Project 10 for Competent Communication – #KKPIF – 25 February 2014

Over the last nine months, I have been working towards my first Toastmasters award, the Competent Communicator.  With this speech, I have achieved that level!  Now I get to move on to fun things.  First up?  Storytelling, which I think the kids will like to have me practice on them, and Public Relations, which I think my not-for-profits will benefit from.  Speaking of not-for-profits, this tenth speech was to be one of inspiration.  Although I went over on time, I think I got my message across.  It was written as an 8-10 minute speech, but I have been asked to shorten it to a 5-7 minute speech and enter it into Toastmasters competition.  I would love to hear which parts you enjoyed the most so that I know where to trim.  For the first time since I joined Toastmasters,  did notes and spoke more from the heart than spending hours getting the right wording and then reading from those notes.  I have recreated the speech as best as I can remember, so if you heard my speech and see that I missed something, please let me know.  For those of you reading, I had two “slight Ah’s” this go round, so I am getting better!  I also did not want to upload all the photos I used, so if there is something you would like to see, such a my Christmas trees or Derby hats, let me know and I can email you a copy.  Without further ado, #KKPIF.


My sister was watching her three-year-old daughter participate in her first preschool Easter Egg hunt.  At first, she saw her pointing out hidden Easter eggs to one of the little boys.  Why was she doing that?  Because her basket was full already.  A little while later, my sister saw her frantically going through her basket.  “Is it okay if I give some of these to Clarissa?  She didn’t get any and did you know there is CANDY in here?!?”  Her mother couldn’t wait to share the news with the whole family as she was so proud of her and felt that we all had a hand in it.  Now before you get to thinking she is a saint, let us fast forward a couple of months to a concert in town.  We were having Italian ices when her mom came to find us.  My sister said, “Those look good” and my niece asked her if she would like to try our ices.  So she gave her mom and bite of hers and she said it was good.  So my niece said, “Here, try Aunty’s” and shared mine.

If you ever get the chance to meet my nephew, do not ask him to share.  I made that mistake last June when I said something about his mac and cheese looking good.  He gave me a bite.  Then passed it around the table and made sure that everybody else there took a bite as well.  He is generous and determined.  If you tease him about taking a lick of his lollipop, he will not relent until you take a lick of that lollipop and then make sure everybody else here takes a lick as well!

Good evening Fellow Toastmasters and Honored Guests.  The theme of my speech tonight is inspiration.  The title is #KKPIF.  Are you wondering what that hashtag means?  Well, we will get to that in a bit.

A quote I like to live by is “Those who can do.  Those who can do more volunteer.”  Last week, Edna gave us an outstanding speech on how to help rescue pets.  While my first dog, Dutch, was not rescued from a shelter, he was a rescue we got from my dad’s boss.  We know that it was a tall, skinny guy with dark hair and glasses that used to abuse him as he would attack all males matching that description.  To remember what Dutch was like when he first came to the family and how he slowly came around to fit into the family inspired me to work with the San Clemente Animal Shelter.  I did not work at the shelter, as I knew I would want to take all the animals home, but I did work on their fundraisers and this was the start of my serious fundraisDutching work.  The first time, I worked the night of the event and we made $24,000.  The next year I started working with the planning committee.  They already had all their connections in the area, so I thought I would work out of the area.  I cut a deal with them.  If they would pay the postage, I would send out letters.  I gave them the bill for my postage and they just about had a fit.  Then my first letter came.  It was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a rejection letter.  I was crushed.  A couple days later I got an envelope from the Beverley Wilshire, the hotel from the movie “Pretty Woman”, and they gave us a night’s stay.  Even at half price, it would more than cover the costs of my postage!  After that, items started flowing in from all over the US and the Caribbean.  By the end of the event, they were calling me the Donation Dynamo and we made over $40,000 that year.  The next year, they had twice as much postage waiting for me at the opening meeting!  Within a couple of years, we were up to $100,000 night and my items alone were clearing over $10,000.  Then there was a coup and I got tired of the politics, so I moved on.  That is when I started working with a variety of cancer groups.

Thursday evening I will be at the kickoff for the 11th annual San Juan Capistrano Relay for Life.  I have walked from midnight to 4 a.m. each year for my team.  It is quieter at that time of night and it is a great time to reflect as you walk down the luminaria lit track.  The firSJC RFLst year I was walking and noticed some of the candles going out.  I started replacing and relighting them as I thought how sad it would be for someone to come walk their shift and be unable to find their loved one’s luminaria as it was burned out.  That became my job thereafter.  I might not get as many laps in as others as I walk, stop, light a luminaria, walk a few more steps and do it again.  Over and over for four hours.  This past year, we were short people to work the event and I ended up working from 8 in the morning until midnight, I never even got a chance to take a nap.  One of the other committee members said he was going to give a donation to the Relay on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club Team if they kept the candles lit.  I thanked him, but on my first lap at midnight, I noticed some luminarias were out.  I grabbed some candles and lit a couple on my next lap.  After that, I did not see any more to light.  A couple laps later, I set down my supplies.  I did not see a single candle being lit, but I did not see another one out that night either.  The kids were amazing and I was so thankful to Ken.  I do not think I would have made it the whole four hours had I been in charge of lighting the candles.  I swear the people there probably thought I was drunk as by 1:30, I could not walk in a straight line.  After being on my feet for so long, I was exhausted!

I also work with the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation at UCLA.  Wine Christmas TreeWe make four-foot Christmas trees to raffle off and I cannot afford to compete with some of the others, so I go for the unusual.  I made a very popular wine tree, martini tree and power tool tree.  If you ever want to impress someone at Christmas, I would be glad to help you make one of these.

Sometimes I am not “that” involved in a group.  I attend the annual Kentucky Derby Party for the Equestrian Coalition of San Juan Capistrano and participate in their Derby hat contest.  As you might guess, my hats are always fan favorites and I won the first couple of years!

On January 12th, a family friend Sean & Sienna 2had an accident and broke his C5.  In an instant, Sean’s life changed.  And not just his life, but that of his wife, his unborn twins, his mother, his sisters and brother and other extended family.  I am not a nurse type, but I am a fundraiser and I have extended my services to the family.  Just today, we finally got our partnership with a 501c3 set-up and we are going to start fundraising.  His out-of-pocket expenses are expected to be over a million dollars!  I don’t think we will make that much money, but every little bit adds up and will help.

Whatever your interests are, I am sure there is some sort of volunteer group out there that would love to have your assistance.  If you are not already doing something for your community, I hope I have inspired you tonight to do something.  If you have children in your life, children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews, take them along with you.  If you are not sure where to start, may I suggest a group I belong to on called Everything Under The Sun That Is Charitable in the OC.  This group posts volunteer opportunities from a wide variety of groups throughout the county.  They work in the warehouse of Women Helping Women sorting clothes, work in a variety of soup kitchens and food banks, assist at charity golf tournaments and at the Special Olympics.  Like to paint?  Their Paint Your Heart Out project helps fix up houses for elderly people of limited means.  Homefront America does a variety of events for military families such as welcome home events, backpacks for going back to school and Easter parties.  Whether you want to do something once a week, a month or a year, Everything Under the Sun is a great group as you can donate your time to a variety of groups without becoming involved with all the groups directly.  Maybe give them a trial run to see which you like the best and then join them.

