By Mark Burchill, DTM, past president of the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa, California, USA, and founder and chair of the Rotary Means Business Fellowship
Leadership challenges are invigorating. I have launched or led four businesses, a Toastmasters club, a Rotary club, a Rotary International Fellowship, and more. As a Rotarian and a Toastmaster, I can tell you that both organizations transform lives, although in different ways. And both have had an impact on my life, starting many years ago.
When I was tapped to serve as president of the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa, California, USA, I knew I needed to step up my game. I wanted a higher level of skill and self-confidence in order to lead my club and represent Rotary in the community. Coincidentally, my wife had been a Toastmaster for a year, and I had visited her club a few times to watch her speak. She had really begun to blossom. This program could help me!
I was right. Hours before a Rotary meeting, our speaker canceled. I gave a half-hour speech about my recent journey to the Rotary International Convention with just two hours of preparation. My talk was well received.
Shortly after I joined Toastmasters, I founded the Rotary Means Business Fellowship, which provides a business networking opportunities for Rotarians. I was now responsible for leading an international network of members. I’ve given presentations about the fellowship at three Rotary International conventions and to Rotarians all over the world. In every one of those situations, my experience as a Toastmaster and Rotarian helped me feel confident in my ability to share my message in front of hundreds of people. The founding and nurturing of the Rotary Means Business Fellowship is one of my most fulfilling personal achievements.
For 30 years I owned a business with two dozen employees. As the boss, you tell an employee to do something, and they do it. In a volunteer organization though, you have to motivate people to want to do something, or it won’t get done. Holding multiple officer positions in both Toastmasters and Rotary helped me be a more effective leader.
I’ve watched the alliance between Rotary and Toastmasters spark new learning and leadership opportunities. For example, Rotarians are enthusiastically enrolling in the communication and leadership development courses Toastmasters created for Rotary members. Rotarians are practicing their public speaking skills at Toastmasters clubs. Toastmasters members are honing their skills outside the club setting by speaking at Rotary meetings.
Rotary’s alliance with Toastmasters allows both our organizations to offer more opportunities to enhance our leadership and speaking skills. Learn more about Rotary’s partnership with Toastmasters.