Best Practices & Lessons Learnt || mini-interviews with D108 Core Team 2019-2020

Best Practices & Lessons Learnt || mini-interviews with D108 Core Team 2019-2020

2019-2020 Toastmasters year has truly been a challenging yet a very rewarding one.  Many new practices have been initiated and implemented, many new adventures started & many unpredictable issues resolved.
 

As the Public Relations Manager of District 108 of that recent year I have taken a series of short interviews with each member of our D108  Core Team 2019-2020.  I was asking each leader about his/her personal and Toastmasters related successes and failures this year, about lessons they have learnt and the achievements they are proud of.

It’s always good to step back & reconsider, recognize and learn from our fellows and peers, and apply the best practices into action! I personally would like to thank each and every member of our wonderful team for his/her stories and insights. It was a great pleasure working with all of you this year!

Gabriela Roivainen, District 108 Director 2019-2020

Q1. Gabriela, have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?

The goal to have a great learning atmosphere with core team, division and area directors has been achieved. We had only one change in the leadership team and that one was based on personal reasons. I am very grateful for this very good term, on this aspect.

The goal to reach Distinguished status has not been achieved – we can find many reasons for that – but for me this was a great opportunity to learn, because we learn more from failures than from successes.

Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?

I don’t have any good personal result – only a strong team to support each other.

Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome? 

One of the most important and new lessons for me was preparing and running the District Council Meeting with all the ramifications into Toastmasters policies, budgets, Robert’s rules, etc. It was an overwhelming and eye opening. The second lesson was the power of a direct meeting or call, in managing a conflict. I will try to avoid in the future, emails, text messages or any short messages for important topics, but use instead real or virtual video meetings.

Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?

My next year will be relatively easier, I will support the incoming team and lead the Leadership committee. I am looking forward to allocate some of the time dedicated to Toastmasters to my family, I feel that I had neglected them in the last 5 years, while holding different roles from Area Director to District Director.

Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would it be?

I have many names in my mind. Tuire Vuolasvirta for believing in me when I was an area director, Andrei Popescu – for his great training skills and knowledge, Piotr Chimko for his flexibility and easiness to adapt, Morag Mathieson for having always time to send a short encouragement, Elizabeth Nostedt and Jaap Russchenberg for guiding me when I had challenges, Deepak Menon for his easiness and down-to earth way of leading. Last but the most important, my leadership team, from which I have received energy, joy and wisdom during this term.

Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with our D108 members and with the rest of the TM world?

In 2019 I had a challenging year on personal level and I had struggled deciding if is a wise decision to take the role of district director this term, but now, at the end of it, I am very glad that I took it. With all the challenges, it was very rewarding.

Piotr Chimko, Immediate Past District 108 Director

Q1. Piotr, have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?
 
My goal as IPDD was to keep myself away from interfering with the new team on how they do the district business and support them whenever they ask for it. I must admit it wasn’t easy, but I sticked to it. Also, it allowed me to rest a little bit.
My goal as DLC Chair was to ensure that next year our district will have a team as strong as possible. Working with the wonderful team of Ania, Marta, Przemek and Pekka we managed to achieve 97% of the goal, leaving only one vacant space.
 
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
After the round of interviews the DLC conducted in February and March we missed a few officers. I didn’t want to leave it up to Elena to fill these roles, so I did quite an extensive research and personally approached several people and checked with them whether they would be willing to serve as district officers. In most cases I succeeded.
 
Being active in the district for several years helped me to get through to people who could support me with that assignment. I would like to thank everyone who supported DLC during the whole process.
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome? 
 
I had to learn the DLC protocol in details. During the process I learned that some things were completely different than I had always thought before. For example I learned that to be nominated for District Director you do not have to serve in the trio before and it’s enough if you have one year of experience as Division Director. On the other hand, I learned that to serve in the trio it’s not enough to serve as any district officer and you need to have experience of Area Director or Division Director. That last thing actually broke my heart…
 
Not surprising conclusion of these learnings is: while it’s best to know all of your game BEFORE you start to play it, in Toastmasters you will still learn things on the way.
 
Q4. What are your plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
I offered myself as next year’s District Alignment Committee Chair. Members of this year’s DLC already agreed to continue the journey with me and I just need to bring in a representative of the new division!
 
Also, in the meantime we founded an on-line advanced club, where we require at least ACS or completion of two paths to become a member. This is where I will probably invest most of my time dedicated to Toastmasters next year.
 
Q5. Сould you name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey?
 
If I were to name one person who inspired me most in last year, that would be Rafał Staszek Vel Staszewski, because of some ideas we discussed, some music he shared with me and the way he makes tough decisions.
 
Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with our district and with the rest of the TM world? 
 
I would like to congratulate the current district team for thriving despite the headwinds we’re experiencing and I would like to wish success to the new team who will start shortly.
 
Remember: learning by having fun is the best way of learning!

Elena Paweta, District 108 Program Quality Director 2019-2020

 
Q1. Lena, tell us if your TM goals you had set last June have been achieved by now?
 
We have achieved the goal of having a high quality of clubs in the district in 2019/2020. Moreover, we managed to maintain the high quality level even in the face of the membership crisis caused by covid19 pandemic and moving online.
 
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
With the support of the core team, we managed to incorporate the advanced club awards system basing on the experience of the best districts in the world. We are planning to develop and improve this system in the future.
 
I am proud of the great district conference we organized online on a very short notice with a great dynamic team. It all seemed impossible until it was done
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?
 
I learned a lot about leadership and teamwork, as I do every year in Toastmasters.
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
To continue supporting our district in the role of the District Director.
 
Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would it be?
 
I had a great pleasure working with the whole district team. I am grateful for their support – together we managed to achieve a lot!

Adriana Vasilache, District 108 Club Growth Director 2019-2020

Q1. Have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?
 
One idea that I started the year with is Tuire’s words: “Don’t waste your time in Toastmasters .. but make the best out of it!” and it followed me all year round.
 
Some of the goals I’ve set in June did not work as I planned, partly of my own fault and partly of the unexpected situation of this year.
They refer directly to the membership current status. Other goals, like my personal learning goals went on an exponential ascending curve that I could not foresee. The last, but by no means the least, the goal related to the Odyssey project creation turned out much better than I expected.
 
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
I consider the Odyssey projectas my best result this year because of its impact on people and the feedback we’ve got. The Odyssey team helped me to achieve this and I am very thankful for having in the team: Anna Maria Filipek, Валерия Холодкова, Marta Lewenda, Florin Lohan, Artur Malesza, Aleksandr Sakulin, Naza Siminska, Ana Sia, Marcin Waśko.
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?
 
One of the lessons that I’ve actually been reminded was that “action is better” and by doing the right project and having the people in mind you get to attract a great team working for the project.
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
My plan is to continue “full-time” in taking care of and developing the Odyssey project and let’s see what the year will bring.
 
Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?
 
Gabriela Roivainen has been a great example for me on at least two aspects: how to develop as a leader and how to do your job despite personal life hardship.
 
Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with our District and with the rest of the Toastmasters world?
 
I guess you know it already, but I need to say it: You Toastmasters are a great community to which and I am proud and happy to belong to.

Leena Rantala, District 108 Finance Manager 2019-2020

Q1. Leena, tell us if your TM goals you had set last June have been achieved by now?
 
My goal as District Finance Manager was to provide assistance to the District trio in finance matters and follow up the budget set by them.
 
We deviated from the budget mainly two reasons: calculated 8% membership growth was not achieved and District Conference made (moderate) loss.
The conference team worked hard to minimize the loss and they were quite successful. The financial year will be closed probably in August hence can comment the final figures only then.
 
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
I had far too slow start to grasp the TMI’s SAP based financial platform, however 2nd and 3rd quarter helped me to understand how SAP works. That was top point for me because I had never used SAP based solution before and it’s widely used system by number of different type companies.
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt?
 
It’s vitally important to insure that proper handover is taking place from top down. In my part I’ve had few Zoom sessions with the upcoming FM and we have exchanged emails. Naturally I’ll do my best to support him during the way.
 
The upcoming team needs to spell and spell again what is required in different positions. When deadlines and procedures are agreed and approved everyone are expected to adapt them.
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
To support some clubs which are bit struggling at the moment. To help Northern Stars as their incoming VPE to achieve truly advance club status by developing leadership and communication paths.
 
Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?
 
Our DD Gabriela Roivainen has been amazing leader with patience of an angel.
 
Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with our District and the whole Toastmasters world?
 
I felt saddened when reading email from one AD less than a month ago where she stated nearly end of the year that she had not understand what was expected from her.
 
It’s crucial to clearly communicate what is expected in all positions and insure that it’s communicated all way down to club officer level and members.

Heikki Siltanen, District 108 Administration Manager 2019-2020

Q1. Heikki, tell us if your TM goals you had set last June been have achieved by now?
 
My goal was to become more proficient with skills like grabbing busy people‘s attention, active listening, filtering the message from the rest and using mass communication tools like Mailchimp.
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
The most happy I am with the both live DECMs we had. I enjoyed joggling with many balls at the same time and working with local Toastmasters in creating pleasant events.

Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?
 
