Monday, June 15, 2009

President's Address - 11 June 2009

Be The Change.

Wow! How quickly a year has come to past! I am honestly thankful for this last opportunity to address all of you as your President. But, I'm equally thankful for the opportunity to pass on the gavel to your next President on June 27.

The last year has been an immense journey for me. Admittedly, all my strengths bode well for me but all my weaknesses were brutally, brutally exposed. If there ever was the need for an accelerated course on growing up, I strongly recommend running for President of D'Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club.

But seriously, in happiness and occasional unhappiness, I was struck by wonderment that I have not had in a long time. I tried to share with you lessons but found myself teaching me a thing or two. And for that, I have to thank you.

Fellow Toastmasters:

In the last year, I talked about self-actualization using Po, the Kung Fu Panda as an example; I talked about auto-suggestion, using Bonnie in my demonstration; I explored the power of knowledge and ability; I expounded on our innate gifts and I spent a lot of time on love. Love for yourself, love for your neighbour.

All those themes contribute to the grander scheme of things - my theme for the year - Be The Change - which culminated with my own journey of how I embraced the theme and how I benefitted from it substantially.

But I never once talked about what being the change means. Allow me the honour to do that today.

Be The Change, in a nutshell:
  1. Take positive steps to work towards achieving what you always wanted to achieve. Be the "Po" - realize your dream(s). The learning is in the "secret" of believing in yourself.
  2. Reinforce that dream - by using the power of auto-suggestion, as our mind is extremely powerful.
  3. Equip yourself - with knowledge & skill for with knowledge comes power; and with power comes achievement.
  4. Believe in yourself. We come back full circle to you. And the only way to achieve this is by loving yourself. Imperfections and all. Because, until you learn to love and accept yourself as you are, nothing can come to fruition.

I take leave by reiterating the cliche, the only thing constant in the world is change. As we prepare for another exciting year under the new Executive Committee, let us welcome the new change and changes that will come our way. Let us put behind being reactive and start being proactive. Not only in Toastmasters, but also in our work and in our personal lives. Fellow Toastmasters, my final wish for you: Be The Change or be changed.

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008 / 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Premier Advanced Joint Meeting Opening Address - 23 May 2009

“COMMIT to be YOUR BEST.. and YOU SHALL BE” - this is your theme for the year.

It was 2 a.m. and I found myself grappling with the theme. I couldn’t tell if it was encouraging me to be my best or to be the best. A very thin line separates the two, but the outcome of each can be so drastically different.

Many of us commit to be our best. The question is, what is your best? In essence, each time we set our “best”, we essentially construct a ceiling. And we find comfort when we achieve that mark. I did my best, we proudly tell ourselves. After a while, it becomes second nature for us to seek refuge in this “ceiling”, rarely allowing ourselves a challenge to go beyond. We did our best mah, most of us would say!

One day, my boss asked me, “What do you mean this is your best?” She had seen beyond my self-imposed ceiling. She threw my work back at me. I struggled to do better. I had to write an essay and thought I had come up with brilliant prose. I proudly showed it to her, anticipating a broad smile and a congratulatory pat on my back. I had committed to do my best and I really had, by my definition. But to her, it was mediocre. After 3 to 4 attempts I finally produced the work that met her standards. Two days later, I re-read both my work scripts. Only then, I realized what best meant. (Obviously, it was the revised script.)

I had always had it in me – the capability of doing and achieving more. Everyone does. And we will, if we allowed ourselves to dig deeper within us – into our reservoir of resources. As I begin to observe the hallmark of what best meant, I had to acknowledge that I do not use even half of my capability – so how can my efforts ever be my best? I don’t want to be another talented failure!

This calls to mind a French novelist, Jean Giraudoux who said, “Only the mediocre are always at their best.” Now that I am conscious of it, I take great pains, have a burning desire and am committed to go beyond my best – to continually break the ceiling that I set for myself – and become the best. I have done it and I will continue doing it – bettering my best – because that is what I am capable of. We are all capable of doing better than our best. And when you have, I tell you, it is so incredibly gratifying.

At 3.30 a.m. I finally figured it out. Premier Advanced Toastmasters Club is not child’s play. The success of Premier Advanced Toastmasters Club is testimony of your commitment to be your best – settling for nothing but the best – and paving the way for many to follow. Commit to be your best, and you shall be. The best.

