Rick Kantor is a consultant, public speaker and adjunct professor at Drexel University Online where he teaches Creativity in the Workplace. A former member of a Broadway production team, he joined the Toast of Petaluma club in Petaluma, California, in 2014. He now takes the stage at conferences worldwide to speak about innovation and creativity.
Cara Wasden, a former special education teacher, suffers from Tourette Syndrome. Since joining Toastmasters in 2005, she has become a public speaking coach, a middle-school speech teacher and an accomplished speaker. When Kantor joined the club he began mentoring her and, since last year, the two have teamed up to co-teach public speaking and interviewing skills to high schoolers.
Cara, what drove you to public speaking?
At a time when I was greatly lacking in confidence and needed something more in my life, someone asked me what I had enjoyed in the past. I said I loved being a tour guide at Hearst Castle and on Alcatraz Island (in California). She suggested Toastmasters, so I joined to become a better public speaker and get past being absolutely terrified of impromptu speaking.
What is it like to have Rick as a mentor?
It is incredibly rewarding, both professionally and personally. Rick has had great success in life, but even more admirable is the time and effort he takes to help others achieve success. He is always honest and very clearly aids me in my continuing growth as a speaker, a teacher and a person. He has taught me to be more in the moment, more flexible and to make the best of every situation. And that makes me a happier, more successful teacher.
What have you gained from your experience in Toastmasters?
I went from having no confidence to becoming a confident public speaker and public speaking coach, and I gained lifelong friends and mentors like Rick.
Mary Nesfield is associate editor for Toastmaster magazine. Reach her at email@example.com.