TM Pankaj Pradhananga, Asssociate CGD D41​

“The Two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”

Mark Twain

Today Bhaktapur Toastmasters club marked one year of chartering the club. Hence it was indeed a great day and as expected the Bhaktapur Toastmasters club did not leave any stone unturned. The celebration highlighted the entire spirit of the club itself with its’ impromptu speeches, uplifting messages by the leaders and joyous musical morning. Obviously, the ceremony was entirely enjoyed and performed via zoom but this virtual platform is now the new normal for all the toastmasters.

Having assisted the prospective leaders in the process of chartering the club, I find this day as the perfect one to figure out whether the club succeeded in finding its WHY.

Interestingly, Bhaktapur Toastmasters club did not only find its WHY, it gave a new meaning to Toastmasters learning and sharing. The club, with its 23 members, was so much pumped up that it did not just embrace the Toastmasters learning like a duck takes to water, it achieved President’s distinguished club award in less than 10 months, which was unprecedented in Nepal. They sent their excelling speakers to represent the Area in the speech contest, which was no ordinary feat for such a recently formed club.

Bhaktapur Toastmasters club did not just help me look good as an Area Director; it taught me a great deal of learning in last one year. Let me share the take-away in the form of key insights:

Insight #1: Start with the right team

Bhaktapur Toastmaster did not just survive; it thrived because they put the right team in place. The Charter President, TM Neel Krishna Tamrakar demonstrated a true spirit of leadership. He handpicked his ExCom team and their cooperation and coordination proved to be a game changer.

Insight #2: Find flow in everything you do

The secret behind the success of Bhaktapur Toastmasters is that they embraced the flow and pace of the meetings. Their decision to hold the club on a weekly basis kick started the already developing success of the club. They were not success oriented however, they were goal oriented; the members were completely immersed in this new learning experience and worked as an ideal team. This allowed every member to dissolve their fear of failing, and they became part of what they were doing as Toastmaster, learning the art of effective communication and leadership.

Insight #3: Never stop learning

I had known TM Neel over 2 decades, and I knew him as a successful entrepreneur, popular leader and a keen learner. Having led much social and business organization successfully, he never stopped learning. That was resonated by his ExCom (TMs Sandeep Dhawa, Hari Shyam Shrestha, Iswar Palikhel, Chandani Kayashta, Rajesh Pradhan and Sunetra Pradhanang) and the general members of the club.

Insight #4: Do not hesitate to ask for help

Bhaktapur Toastmasters knew in the early stage that asking for help was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of willingness to learn. They reached out to seasoned toastmasters and mentors and did not limit themselves to Area A6 only. They invited DTMs Bhanu Dawadi, Moon Pradhan and Shaurab Lohani. TMs Manny, Brijendra, Prajwol, Roshan, Subrath, Chandrayan and many more who always loved attending their Saturday morning meetings until the pandemic struck. Their virtual meetings were equally exciting and engaging because of how receptive and eager all the members were. Hence as the old saying of ‘No ask, No get’ turned out to be true for the unstoppable club.

Insight #5: Construct resilience

The club always demonstrated true spirit of resilience all the times . When the meeting participations were not so encouraging at times , they continued with same level of enthusiasm even over zoom when lockdown became the new normal. It embraced the change so quickly as giving up was just not an option to Bhaktapur Toastmasters. The club leaders highly motivated the members with a very positive approach that not only helped the community to stay together, it made them look forward to lifting speeches and engaging session every Saturday morning. In other words, club meetings worked as an invisible vaccine of positivity in order to fight back strong in the time of crisis. 

Now it’s wonderful to see new President in TM Sandeep Dhawa, who is leading the club on a trek to its own Mt. Everest without losing a sense of wonder. The leaders of Toastmasters movement in Nepal, Ranjit Acharya-DTM and Suman Shakya, DTM are always around handholding the club for which Bhaktapur remains grateful forever. 

In the world of Toastmasters, we do not just start a new club. We believe in building a community of dreamers and doers. Bhaktapur has truly demonstrated its WHY and I do hope it will continue to lift many more lives in the years to come. 

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