Words and environment impact your life. In this speech from the Toastmasters manual, The Entertaining Speaker, I outline a musical anthology of my life from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. Influences include weekly immersion in Soul Train, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang and People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm by A Tribe Called Quest.
In the 80’s there was fun to be found in the punk rock scene. Songs mentioned and sung in this speech: California Uber Alles and Police Truck by The Dead Kennedys and New Dreams by Naked Raygun. I finished up with my theme song: Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers with Q-Tip on vocals.
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.
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.
This three minute lesson on how to start a movement shows what happens when one “weird” person is willing to stand out from the crowd and stick to his (or her) guns despite potential ridicule. It also demonstrates the importance of embracing and encouraging your first followers. I have seen it happen many, many times. Haven’t you?
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.
——————————— If 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.