Communicate 98 June 2018 Edition

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To paraphrase some famous first words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times�. In this, the final issue of Communicate 98 during my tenure as editor, I would like to share some hard truths and some amazing achievements. Foremost, I would like to dedicate this issue to my team. People on the team got married, they changed cities (even countries), changed jobs and roles, and even graduated and transformed. But to the very last day of this term, they worked to bring you this issue. For this and much more, I cannot thank them enough. I must also thank our DPRM Niteash for his continued support and Webmaster Surya for making the technical last mile of the newsletter such a success! Personally, I have gained a lot this year. The opportunity to lead a large, co-located team, to learn the language of design and of empathy, to understand personal frustrations and learn motivational skills, to produce something beautiful on unforgiving deadlines - it has been quite a ride. I am fortunate to have cultivated friends all over the District, people who I shamelessly turn to in every hour of my need and who respond with enthusiasm and aplomb. As for the beast itself, what can I say, I hope that it can speak for itself. We tried many new things this year - themeless issues, covers (one even reached

Mt. Everest!) and cover stories, magazine-style features, and a more blog-oriented approach. A few of these worked better than I had imagined and others failed more spectacularly than I had feared. But that is the nature of experiments and I am glad that I got to do them all the same. What I failed to do is to significantly improve our readership. We have nearly 6000 members in this District and by the most optimistic estimate, perhaps 20% of them read the newsletter. That is not a mark on their commitment, but on ours, for not making something worthy of their attention. It is my fervent hope that this state of affairs will change in the future. Reading is an unpopular hobby these days, but I hear bell-bottoms are back in fashion and I am hopeful that this will make a comeback too. But this is not the time for regrets, it is a time for wistful celebration and that is what this issue is all about. Interspersed throughout this edition are the 11 covers we've built over this past year. Each of them tells a story in themselves and the farewell edition of the newsletter seemed like the fitting tribute to all that glory. It is my hope that you will continue to read and contribute to this newsletter, so that we may become greater than we have ever been before. Au Revoir! - Karan





OUR DISTRICT OFFICERS (2017-2018) Arvind Nair Ravi Teja Marrapu Leo Kurians Paulose Chandrashekar D P Patrick Pereira Nishant Mehta Niteash Agarwaal Chidanand Pradhan Hasnain Changi Raunak Kulwal Vinod J Sharma Akshay Chillal Siddharth Suman Anant Katyayni Smita Mishra Shijin Sreeraman Ajay Hiraskar Dhanraj Kamdar Dipankar Das Mahesh Puranam Manish Kamdar Debahooti Basu Tanmaya Panda Parakh Kukreja Prashant Sampat Kannagi Mishra Poonam Kumar Chris Kingsley Seema Rani Vijay Bhanushali Pramod Kiwande Heena Garg Mayank Naidu Priya Lekha Ajit Shah Sapna Ohri


District Director Program Quality Director Club Growth Director Immediate Past District Director District Administration Manager District Finance Manager District PR Manager District Logistics Manager Division Director - Div A Division Director - Div B Division Director - Div C Division Director - Div D Division Director - Div E Division Director - Div F Division Director - Div H Division Director - Div M Division Director - Div P Area Director - Area A1 Area Director - Area A2 Area Director - Area A3 Area Director - Area A4 Area Director - Area B1 Area Director - Area B2 Area Director - Area B3 Area Director - Area B4 Area Director - Area B5 Area Director - Area C1 Area Director - Area C2 Area Director - Area C3 Area Director - Area C4 Area Director - Area C5 Area Director - Area D1 Area Director - Area D2 Area Director - Area D3 Area Director - Area D4 Area Director - Area D5

Aparajitha Chakilam Ankur Agarwal Rahul Ghelani Priya Mathur G. K. Aajay Pavan Kumar Tulsija Shefali Johar Prudvinath Malepati Narita Rai Subramanyam KV Abhishek Shukla Tanay Tejasvi Asha Pratyasa Sunil Sharma Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal Shubhangi Pandey K Srikanth Ravi Sharma Pratibha Jithesh Umme Salma Babrawala Navin Raj Abraham Vinay Prabhu Mhambre Shreya Kanabar Angad Sathe Syed Moazzam Daimi Ravi G. Motwani Swapnil Sonawane Pramod Mohandas Arjuna Shivangi Usha Udayshankar Atul Morey Eknath Hole Karan Gupta Mukta Nadkar Shireesh Nadkar Suryaprathap Reddy K

Area Director - Area E1 Area Director - Area E2 Area Director - Area E3 Area Director - Area E4 Area Director - Area E5 Area Director - Area E6 Area Director - Area F1 Area Director - Area F2 Area Director - Area F3 Area Director - Area F4 Area Director - Area F5 Area Director - Area H1 Area Director - Area H2 Area Director - Area H3 Area Director - Area H4 Area Director - Area H5 Area Director - Area H6 Area Director - Area M1 Area Director - Area M2 Area Director - Area M3 Area Director - Area M4 Area Director - Area M5 Area Director - Area P1 Area Director - Area P2 Area Director - Area P3 Area Director - Area P4 Area Director - Area P5 District Training Manager Club Extension Chair, Hyderabad Club Extension Chair, Pune Club Extension Chair, Mumbai Credentials Chair District Newsletter Editor District Chief Judge District Parliamentarian District Web Master


I loved the way you captured the District Conference in pictures as well as articles. With this issue and all issues that came before this, you have given us great pieces of work and delightful fodder for reading. Congratulations team! TM Beena Mandrekar, Baner Toastmasters Club, Pune

Four very interesting choices. However I felt the questions could have been more specific according to the perspective of the person. TM Ankit Agarwal, TCS Maitree Hyderabad Toastmasters Club

The Newsletter Team has done a commendable job in capturing glimpses of Eloquence in May edition. The articles are creative and stimulates the reading hunger. Keep up the awesome work District Newsletter Team !! TM Mayank Naidu, Toastmasters Club of Pune South

















PRATHIMA MADIREDDY, CO-EDITOR Prathima's Experience: When I agreed to join Karan’s team as Co-Editor, my only thought was that I will learn a new skill. “A new skill” turned out to be many new skills! For someone who has been mentoring speeches, which are verbal in nature, to edit articles from a reader’s perspective was refreshing. To coordinate a team that is not just creative, but fiercely possessive of grammar was not funny at all. From colors to commas, everything matters! All this coupled with aggressive timelines. Unlike any other role in the District, my experience with Communicate 98 has been fast-paced. And… the stories! Each person I spoke to in relation to sourcing material for this was a story about Toastmasters. About how this platform turned their life around. To me, these stories have been the most enriching, as they strengthened my faith in Toastmasters.


