Leadership to Communication
One Toastmaster’s Journey
by Russ Dantu
Summer can be a time to relax and wind down. But for approximately 100 semi finalists in the World Championship of Public Speaking (WCPS) of Toastmasters, the year is reaching its peak in competition. Chosen by contest judges, these Toastmasters selected from over 352,000 members of 16,400 clubs in 141 countries globally, will begin their showdown at the annual Toastmasters International Convention in Chicago August 22 – 25.
For Russ Dantu of District 42, this will be his 4th time competing at the world’s semi finals. But that’s not how Russ began in Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters in 1997, Russ has held all 7 club executive positions, if not 2 or 3 times. As Area Director, Russ helped other clubs get started, along with leading a team of club execs to make their club members excel to their best. These were all leadership building skills which Russ honed and still uses for his business today. But eventually Russ would turn to the speaking side of Toastmasters and compete against other Toastmasters.
Russ’s first triumph at competing was in 2009 in Winnipeg at a Region competition, placing second, due to a tie-breaking ballot. Again, it was so close for Russ.
In 2010, he competed in Palm Desert. That’s when the format of WCPS changed to having 10 semi final heats. Two days later, those 10 would be competing in finals for the ultimate WCPS winner. While Russ placed 3rd in that semi-final, the winner, David Henderson would win the World Championship, 2 days later. So close again for Russ.
In 2015 Las Vegas, Russ won the semi finals and would compete as 1 of 10 in the finals. Though not winning, both stages gave Russ immense experiences, like watching and learning from the other competitors.
But those 3 near wins, put Russ on a totally new mindset. He would craft speeches that share messages and touch an audience.
Russ says, “In 2015, I had a completely different mindset. Losing still hurt but I shifted more to sharing messages that will touch an audience and if I had one person come up to me after my speeches saying that my speech touched them or was making them look at life differently, then my mission was accomplished. If I won a trophy along the way, that was a bonus”
Today with the 2018 semi-finals in Chicago fast approaching, Russ is more focused and working harder than ever, editing each word and sentence, trying out new ideas and making many club visits to test out material on different audiences. Working with several trusted speech and evaluation past winners in District 42, he follows a regimen of daily exercise and diet, so he can be at his very best.
“I am working hard and very hopeful I will have one more shot at competing on the World Stage. Every contest goal I have set for myself since 2007 has come to fruition….except one….winning the World Championship of Public Speaking!“
District 42 is fully behind Russ and will be cheering him on in Chicago at the International Convention August 22 – 25, 2018. Good Luck Russ !
Article by Terry D Kozlyk, DTM – Long time Toastmaster member
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development, with over 352,000 members in 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program