Conversations 2020

You can never hope to become a skilled conversationalist until you learn how to put your foot tactfully through the television set

M. Dale Baughman

The plethora of 24/7 news and fake news which instantly appears in front of all today would at any other time in history have bewildered even the most learned amongst us.

Up until the Covid-19 pandemic which now spatially isolates us all, we had more and more ways of connecting via social media, yet due to the pace of life, seemingly less and less time to get together physically. Now, however, we meet daily online and wish we had more time to connect in the real world and not the virtual world.

Perhaps, when restrictions are eased we can build more time in to our days to spend with friends and family, and enjoy the moments instead of the madness.

Personal connection and conversation is so precious for our wellness and well-being, and now after seven weeks of lock-down there is a glimmer of light that we may re-commence togetherness, and with more compassion and empathy towards all.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are all in this world together and to live well we need to share information, respect difference, and live peacefully together.

Ultimate Challenges for me

After watching some of my favourite presenters on YouTube over time, I’ve learned to adapt, adopt and embrace some of their valuable insights into the human condition; especially my own.

Intellectually I’ve understood much of this ‘stuff’ for years, though haven’t always applied it to myself. Now is the time to be more consistent with my approach.

As a speaker, coach and change agent, I have compelling reasons to not sacrifice what matters most for what matters least, which I sometimes do. Giving my time to others is important to me, though at times I get distracted from other pursuits.

Now I will be consistent with all the skills I’ve learned over time and will from this day forward implement the very best practices of Time-management, goal setting, negotiation, and most of all effective communication.

Those things I’ve been putting off, like finishing my ‘From Coal Dust to Gold Dust’ autobiography, editing my Toastmasters Area Contest Speech due on 30th October, and updating my I Can Do Words Website, must take highest priorities for the next 24 days.

Bad habits will cease to be replaced with good daily habits, and I’ll move forward from this day to achieve all I wish to achieve going forward. Time to soar; not to be sore!

2017-18 in Toastmasters

May 2017 was one of the most significant months in my Toastmasters Journey.

It was a time of high achievement personally and after several attempts at competing in Contests, all the preparation, practice and feedback finally paid off when I was crowned District 73 Table Topics Champion.

To say I was ‘Gob-smacked’ would be a huge understatement, as I had chosen another contestant as the winner as I sat in the audience after delivering my speech, and, when the contest was over and the Chief judge returned with the results, I felt that I’d given it my best shot, and whatever the result, I couldn’t have done any better on the day.

Well, I won, and the surprising thing that I learned later was, that I’m the only person in my club to have ever won a District Contest. Given that Frankston Toastmasters Club was established 44 years ago, I now appreciate what an accomplishment it was.

The rest as they say, is history, for my competing days are over, and now I focus on District service, private speaking engagements and travel.

Christmas & New Year in Kuala Lumpur

Travel is good for the soul.

As a Toastmaster I enjoy travel and meeting Toastmasters from around the world. This gives me an incredible opportunity to submerge myself in other cultures; learn a little bit of local conversational language, and meet interesting people who often become close friends.

I lead a busy and varied life and travel often to South East Asia, where I indulge myself with great hotels, fine restaurants and cafes, have connection with good people, and often when walking off the beaten tourist track, see things that are new to me.

Travel has many joys for me, and though I’m past my three score years and ten, I travel alone, and connect with the world.

In August last year, I was in Vancouver and Alaska. For last Christmas and New Year I was in Kuala Lumpur (My home away from home) spending time with friends and experiencing the awesome delights that KL has to offer.

Imagine for yourself what it may be like to stand on the terrace at Melia Hotel at midnight and watch a fabulous fireworks display at Petronas Towers, while clinking wine glasses and wishing Happy New Year to new found friends from Spain, Mexico, France, Malaysia, UK, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand, Iran and Iraq. I did this and it was wonderful.

The Man In The Red Suit

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With only five more days to go before the man in the red suit begins his journey to deliver glad tidings and gifts to people around the world, let us be mindful of those who cannot be with us at this celebratory time.

It’s been a big year for me, and now it’s wind down time.

I’ll be jetting away on Christmas Eve to my home away from home, where I’ll experience a different kind of Christmas with good friends. Yesterday I gave my son his gift for Christmas. He’s very pleased and so am I.

In my 44 years in Australia, this will be only the third time I have spent Christmas and New Year away from home. I’ll be thinking of my family and friends while I’m away though, and take this opportunity to wish you all A Merry Christmas and a Sensation New Year. and I look forward to catching up with all of you in 2018.


November News

It’s time to take this workshop on the road.

“Tough Times Don’t Last”

No person knows everything and every person knows something, yet often people believe that if something has to be done well, they have to do it themselves. This isn’t true of course, because a team well directed and guided can produce favourable outcomes in a timely fashion to the satisfaction of all.

