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District 35 Platinum Year: Remember, Rejoice, Recommit
Celebrating Milestones, Making Quality Decisions to Endure the Tough Times and Playing the Long Game
Belated Happy New Year District 35! We are half-way through our Platinum Anniversary Year, and we continue to Remember, Rejoice and Recommit to our vision for the year.
In February 2023, I celebrated two milestones events that made me reflect deeply about Toastmasters. The first was my 10th Anniversary at UWM—on Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2023) I was honored to be among over 700 employees who received the Length of Service Award for being at UWM for 10 years. That was a heartwarming moment for me, especially when I recalled that only a few years earlier, my position at UWM was in serious jeopardy. Long story short, applying Toastmasters communication and leadership skills was a big part of why I not only saved my job, but continued to thrive and contribute to the mission and vision of the University. Ten years is the longest I have ever worked in a single organization.
The second milestone event concerns my Dad, whose legal practice, J.K. Kibicho & Company Advocates celebrated 50 years on February 22, 2023. Nearly nine years after my Dad passed on, his legacy continues and the practice is thriving under the leadership of his son—my brother. This was an important moment for our family as we celebrated the life of my Dad, and recalled that there were several years when it was uncertain whether my Dad’s practice would survive. It would not be the only one, as other law firms had closed shop and not survived the tough times.
My Dad was a politician and sought public office since 1992. It was the highest honor of his life to be the Member of Parliament (the equivalent of a US Senator) for Ndia Constituency in Kirinyaga District, Kenya from 1997 to 2002. When Dad became an MP, his practice suffered greatly, and he lost a lot of clients. It was so bad that he had to get money out of his pocket to make payroll. Those were tough times for our family.
However, my Dad NEVER GAVE UP on either pursuing his dream of being a politician (he was a candidate in every election until he died in 2014) or his legal practice. Fortunately, my brother went to law school and passed his bar exam which allowed him to join Dad’s law firm. My brother not only revived the Law firm, but under his leadership and Dad’s goodwill caused Dad’s legal practice to thrive and prosper. Because of Dad’s vision, his hard work and sacrifice is bearing fruit, and we now have the opportunity to pass on his legacy to his grandchildren and generations to follow.
The reason I am sharing this with you is because I see a parallel to our District 35. Seventy years ago, visionaries came together and mapped out a new District 35. Today we have an opportunity to not only ensure that our District survives, but that it thrives. I would like to draw some lessons from my Dad’s life that have really informed me.
Lessons from my Dad’s Story
First, be mindful of legacy. Since I was his oldest child, my Dad wanted me to be a lawyer and take over his practice. However, I was more interested in pursuing other dreams. Fortunately, my brother had the same dream as Dad and agreed to put on his shoes. My brother has done a phenomenal job carrying on Dad’s legacy.
Second, never make permanent decisions based on temporary conditions. As the late Dr. Robert Schuller often said and my Dad would wholeheartedly agree with, Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do. My Dad endured several political setbacks (he won only one of 5 elections he competed in) that could have sunk him financially and psychologically. But he always found a way to rebound because he was filled with great hope. He kept the ship going economically and held on to the law firm even when it would have been easier to give up and close shop.
To learn more about J.K. Kibicho & Company Advocates and Dad’s amazing story, here is a Link.
My fellow Toastmasters, we continue to face the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic. Many clubs are struggling to rebuild and re-engage the members who left their clubs during the pandemic and have not returned. It will take a while for things to return to normal.
What would my Dad say to do? I know he would say, “Hold on and do not let go. The tough times will soon pass.” In the fullness of time, many will have reason to re-engage in Toastmasters.
The question is: “Will they find our clubs still meeting?” I am asking that you make a quality decision to be one of the pillars of your club. You decide that you will hold ship during the rocky times, and form part of the welcoming Committee that meets those returning to Toastmasters at the door.
Rejoice: In the News!
