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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
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
One hour Division Council meetings were held within the monthly Executive
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
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
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
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.
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 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
job, we gave them ownership. Members were treated with respect, appreciation,
and extra appreciation. Members made the extra effort to make the
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
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
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).
4 - 5
Lessons from the Top Compiled by Pam Keyzer, DTM