Excellent communicators and leaders can create a vision, state the mission and inspire the team to produce spectacular results.

This workshop will give all participants the knowledge, practice and feedback, to forge new pathways to collective and collaborative achievement, which benefits everyone.

Don’t Delay – Contact me today to get details of the next workshop which is limited to 20 participants.

Updating my website

No matter how much effort I put in to update my website, there is always much more to do, and I’m busily doing it. I’ve promised my self and my followers that all will be ready by 31st October, for the launch on 1st November. I’ve looked at my calendar going forward and will dedicate four hours per day, to ensure that this website will be the best it can be. Sadly, I missed my own deadline as opportunities to speak and Emcee a couple of big events.

This has set me back a month and now my website will launch on 10th January 2018.

So much has happened in 2017, that I now am confident I can do all I’ve dreamed of doing and still speak, present, conduct workshops and travel.

Life is for living and loving and I’m loving and living my life.

Meeting Jim Kokochi – Toastmasters International President

Tuesday 17th May, was a huge day in the Toastmasters calendar for me and the Metro Trains Toastmasters – in formation – club. We were delighted to have Jim and Andrew (CEO Metro Trains), and Bruce Hill , D73 New Clubs Coordinator join us for a fabulous, high energy meeting.

Metro Trains Toastmasters Club was the initiative of Stefan Heaton, a young engineer, who I’d met at a Speechcraft Course in Cranbourne Toastmaster Club, and who introduced Speechcraft to his workplace. I coordinated the course,with my TM colleague and good mate, Harry Lew, and out of it, Metro Trains Toastmasters, sponsored by Frankston Toastmasters and Sunbury/Macedon Ranges Toastmasters Clubs was born. Ricky Tuck and I have been working hard as sponsors to coach the prospective members, and am pleased to say that the Club Charter papers are being completed and will be submitted to TI this week. Charter is near.

It’s not everyday that an International President visit a club, and we are very grateful to Jim Kokochi, for making this day such a special day for us all.

Jim inspired us with his keynote, and said “to be good at public speaking we need three things: Skills, practice and feedback” and I said “I like that and will use it if I may”

A picture paints a thousand words, and below you’ll see, the fine people who celebrated the event with us.

Metro Trains - Jim Kokochi Visit

An awesome meeting, and one to long remember.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

A memory from 2013 – May 19 – Journal Day 140

How fortunate am I to have the life I have; the many dear friends I have; And the beautiful family I have… and as I sit at my computer right now reflecting on all we achieved together today and over the weekend, I’m in a place of perfect calm and happiness, and feel very blessed.

Today I spent hours in the garden again, and felt at one with nature. The tranquillity was priceless, and apart from the sounds of music and audios from my IPod, my senses were heightened by the sight, smells and touch of our beautiful Camellia bushes, fuchsias, Golden Elms and flowering cherry trees as I trimmed them; by the rustle of leaves under the rake, and the groaning of the old timber fences as I pushed and heaved them back into place to allow the old gate to swing gently on its hinges.

Neighbours were walking their dogs, and Rose brought Jasper-her King Charles Spaniel- over to spend a little time with Nessa. Two young ladies from down the street also stopped by, to ask if I’d seen a couple of Beagle pups, who had escaped from their house, so I downed tools, and helped them search. We found them sniffing in the park across the way, much to the delight of anxious owners.

David, another friendly neighbour stopped by to admire my handy work, and we chatted about the never ending maintenance of home ownership, and while all this was going on, Nancy was wall-papering in Oscar’s now very modern bathroom.

Oscar was happily watching the AFL on his 55” HD Television, and glancing occasionally out of the window, to smile and give me the ‘thumbs up’.
It’s lovely to be loved, and my family show it in oh so many ways.

Unbeknowns to me, Nancy had had been busy also with a surprise for me, and when she called me in at 3.20 pm, there on the dinner table was a lamb roast with the sweetest pumpkin, Brocollini, Roast potatoes, and Cauliflower. What a delight. The lamb was succulent and the vegetables were divine. Oscar was licking his lips and rubbing his tummy and the smile was worth a thousand words. We all tucked in, and devoured the meal with gusto. Not only is Nancy beautiful, caring and a marvellous homemaker; she is a wonderful cook, and Oscar and I can’t get enough of her excellent cuisine.

After the meal I made a dessert of Tropical fresh fruits and Peppermint Ice-cream, which was to die for.


Next I switched on the TV to watch my team St. Kilda be ingloriously thrashed by the Adelaide Crows. Ah Well, there has to be some down side sometimes.
Later I checked posts on Fb, and had a good and interesting chat with Ian, a great TM mate. Thank you Ian.
All in all it’s been a superb day, and I’m delighted.

