success

What I Hate About Toastmasters

Whether it’s during one my classes or seminars, or while having a casual conversation in either a business or social setting, if the topic of public speaking comes up, the topic of Toastmasters often follows. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a few weeks, then you probably know my position on Toastmasters: I recommend it, but only if you choose the right club.

Through the years I’ve come into contact with thousands of people who have been involved with Toastmasters. Some only attended a single meeting as a guest while others have become International Directors. While the feelings towards this organization vary, most people love it and a few hate it. Personally, I have mostly positive feelings and experiences that I accumulated over my four years as a member, but I also had a few not so good experiences as well. So when someone who had mostly negative experiences with it challenged me to write about the not so good things, I figured it would be an interesting challenge. His exact request was “tell me about some of the things you hate about Toastmasters.” Of course, I don’t hate per say anything about Toastmasters, so I’ve listed the things that peeve me the most. Additionally, I’ve include how to avoid or remedy the situations.

Watch How You Use Social Media

Social media is by far the great tool ever created for making the world smaller and our personal and professional networks larger. And since everyone is different, people use these tools for different objectives. Some prefer to remain anonymous while they chime in on conversations, while others, seeking stardom, would sell their right kidney to have someone mention their name. Every log in is an adventure with no telling what the next few moments will bring.

The more we use social media the more immersive the experience becomes. I liken it to a late night party when people have started coming out from their shells. In one corner, you might see a guy who’s normally shy retelling a story to a small crowd in an animated way. On the other side, there might be two people trying to outdo each other to prove how wild they are. And on the dance floor, there may be a couple having an intimate kiss acting as if there’s no one around for miles.

Public Speaking and The Matrix

Much of today’s self-help and personal development programs and materials are geared towards the ‘quick fix’ crowd. People want results fast and the want them with minimal effort. It’s like the film The Matrix where whenever a character within the supercomputer needs to learn a skill, the needed knowledge is downloaded in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many tools only feed this frenzy, life simply does not work like that.

The Worst Type of Risk

I think most people naturally fear taking risks. There’s so much unknown and so many things that can go wrong. Plus, whenever someone takes a foolish risk and falls flat on his or her face, the story of it travels through that person’s network at lightspeed. So add ridicule and embarrassment to results often associated with taking risks.

The topic of risks came up with a few friends recently and I was asked about the worst risk I ever took. While I searched through my memories for the typical things that come to mind like asking out a girl who was way out of my league or investing time and/or effort into a startup, I couldn’t really find anything. Whenever I took social risks when it came to things like dating, I usually was glad about taking the risk – even if things didn’t work out in my favor, I knew to move on. As far as professional risks went, I’ve made my share of blunders with speeches, networking events and even with some of the classes I first offered when I pushed myself beyond my limits. But the blunders were only part of the story – for each of these blunders, there were a number of successes (sometimes just small ones) but these successes (and even mistakes) resulted in a learning experience.

The Social Media Trap

I recently took a step back from social media because I found things getting to be quite intense and wanted to reflect on the role it’s played in both my personal and professional life. No, there weren’t any heated arguments or steamy love affairs. Instead, I found myself falling into a trap that many people fall into when it comes to social media – getting too immersed.

Why People Fail

I’ve never been a big fan of “date” movies – romantic comedies where you know the guy and the girl are going to get together at the end, but not sure exactly how they’ll get through the mess created during the first twenty minutes of the film. With these types of films, part of the plot line usually has to do with a guy who’s afraid of commitment.

I usually get frustrated with this plot line – the gal should just move on (or to make it a movie more to my liking, blow up his car while he’s driving away). But no, it gets drawn out for 90+ minutes and somehow the guy sees the err in his ways and decides that he was wrong to not commit in the first place and spend the second half of the movie trying to correct the situation. In most cases, there’s a happy ending but not always. But what’s interesting is that fear or lack of commitment happens a lot in real life and the results are often not a happy ending.

How to Be Liked

You’ve probably heard the infamous phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know” – the phrase is true to some extent. In the extreme case, you have the incompetent and under-qualified son or daughter that takes over the family business. More commonly, someone who is likable or able to communicate a connection between themselves and the decision maker is able to land jobs or clients despite competing with others who have stronger qualifications.

Finding a connection such as attending the same school, growing up in the same small town or having a similar hobby is an easy way to create instant rapport. Equally as helpful is having a personal connection such as a family relationship or mutual friend or associate. Sometimes, we don’t have these connections but there’s something else that can tip the odds in our favor: likability.

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