Editor’s Citation: When I started this journey as a novice to District leadership, I needed a veteran by my side and Prathima delighted me by accepting the role of a co-editor. Over the months, she has calmly and quietly coordinated complex features. These required a keen knowledge of the editorial process as well as the political equations all over the District. Her firm and experience hand has brought in quality, and how. Here's to you, partner!


THE D98 GROWTH STORY The District 98 Growth story is a fascinating one. We were the youngest District in the world and we are now the fastest growing one too! As we move into another term, I wanted to take a look behind the scenes of this story. The people who made it happen, their dreams and aspirations, achievements and challenges. If you have ever been fascinated by these questions, this is the story for you. I interviewed the three Club Extension Chairs (a new concept in itself) from Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune and both the incoming and outgoing Club Growth Directors. What you’ll find as you read on is a great cross-section of experience, a view of the different terrains that had to be navigated and the different philosophies that were used to navigate them. I hope this growth story shines a new light on the work that our team has done this past year.

TM ATUL MOREY, CLUB EXTENSION CHAIR, MUMBAI What was your motivation to be a part of the Club Extension Team? The fact that there was a team dedicated to club growth apart from ADs, was exciting. And the opportunity of meeting new people and making new connects and learning from them was another factor that motivated me to be part of the CET. Looking at club charters this year, Mumbai has the least number. Was this a conscious decision by the leadership team or are there some other factors in play? Yes, this was a conscious decision after a deliberate discussion on club growth. Since the inception of District 98, we have seen clubs mushrooming across the geography of the District. However, many corporate clubs that were chartered died a natural death due to lack of interest and motivation from their members. Many died due to the lack of support from top management. Sustenance of corporate clubs was difficult.


COVER STORY We realized that in many organizations, chartering a club was an HR initiative to achieve their KPIs. We then decided to turn around our approach of chartering corporate clubs. Unless the initiative is driven by the employees other than HR employees, we will not charter the clubs. How was the strategy tweaked in other regions of Divisions A, B, and M, namely Gujarat and Goa? Gujarat and Goa have very few clubs but they have the potential to grow exponentially. Though we had a different approach for Mumbai, we had to relax it for Gujarat and Goa but not let go of the essence of the approach. Instead of going overboard and approaching all corporates in the area, we only went with those who approached the District to set up clubs for their organization. What were the biggest challenges you faced this year? Demo meetings have always been challenging for the fact that at least 12 role players are required for a meeting on a weekday. To all corporates who wish to set up a club, we suggest that they attend a community club meeting on a weekend instead of performing a demo meeting on their premises.

TM USHA UDAYSHANKAR, CLUB EXTENSION CHAIR, PUNE Who has been your biggest support as the Pune Club Extension Chair this year? Club Growth Director DTM Leo Paulose has been very patient and understanding. He was very supportive and made it a point to appreciate our work. The Pune region has chartered a staggering 24+ clubs in a year. What are the key contributing factors that led to this amazing feat? I think the Area Directors and Division Directors along with the members from the various teams like Club Extension and Club Evangelisation teams were always supportive and helped out for Demo meetings by taking up roles and preparing posters when required. What has been the biggest learning for you this year and how will that change your perspective as a future District Officer? I had very limited knowledge about my role as Club Extension Chair as it was introduced only last year in District 98. Once I started receiving charter forms from the divisions, there were a lot of questions and helping them to get their club chartered was sometimes a race against time! Spending hours on the phone with them, explaining how to fill in the forms was definitely a learning for me too. I feel that all Area Directors and Division Directors should have a fair knowledge of how to help with the charter forms so as to help ease the tension for the new clubs. Chartering a club should be well planned with the right mentoring, both for the club and individual members. As the incoming Area Director for D3, I will surely work with the clubs in my Area and nurture them to perform better in the coming year.

TM ARJUNA SHIVANGI, CLUB EXTENSION CHAIR, HYDERABAD The CET teams are an enigma to most Toastmasters. Can you explain to us, in simple terms, the kinds of activities that you take care of?


COVER STORY One key factor of an Area, Division or a District reaching Distinguished status is the net club growth and hence, the CET’s job is quite crucial to their success. The end to end process of a prospect turning into a successfully chartered club involves various steps. We conduct orientation programmes with top leadership, open houses, demo meetings, non-charter meetings and finally, paperwork! The process greatly differs from prospect to prospect – a corporate, a college, a community, a Tier-2 city, or in some cases, a potential Gavel’s club. None of this is possible without a great team and I’m really thankful to mine – Arpit, Indu, Lajja, Piyali, and Sudip have all done an excellent job and together, we have experienced and learned a lot.

Were there any tweaks made to the club charter strategy laid out by the CGD office? At the start of our term, we identified a gap which led to new clubs soon become struggling clubs. This was primarily because the members didn’t understand the value proposition of Toastmasters and saw no reason to continue past six months. In EFH, we decided to slow down the process of opening clubs to ensure that they didn’t collapse right after the charter. We conduct non-charter meetings right after the demo meeting where members of the prospective club take up roles and we help by providing mentoring and feedback. We begin the charter process after conducting 4-8 such meetings. This is a good way to see if the club is chartering for the sake of their corporate appraisal cycle or if members have a genuine intent to learn and improve themselves. I’d like to thank Leo for understanding that every region has its own struggle which has to be dealt with in a certain way. He always believed our instincts and gave us complete decision-making autonomy. The Division Trio was really helpful as well. Their insight and experience really helped us to deal with sticky situations. In actual practice, how much are Area Directors involved in the chartering process? What kind of support does the CET provide? The CET and Division Directors control all the initial stages of communication – the time when we’re not certain whether a lead will convert into a club. It’s only after we start seeing positive signs that the aligned AD comes into the picture. Post that, we give enough time to the club and the AD to get to know each other. Only then we proceed with the chartering process. However, when it comes to areas like Nagpur and Visakhapatnam which have only one or two ADs, the involvement of the AD is from Day 1.

