After 20 years with the same company, it sold, and I was out the door; 60 years old, out on the street, resume in hand, looking for work. My self-esteem gone.
When I was about at my lowest, a good friend asked me to attend a Toastmaster meeting with him. I told him, 'I need a job, not a meeting.' But he kept asking. Finally, I decided to humor him and gave in. That morning changed my life.
When we got to the meeting, I found the room bursting with positive energy. These people seemed going somewhere in life. I left that meeting with a membership application in hand and my heart was beating again.
I joined, and jumped in with both feet, achieving my Competent Communicator pin in short order. As I did, my self-confidence began to return. And something else: an old ambition of mine was awakened. I had always wanted to start my own business, applying some of my own ideas and using my new Toastmasters skills.
After a year with Toastmasters, and my wife's total support, I begged, borrowed from our IRA and a good friend, and started my own Company.
I had to get out and sell people on my idea and convince them to buy it and become part of my company. I held meetings all over California. I spoke everywhere and anywhere I could get in the door - service clubs, chambers of commerce, - sometimes 3 times a week.
My Toastmasters experience was pushing me forward!
Once I recruited franchisees, I had to go back to their offices and train their sales team using all the skills I learned at Toastmasters. Where did I get the courage and confidence to do it? You got it: Toastmasters!
One thing I know: Whatever your ambition, if you want to be the best you can be, you will never outgrow your need for Toastmasters.