Whoever coined the phrase “like mother, like daughter” had never met Mish and Tanya Barad. The mother-daughter duo from Solihull, West Midlands, England, describe themselves as having completely opposite skill sets. While Mish is down-in-the-details, Tanya is more big-picture. “I collect facts,” says Mish. “Tanya is brilliant at ideas.” These complementary characteristics make them a great Toastmasters team.
The Barads, both DTMs, agree that they would not have come nearly as far in Toastmasters had it not been for each other. Tanya became a member first. “Long story short, my communications skills weren’t good, so I was sent by my job,” she says, “but then I started to really enjoy it.” She enjoyed it so much that she invited Mish to attend about six months later.
For the past seven years, the women have been attending meetings together—sometimes visiting several clubs in a week. They are both members of the Heart of England club in Solihull, as well as Birmingham New Street Speakers in Birmingham, a club they sponsored.
A major factor in their Toastmasters success: the detailed, open evaluations they offer each other. Because they are so close, “we can be a bit more constructive and a bit more brutal” than they would be with others, Tanya says. Both are in Toastmasters to improve, and know growth requires honest feedback.
The women also know each other well enough to go into deep detail during their frequent feedback sessions. “We debrief constantly,” says Mish. They don’t limit their evaluations to speeches; during tense committee phone calls, for instance, Mish may message Tanya with real-time feedback on her tone of voice. “It’s like having an earpiece,” Mish laughs.
Both women have enjoyed, and put to good use, the leadership talents they’ve earned in Toastmasters. “To me, the leadership [element] is invaluable, and that’s what I really, really enjoy,” says Mish. She and Tanya have helped charter several clubs and have supported each other in club, Area, and District leadership roles. As partners, they welcome ambitious assignments. They have started two new clubs, mentored a third, and organized countless events.
“We [can] take on quite large projects because we know we have backup,” Tanya says. Mish agrees, “It’s not double the capacity—it’s triple the capacity,” she says. “One plus one equals three.”
Professional and Personal Development
Observing each other in action at club meetings has helped Mish and Tanya see each other in a business-like environment, which is an unusual perspective for both. “I wouldn’t get to see Mum at work, and she wouldn’t get to see me,” says Tanya, an IT project manager. Club meetings allow her to see the “more mature, formal side” of her mother, a driving instructor.
Mish is equally admiring of her daughter’s professionalism. “[Tanya] can just flick a switch,” she says. “Up on stage, she’s like, ‘That’s it, I’m President now,’” Mish laughs. This shift in perspective goes both ways; Mish has taken on multiple club roles and has served as Area Director. “[Tanya has] seen me become professional when I’ve never been professional in my life,” Mish quips.
Toastmasters usually brings out the professional side of the pair. Sometimes, though, they “fall into mother-daughter mode,” says Tanya. Most of their fellow Toastmasters know that they are related, but some people are surprised by their interactions. “People look at us funny when we banter,” Mish says. “But we just say, ‘It’s okay, we’re family.’”
Both women agree that sharing the Toastmasters experience with a loved one can help double the benefit for each of you, especially when it comes to continual support. “Having someone to push you all the time” is extremely valuable, says Mish. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve learned.”
And they plan to keep learning. “We’re constantly thinking Toastmasters,” says Tanya, “and we’re constantly looking to push ourselves forward and to improve things.”
Like mother, like daughter.
Megan Preston Meyer is a member of TM International Club Zug in Zug, Switzerland, and a regular contributor to the Toastmaster magazine. She is the author of the Supply Jane and Fifo Adventures. Learn more at www.supply-jane.com.