Madam President, fellow board members, members and guests…
The way I feel tonight is how all other presidents before me must have felt as they stood in front of you, the members, friends and guests of this great organization.
These past presidents were like me, nervous and excited, but like me, eager and anxious to make a difference.
I first heard about this organization in Germany where my husband served with the Canadian armed forces. As I was waiting for my children one day, a lady sat down on the same park bench I was sitting on. She began telling me about Toastmistress and some of the things she had learned. Deep down I was wishing she would stop talking about this mystery organization because I wasn’t interested and I certainly had no plans to ever have to speak in public, give speeches - not on your life!
I eventually went to a meeting and immediately joined. Perhaps some of you might remember the only Canadian club to belong to this organization that was outside of Canada - Baden Tri Symbol club of Baden Soellingen, Germany.
I counted the steps to get to this podium tonight, there are 10 and I can now confess to you that it took me over 30 years to get here.
Over the past few months, I have asked myself many times, how did I get here? What was it that gave me the confidence to seek the top spot of this organization? There is not one answer to these questions. There was no pressure, no time line, so why did I do this? Giving it more thought, what came to my mind is number 1 - I love this organization. Number 2 - I believe in what it stands for. Number 3 is the support of my family, my club members and those wonderful members who are no longer with us. They all saw something in me and planted the seed in my head that someday, I could rap the gavel as the leader – I made the right choice.
Ernestine White, our founder, made these statements in her acceptance speech on August 11, 1939 and I quote,
“Our purpose must be the betterment of our acts and words; the enhancement of our faculty to influence others; elevation toward leadership; control and direction of our every act and word for bringing about waves of activities that will attain the best possible results for the individual and the whole”.
She made the right choice.
These words are as true today as they were then. Our words and actions are what have kept us going for the past 75 years.
What has changed is how we as a world do things. We are now in an era of technology and every day there is something new for us to buy, learn and use.
Every organization has had to adapt to these changes in order to survive. It was just early this month that charter # 4036 was issued which means we have chartered over four thousand clubs since we first organized.
To continue to be part of the succession of organizations, POWERtalk international must play an aggressive “catch up” role.
No longer can we count on our name or passion to entice prospective members to join us; we have to offer a product that is current and up to date. Most of all we have to offer something that is better! Our organization is top-notch! This is where we learn to say what we mean and mean what we say. On top of that, we have one of the most effective tools used for improving our skills and that tool is evaluation.
There will always be the need to communicate and we are international communicators! Look around this room. There are more than 15 countries represented. The binding power of communication has led us here for 5 days and no matter what age you are, no matter how long you have belonged to this organization, you will leave here tomorrow still learning! Why? Because we have a worthwhile and much needed product. You have made the right choice.
Look at those members who have gone on to achieve countless goals from the training they received. They made the right choice.
A book i am reading by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves entitled “Leadership 2.0” points out that leaders who embody a true sense of character are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk. They have integrity - they have credibility. They value differences and they have a vision.
POWERtalk educates, teaches, and produces leaders. Believe it or not, leadership is not an exclusive club. You can learn to be a leader. Club, council, region, international, levels are there for you. With the experience and skills you gained from being a member of a committee, to chairing that committee, from serving on a club board, to signing your name as president, there is nothing you can’t do. In my mind, this organization has taken all of us from a great view to a grand vision!
Two years ago, President cCarol asked us to ‘be the change’ . She elaborated about the qualities of great leaders - one in particular - Nelson Mandella. If you were to review his history and read about the obstacles he overcame to free his people, you would marvel at his determination and strength. His vision was always clear and focused. He was the change for his country. We need to inject ourselves with determination and strength to launch and keep our organization strong and vibrant in this 21st century.
As we move into another new term, be assured that the team you elected will be listening to you, and working to continue earning your trust and respect. We know there will be challenges, but along with those challenges will be a team who is committed, and who is willing to do their best.
Part of our strategy will be this directive:-
We will teach by doing. If the sky is the limit, go out of bounds, work hard and laugh often, listen to everyone.
My new book on leadership is about wolves and something that I think fits all of us is the ‘wolf creedo’ -
Repect Elders, teach the young, co-operate with the pack, play when you can, hunt when you must, rest in between, share your affection, voice your feelings, and leave your mark.
We invite you to work with us these next two years. You will be hearing more about impending changes for our future shortly. Put aside the date to attend Convention 2015 in New Zealand.
We have weathered 75 years of ups and downs and survived. So let us take what we need from the past to help develop a successful future. With this thought in mind, let me applaud you for your dedication to this wonderful organization of POWERtalk International.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Our 2013-2015 theme is based on this quote - which means as members you have made “the right choice”.