Three things happened on the evening of 07 October 2017. First, it was raining. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system broke down, right at Newton Station; where it’s the nearest station to Cairnhill Community Club (CC), was the second. It was later known there’s flooding in the tunnel between Bishan and Braddell station that resulted in 20 hours inoperable, longest in the system’s history.
Toastmasters International President, Balraj Arunasalam, DTM, presenting the Distinguished District and Excellence In Leadership awards to Immediate Past District Director, Patricia Lum, DTM, at Cairnhill Community Club
These two did not deter about 70 enthusiastic District 80 Toastmasters from attending the event held at Cairnhill CC, the third thing, where District 80 hosted Toastmasters International President, Balraj Arunasalam, DTM, to a meeting and a question and answer session.
DTM Balraj Arunasalam complimented Cairnhill CC for supporting and housing 9 Toastmasters Clubs. This, in his opinion, is worthy of a write-up in a Toastmaster Magazine. In his opening speech, he cited examples from events such as the 2007/8 Financial Crisis and the United States fire department during and after the 9/11 attack to highlight the importance of leadership – by keeping “people-first”.
Group photo at Cairnhill Community Club
Learning it the hard way (change everyone except himself), he came to realize changing for the better can only come from within oneself. This is the reason “people-first” is the philosophy he abides by. He described two examples of adopting this philosophy in his personal life and the result that follow; how he influenced his daughter to become a youth delegate in the United Nations representing Sri Lanka, and no loss of staff at his workplace for 10 years. He encouraged all Toastmasters present at the event to start adopting “people-first” philosophy at their own home Clubs, believing charity begins at home, realize Club mission and begin to change lives everyday.
During the question and answer, this people oriented philosophy by the International President (IP) is reverberated throughout the entire session. Beside assurances of Toastmasters International’s (TI) continued support to the old program after the introduction of Pathways, Toastmasters’ new education program (can consider doing both if Toastmasters had already received the old program’s new member kit, which ceased for Toastmasters who joined after 25 July 2017), members are encouraged to go thru the Navigation where you will learn everything about Pathways. Speaking from experience, IP has spent 4 hours on it. Pathways will continue to evolve, exploring areas unexplored, including translation to more languages whilst placing importance on the value that can be brought to the members.
Visiting SIM Mandarin Toastmasters
Impressed with IP’s Clubs creation records, Toastmasters on the floor asked for IP’s advises and thoughts on topics ranging from membership growth and retention, starting new Clubs, optimal size of Clubs and resolving conflicts. IP went on to relate how he did not lose a single Club for 9 years – that is by concentrating on strengthening the existing Clubs instead of starting Clubs for the sake of. Giving an example, if a Club is too large, it would be wise to split the Club – speaking demand is the litmus test to decide this.
A wonderful lunch session with District 80 Division Directors
Taking care of the old, young as well as the physically challenged, IP remarked Toastmasters activities keep mental activeness, a point to consider when thinking about how to keep aged Toastmasters. Works are also in progress by TI on growth of Gavel Clubs – focusing on youth leadership, a personal passion of IP too. As for the difficulties faced by the physically challenged on taking up projects in the Competent Leadership manual, IP will take this to the TI board to address. On selling Toastmasters to non-Toastmasters, IP encouraged Clubs in CCs to sit down with the CC authority to find out how to give back. Hence it will promote the organization as – not just about public speaking, but more on effective communication. In fact, some Toastmasters leave because there is no opportunity to give back. It is the giving that keeps them. Therefore it is part of effort to retain members too. And finally, to resolve conflicts, agree to disagree. 80% of problems are resolved by listening. Listening is important.
After the Division Z Humorous Speech & Evaluation Contests