DISTRICT 98 CLUB GROWTH DIRECTOR 2017-2018, DTM LEO PAULOSE What has been the reaction of TI and other District Trios to this growth? What is the key positive and negative feedback you received? The feedback has been very supportive and positive. The senior leadership of Toastmasters has personally acknowledged the stellar growth and retention that our District has been showcasing. Additionally, due credit was also given for our “planned exit strategy” for clubs that have lost the spark beyond revival. This resonates well with the mission of the movement.


COVER STORY The CET concept was vastly expanded this year. Doesn’t this take autonomy and opportunity away from the Area Directors who are directly responsible for club charters? Over the years, we felt the need for a support structure to augment the club growth and retention as it is a time-intensive activity. The challenge with routing such huge bandwidth from the Area Directors is that other activities take a hit. The role of an Area Director is not only to open new clubs. In the CET approach, opening the club still remains the R&R of the Area Director and the support system largely augments the approach. The process becomes smoother and less of a strain. It also helps to manage multiple leads, many of which may not result in clubs. A number of clubs throughout still struggle to hold regular and quality meetings. How can we achieve your crucial strategic pillar #BackToBasics? It is difficult for us to measure the quality of a meeting. That being said, we can define levers which can act as indicators to quality. A few include (but not limited to) - DCP, number of education awards filed, number of meetings, number of speeches and evaluations. We need to build a comprehensive model which encompasses these levers, clubs it with the support eco-system and thereby becomes a better measure for quality. Strengthening and focussing these levers will strongly build on the drivers for quality.

DISTRICT 98 CLUB GROWTH DIRECTOR ELECT, DTM NITEASH AGARWAAL What is your take on the D98 Growth Story? Since the inception of District 98, the growth story has amazed me. We always had right people in the right places who ensured we grew steadily. New people stepping into important roles brought fresh ideas which were effective in growing the Toastmasters movement. As we move ahead, we see more harmony and collaboration between various offices. This has led to brand promotion, enhanced brand value and a record-breaking addition of clubs year-on-year. We have just scratched the surface and the real growth story is about to be seen. As the incoming CGD, what would be the biggest advantages and challenges of this growth legacy? The advantage is that a lot of TI recommended practices have been put in place and my life will be a lot easier. I just have to continue the best practices and implement what was put in motion. In term of challenges, I hope we don’t see a lot of clubs fizzle out after a few months in the system because as we grow, it’s also important to have the right support system in place. If we didn’t take the right steps during the initial phase, it may cost us now. Also, I see a lot of members getting burned out which we have to handle cautiously. What is your perspective on club growth and retention? Can you share a brief of how you want to approach this year? According to me, we should add clubs thoughtfully by ensuring we have the support system for it to sustain. TI recommends an 8% yearly growth


COVER STORY and I feel it's an industry practice to adopt which will not burn us out and make this journey fruitful for all. For every step we take forward, it’s okay sometimes to take two steps back. Hence, we would have the following: Centralized Club Extension Chair who will have a focal in all cities for easier management and effective implementation. The team will be responsible for the initial pitch for any lead and will collaborate with Division and Area Directors for the rest of the process. Centralized Club Retention Chair who will be responsible for recruiting a team of club mentors and coaches. S/he will also ensure we suggest steps to streamline club administration with automation or any other process required. Marketing Chair who will ensure we explore effective and economical marketing areas for promotion of the TI brand and our values. S/he will also work closely with the DPRM to ensure we portray the right image of Toastmasters. This will ensure we involve our always dedicated and motivated members who are looking for an opportunity to serve the District. Edited and compiled by Karan

Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!



SINDHUSHA GRANDHI, LEAD COMMUNITY MANAGER Sindhusha's experience: It was the only thought that I haven’t done something like this earlier that drove me to join the newsletter team though I was a part of last year’s team. And to my surprise, it wasn’t just the Lead Community Manager’s shoes that I’ve stepped into. I was also involved in various activities starting from sourcing the articles to interviewing people and making the cover stories. In fact everyone has stepped into each other’s shoes and got the opportunity to extend their horizons and work on all aspects in the newsletter (thanks to Karan for making it happen). The best part was, when in times of need, the team members were there for each other. There were times when I had to take a break due to my personal reasons, there was always someone to take care of my work and vice versa. That always made me feel like we were more than just a team. And lastly, there cannot exist any role without any learnings. I shall remain indebted to Karan and all the team members for letting me extend my boundaries, exploring the new skills which I never thought I would. Thank you for making this stint a memorable one!


Editor’s Citation: Sindhusha (Sindhu for me, always) was the first person I approached to be a part of the newsletter team way back in June. A seasoned campaigner with the newsletter, I was hoping to bank on her experience to lead a team of community managers, a team I knew very little about in practice. And boy, did she deliver! From coordinating our team meetings, calls, and sourcing the happenings from all over the District, to becoming an overnight editor and curator on my insistence; Sindhu has done it all. Despite her various (happy!) personal commitments, she remained an integral part of the team until the end. Sindhu, wishing you a great future!


RUCHIKA GALLANI, DESIGNER Ruchika's experience: As I write this, I find myself at the commencement of my term as Editor, thrust into a new world of responsibility, fear, and excitement, with big expectations, and bigger shoes to fill. When I applied for the role of Designer around this time last year, I hadn’t the slightest clue that this was how things would eventually turn out. At that time, Communicate 98 was the newsletter I admired in awe every month, since the first time I came across it as a new Toastmaster. I simply knew that I enjoyed the design process immensely, and wanted to learn more about it and grow my skills as much as possible.

amazed by the way our team has come together and stayed together, developing a sense of warmth and friendliness, in spite of being spread across the District and almost never meeting in person.

