The Toastmasters “Road To Vegas” event in London on Saturday left everyone – speakers and participants alike – glowing with human connection. It demonstrated the power of community, and why we give to our tribe.
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A lot of people don’t quite get Toastmasters.
Some of my Toastmasters friends don’t quite get those people who don’t get it (still with me?). As a Toastmaster and a marketer, it’s never really bothered me.
Why not? Because great brands can’t be all things to all people. Great brands do, however, resonate in the hearts and minds of the core believers.
To keep that brand resonance every day, the product itself has to deliver on the brand promise everyday. And, quite frankly, Toastmasters exceeds this every day. Toastmasters never stop(s) giving.
For vernacular clarity, let me be specific: Toastmasters — as a brand community — never stops giving. And Toastmasters — as members and individuals — never stop giving.
That’s why we’re a tribe. We’re believers, and we never stop giving. We just keep spreading the love.
Road To Vegas
When my two good friends and fellow Toastmasters, Antonio Meza and Thomas Rose, won their respective District 59 and District 95 International Speech Contests in Porto and Borås in May, something really cool happened.
Fellow Toastmasters from both of these districts in continental Europe (which were, until recently, one district) invited them to organized events in various cities so that they could practice these District Championship speeches leading up to the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking in August.
This took root on Facebook, and it blossomed into a multi-city, summer schedule that resembled a rock ‘n roll band’s tour. It even had a name, Road to Vegas. Brussels, Aachen and Paris fit everyone’s schedules, and within our tribe, Facebook went viral.
I saw this happening and, second mover or otherwise, I put out an invite to Antonio and Thomas. “Hey, dudes! If you can work in a trip to Switzerland, I’ll pull something together here. I know there will be local support from enough of our crazy friends to make it happen. Can you swing it?”
Now, Antonio lives in Paris and Thomas lives in Cologne. Money doesn’t grow on trees and time is finite, at least with regards to Las Vegas and the ever-approaching Toastmasters International Conference in August.
They graciously declined… and, sure, I was disappointed. Mind you, my disappointment was not centered on their obvious constraints. It was all about my desire to be a part of the tribal movement, my eagerness to contribute!
Lo and behold, and thanks to Facebook, Alex de Jong — a good friend, generous soul and UK-based Toastmaster — had already seen the Road To Vegas happening on the continent, and he wanted in on the action, too. Mind you, by “action,” I mean, he didn’t want to take. He wanted to give! And London was already in the schedule, and about to be posted.
Now here’s where the plot thickens, two-fold… and two-fold again!
Firstly, the two UK District Champions would, to no surprise, be included in the program — check that, they would co-star in the programme. (Note British spelling, right?) Jim Gregory and Jeremy Robinson are this year’s Toastmasters District Champions from the the UK (D71 and D91). Bring it on!
Secondly, each District Champion has to show up in Las Vegas with two competitive speeches. If they have the good fortune to win their semi-finals against nine other semi-finalists, they will go on to the finals two days later, and… they have to use another speech.
In case I’ve sinned and lost your attention here, this is not just any speech, but a speech for The World Championship of Public Speaking!!!
Say what? A new speech for The World Championships?
It almost sounds cruel, but there’s reason to the Toastmaster rhyme. Rhyme, reason or otherwise, for the speakers… it’s just wicked!
Put me in, coach!
Well, when the London Road To Vegas event was posted on Facebook, I immediately contacted Alex. “Great stuff, Alex. How can I be a part of it? How can I help?”
Here’s the paradox of generosity. Alex let me give!
“Brilliant,” he said. “It’s going to be a long afternoon. We need a Chairperson for the second part of the afternoon. We’d love to have you, and it would also be a way of balancing the continental contribution. Let’s get you over here!”
Be careful what you wish for, Jack.
I had inherited the task of hours of preparation, because we Toastmasters do not take event hosting lightly. I had just earned the right to wake up horribly early on a Saturday and a Sunday, for my low-budget outbound and return flights. And I was happier than a kid with his hands in the cookie jar.
So I titled my intro, Community, Contribution & Self-Actualization.
This is what great tribes are, I believe. A great tribe is a community of devoted believers. It gives us a stage, of sorts, to let us contribute. And through contributing, through giving, we get — we find part of our own identity, and we self-actualize.
P.S. What a fulfilling day we had in London… and a fun night!
Each of the four District Champs came to London with their second (World Championship!) speeches in development. They had started to write these speeches only in the past few weeks, and they hadn’t delivered them in front of a formal audience. Wicked!
Each Toastmaster/audience member provided direct feedback to the speakers on their District Championship speech for the semi-finals and on their World Championship speeches in development.
We were part of something big. How we would love to see any or all of the four speakers win in the semi-finals and go through to the finals. How we would love to see one of these four win… the World Championship of Public Speaking!
We were part of a tribe. We we were giving. We we were self-actualizing and part of a higher purpose.
And then we went across the street and partied in an English pub until midnight.
Yeah, tribes have rituals, and one of our Toastmasters’ rituals is to party hard!
No, some people don’t get Toastmasters, but don’t worry about us. We’ll be ok, thank you… a little bit crazy, but really ok.
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I help sales teams improve their performance by putting the “love” into the sales process. The tools and techniques vary, but the mindset is simply a heart-set. Contact me here if you’d like to set up a call to discuss your sales challenges and winning the hearts of your marketplace.
Oh yeah, I also help companies with their brand storytelling and pitches. We can talk about that, too, or we can talk about why Toastmasters is the ultimate tribe of givers.
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Photo by Selfie.
From left to right, The Continental Tribal Warriors: Me, District 95 Director Tuire Vuolasvirta, District 95 Champion Thomas Rose, District 59 Champion Antonio Meza.
Time: Round About Midnight.