Category Archives: Toastmasters International

An Oration Revolution is on the Ready

What should you do when you recognize a lack of quality, structure, and execution in a particular setting, and get caught in the fallout because of it?

I recently competed in the second level of six at a Toastmasters International speech contest. A restructuring of typical protocol placed my event near the end of the day, which allowed me to watch most of the contest before giving my speech.

Deeply disappointed describes well my reaction to the lack of quality in the competition speeches. One unfortunate contestant actually used a power point in a strictly timed 5-7 minute presentation. This wasn’t a TED talk situation where power point is frequently used, but perhaps part of the problem is that she thought it was.

Death by powerpoint

Almost from the get-go, her slides wouldn’t advance. She looked at the person in the audience who helped set her up and said, “It’s not working”.

In a contest situation, you can’t simply call on tech support and expect delivery. You’re timed. You have to get on with it.

The poor woman tried to get on with it, but it was easy to recognize her unpreparedness. It would be my guess she had relied too heavily on the content of her slides, and not the content which should have been in her head and heart. It appeared that without her slides, she couldn’t remember what she wanted to say. A tragedy for her.

I wondered, “Where is her mentor who should have told her not to use a power point in a competition? Isn’t there anyone in the club she’s representing who could have advised her?”

Her opponent was only slightly more prepared. No clear message, and no clear purpose in his content. I learned afterward he has been part of Toastmasters for 16 years. Obviously he’s not using the Toastmasters program to its fullest, since he announced his last educational award was from a program which hasn’t been used since 2007.

I wondered, “Where have his mentors been for 12 years? Why hasn’t he been encouraged to move forward into a new, better structured, program?”

Then it was my turn to give my speech. I have competed before. In 2015 I made it to the semi-finals (level 5) of the world championship of public speaking. That had been an emotionally draining summer, but I learned so much more about crafting and delivering a winning speech than I’d ever expected to. Today I teach young people 5 days a week how to do what I learned.

11. Jackie

My presentation was excellent (even if simply compared to the others). It was actually structured professionally, and delivered like a champ. I’m sure I changed the energy in the entire room, as the audience witnessed for the first time that evening an actual competition speech.


My one opponent was a man I’d see compete before. He has a strong, natural stage presence, and having worked as a pastor, was confident in speaking. However, his delivery was lacking in deliberate word use and a clear message. I guessed he may have simply threw some thoughts onto paper the day before the contest.

Imagine my surprise when I placed second to him (my opponent). I was disappointed in my loss, as anyone would be. I was even more disappointed in the lack of quality from other contestants AND the judges. Were they not aware of the criteria they were assigned to judge?

How was I the only contestant to actually meet the contest criteria, and come in second?

Elementary age children

My greatest disappointment was knowing a few of my young students were there to witness the entire competition. I had considered the opportunity for them to see a contest as a powerful, impactful teaching moment. Yet, what they saw was a competition in which the bar was set so low, it was a waste of time (a three hour waste of time)

I’m saddened to report that within 5 years since I previously competed, the quality of contestants and judges have steadily sank. I’m not alone in that thinking. Many others in my district have voiced a sense of dismay and disappointment in their own competition losses, which were not deserved.

Had I not been competing the other night, and saw what I saw, I would still be just as disappointed in the outcome.

I believe it will take purposeful, persistent, and powerful leadership to bring a sense of championship-desiring speakers and judges back into the Toastmaster district. If I can be a part of the oration revolution, I will be.


Your Odyssey Has Begun – Whose Eyes Will You Look Into?

Advice.  We’re surrounded by it.  With the advent of the internet there are friends, followers, gurus and goofballs who will tell you they have the solution to your every problem.

Perhaps you consider me a friend.  You may follow this blog, and I may follow yours.  There are some who call me a guru, and more who know me as a goofball.

I don’t have a solution to your every problem, but I have gained wisdom through experience that I’m happy to share.  In fact, many years ago I was asked by a counselor,

“Jackie, if you could speak to Heavenly Father right now, what would you ask him?”

My response then is the same response I’d have today:

“What do you want me to do now?”

The first time I was asked this question was at the finish line of emotional hell overcoming childhood abuse.  With a more complete perspective, I could see how my circumstances, experiences, and challenges of the past had shaped me into the person I was then.  I had always known that if I made it through that healing process I would have more strength than I could have ever imagined.

I was strong.  I had survived.  I was glad I had chosen to keep moving forward.  That odyssey was complete.

I was at the beginning of another Odyssey.  Where would I go, and what would I do?  How can I influence the lives of others?  These were the questions I would ask God, “What do you want me to do now?”

