Harold “Terry” McGraw III, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. graciously took the time last year to explain his corporation’s support for Toastmasters clubs. Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies provide global information services in the financial services, education and business information markets through brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries.
How long has Toastmasters been active within your organization?
Harold McGraw III: We are proud that 2006 marked our 15-year anniversary.
How and where did it get started?
Our first Toastmasters club was chartered in 1991 at The McGraw-Hill Companies’ corporate headquarters in New York City.
Who or what was the driving force behind its inception?
Communication is a vital component of any successful business. It is the lifeblood of The McGraw-Hill Companies and essential for building strong relationships with shareholders, customers and employees. With that in mind, we founded our first Toastmasters club with the goal of fostering an environment that would provide our employees with opportunities to enhance this important skill set and that would allow them to grow as professionals.
Please comment on Toastmasters’ growth at The McGraw-Hill Companies.
I’m very excited about how we’ve broadened our Toastmasters program. Today, we have 400 employees participating in 12 clubs throughout the U.S., and look forward to those numbers growing as we move forward.
Both personally and corporately, how do you support Toastmasters membership in your organization?
Toastmasters has really put together an excellent program. We are continually raising awareness of the program and the critical skill set it can bring to our employees.
For example, we established a $1,000 incentive award in 2001 for employees who achieve Competent Communicator status. I believe we are the only organization in the country with this type of program. To date, we have awarded close to $120,000 in incentives to Toastmasters across the corporation.
We also want to be flexible enough so that our employees can be actively engaged in Toastmasters. As a result, most of our Toastmasters clubs meet during the workday, typically during the lunch hour.
What do you see as Toastmasters’ greatest benefit(s) to your organization?
Having a strong culture that emphasizes effective communication is incredibly important to the success of any company. That’s particularly true here at The McGraw-Hill Companies where we are known as a leading global provider of information services. Together with the strength of our leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates, our employees are delivering insight, analysis and solutions that open a world of opportunity for countries, markets, businesses, institutions and people around the globe.
The McGraw-Hill Companies is also a large organization that operates with a number of different business units. The Toastmasters program provides an important chance for employees to expand their peer network and collaborate with employees whose paths they may not otherwise cross.
Taken together, these professional development and networking opportunities strengthen our business by encouraging our employees to develop their talents and by offering occasions to become more connected to their colleagues.
Do you personally ever attend meetings or special Toastmasters events?
I have in the past and continue to attend meetings as a way to show my support and to encourage other employees to become active in Toastmasters. The program is such an asset to our employees that I make a point to be involved.
What would you say to heads of other organizations to encourage them to support Toastmasters?
Results tend to speak louder than words. All any leader has to do is look at the benefits individuals receive from their participation in Toastmasters and, more broadly, examine the results Toastmasters in general has achieved to see the value the program adds.
What the Employees Say:
Many McGraw-Hill employees have benefited by the $1,000 bonus for earning their CC (or CTM) award. One of them is Romina DeNicola, an employee at Business Week’s customer solutions department in New York City, who says:
“Since joining Toastmasters a year and a half ago, it has helped me to strengthen my communication skills and think on my feet. While I am grateful for reaching my CC status, I still feel I have room for growth, and the best way to improve is by practicing. Toastmasters provides a great forum for doing that. If you are committed to participating in the meetings, your communication skills will improve immensely.
“While the award from the company was an incentive to start the Toastmasters program, ultimately it’s up to you to see how far you want to take it.”
And Thomas Timko, an account manager for McGraw-Hill Construction in Hightstown, New Jersey, says this:
“At the time I was hired by McGraw-Hill, I had not heard of the Toastmasters organization. During my first month of employment, I decided to attend one of the meetings and was greeted by friendly members and officers.
“I continued to attend meetings and enjoyed listening to members speak about various subjects of their choice. The twice-a-month lunch meetings became a very enjoyable anticipated break from work. As I started my program leading to CTM status, it became evident that I was lacking confidence in public speaking. With each Toastmasters speech I completed, my communication skills improved and I gained self-confidence.
“At McGraw-Hill Construction, people I speak to over the telephone appreciate the communication skills I’ve acquired through my involvement with Toastmasters. And as president of my son’s high school’s parent-teacher association, I’m now much more confident in my leadership role.
“Mr. Terry McGraw attended our Toastmasters meeting recently and said he would give everyone a $1,000 incentive award to better themselves. It was a real treat to have the President and CEO visit our club meeting. My $1,000 incentive for earning my CTM went directly to my son’s college fund. The friends and experiences gained at Toastmasters have become assets in life and resources to real prosperity.
“Mr. McGraw, thank you for building confidence and relationships among employees from around the globe.”