Tuesday, 12 September 2017 01:15

2017 Division Director of the Year - Cliff Shimizu

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How does a software engineer who can spends hours in the dark, playing video games, alone, without moving a muscle... become an inspiring speaker, a master of the stage, a Contest Master, an empowering leader and a motivational force in the success of others?

Let me tell you that story... it will inspire you, it will encourage you, and it will make you want to stand up and cheer!!!

Yes fellow Toastmasters! Let me tell you about the journey of Cliff Shimizu, ACS, CL - a journey that began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

In 1998 two seasoned and influential Toastmasters in Founder's District (Avis French, CL and Colette Gardner, DTM, PDG) were working at Unisys, as was Cliff. They were rebooting the corporate "Unimasters" club and suggested (in their typical gentle way) that Cliff join them to be a Charter Member. With an understanding that Cliff's manager had encouraged him, AND that Cliff's office mate was none other than Mitchell Knight - another seasoned veteran in Founder's District and President of the club - of course Cliff agreed.

Cliff knew enough about himself to understand how beneficial this first step would be ... he felt comfortable in one-one situations, but large groups made him freeze! He focused on the development of his speaking skills, never thinking about leadership - he was happy giving speeches. Of course he held club officers roles - he was among friends and colleagues at Unimasters, that was his comfort zone; he worked with them everyday - no stretch to help manage the club by taking a role now and again...

Cliff was very happy with this state of affairs - for 17 years he was happy with his journey.

Something changed in 2015... as was often the case, the incoming Division Director asked if Cliff would be an Area Director. Cliff's answer had always been an unequivocal "No". But this year, he said "YES".

What happened.... was it that Cliff had a change in career, maybe a mid-life crisis, or did they just wear him down with the question year after year? We may never know exactly what he was thinking, but we do know he has great respect for Marie-Noelle Palermo, ACB, ALB; he wanted to work with her and her Division G team; he was just beginning to see that the whole is so much more than the parts - that every club member contributes to the larger organization by inspiring and supporting others. Saying "Yes" was the catalyst Cliff needed to stretch his leadership wings, test the water, expand the envelope, step outside the box - you know what I mean - take that first step into District Leadership!!!!!

Cliff knew he would be challenged in this new leadership role, but he also knew three things would help him succeed: 1) his mentors (Avis and Colette) would encourage and support him; 2) Marie-Noelle was a proven leader and would provide the vision and leadership for a successful Division G team; 3) Ann Shimizu, DTM was also going to be an Area Director that same year... how could he fail?!?!

Cliff's success as Area Director that year (2015-2016) extended beyond the reports, the training, the meetings and the contests... what he learned about himself, about working beyond his personal boundaries, about how to mentor and inspire others, about the acts of leadership - this experience instilled in him the drive to see beyond his own needs and objectives and to focus on the development and success of others. It instilled more deeply in him the idea of and the practice of servant leadership.

Then, a funny thing happened... In the Spring of 2016, the Spirit of Excellence award recipient delivered a game changing statement that transformed how Cliff saw his own Toastmasters journey. He heard a phrase that resonated with him then and continues to drive his commitment to servant leadership. The speaker said "I had taken so much. It was time I gave back."

Cliff turned to Ann and said: "We should run (for Division G Director)!"

Ann's practical reply: "Why both of us?" Cliff: "Because it will be FUN!!!!!"

What happened to the dark room and video monitor as your only friend? After 18 years Cliff saw the light - giving back as a servant leaders was now his passion.

Born in that moment was the TRIO approach to Division G: Cliff, Ann, and Raymond (McCullough) all ran - no matter who would win - they would act as a trio in driving Division G success... well, we all know how that turned out. And yes, the Trio approach to leadership for Division G worked flawlessly. With a combined vision, Cliff's pursuit for inclusive leadership, and an outstanding crew of Area Directors, Division G soared into success as a President's Distinguished Division - that is how to define leadership!

Cliff spoke to his Division council each month about his leadership passions, his expectation for pushing boundaries, how to reach for success, his inspiration for mentoring others - his message could not have been clearer; it resonated with each Area Director - the results speak for themselves.

Now that his term as Division Director is complete, his leadership goal has shifted ever so slightly.... he no longer cares to pursue success in his own interest, but rather - in the true sense of a servant leader - his joy is to encourage and support others in their pursuit of excellence.

Cliff - We applaud you! We cheer for you, and for those whose journey you have inspired. We ask you to continue to be the leader, mentor and visionary you became once you stepped outside of your comfort zone. The District awaits you...

