Leader of the Month
District 30 is fortunate to work with a dedicated group of leaders who genuinely want to make a positive difference in the lives of their members. Although great leaders value results, it is also important to value those Area Directors and Division Directors that make those results possible.
Every month, we will highlight one amazing District leader who adds value to the fabric of District 30 through their leadership and service.
October 2017 – Michelle Wang CC, CL
Eric Feinendegen: Congratulations on being selected as our Leader of the Month.
Michelle: Thank you!
Q: When did you join Toastmasters and what club do you belong to?
A: I joined Toastmasters in October 2014 and I belong to Club XL Toastmasters (Club #3895)
Q: Out of curiosity Michelle, what brought you to Toastmasters?
A: I heard of Toastmasters from one of my friends a couple of years ago. She mentioned we could practice public speaking there but I didn’t pay much attention at the time. When I attended my Chinese school, I noticed a Toastmasters club there I need to check that out. I was so nervous to introduce myself! It was the beginning of my journey.
Q: What prompted you to step up and serve as an Area Director?
A: When our District Director (Iqbal Atcha) asked me to serve as an Area Director for Northwest A6, I said, “No, I can’t. I would like to be a follower.” Iqbal replied “No, you can do it!” I told Iqbal that I’m not as good as you guys but he believed in me and said “no, you can do it. So let’s do it together!” This is the first time for me being an Area Director and my first time hosting an area contest. Our club had never held a contest before and in the summer, because it’s a school, we didn’t have any meetings. We just sent someone to the contest and he won 1st place at the Division Humorous Speech Contest. So now as an Area Director, I can say I have helped organize and run a contest. It was scary at first, but I’m glad I took on this challenge. During these first few months, I’ve learned a lot and its great. That’s the main purpose of the Toastmasters journey.
Q: What is the most difficult part of leadership?
A: The most difficult thing is sometimes after I do what I can, people still don’t listen. In the Chinese culture, we as parents want to do everything for our kids, not for ourselves. Like in the Chinese school they do everything for their kids. That is the challenge. They don’t want to challenge themselves. They want to stay in their comfort zone.
Q: Do you have a message or advice to help motivate others or to get others outside their comfort zone?
A: What I do is I share my own story. I tell my clubs that they speak English better than me. When they deliver their Ice-Breaker speech, they will do better than me. They will set a better example than me. You can encourage them to try. So, for the first time you want them to listen, the second time maybe be the timer or ah counter. When they hear other people do their Ice-Breaker speech, they might say “ah I can do that” and they get more comfortable. You get better as you try more.
Q: What is your leadership style and why does it works for you?
A: Be positive and encourage people. Don’to push them or give orders. I listen to them first. For example at our new club meeting, we have twenty guests and the second time we only had 10. I was trying to figure out why. I reached out and asked why they couldn’t come. I didn’t push them. Some said they had a conflict. How can we manage and still have them? Is there a way we can have them or something we can do? These are the kinds of questions that help me lead a team.
Q: Was there a time when you mentored or coached someone else to help them achieve success?
A: Yes, when I was the Club President of XL Toastmasters, we needed club officers and at the time and we didn’t have many experienced members and I was doing everything for the club. After a couple of months, I thought that this wasn’t correct. We needed the club officers to lead the activities. So, after I earned my CC and CL, I talked to the VPM and VPPR and said we need to finish the manuals. I coached them on all the activities and told them they needed to take care of that PLUS host an open house and how these could help them earn their CLs. They are all doing great!
Q: As you look down the future, where do you see yourself down the road?
A: My current goal is to help and support my 4 clubs to help them achieve Distinguished status. The next goal is to help build a new club in another area, specifically a Chinese school called Song-Wa. I hope we can charter it in October. It will not only help the Chinese students, but the outside community as well. My goal is to not stop learning only to be a good leader, but a good public speaker as well.
Q: The million-dollar question Michelle, why is Toastmasters a place where leaders are made?
A: In our Toastmasters journey, we come together, learn from each other and help each other. That makes us grow. No matter what we were before, we can grow. I’m an ordinary person and I want to share my story. I used to compare myself to others but you cannot do that. With everyone I meet, I grow and learn.
EF: You have great philosophies and a great attitude in helping others. You comprise what the Toastmasters promise is. Thank you, Michelle.
Eric Feinendegen ACG, CL is District 30’s NEW Interviewer for our Leader and Member of the Month Series for 2017-2018. He joined Toastmasters in 2004, is a member of 3 clubs, and has served in various Club officer roles. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list all Archived 2017-2018 Leaders of the Month, click here