Left My Wallet in El Segundo – Agape Toastmasters Remix

Listening to hip hop as a young girl gave me an education in the power of words and imagery. In this speech from the Toastmasters Storytelling manual, I take the liberty to consider the popular hip hop song, “Left My Wallet in El Segundo” as a folk tale and I retell it in my own words.


Start a Master Mind Group.comWhen you think about it, every musical act you know of is using the Master Mind principle whether they realize it or not. They are joining together as a team with a combined vision. You can use the same principle and make some truly rockin’ things happen in your life.

Do you have a creative project you want to complete? Do you want to find a purpose for your life?

If so, I invite you to come over to my brand new page called Start a Master Mind Group.com. I’m offering 4 freebies to get you started so you can get a sense of what the Master Mind is all about.

There’s nothing cool about holding back.

Women Speaking: International Women’s Day March 6

Agape Toastmasters, Culver City, CA
Men and Women Speaking with Purpose and Power

March 6 is International Women’s Day, a great time to celebrate and highlight women speaking and making a difference. I wanted to share about an organization, Toastmasters and a woman, Helen Blanchard. Women speaking with power and purpose can create transformation.

I joined Agape Toastmasters in 2008. Even though this club was far from my house and meetings were held Saturday morning at 8:30, I wanted to be there. I didn’t just want to learn to speak, I wanted to speak with purpose. I wanted to learn from women speaking in a diverse club with male and female members from various parts of the world and different ages and ethnicities. I wanted a club that supported women speaking.

The Agape Toastmasters club mission is to “foster an unconditionally loving, mutually supportive and highly inspirational environment”. This mission guided me from terror to transformation. The more I got to know my fellow Toastmasters, the more I realized we all had something in common: the desire to use our lives to make a difference.

When I was fairly new to Toastmasters, I read an article in the November 2008 Toastmaster magazine written by Julie Bawden Davis The article made me I realize that the concept of women speaking is something our world at large is still in the infancy stages of embracing.

Women Speaking: Helen Blanchard at Toastmasters
Women Speaking: Helen Blanchard at Toastmasters

The article was about a woman named Helen Blanchard, Toastmasters’ First Female President in 1985-1986. It was an engaging article and I was following along without incident until I read these words: “By 1973, women were allowed to join Toastmasters clubs and she was able to use her real name.”

Wait, hold up. Women were “allowed” to join Toastmasters in 1973? I’m not prepared to process the fact that 35 years ago, in my lifetime, women speaking was forbidden in Toastmasters. The thing is, Helen Blanchard joined Toastmasters before 1973, she just had to pretend she was “Homer” until she was “allowed” to be Helen.

I shall purposely avoid the desire to break into a rant now. Instead, I will share a quote from the article with you that I think is important for all women to really bask in: “Everyone used to call Helen a women’s libber, but the truth is, she’s a ‘people libber,'” says Chuck Borough, a member of Downtown Escondido Toastmasters who has known her for over 40 years. “Helen has chartered more than 40 clubs,” he says. “Toastmasters is twice as big as it would have been without Helen.”

Turn down the heat and simmer in those words for a while. Let it sink in. Then, do something about it. If you live in the Greater L.A. area, consider stopping by as a guest at Agape Toastmasters one Saturday morning.

iPod Playlist and PowerPoint Presentation for Toastmasters “All One People” Contest

When it comes to creating a vibe of unity and diversity, nothing can beat the combined power of music and images.  When asked to provide the music and visuals for the District One Tall Tales and International Speech Contest in Culver City, I got my inspiration from the theme: All One People.  I pulled a diversity of images from Google as well as my own collection and I chose songs that create and All One People feel.

If you’re a Toastmaster and would like to use this PowerPoint for your next presentation please feel free.  It’s available below as PowerPoint and PDF. I would like to ask that you keep the Agape Toastmasters group photo and the Get Galvanized photo in the mix but otherwise you can edit and add your own flair to it.

From Get Galvanized

“All One People” PowerPoint
“All One People” PDF

What I did was save the playlist to my iPod then took the iPod to the contest and plugged it into the sound board. The music played over the P.A. and created a festive, party-like feel. Some people spontaneously shook their hips and snapped their fingers and the overall vibe of the event was flowing and fun.