***Our very own Toast on Tap Toastmasters Club—the largest Toastmasters club currently with 67 members—last year’s District 35 Corporate Recognition Award recipient was featured in the February 2023 Toastmasters Magazine. Click the link to read their inspiring story.
I am very proud to report that our District is doing very well and is leading Region 5 in two of the three metrics of performance. Our District ranks number 5 in the World (out of 126 Districts) in Membership payments and 28th in paid clubs.
However, we still have work to do. At the time of this report (February 28, 2023), we are short 4 paid clubs and 908 membership payments from base paid clubs and membership payments respectively. Please see the Dashboard below.
You have a part in helping our District finish the year strong.
We can keep our Toastmasters Promise to attend meetings regularly, participate in giving speeches and serving in club roles. We can do our part by taking on club leadership roles and stepping out of our comfort zone to serve in the District.
Declining Club Membership and how the District can help:
Only 7 clubs in our District are Charter Strength with 20 or more members:
- Toast On Tap (67 members)—featured in the February 2023 Toastmasters International magazine
- NM Speaks! (40 members)—home club of our Program Quality Director, Jason Feucht, DTM
- WEGOFAR Toastmasters Club (29 members)—newly chartered club
- ROK the Talk (26 members)—Home Club of Past District Director and District Leadership Committee Chair, Keith Cumiskey, DTM
- Ayres Associates Toastmasters Club (22 members)
- Talk of Town (20 members) —Home Club of Area E1 Director Paul Van Dyck, EC4
- Eclectic Image Club (20 members)—Home Club of Presidential Citation Recipient, Keith Hardy
As we continue to celebrate our Platinum year, let us reflect on how we can continue the leadership pipeline and do our part to ensure that the legacy of our club and District continue to thrive, Rejoice in the milestones we have achieved so far as a District and Recommit ourselves to doing our part in keeping the Toastmasters promise. As we continue to celebrate, let us remember that it takes the sum of us, each of us doing our part to hold on to the baton so that when the time comes, we can safely pass it on the next generation.
I would like to celebrate the following four Toastmasters who have faithfully paid their dues and held the baton for 50 years:
- Harvey Hoernke, DTM
- Doug Traastad, ATM, CL
- Ed Heys, ACS
- Bob Henning, IP1
I will leave you with a question: What are you doing to ensure that the next generation of Toastmasters will find your club thriving and strong? Let it be said of us that we held on and kept the torch burning during the tough times! Remember Dr. Robert Schuller’s words: Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do.
Our District Leadership including the Trio, Top District Leadership, 7 Division Directors and 22 Area Directors are doing a phenomenal job. In keeping with the No Member No Club Left Behind 3-Year Strategic Plan, 100% of the Clubs in District 35 had an Area Director Report submitted for the November 2022 period.
It is truly the highest honor of my life to serve you as District Director.
A Message from Your Program Quality Director
Greetings District 35 Toastmasters,
It is hard to believe we are just a few months away from the end of the Toastmasters Year.
It’s always a great time to reflect on where you are as an individual and a club on both your personal and club goals.
For yourself, how are you doing on your personal goals? When was the last time you did a speech in the Education Program? Have you marked all your speeches complete in Basecamp? Have your newly completed paths been recorded by your club’s Vice President of Education in Club Central and do they appear on your clubs Dashboard? A wise Toastmaster mentor always told me to never ‘Speak for Free’ – make sure all your speeches are getting evaluated, and you are applying them to the education program (that’s one I’m working on). If you have not done those things, I encourage you set a personal Toastmasters Goal to do so prior to year-end, it’s never too late to do so. Set something that will help you hold yourself accountable for your growth yet is attainable. Maybe strive to finish your current level before year end and hold a role in each meeting you attend, or for others select your first path and give you icebreaker. Now is also a great time to think about what’s next for you as a Toastmaster, do you have new educational goals? Have you considered Club or even District Leadership? The opportunities in Toastmasters are endless.
