Completing the Toastmasters’ Competent Communication Manual

This is a rough draft off my 10th speech in the Toastmasters’ Competent Communication (CC) manual: Inspire Your Audience.  The title of the speech is Pick Four and the speech is meant to be eight to ten minutes long.  I’m giving this speech, today, at Dawn Patrol Toastmasters group.  After completing this speech I’ll have earned my CC award and then I can move on to an advanced Toastmasters manual.


Mr. Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Guests,

It was 2010, I was walking back up the steps from my company’s cafeteria which was on the 17th floor to my cubicle on the 24th floor. Seven floors of steps. By the time I reached my floor, I was huffing and puffing like I just sprinted up those steps. At the time, I had to wear a suit and tie everyday so I was a sweaty mess. When I got back to my cubicle, I realized that I should probably go to the bathroom because I should probably wash the sweat off my face and catch my breath. I was currently breathing pretty heavy. After washing my face, I starred in to the bathroom mirror. The only thing I could think about was how did I get here? How did I get so out of shape? For all of my life, I always considered myself pretty athletic and a healthy eater. I played sports all my life until I started my career. When I first started working I used to go to the gym but slowly I let that habit go while I was busy trying to get more and more work done during the day. A sedentary life style had taken over and I started more out more infrequently if at all. I knew my family had a history of heart disease, uncle had a recent heart attack and bypass and both he and my father were seeing a cardiologist were going to a cardiologist. Two years later my father would pass away from a heart attack. At the time, I didn’t know that was coming. I just knew, on that day, I was going to change.

I had a goal and I know what I needed to change but now I needed a plan.  Today, I’ll be talking about why you should set goals, how you could do it, and how setting goals has changed my life. All of this started with two events.

In 2011, Seth Godin launched the Domino Project which was a small publishing company powered by Amazon. Their goal was to try different methods in publishing and use a combination of sponsorship and giveaways to sell books and spread ideas. They ended up publishing about 9 books in their time and I bought almost all of them.

On July 27, 2011, the Domino Project published the Pick Four notebook which was an updated and simplified version of Zig Ziglar’s performance planner. The goal of the Pick Four Notebook program is to see what the main four goals in your life. It walks you through a few steps to see if you what goals you have that are important, do the balance, the need to commit, and then create a plan for how you will achieve your goals. Who you can ask for help? Then you are given 12 weeks, 5 days a week to write down your goals, commit, be honest about what you achieved that day and if you did nothing towards your goals then write NOTHING in large capital letters with a red pen. At the end of those five days there is a review section to write about the week. What ere the highlights, what didn’t work, and what you learned from the week and how to improve.

 These two events changed my life. Now I had a reason to change and a plan. I wasn’t going to wait for things to happen to me. I was going to take charge and dictate my future by setting goals.

This notebook has helped me achieve number of goals in the few years I’ve been using it. It’s helped me to run a marathon, learn to code, speak in public, write a daily blog, find a new job, complete a charity fundraiser, and complete a graduate degree. That doesn’t mean it was easy. If it was, everyone would do it. The Pick Four notebook even tells you about how difficult it is to create this habit. This is a twelve week program and the typical person faces this challenge. Week one is great because it’s new and exciting. Week Two it’s still novel. Week Three is when it gets hard. That’s where the majority of people quite. That’s also how my experience went. It took me a few times to get going on with this goal. I experienced the same emotional roller coaster but by week three that’s when the program starts to get hard. You’ve completed all of the easy tasks and then you need to start asking yourself the tough questions about what you can do or maybe you’re stuck or maybe you need help. Maybe you start forgetting to fill out your notebook. I started forgetting to fill out the notebook except it wasn’t really forgetfulness. I was really embarrassed or scared. Embarrassed to write another nothing down on the page. So I just stopped. Then I’d come back and then stop again. It was similar to my difficulties with trying to write/blog on a consistent basis. But I kept going back to it because I realized I needed to set goals and take charge of my life. It wasn’t until I listened to an audiobook by Zig Ziglar’s Goals program and he gave me the tip of putting my notebook under my pillow every morning after filling it out so then at night I’d have to remove it before bed and fill in wheat I accomplished. This simple mental tricked finally made everything click for me. That happened about two years ago and I’ve been charring through my goals ever since. That’s why I believe the same thing can happen to you.

Let’s get back to you.   How can you start the process of creating your goals using the Pick Four Notebook?

I love the way this notebook starts by stating two people, one, you may have known, Michael Phelps, and another who if you are a regular reader of Seth Godin’s blog than you’d know, but I’m guessing non-Seth Godin readers would not know in Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of Acumen Fund which is a nonprofit.  The notebook starts off by saying these two individuals didn’t achieve the great things in their lives by accident.  They didn’t have any of the magical combination of parents, DNA, and lucky breaks that determine your life.  That’s all bogus.  That means that you and me have the same opportunity to change our lives and this notebook is the first step down the path.

Then it gives you a great quote from Zig Ziglar

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

– Zig Ziglar

I think this quote relates back to the spirit of Toastmasters. We’re here to improve ourselves but there are many parts in the leadership manual that’s about helping others improve. Many successful people employee this philosophy like Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

The Pick Four notebook gets you to complete three things. Set a goal, and in small, consistent steps, work to reach it.  Get support from your peers when your start flagging.  Repeat.

I want you to Pick Four goals and repeat those three steps.

Mr. Toastmaster