From Cold Calling Catastrophes to Puberty Parenting: Why I Can’t Escape Toastmasters

From Cold Calling Catastrophes to Puberty Parenting: 
Why I Can’t Escape Toastmasters

By Tashaki Ford, DTM, Laugh Lovers Toastmasters Club

If you had asked me a while ago why I joined Toastmasters, I probably would have responded with a sarcastic remark and a half-hearted shrug. Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous decision would lead me on an unexpected journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and a whole lot of humorous anecdotes. 

It all started on a mundane day at my new job. The sales team, unimpressed with my cold calling skills, decided to intervene. Enter Jon Sly, my savior from the depths of sales gloom, who insisted that I tag along to this mysterious club called Toastmasters. My initial response? “Toast what?” Dragging myself five blocks to the now-defunct, Sun Systems Toastmasters Club, I had no idea what I was in for. Little did I know that Table Topics, the first activity I encountered, would be the death of me. With a shaky voice and sweaty palms, I managed to stumble my way through the ordeal. Miraculously, I was awarded the ribbon for the best Table Topics speech. A triumph, or so I thought. 

Life, however, had different plans for me, and years passed before I mustered the courage to give my ice breaker speech. You see, Toastmasters wasn’t just about conquering public speaking fears; it was about mastering the art of private conversations without falling apart. Who knew that basic communication skills could be so elusive? But the true conundrum lies not in why I initially joined Toastmasters, but rather in why I find myself unable to escape its clutches. Each year, every manual, path, project, and role I embrace within the Toastmasters realm reveals new challenges, opportunities for growth, and moments of self-discovery. 

Take for instance the skill of giving evaluations. After countless evaluations, I noticed a peculiar pattern. I would hear those magical words, “Thank you for that feedback. That made sense, I’m going to use that.” And yet, I couldn’t help but wonder why I couldn’t apply that skill in my personal life. Then it hit me – I had a teenage son going through puberty. Getting him to do anything was harder than surfing atop the Hope Diamond! 

So here I am, unable to escape the clutches of Toastmasters. It has become a part of my life, a never-ending source of laughter, growth, and the occasional facepalm moment. It has taught me that even in the most unexpected places, be it a sales administration  job or the chaos of parenting, there are valuable lessons to be learned and shared. So, if you ever find yourself struggling with communication or facing puberty-induced madness, I highly recommend joining Toastmasters. Just be warned, once you’re in, there’s no way out. But hey, at least you’ll have plenty of hilarious stories to share along the way!