For your club, it’s never too late to do a Moments of Truth and an open house or a Speechcraft. It’s a great time to assess if your meetings are both educational and enjoyable, so you can adjust for your current and potential new members. Look at how all your members are doing against their educational goals, and how your club is doing against the Distinguished Club Program. Renewals are currently underway, make sure your members are renewed so they can maintain access to the Education Program, as well as ensure that your speech contest participants remain eligible to compete at all levels.
Thanks to all of you, we’ve had a very successful winter club officer training session, with over 300 club officers trained. At our January 21st Toastmasters Leadership Institute, we had Toastmasters Accredited Speaker, Dr. Kevin Snyder gave an inspiring and motivating Keynote. I encourage everyone to check out his resources and view the recording of his presentation.
Clubs are also doing some great work. Look for club and individual recognition elsewhere in this newsletter!
Finally, if your club is looking for guidance and help, remember you are not in this alone. I encourage you to check out the District Sponsored Club Support Seminars. These Bi-monthly sessions are focused on providing tangible information that clubs can use to grow and improve their club quality. These sessions are interactive, and if you can’t attend real time, they are all recorded. Please check them out.
As always, if you are interested in helping support Training, Contests, the District Conference, or any other aspect of Program Quality, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Thank you for your commitment to yourself, through Toastmasters.
Club and Educational Successes
We have a lot of members and clubs doing some great things this year. Congratulations to all members and clubs that are finding success. Here are some highlights:
- 276 Educational Awards have been earned across the District so far this year, congratulations to all!
- 31 of the issued awards have been Level 5 Awards for a completed path, Congratulations!
- 83 Clubs have earned 1 or more Distinguished Club Program Points
- 4 Clubs currently meet the NET membership goal and have earned 5 or more DCP points and are well on the way to Distinguished!
- New Afterhours – +5 Members – 10 of 10 DCP Points!
- Rolling Hills – +3 Members – 7 DCP Points
- CNH Industrial Toast Team – +4 Members – 5 DCP Points
- Leading Voices – +4 Members – 5 DCP Points
- 9 Clubs have 5 or more DCP Points and need a few new members to meet the membership goal.
- Talk of the Town – 6 DCP Points – Needs Net +1 Members
- Sentry Toastmasters – 6 DCP Points – Needs Net +2 Members
- Marq our Words – 6 DCP Points – Needs Net +2 Members
- Reedsburg – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +1 Member
- Cream City Communicators – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +1 Member
- Wisconsin Rapids Toastmasters – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +2 Members
- Capital City Club – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +2 Members
- Menomonee Falls – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net +3 Members
- DJAB – 5 DCP Points – Needs Net + 4 Members
- 6 of these clubs are at Charter Strength (20) or more and need 1 or more DCP points.
- NM Speaks! – 38 Members – 4 DCP Points
- Toast on Tap – 67 Members – 3 DCP Points
- Eclectic Image – 20 Members – 3 DCP Points
- ROK the Talk – 24 Members – 2 DCP Points
- WEGOFAR – 29 Members – 1 DCP Point
- Ayers Associates – 22 Members – 1 DCP Point
- 8 of these Clubs are Net +3 members and need 1 or more DCP points.
- Direct Supply Champion Chatters – +6 – 4 DCP Points
- Coulee Region – +3 – 4 DCP Points
- Wisconsin Club – +3 – 4 DCP Points
- Uptowners – +6 – 3 DCP Points
- Heart Of Eau Claire – +4 – 2 DCP Points
- Sturgeon Speakers – +5 – 1 DCP Point
- Credit Union Center – +3 – 1 DCP Point
- CNH Industrial Toast Team – +4 – 3 DCP Points
- 4 Clubs currently meet the NET membership goal and have earned 5 or more DCP points and are well on the way to Distinguished!
I encourage all members and clubs to keep up the momentum, set goals to complete education awards and grow membership, to finish strong, and get to 5 or more DCP Goals by June 30th.
