“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – By Theodore Roosevelt
The beginning of a new program year is always filled with so many exciting activities that time seems to have slipped away so quietly without us realizing it. Two months have passed and perhaps it’s time for us to review what we have done, what we have achieved, and what lies ahead of us.
District Executive Committee (DEC) Meeting
The 1st DEC meeting was held on 1 July 2017, the very first day of the new term. The focus of the meeting was to plan and strategize for achievement of District 80’s key performance indicators, namely new club growth, membership payment growth and Distinguished Club Program (DCP) growth.
Club Growth Director Pradeep Kumar DTM has published the “necessities” (i.e. incentives) for new club growth and membership payment growth for program year 2017-2018.
District 80 Mobile App Launch
We launched District 80’s first ever mobile app on 1 July 2017. The mobile app was primarily designed to replace the printed copy of our district directory, which the district has been printing in the past. The mobile app offers advantages such as lower costs, ease of use, real time updates and richer content formats.
It took a while for the directory information to be made available on the mobile app due to the fact that the information was only released by Toastmasters International towards end July, and time taken after that to seek listing consent from our members for compliance with Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Most of the information, if not all, is available on the app now.
The mobile app will continue to be a work in progress as we continue to add new features to the app.
District Officers Training (DOT)
A DOT was conducted immediately after the DEC meeting on 1 July 2017, and a make-up DOT was subsequently held on 3 Sep 2017. 92% of district officers were trained.
Club Officers Training (COT)
COT sessions were organized by the respective divisions as follows:
- Division A on 15 July 2017
- Division B on 15 July 2017
- Division D on 15 July 2017
- Division E on 8 July 2017
- Division G on 29 July 2017
- Division L on 8 July 2017
- Division S on 29 July 2017
- Division T on 16 July 2017
- Division U on 15 July 2017
- Division V on 24 Jun 2017
- Division Z on 22 July 2017
A make-up COT was held on 27 Aug 2017. A breakdown of COT attendance is as follows (the number of active club base is 241):
- 194 clubs (80.5% of active club base) with 4 or more than 4 club officers trained
- 6 clubs (2.5% of active club base) with 3 club officers trained
- 5 clubs (2.0% of active club base) with 2 club officers trained
- 8 clubs (3.0% of active club base) with 1 club officer trained
- 29 clubs (12.0% of active club base) with 0 club officer trained
District Leaders Training (DLT)
District trio attended DLT on 21-22 Aug 2017 in Vancouver. In addition to a better and more in depth understanding of Toastmasters International (TI) operations, changes in TI policies and procedures, as well as roles and responsibilities of the district trio, exchanges of experience and ideas with other district leaders from across the world were particularly valuable.
86th Toastmasters International Convention
District trio attended the international convention held on 23-26 Aug 2017 in Vancouver.
The following important announcements which would directly affect District 80 were made during the Board of Directors Briefing:
- Pathways rolled out in Region 14 on 26 Jul 2017.
- From 2018-2019 program year onward,
- district speech contests to be held only during the district annual conference. International speech contest quarterfinals are to be held at region level, possibly on video, before the semifinals and final at the international convention,
- only one physical District Council Meeting (DCM) is required to be held, the other DCM may be held virtually.
- District 80 will be realigned to Region 13. Current Region 14 will be split.
Congratulations to Manoj Vasudevan for winning the World Championship of Public Speaking 2017 with his speech titled “Pull Less, Bend More”. This is the second consecutive year that a representative from District 80 winning the championship.
All in all, the international convention was very well organized. A couple of technical glitches, mainly due to email communication failures, resulted in some confusions during the international convention, e.g.:
- convention event registration
- assignment of national flag bearers for the convention opening ceremony.
It was unfortunate that the technical glitches, together with some human errors, resulted in 44 club proxies (i.e. 18.26% of potential district proxy returns) not picked up to vote during the annual business meeting. Feedback has been given to TI in their survey.
Pathways was officially launched in Region 14, the very first region to roll out Pathways in TI’s global phased approach in launching the new education system, on 26 Jul 2017. District 80 achieved more than 70% of its clubs trained in the new system before the launch, thanks to the dedication and effort of Pathways Guides, who also helped train our members during the COTs. The launch was a huge success judging by the enthusiastic response from our members.
A couple of teething issues surfaced during the initial period after the launch, almost all the issues were technical in nature and were quickly resolved by TI when they were notified of the glitches. We are also aware of the challenges faced by some of our members, particularly members who are less technology savvy and members who are constraint by their preferred use of languages. The district conducted Pathways education workshops for these members so as to alleviate some of their difficulties and ease their adoption of Pathways.
New Club Growth
One club has been officially chartered, i.e. GE Aviation Toastmasters (6637897) under Division E Area E5.
There are two prospective clubs, i.e. Toastmasters @ Courts (6627295) under Division A Area A4, and S&P Global Toastmasters Club (6642836) under Division S Area S5. Both prospective clubs have submitted their charter papers and awaiting their official charter pending confirmation of payments.
Club Growth Director Pradeep Kumar DTM and his team, together with some division directors are working very hard on a number of very promising leads. We are confidently optimistic that these leads will be materialized soon.
However, we expect a number of clubs to close come September dues payment. It is highly likely that we will see a dip in terms of the number of active clubs in October before we build more new clubs.
Outlook and Plan for Achievement of Distinguished District Status
The outlook will remain very challenging given the health of the district as inherited, with a couple of clubs initiated their closure in early July, when the new term just began.
We set our goal to be at least a Distinguished District by end of the term, and we stress the importance of achieving our goal by doing the right things right, upholding the core values of Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. We may have to go through a stage of consolidation to build a strong and solid foundation for the district to scale new heights and achieve even more.
The main focus will be on building more new corporate clubs, and Pathways has proven to be a very useful tool in attracting corporate clubs to sign on. The steady recovery of the macro economic conditions should also be a boon to us in building more new corporate clubs.
For clubs facing challenges in terms of their membership strength, “necessities” provided by CGD’s incentive schemes, as well as district support provided through division and area directors, should empower these clubs to strive and recruit new members. CGD and I will be attending separate division council meetings in September, and will work directly with division and area directors in this regard.
We have plans to attract more millennials into our fold. We will announce more details once they have been worked out. Developing a District 80 mobile app is the initial part of the plan. Once the district directory features of the mobile app have stabilized, we will start adding marketing features to the app, and make it an easy and convenient tool for club building and membership recruitment. There are plans to include Pathways resources in the app to facilitate member adoption of Pathways.
District 80 Rocks!
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – By Theodore Roosevelt
And what we have is a team of very dedicated and enthusiastic Toastmasters, who are willing and able to make District 80 great again. Kudos to our District Administration Manager, District Public Relations Manager, District Finance Manager, all our Division Directors and Area Directors, and not forgetting the various committee members, council members and members of the Toastmasters community, who put in so much time and effort for the past two months. Well done!