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Lessons From The Top

District 39, Barbara Brackett, DTM, #16 in the World
   I stayed in constant contact with the Area and Division Governors. By Division, I took the goals from the bottom of the reports and sent notes every single month. When it got close to March, I sent entire reports. We did a mid-winter training for Area and Division Governors like TI did for us. We transferred the training down to them. I sent them what it would take to make Distinguished. The LGM Ruth Maloney was awesome. I learned so much from her. We usually have 6-8 new clubs. Last year we built 12. We hadn't been Distinguished since 5 years.

Area Governor Cliff Brackett had a "Toastmasters Week " for his area. At the Regional, the other DGs heard this idea and wanted to do it too. We coordinated PR and had a blitz in January with a major ad of all the Clubs and open house information.
During the first week of February we had a Toastmasters Week Region wide.
We got everybody excited about it.

I wanted Area Governor reports by mid-August and had 90% by September.
If they weren't complete, I sent them back. I set high expectations. I set the standards and told them what I expected every single month. At the end of the year, they bought me a tree so I could grow my own paper!

One hour Division Council meetings were held within the monthly Executive meeting.
There was a theme every month, such as a Halloween Costume party. 2/3 of the Area Governors came up. Themes were presented in advance. Each Division had a name, like "Hot, Hot, Hot Division H." Area Governors made their reports at the Division Council, then Division Governors reported at the Exec. If they couldn't make it, one officer sent his wife in his place! I kept them focused.

Write them notes and tell them how great they are. At the conferences, the Top 3 got up from the head table, spoke to the members and told them how much we appreciated them. Each of us took a part of the room and then went back to the head table. When in public, we were the best of friends and it showed. We had fun and they had fun.
If you get upset, they'll get upset.

Let go of the dead wood: weak clubs that were not thriving, didn't want to be saved, and were not going to make it. We did change 1 or 2 clubs that wanted to hang in. We appointed specialists. But we didn't put our energy into the clubs that didn't want to be saved.

District 60, Stephen Dockman, ATM, #17 in the World
Excellence in Leadership Award, 3 or more Consecutive Years as Distinguished District

   I stayed in contact daily via email. We met monthly as an Executive team on Sundays from 1-3:30 pm. Meetings were upbeat. The turnout was good. We held weekly conference calls as a Top 3. Membership drives and CTM drives were held. We recognized CTMs with a pen drawing at our conference. We had complete Committees on the membership side: Membership Chair, Mentoring Chair, Specialist Chair, Low Member Chair. You can work day and night at it, it's important to take some time off. Don't get burned out. Be positive yourself. It starts at the top.

District 27, Marianne Meadows, DTM, #18 in the World
Excellence in Leadership Award, 3 or more Consecutive Years as a Distinguished District

   I called experienced Toastmasters who knew the District, who wanted the District to succeed and who were supportive. I asked them for their help. The more people you have on your staff, the better off you are. The lesson I learned as a Division Governor was to ask, "What do you want to do? What do you like doing?" I was flexible, moved jobs around and split jobs into 2 pieces if needed.

District 64, Sherri Wood, DTM, #19 in the World
   Teamwork! Keep in touch with the Top 3 and the Division Governors.
Follow up on all leads for new clubs. Encourage membership contests such as competitions between clubs and areas. Build a belief in the District that they can be Distinguished. We held monthly Saturday morning informational & training meetings for Presidents, VPEs, and the Executive Committee.

District 7, Nancy McCarthy, ATM-B, #20 in the World
   Generate the good feeling members felt when they joined. There was a feeling of coming together, cohesiveness and comradery. It was not just in the Top District team but in the entire team. Remind people why they joined Toastmasters in the first place. Realize you instill a sense of pride and companionship. We had to pull together as a District team. Remind them what the opportunities are and how to achieve them. Email was an opportunity to pull the team together, by broadcasting our demos. It's about inclusion and everybody trying to make the goals. One reason there's a disconnect between Top teams and the membership is that there is so much to do. We tend to lose focus with the membership, just trying to keep our heads above water. Stay focused.
Ask, "Is it part of the goals?" Delegate and follow-up.

