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Lessons From The Top

District 2, Karen Evons, DTM, #28 in the World
We were blessed with great comradery. We showed we were having fun.
The Lt. Governor of Marketing and Public Relations Officer did outstanding jobs. Ideas like "Charter Strength Coaches" gave us more marketing legs to help us. Twelve clubs chartered in 98-99: the LGM pushed the walls way out! Our International Director Susan Niven, DTM was a great cheerleader and helped drive the force.

Write personal letters from the DG to the clubs early and tell them what they need to be Distinguished. Send DG messages via email ("Stardust" District 2's email newsletter was used.) Remember the personal touch and get in touch. Who is the District?
We are them and they are us.

District 35, Patricia Akey, DTM, #29 in the World
You can't look through rose colored glasses and paint a picture for District officers that isn't there. Don't lose sight of the Critical Success Factors. Have 2 Lieutenants who work in sync. It's a second full time job. If you delegate, you have to follow-up. You can do it yourself or you can do it as a team.

District 28, Dulce Maria Renaud, DTM, #30 in the World
It's a lot of hard work, but my IPDG paved the way by reaching Distinguished and I followed his footsteps. I had a group of mentors and advisors who were there for me.
My role was to be motivating, supporting and encouraging. I was the Chief Cheerleader, the Chief Motivator. From TI's training I remembered to
"Praise Down, Complain Up." If discouraged, I called Past District Governors.

How you present yourself, how you carry yourself, how you treat people
honors the position. Even if you are unsure, you are the Governor, so give the perception that you know what you're doing. After the year was over, many came to me and said I had inspired them to do more. I didn't see myself as a role model but they let me know I was a leader, mentor, and guide. It was very rewarding.

Toastmasters is an important part of my life. I would never refuse to do the little bit I could do to make the District successful. I started from ground zero as I did not have a PC or fax, so I used phone calls. You'll get a lot of advice, listen to all of it and make your own decision. I was honest, I told the team, "the buck stops here and it will."
I didn't want the division I've seen in other Districts.

District 31, Marjorie Noack, DTM, #31 in the World
Focus! Absolutely Focus! I did what had to be done. The person at the top has to get his hands very dirty. You have to follow-up. I called TI several times a week and kept running totals. Be very visible and available. They knew who I was and where I was.
I knew who I could tap into, who was reliable. The attitude of the leader sets the tone for the District. This is what my job was...to be Distinguished. That was my mandate. I sent email notices weekly letting them know what clubs were unpaid. It helped me help them in getting the dues. We had theme Executive Committee meetings every month. We held some special Executive meetings for Presidents and VPEs. Postcards were sent inviting them personally. We had great attendance. Work as a team.

Listen to people but remember you are in charge. I wish I'd had a better handle on dealing with difficult people. You have to expect that some things will not be the way you expected them to be. Learn to say, "that's great!" even if it's not the way your would have done it. There is a luck factor (!) depending on what the previous administration left you. I really bonded with the PDGs and started this before my year. Each one had different experiences. They've been there, they know what's important. I knew which one to call for which problem. I met 4-5 times as a PDG Council for advice and it was a nice way to keep them informed. They were my Kitchen Cabinet and I am grateful to them. At a critical point, a PDG told me, "get going Marjorie." I can't say enough about them.

District 43, Belinda Houston, ATM, #32 in the World
1992-1993 was the last year that D43 was distinguished. I began in 1995 watching and listening to the members and cataloging (in my mind) what various members felt was needed. We were all committed to revitalizing the District and to help them achieve distinguished again. The District Assistance Program was a shot in the arm for us as it gave us the material work with. However, if the material had not been used,
it would not have helped.

I had the Area and Division Governors bring their goals to the first
executive committee meeting and used their goals in setting the District
Goals. By getting them to buy into the goals, it made it easier to attain them. Then, I stayed in contact - especially via email - with encouraging messages to help encourage them to strive on to their goals. In April, I began more regular concentration of email and phone calls. In May, I began my "State of the District" email - weekly. I told them
exactly where we stood and what we needed to attain our goals.
My theme was "Growing Together".

It is my sincere belief that the neither the Top 3, nor all the District Officers can make the District be distinguished. HOWEVER, with the encouragement, communication and help from the District Officers, a district CAN accomplish their goals. The members have to want to do so, and they have to know there is leadership in the District that will lead, encourage and be there for them when they need the help.

I told the District the day I was elected that it was not my district, nor was it the Top 3's district, that it was THEIR district. I told them that THEY would make the district what THEY wanted it to be - that the Top 3 and the other District Officers were there to help them to reach their goals, but could not do it for them. Then I followed through by making sure that at least one of the Top 3 were available any time some one called upon us. I stressed Training is the Key to help them to help themselves.

What it all boiled down to for District 43 is that we took the District
back to the basics and helped them to realize that the TI program works
and we used everything we could to help the district make D43 what they
wanted it to be. I was not the least bit ashamed to let the International President see
me stand in front of the District with tears of pride in my eyes as I
passed out the awards at our Spring Conference.

I had Division Governors who went above and beyond to help their
Divisions. I had Area Governors who sat down and did nothing - as we
all have had - Area Governors who just disappeared and were never heard
from again - and Area Governors who went far above and beyond in helping
their areas.

This is what made District 43 distinguished 1998-1999 - for the first time in 6 years. I can tell you what I did, but the true story of what made the difference is probably found among the members themselves. Leadership that leads with sincere caring can inspire members to strive to attain goals. Leadership that is available when needed can help
avoid some of the problems. Leadership that trains can give the members
the tools they need to do the job right.

One of the things I did - which I feel really helped to show that I cared and was available - was to have time set aside at the Fall Conference for the club officers. On Sat. morning I set aside 30 minute segments of time for Presidents, then VP of Education, then VP Membership, then Public Relations. That way we could discuss any problems they had, questions they had and a sharing of information
amongst themselves. All of the officers appreciated that they could meet with the DG and discuss ideas and problems.

There is no one thing that made the difference for D43. It was a combination of things and the District did it. My pride in D43 still fills my eyes with tears when I think about it!

District 13, Robert Humphreys, DTM, #33 in the World
Keep the team active, activated, and focused. Dive in, making sure the t's are crossed and the i's dotted. We first defined everything that had to be done and came up with the names, titles, and committees beyond what's in the manual. We assigned things out. Bring people through the organization and groom them to fill the positions.
Build the foundation of personnel by defining the responsibilities.
Convince people of the importance of Toastmasters in their lives and help get the concept out to our members and officers. It's a win-win. Promote the philosophy and motivate people in a 1000 different ways. It's easier to pull than push.
We had to kick in at the end. Our 30 to 90 day Program for Building New Clubs can also be used for rebuilding clubs. In the fall, the LGM Joanne Noon called the clubs personally to remind them about the dues. We had the highest return on membership.

The Phase 5 Membership Drive consisted of:

  • Survey your members in January and July.
  • Invoice your members in February for April and August for September.
  • Follow up with those who don't renew (have friends call them).
  • Follow up with an exit interview letter (ask what did you like, what didn't you like?)
  • Hold a Membership drive (below 20 membership contest), concurrent PR drive, a Retention program, and assign mentors.
  • Return to Surveying your members Phase 1.
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Lessons from the Top Compiled by Pam Keyzer, DTM
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