October 2021 Leader Letter

Strong Cause for Celebration

Be inspired by those who built back their lives stronger, better.

By Renée Covino

If you attended the Toastmasters International 2021 Virtual Convention, you were likely moved by speakers and sessions that centered around a “comeback” theme—how to overcome adversity and land on top of your life.

2021 Golden Gavel recipient Liza Pavlakos shared her story of grit and resilience, “Becoming by Overcoming”—soulfully relaying how she survived sexual assault, rape, suicide attempts, life on the streets as a runaway teenager, a horrifying abduction, and subsequent depression, only to “own it” and inspire others to find their purpose and make a powerful change in their lives. She acknowledged that she’s “lucky to be alive” and suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which she decided to put “a little magic touch” on; PTSD now stands for: Purpose, Trust, Success, and Discovery for Pavlakos. An exercise as simple as this can move people in the direction of fulfilling their “life-changing goal,” according to her. Now, as a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and speaker, she invites others to follow her lead. “We can change the narrative of our story,” she said.

In her winning speech, “A Great Read,” 2021 World Champion of Public Speaking Verity Price talked about growing up wanting the “fairytale” of being happily married, in a gorgeous home, with beautiful kids and a great career by age 30, only to find herself with none of those things at age 40, living in her sister and brother-in-law’s spare room. At her lowest point, she found a letter from her dad—causing her to reflect on how he lived his life and encouraged her to be the “author” of her life—and realized she needed to turn her view around. Reciting her father’s words, she told her audience, “Your life is a book and if you’re not enjoying the read, write a different story. And then watch for a miracle.” She did just that, noticing that life started to turn around for her when she went “from feeling shameful to feeling grateful.”

Like these speakers and the worldwide leaders now motivated by them, Toastmasters International recognizes there is strength in transition; thus, this is the time for clubs to build back stronger, focusing on club quality and providing meaningful meetings with more opportunities for growth.

Moreover, October 22, 2021 (Toastmasters’ 97th anniversary), will mark A Day of Celebration, whereby leaders are encouraged to recognize and honor all that clubs were able to accomplish during the past program year. According to International President Margaret Page, DTM, “We have weathered the storm and better times are on the horizon.”