But creating the issue designs taught me several things applicable beyond design as well, like how having constraints can help one delve deeper into a problem and be truly creative, how one can set up processes in place so things can be set in motion smoothly and efficiently, and that revision, discussion, and re-iteration are extremely important in getting something right.

Editor’s Citation: Until I met Ruchika, I did not know people could be this versatile or talented. From the time I interviewed her, I was already confident of her design skills and she has delivered beautiful issues month after month with hardly a complaint. Dealing with the Editor is usually a frustrating job and I must thank her for bearing with my many revisions of every small and big thing in every issue.

It was around 5-6 months into my role when I remember feeling a pang of regret and thinking that if I didn’t try anything outside of it, I wouldn’t be making the most of everything this opportunity had to offer me. So in the following months, I tried something new each time, from putting together cover stories and other features, to getting the opportunity to be stand-in editor for a month, which was very challenging but helped me gain clarity about the entire process and gave me insight into myself. One of the best parts of this experience has been working with such a supportive and close-knit team. I am truly


This space is too small to cover all I have to say about my experience, but in short, it has been absolutely amazing and I have enjoyed every single moment of it. Everything that I had the opportunity to do, every issue that I helped create, every person I have connected with over the course of this year, has given me memories that I will cherish and learnings that I will take away for a long time to come.

She is the pillar without whom the edifice of the newsletter would crumble. She surprised me again halfway through the term by leading our most complex feature - The Cover Story. Her dedicated to the story, the ideation and hard work put into it gave me a lot of inspiration at that time of the term when the wind starts getting knocked out of your sails. As she assumes the role of Editor for the coming year, I wish her the best of luck!



BARKHA MATHUR | ASSISTANT EDITOR - FEATURES, TIMES OF INDIA, NAGPUR In conversation with Barkha Mathur, Assistant EditorFeatures, Times of India Nagpur, who looks after the artistic and cultural aspects of the city, including dance, theatre, and music. All of these, when incorporated together, can be called Leisure Writing. Her writing reflects not just a review of the performances, but also speaks of the struggles, achievements and changing city trends of these aspects. What is usually a hobby for most is your work, tell us about your trysts with leisure writing. When I was a cub reporter, it was politics that I had my eye on. But when I shifted to Nagpur and took up a job in a local newspaper, I was placed on the desk and became a copy editor. It was after I joined Times of India that I began feature writing in earnest. This job also gave me an opportunity to look at hard news from a softer angle. I was writing on all subjects be it politics, sports, health or education for leisure, in a way which would interest the layperson. That is where the challenge lies and I am enjoying every bit of it. Since you are so closely associated with art and culture, what is your take on the balance between profession and passion? In my profession especially, the job entails huge responsibility since it has a very wide reach. As much as I may be enjoying a concert or a performance, my


mind has to remain alert for the report that has to follow. This makes it difficult to get fully absorbed in the performance as I need to maintain objectivity. But yes, the fact is that when the entire city is clamouring for tickets or passes for an event, I enjoy the luxury of being invited to it and get that extra special treatment in terms of seat and comfort. With the rise of social media and influence from the West, do you think Indian culture and heritage is getting diluted? Rather, I think it is getting enriched. The exposure is spinning new formats and getting many to explore and experiment. Both visual and performing arts have hugely benefited in terms of style and presentation. Now we have a classical music concert combined with an abstract art demonstration. Western instruments are fused with Hindustani classical forms, and western concepts like slam poetry, stand up acts, and webseries are all being adapted to Indian formats. YouTube provides an excellent platform for newbie talent to showcase itself. All this exposure is making us value and cherish our heritage more. Columnists and reporters often face backlash for being vocal about their opinions. What is your take on that? The opinion offered in a column is that of the author


and it has to be taken as it is. That space has been provided to him/her for this expression. But a reporter has to remain objective at all times. For example, if I am at a show which I don’t enjoy, I can’t be blatantly vocal about it in my report. After all, there are a hundred other people who liked it. So the report has to be balanced and take an overall view. Backlash usually comes from those who expect a lot and then feel let down. For those who write the truth without a personal bias, there is no backlash.

While interviewing people, I often realize that though they have excelled in their sphere, they are not articulate about it. That’s where I use my skills and help them identify the key points of their work and talk about them. This gives them direction and they are able to convey their point and talk better. Today’s world is all about communication. If you can convey what you want, you shall get it. Edited and compiled by Disha

In a long span of working in the media industry, you must have come across various leaders and have grown into one yourself. What is your take on leadership? I feel a leader is someone who leads by action and not through rhetoric. True leaders exhibit qualities which compel others to emulate them. The sign of a true leader is one who exudes positive energy all around, to create a healthy environment. Leadership qualities emerge from within. One who is open-minded, gentle, true to his own self and upholds the interest of others is a natural leader. A person should first empower oneself before even thinking of leading others. Communication skills have become a very important part of every job irrespective of the profile. How have they helped your career? Being in the business of mass communication, good communication skills help me get suitable responses from others. A luscious report full of suitable expressions is readable, otherwise, it sounds drab. Though communication skills are important, a majority of people lack them. If you want to want to be heard and succeed, it is important to be able to articulate yourself, for which expression and word power are essential.


Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!


