Hello, District 98 Toastmasters,
Some of you may have heard me speak at the recent Power Up sessions, where I spoke about my fear of traveling, and yet I embark on a journey every other month. A few weeks back, as part of the District Leadership Mid-Year Training, (very similar to the training that club officers go through every 6 months), we had to visit Bangkok. So, I arrived in Thailand a few days early and headed straight to Chiang Mai (a city in the north of Thailand). It isn’t a very popular destination for Indian tourists and when on solo trips like these, I do not go with a planned itinerary.
Food, of course, was a challenge for a vegetarian, but that turned out to be the least of my concerns on that trip. On the second day of the trip, I was almost 50 km away from my hotel on a rented motorbike when my phone decided to malfunction. I do not speak the local language, and cannot read the sign boards and I was halfway through to the destination I wanted to be (the highest point of Thailand – Doi Inthanon). Instead of turning around, I memorized the directions to reach the top. But I had another obstacle on my way; around 20kms away from the point, I was out of petrol and I contemplated the option of returning back to base when a kind local guide helped me with a self-service station a few meters away. And so the journey to the top continued and with less than 2% phone battery I could manage just a few snaps.
Plan -> Manifest -> Execute -> Believe
How I traveled back to the base 100 km away and survived the next 3 days without a phone – navigating cities, hotel changes, flights, etc is possibly the right material for my next ISC speech (unfortunately cannot compete this year). The point is I had to adopt the unknown route to my destination, adapt to the challenges thrown across to me, and at the end achieve my goal of viewing Thailand from its highest mountain.
When I got elected as the District Director in May last year, I had a vision – #BeyondTheDashboard where not everything we do directly contributes as a DCP point because for us members are not just numbers on the dashboard. Very soon at the start of the term we realised, that with more than 70% of members being less than 18-month-old Toastmasters we had to do a lot more to get the energy levels up and going for everyone. Keeping this in mind District 98 launched several initiatives to build an entire ecosystem be it Podcasts, Blogs, #Dynamo D98er to encourage contribution in various aspects of public speaking and topped it with a touch of rewards and recognition.
Just like members’ desire to complete levels/ paths; clubs wish to be Distinguished and above, District 98 this year is aspiring to reach the Smedley Distinguished District recognition [the highest recognition a District can achieve in any program year]. With all these initiatives, we are also trying to become one the best performing districts in the world and all this will not be possible without your support. Today, we are ranked 6th in the world in terms of membership payments.
During the course we have modified the initiatives; upgraded a few and discontinued some adapting to the changing needs of the members. In December, we launched the New Year New Me initiative with an urge to each member to continue their upskilling journey and added the Dynamo Club recognition. We also announced the pre-launch of Eloquence 2024 helping you plan the calendar. When we were planning these initiatives, we manifested some goals for ourselves, executed our efforts in that direction, believed in our prayers and voila – we met our goals.
Plan -> Manifest -> Execute -> Believe
When we closed on 31st January, we had a record 668 members who signed up for the New Year New Me Program, 13 clubs having achieved the Dynamo Club award and 203 members had signed up to attend Eloquence 2024. You, District 98 Member, yes you, made this possible. Thank You.
In the last few months, you all have been more than supportive by showing up in huge numbers at District events be it Area Conference, Division Conference or Power Up and all District initiatives in general. In the last few days, some of you reached out stating that you would like to sign up for the New Year New Me initiative and attend Eloquence but manage the finances better and we hear you and are cognizant of the commitments. We want you to be part of our success and celebrations. In this month of love and affection, we are happy to extend the last date for New Year New Me, Dynamo Club, and Eloquence Early Bird registrations to 15 February. Will you be our Valentine?
In February, we’ll also be launching Prarambh; a Corporate Leadership Conclave, and a club influencer campaign. Watch out for our emails and social handles for more details.
If there is anything we do to upgrade the ecosystem, improve the community, or enhance your experience, please do write back to me. I’ll be happy to read about your journey with Toastmasters and District 98.
District Director | District 98 | Toastmasters International