That wasn’t the last time I began an odyssey in life.  It wasn’t the last time when I’ve been able to look back and gain perspective.

There was the time when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 30 years ago.  That was the start of an odyssey.

There was the time I decided to start my business, Emerald City Consulting.  That was an odyssey.

There was the time I said yes to District 2 leadership in Toastmasters International.  That was an odyssey.

There was the time I wrote my book, SELF Centered Leadership.  That is the beginning of your odyssey.

Each time I’ve disembarked from one odyssey, I’ve embarked on another.  That’s the way life should be!

Please take a moment to watch this video featuring a song from John Denver titled “Come and Let Me Look In Your Eyes”

I invite you to embark on an odyssey to exceptional leadership by looking through my eyes.  I identify four traits that have helped me gain perspective from my challenges and experiences in my book, SELF Centered Leadership.  I invite you to read it.

It will help you answer the question,

“What do you want me to do now?”


If you LIKE the word LIKE, then you’ll LIKE this post

UGH!  Language is so important!  When someone misuses language, it gives me the heebie jeebies.

For example, I was recently eating lunch at a Panera Bread restaurant, and overheard the conversation two young ladies were having.  I don’t know HOW they had time to eat, because the spew of words was non-stop.

Even worse than the spew of words was THE WORDS they kept using.  Not profanity – that bothers me more – but the word “like” was used over and over for the 20 minutes or so that my husband and I were there.

It was incredible.  I managed to tape 90 seconds of the conversation so that you can get a taste of what I had for lunch….

Watch the video on YOUTUBE

Tell me what you think.  Is this inability to communicate the fault of society? Family? Schools?

I want to hear from you!



There’s a first time for everything!

Hello friends, and welcome to the new home of my blog.  The format wherein my original blog posts were housed is now becoming obsolete.  For that reason, I’ve had to transfer my blog to this new Word Press site.  This is my maiden post!

I haven’t posted much on my blog lately because I’ve been working on my book.  Thankfully, I’m getting closer to being ready for edits.

Since there is a first time for everything (and because I wanted to try out my new Word Press format), I’m going to give you a small glimpse into one of the chapters of my book….

From, “S.E.L.F. Leadership”, chapter 1…..

The one word I believe defines leadership greater than any other, is INFLUENCE. In fact, my favorite definition of leadership comes from the founder of Toastmasters International, Ralph Smedley.  Almost 100 years ago Dr. Smedley created a non-profit organization with the intent of helping people to enhance their communication and leadership skills.

Dr. Smedley defined leadership as, “……the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results”. There’s that word again. INFLUENCE.

How do people like you and me gain the capacity to influence others to achieve results that are worthwhile? How can your influence become a force or power to effect change in others?

This book will attempt to answer those questions. However, I firmly believe that WE ARE ALL leaders. Each one of us influences another. This influence can be good or bad. Nevertheless, influence is the first quality we are born with, and we develop influence throughout our lives.

This book will focus on EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP. Exceptional leadership trumps simple influence.

Synonyms for EXCEPTIONAL include:

  • Extraordinary
  • Noteworthy
  • Rare
  • Remarkable
  • Singular
  • Uncommon
  • Unique

The questions again were:

How do people like you and me gain the capacity to influence others to achieve results that are worthwhile?

How can your influence become a force or power to effect change in others?

I believe the answers come through S.E.L.F. reflection. I believe influence happens when you become S.E.L.F.ish. I believe that leadership is truly an odyssey to S.E.L.F. Once S.E.L.F. is attained, your influence can be felt by countless individuals, and that you can, and will be, a force and power to effect change. THAT is leadership.

There it is….your sneak peak to my first book.  It will be helpful for you to know that S.E.L.F. is an acronym for four attributes that I believe exceptional leaders must posses: SACRIFICE – EMPOWERMENT – LOVE – FRIENDSHIP.

There is a first time for everything, and I’m excited for the opportunity to share my message with the world!


The S in S.E.L.F. is for SACRIFICE

My last several posts have been about SACRIFICE.  I have been thinking about the way we learn leadership, and I’ve discovered that it is really about self-leading.  My new campaign is shown in this image:

For the short-term , I will be talking about these four areas of self-leadership:

  • LOVE

In my past posts, I have given examples of BIG ways people have sacrificed for others…..
Sacrifice, Seeds and Starvation
Sacrifice and Heroism
The #1 Characteristic of Exceptional Leaders

Today, is a personal experience.  No heroics, just personal sacrifices I’ve made toward becoming a better leader.