DISHA GHOSHAL, CONTENT CURATOR Disha's Experience: I am more of a writer than a speaker! My journey with Toastmasters had a lull start. The only thing I liked was playing Grammarian and if I may daresay, I was pretty good at it. So, after one such meeting where I excelled as the Grammarian, TM Pavan suggested that I sign up for this ‘Content Curator’ role for the District Newsletter. I didn’t know squat about what the newsletter is or what was expected out of me, still I filled the form, pretty much at the last minute. But I am glad, I did. It has been quite a joyride. The experience of working with the team with vision has been very enriching and the learning has taken place in various aspects. While working on articles for Leader Speak and Humans of D98 brought me close association with some stalwarts of the TM community, the Features got me great opportunities of collaborating with entrepreneurs and artists. Another, star marked addition to this list were the monthly contests which gave a first-hand chance to design a pseudo-PR campaign keeping the readers in mind. Being part of an elite pan-India team that collaborated every day was another beautiful takeaway from this last year. This is an ode to all of them especially our Editor TM Karan for bearing with my delays and whims, Prathima, Fatima, Taaha for guiding me always and all the community managers who kept the vibe alive all the time! Thank you all for making Communicate 98, a very special part of my Toastmasters life. Looking forward to continuing this wonderful journey while cherishing the friendships and memories on the way!


Editor’s Citation: Disha brought us some of the most diverse articles to publish this past year. From journalists to artists and many more, the list just kept on growing. Finding quality content in such a consistent way and finding ways to make it interesting is a unique talent and I took full advantage of having that talent at my disposal! Despite shifting to a new city midway through the term, she kept the spirit of the role alive and has been one of the most active contributors to the team.



Congratulations on District 98 becoming a President's Distinguished District under your tenure as a PQD. How do you feel about it? I feel great about it but at the same time, we all already know that this is a milestone that we will cross one-day in our consistent effort to keep the Toastmaster movement lively and the administration transparent.

The Pathways Committee Chair will work on the challenges that are being faced by members and we will keep solving them one problem at a time - as simple as that. The working of the District Mission will not change much but we will need to be disciplined in our approach in answering some of the questions that might crop up due to lack of knowledge and resources.

Also, congratulations on becoming the District Director-elect for 2018-19. What is the one element that keeps pushing you to serve the District? Thank you! For me, the members are my primary source of inspiration to serve. They present before me ample opportunities to learn. They challenge me to become better, they force to me think deep, they trust me when taking a decision, they guard me against deviating from the path, they challenge me to go the distance, they teach me those aspects of leadership which cannot be taught well in any world-class school and more importantly, they love me for what I am, but not what they want me to be. Serving my District 98 family will always be my privilege.

There's a feeling among members there is only one conference in the coming year and the usual camaraderie will reduce. How do we keep this spirit of closeness intact? I too believe that we are going to miss our semi-annual conference. Things are going to be different without it. However, if the effort that hundreds of volunteers put in for months for a conference can be converted to help struggling clubs or mentor club members, we will benefit be more productive. I have realized over time that strong clubs create more camaraderie in the District than District conferences can ever create. Hence, I believe it is a positive step towards building strong clubs and will help us focus on what really matters.

With the rollout of Pathways is there going to be any strategic shift in our work while keeping the mission and vision of the District intact? There will be a strategy in place to ensure that members are comfortable with the Pathways program.

As we've become the fastest growing District in Toastmasters, are there any lessons learned and should we focus on some specific areas going forward? What are your plans? We need to understand Indian culture to understand



growth. We all agree that Toastmasters is an opportunity but not everyone realizes that this is a shared opportunity. When a club is chartered, it is mostly because of the brand, but very soon that trust converts into a challenge when you see members becoming disinterested in club meetings. We have to address this problem because our members are working professionals, family people and also belong to other associations. Hence, as a member, one would really want each meeting to be able to make a difference and not just be a place to meet. Similarly, we really want a return on our commitment to the Toastmasters program. If we enable and empower members to find that return, no other strategy is needed. For me, that is growth. If we can grow in that direction as a District we will be able to make a difference to many lives. Now if we talk about the new club additions, it is because of the current market which is looking to Toastmasters for an alternative to the regular personality development, soft skills or leadership courses. It will be stupid of us to ignore that demand. This is not growth but an increase in responsibility and our focus has to be on how to handle it. We have formulated the Club Retention Team this year which will create strong club mentors and coaches. I hope this strategy will help tackle this problem and if not, we will find another solution. With reference to the previous question, we have even grown in terms of geography. How are we planning to keep the collaboration intact considering the cultural differences in various cities across the District?


We are a plural society and I have experienced that each city in our District has a unique flavor. This diversity is what helps us build a complete and an allaround learning atmosphere. It is and always should be at the heart of every District team. Collaboration is not affected by geography but by a lack of understanding. When one city is completely connected with what works well in another city and if that knowledge-sharing happens, I am sure we have everything in place. At the end of the day, each city knows what their problems are and more often, these are solved locally. Which brings us back to the point of trust. Trust those leaders who are ready to give both time and energy to help solve these problems. Now with new clubs in new cities, it is a challenge to reach out to them owing to distance. Hence, we need to be cautious and see if we have both the human and the technology resources to help build the club. As we grow, we are going to attract many different personalities and different thinkers. Toastmasters in itself has put in enough regulations to ensure that we always align with a common goal although the ways to achieve it may be different. Edited and compiled by Fatima

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TAAHA SHAIKH, CONTENT CURATOR Taaha's Experience: I am so privileged to have served as Content Curator for Communicate 98! The best part of this experience is I am a lot more confident and a responsible person now —I can feel it! Besides, would you believe me if I told you it also helped me get elected as an Ex-Comm member of my club, two times in a row? Yes it has! It has also given me the opportunity to interview the Father of India’s Supercomputing, Dr. Vijay Bhatkar. How can I ever possibly forget that! As part of the District Newsletter team, I got a chance to rub shoulders with TM Prathima Madireddy, the District ISC Champion and Table Topics runner-up. And if that’s not enough, one of my first assignments was interviewing District ISC Runner-up TM Ashrafali Jagirdar. In short, “Wow!” I am also glad that I could chip in by running a couple of contests and proofread articles, whenever I could. Overall, serving as Content Curator has given me a tremendous sense of happy learning, which I shall cherish for a long time. I would like to thank the Toastmasters fraternity of District 98 as well as TM Karan and fellow Communicate 98 teammates for all the joy and learning!