This last year has been one of tremendous growth for me.  Probably the most since I was a kid.  I have been working to improve my education in a variety of subjects, most notably in Social Media.  I am rocking it on LinkedIn, I have started two blogs, I have two accounts on Google+, one for me and one for Sean, I have found and founded groups on Meetup and I have several accounts on Twitter including a personal one and several for my groups.  One thing I would like to learn more about is hashtags so I decided to work on that next.

Christmas cookiesGhandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  How am I doing that?  By being a good example to my niece and nephew.  In the last few months alone, I created a margarita Christmas tree, baked 1,000+ cookies for the Marines, and helped with traffic control at the town’s tree lighting ceremony.  I stepped up as Acting Vice President Public Relations, Vice President Membership and Vice President of Education for our Toastmasters club, helped Grandpa a nieghbor, and am a sounding board for Sean’s sisters.  At a time when I myself am looking for a mentor, I have found myself being a mentor to others in transition and as I am learning Social Media, I am helping a friend promote her business via Social Media.  I am also helping my sister as she launches her new business and this week I starting to organize some fundraisers for Sean’s family.

I think it is especially important to share your good work with the next generation.   I take my niece and nephew with me to fun events and somber events.  But even with everyday life, I try to teach them to be better citizens.  When washing their hands, I have taught them to take  the papertowl and wipe off the sink for the next person.  We let people cut in line if they have less items or have a fussy kid just as people did for me when they were little.  I’ve taught them to be good to the environment and we have fed coins to parking meters for people who were out of time.  Even something as old-fashioned as holding the door open for others is appreciated.  And not only do I teach them what to do, we discuss why it is nice or important for them to do so.

This past week I saw a speaker by the name of Luke Mysee.  He spoke about Passion + Privilege = Purpose.  His passion to feed starving toddlers in Africa with a peanut butter/milk/vitamin paste.  With a single sixty day regiment, they can save the toddler’s life.  He cares about this so much, he is sharing his passion this summer by riding his bike from California to the East Coast.  His privilege is to have a supportive family.  His purpose is to raise more money and awareness of how easy these lives can be saved.  It made me want to do something more, but I am not that ambitious.  So I decided to start #KKPIF.


Mother Teresa said, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”  My call to action tonight for all of you is to ask all of you to do something every day from February 27th to April 12th, to be the change you wish to see in the world.  If you have the money, consider buying a $50 Starbucks card.  Tell the cashier to use the card to pay the bill for people ordering a drink or two.  Don’t tell them who did it, just tell them to have a nice day and then sit in the corner and watch the joy on people’s faces.  Money kind of scarce?  Then let somebody over in front of you on the freeway or this weekend it is supposed to rain.  Leave the spot by the door open and park across the lot and use an umbrella into the store.  Big or little, share what you are doing with the world.  If you are social media adept, I ask that you use #KKPIF or KalKaryn Pay It Forward.  (KalKaryn is a nickname I have used for about 30 years when I was dreaming of living in California again one day.)  And the reason for 44 days?  They say it takes 21 days to make a habit and I would love to see you make it a habit for life.  But at 44 days, I am giving you twice as long to get used to doing it.  Why 44 days?  Because February 27th is not only the Kickoff meeting for my 11th annual Relay for Life, it is also my 44th birthday.  I would really like to do something to change the world and I thought this would be a good start.  I hope you have all been inspired tonight to help me celebrate my birthday and I look forward to seeing your posts to #KKPIF.

February 27th – April 12th



Project 9 for Competent Communication – Why LinkIn? – 28 October 2013

Thanks to the advice of Howard, a visiting Toastmasters member from Florida, I was able to check off one of my speeches outside of my regular Toastmasters meeting.  His advice?  Never speak for free. (On a side note, Howard recently participated in a roast for the person who gave him that advice.  So many people wanted to roast the guest of honor, each person was only allowed to speak for a minute.  Howard got up, did his bit and said since he was only allowed to speak for a minute, he could not get speaking credit for it.  He then turned to the honoree and handed the man a bill!)

At the EUI, we assist professionals-in-transition with their job search. We were asked to prepare a short speech to show what we could do as a trainer for the EUI.  I selected the subject of why people should join LinkedIn due to the fact that some people I meet are a little hesitant (and some VERY hesitant) to join.  I admit that I would rather be spending my extra time working on fundraisers or furthering my education, but I know that to have a presence on LinkedIn is vital at this stage in my life and I wanted to share a bit of what I have learned.  So, without further ado, on to my speech/PowerPoint presentation…..


To find a job in today’s market, you pretty much have to be on the web to have any chance at all of landing your next gig.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pintrest…..  Where do you start???  My suggestion, start with LinkedIn.  Are you on LinkedIn?  If not, why not?  Is it because you do not know what LinkedIn is?  For those of you who are not familiar with it, think of it as Facebook for professionals.  Don’t know how to create a website?  Trust me, if I can figure it out, anybody can figure it out.  It is made for the average person to be able to use with ease and in fact you are pretty limited on what you can do to “dress up” your page.  How big is LinkedIn?  Let’s go over a few numbers.  There are over 225 million members worldwide and almost 3 million company pages.  As of March 2013, LinkedIn was the 22nd most visited website in the world with over 5.7 BILLION searches done in 2012.  There was an almost 30% increase in year over year visitors in the first quarter of 2013, me being one of those visitors.  You might be saying great, so LinkedIn has a lot of traffic, but what will it do for me?  LinkedIn is the ultimate place to connect with companies that are hiring and to apply for those jobs.  It is a way to connect with employees at the companies you want to work with either by researching them on LinkedIn or finding connections in the chain of contacts you have built up.  Want recruiters to find you?  About 97% of them are mining LinkedIn to find the perfect candidates to fill their open positions.  It is also a great way to reconnect with old school chums or coworkers and to get recommendations of your work without having to deal with the exchange of personal data you might share on Facebook.

Unlike our parents, workers today do not tend to spend their entire working career at the same job.  Today, the average worker spends only two to five years before moving on.  Seven in ten workers actively search for new opportunities on a regular basis.  About a third of Millennials think the job search is more complex than it used to be compared to 43% of Baby Boomers.  My parents thought that all I needed was a professionally written resume, the Sunday paper help wanted ads and a stamp.    I tried every which way I could to explain to them what my plan of attack was, but they just did not get it.  It took my parents about six months, and somebody else reinforcing my spiel about on-line job searches, for them to grasp what a modern job search entails.  God help us all if they needed to find a job again!  But do not make LinkedIn your ONLY way of searching for your next job.  While it is true that 74% of people come across new jobs via online searches, 68% find them via traditional networking and 67% via job boards, so it is important to not neglect those as well.  In 2011, 89% of employers used social media for recruiting.  That had grown to 92% by the next year.  That explains why 88% of job seekers created an online profile.  64% created two and 44% created 3 or more and,I have to confess, I am one of the 44% as I hate leaving things to chance.