12 Days in Malaysia

12 Days in Magical Malaysia

It was Thursday 7th April, and I was aboard my flight headed to Kuala Lumpur for the holiday I had to have in the magical place that is Malaysia.

After a comfortable flight and landing safely, the next couple of hours started freakishly, as Landing in KL at 8.20 am, and  looking forward to my exciting trip, I was tired and became a little grumpy, after waiting at the baggage carousel for what seemed an eternity; watching luggage go round and round and mine nowhere in sight. After 50 minutes, I gave up and approached the lost luggage office.

“It’s still at Tullamarine” the young lady at the lost luggage counter said nonchalantly, and I, nonplussed, was resigned to leaving the airport sans luggage, and a little unsettled, as I was to be a co-facilitator at the Evaluation Workshop on Saturday and wondered how I would be received dressed in the same attire as I was wearing now.

My luggage was in Tullamarine, and I was in KL- JLIA2. Who knows why luggage doesn’t get on the same plane, though I guess that’s another story. It prompted me to remember the winning Table Topic Speech by Patrick at Launceston, Tasmania, at the D73 Convention in May 2015. The TT Question was “If Only I’d Known.”

More reflections of The Launceston Convention bubbled up, as I wasn’t prepared for the TT Contest there on the day either, having had a late night, and dressed in Jeans, Polo Shirt, Loafers, and un-showered with uncombed hair, I was standing outside the venue, enjoying the scenery, When our District Director, Tracey approached and invited me to be in the Contest as 1st & 2nd place winners from the Bass Division Contests weren’t attending the Convention, and as I was 3rd Place, then I was eligible to compete. Problem was there was no time to shower and get dressed for the contest, as it was about to start. Nonetheless, I went on stage and did my best. I wasn’t placed but it was my first experience in a district contest.

Now, back to my Trip.

My good friend Victor met me at the Airport and delivered me to my Hotel. The Premiera Hotel in Medan Tuanku, was new to me. When in Malaysia before, I had always stayed – with my beautiful Nancy – at Hotel Melia in Jalan Imbi, though this time I felt I needed to stay in a different hotel, for I feared the ‘triggers’ that might arise. Although the Premiera was a beautiful hotel, It was in a district I didn’t know, and presented some challenges, which I overcame a few days later.

I visited the Melia often during my stay and was delighted to see that staff I’d met on my previous visits  were still working there, and it became like my second home, as I called in often to chat and relax over a glass of wine and snacks. Being close to Berjaya Times Square, a favourite shopping mall, it was just four monorail stops from Medan Tuanku, and at just $1AUD per ride, the perfect place to prop for a few hours.

Thursday evening came and ‘dog tired’ I slept like a baby. Awakening to the sights and sounds of this bustling place, I went outside into the heat of the day. Wow it was hot. It was 7 am and there were people everywhere; and motorcycles, oh so many motorcycles, darting in and out of traffic, to my amazement. Whole families were riding on some of them, and Koti sellers with enough food to feed 100’s carried everything on their motorbikes. What an amazing sight.

The next 11 days were very busy yet very exciting. The Evaluation workshop, Toastmasters Meetings in Bankers Club next to Melia, meetings in Bangsar, and in Kampachi, a delightful Japanese Restaurant in KLCC. I met so  many Toastmaster friends old and new – even having lunch with Aaron Ng who many of you know, and had a wonderful time with all. When I wasn’t at Toastmasters I spent terrific times, visiting new places with Derek, a special friend and non-Toastmaster, who wined and dined me at some very special places, including his fabulous new condo in Sentul Park. Meeting his school friends in Chinatown was a blast, and Charlie and Kevin were fun to be around.

There were so many highlights on this trip and I’ll never forget the warmth and generosity of everyone I met.

I’ve galvanized my friendships with Victor and Derek, and made so many new friends, all of whom were terrific company and delightful companions. Sadly I lost one friend, because I made a promise I couldn’t keep, and that saddened me. Perhaps I’ll be forgiven in time.

Malaysia is my home away from home, and I’m certainly excited to be returning in Sept/October 2016, to pick up where I left off, and to once more absorb the friendship, the sights and sounds, and the absolute joy I feel inside.Thank you all for embracing me and making this a trip I will never forget, for these twelve days were magical; they were magnificent; they were mesmerizing, and I will be back!.

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Abnu the Bar Manager at Melia

Coffee Special at 1.30 am in Medan Tuanku

Liquid Gold TM Club at Kampachi KLCC

Selangor Club English Menu
A little bit of England at Selangor Club

Derek’s gorgeous wife

The view from Premiera Hotel Lobby on 25th Floor
The view from Premiera Hotel Lobby on 25th Floor

Wan the Barman at Melia
Wan the Barman at Melia