Blog & Resources

On “2019: The Year of the Wow!”

In a recent letter addressed to every club president about creating a uniform brand for our organization, Toastmasters International President Lark Doley asks that we “Wow [our] current and prospective members with the best club experience possible.” She then explains that, “The goal of [The Wow! Factor Project] is to increase the quality and performance of each club around the world." She goes on to write, “When you visit a McDonald’s anywhere in the world, do you expect a consistent experience? Toastmasters members and guests have a right to expect a consistent, quality club experience anywhere around the world, too.”

To this challenge, I say, “Yes! We do owe it to each and every member — current and prospective — that they have a rock-solid educational and welcoming experience. Then I ask, why should we focus exclusively on the club experience? Shouldn’t we represent a consistent, quality brand as Toastmasters everywhere we go, everywhere we speak? We represent the Toastmasters brand, after all, between our gatherings and not just at club meetings and district conferences.

Let me explain. Let’s say you're speaking to a friend, colleague, or stranger while waiting for the elevator or while standing at a bus stop or while visiting your local McDonald's. Somehow you mention that, later today, you’re attending a Toastmasters meeting. They ask, "What's Toastmasters?" How do you answer this uninformed individual? Are you ready with your 15-to-30 second elevator speech or member recruitment pitch? Are you ready to tell this individual your story about how Toastmasters has helped you in your life?

Brand management is critically important. How do you represent our brand? When someone sees or hears you, do they immediately think, "There goes a Toastmaster"?

What might you do today to enhance our brand? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.


Tracking Your Progress in Pathways Is Easy

I was happy to learn that my home district is hosting a “Mid-Year Gala” to recognize both individual and club-level achievement completed during the first half of the Toastmaster year. Hmmm …

  • I wonder how many districts are hosting such special events? (I.e., besides their conference)

  • How might districts recognize their members throughout the year?

  • Do you find the “My Badges” feature in Pathways helpful?

  • Should the progress of all members along their path in Pathways be made public information to other club members?

  • Does your club regularly inform all its members of their progress in the educational program? And if so, how?

Tracking Progress in Pathways is Easy (Mid-Year Gala)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

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There's a reason that one of our core values in Toastmasters is 'service.' Let us resolve to serve our members today and beyond. #WhereLeadersAreMade

Yes, I know that Toastmasters International is a global organization and that here in the USA we celebrate MLK Jr’s birthday with a national holiday. Few can argue that this great orator hasn’t also inspired others from around the globe. So if you share the core values of Toastmasters, then we all can resolve to serve another human being today. For “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Are you on the path to Toastmastery?

What does it mean to truly master a skill? Many believe that the Pathways program represents a leap-ahead innovation within the Toastmasters experience. Most of the projects are targeted for members working within their respective clubs. Some of the more advanced projects found at levels 4 or 5 allow for members to apply their learning to service within their district or beyond.

How have the lessons you’ve learned in Toastmasters served you along the way? I hope that you’ve integrated what you’ve mastered into your family life, into the hours you spend at the office, into the volunteer work you do within your church, community, or favorite charity.

Remember that any path will get you to the summit so long as you keep climbing.

Are you on the path to Toastmastery?

Are you on the path to Toastmastery?


If the TOASTMASTER is “the magazine for communicators and leaders,” then what other magazines and journals might aspiring leaders subscribe to and read cover-to-cover? #WhereLeadersAreMade



The #Pathways educational program offers many paths of study for our members to build communication and leadership skills. Serious members go above and beyond to dive deeply into #leadership literature. What are a few of your favorite leadership books? Why so?


To throw your hat in the ring

I’m pretty certain I don't want to literally fight anyone. But earlier today I learned that my “letter of intent” to become a candidate for international director was approved.

Throw Your Hat in the Ring — Its Meaning

Definition: To volunteer oneself to take part in an activity; to challenge someone [or yourself] in an activity.

Origin of Throw Your Hat into the Ring: This expression comes from the sport of boxing. In the past, if a person wanted to fight, he could throw his hat into the boxing ring. This let the referee know he wanted to challenge another person in the boxing match.

In other words, at one point this wasn’t an idiom at all, and it had a literal meaning where someone would throw his or her hat into the boxing ring.

It’s time to get busy.

  • There’s a campaign team to recruit.

  • A campaign strategy — or “training plan” — to create.

  • Speeches to write and rehearse.

  • And I guess I’d better get started on that “road work.”



to throw your hat into the ring.jpg

To throw your hat in the ring

… is the first step. Next comes all the work.

A Riff on the Concept of BRAND PERSONALITY

In preparing for this campaign, researching what it takes to be a successful International Director, printing and studying the International Officers and Directors Handbook, seeking the counsel of past directors and past officers, and then going to the convention in Chicago to interview the 2018 crop of candidates … Well, I’ve surely learned a lot.

For example, while studying the official Toastmasters International Brand Manual — in anticipation of creating my website and this blog — I learned about a new concept called a brand personality. Hmmm. What is a brand personality? People have their own — somewhat unique — personalities. What might others say of my personality?

Would they say, John Lesko is … 

  • a leader … I have served at the club level in every officer role and within my district in nearly all offices.

  • dedicated … When asked, “How long have you been a Toastmaster?” My standard answer is, “Obviously, not long enough.”

  • helpful … Rarely do I catch myself saying “no” to a request for help made by another Toastmasters. Perhaps this is a skill or talent I need to diplomatically develop.

  • empowering … I do believe in mission-type orders or sharing guidance rather than detailed instructions. More that once I’ve been surprised by the creativity of others largely because I’ll suggest what needs done rather than to micro-manage or tell another how to specifically accomplish a task.

Well, enough on that Table Topic. Please do post a comment or send me a note via the CONTACT page. I promise to read every reply and approve them if they get the nod or approval by the moderator.

And if you have ideas for future blog posts, do share them.

Yours in service,