If you have not done so already, I suggest you Google your name.  Besides looking you up on LinkedIn and Facebook, any potential employer will most likely Google you and you want to make sure that the information coming up, especially on the first page, is putting your best foot forward.  This is even more important if you have a common name.  Somebody else’s information could be mistaken for your own.  It might take a little extra work on your part, but you CAN get that information pushed back to page two (or beyond) and make sure you differentiate yourself so that there is no question about which profiles belong to you and which belong to someone else.  Had I found a Karyn Schumaker with a prison record or other bad publicity, I would have created my profile as Karyn S. Schumaker or something along those lines to make sure I was not mistaken for the other Karyn Schumaker.


So where is the best place to build your online presence?  LinkedIn is the first place I would recommend you invest your time.  Facebook and Twitter are also used by large numbers of recruiters and job seekers.  Blog sites such as Typepad, Tumblr. and WordPress give you a forum for creating a blog to promote your career and highlight your skills and experience. allows you to create a video resume.  How much time would I suggest you spend in these other sites?  That is up to you.  Other than LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and maybe WordPress, have you ever heard of the others?  I had not, so I am guessing they are not nearly as popular and worth my time at this point in my job search.  I also found that several of the sites I was directed to during my research for today’s speech do not even exist anymore!




If you are reading the slide, you can see that more job seekers use Facebook than LinkedIn for helping to find work.  So why am I promoting LinkedIn?  First of all, it is more professional than Facebook.  LinkedIn grows by two new members every second and has become a powerful talent management research tool, even for executive searches.  Because many executives have LinkedIn profiles, the LinkedIn database has the capacity to allow internal recruiters to replace some external executive search firms as LinkedIn profiles are searchable and easier to compare.  Research has shown that LinkedIn profiles tend to be more accurate than resumes.  It’s much harder for an individual to “get by” with a profile that contains inaccurate information. LinkedIn profiles are also more likely to be up-to-date than resumes because LinkedIn will periodically encourage you to keep improving and updating your profile and, as you are representing your brand, you are going to want to keep it as current and relevant as possible. This differs drastically from some other paid for services that have large databases of collected information.  When you change jobs, this may not be captured for a long time.  When I started at the EUI, we were doing some research on a company.  On a lark, once I was logged into the database, I looked at my old facility.  The GM listed there in May of 2013 left the company in June of 2005 AND had left the General Manager job a couple years before that!  And this was an expensive site to be a member of!!!  LinkedIn also provides a recommendations feature so, if a potential employer needs additional information on a prospect, it can provide them insights into who you are and what others have experienced when working with you. Granted it is subjective as you have the control over what recommendations you are going to allow on your page, but having a variety your connections give you recommendations and endorsements are “social proof” that you are who you say you are.

Besides allowing you to link with blogs of your choice or follow thought leaders, LinkedIn is integrated with many other services like SlideShare and at least partly integrated with many other vendors including Twitter, Taleo, Amazon, and Windows Live Messenger, just to name a few.  They have over 2.1 million professional learning groups and growing.  Many professionals use LinkedIn to get a quick snapshot of a stranger who contacted them or an individual whose name they come across while reading.  It also makes it easier for professionals to find common ground in which to connect.  If someone is looking to make contact, there are a number of ways. One would be to pay for an InMail.  Another would be to try to find an email address somewhere on the public information on a person’s profile to connect. But it may be warmer to find common ground such as hobbies, similar industry, past employers, geographic location lived/worked, education, common connections or common LinkedIn groups.  While the connections and groups are the easiest ways to get connected for “free”, the others give great points in which to strike up a conversation.  We are all on LinkedIn to develop our own brand, so an excellent way to add to your equity is by being active, especially in groups.

I have been a LinkedIn user since June 3, 2008.  On February 12, 2013 I had 5 connections.  By March 12, 2013, I had about 200 connections.  As of yesterday (October 27, 2013), I was up to 410 connections linking me to over 7.259 million professionals.  One of the questions asked of me recently was why bother going to the EUI to connect with other unemployed people?  Yes, we may be in transition at the moment, but that is not a permanent state of affairs.  And our networks are filled with working professionals.  I admit, I was a little slow in reaching out to my network when applying to jobs, but I am now using it to my advantage.  When I see a job I am interested in, I check out my network first.  If I have someone in my network, I am going to reach out to them before applying, especially if they are in my first level.  Many companies will offer their employees a referral bonus.  It is also makes a better impression with hiring managers if someone in the company hands them a résumé vs. getting another piece of paper to add to the stack of resumes they already have.
I will in no way say my profile is perfect, but you can view it at if you want to get some ideas on how to get started.  My journey this year has been enlightening.  I am constantly changing my profiles as I strive for perfection, but I have to face the fact that I will never achieve that.  Show your profile or resume to twenty different people and you will get twenty different opinions.  But if you do not take that first step, and get something posted, your odyssey is over before it even started.  I hope I have persuaded those of you who are not already on LinkedIn to join.  If there is anything I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to ask.
And to you, the readers of this blog, if you have made it this far, the LinkedIn help offer goes for you as well.  If there is anything I can do to help you with your LinkedIn profile, please do not hesitate to ask.  I may not know all the answers, but I sure know where to find them.  And if you are interested in seeing the entire infographic picture I used in my presentation, you can find it by clicking here.

Project 7 for Competent Communication – Toastmasters 101 – 4 February 2014

This speech, my next to last in the Competent Communicator manual, was focused on research.  We are also requested to write intro, so here is mine…

CC, CL, ACB, DTM…?  What language is this?  Karyn joined Toastmasters in May of 2013 and although she nods a lot like she understands what all of these letters mean, she doesn’t.  However, Karyn is a little obsessive when it comes to collecting awards… I mean setting goals and achieving them.  She is too lazy to get a PhD, but desperately wants some letters to put behind her name, so she researched what it takes to earn those letters and will be sharing that information with us tonight.  This speech also puts her only one speech away from adding the coveted initials of CC to her name!!!

I am proud to say, I won Best Speaker tonight, but even more important… No Ah’s!!!  Was kind of sorry to be a speaker though as I was ineligible for Table Topics and they were a blast!!!!!  I am going to make sure not to sign up for a speaking role the next time Dan is Table Topics Master.  🙂


Who here is a CC?  Who here knows what a CC is?  How about a CL?  ACB, ALS, DTM???  Have any of you been to a Distinguished Club meeting?  If you are here tonight, you are in a Distinguished Club meeting.  Not only a Distinguished Club, but the first one in our area to achieve that status this year.

