Monthly Archives: November 2017

Everything Is In Our Favour

There’s a wonderful article in today’s National Post about a 33-year-old rancher from Alberta who led one of the last great calvary charges at the Battle of Cambria in WW I.strachan-h

After assuming command of the Fort Garry Horse upon the death of the troop’s captain Lieutenant Harcus Strachan led his mounted B Squadron, swords drawn, toward a German artillery post.strachan-at-head-of-fgh-copy1

Successful in their endeavour, their bravery left them “utterly alone” kilometres behind enemy lines with only 50 men out of an original complement of 133 fit to fight. Strachan found not a horse left unwounded so he gathered his men and said:

“Everything is in our favour!”

Returning with his men on foot to friendly territory Strachan would be later be awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. In the months to follow a new weapon of war, the armoured tank, would replace the calvary of previous wars and warfare would be changed forever.

So what does an archaic wild calvary charge, one of the last of World War I, have to do with giving a speech in Toastmasters?

Ask yourself this:

When you’ve completed your speech what are the first thoughts that go through your head? What do you tell yourself? Are you optimistic and excited?

Do you say something like that was great – I did it – I learned so much?

Or do you do, as so many do, immediately start to pick apart your speech searching for every little flaw? Do you say to yourself that your speech was a failure? Do you agonize over every little slip?

This hyper-critical thinking is epidemic in society today. It sniffles creativity and makes giving a speech an experience to be dreaded.

This is not the way Toastmasters works.

After you give your next speech tell yourself that you did a great job. If you’re not up to giving yourself praise then go find your mentor and let them do it for you.

Remember all the little things you think went wrong likely weren’t even noticed by your audience. The stuff you think needs fixing will fix itself over time as you continue speaking. There’s no need to be harsh with yourself.

Everything is not lost.

Remember the Alberta rancher who went faced with insurmountable odds turned to his men and reassured them that all was going to end well….and it did.

Be optimistic. Be unafraid. Keep calm and keep speaking!

My memories of Christmas as a child: by Eric Bastien

It doesn’t matter whether you are an 11th generation Canadian like me, or whether you immigrated to Canada recently, there is no way to live in this country without the awareness of the religious and cultural celebration of Christmas in December. The evidence of this holiday is everywhere, from Santa Claus’ in malls, decorations in the stores, Christmas Carols playing on the radio, and to Christmas Lights on many houses….there is no escaping it.

Although this holiday is traditionally a Christian one, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  I have heard from people of other faiths saying that they have embraced the festive aspect of Christmas.  They too partake in gift exchanges, holiday meals, and visits from friends and family.

For me, being raised up in the French-Canadian Catholic faith and tradition, I celebrated most of my childhood Christmas’ in Quebec.  The celebration always started with a light meal in the early evening of December 24th, Christmas Eve.  My cousins and I were told by our parents that we needed to be in bed very early, usually by 8pm, if we expected to get a ‘delivery’ of gifts from Santa after midnight.  By 11:30pm, our parents woke us up, and we quickly made our way to the local church to celebrate Midnight Mass, where I remember excitedly singing French versions of Christmas songs like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Joy to the World’.

We would arrive home shortly after 1AM, and this was when the real celebration began.  We started the celebration by having a large feast  called ‘Le Réveillon’, where we had traditional dishes like Tourtière (a special French-Canadian meat pie); pea soup; ragout de pattes de cochon (pig’s feet stew); and, of course, a bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log) for dessert.  This large meal was followed by the opening of presents, which miraculously were found in abundance under the Christmas tree upon our return from Church.  Of course, you can’t forget the dancing, the drinking (by the adults of course), and the music.  We were often up until well passed 5:00 am.  Christmas day, from what I remember, was a day to sleep in, play with our toys, eat left-overs, and dealing with grumpy adults, who were recovering from their hangovers.

If you celebrate Christmas, what childhood memories do you recall?  If you don’t celebrate Christmas, perhaps you celebrate another holiday which brings you fond memories.

This year’s First Oakville Toastmasters’ Christmas party is taking place on Thursday, December 7th from 6:30 to 9:30pm at O’Finn’s Irish Temper.  Tickets are on sale now.   You can pick them up from your closest Christmas Party Committee Representative.



Which Path Are You Going To Take?