Editor’s Citation: Taaha is the man always the first to raise his hand to support the team. If I’m being totally honest, I must say I was very skeptical at the beginning of the term, but leadership is mostly surprises and I was pleasantly surprised! Taaha never shied away from the complex assignments, producing some brilliant features (Featured - Param Leadership with Dr. Bhatkar, Father of Indian Supercomputing), and lent me his expertise in editing, sometimes single-handedly proofreading entire editions! I have come off this term richer because of his expert guidance and inches of debate we had on every comma, semicolon, and m-dash. His sincere dedication will be a great asset to whatever enterprise he decides to join next. I wish him all the best!



A few years ago, I thought I was a good speaker. I never felt nervous when on stage and I never felt shy when speaking before many people. In 2013, I began my Toastmasters journey, not knowing how it could transform my career and life. It took me two years to deliver my 'Ice Breaker' speech and once I did it, I was flooded with opportunities. Toastmasters is far more than public speaking. In my view, it's a personal development programme that improves confidence, self-esteem, and interpersonal and leadership skills. It allowed me to learn and grow at a speed which I was comfortable with. Each aspect of Toastmasters has equipped me with a new skill and presented me with an opportunity to experience a different venue, a bigger audience, and a much higher standard every time. Particularly, I plunged myself into Table Topics to develop tactics to avoid nervousness while answering people’s unanticipated questions. I started considering every ribbon I earned and feedback I received as a step forward towards my vision for my professional life. I could strike a balance between my leadership and communication skills by taking every opportunity in my club, participating in international contests and other events to network with other Toastmasters. Overall, this experience was very rewarding for me as I developed my ability to speak eloquently on topics of social significance, interests, and arts with folks of different countries and cultural backgrounds. My leadership skills were sharpened when I took up the role of VP-Public Relations in my club, organizing meetings and


events. Now, the task for me was to extrapolate my learning to get the best results for my professional goals. I applied for the German Chancellor Fellowship in 2017 when I believed I had a perfect blend of leadership, communication and networking skills. On 25th April 2018, I was granted the prestigious German Chancellor Fellowship as a Prospective Leader from India which was beyond my imagination! German Chancellor Fellowship is a program which nurtures the leaders of tomorrow, who have the potential to build bridges between India and Germany and the ability to discuss the issues of modern society, meanwhile, fostering career development. Working on my project in Germany as an independent project owner, using every opportunity to interact with government officials, diplomats and influencers will require an amalgamation of all the skills I have acquired during my journey in Toastmasters. Additionally, I will get a chance to represent India on an international platform. I am truly a witness to the Toastmasters’ tagline; “Where leaders are made.” I believe that Toastmasters has given me a platform to think differently, dream big, believe in myself and dare to achieve it! Else, this Fellowship would have been a farfetched dream. The opportunities for growth are infinite in Toastmasters and I look forward to my new journey in Germany’s Toastmasters to take my skills to the next level. See you on the other side of the globe! Edited by Prathima, compiled by Mehak Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!


HALEEMUNNISA FATIMA, CONTENT CURATOR Fatima's Experience: In my almost 2 years journey, I’ve been the club Secretary, VP - Public Relations and VP - Education. I learned to make posters, videos, developed a calm demeanor, became a bit more attentive and responsible. However, amidst all this, I was still attracted to my first love, writing. It was then that I decided to nominate myself as a Content Curator for the District Newsletter. And boy, what a journey it has been. A journey as exciting as a roller coaster is! My first feature as a Content Curator was interviewing our CGD - Leo Paulose and if you ask me how it was, I would still say it was a combination of excitement and nerves. Under the wise leadership of Karan, I got to learn so much. Right from curating articles, to asking the right questions to members, writing my first spoken word poetry and running multiple contests. But then again, this was all my comfort zone. My challenging and learning experience was when I designed the newsletter for the month of January 2018. It not only helped me understand the finer nuances of shades and design but also, the effort that goes in delivering a product. Communicate 98 has been like a family. Learning from the experience of Prathima, befriending members across the District - Disha and Taaha, my co-content curators and the lively Community Managers - Luven, Santosh, and the gang! And how can I forget, the madame designer - Ruchika who taught me so much about design. Lastly, a big thank you to Karan, for guiding me, dealing with me and my whims, the busy


hectic schedule and most importantly for having faith in me. Even though this term ends, I know I have made some wonderful memories and been granted, wonderful friends! Love to the entire Communicate 98 family! Editor’s Citation: The lady with a thousand words and ideas constantly at hand, the irrepressible Fatima! She was, from the very start, the heart of the team. One of the two most important point people for me in Mumbai, she was the one to call when we were desperate to find contributors or ideas for the latest crazy project we had undertaken. Her enthusiasm sustained us during the crucial few months in the beginning when a team is just getting its bearings and people are testing the waters. Versatile in her work, she’s played multiple parts in this year’s journeys and I am thankful for her never-say-no attitude.



TM SYONA FERNANDES, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE GOA (ICG) TOASTMASTERS “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself”. How true are the words of Bob Proctor! It seems like just yesterday that I bumped into DTM Farida D’silva Dias at a workshop. She seemed to be a natural public speaker. To me, this type of performance felt out of reach. I remember having to gather all my courage to broach her and feeling clumsy, like Laurel and Hardy. Her simple words “why not?” ignited the fuel buried deep under the shame of my first failed attempt to speak on stage, three decades ago. I always thought I was a born leader but I led from behind the stage. I was so timid when I joined Toastmasters that I would ensure I sat right beside her to find courage, strength, and moral support during meetings. Some of her simple motivating words were “just give it a try”, “enjoy the speech” or, “there’s nothing like right or wrong”. Given her busy schedule, it was not always easy or convenient, and yet she generously gave her time and patience to hear every speech that I needed to practice. I would go to her with a raw speech and return with food for thought that helped scratch my rusty brain. Sometimes she said nothing and only listened, other times she spoke the exact words that I needed to hear at the right moment. The tenderness with which she imparted her advice and knowledge could be compared to a mother not ready to leave any stone unturned to see her child’s progress. My accomplishments as a Toastmaster in the last three years


under her mentorship are: - Learning that writing is a great skill but thinking is a better one – this was unleashed after my CC4 project, “I Staged a Gospel Concert” - I was chosen to be a Club Ambassador - I gained strength, courage, and confidence through every experience in which I stopped to look fear in the face. Last year, I went up to the Division Level in the International Speech Contest - I proved to myself my belief of being a born leader; This year, I was elected President of International Centre Goa Toastmasters Club, bringing it many accolades My gratitude for Farida’s contribution to my success is immeasurable for - Encouragement when I needed it the most - Being truthful even when it hurt - Praise when it was not deserved - A reality check when my pride got in the way - And most of all, for believing in me! As the name Farida means, she is indeed a unique, precious pearl; who polished her mentee into a unique pearl herself. Edited and compiled by Luven

