Candidate's Office: International Director
Region Number: 4
Toastmasters member since: 2011
Education: BSB Management Information Systems, MS Computer Science Candidate
Employer and/or position: President & Principal Engineer, First Ascent Consulting, Inc.
Served as district governor of district number: 06
Term of service: 2017-2018
In term as district governor, district achieved: Not Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international and regional level):
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international level):
- 2016-2017 Excellence in Program Quality
- 2015-2016 Excellence in Club Growth
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board member:
Several experiences have prepared me to serve as an effective board member. 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 take care of those 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. I'll 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 products. This process started with assessing the current position and establishing a vision. Then I had to create the plan, determine resource needs, and add 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 and disciplined execution made our teams and products successful. These same strategic planning skills will benefit Toastmasters International.
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.
As District Director, I was responsible for one of the largest districts in the world. Planning and budgeting were significant activities. Again, we aligned our financial resources to support the district's goals and priorities. This gave members and leaders resources to succeed. I'll apply the same philosophy as a board member.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
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 should be as simple as possible and solve the real problem. It's also critical to listen and to discern whether a policy is effective. If it isn’t, I 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.
First, we lead and teach others through our actions. We lead ourselves first. It’s vital to set an excellent example and model the behaviors you want others to exhibit. It starts with us.
Second, 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.
Third, 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.
Fourth, focus on 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.
Finally, 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 an 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 concern for members and leaders. Members and leaders deserve the best. I want each to be successful.
Why do you want to serve as an international officer/director?
Because I care. I serve because each member, club officer, and district officer deserves the best. It’s time for me to serve for their benefit.
Leadership is a choice. I choose to be responsible for the success of our members, our leaders, and our organization. This role allows me to make the biggest difference and serve the greatest good.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
My first significant volunteer experience was serving in the U.S. Navy for 3 years! Military service instills a strong sense of duty, service, purpose, and teamwork. Only volunteering in other organizations 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. Additionally, I worked with Second Harvest Heartland food bank so no person or 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 nonprofit 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?
I'm here to represent the needs of our members. I encourage you and each member to share what's most important, so our efforts are aligned. Together, we’ll achieve great things.
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.
First, continue focusing on objectives in the 2015 Strategic Plan. Member achievement, club excellence, and awareness, engagement, and participation are foundational. We must also increase our focus on virtual meetings and activities to meet the new needs of the world.
Second, strive for excellent member satisfaction with Pathways. We'll achieve this by listening to members and leaders to understand needs. Then we’ll provide resources and support to serve those needs, making adjustments along the way. This collaborative process will be continuous.
Third, increase leadership development. It's critical for all levels to develop a deep bench of strong leaders. This benefits more members, reduces member burnout, improves results, and increases value. Leadership development must be part of everything we do.
Fourth, continuously enhance training for club and district leaders. For excellence and consistency, the focus on training never ends. I envision experiential training focusing on key behaviors for each role. It’s critical for each role to have clear standards, expectations, and detailed processes. Wherever it makes sense, let’s leverage technology to enhance training.
Finally, strengthen the brand, increase awareness, and establish more strategic partnerships. Toastmasters plays a foundational role in the world. The world needs us to help more individuals and organizations. A strong marketing plan and focused execution will accelerate our growth. We must be ready to grow and scale, so the preceding objectives are critical.
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. When I don’t know something, I’ll dive into books and figure it out. 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.