Ajay Mathur

There is a Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow

How do we learn? When we are small, we learn a lot – at that time, the entire world is unexplored – our elders know it and we do not – as a result, we make a lot of mistakes which are tolerated by both our parents as well as our teachers.

Formal learning, at least in the Indian context, ends once we become adults –society, as well as we ourselves, expects that we know a lot (are supposed experts in some field or the other) and are expected to behave in a certain way – all prim and proper. How can that be – if a Ph D takes about 5 years to complete and can be started only after post graduation, and even after a Ph D, you are a deemed expert on some very narrowly defined topic?Ph D’s themselves are humble because they know that they do not know far more than what they know.

Society’s expectations coupled with lack of avenues to learn lead us all to playact – all adults are children acting as adults waiting/dreading to be found out. How do we get out of this situation where we have caught a Tiger by the Tail?

Acknowledgement is a good starting point. It forces us to look the situation squarely in the eye. Acknowledgement leads to action – this comes in many forms. Some people discuss and debate topics within the family or with close friends/colleagues, read newspapers and journals, follow and observe what is happening around – all of these are means to enhance learning.

After a point, these ways start feeling inadequate/repetitive –the sameness of the group leads to only one side of a debate getting discussed; sometimes, the inherent power equations/dynamics of the group lead to certain holy cows being left alone.

A Toastmasters Club comes in as a good forum for Adult Learning: The club is a microcosm of society; it is a virtual rainbow – members come from diverse backgrounds;you Learn by Doing. You also have the option to attend meetings in other clubs to encounter/explore different points of view.

The Argumentative Indian loves a good debate. Hence, in India, there is more Talking than Doing. There is a safeguard in Toastmasters against this tendency as well – the club meeting (as well as contests/conferences, etc.) is an event. The smooth flow of the event is a Moment of Truth; it requires a lot of planning & execution. Roles have to be assigned, commitment sought from role players. You have to negotiate with people for the most precious resource they have – time and focus.

If you do this consistently over a period of time, you are learning important lessons of leadership. Magic starts to happen.

Some Six months after joining Toastmasters, you run across an acquaintance that you have not met in a while. He/she says – Ajay, something has happened, you seem more confident, I cannot place my finger on what exactly it is in your manner, but you seem a better person for it.  This is when you realize that you have struck gold.

I will turn up this Sunday to pursue my pot of gold, will you?

Sinjini Sengupta

For those friends and readers who have been seeing my posts every other day with certain letters and codes that you’re probably not making much out of, let me stop at this and tell you what it is all about. Well, they’re about “Toastmasters”!! Toastmasters is a club, decentralized with branches everywhere in nooks and corners across the globe, in which people get together and hone their public speaking skills. They have the Communications and the Leadership tracks that people follow as they either deliver speeches or play others roles in the meetings and behind the scenes.  

But then, that’s just on the surface. From my journey over the past a little less than six months with the club, it’d be rather ungrateful if I do not say how it opens a new door to your way of life. Every other week I’d be thinking of what to speak on next, how and why. The sheer opportunity to be talking to a room full of people, twenty odd to thirty plus of certain fortunate days, to be able to appeal and influence to their sensibilities over what I choose to talk upon, well, got me!

As I sit today morning, helping the VP-Ed to file for my CC projects by compiling the names and dates of my own speeches in this journey, I am taken aback by how I hardy realized how much I had travelled already! Starting with introducing myself as is customary, I have ended up using the dais, the platform, rather  personally if I may o say. So long over my ten speeches to date, I reached out to the audience on various contexts and subjects that are close to my heart. I spoke of gender neutral parenting and curbing our tra-la-la’s over Disney fairytales to alternate ways of catering to kids, and I spoke about Mahabharata and how even though the others were masters in their own trades, it was Yudhisthira alone who made it to the heaven and why. I grudged about why Santa Claus cannot give methe same happiness that he gives to my daughter, realising in the process how I’ve lost my innocence and trust in the process of growing up. I spoke about where “Winter” got its name from, and how the rivers, clouds and mountains conspire that we, mere mortals, do not even know of. I wondered, aloud, in one of the speeches as to what would happen if on fine morning I remain no more… would I still appear to give my speech, given slots were so hard to manage anyway? And then, just when I had been thoroughly disciplined when it came to my “researched” speech and ended up doing quite a lot of it much in advance, the week before they announced they had a theme for the meeting! It meant that my earlier script was scrapped and instead research topic was now changed to, guess what, love! Yes, I had to research on “love” and so I did! I ended up stumbling upon the realms of “love” on Wikipedia and inside me!