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009

22 May 2009 - President's Statement @ AGM

Dear honourable members:

On 30 May 2008, I announced my theme for the term – Be The Change. On 2 August 2008, during my Installation speech, I promised to provide you the platform, support, encouragement and mentorship, with the hope that the ready infrastructure will help you achieve your goals. I reckoned that if I kept my promises, the aspiration to achieve President’s Distinguished Club would be realized seamlessly and we would produce champions of the world.

I am happy to announce that we are on track to be President’s Distinguished and although we did not quite have a champion of the world, we reached the District level of competition.

In greater detail, we started off the year on a marvelous note. Meetings were packed and funds kept rolling in. Meetings and contests attendances recorded an average head count of 25 per meeting. Financially, by the end of the first quarter, we had raised enough money for the whole term.

For the financial year under review, the Club recorded an increase in turnover of 240.5% year-on-year, thanks to Speechcraft progams with Western Digital Malaysia, Project Management Professionals and Shell Cyberjaya as well as our Youth Leadership Program.

We revived the Table Topics session at our meetings although this was occasionally sacrificed when we had more project speakers. We strived to go back to the grassroots of Toastmasters – quality speeches and constructive feedback. I believe we achieved both. This is justified by our ability to attract nine new members to date, six of whom are actively pursuing their education and leadership tracks.

Further to that, since we invoked Article III Item 1(b) of our Club Constitution and Bylaws, we have welcomed seven new Toastmasters. Of the seven, one has already obtained his Competent Communicator award, while three more are on track to achieve theirs.

The Club blog continues to be a hit. In only its second year, the blog recorded 2,000 visitors to the site. I personally think this is a truly remarkable achievement on the part of VPE Foong Weng Tuck who has gone beyond to learn a new skill and update the blog contents regularly. Congratulations to him!

Admittedly, I have no regrets during this term. While it was not perfect, my own learning and personal growth has made it worth my while. Indeed, I myself became the change. I shall look back on the year 2008 / 2009 with gratefulness, contentment and joy. I thank all on the Executive Committee for your patience, guidance and care for me on this journey, and to all who have contributed to the Club in one way or another. This chapter closes, but a new and exciting one awaits all of us. Take care, and all the best!

"Be The Change"

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Call for Annual General Meeting

Dear respected D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters,

Thank you for confirming your attendance at D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club’s Annual General Meeting!

On 30 May 2008, we all convened at the Ming Room in Bangsar Shopping Complex to celebrate the term that was, and to usher in a new term. From my memory, it was a remarkable event. In two days, we will again convene to do the same, albeit with a different group of people, yet all with the same heart. I look forward to Friday evening with great anticipation.

And a heavy heart. D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club’s Annual General Meeting will mark the inevitable end of my service as your President. I must say, it was an accelerated learning curve for me. At the Installation dinner last August, I said in my speech that I foresaw a bumpy road. I was right. But I sincerely thank God and all who have helped me shave an inch or two off the top of the bumps and make this journey a memorable one.

Please allow me the privilege of thanking you personally on Friday at our 12th Annual General Meeting. 28 members have confirmed their attendance. It will be a great honour for me to have you, and I look forward to seeing you there! For your convenience,

AGM Details

Date: 22 May 2009 (Fri)
Time: 7.00 pm (dinner followed by AGM)
Venue: Oriental Pavilion, Level 1, Jaya 33
Dress Code: Office attire

N.B.: Dinner will be a sit-down affair, serving Chinese food. If you have a special dietary requirement (e.g. vegetarian/vegan, diabetic, etc.), please inform me by Thursday, 21 May 2009 so I may make necessary arrangements.

Thank you & good day!

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

President's Address - 14 May 2009

When I started out with the theme for this year, “Be The Change”, little did I realize that it was meant for me. It was easy to set the theme for D’Utama Advanced but at the back of my mind, I knew change is a difficult and daunting task. Personally, I often chose the road mostly taken; I ran away from change, such as the time I turned down the opportunity to interview with a multi-national company because I was comfortable at my present, albeit small, company. To justify my decision, I had a suitcase full of excuses. Fantastic boss, work close to home, no traffic jam, etc, etc, etc. It became clear – it was easier to set the theme than it was for me to adopt it.