Good evening fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests.  Tonight I am going to give you a quick Toastmasters 101.  By a show of hands, who is here to further develop their speaking skills?  How about their leadership skills? Just here to get away from the family for an evening????  For me, I joined in order to ace a job interview.  Although I have yet to do that, I do have a new goal in mind… DTM in a President’s Distinguished club.  Now, how do I get there?  To find out, did some research this week and found out that this is a team effort so I am going to need your help to reach my goals.

Now before I ask someone else to help me out by achieving their CC by June 30th, I want to let you know what that involves. [Note to readers: I picked up Competent Communication Manual at this point.] Members learn communication skills by working in the Competent Communication manual and we should all be pretty familiar with this by now.  By coming back each week, you are showing you have the resolve to work your way through the book, but we have had a big problem lately….. the growth of the club.  It has exploded in the last year.  And with that comes a lot of people competing for a select number of speaking spots.  If you cannot make your scheduled speech, please let us know ASAP so that we can find a replacement.  Sure, we could spend the extra time doing additional table topics, but then we lose some valuable prepared speech time.  Toastmasters would like to see every member present a minimum of 10 speeches a year.  We have 27 members currently.  If we met every week and had two speeches, that would be 104 slots in a year.  Even at three speeches, we only reach 156 slots, still well shy of the 270 slots we need, but closer.  This is one of the main reasons we felt it important to switch to a three speech format meeting.

Once you get your CC, it is time to move on to your ACB, ACS, and ACG or Advanced Communicator Bronze, Silver and Gold.  To achieve ACB, you must have your CC status and then complete two Advanced Communicator manuals which you can find on page 87 of your CC manual.  To make me a more valuable volunteer with my groups, I am planning on completing the Public Relations manual and to further cement my World’s Best Aunty title, I am also planning on completing the Storytelling manual to get my ACB.  To get an ACS, you need an ACB, two more Advanced Communicator manuals AND two presentations from The Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful Club Series.  To get the top level, or ACG, you have to have an ACS, complete two more Advanced Communicator manuals, complete a presentation from the Success/Leadership Series, the Success/Communication Series or a Youth Leadership AND coach a new member with their first three speech projects.

But this program is much more than just speaking.  Toastmasters is Where Leaders are Made.  [Note to readers: I picked up Competent Leader manual at this time.] To get your Competent Leader or CL, you need to complete the ten projects in your CL manual.  This is done in large part by participating in meetings as an evaluator, a grammarian, and Toastmaster.  After you earn your CL, you can earn your Advanced Leader Bronze by having your CL, your CC, serve at least six months as a club officer, participate in the preparation of a Club Success Plan, attend a district sponsored club officer training program and conduct any two programs from The Successful Club Series and/or The Leadership Excellence Series.  Next level up is Advanced Leadership Silver.  You start with an ALB, add a term as a district level officer, complete the High Performance Leadership program and serve successfully as a club sponsor, mentor or club coach.  Then comes the ultimate achievement, DTM or Distinguished Toastmaster.  To be eligible for this, you need to earn your ALS and your ACG.

As I stated earlier, I want to be a DTM from a President’s Distinguished club.  Has a nice ring, doesn’t it?  Please take a look at the handout.  The Toastmasters year runs from July 1st to June 30th.  The program has a list of 10 goals to achieve each year in order for your club to reach Distinguished status.  Meet 5 of the goals and your club is a Distinguished Club.  Meet 7 and you are Select Distinguished.  Nine gets you the status of President’s Distinguished.  As you can see from the handout, we met only 3 goals last year, but we also went down on membership and were not eligible to participate.  This year, not only did we earn five points in the first half of the year, but as I said earlier, we were the first in our area to achieve that status.  Our officers completed their spring training, so we are up to six points.  I am one more speech away from achieving my CC, so we only need one more person to complete their CC, or we need one of the advanced speakers to achieve an Advanced Communicator award, and our club will achieve Select Distinguished for this year.  What a great way to honor Peggy, Franco, Yousef, Stan and Joan who kept this club together during the lean times?

Is your head spinning?  Cannot keep track of all AL this and AC that that I have discussed here tonight?  Then remember this one important thing… all this information is available on the Toastmasters website.  There is an 8 page Member Achievement Record [form 1328 on the Toastmasters website] you can download that will help you keep track of your progress through the Toastmasters program.  And please remember to bring your books each week as you never know when you might be called upon to fill a role and be able to check off your progress.  There is no magic about it.  If we work together, we can help every member here reach their speaking goals and we can… excuse me we will achieve President’s Distinguished status next year.

Project 8 for Competent Communication – POW/MIA Recognition – 5 November 2013

This speech was an honor for me to do.  I learned about the POW/MIA table at Homefront America’s Heroes Night Out this past summer and wanted to share it with others.  I missed doing the speech for National POW/MIA Day this past September, so I wanted to do it in time for Veterans Day and with permission of the VP of Education for the club, skipped forward one speech to do it. (Speech 7 is Research Your Subject, Speech 8 is Get Comfortable With Visual Aids).  In my research, I found that some POW/MIA tables are a little different from others (some sites listed having a yellow ribbon on the vase instead of a red one) and some have prayers attached with the ceremony.  If I missed something, I meant no disrespect.  I only had 5 minutes so I did not use a prayer and they suggest using a round bistro style table but I only had square ones at the restaurant.  I added the flag and moved the pictures there during the break for all to see, but normally you would not have pictures on the table.  And for those of you keeping score, I won best speech and I only had one Ah/Um!

I am proud of my country and am thankful every day for those who have fought/are fighting to keep her free.  This speech is dedicated to all of you, but most especially to those who are standing an eternal watch over our beloved America.


George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”  Although I was born during the Viet Nam era, I remember nothing about the war.  Through my studies, I learned that Viet Nam vets were not treated well by our nation.  It is surprising to me that we have as many volunteers in today’s military as we do based on what happened to the previous generation.  What does this have to do with tonight’s theme of Fun Facts About November?  Did you know that November is National Military Family Appreciation Month?  For some families, this is a time when they reminisce on their military family member whose whereabouts are unknown.  It is to these brave men and women that I dedicate my speech tonight.

When I mention POW/MIA, or Prisoner of War/Missing in Action, what comes to mind?  If you are anything like me, you immediately think of Viet Nam.  Show of hands here: How many of you immediately thought of Rambo?  I cannot say I have ever seen a complete Rambo movie, but that is what I think of.  However, there have always been, and will continue being, POW’s and MIA’s as long as there are wars.  For example, US Navy Electrician’s Mate Second Class Harold K. Wagner was one of 84 souls listed as MIA when their sub, the USS Snook, failed to make contact again after her last report on April 8th, 1945.  US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been a POW of the Taliban since 2009.  They are but two examples of tens of thousands of POW/MIA personnel who have defended our country over the years.  To honor those who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and internment, a remembrance ceremony was developed.  You may have seen these in VFW halls or military events and not understood the meaning behind it.  After tonight, I hope you will forever more be mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice and give these tables the honor and respect they deserve. USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl

This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.

The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

The single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood that many have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, a symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured or missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt on the plate symbolizes the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The lit candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

The wine glass is inverted as they cannot toast with us this night.

