June 26, 2016

Before I get to Toastmasters, what were the British thinking???? I was truly shocked when I woke up Friday morning and saw they had voted to leave the EU. I predict they will come to regret that vote once Scotland peels off, all the banks move from the City of London to Frankfurt and all the major multinationals locate their pan-European facilities in the Netherlands or Germany! Silly, silly Brits!

OK, I am pretty excited about a recent development here at the Taft camp: we have an official Toastmasters chapter! For those of you who don’t know, Toastmasters is the world’s largest public speaking group (I hope that’s true – I can’t google it to make certain!). There are thousands of chapters all over the world and now we have one right here.

I have often thought about joining Toastmasters in the past but never took that first step. I have heard from many that the methods used can turn even the most frightened into effective public speakers. In addition, it is a great networking tool because it (reportedly) tends to attract business people.

In order to be a “certified” Toastmaster, you have to give a series of 10 speeches with different structures. I have given three to date: an “ice breaker” which was essentially a condensed version of my story; a “sincerity” speech which I gave on the topic of transgender rights and an “organized” speech which I gave on mindfulness. My fourth speech – which is supposed to be a “show and tell” type of speech – is tomorrow and will be on how to manage lower back pain. So far, my speeches have been very well received – I was a little nervous about the one on transgender rights – and I have really enjoyed doing them. Between 40 to 50 men have joined and I have really enjoyed hearing my “colleagues” give their talks as well. It’s a very enthusiastic group and they take it seriously! It is also a program that can help inmates be successful when they are released in a concrete way. So kudos to staff and inmates for making this happen.

Once I give my 10 speeches, I will be entered into the national Toastmasters database as a certified Toastmaster. So when I attend the Palm Springs chapter meetings after I get out, they will be able to look me up. This will be helpful to me since at some point after I get out, I would like to do some local marketing consulting in the Palm Springs area.

And in closing, I want to say farewell and good luck to my friend Kevin L. Kevin left early this morning for halfway house and he was one of the first people I met when I arrived. Along with David K and Jimmy, he was part of my first “walking group” and played a big role in acclimating me to camp life. I admire him because he spent his time here very productively and reflected deeply on how he got here and what he needed to do to grow and change. He has a different, healthier set of priorities now and he is poised for great success! Best of luck, Kevin!

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