You see, everyday I was already moving at a certain speed. I was very activity-based. I was taking Mandarin, ballroom dancing, piano lessons, I was actively involved in Toastmasters, visiting other clubs and what naught. The thought of stopping everything seemed impossible. What would I do then? I just couldn’t bring myself to pause, to make a change. Just the thought of change felt like I had to climb a mountain or swim across oceans and mind you, I don’t know how to swim.

But each month as I prepared my speeches and presented them, it impacted me. Somehow or other, I’ve become more positive, more attentive and more attuned to myself. I’ve matured and now I know what I want. And that’s when it became easy to stop, to pause. What happened was that I unconsciously began to acknowledge and recognize that I needed to change. In the end, I found that didn’t have to go across oceans, I didn’t have to scale heights; although, I literally did that by flying to Singapore and Australia to attend various courses.

In the end, the steps became easier. And the goal, clearer. In the last year, I have quit all my activities other than Toastmasters to focus on the next chapter in my life. I plan to undertake a course in Digital Storytelling, which is nothing new but also not very well-known. To equip myself, I took a course in Adobe Photoshop and attended a Digital Storytelling workshop in March. I got myself a Macintosh computer and am applying to do my Masters in Digital Storytelling.

The point I am trying to make is that, contrary to popular belief the changes I made were not anything drastic. It was about me taking that first step – a BOLD step – I want to change – I want something better for my life. Have you ever said that to yourself? You can too! And instead of just talk, which is easier said than done, this is proof of that first step I took…

Ladies & gentlemen, my first digital story:

[video presentation - to view, go to:]

I reiterate the last two lines from my digital story - today, I no longer wait; I cannot wait; because time will not wait for me.

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

President's Address - 9 Apr 2009

A Colourful World! When Chee Wah proposed this theme, I thought to myself, how do I relate that to my opening address? Turns out, it wasn’t very hard. Because everywhere I looked, I saw different colours. In the colours, I saw different hues. Can anyone say with absolute certainty that you are the exact same colour as me? I won’t be surprised if you end up asking which part of me am I talking about? Even I am not made up of only one colour.

Then, when I look deeper, in the underlying layers of each person, I see even more colour. The red of passion and anger; the blue of calm and serenity; the green of harmony and sometimes, envy; and the yellow of joy, happiness and excitement.

And that’s the beauty of this world – we are all different. Not only in colour. But in personality, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses. We are all individuals. Flawed, imperfect. And sometimes we forget that, focusing so much attention on our flaws, we neglect our strengths.

[video presentation – visit]

Again, that’s the beauty of this world. Flawed. Imperfect. Yet, perfect. In the eyes of all those who love you.

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

President's Address - 12 Feb 2009

I am a "failure". At the age of 30, I don’t have the things I coveted as a child. I’m not happily married to a wonderful man, I don’t live in a cottage-like house, and I don’t drive a sexy sports car.

I blamed my mother for her nagging; I blamed my father for his contentedness; I blamed my brothers for being smarter than me; I blamed God for giving me the worst traits of man – laziness, average intelligence, poor figure. I blamed everything and everyone else for my own shortcomings.

But looking back, who chose to watch TV instead of study? Who chose not to exercise? Who chose to give up the opportunity of a higher paying job? Who? Let me share with you a story.

During the legend King Arthur’s time, he had an advisor, the wise wizard called Merlin. His wisdom annoyed two young princes who decided they were going to challenge him. They ran to the tree by the stream, and caught a little bird in their hands. They were going to ask Merlin if the bird in their hands was alive or dead. If he answered alive, they would crush it to death. If he answered dead, they would let it go free. They were confident their plan was foolproof. They ran up to Merlin and mockingly, asked him, “Merlin! Merlin! Is the bird in our hands dead or alive?” Bending down, he gently replied, “My children, the life and death of this little bird is in your hands.” The life and death of this little bird is in your hands.

Our lives are in our own hands. What happens, and what doesn’t happen for us, is the result of our own doing. If I had studied instead of watch TV, I could’ve got straight As. If I had exercised instead of eat 24/7, I wouldn’t be this fat. If I had switched jobs four years ago when I had the chance, I would be making double my current salary.

I don’t know how you feel about your own life. I don’t know where you stand. But I do know I don’t want to be a "failure" anymore. I am the choreographer of my own life. You are the choreographer of your own life. Let us, be the change.

Best regards,

Deborah Hoe, CTM
President 2008/2009