I realized how strongly the Administration Manager’s role is emphasized on communication over administrative tasks.
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
Taking a back seat in the District positions, since I will dedicate more time on other business. However Toastmasters roles have contributed a lot with building a skill set for that. Otherwise I continue with working with my clubs as the Club Officer.

Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you Toastmasters journey – who would that be?
 
I guess the Division D Director and incoming Club Growth Director Monika Szlachta made such ))

Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with D108 members as well as with the rest of the TM world?
 
We have access to the most amazing human database in our community. Let’s all contribute to and enjoy it!

Jakub Bronowicki, District 108 Parliamentarian 2019-2020

Q1. Have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?
 
My main goal was to serve as Parliamentarian and support District Leaders. I believe I have completed this through the year and the meetings we had.
 

Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?

I am really happy that on top of my officer role I was also able to progress on Pathways. It is great to start a learning journey with new members of my Citi Toastmasters Olsztyn Club.

Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?

Main lesson for me is that we are all different with different opinions. Toastmasters gives us opportunity to learn how to listen to others and work out the best solution to any challenge. That can be achieved when we collaborate.

Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?

This year I want to focus on strengthening my home club, serving as the Club Treasurer, moving forward with Pathways and supporting with advice those who need it ))

Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?

Alicja Palińska. She has motivated me to continue Toastmasters Path with her positive attitude, challenging questions and ideas how to find ‘My Why’ in Toastmasters.

Q6. Jakub, is there anything else you wish to share with our D108 members?

Toastmasters is all about people. It’s a life changing program if you take a deep dive.

Grow with the organization and people who are here to become your friends.

Rafal Staszek Vel Staszewski, Division A Director, District 108 2019-2020

Q1. Staszek, have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?

1. My individual goals are achieved. I wanted to reach DTM and have my final speech on my club birthday party. Both things happened on June 15th. My friends from TM organized me a wonderful surprise for the DTM celebration. I was speechless and it turned out to be one of the best moments in my life ))

2. Division goals – not every goal was reached. I thought that we will be able to open new clubs and have a demo meeting in a new city. But Coronavirus interfered. For the last moment, it will be unknown if the division is distinguished, which if ‘yes’ would be marvelous.

Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?

Quick start with my team. We organized a meeting for Division A at the beginning of TM year, which helped to create bonds between people and organize work for the year. I think that team building is crucial for any district officer.

Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?

I think that I learned two main things, where I see myself, as a better person now:
– asking questions instead of giving advice – so I’m a better coach now;
– asking what’s going on the project I delegate.

Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?

I won’t attend a lot of meetings. As a lecturer, I perform 15-20 hours onstage each week, I want something different than a stage. But I will be a speaker at the conference, I want to create a few workshops and be in the next leadership committee.

Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?

For the year as a Division Director, a great impact on me had other Division directors – Alicja Palińska Monika Szlachta Dovilė Kurpytė. Why? Cause they always inspired me with their energy, passion, and ideas. I hope I also gave them something, outside ducks ))

Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with the rest of the TM world?

Remember, the more you give in Toastmasters, the more Toastmasters will bring you back.

As Ralph Smedley said: we learn best in the moments of joy.

Dovile Kurpyte, Division B Director, District 108 2019-2020

Q1. Have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?
 
Still working on it, ‘cause June is not over yet. COVID did impact the goals, so it may take a bit longer to achieve them. What were the goals? To become DTM and to become the President Distinguished Division!
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
The best personal results were: work in amazing Division B Team, grow as a leader, be the Master of Ceremonies of the District 108 Annual Conference, take bigger responsibilities, and become District 108 Program Quality Director. Because it was challenging! And it wouldn’t happen without incredible Toastmasters family at all levels (Club, Area, Division, and District)!
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?
 
I was reminded again that the most important part of great teamwork was communication! If something is not discussed enough – there will be a problem, sooner or later, but there will be. And if all discussed then the whole plan goes smoothly, where goals are met and all the team members are happy!
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
Uuuuuu…really? To have all Clubs Distinguished and be in TOP best Districts in the world!
 
Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who will that be?
 
I became a better leader because of Division B AMAZING Team: Mantas Lipnickas, Lukas Barasnevičius, Melbin Thomas & Peter Kangas. I became even more motivated to do more in Toastmasters because of our Toastmasters family!
 
Q6. Is there anything else you wish to share with our D108 members and the rest of the TM world? 
 
Thank you very much! It’s really incredibly good to grow in a team that inspires, and say magnificent words, when needed – helps, when needed – encourage!
 
All the smiles, hugs, and incredibly awesome time together inspire! Let’s not stop sharing it!

