Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:05

Robots and Remarkable Results

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It was bound to happen.

The members that attended the 2016 Founder’s District Fall Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Cerritos, CA were bound to feel full and satisfied once the festivities were completed.

No, it wasn’t the chicken marsala, caesar salad, vegetable lasagna, steamed vegetables, bread, tiramisu, chocolate-covered strawberries and cookies that filled attendees up, although that didn’t hurt.

Rather, it was all the wonderful benefits of Toastmasters the attendees were reminded of and all the nuggets of wisdom they received from the keynote speaker of the day, Craig Valentine, as well as the Communication and Leadership award recipient, USC roboticist, Maja Mataric.

In regards to the keynote speech provided by Craig, the first thing that was very apparent about him is how keenly he understands how to be an effective leader, which was a great discussion point for Toastmaster members who are well aware that Toastmasters is where leaders are made. He discussed the differences between average leaders and great leaders with this nugget of wisdom being the one that tied that part of his address together:.

“Average leaders place blame. Above average leaders take it. They also share credit and take blame.”

There were all sorts of other nuggets, but what he stated above is really the crux of how effective leaders work. It’s one of the primary benefits of being involved in Toastmasters leadership at any level because the more responsibility you take and the more credit you share, the more opportunities you will have to grow in and out of Toastmasters.

Craig even threw in some sales training in which he mentioned that when it comes to selling, which every leader has to do, the key to success in that is knowing what to do and what not to do.

“Never sell a product. Only sell the results.”

Apply that to selling Toastmasters to a prospective member in the following scenarios:

Scenario #1: “Toastmasters offers opportunities to its members to give prepared speeches, impromptu speeches as well as evaluations and to be evaluated by other members as part of his or her development as a public speaker and leader.”

As one can see, that scenario is rich in describing some of the features of being in Toastmasters. However, no results were offered as part of describing those features.

Scenario #2: “Involvement in Toastmasters is going to dramatically improve your public speaking and leadership skills to the point where you’ll develop prepared speaking, impromptu speaking and evaluation skills that will lead to furthering your career no matter what it is, which will have a positive impact on your lifestyle and the lives of the people in your life.”

As Craig said, never sell the product. Only sell the results.

Of all the nuggets of wisdom to take away from Craig’s keynote address and the after-lunch workshop he conducted as well, below is the main one that every Toastmaster should take to heart as part of becoming the most impactful public speaker and leader they can be:

“Craft a story and make a point.”

The story is how the speaker is going to initially connect with the audience. The point the speaker makes about the story is what the audience can take with them and apply to their daily lives. That’s the crux of effective public speaking that was very simply put by Craig in a way that was easy for each attendee to understand and run with right away. He also discussed the importance of developing a foundational phrase of 10 words or less in order to be crystal clear as to what the message is the speaker wants the audience to heed to their own benefit. That’s because, as Craig put it so eloquently:

“No phrase. No stage.”


In terms of Maja’s presentation on robotics, she addressed a concern that every human being has in regards to robots being used more and more to do the work that sometimes human beings aren’t interested in doing, particularly from the standpoint of physical work. It points out that human beings have gotten much too reliant on technology, especially as a means of communicating with others.

As such, she is working on a major undertaking of developing socially-assistive robotics.
Believe it or not, these are robots that will help human beings who are a little uncomfortable communicating with others in more traditional ways become more comfortable in terms of traditional interpersonal and public communication.

As Maja put it, “If we aren’t social beyond a screen, we’re dead.”

She even provided startling statistics on strokes in which she pointed out there are about 800,000 strokes per day. She predicted those numbers will double in the next 5 years because of how increasingly sedentary we are becoming in society in which we spend the majority of the day in front of screens whether sitting in front of a computer at work, at home, at Starbucks, or constantly looking at our smartphones for the latest updates on our friends’ lives, checking email or looking for information on something of interest like sports, business or politics.

What these 2 critical aspects of the 2016 Founder’s District Fall Conference point to is the best reason to join and get fully involved in all aspects of Toastmasters from attending club meetings to attending district events and everything in between. That’s because members are constantly being trained and reminded of how much of an edge they are gaining by committing themselves to Toastmasters through the non-stop nuggets of wisdom they gain and can apply to their lives no matter what event they may attend. At the end of the day, every Toastmasters event is time well spent because there’s is always plenty of new nuggets of wisdom to learn and even more to be excited about.

In recognizing the award and contest winners, those special Toastmasters are mentioned below:

Evaluations Contest Winner: Ed Smith from Humor Masters Toastmasters.

Humorous Speeches Contest Winner: Don Le from Unimasters.

Roy D. Graham award winner that goes to the area director that had the most area members present at the conference: Area D-3 Director, Scott Friedman.

Spirit of Excellence award winners for overall excellence and dedication to the Toastmasters program: Norm Cook and Linda Robinson

Gene Beckwith Award winner for exemplifying humor, wisdom and leadership in the name of
Toastmasters: Ede Ferrari D’Angelo, IPID, DTM

Congratulations to all the winners!

On to the 2017 Founder’s District Spring Conference, which will take place on April 22, 2017 at the Sheraton Hotel in Cerritos. It’s going to be a must-attend for all Founder’s District members as well as members of the new Century District

Read 4308 times Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:21
Steve Itzkowitz

I would summarize myself as a driven and determined individual who takes life seriously, but not too seriously, and who believes in the concept of working hard and playing hard. At the end of the day, success isn't about what you have. It's about what you give.


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