District 39

Where Leaders Are Made

Where Leaders Are Made

Heredia portraitThis interview is the fourth in a series spotlighting rising stars in Toastmasters District 39. How is your club cultivating its next generation of speakers and leaders?

Q: John, how long you have been a member of your Toastmasters club and what was the original catalyst that prompted you to join?

A: I’ve been a member of Strictly Speaking since May 2014. I had just moved back to Sacramento from San Diego, and a co-worker invited me to join. I was looking to get involved in a new activity.

Q: How do you remember your first few meeting experiences? Did someone step up as a mentor for you?

A: My first experience was very welcoming and supportive. Dave Hamilton stepped up as a mentor for me, and helped me by conducting a new member orientation. We sat in the cafeteria and went over my goals in Toastmaster, career, and life. I asked him to provide feedback on my decisions, how I was as a leader, and most importantly how I was doing as a Toastmaster. He was very supportive and encouraging with my decisions to become President of Strictly Speaking and an Area director.

Q: What are your proudest achievements in the club? And what would you like to accomplish?

A: I had a few achievements in the club. Four months after becoming a member, I became the President. I grew the membership from 8 to 24 members and lead the club to achieve Presidents Distinguished. Additionally, I competed at the Area level contest and won 1st place in the International Speech contest and 2nd in the Humorous.  I would like to accomplish my DTM.

Q: What would you recommend to other clubs looking to attract more Millennial members?

A: Make the meetings fun and exciting to come back to. Be supportive and personable.

Q: What are the key lessons you have learned in Toastmasters?

A: I learned that you can only get better with practice. If you are able to get up to speak, say a few words and sit down, then you have succeeded. The second thing I learned is that the skills and knowledge you gain in Toastmasters are transferrable to other areas of my life. When I apply the basic communication and leadership principles that I’ve acquire from Toastmasters, then I feel confident to succeed in anything I do.

Q: How have you applied these principles in your career or other personal pursuits?

A: I am currently serving on a Board for a non-profit organization that provides an educational athletic program for grades K-5 after school. I applied the same principles I learned in TM with membership and finances (collecting dues). Within 6 months the organization doubled and memberships were paid in advance. The skills I learned during my training from District 39 and experience as President in Strictly Speaking has helped in my career in prioritizing, problem-solving, and becoming more goal-oriented. Recently, I’ve changed careers to pursue my leadership and speaking skills and gone into Training and Development for the State agency I work for.

Q: What key advice do you have for other younger members to get the most out of Toastmasters?

A: Be open to learn and take on new opportunities. Get credit for your time and your speeches, and help others to grow with you.

Contact John Heredia