Get some of the songs I played at the contest on iTunes. Click on the links below. Here’s the playlist of the day:

Beautiful People (ft. Macy Gray) by Black Eyed Peas
Everyday People – Maroon 5 by Sly & The Family Stone off Different Strokes By Different Folks

If Everybody Looked The Same by Groove Armada

Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin by Sly & The Family Stone

Shining Star by Earth, Wind & Fire

Where Is The Love by Black Eyed Peas

Toastmasters: What Can It Do For You?

Cynthia Lamb, spiritual counselor delivered a powerful speech at Agape Toastmasters describing some of the benefits she’s enjoyed as a result of her 2 years of membership.

Cynthia started her speaking experience with lots of “ahs” and “ums” in a manner she describes as “all filler, no content”. After using the manuals provided by Toastmasters she learned to be a competent leader and communicator. Toastmasters gave her the courage to pursue her larger goal which is to share a message of spiritual healing through forgiveness with an International audience.

She recently appeared on a panel of experts lead by Blog Talk Radio host, Michelle Ann Johnson titled “Conscious Kickstart” and did a very powerful presentation which included a guided process for forgiveness. She is kind enough to make this available to the world via this YouTube Video. If you need to heal a broken heart for any reason, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

Cynthia Lamb recently earned the highest award Toastmasters offers: Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and to do it in 2 years is an exceptional feat.

Agape Toastmasters is that kind of place. I joined 2 years ago and I was shaky and hesitant in my first few speeches. I would get so nervous that sometimes I was practically incapacitated for an entire day. But with practice and support, I became stronger and stronger.

I have used the supportive, creative environment to work out some ideas for a character, (my alter ego) Gal Vanized. When I started Toastmasters I had 7 years of experience as a college instructor under my belt. Somehow I had convinced myself or been pressured to believe that I had to “tone it down” and “be professional”. Which meant that pink wigs and punk rock gigs were out of the question.

To that I say, Why?

And this semester I’ve used music videos in my Introduction to Victimology class to highlight some of the songs that describe the abuse of power and control in our society that leads to crime and therefore victims.

I got bold enough one night to put on the pink wig in my Introduction to Domestic Violence class and tell my story of running away from an abuse filled home to find a better life. What Toastmasters did for me is give me the courage to say what I want to say, how I want to say it.

What will Toastmasters do for you?  You’ll never know unless you check it out for yourself.  Toastmasters is an International, non-profit organization. “The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”

Click here to find a club near you.

On Hosting the Agape TM Live Show

sheri-is-mcLast Saturday, December 12 was a fun and exciting day for me. I already wrote about how I won Toastmaster of the Year last week, and it’s taken me this long to re-group and reflect on another aspect of the morning which was being the host of the Agape TM Live Show.

While planning for our year-end party, we had brainstorming meetings and came up with the idea of a Red Carpet theme so we could dress up like stars and have some fun. I recommended an awards-style twist on Table Topics.

Table Topics is the impromptu portion of a Toastmaster’s meeting where you call up a speaker and ask him or her to talk about a topic for 1-2 minutes.

How I set it up is that prior to the meeting, I contacted all the members and asked them to tell me two interesting bits of information about themselves that most of us probably wouldn’t know.

I took those bits of information and used them in two ways, one as the basis of a treasure hunt game. We passed out a sheet with some these bits of information written on it then people had to guess which bit of information went with which person. Some of the match-ups were pretty hard to guess.

The second way I used the information was to generate a Table Topics intro. I would introduce each guest by telling a little bit about what they were going to talk about, then they would come on stage and tell the story in their own words. Below are some pictures of the Table Topics speakers and what they spoke about.


Joan Ramirez tells us about the time when Jim Morrison of The Doors pulled her up on stage and planted a huge kiss on her lips! She had the crowd on the edge of their seats.


Susan Lowe tells the audience at Agape Toastmasters Red Carpet Awards celebration about the days when her children were regulars on Sesame Street.


Bruce Gordon entertains the audience at Agape Toastmasters Red Carpet Awards celebration as he showcases his live comedy act.


Diane Moseberry tells the audience at Agape Toastmasters Red Carpet Awards celebration how she used her speeches to educate her child regarding practical life skills.

After the interview-style Table Topics we handed out awards.


John McLaughlin shows off his “Best Film Editing” award at Agape Toastmasters Red Carpet Awards celebration. Club President Cynthia Lamb shows her enthusiasm and support.


