Harold Osmundson, DTM
Candidate's Office: Second Vice President
Region Number: 3
Toastmasters member since: 2011
Education: MS in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, University of Minnesota
Employer and/or position: Owner and Consultant, First Ascent Consulting (Software)
Served as District Director of District number: 6
Term of service: 2017 - 2018
In term as District Director, District achieved: Not Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):
- 2012-2013 Area Governor
- 2013-2014 Division Governor
- 2015-2016 Club Growth Director
- 2016-2017 Program Quality Director
- 2017-2018 District Director
- 2018-2019 Immediate Past District Director
- 2020-2022 International Director
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
- 2012-2013 President's Distinguished Area
- 2013-2014 President's Distinguished Division
- 2013-2014 District 6 Division Governor of the Year
- 2013-2014 District 6 Lou Novak Award (for Club Growth)
- 2015-2016 Excellence in Club Growth
- 2016-2017 Excellence in Program Quality
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
Many experiences over the last 25 years have prepared me to serve as an effective leader on the Board. When serving in the military, I learned discipline, high standards, teamwork, and leadership. It was critical to lead by example, lead from the front, and to take care of the people I was responsible for.
As a technical leader in professional work, I built teams and culture, set high standards, and planned product development. This ensured our software was competitive. In global organizations, I learned how decisions and policies affected stakeholders. I considered different perspectives and made decisions for the greatest good.
Running a business requires me to take responsibility for everything. It teaches me that quality and customer satisfaction are key. Building strong relationships with customers and always serving their best interests ensures the future is bright. I strongly believe in this philosophy for any organization.
I'll continue to bring these experiences, learnings, and a total commitment to the member when serving on the Board.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
In technical leadership, I created long-term plans to replace technology and develop new products. This process started with assessing the current position, and then establishing or refining a vision of where we need to be in the future. Then we created the plan, determined resource needs, and added milestones to track and adjust. It was vital to consider the skills and training our people needed to be successful. As leaders, we were responsible for their success. Beyond planning, our leadership, disciplined execution, and periodic adjustments made our teams and products successful.
Plans must be consistently monitored and managed. Situations rarely go as planned, so plans and tactics may need to change to achieve the vision. It's also critical that we work with all stakeholders to ensure they understand why the plan is important, why they play an important role in it, and how valued their feedback is. In any plan, the people must be empowered to play a successful role in it.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
As a business owner, I'm responsible for all financial aspects of the company. This includes planning, budgeting, and reporting. It's a responsibility that comes with ownership.
Within organizations, I've worked to establish and manage budgets for our engineering teams. This aligned financial resources with priorities. Our goal was to use financial resources to provide people with what they needed to be successful.
I believe in financial discipline to guard against unexpected changes and maintain reserves to capitalize on new opportunities. Further, budgeting and spending should align with the key priorities and objectives. This provides individuals and teams what they need to achieve objectives. I'll strive to apply the same philosophy as a Board member.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
Beyond my experience in developing policy as International Director, I've developed policies while serving on technical steering committees and leadership teams. We set direction, selected technologies, and established standards and practices. These policies applied to teams and vendors around the world. I always consider the impact on teammates, the organization, and the customer. I also ask for input from others with different perspectives. This helps us develop the best solution.
Policies impact people. Therefore, policies should be aligned with principles, have clear goals, solve real problems, and be as simple as possible. I prefer to find the middle path that's between the extremes, ensuring a policy is effective but not excessive. After implementation, it's also critical to listen, review, and understand if a policy achieves its purpose. If it isn't, we must take responsibility and make things right. It's humbling but necessary.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
Below are key lessons I've learned on my leadership journey. I share these for your benefit and success.
1. We lead and teach others through our actions. Before we can lead others, we must lead ourselves. It's vital to set an excellent example and model the behaviors you want others to exhibit. It starts with us.
2. Relationships and trust are the foundation for leadership. To be effective leaders, we first create healthy relationships based on trust. We achieve that through our actions and through treating others with respect.
3. Genuinely care for those you lead. Take responsibility for their well-being and growth. Express appreciation, give helpful feedback, serve needs, and provide growth opportunities. The common thread in all great leaders I've worked with is they cared about me. Those we serve deserve the same.
4. Focus on the values and let the results take care of themselves. It's easy to fixate on results. Living our values is more important and is the best path to results. Sometimes a desired goal or result is out of our control, but living our values never is.