The chair is empty for they are not here.

In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War, or the war to end all wars, came to a close when Germany signed an armistice.  A year later, November 11th was made an American holiday, but it would not be until 1938 when Congress finally got around to issuing a Congressional Act to make Armistice Day an official National holiday.  In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day to honor not only veterans of the Great War, now better known as World War I, but also veterans of all wars.  I bring this up tonight as next Monday is Veteran’s Day.  Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices.  While I encourage you to thank all the veterans you know, I also ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers those who are not with us such as Sergeant Bergdahl or Electrician’s Mate, Second Class Wagner, or, as he is better known to me, Uncle Harold.  To conclude my speech, I would like to ask all our veterans here tonight to stand up so that we can thank you for your service.Wagner-H-K-279a

Project 5 for Competent Communication – National Preparedness Month – 3 September 2013

Square Hero

Those of you who know me know that I like to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  In this case, it is preparing for emergencies.  September serves as an annual reminder to me that I have to update my emergency plans and supplies.  For the last several years, I have shared preparedness tips with my family, friends and co-workers.  Mostly, I just refer them to info from, but this year I am having a blast participating in 30 Days, 30 Ways (and was even a Day 2 winner!) and am sharing that with them as well. (You can follow my entries @KalKaryn.)  This year, I presented this speech at my Toastmasters group and although I did not win, I did inspire some people to go home make some emergency plans.  The last several weeks, I had virtually eliminated my ah’s, but I lapsed this week and I started out my speech with an ah in the first few sentences.  Luckily, I got back on track and only had the one.  I think the reason for the nervousness stemmed from the fact that we invited another Toastmasters group to join us due to their being dark on Monday for Labor Day.  🙂  I hope you are inspired by this particular blog and I would love to hear what you did to “celebrate” National Preparedness Month.

Who here remembers Boxing Day 2004 when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed almost a quarter of a million people and displaced millions more half way around the world from one another?  What about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita?  Although most of the damage and fatalities were concentrated along the Gulf coasts, remnants of the storm hit the Midwest knocking out electricity for my relatives in Ohio.  A Super Outbreak consisting of 332 confirmed tornadoes hit the American Midwest over 4 days in 2011.  In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused widespread destruction up the East Coast from Cuba to Canada.  At this very moment, the Rim fire in Yosemite has burned over 235 thousand acres.  Luckily, they do not anticipate it growing as large as the Southern California fires of October 2007.

It does not matter where in the world you live, there is a potential for some sort of disaster to hit.  Besides brush fires, in this area we are also susceptible to earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis and flooding not to mention riots, nuclear meltdowns and car chases that shut down the freeways.  Last year, those of us south of Crown Valley experienced a power outage due to someone throwing the wrong switch.  At my house, it lasted about 12 hours.  I could not contact anybody to check on my dog, so I had to head home from work along with everybody else.  After it took me almost an hour just to get off at my freeway exit, I finally made it home.  I was surprised at how very quiet it was.  It seemed that once people got home, they stayed there even though it was life as normal just a couple miles away.  I turned on a radio to get the lowdown.  I had to laugh when I heard the hosts talking to their counterparts in San Diego.  The LA hosts were asking, how bad is the looting?  What looting, San Diego asked?  You mean you have no looting going on?  The San Diego hosts said at stores people were taking their turns to go in a few at a time, get what they needed and leave.  The LA hosts responded with something about it must just be the crazy LA citizens who use any excuse to riot and loot.

Someone firing up their generator on the next street over broke the near silence at my house.  Admittedly, I thought it was a little early for them to fire it up, but kudos to them for being prepared!  After a short while, it was turned off and I did not hear it the rest of the night.  My sister emailed an article to me the next day about the fire department having to pry their gates open so that residents could get through.  When I read the article on their plight, another link told me why I did not hear that generator again.  Seems one of the neighbors was annoyed by the noise and told the other neighbor to shut it down.  Neighbor 2 said no, so neighbor 1 went home and got a screwdriver to come dismantle neighbor 2’s generator.  Things were said and neighbor 1 stabbed neighbor 2 with the screwdriver.  Since neighbor 1 went to the slammer and neighbor 2 to the hospital, there was no one around to fire up the generator again.

Speaking of my sister, she did not sleep until the electricity came on as there had been small brush fires in the area a few days earlier and she was afraid with the phones out, they might miss a reverse 911 call.  Lesson learned?  Cell phones were out due to towers being down, but the landlines were functional.  However, like most people these days, we have cordless electric phones, so we could not access the phone lines.  We both went out and bought old-fashioned phones to plug in the wall for the next time we have a power outage.

As tonight has a back-to-school theme, I thought I should try fit in a little something regarding schools.  For those of you with children do you know where your children will be transferred to if the school has to evacuate during a school day?  How do you retrieve your children during an emergency and if you are not available, who has permission to get them?  What if communications are down?  Would they know how and where to pick up your kids?  Where would you all meet up again?  Some things to think about on the way home tonight.

{Note to readers:  At this point in my speech, I started to “gear up” with an N95 dust mask, safety goggles, CERT hard hat and CERT safety vest.} September is National Preparedness month and my annual reminder to update my plans and supplies.  This year’s theme is You Can Be the Hero.  What are you going to do to celebrate?  I am using my super power of persuasion tonight encouraging all of you to prepare.  Realistically, you cannot prepare for every eventuality, but you should at least be knowledgeable about where you can quickly get the info you need.  I could go on for an hour giving you advice on what to do and how to do it, but instead I am just going to recommend all of you visit and read up on ways to prepare your family and business.  I am also participating in where they challenge you to one simple, yet fun task each day.  If you want cool gear like this, check with your city to see if they offer CERT or Community Emergency Response Team training.  I learned incident command, fire suppression, search and rescue and triage.  While I have not had to put most of those skills to the test yet, I did calmly save my nephew when he was choking and starting to turn blue thanks to training from CERT.  Talk to me at break and I would be glad to tell you about San Juan Capistrano CERT and some of the community outreach programs we are doing this month.

Whatever route you take, I hope you do something.  I am not trying to scare you into become survivalists, but everybody should have some basics at home, at work and in their vehicle.  I have seen how long it takes the government to respond even when they have a heads up such as a tropical storm gathering strength, so I know not to count on them right away when a disaster hits close to home, especially an unexpected one such as an earthquake.  One of my favorite quotes is it is better to be prepared years too early than a minute too late.  Please do not be late and do not plan on coming to my house because I am not sharing.  I hope I never get to be a hero, but if called upon, I am ready to do my part, are you?

Project 4 for Competent Communication – The Art of Negotiation – 23 July 2013

For my fourth project, I again went with the evening’s theme to prepare my speech, this week being The Art of Negotiation.  I was happy to win, but even happier to hear that the Ah-Counter had zero items to report on me!