Shirley Nason Mitchell is awarded “Best Original Screenplay” at Agape Toastmasters Red Carpet Awards celebration.


Before, during and after the Red Carpet awards, we had good food to eat thanks to Linda Lloyd.

On Becoming Toastmaster of the Year

trophyYesterday at Agape Toastmasters we celebrated by holding a Red Carpet Awards event. It was a great opportunity to converse and get to know each other a little bit better. The room was festive, we had delicious and nutritious food catered by Linda Lloyd and many of us dressed up in evening wear even though the event started at 8:30 a.m.

One of the highlights of the morning is to hand out awards. There were many fun awards like Best Actress and Most Likely to Succeed and then there is the Toastmaster of the Year award that is won by popular vote. I really hadn’t been thinking much about awards that day. I was in charge of the entertainment for the party so I was busy setting up my iPod and my microphone and making sure the program was as enjoyable as possible.

When club president and Toastmaster for the day Cynthia Lamb was describing the winner she talked about someone who was dedicated, always of service to the board and someone who participated in events outside the club, at the District level. I thought to myself, “oh my goodness, Cynthia is the winner, why is she awarding herself the award? Why didn’t someone else give Cynthia the award?” But then Cynthia announced the winner’s name, Sheri Zampelli. That’s me. I was honored, surprised and shocked. I was also excited.

Winning the award was symbolic for me because it was an outward validation of an inner feeling that’s been growing in the past 6 months. I have literally felt myself break free from my shell each time I speak at Agape Toastmasters but I wasn’t always sure that others could see what I was feeling. Now I know they can and this encourages me to continue the journey of facing my fears and breaking out of the box completely. Several members of the club pulled me aside and told me how much I’ve changed in the year they’ve known me. It felt good to have witnesses because in someways, nothing has changed about me and yet everything is different. The trophy to me is simply a reminder that that “something” is real and I plan to continue on this journey and embrace the next adventure.

It is so appropriate that Cynthia Lamb is the one who handed me this award. It was after listening to her speech where she recounted her family’s dysfunctional behavior with a humorous twist that I opened my eyes and my heart to a way I could share my message and help others while also maintaining my dignity and integrity. I asked Cynthia for help, guidance and support and she gave me that and more. Agape Toastmasters gave me wings and made me feel like a star and for that, they deserve the award.

For more about Agapge Toastmasters, visit their website.

Toastmaster Persuades New School Power to Stand Up

Today I delivered my tenth speech at Agape Toastmasters and completed the requirements for a Competent Communication award. The speech is titled, “Stand In Your New School Power and Dare to Make a Difference” (if you don’t see a video above, click here to watch it on YouTube). I joined Toastmasters just over a year ago because I’ve always enjoyed public speaking and wanted to improve my skills and break out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been speaking to groups of people for about 16 years. However, most of my speaking has been somewhat informal, (i.e. leading small, intimate groups), or it’s been structured but based on a cirruculm (i.e. instructing classes at Long Beach City College). Although teaching, leading and speaking have always been rewarding to me, I felt like I was holding back on presenting passionately and daring to create my own presentations.

In my past year or so at Agape Toastmasters I feel like I’ve really broken out of the mold I was in and this presentation in particular was one of the most exhilarating, honest and enjoyable pieces of work I’ve ever had the privledge of delivering to a live audience.

In my mind, this is the beginning of my speaking career and I hope to have the opportunity to deliver this presentation and others like it to groups of leaders in various locations. Specifically I would like to speak to teachers, therapists, social workers, ministers and organizations who provide service to the community. My hope is to get paid as a presenter and to have the opportunity to sell my book, From Sabotage to Success.

Over the past 16 years I’ve worked at numerous non-profit agencies and I’ve met many educated, dedicated and warm-hearted people who yearn to make a difference in the world yet seem to be confined and stifled, not to mention overwhelmed. My hope is that I can help these leaders feel strong and powerful so they can do the work they’ve always dreamed of. In so doing, I will be fulfilling a dream of my own: to use my skills to make a positive difference in the world for those who need it most.

From Sabotage to Success by Sheri ZampelliIf you have a saboteur like Puleza who’s stealing your power, purchase my book From Sabotage to Success and learn how to take your power back.

If you would like to book me to speak at your next event, please contact me at sherizampelli [at] gmail.com.