Take a moment to find and celebrate the successes your club and members are having. These listed above are just some – there are many, many more out there. Has someone in your club started a new job, welcomed a new family member, gone on a fun vacation… even small successes are valuable. I encourage everyone to take time finding, recognizing, and then building on our individual and club successes. Success is contagious and the more of it we build on the more momentum we can find.
Contest Season is underway! This year District 35 will be holding the Tall Tales Contest as well as the International Speech Contest.
For more information and resources for Contests see: https://district35.org/speech-contest-resources/
Contest Formats & Timelines
- Upcoming Contests
- March 4 @ 8:30 AM – Division E Hybrid Contests
- March 4 @ 12:00 PM – Division A Hybrid Contests
- March 17 @ 6:00 PM – Division D Hybrid Contests
- March 25 @ 8:30 AM – Division F Hybrid Contests
- March 25 @ 10:00 AM – Division C Hybrid Contests
- April 1 @ 10:00 AM – Division N Hybrid Contests
- TBD – Division B Hybrid Contests
- District Contests – Will be Hybrid and held in conjunction with the 2023 D35 Spring Conference at the Abbey Resort on Lake Geneva
- Tall Tales – Friday 5/5/2023
- International – Saturday 5/6/2023
Club Support Seminars
Is your club (or a club you support) struggling with low membership, low participation, and low meeting quality? If so, plan to attend the District 35 Club Support Seminars, hosted by Past District Director Keith Cumiskey, DTM.
This training series will consist of a team of experienced Toastmasters lending their support to clubs by hosting a series of one-hour sessions focused on building club membership and improving club quality. Each session will consist of a 30-minute presentation on a specific topic, followed by a 30-minute open discussion on that topic.
These sessions are designed to offer tangible help and ideas to support our Districts Clubs.
Sessions are be held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Attendance is open to all, but highly recommended for Club President and Vice Presidents Membership.
Please visit the district calendar for complete scheduling and Zoom link information. https://district35.org/events/calendar/
Recordings of prior sessions are also available on the District Website and the District YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@D35_Toastmasters/videos
Snapshots & Success
As Toastmasters leaders, we get a snapshot of our status several times per year. Fall renewals. Spring renewals. June 30th. As leaders, it’s a great feeling when the snapshot shows that we’re doing great – but it can also be depressing when the snapshot shows the opposite.
The thing is, those snapshots are just that – snapshots. One point in time. And the more we focus on that one point in time, the less attention we give to the hundreds of things that collectively got us to that point.
In my experience, successful clubs are usually clubs whose members collectively persist in taking small actions that will make their clubs better. They invite a friend or coworker. They give a speech. They take a little bit of extra time to prepare for a meeting role. They hang out for a few minutes after the meeting. All of these little things add up to a quality club, which makes it easier to do the little things.
Conversely, clubs that are struggling are usually the exact opposite. Especially if the members are burned out, it’s tempting to not invite that friend or coworker. To not give a speech. To not spend the extra time. These little things add up to a struggling club, which makes it harder to do the little things.
The result is that, in both of these cases, the club will usually continue in the direction they’re already heading, as long as they keep doing what they’re already doing.
And that’s where we have an opportunity.
If the snapshots are the result of little actions over time, and we’re not happy with the snapshots, the solution might not be easy – but it is simple. We just have to take (and encourage others to take) more of the small actions that will move us in the direction we want to go.
In one club I attended, somebody found and printed a list of 300 Table Topics questions. When our meeting was shorthanded, having that list made it incredibly easy to have a fun, engaging Table Topics session – even if the Table Topics Master was assigned at the last minute. 10-15 minutes of work had a positive effect for years.
If your club’s meetings only have 4 or 5 people, spend a few minutes to get “outside the box” and imagine how you can run a 4-person meeting that’s still fun and engaging. From experience I can tell you it’s absolutely possible. And if you want my thoughts on it please feel free to reach out.