Good evening fellow Toastmasters and guests.  The theme for tonight is The Art of Negotiation and it is just that… an art.  One of those skills that is learned from early childhood.  “If you let me stay up for 5 more minutes, Aunty, I promise I will go right to sleep and you won’t have to read me any stories… well, maybe one story…..”  How many times have I heard that one?  Or the more somber, “if you bring my grandmother safely through this surgery, God, I promise I will go back to church.”  From the mundane of postponing a bedtime to the praying to a divine being for a miracle that a loved one pulls through, every day you are negotiating.  One does not even need another person in order to negotiate.  When I reach that weight loss goal, I will get to use my new purse.  I have been within 2-3 pounds for a month now.  That purse has been on the hall tree for me to see every time I walk by.  It is mine.   I found it, I paid for it…  Technically, I can use it anytime I want.  However, I made a goal that I would not use it until I hit the 50 pound mark.  One could call that a negotiation between my mind and my body and I am not going to break that agreement no matter how badly I want to use that purse right now.

Negotiations skills vary from person to person, industry to industry, and culture to culture.  Some people live for the thrill of negotiating, others just want a set price and are happy without any fuss.  Entire phenomenons have grown from industries known for their negotiations.  Who here has seen “Pawn Stars” or “American Pickers”?  They are reality shows about series of negotiations with some small talk thrown in for a little education and/or comic relief.  What about different cultures?  Yousef said last week, the Iranians love to negotiate, but the Indians beat them every time.  Some of the biggest negotiations I have ever been involved with have been on trips to the Mexican border cities of Nogales and Tijuana.  Some of the vendors there are very determined.  One followed me down the street after all I did was glance at an item in his store.  He was giving me lower and lower prices, but I was not interested. He said, “What’s the matter, you no speak English?”  With a puzzled look, I asked “Parlez-vous français?” or “Do you speak French?”  He looked at me for a moment, then turned and went back to his store.  Now before you get too impressed with my French, all I know is “Parlez-vous français” and “Merci.”

Online, there are tons of websites with negotiation tactics for dealing with everything from cars and hotels to contracts and salaries.  Tonight, I am going to bring you some tips for negotiating in 2013 by Ed Brodow, author of Negotiation Boot Camp.  Due to the length of time I have available, I am only going to touch on a few of them, but you can find all 10 at his website.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Everything is negotiable and do not take no for an answer.  However, know the difference between being assertive and being aggressive.  You are assertive when you take care of your own interests while maintaining respect for the interests of others. When you see to your own interests with a lack of regard for other people’s interests, you are aggressive.
  2. Shut up and listen. Follow the 70/30 Rule – listen 70 percent of the time, and talk only 30 percent of the time. Encourage the other negotiator to talk by asking lots of probing, open-ended questions.
  3. Do your homework. What are their needs? What pressures do they feel? What options do they have? Doing your homework is vital to a successful negotiation. You can’t make accurate decisions without understanding the other side’s situation.
  4. Don’t be in a hurry. As I stated above, negotiations change from culture to culture.  Brodow thinks being patient is very difficult for Americans and Europeans as we just want to get it over with.  People in Asia, South America, or the Middle East look at time differently than we do. Whoever is more flexible about time has the advantage. Your patience can be devastating to the other negotiator if they are in a hurry because they start to believe that you are not under pressure to conclude the deal and they offer concessions as a means of providing you with an incentive to say yes.
  5. Aim high and expect the best outcome. Successful negotiators are optimists. If you expect more, you’ll get more. Sellers should ask for more than they expect to receive, and buyers should offer less than they are prepared to pay. Your optimism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, if you have low expectations, you will probably wind up with a less satisfying outcome.

I hope you been inspired to brush up on your negotiation tactics.  Remember to (1) be assertive, not aggressive, (2) follow the 70/30 rule, (3) do your homework, (4) take your time, and (5) aim high.  I leave you tonight with these parting words from Henry Boyle, “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.”  Merci beaucoup and bonsair, fellow Toastmasters and guests.


Project 3 for Competent Communication – Where Did I Come From? – 9 July 2013

In these early level speeches for Toastmasters, it pretty much the sky’s the limit on what you can choose.  I have started using our club’s theme of the week to shape my speeches around.  This particular week’s theme was Trading Places.  For those of you keeping score, this was the first speech I won, but even more important, I did NOT have any ah’s, um’s or other crutch words!!!

Good evening fellow Toastmasters.  I was having trouble coming up with a topic for tonight’s speech so I looked to tonight’s theme for inspiration and came up with the subject of me!  More specifically, where did I come from?  Mark Twain said,”Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”  When I first started my genealogy research, I went to my granny and was asking her questions she would not answer.  She advised me to not bother looking as I was going to find things I did not want to find.  “What?” I asked.  She said things like horse thieves and such.  “Do you really think so?”  She was not amused.  The worst thing I found out about her?  My grandparents lied about their ages on their marriage license.  I jokingly asked my mom if that meant they were not legally married.  My mom said to NEVER bring that up in front of granny.  However, when I found that her 8th great-grandmother was hung as a witch at Salem, you can bet I brought that up! Granny said, see I told you you would find bad things.  I told her I thought it was cool.

Both sets of my grandparents made it to 50 years of marriage and then one spouse died shortly thereafter.  I asked the surviving spouses how they met their mates and/or decided to get married, but neither would answer me.  This leads me into tonight’s theme of trading places.  I am too enamored of today’s conveniences such as fast cars, fast food, and indoor plumbing to want to go back in time full-time, but I would love to be able to trade places for a day or even an hour so that I could interview my ancestors to get a feeling of what everyday life was like for them.  I would love to know what made my grandparents decide to get married.  I know that my paternal grandmother dated my great-uncle before she married his brother, my grandfather.  Why one brother over the other???

First person I would like to meet is Elizabeth Wheatley.  Not my great-grandmother Elizabeth Ann (Wheatley) Cramer, but her mother who was possibly Elizabeth (Karug or probably Craig) Wheatley.  I started doing my research to prove Scottish roots and 15+ years and thousands of relatives later, I still have very little on Elizabeth Senior and no positive proof of Scots.  What would I ask her?  Where are you living?  Where did your husband die?  What happened to your kids?  This would help me find death certificates and obituaries.  I know their kid’s names and that she was supposed to be Scottish and he was Irish from County Wexford, but that is about all I know.   This family branch is a brick wall for me and by getting just a few questions answered, I know I could tear down that wall.

I would also like to meet my great-grandfather Albert Nicholas Hark.  I had the opportunity to learn a little about him from my great aunts.  It seems that he was a talented man who could speak several languages and play several instruments.  His wife, Elizabeth (Erhart) Hark, would not allow him to teach the kids languages or music.  Not sure why on the languages, but his musical abilities were in demand and Grandma Lizzie did not want her children’s spouses to be wall flowers such as she ended up being at parties while he played.  He supposedly had a sibling who ran a house of ill repute somewhere out west and I would love to track that info down as well.