I hadn’t quite realized when and exactly how the topics were slowly forming a constellation, that were starting to make some sense together more than each of them did standalone. Yes, I think I was converging towards myself in the process. As I wrote my scripts, I found myself wondering, contemplating as to where our present lifestyles and adaptations are taking us to. I was thinking aloud as to why we are slowly arriving at a juncture, for our own good, from where it’s perhaps a sharp U-turn back to basics. And so was I speaking!

For my ninth speech, it was rather a mishap gone well! So I arrived at the meeting, after a long day elsewhere, a little bit of a thumping chest and a pen-drive in hand. Remember, this was supposed to be the speech with “visual aids” and I had prepared a two dozens and counting long deck of slides. But there you go!It’d be my first ever attempt at a speech outside the home ground, my club… and then, guess what. I and the VP-Ed there discover, to much dismay,  the fallout of our rather long whatsapp miscommunication inculcated in shape of an available “up and running” projector with an unavailable laptop to run the slides on.  So, what do I do? Well, what I do is this: I ask the evaluator if I can instead speak for the next project, impromptu. Yes, you heard me right. Impromptu! Seven minutes long.

Trembling but not showing it, I begin with throwing a question open to the audience, quoting Mary Oliver. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – I ask them. I build up my speech from there, just like that. I ask them to stop and look before they go any further. I survive. I even win!! And more than anything, I end up sharing a bit of my heart with the audience, inpromptu, in the process. Trust me, it’s often done best when done that way!

I just closed my tenth project yesterday, in which I spoke of sparing some thoughts on taking care of our minds like we do for our bodies. I had to inspire… and I ended up, at the least, inspiring myself. It has been a humbling experience; it has been a contemplative exercise. It has been a long due rendezvous with myself, so far! And boy, don’t I look forward to more!

Past-time, they called it when we were younger. The times that I’d earlier spend deep in depressive ruminations thinking where I am going at all, I now spend thinking about what to speak on next. I do not shy away, I do not hide out. I come out, in my speeches.

Thank you for including me in your world! 

Anuj Gupta

Joining Toastmaster for me is a life changing decision and I consider this as one milestone of my life. I recall that day 11th December 2016 very clearly when I attended my trial class at Leisure Valley.  It was a joint club meeting and I was clear within first ten minutes that Yes this is for ME. I recall that chilly morning of 25th December 2016 when I delivered my Ice Breaker again at Leisure Valley. It was a foggy morning and temperature was Ice cold around 7-8 degree Centigrade. Such was the spirit of toastmasters that everyone was giving his/her 100% in the meeting and the whole meeting was organized like  any other normal meeting, full of fun and learning.

I was guided by my mentors Rupinder & Pallavi to join a new club which chartered that week only and yes you guessed it right I joined “Gurgaon Champions Toastmasters Club”. There is something very special about GCTC that I love to attend the meetings at GCTC with more vigour with every passing week. I would like to highlight a few points on why I LOVE GCTC

  1. At GCTC you have the best diversification that any club could get. You not only have DTMs or seasoned corporate professionals but also the young mix who have just finished their graduation. This milieu of veterans and young professionals ensures that during meeting you are not only having a session of learning  but also having lots of fun.
  2. GCTC is located on Sohna Road adjacent to residential as well as Office complex to facilitate the ease of attending meeting by members
  3. Meetings happen on Sunday which ensures you are free from office stress and can contribute to meeting fully to maximize your benefits
  4. Since inception GCTC has the privilege of sending their member to District level competition. Last one being International Speech Contest and now Humorous & Evaluation are on its way.
  5. Sharing, at GCTC we follow this religiously wherein GCTC members you will find always helping other clubs in managing their contests or events.