5. It's critical to understand and serve needs. Sometimes others need encouragement. Sometimes hard truth. Sometimes direction, instruction, or a helping hand. We must understand and provide what's truly needed for those we lead to be successful.
Leadership isn't easy, but it's worth it. It's a tremendous honor to lead.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
The ultimate strength I bring is my commitment to serve and to set an example as a leader. This role isn't about me. It's about the difference we make for members and leaders.
I'm proud of my education, skills, and experience. I've been fortunate to serve in startups, global organizations, and the military. But my intangibles will make the biggest difference as a Board member. These intangibles include high standards, drive, selfless commitment, and genuine care for the members and leaders. Members and leaders deserve the best. I will give all I have for each member and leader to be successful.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
Because I care deeply for our members, leaders, staff, and the organization overall. Because I believe strongly in our members, leaders, staff, and the mission of our organization. Serving as an International Officer allows me to make the biggest difference and serve the greatest good.
Leadership is a choice. I choose to be responsible for our success and future. There's no place I'd rather be than serving with our club, District, and International leaders as we move forward.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
My first significant volunteer experience was serving in the U.S. Navy. Military service instills a strong sense of duty, service, purpose, and teamwork. Volunteering in other organizations has helped me fill the void left by the military.
I served in Junior Achievement and taught business skills to youth. For years, I mentored and tutored youth from broken homes. I strived to be the mentor I needed when I was younger. Additionally, I worked with Second Harvest Heartland food bank so no family would go hungry.
Finally, I found Toastmasters. Through Toastmasters, I'm continuously reunited with my passion, purpose, and duty for serving others. Toastmasters and our members deserve my full commitment.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
I've worked with boards in non-profit and for-profit organizations. I served on the initial board of Constructium, helping college students develop interpersonal skills. Through strong teamwork, we launched and served students within just months of forming. We even started 2 Toastmasters clubs at universities.
In professional work, I've worked with boards of smaller companies. In those roles, I presented our technology, plans, risks, and resource needs. The board members provided resources and connections we needed. The experiences helped me appreciate the purpose of a board and the responsibilities of a board member.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
As we approach the 100-year anniversary of Toastmasters, we can build our organization for the next 100 years. A focus on the fundamentals will be the foundation for our future.
Below are major objectives that'll benefit Toastmasters International and members. I'll incorporate these objectives into decisions, communications, and behaviors to serve the member.
1. Focus on the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan's goals of Club Excellence, Member Achievement, Awareness and Engagement, and Operational Effectiveness. Our organization will only grow stronger as all clubs provide a quality experience for members to achieve their goals, as awareness of Toastmasters grows, and as we provide more tools at each level.
2. Strengthen service to members around the world. Each member and leader deserve a quality experience regardless of their location. As more members join Toastmasters throughout the world, providing consistent service is critical for our long-term success. These services include expanded support hours, timely shipping, stable pricing in multiple currencies, and language support in all materials. Although solutions may take time to implement, this is a key objective to pursue and regularly communicate with our members on. Our future depends on it.
3. Increase member satisfaction and growth with Pathways as it is enhanced. We'll achieve this by listening, understanding needs, providing support, and adjusting along the way. This collaborative process will be continuous. These efforts will only strengthen our program and the member experience.
4. Expand awareness and support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the organization. Our global organization is rich with diversity. We must strive to promote equity and inclusion at each level. This investment strengthens the member's experience, the leader's development, and the quality of our organization overall.
5. Strengthen the support and development for leaders at every level. We are a volunteer-based organization. Communicating with our volunteer leaders, supporting them, and developing them is essential for our success. If all we do is listen to, communicate with, and help those we serve be successful, then our entire organization will be tremendously successful.
Overall, I will represent the needs of our members. I encourage you to share what's most important to you. Together, we'll achieve great things.
Additional information about candidate:
My wife Janet (a Toastmaster and DTM) has been the greatest partner I could ever wish for. I couldn't serve and sacrifice to this level without her support. Please join me in thanking Janet for her amazing support.
I'm a lifelong learner and reader. Books have been foundational in my life. By far, leadership is my favorite topic. It deserves a lifetime of study, and history provides us with incredible teachers. If you know of great leadership books to read, or if you'd like recommendations, please get in touch with me.