I could go on all night.  To see the poker hand that lost my second great-grandfather the family farm during a cattle drive or be there the night that the Jesse James gang spent the night with him would be incredible.  To be a witness to the hysteria that got my 10th great grandmother hung as a witch in Salem would also be amazing to see, but it is the everyday life that interests me the most.Walking through small towns in Germany, I saw beautiful tall buildings with the years listed on them going back to the 14 and 1500’s and I thought why on earth would anyone leave this to go into the unknown wilds of the New World?  Leaving a lot of your worldly goods and family to move to an unknown land with no support base where you are dodging Indians to chop down trees to build a crude hut and clear the land to farm so that you can squeak out a living.  What was it that drove them? Religious differences?  Escaping battlefields??  Younger sons looking to find a way to make a living???

Although I only had a short time to do research on my recent vacation, I was able to find several obituaries that helped flesh out my ancestor’s lives a bit.  I was always jealous that I did not have pioneer ancestors that crossed the nation in a covered wagon, but then I read the obits and it was then that I realized that I did have pioneer ancestors in my line.  When my relatives arrived in the town of Sycamore, Ohio in 1821, Ohio was the Wild West.  It was covered with trees that had to be cleared before they could farm the land, it was not the sleepy little farming community that it is today.  My Cramer ancestors came to Ohio from Maryland by stage around 1840 with no technology to keep the kids occupied.  My 3rd great grandmother died of a cancer that caused her intense pain.  Her husband died five years earlier after being confined to bed on his back without complaint for six months after breaking his leg.  Both of those conditions treatable and probably survivable with today’s technology.  Several more reasons to want to just trade places for only a short time.

Besides those already mentioned, I learned my Neikirk ancestors fought under William of Orange against the infamous Phillip the II of Spain in the Revolt of the Netherlands.  I have a great-uncle who was a Secretary of State for the State of Ohio and he and his twin brother were 1819 graduates of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr., is a second cousin.  I have several Revolutionary War patriots…plus a couple I think who fought on the other side.  I have Indians and those who were kidnapped by Indians.  I even have a few cousins who were murderers and some who were US Presidents, and as Twain predicted, it helped me greatly in my genealogy research.

Comedian Fred Allen said, “I don’t have to look up my family tree because I know that I’m the sap.” Although I might feel like that sap some days, I have recently found a quote from Benjamin Franklin that is inspiring me to transform into a better person. I hope it inspires you as well.  “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten; Either write things worthy of reading, or do things worthy of writing.”  Thank you fellow Toastmasters.Susannah (North) Martin reading bible in jail   Susaannah (North) Martin reading in her jail cell during the Salem Witch Trials

Project 2 for Competent Communication – Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People – 11 June 2013

For my second speech, I was still struggling with what to speak about.  I am used to being given a topic and then coming up with a presentation.  Matter of fact, I am pretty good with that!  But given free rein and not yet familiar with the others in the club, I was very unsure what to speak on.  Then I came across an article by Dharmesh Shah and I had my subject.  As with the previous speech, throw a couple um’s or ah’s in and you have my speech.  For the record, I went over by 10 seconds, but the other speaker also went over, so we still got to vote.  (I did not win.)  Word of the day was astonishment.


Good evening fellow Toastmasters and guests.  I was in quite a quandary this week as I was not sure what I wanted to speak on until I saw a posting by Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO at HubSpot, regarding the Nine Qualities Of Truly Confident People.  I wondered, how I would measure up?  He states that confidence is not bravado or swagger.  Confidence is quiet: It’s a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.  A reason all of us are here tonight is because we have a desire to improve ourselves by gaining confidence in speaking.  Here are some other ways we can improve to become truly confident in life:


1 – “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” Peter T. Mcintyre

Confident people are not afraid to take a stand.  My dad has a t-shirt that says, “You can always tell a German, but you can’t tell him much.”  Dad is stubborn, but mom said he has nothing on me.  You can be stubborn and confident.  I will stubbornly defend my beliefs to the end, but I also have the confidence to admit when I am wrong.  When you dig in your heels and refuse to budge, it diminishes your credibility.


2 – “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”  Ernest Hemingway

Confident people wish they knew more and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.  They ask open-ended questions that give others the freedom to be thoughtful.  They ask what do you do, how do you do it, what do you like about it and what have you learned from it…..  This is something I need to devote more time to.  Especially when I am nervous as I tend to listen less and ramble on and on and on and on…..


3 – “A great man is always willing to be little.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Confident people duck the spotlight.  Of all the qualities mentioned in this posting, it is this one I believe I most exemplify.  In high school we decided to put on a talent show to raise money.  I made all the arrangements.  Recruiting acts, setting up the format, designing the stage lighting, publicity, refreshments, ticket sales….. I did it all.  The night of the event, the teacher advisor was reading the program with astonishment and was very upset to not see me listed.  She could not believe such an oversight was made.  What oversight, I asked.  Remember who typed up the program!


4 – “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Lena Horne

While I believe I am best at letting the spotlight shine on others, asking for help is my Achilles’ heel.  Confident people are secure enough to admit they need help.  Saying, “Can you help me?” shows tremendous respect for another’s expertise and judgment.  I am confident enough to admit I have weaknesses, it is just asking for help in general that I have an issue with.  I have been let down by others and found it easier to just try and do it all myself, even though it usually takes a toll on me physically.  I am not trying to do it all to be a glory hog, but at least I know it will be done.


5 – “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” Buddha

Confident people don’t wait to “be discovered.”  They know they can connect with almost anyone through networking.  They choose their own path, then very quietly go out and do it.  I could have taken a break and stewed about the fact that I was let go due to something I had no part in or I could say it is what it is and move on.  I chose the latter and feel that I am a much better person for it.  True, I hope somebody stumbles on my LinkedIn profile and in a Lana Turner style discovery says this is the person we have been looking for, but I also know the odds are that is not going to happen.  If I did not set up that account and work at it daily to draw attention to my site, I stand zero chance of it happening.  And while I am carving out my little niche in the online world of networking, I am doing old school networking as well.


6 – “Always hold your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.”  Max L. Forman

Generally speaking, people who like to gossip do so because they hope by comparison to make themselves look better.  A confident person only makes comparisons to the person she was yesterday – and to the person she hopes to someday become.  I am pretty proud of the person I have become, but especially what I have achieved in the last few months.  I have set new goals for myself and I am working hard to meet and exceed said goals.


7 and 8 – “I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.”  Edgar Allan Poe

Confident people aren’t afraid to look silly and they own their mistakes.  Running around in your underwear is certainly taking it to extreme… but you don’t mind occasionally being in a situation where you aren’t at your best.  People tend to respect you more, not less.  You realize that when you’re genuine, people don’t laugh at you, they laugh with you.


9 – “It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.”  Sally Field

A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands?  I’m jealous!  But confident people only seek true approval from the few people in their life who really matter.  No matter what we try, we can do it with confidence because we know the people who truly matter the most are behind us.  My family is not sure where I am going with my life.  They understood my previous job as it had metrics to measure success by.  I am trying to transition into a more fluid creative environment.  Even though they repeatedly tell me they do not understand why I am doing what I am doing and what I hope to achieve, they’ve got my six.


