Sunday, December 22, 2019

19 Weeks to go

I am Debbie.

I am a Toastmaster working on a High Performance Leadership project aka District 32_2020 Conference.

A year ago a fellow Toastmaster approached me about challenging myself with taking on the challenge of pulling together a District Conference.  Thank you goes out to Joanna Tavera.

In my self reflection, I needed to take on something that would expand my ability to work with teams and pulling together toward a set end date.  Conferences require a lot of teamwork.  Tasks need to be broken down into categories, each multiplying into mini tasks that accumulate into the grand finale.

I am not a big fan of working within a team.  I find the group effort to be frustrating in trying to divide the tasks and come to group decisions.  Groups themselves require additional time.  Additional communication is a must in order to ensure that everyone is updated, ensuring that we remain on the same page.

This project has not gone as I had envisioned.

The team is slow to come together.

This is where the blog comes in... I decided to share "Carving Your Path" from my own personal perspective. 

  • Sharing the actions I take each week.  
  • Expressing the accomplishments of team members. 
  • Celebrating successes. 
  • Asking for team members and volunteers to come on board.
Every Toastmaster working the newest education known as a Pathway. Taking the action to work the Pathway program, is taking action to develop yourself.  In deciding upon this theme, I thought about how this is relate-able to each person. We - the collective WE, are each taking efforts to become better versions of ourselves.  Some days the pathway process is really difficult (examples: making time for it, preparation work prior to giving the next speech). Other days are simply a joy.  I like to consider the process that a sculpture takes when looking a the rough slab of rock or wood.  The vision is broader a initial glance. The final product will be further defined as you get into the detail work.

My project as a hiking path, similar to the graphics for conference. I set myself up for this journey over the year by making some decisions, such as where and when will we hold the conference. In Washington, this is similar to determining where I would like to take in a hike. We have several options around this wonderful state. I really like traveling along the coastal areas with a mix of open fields, big trees and a wonderful view of water now and then. 

On my journeys, I like to collect items that may be incorporated into a craft project. I especially like working with drift wood. I set out to find the the pieces of wood, these become the team.  Each piece of wood has it's contribution toward the final outcome.  

The path is filled with decisions.  Anything that might be a good fit are captured and brought along for future consideration.

When I am looking for the 'right' piece of wood, I pick it up feel the warmth and smoothness, turning it over in my hands. Assessing for unique characteristics and strong impressions.  This is similar to picking the team.  Each person that I have approached about helping out, has been selected based upon my impression of adding value.  Are they warm and friendly to interact with?  Do they desire to share some of the Toastmasters 'passion'?  Do they work well with long term or short term action items?  Finding the right piece and the best way to utilize it is critical. Note the importance of remaining fluid as the pieces comes together some other pieces will not remain involved. This process of team selection has been much harder than I anticipated. Several pieces simply weren't available. I wander the path on my own power and trust that another opportunity will present up ahead.

The project, The Conference, is slowly taking shape.  
Initially I formed my HPL guidance committee.  Held a couple of meetings and began formulating the vision, values and mission for the project.  This is similar to defining what it is that I will utilize to measure success.  Blue print in hand - I set out on the adventure to gather the resources.

The project will come together. These things take time. I look forward to experiencing the final outcome.

I will come away with lessons learned and the breadth of knowledge that presented itself along the journey.

Where are you in your Toastmasters journey?  

Have you looked at your pathway lately?  

What actions do you need to take to progress forward toward completing the next level?

This is week 19 in the count down to conference:

Phil Person is working on the catering.  He took actions and received a revised bid or two.  I really like working with Phil.  He is a man of action.  He takes his responsibilities and seriously and he delivers results.  Food and beverages are not an easy decision to make quickly.  Cost analysis and number of guests are critical to the success of remaining on budget. 

Shane Pettit is working on the emails to our members that are 'opted In'.  How do I reach those of you that aren't willing to receive marketing from Toastmasters?  At this time, the best approach to to ask those of you that are reading this - to share it with others.

Sandy Allnock is the graphic designer and D32 newsletter producer.  She is serious about her craft and is swift with responses.  Sandy cares deeply about the Toastmasters program and reaching a point of connection.  She is the person that pointed me to discovery about blogging.  

Joanna Tavera is the Educational Chair, she will be arranging the speakers for workshops and additional professional development.  We met on Friday and reviewed the venue spaces and the agenda of events.  There is limited spaces for multiple workshops.  Marketing for speakers will be hitting the in upcoming issues.  If you have material that you think would serve your fellow members, consider pitching the idea to Joanna.

Cynthia Sanderson is the registration chair.  Cynthia will be monitoring the registrations and managing issues related to registration. This area is a challenging one for myself.  Trying to select the best options for tickets. Considering things like Friday only, Saturday only, Contest only. The overall cost value must be factored in so that the conference doesn't loose money. I worked with Cynthia in the past and trust that she will be a delight to interact with during your check in process at the conference. 

Actions Taken:

Filming team: contact effort has been made to set up a meeting and review the rules and requirements in order to properly film the competitors that will advance to the regional competitions post conference.

Webmaster team: contact effort has been taken to initiate getting a landing page and banner page. The effort that Sandy took earlier on is being utilized as the URL for the conference page.  Next action is to create content. This area is where some additional support would be appreciated. As one person, this is more than I can do. If you are handy with creative writing and our website content, please through your hand into this project.  Lets work to create quality materials that inform and elicit excitement about the conference.

Sponsorship's: Email was sent to folks that have assisted with the fundraising tasks in the past. This is where it becomes the most difficult.  My relationships in Toastmasters have not exposed me to folks that are passionate and go-getters with promoting strong marketing and influencing club membership. 

Who out there works a business and knows the value in marketing?  

The conference offers great marketing opportunities for business's that could offer value to folks in both Washington and Alaska.  The marketing piece is critical toward allowing us to keep costs down. Without having a team formed, I am not able to project lower costs. I believe that there is value gain for a business to market at our event. We have options to be in the conference booklet, the agenda's and on overhead scrolling monitors throughout the weekend. Additional marketing can be added by sponsoring meals and contests.

If you have any interest in helping to bring in the conference, please reach out to me.  I will find tasks for every skill and level of assistance.

Debbie Baker - Conference Chair


  1. Debbie, your total expressions about your HPL project for the 70th Annual Spring Conference and your explicit needs for members to help by participating in the various specific ways were refreshing and outstanding in your approach! Listing the "countdown" weeks help us realize the importance of steady progress by all to help the team be successful for D32. Go Team!