In his Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith tell us,….a religion that does not require the sacrifice
of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary
unto life

Sacrifice of all things.  That’s pretty big.  This doesn’t just apply to religion, though.  Religion is something we are accountable to; but we are accountable to ourselves as well–perhaps even more.  Therefore, WE must sacrifice all things if we want to have sufficient power to produce faith unto life.

In my journey toward leadership, I have sacrificed much.  Facing fears of rejection, humiliation, friends, even family relationships required sacrifice.  When I decided to break the silence of childhood abuse many years ago, I sacrificed all of these things and more.

I have sacrificed my own desires many times because of my loyalty to an employer, an organization, even my church and family.  These sacrifices have NOT weakened me.  They have empowered me.  I have not lost who I am, but I have been able to find who I am.  Sacrifice.

On July 1st, 2010 I began serving as one of the top three leaders in a non-profit organization. This organization was Toastmasters International, and I was the third in charge of roughly 3500 members as the Lt.Governor Marketing for District 2. 

On July 1st, 2011 I had moved up one seat, and served as the Lt. Governor Education and Training.  By July 1st, 2012 I was the head honcho, the big cheese, the lady in charge of District 2.  I was the District Governor.  Yikes!  I thought I had been working hard the two previous years; but because I never do anything less than 100%, I charged in full speed and set out to motivate and lead a team of about 75 volunteers in this very large organization.

What did I sacrifice for leadership? 

  • Sleep
  • Meals
  • Vacations
  • Blogging
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Career advancements
  • Income
  • Client relationships
  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Time spent with family

I’m not complaining, because I’m VERY glad I took on the challenge to lead in the Toastmaster organization.  I don’t believe that I would have had the opportunity to learn the leadership lessons I did any other way.  I had the chance to be the CEO of an organization with 3500 + “employees”.  Wow!  And did I mention that every minute of it was voluntary?  I was never paid anything.

With all the sacrificing it took to lead District 2, I never sacrificed my integrity, my religious beliefs, or my self-respect.  Nor did I ever compromise on the goals I set out to accomplish. 

I did not meet all the benchmarks that I wanted to as District Governor, but I left District 2 stronger and better than when it was put in my charge.  I’m happy with that.

The sacrifices I made gave me power sufficient to produce necessary

What have YOU sacrificed?

 What power have YOU been able to produce because of your sacrifice?

How do you measure your growth?

Today is the first day in 4 years that I have not felt an incredible sense of responsibility in leadership for my favorite non-profit organization, Toastmasters International. 

At midnight June 30th, 2013 I completed my year as District 2 Governor!

I have learned the following:

  • A clearly defined vision and mission are vital
  • Expectations must be shared early and often
  • Personal touches go a long way
  • Pick your battles
  • Prioritize your time, projects and communication
  • Self-discipline is a must
  • Take every opportunity to increase your network
  • You can handle more than you ever thought you could
  • Sleep is important
  • No excuses
  • Speak only when what you say has value to someone else
  • 80% of success is timing

Toastmasters International, with its 300,000 or so members, is divided into 89 districts in 116+ countries throughout the world.  Since July 1, 2012, I’ve been serving as one of those 89 governors.  District 2 geographically covers western Washington from Kent to the Canadian border; and from the Cascade Mountains to the Puget Sound, and serves roughly 3500 members.

If you’re a numbers person, you might be interested in the team of individuals that make up the District 2 Executive Council of which I served as the head:

2 Lt Governors

5 other officers including a(n):

  • Immediate Past District Governor
  • Public Relations Officer
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Sergeant at Arms

7 Division Governors

40 Area Governors

187 Club Presidents

187 Club Vice Presidents Education

20+ auxiliary personnel including heads of several committees

20+ assistants to the area and division governors

There are 6 other district governors in Region 1 that greatly influenced and inspired me.  Nancy from District 9; Annette from District 15; Margaret from District 21; Bea from District 26; Mary from District 32; and Linus from the Yukon Council in Alaska.  These are individuals I planned with, commiserated with, and exchanged ideas and support with.

I can’t even begin to count the dozens upon dozens of individuals from Toastmasters International and all over the world who have, in ways large and small, impacted my growth in leadership.

I am so grateful for this experience. I have never been so exhausted, yet uplifted and invigorated all at the same time!

Special recognition goes to my personal support system.  My husband and family have not seen much of me in the last 4 years.  I have missed numerous family events because of my responsibilities as a district governor.  I have sacrificed time on my book, and in my business. 


I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and do something that seems a little crazy.  Do something that will require selfless service and sacrifice. 

Your assignment: Consider your personal growth in the last 4 years, then answer the following questions:

  1. What have you achieved, and how? 
  2. Who are the individuals which have inspired you? 
  3. What have you learned about leadership?

Please post your comments on this blog.  Your experiences will be meaningful to me and so many others.

Balance and Blogging

Wow, I haven’t blogged in awhile.  Leadership in Toastmasters has kept me busy.  So has life.

I sit here today with so much on my mind that I’m not even sure what I can blog about.  It’s a beautiful Fall day, and I would like to be out in it, but I don’t actually have to go anywhere, and I should try to be productive with my time.

Leadership requires such a balance.  I’m going to spend a little time writing.  I’ll be back if I find anything specific to blog about…..

Leadership Training and the Lazy River

I am in Orlando, Florida where the Toastmasters International
Convention will take place starting on Wednesday.   I’m here with Lt.
Governor Education & Training, Sandy Malone and Lt. Governor Marketing,
Sandy Marshall attending training for District Leaders.

The Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort near Disney World is an amazingly beautiful
hotel.  There is a “river” that flows through the pool
area.  I’m not particularly a lover of water, but I was encouraged to go
float down the river with Sandy Malone this evening after training was

Today’s training focused on quality clubs, team building, strategic planning, and ended with round table discussions about communication, budgeting, policy & protocol, and leadership succession (to name only a few).  We get to go back tomorrow for more specific training for our individual roles.

I’ve been indoctrinated with principles of leadership.  It has been a great day!  And as Sandy and I floated down the river tonight, I started thinking about how this very activity could be likened to leadership principles.  Can a leader truly lead if he/she allows the “current” to take him/her where it may?  Can a leader truly lead if he/she simply floats through a project?

The answers to those questions are simply “no”.  True leaders do not allow the current to control the outcome.  A true leader has a rudder that steers them safely through all obstacles they will encounter.

Toastmasters International is where leaders are made.  It is where leaders learn how to navigate down lazy rivers and white water rapids.  Preparation, planning and purpose are three keys to leadership success.  Leadership is not easy, and it’s usually not convenient, but working toward perfecting it in yourself will impact your life in ways you can’t imagine.

So jump in, overcome your fear, and navigate the river of leadership!


How Leaders are MAID

Do you desire to have not only a winning team, but a team that will help you win?  

Bent Ericksen & Associates surveyed employees in order to determine what they wanted most from their employers.  There are 12 items on the list.  If you want to know what your employees want first and second, please tune in to those previous posts.

The third item on the list of what employees want most; and what will make employees most productive is: A pleasant and harmonious work environment with minimum stress.  Ahhh…that would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Is it possible to achieve?  Really?

Ralph Smedley, founder of Toastmasters International  said,

“Leadership is the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results”

Having the capacity to influence others in an ever changing environment is a prime example of leadership.

Leadership in a healthcare practice, or any other business is characterized by:

Manifesting your power through example and action

Allowing yourself to be led by your team

Inspiring others to achieve more

Developing the capacity to influence others toward worthwhile results

The question has been posed by almost every generation, “Are leaders born, or are leaders made?”  The answer, based on this acronym is that leaders are MAID.  

What do I mean by this?  I mean that as a leader, you must serve.  A true leader is someone whom others WANT to follow because they believe in the leaders vision, not because the leader DEMANDS that he/she be followed. This is most likely achieved through collaboration.

Collaboration can:
– dramatically reduce turnover
– naturally stimulate practice growth
– Allows team members to use their skills and talents successfully
– Lower levels of discord and frustration

An effective team leader will foster collaboration with the team through:

  • Team building
  • Delegation
  • Coaching
  • Encouraging an attitude of service

How can you encourage an attitude of service in your business, or as an employee working in a business?

It is possible to achieve a pleasant and harmonious work environment with service and collaboration!

Leadership is Messy!

My desk as I walked in this morning.  This doesn’t take into account the 6-7 boxes I have in the living room ready to load into my car for a training tomorrow.  Nor does this picture cover the materials on the kitchen table where I tend to lay things down when I come into the house.

So many projects all at once!

Emerald City Consulting 
Physician Consulting, Inc 
Navigating Your Fishbowl
Toastmasters International District 2
The Relief Society

Family, bills, dogs, yardwork, laundry, housecleaning, cooking, shopping, car maintenance, exercise, personal study…..  Calgon, Take me Away!!!!

Yep, leadership is messy, and I need a bath!!!!!