Alicja Palinska, Division C Director, District 108 2019-2020

Q1. Alicja, have your TM goals you had set last June been achieved by now?
 
Yes, and I am so proud of all achievements in my Division C. At the end of the term we achieved the Distinguished status. And I believe that we could be even better – many of the clubs have reached 9 or 10 DCP points with only the lack of membership growth caused by a pandemic.
I have set up 2 main goals for myself. One was to strengthen cooperation and integration through western and northern Poland because the distance can be felt. The second assumption concerned sharing knowledge and experience to raise and equalize the level of quality in areas and clubs. Now I can see great interaction and support not only between clubs but also between areas.
 
Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
I have really loved the way how Gabriela Roivainen was leading us as District Director through Tasks Tracker. Every month I knew exactly what is to do and it was much easier to make sure my division is completing all tasks. In that way I was recognized as Division Director of the year 2019-2020.
 
Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?
 
I was devoted to duties as division director, professional work and private matters, and as the result I could not find time to complete my educational goal and to achieve DTM awards.
 
Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?
 
Maybe it will be the time for me to achieve DTM in Pathways…
 
Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?
 
From the very beginning of my journey in Toastmasters I have had one mentor – Jakub Bronowicki. I was learning from him how to be a leader, how to talk with people, ask right questions to motivate them – all the time being focus on their needs not only on my own.
 
Once a month I was also able to look back at my way thanks to talk-session with Ryszard Kosowicz. We have been always summarizing the actions taken and we were setting plans for the next month. This allowed me to correct them that I could still perform my duties with enjoyment and satisfaction.
Without others Division Directors: Monika Szlachta and Rafał Staszek Vel Staszewski this year wouldn’t be the same. Thank you for your support, joint deliberations, exchange of information and fun!
 
Q6. Alicja, is there anything else you wish to share with our D108 members as well as with the rest of the TM world? 
 
During my service I have had to face with many situation when it was very difficult to choose what is more important: people’s needs or the organization’s rules.
 
With trust and respect to each others I believe that we can reconcile these two issues. In my opinion Toastmasters is for us, not we are for the organization.

Monika Szlachta, Division D Director, District 108 2019-2020

Q1. Monika, have your Toastmasters goals you had set last June been achieved by now?

I always set ambitious goals, I always want to do my best and be the best. My personal goal for this year was to finish legacy program with DTM award, I got it 6 months before I expected. 

My goals as the Division Director was to improve my communication, delegating, team building skills, managing distributed teams and creating bonds in Toastmasters community. And an icing on a cake – to get the President`s Distinguished Status as a first Division. All done! ))

Q2. What were your best personal results as the D108 officer this year?
 
Surpised by being given Special Prize from our District Director Gabriela Roivainen. A lot of people from different divisions wanted to work with me and make wonderful project with me for Toastmasters community in our district: #educationalmondays, #toastontour, first on-line ever Division Conference. I found out that people trust me and want to develop together.

Q3. What were the lessons you’ve learnt? Any challenges to overcome?

Many things! I wanted to be Division Director of the Year. This title means for me that you can manage your division very well, create the best team and reach organization goals. And I wanted to have it in my CV.
 
Alicja Palińska got this title winning by 1% better result and I have to live with this ambivalent emotions: joy for my friend’s success and yet having the feeling of failure from my side.
 
This is what I have learnt the best: how to keep up if I wasn’t able to reach my goals because someone is better. This is the true leader attitude: knowing that even if you are not the best you have learnt so much in the process, still going on and setting other ambitious goals.


Q4. What are you plans for the upcoming TM year?

I couldn’t even imagine that my Toastmasters journey will ever stop. There is so many opportunities to learn how to be a better communicator, a leader, an employer, an employee, a mother… a person. Toastmasters is truly a place where the magic of transformation happens: personally, I got a job, because my soon-to-be boss met me at a Toastmasters meeting, I fell in love in Toastmasters with a Toastmaster.
 
I am an incoming Club Growth Director and I want to spread idea of Toastmasters and give more people an opportunity to grow.

Q5. If you could name someone in particular who made a great impact on this very part of you TM journey – who would that be?

I have learnt something for each person which I met on my way. Most from my mentors: past District Director Piotr Chimko from D108 and DD Florian Bay from D91. But the greatest impact on me played the words from an unknown person from our Core Team. This person gave me a very interesting anonymous feedback during our assessments and made me think about my way of communication when I am tired or upset.

Q6. Monika, is there anything else you wish to share with the rest of the TM world? 

I don’t know any other place where you can learn so much. Let`s spread the word of Toastmastering to your friends and to all people in the world!

Valeria Kholodkova, Public Relations Manager, District 108 2019-2020

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