Overall I feel fortunate to join Toastmaster and feel blessed to be associated with GCTC as one of their charter members. This website is one of the way from GCTC to ensure that we are evangelizing Toastmasters to maximum people, so that they can get benefitted in their personal & professional life by working on traits like Communication & Leadership. Please join Toastmasters to bring and feel the change in your life.

Aishwarya Khandelwal

The thing that drives me to attend each and every meeting of toastmasters is the spirit and the environment that the organisation provides to mould and groom a person’s thought process giving importance to intricate details and personality type. Toastmasters has not only improved my speaking ability substantially but also provided me a platform where I can put my leadership skills into actions. It’s been around 9 months since I had joined this organisation, yet I see a paradigm shift in my personality.

I had been Sergeant-at-arms as my earlier leadership position, which very minutely taught me the importance of punctuality, a quality which many of us find it difficult to implement. My second leadership role of being VP-Public Relations is indeed an amazing experience. Lot of brain-storming sessions, challenging circumstances, eureka moments coupled with moments of truth perhaps revitalizes every Sunday morning. And that’s the reason why every toastmasters loves being a part of it.

I hope to that this club achieves what it deserves, very soon

Dambar Bahadur Basnet

I experienced community projects are the best one for job satisfaction as we can see the real change of people’s life because of our work. During these years,I learnt other languages(Tibetan,Arabic,Vietnamese,Hindi) in basic level which facilitated my work .I realized communication matters a lot on every step of life. If you are good communicator, you can take leadership in your organization and you will have exponential growth in your work/profession. I feel fortunate myself to be a Toastmaster where Leaders are made by improving communication and leadership skills. Many Thanks to Toastmasters International for working across the globe as a non-profit organization in the field of  improving communication & Leadership skill to bring the change in people’s life.

Saransh Merothiya

Toastmaster is the best thing that came across to me in last few years.It is complete package, you get to meet so many awesome and amazing people. I learn a lot in toastmaster along with lots of fun.Toastmaster makes us a great speaker, leader and a great human being.

Puneet Khandelwal

It all started in June 2016, when one day me and my cousin were thinking on how to improve our communication skills. At that time, she got a call from her uncle in US who showed us the path to this organisation, which is very popular in US. We went through google searches and found a club in our vicinity. I took the charge to go to the meeting by myself as my cousin was preparing for her exams, but found no luck as I was unable to found the venue. This stopped the zeal of learning something new, but for quite some time only. Then we searched for the best-known club in Gurgaon and found GTMC, oldest club in Gurgaon. We attended a meeting and participated in Table topics. That was the first time I have spoken in front of people on a topic assigned to me, that too on the spot. We found that this is something new apart from the daily routine activities. The structured way of organising a meeting where the speakers come and speak and evaluators provides commendations and recommendations and the general evaluator evaluates the evaluators, attracted me towards this organisation. The way of encouraging people to come and speak for 1-2 mins on a random topic is a cherry on the cake. And above all, taking responsibilities for the growth of club in the form of EC members is also a great idea to learn the team management. Organizing Club Contests, attending various level of contests as a Judge, Attending District Conference and networking with numerous people, Organizing Club Events and Meetings are all the reasons which contribute to the zeal to go to club every Sunday morning. In past 11 months, I have taken two EC roles and almost revived the club in its low times. As a Treasurer, I managed to open the club’s bank account, which is not owned by any of the club in District till now. Standing for EC positions was one of the best decision to learn as this helped me in learning various lessons which we learn at later stages in our life.

Rakesh Addlakha

I used to have stage fear and also afraid of public speaking, that’s why I was skeptical about joining any club But after getting out of my comfort zone and   joining GCTC, I realised that the club is amazing. People are very supportive.

I am thankful to this club for giving me opportunity to learn and to improve my speaking & leadership skills. 

Strength of this club is Unity.

Prashant Kumar

I studied hard during my school and college days and scored good marks. Since I have done my studies in Hindi Medium, when I came to Delhi for work, It was quite tough to express my thoughts in any office meetings.

