Beyond Cubicles and IDs: Toastmasters for Corporates

look out at your children

see their faces in golden rays

don’t kid yourself they belong to you

they’re the start of a coming race 

– David Bowie

Work, slog, repeat. 

We work to aspire, and not usually the other way around. Benefits, culture, and career-life balance come in some way when we learn to unify the duality of ‘work’ and ‘life’. At work, the reason we fail to find passion and purpose in our dealings and doings is because somehow responsibilities are limited to figures, and people become IDs or designations. But what if people had stories we could relate to, triumphs we could commend about, and vulnerabilities we could empathize with? What if there could be life at work?  

I remember many stories at Laxmi Bank Toastmasters Club. The story of a father rekindling his bond with his child, a man’s divulsion as he picked up the broken pieces of his life, a girl’s internal conflict during harassment, stories of love or repentance, magic or tragic. With each passing meeting those IDs became more human. We laughed during her dissection of soap operas, we cried – or came close to crying when he talked about losing a close family member. We were awed by stories of zombies and deities, caught off guard by thought-provoking research, and inspired by stories of altruism, bravery, and achievement. The eulogies and analogies helped build relationships and life at work. I too slowly gained the courage to face the man in the mirror. I not only learned to organize my thoughts and present my ideas, but also learned to mentor and motivate my team members. What would usually be routine processes became human interactions. 

Work became fun.

Laxmi Bank pioneered the corporate Toastmasters movement in Nepal in 2014 and has continuously supported and endorsed the club’s activities. The bank sponsors memberships and meeting expenses and encourages new recruits to join the club. The dividend has come in the form of empowered leaders who have become backbone of various initiatives including learning and development, service excellence and CSR. Career, community, and cause is a reality, and the learning from Toastmasters has contributed to a great degree. A few other corporations and educational organizations are now following suit as the growing economy demands more leaders. I wholeheartedly encourage corporate to consider the possibility of having a Toastmasters club, because if employees cease to learn, organization and bottom-line will eventually suffer.

Opening a Toastmasters club at a corporation is a challenge and should match the values of the organization. At times, the engagement and learning may feel like a trade-off against time and resources, but – if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last – the result is better collective performance. If your organization believes in empowering employees and creating leaders out of them, then Toastmasters is right for you. 

Avish Acharya, Area Director, Area A5, Immediate Past President at Laxmi Bank Toastmasters Club 
Published in Inkspire Issue 1, Sept 2019.Click here for the full newsletter.

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