Meet Our Mentors
These dedicated leaders pave the way to fast growth in Toastmasters.
This article is from the May 2016 edition of the Toastmaster magazine.
Don P. Prades, DTM | Kuwait Club | Rumaithiyah, Kuwait
Past Area Governor Don P. Prades, DTM, is a member of five clubs. A senior instructor in the English program at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), Don co-founded the Kuwait Toastmasters, the first club in Kuwait. He has served in many officer roles and mentored several clubs, including the Active Minds Toastmasters in Kuwait, which he also founded.
Raymond Hernandez, CC, ALB, also a past area governor, works as a hospitality consultant in the State of Kuwait. He joined the Active Minds club in 2009.
Raymond, why did you join Toastmasters?
I was offered a position that required me to speak during training and recruitment. I was also giving presentations for restaurant franchisees. A friend recommended Toastmasters, and I joined during my first visit.
Please tell us about Don.
Since 1999, Don has been a Toastmasters pillar in Kuwait. He has a unique gift of positivity and is a popular figure in the district. He ignites a spark in his mentees, and despite his fame and popularity, he remains humble and committed, and is serious about mentoring.
What are some of your accomplishments?
It was not until I delivered my first three speeches that I realized I had more to learn than just eliminating filler words. It was a challenge for me to focus on the main points of my speeches, and I worked hard to organize them and get to the point.
Don encouraged me to serve as club president, and later as area governor. When I completed my CC, he encouraged me to compete in the International Speech Contest, which led me to competing at the district level. Don also guided me in conducting a Speechcraft, which in 2014 resulted in the opening of a new club, Inspiring Echoes.
What is the best advice Don has given you?
He said, “Toastmasters is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon, and new members must be in it for the long haul. They must trench every curve and turn.” I think he lives up to that—not only by his words but by his actions.
Oyin Egbeyemi, CC, CL | Club President, Eagle Club | Lagos, Nigeria
Florence Olumodimu is a marketing communications professional in Nigeria. In 2013, while she was working with her client, past president of Eagle Toastmasters Amaechi Okobi, he invited her to visit his club. Florence visited Eagle Toastmasters, where she met Oyin Egbeyemi, a management consultant, who at the time was serving as vice president education. Florence joined and Oyin mentored her. Now Florence has her CC and serves as vice president public relations, Amaechi has his CC and Oyin is club president.
How did Oyin become your mentor?
Oyin inspires me to do my best with manual speeches. She responds to my questions and listens as I practice my speeches then gives me constructive feedback. It isn’t always easy or convenient for her to work with me because she is mentoring so many members, yet she generously shares her experience, knowledge and time.
As a result, I have achieved my CC within 12 months. I have learned new methods of storytelling, the power of pauses, and how to use pitch and tone. In my line of work, I make presentations regularly, and I have learned to combine passion and purpose backed up by action.
What has your Toastmasters experience led you to do?
After using social media and technology to promote the Toastmasters message in Nigeria, I’m now training club officers in my division, as well as the members of a new club, on how to use the same proactive techniques.
I’m also learning French. I speak English and Yoruba but I’ve always loved French, and I can’t wait to be able to speak the language fluently with my West African friends!
Mohamad Abdullah, DTM | MII Toastmasters Club | Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur
Mohamad Abdullah, DTM, has staying power. An insurance professional for more than 50 years, he’s been a Toastmaster for three-and-a-half decades. A member of five clubs since 1980, Mohamad’s been a member of the Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) club since he founded it 25 years ago. Fatemeh Hajisa, a lecturer and Ph.D. candidate studying at University Malaya, met Mohamad when seeking employment. She was hired as one of Mohamad’s personal office assistants and often accompanied him as a guest of the MII club, among others.
Seeking to improve as a speaker and become more influential as a lecturer, Fatemeh joined MII and became Mohamad’s “full-time” mentee. With his guidance, Fatemeh has developed confidence, and now pursues her goals without trepidation or fear.
What is Mohamad’s mentoring style?
Mohamad is humble, charitable and equipped with altruistic love. He uses every opportunity to coach, teach and empower his mentees through his firm yet friendly and honest evaluations. He helps us to grow and transform into better people.
What do you appreciate most about him?
He has many good habits as a mentor. He rejoices in the happiness and success of others. But the one thing that I appreciate most about him is his sincerity in helping me to be what he calls “beyond best,” or in other words, to become better than him.
What have you learned from him?
He has taught me the three principles of growth: “Audience alert”—Always be aware of who you are talking to. To speak more effectively, listen more adequately. “Attitude alert”—Remember, what truly matters is not the amount you give; it is the spirit and attitude in which you give it freely. “Objective alert”—Being a man of objectives, Mohamad sets objectives for himself as well as for his mentees. His concerns about the “what” and “why” of doing things have taught me to be more conscious of my actions.
Sophia Li | Colony Square Toastmasters | Atlanta, Georgia
Sophia Li has a passion for public speaking. After relocating from China to the United States to work as an integration consultant for a software company, she joined Colony Square Toastmasters in Atlanta, Georgia, to practice speaking English—and to network.
In 2014, when Sophia was serving as sergeant at arms, Patrick Davis, CC, joined the club. He had no fear of public speaking but needed help organizing his thoughts to create coherent speeches. He started helping Sophia set up for club meetings, and when he learned that she is from China, he saw the opportunity to practice speaking Mandarin, a language he had been learning.
Although Patrick has moved out of the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Hong Kong, he credits Sophia as a continuing source of inspiration. He is now a member of the Victoria Toastmasters club in Hong Kong and is working through two advanced manuals, while Sophia is serving as vice president education for Colony Square Toastmasters.
What drew you to Toastmasters?
My father was a Toastmaster, but I didn’t consider joining until my career progressed. I sought my father’s advice, and he explained how being a member is a fun way to develop confidence and skills, so I joined.
How has Sophia helped you?
She reviewed my speeches and asked key questions, such as: What is absolutely necessary here? Can we cut something out and still convey the same message? Her guidance helped me keep my messages clear and to the point. I also learned how to slow down and speak with purpose.
Besides helping me with my speeches, Sophia has given me invaluable insights on living, working and speaking in China. Her mentoring has helped me acclimate to my new surroundings in Hong Kong.
What do you like most about Sophia?
It’s her positive attitude and cheerful disposition. The warm encouragement she gave has helped me to become a confident speaker. I admire her courage and confidence to move to a new country with an entirely different culture and adapt so quickly and completely. She is an inspiration with her work ethic, sense of adventure and patience.