District 39

Where Leaders Are Made

Where Leaders Are Made

Jim Kohli represents approximately 18,000 members and 950 clubs in the seven districts in Region 2. He will be coming to the District 39 Fall Conference November 10 and 11th and presenting a humorous speech about leadership. Find out more about your Region 2 International Director in this rock star inspired video and in this interview below.


D39: When and why did you join Toastmasters?

Jim Kohli (JK): Since September 12, 2002. I visited the Waukesha Toastmasters in D35, in Wisconsin to see if Toastmasters could help some of the employees who I managed. I was so impressed by the power of evaluations that I joined on the spot.


D39: Where are you from and where do you live now?

JK: I was born in Florida, spent my early childhood on Long Island (New York), and lived in Wisconsin for 46 years. My wife and I transitioned to San Ramon, California in 2013.


D39: What kind of work do you do outside of Toastmasters?

JK: I am a software architect for GE Healthcare in their Services division. I also manage our divisions Intellectual Property portfolio working with our legal team and our inventors to insure protection for our inventions.


D39: What does an International Director do?


JK: As an International Director, I work with the other International Directors and the executive team to prioritize and address problems facing our institution today. We also prioritize and address new ways to meet the needs of our members whether or not one would call that addressing a problem.


D39: How did your prior Toastmasters leadership experiences prepare you for it?


The best way to prepare for this kind of work is to be open minded, have good listening and analytic skills, demonstrate emotional intelligence and engage a variety of persuasive skills. Being an area director and working through the different paths available in district leadership is a great way to prepare for this role.


As a past Region Advisor, I also enjoyed a broader-than-usual perspective on how some needs are met in other districts, both within our region and in other regions, as well. The broader perspective is very useful in informing one’s opinions on such things. Much of our work, as a board, involves strategically changing how we operate as an institution by guiding changes to our governing documents and providing guidance to the staff at World Headquarters.


D39: What motivated you to pursue running for International Director?

JK: I recognized that the leadership experiences that I have enjoyed as a Toastmaster have had a tangible and positive effect on my life – being an International Director seemed like it should continue to grow me. At some risk of seeming immodest, I also felt like I may be able to provide better service to our members than other potential candidates – my being an International Director should help others grow.


D39: What can we do to motivate future leaders?

JK: I think it is important to understand that we are not in Toastmasters to be a better Toastmaster – we are in Toastmasters to improve ourselves, our lives, and the lives of those around us. I think if we can help our members understand this aspect of the Toastmasters experience and make deliberate choices to broaden their skills through a leadership experience, everything will fall into place.


D39: Do you have any other advice to current and future district leaders?

JK: Develop mantras around how your team operates. Grab, use, and improve other leaders’ mantras to improve your own. Don’t invest your emotions in your efforts, invest your emotions in the team’s efforts. You will hear more on this subject during my presentations


D39: What do you like to do outside of Toastmasters?

JK: I like spending time with my family, I enjoy reading and listening to music. I like biking, jogging, playing ultimate-frisbee, and volleyball. I enjoy creating. I play games of strategy, I like crosswords and Sudoku, and I enjoy studying the fine art of Cajun cookery. Mentoring and coaching are also very rewarding.


D39: Anything else you would like to add?

JK: I am very excited about visiting District 39 during your final Fall Conference! I know many of you already and I look forward to making new acquaintances. I hope that if you are thinking about a leadership role, that you will find value in some leadership mantras that I will share with you during my visit.


Come to learn about some of Jim’s mantras during his twenty minute presentation, “Leading in the Times of Change: Lessons from the Frozen Tundra (It’s Not about Football)” 7:30 am, Saturday, November 11, 2017, at the District 39 Fall Conference at the Hard Rock Café and Casino in South Lake Tahoe.