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 22:27

2017 Area Director of the Year - Mike Sato

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Founders District is very pleased to announce that Mike Sato, Area G3 Director, is the Founder’s District 2016-17 Area Director of the Year.

"Mike's dedication and commitment went above and beyond what I have seen from other area directors. He visited his clubs several times throughout each 6 month period," said nominator and Division G Director, Cliff Shimizu.  "He delivered trophies to our area and division contest winners and worked diligently to ensure the success of each club."

Sato addressed challenges in his area with dedication and commitment. Three of his four clubs faced relocation of their meeting sites in the past year and Mike was directly responsible for arranging a new meeting location for one of those clubs.

Despite the challenges, Mike's area is currently distinguished. Two of his clubs have the DCP points to be distinguished and only need a few more members to be at charter strength.

Faced with a particularly struggling club in his Area, Ziggurat 425, Mike joined the club as a member, even though this would preclude him from receiving credit as a club coach.  The club had 8 members before Sato joined and now has 15 members and became a Select Distinguished club. 

According to Shimizu, "Mike was committed to helping the club and made them commit to rebuilding their club. He worked with the club and the members worked hard as a result. He pulled in the support of the division and nearby clubs to boost the attendance and speakers at the club. Members of the club were helping at the Fall Contest as functionaries and by the Spring Contest, the club was sending contestants".

"The turnaround," said Shimizu "has been nothing short of remarkable."

Mike not only led the turnaround of the club, he recorded his efforts in the form of a case study which he voluntarily wrote up. 

Mike is now involved in the process of chartering the Ware Malcomb club. This prospective club needs only three more applications to charter. The club has already started conducting their own meetings, beginning on June 2nd, 2017.

In addition to his tireless work with his clubs, Division Director Cliff Shimizu noted several occasions where Mike assisted his Division. "Mike also jumped in as the Division G Chief Judge when past district governor, Colette Gardner, was no longer able to attend due to her medical condition. He also aided Division F as their area contest chief judge, and helped guide Jean Tanquary as a brand new chief judge for the division contests", Shimizu said.

At the end of the day, Mike left no stone unturned as he helped build a new club within his area while assisting his established clubs in achieving excellence. 

Founders District congratulates Area G3 Director, Mike Sato, for his outstanding work with his area and for his inspiring leadership by example.

Sunday, 09 July 2017 00:05

Welcome 2017-2018

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What a journey this has been. For me, and for you as well. Because my story is not unlike your story. When I walked in to my very first Toastmasters meeting, I never dreamed in a million years that I would be where I am today, that I would learn what I have learned today, or that I would feel what I feel today.

I will never forget my first year as an area governor. That is a special time for any Toastmaster, one that will change your life one way or another. It was there that I met some of the most influential people in my life. Many of you have shaped me over the years. Some old friends, some new friends, and some who I hope to become friends. Each one of you in some way, big or small, has had a lasting impact on me. Sometimes it was your helpful suggestion, or a nod of approval, your show of support. But most of the time it was your kind words of recognition, and many times it was in the way I saw you offer a kind word to someone else who needed it. And that’s made all the difference.

Think about all of the situations in your own journey that has helped to get you where you are today. Was it completing a communication manual? Or a leadership level? Was it winning a trophy at a speech contest? Or being a part of committee chair and challenging yourself to do something you didn’t think you were capable of doing? All of these things are nice, but I think what made the most difference in your life, and in mine, is the kind words of friends.

A kind word is the most powerful force in the universe. Kind words have not built our skyscrapers, or highways, or any booming metropolis. Kind words did not usher in the technology that built the internet, that saves lives, and makes the planet a better place to live. Kind words didn’t do any of that, but kind words built the men and women behind those great accomplishments. Kind words can move mountains.

This year, we intend to move mountains. Together we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible. I have the benefit of following some of the smartest and wisest people I know. Each of you in some way have contributed to building my character and into the person I am today. Years ago when I was an Area Governor I had no idea what I was doing. Today, I am confident – confident that I still have no idea what I’m doing but at least now I know I am surrounded by friends who won’t let me fail. I have learned a lot over the years from some very special people and past district governors. Starting with Celly Adamo, may God rest her soul, the only District Governor to have all 8 divisions presidents distinguished. Celly taught me to think big and to respect others beliefs and opinions. Her year was distinguished.