District 63, James Hart, DTM, #21 in the World
Excellence in Leadership Award, 3 or more Consecutive Years as a Distinguished District

   District 63 made a conscious decision 5-6 years ago to create a long term strategy.
It doesn't happen overnight. It meant some sacrifice. Strengthening the clubs meant
weeding out weak clubs and building for the future. Four to five Governors agreed to that sincerely. Use an outline and a plan. A big difficulty was getting the team to focus. Accomplish this by asking, "what are the simple goals?" There was unity between Senior officials. There was never any animosity or infighting. This is not achieved overnight. It's a culture. Our Long Term Planning Retreat has been held for the last several years. It is facilitated by a PDG and includes Senior Officers, the IPDG, the previous PDG and often Division Governors. We start with team building exercises and look at long term strategy, growth rates, and what we can do to achieve it. We arrive at a facility the night before, start early the next morning and work for about 6 hours. We share our results with the rest of the team.

District 19, Patricia L. Amadeo, DTM, #22 in the World
   Numbers are one thing, the team concept is what's important. As District Governor, you are the motivator, the cheerleader. Our team was focused on the same goal. Each person also wanted to achieve for themselves, which contributed to the overall goal. The message and the attitude of "We're Going to Have Fun" got to the clubs and they were pulling for us. Fun takes the pressure off. Build the momentum of "we've got a chance" and build excitement. Instill in the Executive Committee, "here's our goals, here's what we think we can achieve, we can't do it without you." Get out and about, be visible. Don't sit back and tell others what to do. Make them responsible. Leave 1 prospect club close to chartering for the next Administration.

District 17, Jan Remer, DTM, #23 in the World
You don't do it by yourself,. Keep the team focused. Start right away.
Ask the clubs in December, "are you halfway?"
If they are, that motivates them. Talk about goals at officer events.
Use the President's theme. Do it now, don't put it off!

District 65, Donna Sokolowski, DTM, #24 in the World
We had a vision for success for the District and we communicated it.
We held a district theme contest for members. Our theme became
"Your Dreams are Alive in District 65."
We focused on the good, what we'd done, not on what we hadn't done.
Area and Division Governors had the responsibility and authority to do their
job, we gave them ownership. Members were treated with respect, appreciation, and extra appreciation. Members made the extra effort to make the District Distinguished.
It was also a lot of luck (!!!) to get the last CTM, the last club.

District 4, Margaret Fagetti, DTM, #25 in the World
Seek the advice and experience of Past District Governors
and International Directors. They have experience and should be tapped.
Focus on and remind your Officers about the Critical Success Factors.
Don't forget the personal touch, the phone call. The members are the most important thing. Be honest. We represent them. We're there to serve our members.
You must really want to be a District Governor. You don't have to be smooth,
but you must have the heart of the members. You're learning about people, policy, and Toastmasters.

District 33, D. George Lund, DTM, #26 in the World
We kept the success factors out in front of us from July 1st on.
We provided excellence during our 5 Executive Committee meetings. Each meeting touched on the Critical Success Factors and reached members. The team and the Top 3 kept in touch with what we needed to do to make it. After the May election, a downside is if the new team hits the ground running they may take their eyes off the ball. Realize you are still part of an old team. Outgoing DGs need to be aware of this. July 1st comes up so fast. It's a fine line in the transition process. You can do as much in the last 6-8 weeks as you did all year. Get to it at the end! Do a little bit more earlier. Spring semis are notoriously late.

Make sure the Top 3 officers get visibility. Members must know who they are and that they care. Be seen. You need to go to events and contests, you'll see who to give opportunities to. We're all pressed for time but make this a priority. You'll spot people who are thrilled to be asked, and no one had ever asked them.

District 3, Jodie Kay Petra, DTM, #27 in the World
   IPDG Nancy Starr took us to Distinguished the 1st time. We put together a 3 year plan.
Nancy and her theme, "Distinguished or Die" led the charge. Every chance we got we took it to the club level. Last year, there were numbers in the old DCP. At TLIs we did the charts. It was a matrix by area and club. It showed CTMs, ATMs, etc. We gave them reports so that could see these were critical to their club. We showed them the visual and got them thinking. CTMs and ATMs were no problem. The problem was marketing. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! We used the "Dream catcher" idea. We asked, "What do you want to achieve in Toastmasters and outside Toastmasters?" We awarded feathers for different activities. It was amazing how many wanted that Dream catcher pin! We got them thinking about the activity, not the end result. We empowered them to go out and do the program. We moved up the June 30th deadline: let's be distinguished by April 30th. PDGs helped make club calls. We were over goal by 7 per caps! I also had the support of a loving Toastmasters husband, the District's HOBO (Husband of Big Officer).

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Lessons from the Top Compiled by Pam Keyzer, DTM
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