The Toastmasters Pathways learning experience has launched at First Oakville Toastmasters.  Whether you have been attending club meetings for years, or you have just recently joined First Oakville Toastmasters, you may have likely heard about the new Pathways learning curriculum.


As of October 31st, 2017 new members will automatically begin the new Pathways learning curriculum.  Members who were already enrolled as a member of Toastmasters can decide whether they would like to continue with their current manuals or enroll onto the Pathways program.  For members working towards their Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation, there is a two-year transition period given to allow for you to complete the current program if you wish to do so.

When you enroll into Pathways you take a Pathways assessment online.  There are ten different learning paths available:


To find the one that is right for you, you need to take the online assessment.  It helps you identify the path that best meets your needs, interests and goals.  When you answer the questions, think about how you would like to grow as a speaker at work, at Toastmasters and in your personal life.   After responding to a series of questions, you will be presented with the path that best fits you and your current experience.  You may be excited, energized or even surprised by the path recommended for you.

Pathways:  Step-by-step

In order to get you started and on your way (or on your path), we have put together some step-by-step instructions to help you.

  1. Visit
  2. Log in with your ‘username’ which can be your email address that you used to register as a Toastmaster member, or you can use your member ‘ID number’.
  3. Password: If you are logging in for the first time please use the link “forgot password?”
  4. Click on ‘Education’ (top section of website)
  5. Select ‘Pathways learning experience’
  6. Click on, “Begin your journey”
  7. Choose your path for ‘yourself’ and click on ‘continue to path selection’
  8. Run pathways (it may prompt you to disable pop-up blockers)
  9. Click on ‘Base Camp’
  10. Start Pathways Assessment (this may take 10 mins)
  11. Once you complete assessment you will be given your Top 3 path choices. You can of course pick a path outside of the Top 3 suggestions, however, the suggested selections are based on the answers you provided in the assessment.

pathway results.jpg

12.  Select your chosen Path
13.  It will ask you to confirm your selection.  Click ‘yes’ to proceed
14.  Voila, you are enrolled in Pathways and you have selected a Path

pathways enrolling confirmation

We have asked three members of our club to share their Pathways enrollment experience:

Allan Osborne, VP Education:  I took my time answering the questions during the assessment.  I found it rather easy to navigate.  The assessment and path selection process for me took about 10 minutes.

My Top 3 paths were:  Innovative Planning, Leadership Development and Motivational Strategies.

I chose Leadership Development because I want to focus on growing as a leader at Toastmasters and in my career field.  I will benefit tremendously by learning about planning and time management.

For now, I am going to continue working toward my Advanced Communicator Bronze and also my Competent Leadership designations.  It’s actually an exciting year for me because I am serving on the executive, which means I will also qualify to earn my Advanced Leader Bronze.  It’s a Triple Crown year for me! (An award for members who have earned three or more education awards in one year.)  Once I complete these designations I will evaluate my goals and decide whether I will continue to pursue my DTM or start Pathways.


Alonso Mendizabal, VP Public Relations:  The assessment took me about 5-10 minutes.   I found it easy to navigate.  Make sure to disable your pop-up blockers.

My Top 3 paths were:  Leadership Development, Persuasive Influence and Innovative Planning

I selected Persuasive Influence as I thought it would provide me with an opportunity to help me organize my speeches and sales pitches resulting in more impact, and connection with my audience/clients.

I am currently two projects away from completing my Competent Communicator and one project away from completing my Competent Leadership designations.  Once I complete these milestones I will begin my Toastmaster journey with Pathways.


Rebecca Valero, Club President:  The assessment itself took about 10 minutes.  I did spend extra time reading about Base Camp.  I took my time answering the questions in the assessment.  I tried to answer the questions while thinking about what I want to accomplish at work, Toastmasters and in my personal life.

My Top 3 paths were: Innovative Planning, Leadership Development, and Presentation Mastery.

I selected Innovative Planning as it seems to address several of the areas I would like to focus my growth on at the moment.  We currently have two years to work towards our DTM designation if we wish to do so.  After some evaluation, I have decided to begin the Pathways Program.  1)  I don’t want to rush to complete my DTM and 2)  I believe it is important for me as the President of the Club this year to become very familiar with this program.

I have already completed my first project, the Ice Breaker.  There are 3 other projects remaining before I can complete my Level 1.

Which path are you going to take? 

Additional Resources:  Pathways FAQ