I hope as I have been speaking to you tonight that you too have evaluated yourself against these standards.  Found one that struck a chord?  Then do something about it.  Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”  I say there is no reason you have to wait till January 1st to make a new resolution, you can make one right here, right now.  I will be gone for the next two weeks on a family vacation and I know that I personally will be struggling with number six, thou shalt not gossip.  But I look forward to coming back to report to you how I fared and to hear which of these qualities you have been able to incorporate into your life and the positive changes they have brought around.  Thank you, Ms. Toastmaster.

Project 1 for Competent Communication – Icebreaker – 28 May 2013

As I am just getting up-to-speed on this blog, I am still looking for inspiration on subjects to write on that will be interesting enough for others to actually want to read.  I am also a new member of Toastmasters.  I joined in May and the next week they had me giving a speech.  As I am spending a lot of time on my speeches, I thought I could post them here on my blog as well.  Hope you enjoy!  For this, my first speech, I was up against an experienced speaker.  I was slated to go second.  She thought I should go first so I would not be nervous.  I told her to not worry about, I did not mind going second, but I was changed into the first slot.  After I did my speech and sat down, she said, “Great, now I have to follow that!”  “That” was not as great as she thought, but it made me feel better as I was very upset with all the “um’s, ah’s” and pauses I did not have while I was practicing.  As expected, she was much better than me and won best speaker for the night.  However, she gave me her ribbon and said that I deserved it.  I really doubt that was true, but it was a nice ego boost, so thanks Joan.  But I was already signed up as a member, so you did not have to do that!!! 🙂

As you read the following speech, remember to thrown in about half a dozen “um’s or ah’s” and picture a funny hat on your head and you will get a bit closer to the feeling of that night.  If you are wondering why “voyage” is highlighted, that was so that I remembered to use it as the word of the day.  It should also be noted that I had a large floppy hat on that had a battery powered luminaria, large cardboard crowns and other decorations in honor of Relay For Life.


Mr. Toastmaster.  Ladies and gentlemen.  My first project is the icebreaker speech where I introduce myself to you.

My name is Karyn Schumaker and I have been a member of Toastmasters for a whole week.  I am in the midst of making a career change, so if you know of anybody who is looking to hire, I would love to talk to you after the meeting.  I was born on February 27, 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Really, you might say, a woman reveling her true age?  I have no reason to lie.  As I found out recently, a site online has that exact information… along with every school I attended from kindergarten to college!  And, as I cannot figure out how to remove the information, I figured I might as well own it.  I moved to San Francisco when I was six months old, so I consider that home.  Go Niners!  I moved back to the Midwest and besides the first two weeks of kindergarten and the last semester of my senior year, my primary education was completed in Ohio and Illinois.  I am a 25 year resident of San Juan Capistrano.  My parents are both alive and still married, coming up on 49 years this summer and I have one sister who lives 1.4 miles away, so I am a second mother to my five-year-old niece and three-year-old nephew.

2013 has been quite a year for me so far.  On February 11, I found out I had to have surgery.  I was going to tell my family about it, but before I could bring it up, my parents announced my father had melanoma and was going to have surgery.  I was still waiting for the results from my tests to find out if I too was dealing with cancer, so I thought I would wait until I had those results and then tell them about my surgery.  The next day, I was informed it was not cancer.  I was going to tell the family then, but when the doctor called to tell me it was not cancer, I was busy cleaning out my office, so I had other news to share with them.  I was sacrificed by a VP to save face for something I had no hand in.  However, it did not help him much.  It did not appease the customer, and it was not a very popular stance at corporate, and he too was let go.  Little bit too late for me, but it has made me feel better!  I moved my surgery up and while I was recovering from it, I started taking classes in how to hunt for a job in today’s market.  I had worked for Sterigenics since 1991, so things are a bit different today.  I have enjoyed the challenges and I think it is really making me a much stronger person.  One of my changes was to join Toastmasters.  While I can sell ice to an Eskimo, I have issues selling myself.  If I believe in a subject, I can sell it.  Even though I believe in myself and my skills, I have issues with selling those skills as I feel like I am bragging and I have been brought up to let your actions speak louder than words.  I am hoping that being with Toastmasters will help me overcome that.  And as I stated earlier, if you happen to know anybody who is looking, I am available!

For many years, I have been a work-a-holic.  I do a lot of work with non-profits, but have not been able to do as much as I would like.  Since I recovered from surgery, I have been busier than ever.  In between my classes, networking and sending out resumes, I have also enjoyed being able to spend some more time with my non-profit groups.  On my way home last week, I was already formulating in my mind what I was going to say tonight.  What I could say or do that would show the real me?  So I decided I would wear this hat to show how I multitask.  I am head of Planning and Intelligence for the San Juan Capistrano Community Emergency Response Team or CERT for short.  As part of that, I have trained to do horse evacuations with the Large Animal Rescue Team or LART.  I even read on the internet how to drive a horse trailer and then passed the driving test in a borrowed truck and trailer.  I attained my ham radio license in February to help me with communications in case I should be called out for horse evacuations as communications in the canyons can be dicey, but I doubt they will let me out of incident command anymore.  A major supporter of LART is the Equestrian Collation of San Juan Capistrano.  Each year they hold a Kentucky Derby Party along with a hat contest.  This was one of three I made this year and a friend wore it as my niece and I already had matching tea party hats.  I did this hat as I am in my 10th year of working with the Relay for Life of San Juan Capistrano and at the kickoff meeting I saw some items on the table that I thought would make a fun hat, so I did double duty and promoted one fundraiser while at another.  I accepted the role of Online Chair for the Relay this year, so I am learning to Facebook, Tweet, Flickr and blog.  I have been a long time supporter of the military, in particular the 1/11 Marines out of Camp Pendleton.  Due to my recent availability, I have been able to do more along those lines including going down to base to prepare barracks for Bravo Battery’s return and then I went down the following week to make and serve breakfast for the single guys.  I went down again that afternoon to assist with the families.  My five-year-old-niece went with me to most of these events and is learning to be charitable while gaining lots of service hours for her Daisy patches.

So, that in a nutshell is my life at the moment, quite a voyage of new discoveries.  Again, I do not like to talk much about myself, but I could go on for hours about my not-for-profit clubs.  I have a few more groups I am involved with, but I am limited on time, so I will save those for another day.  I was recently talking with a couple other people about what we are doing to keep busy during this down time between jobs and after I explained what I was doing for a week with all my groups, the one guy turned to me and said, “You don’t need to find a job, you need to find a rich husband!”  Yes, that is my goal one day, not to find a husband, but to be able to quit working for money and just donate my time.  Until then, I will need to bring in the bucks in order to support my charities, so I am reminding you one last time….. if you know of any openings, I am available!

Again, my name is Karyn Schumaker and I am glad to be part of your group.  I look forward to your critiques of my presentation to help me become a better speaker.  Thank you fellow Toastmasters.