Author Archives: Ana Marin

7 Big Ideas From Gothenburg

Last weekend I participated in The Toastmasters Division G Fall Conference in Gothenburg. The conference included some great workshops on leadership and public speaking. This post is a condensed version of my 7 favourite take-aways from the workshops. If you went to the conference you can use the article as a reminder; if not, here’s a few notes on what you missed. In either case I’m happy to be the nerdy kid who shares my notes (as long as you don’t take my lunch money).

1. We see don’t see things as they are

A young girl looking out the window, sees her neighbour drying some dirty clothes. “Why are they drying the clothes, when it’s still dirty?” she asks her mother. The mum looks, but doesn’t say anything.

The next day, the same thing happens. The girl tells her mum about the dirty clothes, and the mum doesn’t say anything.

On the third day, when the girl looks, the clothes are clean. The girl says: “She finally washed it. Did you say something to her?”

The mum smiles: “I got up early and washed your windows.”

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Credit: Thanks to Andrei Popescu for sharing this story.

More information:

2. Negative feedback hurts

The human brain experiences negative feedback similarly to physical pain. Therefore, think about how your words affect other people, when giving them feedback.

Credit: Thanks to Danni Liljekrans ( for sharing this idea.

More: Emotional and Physical Pain Activate Similar Brain Regions (Psychology Today)

3. Radical Candor

The previous idea tells us how negative feedback hurts. But being kind and positive isn’t enough. When giving people feedback, remember these two things:

  • Care about the person
  • Challenge the person

Do you ever hold back when giving feedback, because you don’t want to hurt the other person? In that case you’re in the unicorn-zone. You are caring, but not challenging. Thus, you are creating a fantasy world for the other person, which makes her feel good, but doesn’t serve in the long run. If you’re the opposite (challenging, but not caring), you’re just being a dick. This is shown as a devil in the graph above. If you’re neither challenging nor caring, you’re doing everything wrong (symbolised above as an indifferent and manipulative snake. If you’re both caring and challenging, you’re using what Kim Scott calls radical candor. You are building up the other person, and helping her grow at the same time.

Okay, enough with the unicorns. Here’s what the model really looks like:

Credit: Thanks to Danni Liljekrans ( for sharing this idea.


Bonus: This concept relates to the “Supportive/Demanding Parenting Matrix

4. Listen to yourself

Imagine you’re in a high stakes situation where lots of people want to offer their advice (for instance when competing in the world championship of public speaking). It get’s increasingly difficult to trust your own voice.

The importance of being true to yourself and your story, increases when more people are giving you advice.

Credit: Denise Banks-Grasedyck (

5. The Five Levels of Leadership

Denise talked about the five levels of leadership, and she posed three questions for leaders to ask themselves:

  • What do I want in a leader?
  • Why should anyone follow me? (what will they get?)
  • What impact do I want to make on my followers and their communities?

Credit: Denise Banks-Grasedyck (

More about the five levels of leadership:


6. Egg, Carrot or Coffee?

When facing a difficult situation, do you handle it like Eggs, Carrots or Coffee?

  • Eggs are soft, but when thrown into a difficult situation (AKA boiling water), they become harder. Do you become tougher, when facing hardships?
  • Carrots are hard, and boiling water makes them soft.
  • With Coffee, it’s completely different: Coffee changes the water

When life punches you in the face, be like coffee. Change the difficult situation.

Credit: Thanks to Andrei Popescu for sharing this story.

7. But vs And

The word “but” is a commonly used (and terrible) word, for responding to other people’s ideas. “But” creates a “me vs you”-feeling – like you’re on different teams, fighting for different things. Instead use the word “and”. It feels much better for the person you’re talking to. It feels like you’re building on his ideas – rather than rejecting them.

Credit: Denise Banks-Grasedyck (

These are my favourite takeaways from the workshops. If you were there, I’d love to hear about your favourite take-aways from the weekend. Feel free to write a comment.

Thanks everyone for a great conference!

Wrote by Christian Staal member of Division G on LinkedIn

Save the date – fall conferences in our District

One of the reasons why being part of Toastmasters is great are the events. During the spring and the autumn, you can find several occasions to see new cities and meet interesting people – the Conferences. Our District is divided into Divisions – some of them have two or three countries so here is an opportunity – at one event you get the chance to get introduced to more than one culture.

Each event is different and the Divisions not only use this opportunity to offer very good training sessions but is also a networking event for the members and non-members. In order to make it easier we had a calendar, and you can use it to #travelWithToastmasters and learn more about people, habits, culture and see very good public speaking competitions in this part of Europe.

Ambassador Program for District 95

The Club Ambassador Program (CAP) is an innovative educational program that offers benefits for all those involved — the members-ambassadors who visit clubs, the clubs which are visited, the home clubs of the members-ambassadors, and the District 95 as a whole.

Visiting other clubs helps members grow by moving them out of their comfort zones. In addition, it is an opportunity to see how other clubs function. Our Clubs, Areas, Divisions and District benefits when members go outside their clubs, learning, adapting, and soon filling leadership roles in the club, area, division and district.

What will YOU gain?
– New Ideas to bring back to your own club to keep the excitement strong and helping it flourish.
– New Opportunities to participate as a speaker or other meeting functionary
– New Friends! Why wait for an Area, Division or District conferences to meet new people?
– New Experiences, which will help you get the most out of Toastmasters!

What will YOU earn?
When you turn in your SECOND completed CAP form, you will receive the following:
– The Designation of being an Official District 95 ‘CLUB AMBASSADOR’ 
– Recognition at the District 95 Spring Conference on May 18-20, 2018
– the opportunity to go for one of this year’s ‘CLUB AMBASSADOR’ of the Year Awards (details below).

How does CAP work?
As member-ambassador, you choose the club you want to visit. Many clubs offer open houses or speaking events: see the calendar in Easy Speak for all clubs in your area, division and District 95. You can also use the ‘CLUB AMBASSADOR’ program to complete an educational or leadership goal, practice for an upcoming contest, or just indulge simple curiosity.
What should you do when you visit a club? Perform a role, either speaking or functionary, participate in the Demo meeting for a new or non-chartered club, or just be a guest.

How to Complete The CLUB AMBASSADOR’ visit?
– Find a club that you’d like to visit that fits your schedule — the club does not have to be in your area, your division, or even District 95! The only restriction is that the club cannot be one that you are a member of or are the area/division director of; i.e. to become a ‘CLUB AMBASSADOR’, area and division directors will have to visit (and complete/submit forms for) three clubs outside of their area and division respectively.
ALWAYS contact the club beforehand to verify meeting date/time/location, and ask to be put on the agenda if you’d like to speak/can perform a meeting role and let them know you are coming (or you can just show up)
– Print out the 2017-2018 The CLUB AMBASSADOR’ Form. Fill out the top portion (your name, email address, home club), and bring the form with you on your visit.
– At the meeting: observe, participate, take notes, then have the visited club’s VPE (or other officer) sign the form.
– Submit your completed form to the Program Quality Director via email ( Note: credit will not be awarded for multiple visits to the same club.
– When the form is received/processed, you will get an email receipt with your visit’s information, which you may want to share with your home club or VPE. As soon as TWO completed forms are received, you will be noted as District 95 CLUB AMBASSADOR’!

The more clubs you visit, the more you add to the body of knowledge that helps everyone in our Area, Division and District, both members and clubs, grow to their full potential. Attend other Area Conference, Division or District Conference and earn Bonus – 10 (ten) additional points.

Please find here the Club Ambassador Form for print and download Club Ambassador Form_D95_2017-18