I joined an entrepreneur incubator workshop to learn how I could launch my career in Psychometric Testing or how to sell psych tests to employers to avoid hiring people like me. The lead counsellor would make us rehearse our 45 second intro, over and over. After, my rendition he strongly suggested –“that’s the worst intro I’ve ever heard,” – that I join the Heights Toastmasters Club.
Ten years later, my second life partner moved us to the Texas Panhandle where the only non-sectarian social gathering was the weekly Follett Lions’ club luncheon (catered by the local Quick Stop) at the bank. I took a health insurance job with all of western Kansas as my sales territory which gave me the opportunity of visiting Kiwanis and Lions clubs Monday through Friday from Dodge City to Elkhart. The Elkhart Kiwanis club had $50,000 in the bank, saving it for a rainy day? Going west on highway US56 out of Elkhart is 500 miles of nothing.
When our Full Blood Black South African Boer goat breeding stock sales grossed only $500 that first year, the handwriting on the barn door dictated a move to greener pastures that ended up 50 miles southwest of Houston. Each Thursday night I drove two-thirds of the way into town to attend Sugar Speakers Toastmasters, not because I needed socialization but because I wanted to practice my sales pitch to sell raw goat’s milk for $45/gal.
The club was affiliated with the Heights Chamber of Commerce and new business members in the Chamber got a free one year membership in Toastmasters for their employees. I attended the Charter banquet as one of the original 20 members required to found a new club. I gave my “Icebreaker,” Competent Communicator Manual speech projects #2 and #3, met a young attorney, Howard Kahn, who ‘pro bono-ed’ my divorce, while I moved my sense of belonging energies to AA and Kiwanis.
Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis were all founded over 100 years ago as Community Service clubs that provided funds and elbow grease volunteer projects locally. Example: the Follett club paid the Boy Scouts to pick up trash along the highway and held an annual pancake breakfast fundraiser. Membership was originally based on exclusivity, one butcher, one baker and one candlestick-maker.
I called the Amarillo Rotary Club and said that I wanted to attend their luncheon but was refused because I had not been invited. As Groucho would say, “I’m not sure I’ll ever join a Rotary Club anywhere, anytime soon.” But then again Amarillo is a quirky place, as Oprah discovered in her trial with the Texas Cattleman’s Association.
Ten more years zoomed by and I am in Zhengzhou, the middle of nowhere China, no Lions, no Kiwanis, not even Rotary but praise be to Andrew Garcia, there was the Middle Kingdom Toastmasters club. Garcia, used his contact with the GM of the Sofitel Hotel to not only stock the pond with 20 charterees from the hotel staff but got a free five star venue. My need this, my third time of joining Toastmasters, was not to get a job, or improve my 45 second intro, I desperately needed somebody to talk to in English.