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June 2024
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Ian Cunliffe, CC

By Mary Nesfield

Stefano Cossalter, DTM, left, Tall Tales Champion, and Ian Cunliffe

If not for the encouragement of Ian Cunliffe, of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Stefano Cossalter’s story may not have ended as happily.

Cossalter was 32, with a wife and child, when he faced financial disaster. His business investment in a manufacturing company, along with his life savings, went up in smoke—literally—when a fire consumed the entire plant. With the prospect of building a new company, Cossalter lacked the confidence and courage to talk face-to-face to gain new clients. His father, once a Toastmaster, recommended he join a club. “I was a desperate man,” Cossalter says, “the first time I walked into my first meeting.”

How did that go?

I decided to return to the Burnaby Toasters club and participate in Table Topics! When the time came, I raised my hand and walked to the front of the room. When I heard the question, I was elated because I knew how to answer it. I stepped forward confidently and opened my mouth to speak … but nothing came out. And then I babbled something unrecognizable. I started to sweat, turned red and sat down humiliated. I vowed never to return.

The next week the phone rang. It was Mel, a member, asking why I missed the meeting. Mel convinced me to return, and later, to join.

Much later, I met Ian at another club and watched as he ­delivered insightful speaker evaluations. I thought if I had an ounce of the skill he had, there would be no limit to what I could achieve. I asked him to mentor me; he agreed.

How did he help you?

Of all the countless hours Ian spent helping me hone a winning attitude … the best advice was to give as much as I can to others. And that inspired me to mentor others just as selflessly as he has mentored me. I have more confidence today than ever before. I’ve recovered financially and my new electronics business grows daily. It makes me realize how important the mentoring process is in Toastmasters, especially for those who feel as vulnerable as I once felt. I owe it all to Toastmasters and my mentors.


Do you know an exceptional mentor who has positively influenced you? Send us a 200-word description and photo (1MB or larger) of you and your mentor.


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