Archive for the ‘2VP campaign’ Category

Musings on Modern Media

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Social media collageThe use of “social media” is a controversial topic in the context of international officer and director campaign policy. The current policy has some interesting limitations on what a candidate can do. I’d like to explore a few of them here. First, let’s consider the underpinnings of the policy, as I understand them (these aren’t spelled out anywhere):

  • Keeping costs down certainly makes sense. This is expressed through rules like no hospitality suites and limiting the attendance of Toastmasters events outside one’s home region. I understand that up to 10-15 years ago, candidates for international office sometimes threw extravagant parties at the conventions with immense amounts of food and drink.

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What’s it cost to run for Second Vice President?

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Similarly to when I ran for ID, I’m going to publish what it cost to run for Second Vice President, for the benefit of anyone who may follow in my shoes.  Here’s the entry for the ID costs.

The first step was the announcement at the end of the August 2010 convention.  I was an outgoing director, so the convention registration and hotel costs were reduced; most would probably not count that as part of the campaign.  However, I had announcement cards to hand out on Saturday night, since that would be my only chance to see most of the voters before the next annual convention.  2,500 cards cost $126 (M13 Graphics is great!).

I made a strategic decision to not attend any district conferences other than my own district.  The campaign rules limit me to attending only Toastmasters events in my home region, and I already had good relationships with the leaders in all eight districts.  I felt the expensive weekends that might be spent on those would be better used to reach out to other districts with phone calls.  This meant I had essentially zero travel costs (other than the convention itself), a sharp contrast to my ID campaign (which was mostly travel costs, within the region).

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Messages heard at the annual convention

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I met with over 60 districts during five days (it was quite a marathon, at 20 minutes each for 4-6 hours at a time on end), and there were some common and reasonable concerns I’d like to document here.

  1. We need some form of club officer training for distant clubs.  I believe we could set a policy limiting it to clubs 50 miles or more from any district-sponsored training (so the majority of clubs would continue to attend the existing face-to-face training).  The distance training could either be an interactive videoconference with existing district training (as D21 has been piloting for three years), or it could be WHQ-produced computer-based training.  For the latter, it would need to be participatory, asking questions of understanding along the way (but not a “test”), so someone doesn’t just hit “play”, go do their laundry, and come back an hour later, all “trained”.  Also, I think it would be reasonable to require that all seven officers be trained if the club chooses this option. (more…)
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Why I’m running from the floor

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Last November, I declared my candidacy for Second Vice President of Toastmasters International, along with 7-8 other people.  This past February, the ILC (International Leadership Committee) reviewed all applications plus the results of the IOCS (International Officer Candidate Survey) sent out to top district and international leaders.

The ILC slated Mohammed Murad and Jim Kokocki.   The reasons for the ILC’s choices will never be known as its deliberations are secret.  That’s OK with me.

I was honored to receive the highest number of votes in the IOCS, and as a result, I decided in February to continue my campaign with a run from the floor.  A floor candidate won the contested officer position for each of the last two years, so we’ll just make it three consecutive years!  It does mean that:

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Is Toastmasters really international?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Our membership is clearly international, about a third live outside the United States.  But what about services to our members?

When can you call World Headquarters with questions?

Roughly 9 AM to 5 PM, California time.  Obviously, that may not be so convenient for people living in Europe, Asia, Australia, or elsewhere.  It may not even be convenient for those who work 9-5 near WHQ but can’t make personal phone calls while at work.

The solution?  Schedule 1-2 staffers working into the evening (perhaps 10 PM), or even overnight, and give them Skype and instant messaging accounts too.  (Bonus points if they speak multiple languages!)

Where do your Toastmasters purchases get shipped from? (more…)

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Midyear board meeting

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

ILCThe International Leadership Committee (ILC) announced its nominees for international office.  The ILC selected James Kokocki (from Canada) and Mohammed Murad (from Dubai) for Second Vice President, so I will be running from the floor.  This isn’t really a bad thing, since floor candidates won the last two elections (John Lau from Malaysia and George Yen from Taiwan).  Plus, I received the most mentions in the International Officer Candidate Survey (IOCS), so I have strong support for the August election in Las Vegas.

I’m disappointed that only 60% of the IOCS recipients replied despite multiple e-mails from WHQ and multiple phone calls from the candidates.  The current and immediate past district governors account for most of the IOCS recipients, and these are people who are deeply involved in our organization.  I wish I knew why they didn’t (please e-mail me if you’re someone who didn’t reply, or comment below).  I’m guessing they think their opinion doesn’t matter, or they believe they don’t know the candidates well enough to provide an informed opinion.