Alanda Dyer showed me how to laugh and be resilient under pressure. She also showed me how the power of kindness and kind words can make a big impact on so many people.

Bob Hudack taught me to find the hidden talents in people and direct others toward their natural talents.

Maira Pineda taught me to be extraordinary, to find your inner light and let it shine.

Ede, Distinguished District Governor, Ede, taught me how to inspire others and lead by example. Ede is a beacon of light for all of us to follow.

Distinguished District Governor Wes Hoover, saw the big picture but also cared about the experience of each and every member. Wes taught me to see the good in all people.

And Victoria Dotson, someone very special to me, near and dear to my heart. Victoria taught me not to be afraid to take chances. Leaders are not always right, but you can never go wrong if you follow your heart. And Victoria is all heart.

Calm and methodical, Harry Yan, the only Select Distinguished District Governor in Founder's District. Harry taught me to remain focused on the mission. Never lose focus.

Linda Ulrich, always there with a hug and a smile. Linda helped me to recognize the human element in all that we do.

Pan Kao, helped me to realize that we are not super human with super powers. We are just people all working together to make this world a better place to live.

And finally, Siri, a master delegator. How she does all the things she does so well I may never know, but I hope to learn someday.

I’m someone who embraces change. Change is exciting for some but scary for others. The world is always changing. Toastmasters is changing, and we must change as well or suffer. Experience has taught me how important it is to remain laser focused on our mission – to build new clubs and support all clubs to achieve excellence.

What then, about the members? Members are the foundation of our district. Without members we are nothing. Strategies and policies do nothing to instill any real change in the lives of the members. I alone can have little impact on the greater population of our district. But each of you can move mountains, by giving all members the same thing you have given me – a kind word. A kind word is all it takes and doesn’t cost a thing.

Be generous with your kind words. Give a kind word to every guest that walks into your club meeting. Give a kind word to every speaker in your club, to your club leaders, to your club’s future leaders. Give kind words to your Area Directors and Division Directors who work so hard for you. Give kind words to your mentors, your mentees, your friends, your colleagues, those you agree with and those you disagree with. Give kind words with reckless abandon and more importantly, be sincere. Change one person’s life with one kind word, and you’ve changed the world.

Founder’s District hasn’t been Presidents Distinguished in almost 40 years. It’s an ambitious goal, but hey, let’s think BIG! Let’s not be afraid to take chances. Let’s enhance our natural talents and be extraordinary. Stay focused on the mission and above all be generous with our kindness to others, give a hug, give a smile, give a kind word. And let’s be Presidents Distinguished Again!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 22:06

Siri's Farewell

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SiriPayakapan3It's has been an honor serving you, as your District Director this year. Collaborating with our leadership team to guide the 13th-largest-number-of-clubs-District in the world, has expanded my horizon in more ways than I have imagined.

Here is my story.

Leadership opportunities, from Club, to Area, to Division, to District, have transformed me from a quiet, private person to a confident leader of 4,500+ members.

I am grateful to Harry Yan, DTM, PDG, who “saw something in me,” and encouraged me to serve as Assistant Division Governor, LACE Co-Chair, and Public Relations Officer.

With each leadership “learning by doing” experience, and Harry Yan as my Advisor, my skills grew and I gained the confidence to campaign and win elections for District’s top three Directorships.

I have grown exponentially, developing fresh insights into District leadership dynamics. Diverse points of view enlightened my perspective. My Toastmaster passion has deepened.

This has been a historic year: we reformed ourselves into two districts, thanks to effective collaboration among 71 District Executive Committee members, assistant directors, chairs of various committees, and especially members.

As a leadership team we:

  • “Remembered the Members”
  • Upheld Toastmasters International core values: Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence.

I am proud of our accomplishments for the long term strength of both Founder’s District and District 100, including:

  1. Comprehensive District Budget Guidelines starting the new year, in compliance with Toastmasters International specific categories and subcategories.
  2. Strong Communication Among District Leaders through monthly face-to-face meetings, weekly conference calls, and 24-7 via Trello and Slack collaboration tools.
  3. Succession Plans provided a pool of qualified leaders by training two Assistant Area Directors and Assistant Division Directors, for each office.
  4. Team Spirit and Mutual Assistance emerged among Division Directors, with healthy quorums at every District Executive Committee and District Council meeting.
  5. my.FoundersDistrict.org helps members track personal achievements, as well as club, area, and division.
  6. Reach for the Star Program tracks members involvement in Founder’s District programs.
  7. Founder’s District First Candidates Showcase, conducted by Alfred Herzing, DTM, PIP, connected candidates with voters. Leadership Exhibits organized by Frannie Stein, DTM, introduced members to leadership opportunities.

