Archive for April, 2011

Success Plan Tips

Life getting in the way of your goals and dreams?

Email, Skype or text crosses my display screen every day. “I was all ready to start my marketing today and then _______ happened.” “I was determined to focus on my daily method of operation today and get back on track with my time management and then everything hit the fan.” “I really was planning to start my diet today and then my neighbor invited me out to lunch to this special restaurant I have wanted to same for so long.”

There is always tomorrow. Right? How many tomorrows? Little orphan Annie sang about “Tomorrow.” The song from the Broadway show “Send in the Clowns” offered the offhand comment “well, maybe next year.” At some point we cease to have “tomorrow” or “next year.”

Have you heard the lament that someone or something else is to blame for not achieving the business goal, the weight goal or even the physical fitness goal? At some time each of us has to face the fact that WE are responsible for our decisions and thus our results.

Are you where you truly desire to be in your career, your bank account balance and jeans size? No? Most of those “well intentioned” New Years Resolutions lasted hours or days rather than weeks, months and years. April 15 is rapidly approaching when Americans either face the tax deadline or postpone until tomorrow. Here we go again putting off until tomorrow. Sometimes life can seem to be a series of “putting off until tomorrow.”

The fact is that putting off until tomorrow becomes a habit. The good news is that if a habit can be formed then it can also be broken and a new more desirable habit formed.

Questions to ask yourself
1. What is it that you truly want? What do you want badly enough to continue despite the obstacles?
2. Why do you want it? Do you really want it or do you think you should want it to please someone else? Amazingly enough there are actual case studies of people who became doctors or lawyers to please a parent.
3. What are you willing to change in your life to achieve that goal? Giving up an hour or two of television a night may not be difficult once you do it for a day to two. Skipping dessert at dinner for a few days may seem feasible rather than thinking about giving it up for the rest of your life. In order to achieve a new positive result, you will need to make a few changes in your daily habits.
4. Are you willing to write a realistic success plan which you will truly commit to following? The key words were “write” a “realistic success plan” which “you will truly commit to following.”
5. Set a target date to start with a “no excuses permitted” commitment.
6. Establish the goal to be achieved and the date to achieve it.

Once you have written a detailed success plan, committed to the plan and implemented the plan you are well on your way to success. Even more than the start, it is the first speed bump which derails many people. Having a strong “why” can be the boost to push you up and over the speed bump or send you into “tomorrow” mode.

Book Elaine Love to speak to your organization or book Elaine Love as your personal coach and mentor. Go to or to enter your request. In order to achieve success, design an effective success plan.

Success Plan for Toastmasters Contest

Life is not perfect. Neither are Toastmasters contests. Perhaps, a few are perfect; however, I have not attended one of those yet. Perfection as defined by the organizer and perfection as defined by observers and participants may differ.

Just as Ed Tate, 2000 World Champion, reminded us that speaking requires a “debrief.” Toastmasters contests require a “debrief” as well.

What if:
1. Your chief judge does not arrive. No notice, no excuse, just no show.
2. Your Sergeant of Arms and 3 judges arrive 15 minutes or more late.
3. You have a combined area contest and you have zero paperwork from the contestants in one area.
4. The stand in for one area governor does not arrive until 20 minutes late and does not bring any of the forms with him.
5. There is a protest against one of the speakers and against one of the judges.
6. A car dealership meeting room was selected for the contest. The public address announcements are quite annoying and distracting. Even though the dealership did their best to turn the sound off in the meeting room, it was still quite obvious.

Oh NO. What if all of these things happen in one evening?

Background of preparations before the contest.
1. Toastmaster, table topics, food, timer, vote counters, judges, contest chairs all received multiple emails throughout the weeks preceding the contest with detailed instructions including the contest location and time to arrive.
2. Contestant names were all verified and listed in the program accurately.
3. Certificates of participation were beautifully printed and ready in advance.

Contest day – what went right. . .
1. All contestant paperwork was completed prior to the contest and neatly arranged by area and category.
2. Trophies as well as second and third place certificates were completed and ready for the winners names.
3. The contest room was prepared and arranged in advance in an appropriate manner.
4. Dignitaries were properly acknowledged.
5. The contest team was absolutely amazing about picking up pieces and banding together to assist in making it as smooth and “stress free” as possible for the contestants.
6. Judges, contestants and supporting team roles were all briefed on their duties.
7. Food and beverages all arrived on time and in sufficient quantity.
8. Last second adjustments were made and all roles were filled with qualified personnel.
9. Timing lights and back up cards arrived and were operating.
10. Proper paperwork for judges, counters and timers was available and distributed in advance. Judges certification was verified and documented.
11. Room was filled to capacity and sufficient programs were available.
12. Contestants were not seated by judges and everyone was able to see and hear.

By all logical standards, every possible preparation was completed in advance. So what went wrong? How could the chaos have been prevented?

Instead of emailing the key volunteers, phone calls could have been made until the volunteer was actually spoken to directly a week in advance of the contest. Apparently some people do not open their emails or if they do, they do not read them. Go over the location, arrival time and importance of arriving on time; receive a verbal commitment that the volunteer will in fact arrive on time.

Read the entire rulebook word for word and ask a top district officer if there were any possible questions. Perhaps even hold a face to face meeting with each key volunteer a week prior to the contest. Does this seem like overkill and treating mature adults as children? Perhaps. Who knows where the fine line is drawn on delegation of responsibility. My error was expecting volunteers and contestants to open and read emails and not giving sufficient follow up for confirmation.

All paperwork for the other area could have been requested more insistently in advance and personally physically obtained in advance if necessary.

Extra judges could have been recruited and available on a “just in case” basis. The judge disqualification was handled smoothly prior to the contest without any mention of names or personalities. The contestant disqualification followed the Toastmasters rule book to the letter, thanks to a detailed last minute chief judge.

An additional tip which was received the night of the contest was to prepare clear plastic strips with the names of all contestants pre-printed. The appropriate labels could then be affixed to the certificates for the second and third place winners and affixed to the bottom of the trophies for the winners. Regardless of how attractive the handwriting of the contest chair, area governor or division governor, this would give an attractive professional representation of the winner’s names. The suitability of this suggestion depends on the quality of the pre-printed label.

Good news. The contest appeared much smoother to the audience than it did to the area governor in charge. The contest was completed in its entirety with an equal playing field for the presentations.

Oh yes, it was a learning experience for myself as the presiding area governor. What to do, what not to do and what could have been done differently or better has been duly noted and internalized Learn, grow and do better next time.

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”Elaine spoke to our top leaders from 8 states, she gave us new and positive ways to connect with people
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-Tom Fajardo, State Farm