Karen Schraga, ACB, ALB, retired after 35 years as a flight attendant. She joined Toastmasters in 2008 and is a member of two clubs in Northern California. Last year, she served as area director and also traveled through Africa and Europe, yet she made time to mentor Boris Kletser and other club members.
Last year was a busy year for Ukrainian-born Boris Kletser as well. He joined the strategy and business operations team at Google, where communication plays a part of almost all of the work that he does. He also started the master’s program at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2014, he joined the Silver Tongued Cats club, in Los Gatos, California, where he met Karen.
Boris, what drew you to Toastmasters?
I wanted to improve my speaking and social skills and Toastmasters kept coming up—in books, online, even on a date.
Tell us about your mentor.
Karen is warm, friendly, organized and helpful. She delivers quality as a speaker and leader, and helps her mentees do the same.
What do you value most about Karen’s mentoring?
I love her positive, improvement-focused attitude. She pushes me to give the audience a reason to listen and provides just the right number of action items to focus on each time I speak. Her questions and advice have helped me improve.
How has Toastmasters helped you so far?
Toastmasters helped me get to where I am and helps me keep growing and improving. Its framework for developing leadership and communication skills has improved my personal, academic and professional life: from organizing events to listening genuinely, from thoughtful questions to effective presentations, from constructive feedback to building trust and rapport. Underscoring the value of Toastmasters, when I took a break from the group to ramp up with both work and school, my boss encouraged me to start going again. Although I’m at a data driven company, at the end of the day that data needs to be organized and framed as part of a story and final decisions are based on how those stories are heard and how these stories interact with our values.
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