Thursday, May 20, 2010

Inspiring moments at the Toastmasters District 15 Spring Conference

On May 14 and 15 I attended this conference at the Airport Holiday Inn in Boise. The theme was Desire to Inspire. The conference program cover had the following quotation from John Quincy Adams:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

I was inspired by encountering dozens of leaders, all self-motivated lifelong learners.

The most inspiring moment for me was watching the International Speech Contest. One of the contestants was Sid Smith, an 85 year old grandfather, who is just as old as Toastmasters International. Sid also is a Distinguished Toastmaster, and former District Governor and International Director. Next to me in the audience was Andrea Solis, a sixth grader, who was the youngest member of a Toastmasters Youth Group coached by the new Eagle Toastmasters club. Andrea was listening intently as Sid described a lesson he had learned from watching his grandson. In that room there were people interested in speaking whose ages covered a range of nearly 75 years. You can view Sid’s previous Division E contest speech from April 24 starting at the 71 minute point here.

The next most inspiring moment came during the awards ceremonies after dinner on Saturday. There was a spotlight parade of the Distinguished Toastmasters. Near the end of the parade, there was Sid Smith again. He was escorted (and supported) by Deborah Whitman. That’s what Deborah does – she supports all of us. Deborah was the conference chairman. Right now she also is Treasurer of Capitol Club. She previously has been Club President, District Public Relations Officer, and held many other roles including supporting two other clubs. Faye Jett also was a Distinguished Toastmaster, and handled the program on the conference committee. She also has been president of Capitol club, and held other offices including preceding me as Vice President – Education.

The third most inspiring moment was watching the officer elections at the district business meeting. As VP – Education for Capitol Club I was a delegate. The agenda included selection of eight officers. These all are unpaid volunteer positions, and call for an enormous time commitment. We did not just have a Stalinist rubber-stamping where delegates nodded and confirmed a single preselected candidate. Three of the eight officer positions were contested. There were two nominees for District Lt. Governor of Marketing. Also, both previous nominees for Division B Governor had to decline, but were replaced by a pair of nominations from the floor. The first vote was a tie, but a second vote finally produced a winner. The candidate who was not elected District Lt. Governor of Marketing was nominated from the floor for Division D District Governor, but also lost that election. We had a healthy (but lengthy) democratic process.

No comments: