About me

Toastmasters do things in threes.  In that vein, here is a third thing that every Toastmasters club President must do.  They must know what resources are available.

(Note that the Toastmasters web site doesn’t always add the .pdf file extension to its files.  You may have to manually add it to open these files)

The Club Success Plan is a way of applying goals that follow the SMART requirements.  They are a great way to lead your club forward.  Get it here.  This is a great way to set expectations for the year for both your club and your members.  Following the Club Success Plan keeps your club from being stale while also providing a great leadership experience for its club officers.  Do it.  Make your club better.

The Club Leadership Handbook is something that I always have with me.  What, exactly, is the job of the Club Secretary?  That question and most every other question about running a club is covered.  Get the handbook here.  People like leaders who know what they are doing or know where to find the answers.  The handbook will make you look like a genius.  Read it and carry it to every meeting.  Toastmasters International even has training material for every officer role in the club.

Who is your Area Governor?  Do you know what an Area Governor is?  There are people who are specifically assigned to aid clubs and guide them to success.  If you do not know who your Area Governor is, they are supposed to visit your club twice a year.  If they are not visiting, and you didn’t see them at a speech contest, and you didn’t see them at officer training, and you fear they or your club may be or become deceased, check out the web page for your District.  If you want to know more about leadership at the District level, there is a handbook for that too.

Toastmasters has the answers for just about every question a club President comes across during their time of service.  By using these resources, you and your club will be successful.

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


If you followed my last post, you are now keeping track of your member’s achievements.  That’s great!  It is a primary task in order to reach the distinguished club goal.  The story doesn’t end there.  There is another thing that I see as being a huge factor in the success of a club.  The club President must be invested in the success of club and its members.

That statement means a lot of things.  For me, this comes across in a few ways:

  • Follow-up is easy

Asking someone to come back to the club after they have missed a couple of meetings is only a chore if you do not want them there.  There is not a single member of the club that I do not want at every single meeting.  Each of them adds something that is missing if they are not in attendance.

  • Appreciation is honest

What is better for the entire club than the success of its members?  By appreciating every award, every first step of an individual member, the entire club benefits.  There is no way to earn distinguished status with only a few people.  Every little bit helps and is appreciated.

  • The President must be the example

If the club President is not present, who are they to offer suggestions?  Attendance is a must for any club President and it nearly goes without saying.

It is also best if the President is someone who is actively working towards a speaking and leadership goal.  It is a double standard to request that others give speeches and then watch the club President sit on the sidelines week after week.

It is just about time for nominations in your Toastmasters club.  If you are invested in the club, run for an officer role.  If you don’t have the experience, don’t worry.  Toastmasters attracts high-achieving people who desire to help others.  You don’t have to do it alone.


About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


You are now a Toastmasters Club President. Now what?  In order to succeed there is one thing that I have done that has put our club in a great position to become President’s Distinguished this year.  What could that one thing be?

It all comes down to tracking your member’s progress and providing follow-up discussions on it.  Yes, really, that is all.  How can a club expect to obtain the two competent communicator awards if no one is working on the manual.  If they are working on a manual, how far are they?  Will they make it by June 30th?

There are chart you can purchase from the Toastmaster International web site that will keep track of your member’s progress.  We have never been able to make these work.  The only way I see them working is if you are very intentional and set time during a meeting to fill out the chart.

Although having a chart is a great solution, if kept up to date, we do things a little differently at club 3637.  We have a shared spreadsheet in the cloud that the President and the Vice President of Education share.  The columns are listed below:

  • Member Name
  • Educational Awards Earned
  • Date of Last Speech
  • Date of Last Attendance
  • Next Speaking Award
  • Progress Towards Speaking Award
  • Next Leadership Award
  • Progress Towards Leadership Award
  • Mentor
  • Last Contact by Pres or VP Ed
  • Reason for Contact
  • Date Joined

If the column for last attendance is over two meetings ago, the member gets an email.  If the last speech is over four meetings ago, the member gets an email.  I have been known to send an email out to a member simply stating that they are missed.

That’s all there is to being a distinguished club.  All the club officers have to do is line up your member’s goals with the goals outlined in the Distinguished Club Program.  People will wonder why your club is doing so well.  It’s not really a secret.  By tracking your member’s progress, and providing follow-up you are well on your way to becoming the President of a distinguished club.

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


TapouT XT — Fin

It is time to wrap this series up.   A good way to do so is to list out the workouts and give a brief description of them.

  • Cross Core Combat — Fun.  It does a good job of working the core.  I like the mix up of exercises from burpees, to knee strikes, to general ab moves.
  • Competition Core — Similar to Cross Core Combat in its goals.  Again, it is fun.  These workouts mix things up and are entertaining.
  • Yoga XT — Probably, my least favorite.  Lots of plank.  It is a good stretching workout for before a run.  That doesn’t mean that it is fun to sit in plank for that long.
  • Plyo XT — The toughest and longest workout.  It is a leg burner.  I like it because it is a challenge and you are sweating (unlike Yoga XT).
  • Strength and Force Upper — How much you like bands for strength training will determine how much you like this workout.  For me, weights would’ve made this much better.
  • Ripped Conditioning — As Competition Core is to Cross Core Combat, so is Ripped Conditioning to Strength and Force Upper.  It keeps things fresh and interesting.
  • Power Strike & 5 minute Knockout — Never did these.  They are not in the 90-day schedule.  Short workouts probably created to boost the infomercial (yes, that is an opinion:)).
  • Strike Training — Wish I would’ve watched this first.  It is an instructional video on how to do some of the moves.
  • Sprawl and Brawl — One of my favorites.  This workout is great with weighted gloves on.  Lots of kicks and punches and burpees.
  • Buns and Guns XT — Uses the leg bands.  I do like the exercises they do.  It worked out areas of my body that are commonly ignored.
  • Legs and Back — Another workout with leg bands.  I feel the same way about it as I do Buns and Guns XT.
  • Muay Thai — Punches and kicks.  Wear your gloves.  This is one of my favorites.  It is the easiest of the workouts.
  • Cardio XT — Didn’t like this workout at first.  Grew to like it at the end.  You will sweat; if you do it at a high level of intensity.  It seems like this was filmed as an afterthought.  It is filmed in a different location than the other workouts.
  • Ultimate ABS XT — Ah yes, the ab workout.  It’s just ok.  The ab workout from P90X is more effective.  It is the right length for an ab workout.  It just doesn’t have the intensity.

That’s a wrap.  If you are considering this workout, please ask me any questions you may have.  My overall view of this workout program is highly positive.  It is a great program for someone looking get someone in the habit of fitness.

Everything is in place.  The diet is set.  The proper habits were in place.  The only thing left to do was to finish.  The final 30 days had me run up against something that was new for this workout, boredom.  During the final 30 days, the workouts were going without a hitch.  There was no new goal to reach for.  So I made my own.

There is a decision that has to be made before a new goal can be set.  That is, we cannot not lose site of what we are doing in the first place.  Keep it going.  By the way, we are adding something new to keep things interesting.  That is how I decided it to be.  I would not quit the workouts.  I would dominate the workouts.  Oh, and at the end I decided to do something that was impossible before I started.

Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.  In his memory, a workout was crafted that will live in infamy forever.  It is known as The Murph.   It was perfect.

First, I had to get to day 91.  Like I had mentioned before, the workouts were conquered and starting to get repetitive.  Boredom was setting it.  There is nothing that can ‘fix’ these things.  I had to make the decision to push as hard as possible during the workouts no matter what.  It was a state of mind.  This was another time where mental strength was more important than physical strength.  The only other time where I had to push as hard to just get downstairs and do the workout was during the first week after changing my sleep schedule.

In the end, yeah, I did it.  Just as I said I would.  On day 91, I completed The Murph in just under 50 minutes.

If you are up to the task of a 90-day workout, plan a day 91.  Plan a workout that shows just how much you have grown over the course of the training.  Plan on ending on a high note (and video tape it).  There is nothing like it.  If you have done this, please let me know.  I would enjoy hearing your story!

After the first 30 days of Tapout XT, I had the routine.  During the second 30 days of Tapout XT, I focused on my diet.

What is the best diet anyway?  If you have ever researched a diet, you will find out that for every person who says a diet is awesome, there is another who tells of how awful it is.  At some point you have to accept that everything causes cancer and move on with a diet that works for you.

What works for me?  Firstly, I cannot cut calories.  I am unwilling to lose muscle mass that I had spent two years building up.  Secondly, I would like to lean out.  These two goals are totally contradictory unless you are an intermittent faster.

I discovered intermittent fasting through the writings of James Clear.  It met the goals that I wanted to accomplish to I gave it a shot.  At first, I fasted for 14 hour periods to test the waters a bit.  After two weeks, I had noticed a few affects that were tolerable and upped the fast to 15 hours.

Toward the end of a daily fast, I notice a few things.  Firstly, it is difficult to keep your emotions in check when you are hungry.  I noticed little things bothering me more than normal.  This is a problem that most people have with intermittent fasting.  For me, this wasn’t a huge problem.  It is possible that it even helped me to achieve a higher level of self control.  I am more in tune with those feelings and what to do with them.  The second thing that I noticed is that I wasn’t hungry.  This is something that I do not truly understand.  When I workout in the morning, I am not hungry in the morning.  There is nothing I have read that explains this.

The workouts were routine by this time.  I finally made it through the hardest workout, Yoga XT.  Twenty minutes of plank was more than I could handle.  Even 60 days in, the workouts were enjoyable.

At this point, I had gained 4 lean pounds and was as fit as I have ever been.  If you are considering doing something similar, I encourage you to do it.  You will see results in a short amount of time.  Just stick with it!

In May of this year, I made an intentional decision to complete a 90-day training program.  Now, it is reflection time.

My first few days with TapOut XT were tough.  They don’t have stages that progress from easy to hard.  You get the hard exercises up front.  Plyo XT is, probably, the hardest workout.  The first time that Plyo XT is on the schedule is day 3.  I could not complete it at the beginning of the training.

TapOut XT is not as demanding on cardio as Insanity.  If you are used to the intensity of Insanity and want a change, go for TapOut XT 2.   I recommend TapOut XT as a good balance of cardio and strength. TapOut XT is a good middle ground.  As a side note,  I also appreciate that the women in TapOut XT are more conservatively dressed then in Insanity.

Mike Karpenko is a great trainer.  He keeps things interesting with his commentary and mix of exercises.  At few points during a workout did I feel like it was dragging on.

I recommend anyone to take on a 90-day training program.  After I committed to the program, I began to look at other areas of my life to see what I could change to make the program more effective.  This led to an examination of my diet and my lunch workouts.  By the end of the program, I had altered my diet, the time I wake up in the morning, and felt great.

This was a prime example of how committing to growth in one area helped me to develop positive habits that affect me in all areas of my life.  It isn’t just about doing a training program; it is about developing the discipline to perform consistently.  It isn’t an easy task.  Most tasks that are worth doing are not easy.

  1.  The first thing that I learned is that I cannot run 200 miles by myself.   It took a team to do so.
  2. Not everyone has to run to benefit the relay team.  The importance of a driver who know where they are going cannot be understated.  If there is no one at the relay hand off point, it creates a bevy of problems. 
  3. There is not as much support as in other races.  When a runner is out there, it is up to the team to provide water.  Our driver was knowledgeable enough where he would meet us at a midway point in the run and have a water ready.
  4. Those squirt bottles that strap to your hand; they are awesome!
  5. I brought about a gallon of water and some weight gainer protein along.  It worked well for long van rides when I needed some calories.
  6. Practice running at night before the race.  Bouncing lighting is distracting.  Poor lighting will make you step on or run into something.
  7. Know the timing of the race.  Know when your breaks are.
  8. Sleep whenever possible.  Note that getting eight hours may not be an option.
  9. Teams are on different schedules.  You may want to grab a tent and sleep away from everyone else just to get some peace and quiet.
  10. Do it!  It is a battle that is like no run I’ve ever been in.  The people running the race with you are the ones who cheer you on later (and you will cheer them on as well).  It really puts the focus not on the competition, but on the feat itself.  Since the feat itself is so great, one can only appreciate the contributions of all of those involved.


Even though the posts on this blog are few, the amount of effort that I am putting into my own growth is significant.  This is especially true in the are of leadership.   There have been some exceptional opportunities that have presented themselves in this front.

The one that I am the most proud of is the certificate from Western Michigan Universities’ Academic Leadership Academy.  This one is special because it was so out of the blue.  I didn’t know about the existence of the Academy until two weeks before the application was due.  After the application, there was no guarantee that I would be chosen for the cohort.  They did choose me.

The people in the Academy were wonderful to be around.  We met in person once a week.  By the end of the time we spent together, we had become quite used to each other.  There were different topics and different speakers every meeting.  Exceptional people with exceptional topics leads to exceptional growth.  It was a spectacular time getting to know other people in the University who aspire to lead effectively.

But does it matter?  This is one of the biggest questions that has been going through my mind.  If I didn’t blog about this, would anyone know or would they care?   Here are three reasons why this should matter to me and others:

  1. It showed intent.  No one has to wonder where I want to be in my career.  I want to lead and grow others.  It is where my investments are and my desire is.
  2. It showed commitment.  In all of the weeks we met (around 20), I missed one (for personal reasons).   The meetings were over my lunch hour so the loss of work time was minimal.
  3. It changed the perspective.  My cubicle looks different then it used to.  There are no running medals and no technical certificates.  Pictures of my family and inspirational quotes are in their place.  It is no longer about what I have done, but what I will inspire others to do.

Any book on leadership that makes it 25 years and 5 editions is amazing. Twenty-five years with the same base knowledge being pertinent to today. The Leadership Challenge has lasted twenty-five years because of how practical it is, how it makes its points, and how applicable it is.

How do we make people do something we want them to do? The short answer is that we can’t. No matter how much better someone’s life would be if they would just change this one little issue in their lives, we can’t make them change it. They have to make the change themselves. The most practical way to accomplish this is found in this book. The first step is to “Model the Way”. That makes sense. If we tell someone to manage their finances well and then go buy a 104″ TV on a credit card, our credibility is shot.

This book has five steps that leaders go through to foster change. Every one of them just makes sense. Is it practical to have a clear vision? Certainly! My favourite part of this book is that it just makes sense. It is as practical as shutting the refrigerator to keep it cool inside.

Points are made through stories. What better way to prove out a point then to have someone tell a story of how it worked? It’s almost like a before and after commercial without the before part. We read only about what the individual did to succeed in what they considered their best leadership experience. They are stating what worked for them in their own words.

Because stories are used, the book is incredibly readable. It’s almost 400 pages, but we get to meet hundreds of people and hear their stories of success. The stories are inspirational. I didn’t want the book to end when reading it; I wanted more of these great stories by people like you and I.

Twenty-five years of relevancy is something this book has deserved. The main five points that this book revolves around have been echoed (to some extent) in every leadership book I have read. This is a great book to get started in leadership for that reason. Get the points in this book and then see how they show up everywhere else.

There is one thing to be aware of. This books is part of a series of materials. You will be reminded over and over again that there is a mobile app to purchase. A single page reminding of this would’ve been better then on the cover and at the end of every chapter.

This review is glowing and I think that is deservedly so. Simply put, if you have any interest in being a leader, buy this book, read, and apply. It is excellent.

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