Of course if every member just looked at their calendars and said “I’ll be at these meetings, and I’ll take these roles (followed by a meeting/role list)”, wouldn’t that be every VPE’s dream come true?
Try an experiment today. Spend 5-10 minutes, and think about your club’s situation. Think about how it’s going. Ask yourself one simple question: “what’s one small action that I can take that will help my club be better?” Then act accordingly. None of us can do everything, but we can all begin to take the small actions that will help our clubs be successful.
Call for Area Directors
While nominations for elected position in District leadership next year are now closed, we’re still seeking members to serve in appointed positions, especially Area Directors.
An Area Director provides District contact, support, and assistance to the clubs in an Area (typically 4-6 Clubs). An Area Director term serves a one year term (July 1st to June 30th). This role will provide you a great opportunity to hone your leadership and communication skills. This is a great way to step outside of our club leadership position and expand you network and skills. I often say “the area director role has been the most important, and most fun, leadership role in my Toastmaster experience”. You’ll get experience planning a speech contest and visiting other clubs. Never done that before? No problem, we have training at the beginning of your year. Monthly meetings with leaders from across the district (mostly virtual) will expand your network and leverage their best practices.
Learn more about District Leadership Opportunities<https://district35.org/district-leadership-opportunities/> including submitting your nomination, on the District website, or contact District Leadership Committee Chair, Keith Cumiskey<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Find Your KEYS to SUCCESS
Make plans to register and attend the District 35 Spring Conference at The Abbey Resort in Fontana / Lake Geneva, WI on May 5-6, 2023.
WHAT IS YOUR KEY?
Keep Educating Yourself
- Four pre-conference education session (Sunday, April 30 – Wednesday, May 3)
- Five conference education sessions (Friday, May 5 – Saturday, May 6)
- Keynote presentations from International Director Monnica Rose, DTM
Keep Empowering Yourself
- Find your passion – inside and outside Toastmasters
- Focus on others by volunteering to help at the conference
Keep Engaging Yourself
- Tall Tales Speech Contest (Friday, May 5)
- International Speech Contest (Saturday, May 6)
Keep Expressing Yourself
- Friday Fun Night – campfire stories and s’mores
- Networking and socializing time
Keep Enriching Yourself
- First Timers Reception
- Hall of Fame and Dinner Banquet
Registration is Now Open!
- Click here to register for the 2023 Spring Conference via Eventbrite
- Early Bird Pricing (ends at 11:59pm March 15, 2023):
- Club Registration: $150.00
- Club Member – with Club Registration: $100.00
- Individual Member: $200.00
- Regular Pricing (ends at 11:59pm April 25)
- Club Registration: $200.00
- Club Member – with Club Registration: $150.00
- Individual Member: $250.00
- Online Registration Only (club registered): $10.00
- Online Registration Only (club not registered): $25.00
- In-Person Attedance includes:
- Welcome packet
- Friday evening snacks
- Saturday breakfast buffet and morning snack
- Saturday lunch and afternoon break
- Saturday dinner and evening snacks
- Banner Parade
- Pre-conference education sessions (virtual only)
- Conference education sessions
- Tall Tales and International Speech Contests
- Awards and Hall of Fame presentation
- And more
- Online Attendance (virtual only)
- Pre-conference education sessions
- Tall Tales and International Speech Contests
- Conference education sessions
- Saturday keynote presentations
- And more
- Sunday Breakast with International Director Monnica rose (optional event for outgoing, incoming, past, and future District leaders):
- Sunday Leadership Breakfast $40.00
Need More Information?
- Keep current with the latest news and updates about the Spring Conference!
- Details about education session speakers
- Volunteer to help at the Spring Conference
- Sponsorship and raffle donations accepted
- FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about the Spring Conference
- Where do you look for this information?
- Bookmark the District 35 Spring Conference webpage
- Like and follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D35Toastmasters