Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Greatness

Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Greatness

A message from our International President


Many years ago I had the wonderful experience of visiting Hamburger University in Oak Brook, Illinois. Hamburger University is where all McDonald’s franchise owners must go to learn the operations, standards and expectations of anyone who purchases a McDonald’s restaurant. It was fascinating. As I walked down the halls, I looked at the signs on the doors: French Fry Lab, Milkshake Lab, Big Mac Lab. It was explained to us how every McDonald’s restaurant is expected to maintain the highest of standards taught at the University. Failure to do so could result in loss of the franchise.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Big Mac, McDonald’s sells more hamburgers than anyone in the world. They do so because they provide consistency. You know what to expect. And because of the company’s standards, those expectations are met. It’s their gauge of greatness.

What can Toastmasters learn from McDonald’s? Over the last 20-plus years, I have visited Toastmasters clubs in locations ranging from Lubbock to London. I would love to say that every single club I visited was a great club that demonstrated the same consistency provided by McDonald’s. Hmm...

Just as McDonald’s has standards for individual restaurants, we have standards for our clubs. These standards are our gauge of greatness. It’s called the Distinguished Club Plan. Clubs that follow this plan are providing their members with what they deserve – the highest quality meetings. And isn’t that what members are paying for? If all our clubs were Distinguished, we would know that we were offering our members a level of consistency we can be proud of.

As an organization, we are only as strong as our weakest club. This past year roughly 38 percent of our clubs were Distinguished. Does this make you proud? Do you see room for improvement? I would hope so! But it will take courage: We’ll need courage from our club officers to uphold their standards, as well as commit to their members that they will strive to provide a quality club. We’ll need courage from our members to expect greatness from their club. And we’ll need courage from our district officers to make Distinguished clubs a priority.

Fellow Toastmasters, I believe that this year we can reach a higher number of Distinguished Clubs than this organization has ever had. Together, let’s have the courage to be proud! Together, let’s have the Courage to Conquer greatness!


Jana Barnhill, DTM., Accredited Speaker
International President

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