, it might seem odd to see a post encouraging the emotional literacy that I’ve come to know from my time learning to speak publicly, as an adult, through an organization called Toastmasters International.  https://www.toastmasters.org/

A longer term goal that I have had professionally has been to lead processes and people, which can be a funny concept to people that understand my ISFJ personality type as revealed by this personality test:  https://www.16personalities.com/

Think about being led by Vin Diesel, Beyoncé Knowles, Halle Berry, or Selena Gomez … All are reliable folks that bring loyalty and enthusiasm to supporting others, though a tendency to meekness, frustration, and an aversion to change do not suggest a propensity for leading people through situations where leadership should prevail.

Affording me the opportunity to take leadership roles in my Toastmasters club, speaking regularly has offered me the chance to confront feelings of meekness, humility, and an unwillingness to speak out about things that I know are wrong. The first step in getting comfortable with change is to think through changes that I want to make in the world, and then speaking about them.

Toastmasters has offered me the opportunities to push the limits of my personality type. My tendency towards meekness may never change, though continuing to accept that things must remain unchanged with no effort to grow is a choice. Toastmasters, for one thing, allows me to peel back layers of timidity in my “meekness onion.”onion

Right now, I am taking satisfaction from actual growth that I can see in my willingness “to put myself out there.” Peeling one ring of the onion, right now that ring is practicing the technique of confronting my timidness. Further growth may get me to the leadership goal of leading process(es) and/or people. At the core of this onion, Toastmasters International is helping me getting to the core of that goal.

Matt – Wednesday, January 4, 2017