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MADHURI SUNKIREDDY, COMMUNITY MANAGER, HYDERABAD Madhuri's Experience: I was always fascinated by magazines and working in the newsletter team was my chance to explore what it is like closely. As a community manager, I needed to network and collaborate seamlessly. That being the learning my most fond memory would be interviewing Milind Soman, compiling and editing it. The interview received a lot of love and I can't thank Karan enough for giving me that opportunity. All in all, it has been a pleasure working with my super talented team and I will always cherish my time with them.


Editor’s Citation: Madhuri signed on as a community manager, but it quickly became clear that she was up for almost anything that I could throw at her. She expressed new and interesting ideas to run our contests, completely owned features (including one of Milind Soman, India’s top model!) and was a integral part of the team. As she pursues her varied interests in life, I wish her the best of luck!



“We are competing against ourselves” were the words of the world’s greatest athlete, Ashton Eaton. A two-time Olympic Champion, he holds the world record in both decathlon and indoor heptathlon events and is the second decathlete to break the 9000 point barrier. On August 29, 2015, he beat his own record. Try to improve your performance on a consistent basis and not bother much about the results. Results will come your way if you improve. Compete against yourself, not others and enjoy the journey. Let me share my Toastmaster journey. I joined Mumbai TCS Maitree Toastmasters in 2012 and took nearly 4 years to complete the CC manual. When I first competed in my club evaluation contest in 2015, I lost and some of my friends made fun of me. My mentor, TM Parakh Kukreja pointed out the areas I needed to work upon. The very next year, in August 2016, I stood 3rd in the Area evaluation contest. Due to a last-minute back out, I competed at the Division level where I stood 3rd. Though I couldn’t progress further, I was satisfied with my year-on-year performance. In September 2017, I tried my luck in the Humorous Speech Contest and surprisingly won at the club level and stood 2nd at the Area level. In March 2018, I contested in International Speech Contests from three clubs across three different Divisions and lost in all of them! I realized that there are many areas I need to work upon. However, I stood won the Table Topics contest at TCS


Maitree Mumbai which took me to subsequent levels – Area, Division, and District. This time I managed to get through all the levels by securing the 1st position and eventually, I won the District 98 Table Topics Contest at Eloquence Hyderabad in May 2018. At each level, I identified the areas that I needed to work upon and strived to improve it. I was mentally competing against myself and could improve on an incremental basis. I owe a debt of gratitude to many Toastmasters who shared their wisdom with me at various stages. I sincerely believe that being the District 98 Table Topics Champion is not an end in itself and I have a long way to go. Remember, you have no control over the performance of others, but absolute control over your individual performance. You must set performance oriented goals rather than result oriented goals for your progress not only in Toastmaster contests but also in other areas. In the words of Saina Nehwal, India’s badminton champion, “I want to be 100 percent at every tournament. I’m not concerned about rankings. If I win, my rankings will improve. My focus is on improving my game and fitness. If that happens, everything else follows” What are you waiting for? Participate in all contests and keep improving no matter whether you win or lose. Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!


LUVEN RODRIGUES, COMMUNITY MANAGER, GOA Luven's Experience: As I flip through the Toastmaster chapter, I see the most colourful and creative pages titled as "Community manager", which unfold stories subtitled as communicate, collaborate, celebrate! COMMUNICATE- I had wonderful opportunities to communicate, network and connect with Toastmasters from Goa and across district 98, boosted my confidence when I represented Goa at the Division ISC. COLLABORATE- Enhanced my collaboration and writing skills as I compiled articles for Human of D98, Leader Speak, led contest of the month, recognized hidden talents and persuaded them to contribute to the monthly submissions. When I worked on my article based on an interview with a famous Goan personality, I slipped in the shoes of Oprah Winfrey! CELEBRATE- Countless reasons! Appreciation and gratitude expressed when Toastmasters had their articles published, they won contests or merely enjoyed the monthly newsletter. Added new friends to my list, especially my highly professional and super talented newsletter teammates Karan, Prathima, Sindhusha, Disha, Ruchika, Fatima, Taaha, Santosh, Madhuri, Malvi, and Mehak. Interacting with each of you was a unique learning experience. Thank you and let's continue to stay in touch and COMMUNICATE!


Editor’s Citation: My point person and partner in crime for Goa, I have much that I should be thankful to Luven for. She was an indispensable ally throughout this term, sourcing articles far and wide, getting the most amazing stories out of Toastmasters and giving us all a crash course in persuasive skills when she wrangled article after article from the Goan community! She was the first on the team to celebrate a happy milestone in her personal life, but that never wavered her commitment and she was with us till the last issue. I am happy to see her grow as a leader in the role!