I shared my feelings with few of my friends and one of them suggested me to Toasmasters. I attended one meeting in Gurgaon, witnessing the speaker at that club, I could not dare to stand and speak in Table Topic session (impromptu speaking). From there I came to know, there were many Toasmaster Clubs in Gurgaon. I attended one more meeting with different club but again not satisfied.

At last I attended one Club Meeting Session in GCTC and find it best suited for me. Members welcomed me warmly. I was constantly supported by different members at GCTC . They encouraged me to stand and speak in Table Topic session and at the end of the meeting, I was asked for my feedback, which I appreciated the most. I have decided to join this club. Everyone here is looking for improvement in their skills and support each other in their journey.

This is not a very big club where you don’t find a slot for your speech or table topic. This is not a very small club where every person is overloaded with multiple roles. A perfect blend for me. 

Lohit Gupta

There comes a time in life when you decide you can’t sit on the fence anymore – you have to jump into the field. Toastmasters has been that defining moment for me.Toastmasters, is a perfect platform for all kinds of prospective members – those who are brilliant and fearless at public speaking can take it to the next level in being a perfect leader too.

Those who need help with their communication skills will find a perfect learning environment to lose their fears.For me it was a bit of both at GCTC, I am a core Sales professional and I needed a platform outside work to connect with like-minded orators and people from all walks of life – from students to seasoned professionals across Consulting, IT, Finance and various other verticals.
For me, the USP for GCTC is in its innovations and modernisation. The club members have a youthful mix, mentored by able guides like Ajay, Sinjini and Anuj. You will see the difference in our Meeting Themes, Table Topic sessions and the general conduct of the meeting.Toastmasters is a lifetime journey – you may come in for various skill-enhancement benefits being sought but you will stay in when you become a part of the community – GCTC is one such closely-knitted community, well connected with its neighbours as well.

Vipul Sharma

We all have grown up listening to the intellectuals that studies are not everything you need to build up your personality, your charisma, broaden your mind. And what we did , again tried to get more marks/package from the person besides us. This is nature, human nature we all wish to do something that gives us quick result and follow a well-known path. The day I actually had a word with myself, I decided to join toastmaster.

According to the 2% Comfort Theory, you believe it or not, you are currently in your 2% zone the rest 98% is yet to be explored and Believe it or not, toastmaster is your Gateway.

I knocked on this door on Nov-2017, thanks to a dear friend of mine. As soon as I entered the door there was applause, there are many. At first you start shy-ing away as you normally do feeling kind of embarrassed. Gradually from head down and worried we move on to smiling and entering the room aim for the day when entering the hall with hands highs and claps louder.

Flight is not a mode of transport for the Everest peak, you need to start from the base and I started my journey and wish you all the best for starting yours!

Good Luck, Just crack your cocoon and fly.

Tripati Panda

I am a Software Developer working in an MNC, and sometimes its really hard to convey yours ideas and thoughts to others because lack of Confidence or Preseentation Skills or Vocabulary, Sometimes, I feel that there is some problem while I try to convey my thoughts to others as I dont have the appropriate words to say my thoughts.

Toastmaster is such a platform where I succeeded in overcoming these problems. I can still remember the stage fear I had during my CC1 Speech, whereas during my CC4 speech, I felt that it got improved. Apart from my speech, I learned a lot from other members’ speech too.

GCTC is a pioneering club in Gurgaon. Its our collective culture to give priority to everyone, enthusiastic and passionate EC members motivates you to take new goals and improve.

Kushal Aggarwal

I joined GCTC from December 2017….Since then, it has always been an exciting journey for me. Every Sunday morning I look forward to go to the venue and participate. Public speaking and motivating others has always been my dream but I was missing the platform. GCTC couldn’t have been better. What should I talk about, the atmosphere full of encouragement or the devoted members who put their best to bring best out of others, experienced speakers or the lovely audience.

The concept of toastmasters itself is an awesome concept and GCTC makes your experience an outstanding one. I would say that it is one of the most organized club I have ever visited. Learnings are great. Every role player is always prepared to play the best role and every speaker will be giving his 100% always. Senior members come to you themselves to know about you. It feels like home over there.

I am very happy to be a part of it and I see myself improving to the next level with this.