Thank you, 2016-2017 District leaders, for your commitment, persistence, and friendship.

In addition to the names listed in the 2016-2017 District Directory, numerous experienced Toastmasters and esteemed Past District Governors, especially Lou Ann Frederick, DTM, PDG, have provided valuable contributions behind the scenes.

I owe much to my husband, Ranong, who chauffeured me around, moved heavy supplies to District events, and photo-documented memorable images.

New Leaders of Founder’s District and District 100, under directorship of Dan Cossack, DTM, and Karen Lucas, DTM, respectively—Congratulations, as you Expand Your Horizons!

Founder’s District members…

Share your success stories, as I do. You will:

  • Motivate and energize others
  • Inspire clubs to excellence
  • Attract new members

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


With the end of yet another year for Toastmasters very close, there was a revelation that came out of the Founder's District spring Leadership and Communication Experience that is sure to set the tone for the new year that will begin in less than 3 weeks.

Speaking is a service.

It was the underlying message of the keynote address delivered by the Founder's District International Speech Competition Champion and professional speaker/ trainer, Daniel Midson-Short, in which the focus of his speech was about emerging speakers and the lessons he has learned on the path to becoming a professional speaker. To go along with a rather profound message of proclaiming that speaking is a service by which value is added to the members of an audience, Daniel offered up some great tips and suggestions for anyone that is serious about delivering more speeches out of Toastmasters as a professional speaker.

The first set of tips is encompassed in a simple number:


What that number symbolizes is the number of times to do the same speech once it's developed to eventually lead anybody to becoming a full-fledged professional speaker. After all, practice does make perfect and a lot of success in public speaking to infer from Daniel's advice is repetition, repetition, repetition. Or, as Daniel put it, consistency and volume leads to speaking greatness. That said, he went even deeper in his advice for emerging speakers regardless of where an individual speaker may be in their particular development by informing the audience of the 3 keys to going from 0 to giving the same speech 100 times. Those include:

  1. Know your topic
  2. Find the audience that will be most receptive to the message of your speech
  3. Deliver those 100 speeches on the same topic.

He also mentioned that getting known for a particular topic, regardless of the subject matter, can lead to other people finding audiences for that speaker, which can really spark a career in public speaking when it comes to frequency of opportunities to deliver a speech.

As important as the aforementioned tips are, it's even more important to develop the right mindset to ensure success as an emerging professional speaker. Fortunately for the audience, Daniel had words of wisdom to offer by pointing out the mistakes often made by rookie professional speakers.

  1. Trying to be perfect.
  2. Thinking it's about the speaker through worrying about such things as physical appearance or having a high level of nerves because a bunch of eyes are looking at you. As a speaker, it's important to devote all your energy and passion towards the audience and not worry about details that only the speaker is concerned about.
  3. Not listening. What Daniel meant by that is how aware is the speaker of the mannerisms of the audience as he or she is delivering his or her speech. These mannerisms can include nodding, falling asleep, audience members turning away, audience members who are distracted, folded arms and legs and other signs that the audience can offer up to let the speaker know how much they may or may not be engaged by what the speaker is saying.

Of course, the most successful speakers are the ones that can engage the audience in a way that is humorous. That humor, according to Daniel, is brought out by simply being real and the speaker sharing real stories about himself or herself that will help the audience relate to the speaker that much better because it's amazing how much audience members and a public speaker may share in common in terms of those human moments that we all experience in this life.

At the end of the day, and in the part of Daniel's keynote address that offered up the most crucial advice he can offer to emerging professional speakers was advice centered around what matters most when it comes to giving a speech.

  1. Audience response
  2. Clear consistent message
  3. Connecting with the audience

That's because what audience members take away from any professional speaker's talk that could add value to their lives is the whole point of effective public speaking. That's why a clear consistent message is very crucial to being successful in that endeavor.

All in all, those that joined Toastmasters to not only improve their public speaking skills, but to take those skills and parlay them into professional opportunities got more than their money's worth from one of the best in the business. Now, it's time for those emerging speakers to put the information into practice and make Founder's District proud as Daniel certainly has done with his contest speaking and now his professional speaking.

Then, the service that is public speaking will always shine through and Toastmasters along with Founder's District will continue to touch the lives of others in such an empowering and enriching way.

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