How did you come to know about Toastmasters?
It was around July 2005 when I was online one night with my good friend Eugene Ng. We were chatting over MSN, generally bored and didn’t know what to do with our time. Then I recalled about ‘Toastmasters’ (that was briefly mentioned by my then girlfriend, Poh Lin) and ask Eugene if we wanted to ‘look and see’ what this Toastmasters is about. We went to Toastmasters International website, and found the closest club between us, D’Utama Toastmasters Club. We were impressed by the members of D’Utama and decided to challenge ourselves to be like them, and we joined in September 2005.
What motivated or inspired you to go on to pursue DTM status?
When I start something, I need to finish it. So when I became a Toastmaster, I read through the Toastmasters manuals, and what is freely available on the TI website. I then plotted the dates and places where I can offer myself to play roles and/or presenting a speech. It feels good when you know you’re learning and growing.
I remembered an old saying, “If you wish to fly with the eagles, don’t hang around turkeys”. The people whom I’ve met through Toastmasters directly and indirectly inspired me to grow. I wonder how it would feel to be standing on par with the ‘Giants’ in the movement – I still do.
How has Toastmasters helped you?
Prior to being a Toastmaster, I never had any problems communicating … with computer Chat programs (via IRC, ICQ or MSN) behind a computer screen. I was also not the kind of person who is able to start (face-to-face) conversations; others would need to approach me first to start with a ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ before I can say anything. I was in the IT line doing all the work behind the scenes – where when things are working, the bosses would think the machines are doing it “all by themselves”, and when things breakdown, they will say we are not doing our jobs.
After being in Toastmasters, I found my voice and was able to express my ideas more openly. With assistance and coaching within and outside of Toastmasters, I got into Project Management. Now I am able to meet clients and be confident when conveying my proposals and suggestions to them. The skills & traits I’ve learned gave me the confidences to pursue greater goals and to know how to take feedback positively (no matter how negatively it is delivered – hey not everyone are Toastmasters *smile*).
What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I love watching television shows, movies & anime. Here is where I find certain traits from the characters that believe I can learn from. For example, ‘Allan Shore in Boston Legal – check out the word usage & facial expression when he is arguing a case’, the movie ‘The Negotiator’ & the TV show ‘Lie to Me’ – understand the meaning of facial expression and body gestures, and animes such as ‘One Piece’ and ‘Hajime No Ippo’ – how stories are written & conveyed to give the maximum impact.
I also enjoy eating (I believe most club members would know that by now). I don’t mind spending good money on good food.
I found out recently I enjoy video-graphy too. I’m still sourcing the appropriate camcorder with my limited budget.
I enjoy developing people. Perhaps its part of the ‘Project Manager’ in me but I like to see people reaching their goals and surpassing their supposed limitations.
Who are some leaders you admire and why?
There are so many that impressed and inspired me, and to state a few;
- Lee Wei Seong, when in D’Utama, I had never heard him present speeches but when he evaluated formally (or informally), I was extremely impressed by his evaluation and sincere feedback to everyone. He would approach me after I have presented and offered (not impose) his opinion to me. An encouraging word or two can really make a difference. Then I told myself, that I need to emulate this man and am still trying to provide same kind of sincere care to other members like he did.
- Sharon Ng (DTM), one of the earlier DTM of D’Utama, this lady was able to convey her ideas and points to gracefully and gently, that even though she was to tell you to repeat a speech project, you would feel a great injustice towards YOURSELF. She always has a smile on her face, and while she would tell you she is serious, she can be a joker at heart. I miss her.
- LeAnn Tang (DTM) of Taman Indrahana TM. A very confident person who is always willing to help out when she can. I always tried to learn from her when she shares. Her forte is in the High Performance Leadership (HPL) and the fundamentals skills of communication. You’ll know you’ll have a firm foundation if she ‘approves’ of you.
- Soh Fong Wai (DTM). I thought this guy lives and breaths Toastmasters. His desire to learn and grow surpasses a lot of Toastmasters … he is a person who not only climbs the ladder but would attend a hand to bring you up with him. Thank you Fong Wai for your passions and also in keeping the ACM going.
There are many more in Toastmasters that have one way or another that helped shape me to who I am as a Toastmaster; G. Siva (DTM), Allen Kam, Teong Hock, Michelle Ng, Francis Ng (DTM) and many more from other clubs.
What advice would you give to a new Toastmaster?
In my opinion; the Best Evaluator is YOU – after a Role play or a Speech delivery, ask yourself ‘How did I do?’, if you’re sincerely & truly satisfied with your own performance, nothing anybody say is going to change the way you think. So, better set high personal standards.
Be proactive in your own development. Identify the people whom you want to learn from or emulate. Approach your mentor or the people whom you wish to learn from – most are willing to help but DO NOT DEMAND. In a Toastmasters meeting, we are just ‘Toastmasters’ regardless of your rank and file in your own respective ‘working world’. Everyone here is helping one another voluntarily and by the way, non-profit does not mean ‘charity’, if you do not have the time or commitment to play a certain role/position, do not deprive others from filling up the role/position but not contributing.
Lastly, it would be good to have a ‘running / gym buddy’. I was encouraged to grow through friendly competition with my friend, Eugene. We then attempted to complete the Competent Communicator manual properly within a year.
Now that you’re achieved DTM, what’s next for you?
Round 2. Being a DTM does not mean that I’m “there” (done). During my journey I found some of the things/traits/elements that are lacking in me (in terms of communication & leadership), and the activities that I thought could be done better (in & out of Toastmasters). Communication & leadership are skills that are developed by ‘doing’, so I have decided to go through the whole process again and go back to basic (all the way from CC & CL Project #1). I have already requested for a Speaking slot to do that.
While doing that, I’ll attempt the other Advanced Manuals that I have not attempted (6 down, 9 more to go), and re-do some those which I personally feel I have ‘failed’ in. I’ll also continue to offer my opinion and aid to those who seek it.