Toastmasters International opened its new World Headquarters in Colorado on 19th March 2018. The moment I heard this news and the fact that the organization was looking to fill more than 60 positions in its new building, I pondered what makes this non-profit organization thrive so strongly! After all, the last Annual Convention was held in Vancouver, Canada, one of the most expensive cities on the planet. Toastmasters has been in existence for over 93 years. In comparison, if we look at major companies in the Fortune 500 list, most of those are quite young. Look at Google, Apple, or Facebook. They have been around only for the last three to four decades. The giant oil companies like Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell have existed for over 100 years, but all of them metamorphosed several times and are quite different currently from their original state. However, the same is not the case with Toastmasters: It possesses the same structure as it was when founded by Ralph Smedley. No mergers or acquisitions in its 93-year journey! So, what is the force that keeps it going? At the first glance, someone might say the supply-demand equation. The demand for Public Speaking and Leadership has constantly increased over the years and there are not many organizations catering to this demand. This reason might be true but for the need of money. which has also increased. A century ago, non-profits could have survived without any PR or marketing efforts. But in the modern era, there is competition even amongst non-profits which makes a constant supply of funds essential. However, Toastmasters hasn’t seen gigantic chunks of donations flowing in and continues to offer


member services at a very low cost. So, there must be some other force of reckoning. The answer would be – Core Values and Core Purpose. Core Values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide the organization’s actions. Whereas the Core Purpose is the organization’s most fundamental reason for being, the drive that keeps it going. With time, leaders change, technology transforms and management evolves. But the Core Values and Core Purpose are elements that keep an organization bound as a single entity and keep it on the right track. Most companies that witnessed sustainable growth over decades had a firm and well-developed combination of values and purpose. A Harvard Business research study states that most visionary companies have 3-5 values. Toastmasters’ four core values of Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence have turned a culturally diverse group of over 3,50,000 members into an astounding success story that keeps on going. Its well-defined mission of providing a positive learning experience continues to guide clubs in a determined direction. Most importantly, Toastmasters has woven its values and purpose deeply in every aspect of its functioning. The recognition system, meeting conduct, and the education program have been deeply embedded in our core values. This interwoven connection has helped the organization to ensure uniformity in its approach over the globe and over time. Edited and compiled by Karan Take a moment to give us feedback for this article, or the issue HERE. You might get published in Letters to the Editor!


SANTOSH AKELLA, COMMUNITY MANAGER, MUMBAI Santosh's Experience: I have enrolled into Agnel Toastmasters Club in March 2017. My intention was to sharpen my Public Speaking and Networking Skills as I was already giving some part-time trainings by then. Things went like this till June 2017 and I received an email from Mr. Karan Gupta welcoming me onboard of Communicate 98, the District 98 Newsletter. What happened after that was a history. Karan and the team awed me every day, right from having Video Conference calls for having a better connect to meeting me at the District Officers Training Programme in Mumbai. I used to hear vague terms (which are no more vague) like Area, Division, and District from all the experienced Toastmasters in the team. Very soon I got acquainted with these terminologies and the demographics of Toastmasters. They asked me to build connections from all the clubs in Mumbai and collate some important information needed for the newsletter. I also had to interact with some of the District Officers and other veteran Toastmasters for compiling articles like Leader Speak, Toastmaster Professional, Humans of D98 etc. In this process, I used to visit neighbouring clubs in my Area and Division. Visiting them not only gave me some information for the newsletter but also an opportunity to speak at their Table Topics, get speech slots and take roles. This helped me a lot because I got diversified audience and evaluators. Overall, the newsletter experience has accelerated my


Toastmasters journey and today I can COMMUNICATE with 98% confidence with anyone if not 100%. As the saying goes, Even 99% is not good enough, I have a long journey to go. I would highly recommend all the members from the District to be in the coveted newsletter team at least once in their Toastmasters journey. I thank all the members in the District Newsletter Team, Toastmasters of Mumbai, and the entire District 98 for giving this opportunity. Signing off but staying with you, Santosh Akella đ&#x;˜ƒđ&#x;˜ƒđ&#x;˜ƒ Editor’s Citation: There is always one person in the team who never ceases to surprise you, in all kinds of ways - the weird and wonderful Santosh Akella was that man! When he first slipped into the role, the world of Toastmasters was a brand new oyster for him. But in the short span of this year, I have seen him go from strength to strength, be it in his communication skills, or leadership ability. He brings a unique flavour to every task he undertakes and I am truly grateful for his consistent contributions to making this, and future, newsletters a success.


MALVI SHAH, COMMUNITY MANAGER, GUJARAT Malvi's Experience: Toastmasters, for me it is a never-ending educational organization where indeed sky is not the limit. On a random day I got call to become part of C98, Community Manager. I just stepped into this to learn something and now I realize how much I have groomed myself in terms of personal life as well. Living a Toastmasters life has always been incredible and outstanding because of this journey that has polished several skills of mine like meeting deadlines, collaborating and working with members across D98, making posters keeping in mind every minute details, exchanging ideas and of course, Zoom video conference calls. Thank you, each and every member of C98. I am very much thankful to all the members of Gujarat for cooperating me while collecting data at the end of every month and especially to my club members for always acknowledging and accolading my work. Here I say GoodBye with a bag full of fun plus learning and memories to cherish forever.


Editor’s Citation: If Toastmasters is “Where Leaders Are Made”, Malvi fits this tagline best of all. When we first spoke over the phone, I had sincere doubts about this naive girl who knew very little about Toastmasters. But I decided to give it a shot and I am glad that I did. Malvi has been a constant pillar of support for the team and the person who can get anything done in our frontier in Gujarat (I say this with affection!). She has a zeal to work and produce something of the highest possible quality and she lets nothing get in the way of that, not even an insincere thank you! But a big Thank You is indeed in order from me to her for the way she has conducted herself this past year and it is with pride that I see her transform into a leader!







MEHAK MARWAH, COMMUNITY MANAGER, PUNE Mehak's Experience I started the journey as a Community Manager with loads of excitement and the aim to learn something new. Though my move from Pune to Mumbai kept me too occupied, I am truly grateful for the amazing team members, I wouldn’t have completed the stint without your support. One thing that I have learned and admired through the one year with Communicate 98 is the teamwork.


Editor's Citation The lady who awed us all with her organization and preparation skills, Mehak is the clockwork of the team. She does every task diligently and with full autonomy, leaving me with a finished product that I can only sit and admire. Despite her relocation, she has continued to contribute till the very last day of this issue and for that, I am truly grateful.


Communicate 98 June 2018 Issue designed by Ruchika and Karan

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