Perry Neal, DTM

Perry Neal, DTM

Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 7

Toastmasters member since: 2012

Education: Associate in Applied Science, Programming

Employer and/or position: Electric Motor and Contracting Company / Developer

Served as District Director of District number: 66

Term of service: 2018 - 2019

In term as District Director, District achieved: Not Distinguished


Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):

  • 2014-2015 Area Governor
  • 2015-2016 Division Director
  • 2016-2017 Club Growth Director
  • 2017-2018 Program Quality Director
  • 2018-2019 District Director

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):

  • 2015-2016 Division Director of the Year
  • 2017-2018 Excellence in Program Quality

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:

As a programmer and database developer, my experience has taught me how to think critically, logically, and dispassionately. My work in the diversity and inclusion field has taught me to temper that with compassion.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

My experience with strategic planning has been limited to helping with the District's strategic plan. To compensate for that I've been auditing some online courses in strategic planning and reading books on the field.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

Assisting with the District budget my CGD and PQD years. I was the last PQD to put on a Fall Conference so I was responsible for two District Conference budgets. As the District Director I was responsible for the overall District's budget.

What experience do you have in developing policies?

Over the years I've helped develop IT-related policies at my places of employment.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

  1. In a leadership position, someone is ALWAYS watching what you do and listening to what you say.
  2. Sometimes there isn't a "right" answer. Sometimes there isn't even a "good" answer. You still have to make the decision that you believe to be in the best interests of the organization.
  3. Good leaders give credit and take blame.
  4. Everyone thinks they can do your job better than you.
  5. You can't please everyone. If you please 50% + 1, consider that a victory.
  6. Telephone calls work much better than emails.
  7. Delegation is a life saver.
  8. Take time for yourself and learn to say "no" without feeling guilty. There are only so many hours in the day.
  9. You need metrics. But you need to pick ones that drive the type of behavior you wish to see.
  10. Leadership isn't about being IN charge. Leadership is about taking care of the people in your charge.
  11. It is always about the member. Without them, there are is no need for District and International offices.
And many more.

What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?

The ability to think critically and logically.

Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?

As cliché as it may sound, I want to give back to the organization that's given me so much. I also wish to continue my leadership journey because I like to challenge myself and I believe I have something to offer as an International Director.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.

I'm on the Hampton Roads Diversity & Inclusion Consortium's board of directors. We're an organization dedicated to becoming a clearing house for best practices in the field of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I joined the board during COVID-19 when everything shifted to online so I haven't been able to interact with the people we help. Other than that I've enjoyed my time on the board and hope that I'm doing some good in the world.

In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?

As we emerge from several years of a global pandemic, the number one priority should be the decline in membership. The fewer members we have, the less money there is for new Paths, new languages, and new services.

As I mentioned previously here, we need metrics but we need metrics that drive the behavior we want to see. With that in mind, I would like to see the Distinguished District Program (DDP) revamped. Currently we evaluate Districts on the number of clubs, membership payments, and number of Distinguished clubs. I would like to modify the DDP in this manner:

  1. Replace the number of membership payments with the unique number of members. Instead of seeing how many clubs we can get one member to join, let's focus on bringing in new members.
  2. Replace the number of clubs with the number (or percentage) of clubs at, or above, 20 members. For too long we've focused on starting new clubs and let existing clubs languish.
  3. Keep the Distinguished Clubs metric. I believe it is useful and drives behavior we want to see.
  4. Add in a metric focus on the number of education awards submitted or the percentage of members submitting education awards. People join Toastmasters to achieve a goal. The education program is how they accomplish that. When members are active and engaged in achieving the goals that brought them to us, they see progress and tend not to drop out. Which leads to my last point.
  5. Add in a metric focused on the District's retention rate. The easiest way to grow an organization is to reduce the number of members that leave.

I would also structure this version of the DDP to mimic the Distinguished Club Program. Currently a District can grow their membership payments by 8%, the number of clubs by 8%, but if they're one club below the number of Distinguished clubs - the District isn't Distinguished.

Under this version of the DDP, if a District achieves three of the metrics they are Distinguished. If they achieve four goals, they are Select Distinguished. If they achieve all five goals, they are President's Distinguished. At this point, if the District, in addition to achieving all five goals, grows the number of clubs in their District by 3%, they are a Smedley Distinguished District.

Additional information about candidate:

I am a graduate of the United Way of South Hampton Road's Project Inclusion. It's a 13-week, award winning program that trains attendees in board governance. I was elected by my fellow attendees to be the President of the annual class project. We put on a panel discussion on inclusion that was open to the public.