I am "Bạc Hà"

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" – Eleanor Roosevelt

D.D. Diary: The Candidate Interview

First Chinese Baptists Church in Fountain Valley
February 7, 2018

I had an interview for Division C Director position today. It went OK, but there were plenty of room for improvement. That is why I want to spend some time to put down the questions, my answers, and a better version of the answers that I later came up with, for my own reflection and improvement. Your feedback is also welcomed.

1. What is your most difficult personal problem that hinders you from being a successful division director and how would you overcome it?

My answer: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and, of course, it will improve even more in the future. Besides, I always want to learn how the system of Toastmasters work and how to serve my role better. I believe my effort will make up well for my weakness.

What I should have said: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and I will use myself as a lively example of house Toastmasters can transform the life of people like me and encourage them to step up, experience more, and make the most from the program, like I have been doing.

2. What do you think is the District’s problem and what are you going to do about it?
My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: Membership and Pathway. To be more precise, we do not have enough new members and our current members, including myself a few weeks ago, do not want to progress to Pathway. But after testing the water, I realized Pathway is not only a “career improvement program for Millennials”, it is also our traditional program with a different name and a slightly different order. I will urge our current members the change their mentality and get to know more about the program to refresh themselves and to be ready to help a new wave of younger members in the future.

3. I like your idea about Pathway, but how do you solve the District’s membership problems?

My answer: We lose the most club at the beginning of a new term, when area directors just take the office and are still figuring out what they have to do. So I will have my area directors learn about their clubs before they even start their term so they can be prepared. Besides, there is a program that I am currently promoting at my club called the Speaker Exchange. Smaller clubs, like mine, can offer a speaking opportunity to members from crowding clubs who cannot wait to their turn give speech in their home club. That will bring new ideas and create more activities at smaller clubs which will help to stabilize their membership base. When we stop losing clubs, the area directors will be able to focus more on founding new clubs.

4. How would you develop your area director?

My answer: First, I would pick them early and send them to the current area directors so they can have a first hand experience of their job. I will also connect them with experienced leaders, like all of you here, so they know who to seek for advice.

What I should have said: I could add a third point, “I will encourage them to take an active role above the area level and organize think tank events where they can share their own problems and contribute solutions for others’”

5. You were talking about connecting your area directors to the senior leaders, but how would you, yourself, help your area directors?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: I will sit down and set goals with them. I will make sure they have assistants to share the burden, I will remind them regularly about the progress and our target. When all fail, like fate occasionally do to us, I will step up, take it over, until I can find a replacement.

6. How do you use TI dashboard to improve your club?

My answer: Since I am no longer a district officer during the last two years, I no longer have access to many features provided by the dashboard and do not use it much. However, I do know the website provides a lot of helpful resources and they are under utilized by the majority of Toastmasters members. So, as a division director, I will organize educational events to make sure the club members are more familiar with the dashboard as well as the Pathway base camp.

What I should have said: When I was an area director, I spent a lot of time browsing the dashboard and play with its features. I found it was a great resource and regularly share what I thought was useful to the club officers in my area. Though the majority of Toastmasters I know rarely touch it, they will likely have more exposure to the new system, thanks to the Pathway program. All we need to do is to organize interactive educational events to facilitate it.

7. Do you have experience in mentoring or sponsoring a club? Or do you have any idea on how to start a new club?

My answer: Club mentoring and sponsoring is the last item in my Advanced Leadership Silver requirements and I am having a very hard time to get it done. But I do have an idea on how to start new clubs, inspired by what we are doing at my home club. We are Historically Speaking, a specialized club, and we almost forgot that fact. A few months ago, I spoke up and asked our club members to embrace some history into their speech. Since then, we had guests visiting our club and they were impressed by our historical topics. Some of them were returning Toastmasters and they liked it better than a general meeting. I strongly believe that specialized clubs will have a better chance to bring people together and keep them longer.

8. Regarding to your idea about specialized clubs, we have photography, we have wine tasting, what else should we have?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.
What I should have said: There are hundreds of hobbies that can inspire a new club. Music, sport, traveling, etc. I am a fan of paintings and sculptures, if some of you share this interest, let’s get together and start a club. What are you strongly passionate about? We may start a Toastmasters club specialized on that topic too.


Phew, that was a whole lot of impromptu speeches I had to make in 20 minutes. But it was such a rewarding and fruitful interview session. I have learned much more about myself, Toastmasters, and what I truly want to achieve here.

P.S., The District Officers Committee included Pan, Siri, Harry, Kathy, Randy, Norm, Frannie, and another person that I can no longer recall at the moment.


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