The midyear board meeting had other interesting developments.  Perhaps the biggest was that there’s movement towards providing more materials on-line.  The briefing mentioned that the board had approved “digital content transition” guiding principles, but included no details on what those were.

Here are some guiding principles that I recommend (I’ve written on this before):

  • There’s no practical way to protect something once it’s released on-line; copy protection doesn’t work (look at DVD and Blu-ray) and is always broken.  It only takes one person to break it and then post it openly for everyone else to use.
  • Requiring use of any particular proprietary software for it to be accessed will block a significant number of people.  Plain HTML (web pages) and PDF (many readers available) are the only practical choices.  Anything else won’t work for people who are on Apple or Linux, or on a phone or tablet, or some other device that doesn’t support the proprietary software, or who are using a PC they’re not allowed to install software on (like at work or a library).  (PDF files are already available for manuals provided to visually-impaired members.)
  • The value in Toastmasters isn’t in the published material, it’s in the club meetings and evaluations.  Someone downloading a manual isn’t going to get a lot out of it unless they have a club meeting to go to.
  • The on-line materials must be printable, so that overseas users who want paper can avoid the shipping costs, and so the evaluation page can be printed and filled out at the meeting.  We must still provide the option of buying printed manuals.
  • The organization doesn’t make a significant amount of profit on selling educational material (revenue approximately matches printing and shipping costs), it’s not a revenue stream that we need to worry about preserving.
  • Openly publishing the educational materials would quickly make it very obvious to everyone that we really are the world leader in oral communications.

The rebranding initiative is nearly ready for release, and will be announced at the August convention.  This is pretty exciting, and International President Pat Johnson writes more about why we need this in her March 2011 column in the Toastmaster magazine.

There’s also a major consolidation  and reorganization of the policies and protocols, rolling it up into a single comprehensive document, available April 1.  This will be a lot easier to use and understand than the dozens of PDFs we have to reference now.

Next step for me is to prepare for the district spring conferences, they start next month!

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Toastmasters elections vs. U.S. political elections

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

As many of you probably know, the U.S. elections were a few weeks ago.  As a candidate myself, albeit for a rather different sort of office, I viewed the TV ads with a different eye than two years ago.

Some were good issues-oriented ads, extolling the virtues and experience of the candidate.  Unfortunately, the major political races in Illinois degenerated into mud-slinging, with ads about the opponent concluding with words like “Who IS this guy?” in a deep and worried voice.

I’m quite glad that our campaign policies prohibit that sort of mess.  We keep campaigns positive and constructive, just like our speech evaluations.  Candidates talk about what they bring to the table, not what the opposition lacks.  I talk about my skills in strategic planning, my experience in Toastmasters, my passion for the organization.  It’s up to the voters to decide who the better candidate is, based on what they say — or don’t say.

I served as a Chicago election judge several times, and it was an interesting and fun experience in democracy.  Judges had to be at the polls by 5 AM so we could open at 6 AM, and the polls closed at 7 PM, with our duties completed around 8 PM — a 15 hour day.  Since turnout was light, I spent most of the day sitting and chatting with the other judges.  In a typical precinct of about 1000 voters, you might get 150 of them in an off-year election, or maybe 300 in a presidential election.  Spread over that long day, the four of us weren’t very busy, other than the before-work and after-work crunch.

Knowing that all those other eligible voters didn’t bother to vote was depressing, never mind those who didn’t even register.  I’ve heard people say that they dislike all the candidates, so they don’t vote, or that their vote won’t matter out of thousands or millions.

We face a voter turnout problem in Toastmasters as well.  In a post I made soon after the August 2010 convention, I noted that while most districts returned over 70% of the club ballots, six were under 50% and one was just 14%.  While some clubs may not really know or care how the organization is run (until it comes to dues!), districts should know and should care, and should work hard to collect those proxies and cast them as they see fit, whether for a governance proposal or for candidates.

There are many opportunities to get to know our candidates in a positive way — through their web site, social media fan pages, e-mail, phone calls, the  candidates’ showcase at the convention, and individual interviews.  (No TV or radio ads though!)  Where possible, talk to people who have worked with the candidate and find out their experiences with the candidate in real-world leadership roles — while we can judge the World Champion of Public Speaking in 5-7 minutes, judging leadership is something that takes months or years.

Collecting club proxies can be a great High Performance Leadership project, which is often the last thing members do on the road to a DTM.  Start looking now for someone who would be interested in doing this, and let’s get every district up to at least 80% of clubs represented.  They’ll need to recruit a committee with representatives in every division (and maybe every area) to reach out to clubs, and that takes time.  This might be done by the Area or Division Governors, but since this isn’t a core part of the AG or DivG’s mission, would be better done by someone else (maybe a past or future AG/DivG!).

