Along the path to Distinguished Toastmaster, we learn the value of leadership and team building. When I began my Toastmaster journey 4 years ago, I was unaware of the DTM designation or its requirements. I do remember an announcement when fellow club member, Lisa Branch, my first mentor in Toastmasters, received hers. Quite frankly as a newbie, I was focused on getting through my Ice Breaker speech. Thus, the significance of her achievement was lost on me.

Club Leadership – An Important Factor

A short two months later, this same Lisa Branch asked me to take on the role of VP Education. Undaunted and unfamiliar with the demands of the role, I unwittingly agreed. Thankfully Lisa and I worked together. Under her mentorship, I learned and continue to learn how to fulfill the role. Additionally, I learned how to use the platforms our club uses to administer them – Pathways and Easy-Speak.

Growth through District Leadership

Fast forward 16 months, I joined Toastmasters District 42 Leadership Team. This opportunity on the road to DTM came via Christina Kruis, then serving as District 42’s Program Quality Director. A fellow Fluor Communicator, we connected over a discussion regarding a Success Plan in the Fluor parking lot following a club meeting. Subsequently, we met for coffee in a nearby Starbucks where she learned of my Social Media/Marketing background. Christina possesses a gift of recognizing talents in others. Plus, she has the ability to capitalize on those gifts for individual, club and district growth. She believed the District would benefit because of my expertise. She asked me to become the D42 PRM (Public Relations Manager) and I accepted because she asked.

Truthfully coming alongside Toastmasters with a longer tenure shines light on opportunities younger Toastmasters may miss. Guidance from Lisa, Christina and others encouraged me to say yes to several projects. Significantly, they knew what was necessary to complete my Paths and DTM. Saying yes to these projects brought me alongside many exceptional, gifted individuals.

Help – I Need Somebody

Everyone needs such a mentor in life. Unquestionably, I am lucky to have found several within Toastmasters.

The D42 Website – I was blessed to work with Greg Ptashny on what became my DTM project. His insight, expertise, vision, and patience were vital to creating the new user-friendly, easy to navigate site. Tzonka Bouklieva and Kevin Guance completed the team filling vital roles in making sure the small details were addressed.

High Performance Leadership – “Trimming The Sales” was the theme for the AD/DD Training. My HPL involved launching D42’s Kruis Krew for the 2020-2021 Toastmaster year. I hold many precious memories filled with laughter as the crew came together for this fantastic day of training. Again it provided the opportunity to work with experienced Toastmasters: Christina Kruis, Ryan Rupchan, and Jocelyn Hastie. Furthermore, my network expanded to work with professionals Stu Shultz, Randy Maus, Marshall Ennis, Tammy Frenette, Mona Cooley, and Anthony Sanni.

Youth Leadership Program – I was fortunate to coordinate a YLP projects at the Calgary Public Library. Again, this provided an opportunity to engage several Toastmasters in giving back to the community. I was not on my own. Special thanks to Irma Goosen, Ruby Gunna, Amanda Price, Tammy Frenette, Gail Maitland, Susan Brown, George Brown, Adam McDonald, and Christina Kruis.

Gaining the Most from the Journey

Home base is important and grounding. Clearly, deep roots enable everything to grow stronger and taller. Consequently, I am beyond grateful for my home club, Fluor Communicators, which provides those roots. Above all, here I learn the basics and benefit from the relationships formed as we come together weekly. Thanks to all the Fluor Communicators, past and present who’ve touched and influenced me along the way.

I’ve shared the names of several people who helped me on my journey to DTM. Obviously, becoming a DTM is not a solo endeavour. Moreover, these few represent only a small portion of Toastmasters who influence and shape me.

Thus the truth is, I achieved DTM with A LOT OF HELP from my friends. Consequently, the individuals I meet along the way are the reasons I remain a Toastmaster.

“If you get out of Toastmasters all there is to get out of Toastmasters, you’ll never get out of Toastmasters.” 

Helen Blanchard, Toastmasters First Female Member | Toastmasters First Female International President

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