Let’s make sure every club is represented in Las Vegas in August 2011!

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Running unopposed?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Running for Second Vice President is an interesting experience for me, particularly running against other candidates.  Of course, running for a world-wide office is considerably different from running at the district level.  When I was Area Governor, I was appointed, and for Division Governor, I was unopposed.

When I ran for Lt. Gov’r Marketing (LGM), there were two other candidates (rare in my district!), and I took it pretty seriously.  I developed a tri-fold brochure and a small poster to take to all the division contests, and the other two candidates were at all the same contests with a flier as well.

At the election, I gave a two-minute speech, and I honestly don’t remember a word of it at this point, but I guess I got through it (I was an ATM-B at the time).  No one got a majority at the first vote, it took a second vote before I got a slight majority (64-61, I think).  It really was a great experience!

As is typical, I was unopposed for Lt. Gov’r Education and District Governor (photo above).  When I announced for International Director, someone else also announced, but a couple of months later, he dropped out due to a huge increase in responsibility at work.

However, I still ran it as if I were opposed, hitting 11 out of 16 district conferences in the region in the fall and spring (the others were on conflicting dates).  I had a professional photograph taken, did a tri-fold brochure and a posterboard to take to conferences, and built a web site.  I had intended to set the campaign up as a High Performance Leadership project, but I have to confess that when I became unopposed, I didn’t follow through on that idea.

In many ways, I regret that no one was running against me.  I believe a little friendly competition can bring out the best.  Still, I have a chance to do that now, as there are at least three other people, all incredibly talented, also running for Second Vice President.

I really enjoyed handing out the announcement cards at the end of the Palm Springs convention last month.  It gave me a chance to confirm what some people were suspecting, and I had some fascinating (though brief) conversations.  It was my last opportunity to see most of these Toastmasters leaders face to face before the convention in Las Vegas next August!

I will be reaching out to Toastmasters leaders in the coming months with personal phone calls (campaign rules sharply limit my use of other means), and I look forward to finding out more about what YOUR concerns are, where we’re doing well, what we can improve upon, and sharing my ideas about future directions.

Please feel free to contact me directly (details are at the bottom of my site’s home page), or if appropriate, just add a comment on my blog here, I’ll reply!

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Why three votes for Second Vice President?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

This year’s annual business meeting (Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010) went on for more than four hours, almost entirely due to the time required to count votes, most especially for holding two extra votes for Second Vice President.

There’s an easy solution to this.  Well, two solutions:

  1. Move to an electronic voting method.
  2. Use preferential voting.

The electronic voting can be done in many different ways, but I would recommend a solution similar to how many states hold elections today, with an optical scan voting system, where the voters fill in a bubble or connect a line on a paper ballot to indicate their preferences.  This process is simple, requires no expensive electronics in the voters’ hands, and can be easily audited afterward.

Preferential voting is the key though, and it’s something we already use — for speech contests!  Speech contest judges mark their first three choices, and tie-breakers rank all the contestants.  We can do the same thing in our elections, especially with electronic vote counting.  When a “re-vote” is needed, the computer ballot scanner can do so automatically (and instantaneously), ignoring the dropped candidate.  (You could do preferential vote counting by hand, but it would be laborious, having to examine each ballot and skip any dropped candidates for the voter’s next choice.)

With the International Leadership Committee (ILC) from Global Representation and Support bringing us more and more qualified candidates, multiple re-votes will be more and more common.  Without these improvements, we’ll face  interminable business meetings, waiting for results and then voting yet again on the candidates.  Putting these steps in place will also allow the ILC (and RLCs?) to be more comfortable with presenting the voters with three choices to consider, instead of just two.

By simplifying the election process to a single ballot, we might even achieve Parliamentarian Herb Nowlin’s dream of an election with no spoiled or illegal ballots!

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Saturday evening: President’s dinner dance

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Tonight was the installation of the new board, Pat Johnson’s presidential address, and the formal beginning of my campaign.

The installation concluded my service on the board, and Poh Kim Siong and I exchanged Past International Director pins.  Pat’s address gave a review of how she got involved in Toastmasters and how we can all contribute.

The moment that Jana gaveled the convention to a close was when my work began, though.  That was the signal that candidates could begin their campaign in earnest in the hall outside the ballroom, as people left.

I brought 2,500 cards to the convention, and I think I must have given out 1,800 of them.  I received so many comments like “I thought you would run, and I’m so glad you are!”, it was great!

I couldn’t have made it through without my campaign team, most especially my campaign manager, PID Joan Diehl, and Joe Esler.  This was my last opportunity to meet most of these people face-to-face until the next convention in August, 2011.  The dancing didn’t stop until 1 AM, and I stayed to make sure I had a chance to meet every single person there.

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