Douglas, can you briefly tell us about your Toastmasters journey,
also how and when did you join Toastmasters?
When I first moved back from the USA after Christmas 1991, a dear friend (Geoleen Huang) introduced me to Prestige Toastmasters (#5808). That same spring, Richie Chan, Joseph Du, and myself were inducted on the same night into Prestige Toastmasters (15th floor of Asia World Hotel) by club President Tom Ashby. I was the youngest member at Prestige TMC during my first few years.
In my first 2 years, I was working in a trading company during daytime & attending mandarin classes by night. I was immersed in Chinese environment 24/7. Toastmasters gave me a small slice of the English speaking community each Monday night, a place where new friends were made, net-working made possible, and the friendly atmosphere nurtured much of my young professional growth.
Q: What challenges did you face, and what sacrifices have you made to reach here?
In the early 1990’s the entrance fee to Prestige Toastmasters was NTD$550 per meeting. For a young working professional, it was very expensive. Even though the entrance fee included a 3 course meal, + bread and warm beverage, usually I was too busy with my assignments to enjoy a decent bite.
Yes, I spoke the language (English), but I did not have the necessary COMMUNICATION skills. Most senior members had higher expectation upon me, believing that my speeches should be flawless & are in contest winning qualities. Sadly, I did not live up to their expectations. I can only remember that after my Ice Breaker (C1 speech), I had to repeat/redo most of my speeches, sometime up to 3 times per same speech. Those were times where individual evaluators fully exercised their power to “pass/fail” a speaker. It was a very challenging time for this young lad. I did not mind being challenged to grow, however, it was incredibly devastating for a young mind to fail again and again. On several occasions I was ready to toss in the white towel, but, I made a vow to never quite TM unit I’ve achieved CTM (Competent Toastmaster –the award giving for completing first 10 projects). Ironically, I delivered total of 19 speeches before achieving my CTM (failure rate of 50%). Consequently, I took my leave of absence shortly after reaching CTM.
Q: Tell us about your professional life.
I am currently employed in the Biotech Industry… but I have not always been this tame. Recently, when I started to have a look back, Toastmasters has contributed (directly and indirectly) to my professional career path.
In 1994, a friend and member of Prestige TMC, Angela Ho (Marketing Manager of Colgate Palmolive) recommended me to her friends in Standard Foods (Quaker Oats) & Nestle Taiwan. Both company accepted my application & my career as a Brand Manager in Nestle lifted off.
In 1997, Warner Village Cinemas started their developments in Taiwan with the first project in Hsin Yi (A16/A17), again I was being recommended by another Toastmaster friend associated with Golden Harvest that spring boarded me into the Cinemas industry. Later employment includes Universal/Paramount Cinemas (UCI), where I finally reached my first mile stone (before age of 30) as the General Manger for a large multinational conglomerate in Taiwan.
Little did I know, the skills developed in Toastmaster gave me advantages, higher competitive edge over my fellow peers. During my employment in Nokia Taiwan, I had an opportunity meet with the global and BU (business unit) heads, the impression from my presentation lead to an opportunity for relocation to Nokia Head Quarters (located in Espoo, Finland) where I was given the responsibilities to lead global business developments for the accessory BU. When I asked “why me”, the reply was that “Doug – you have demonstrated great analytical skills, an honest person, a good presenter, and have demonstrated the mastering of effective communications skills that are vitally important for a company that are Connecting People”.
During the time living in Finland, Nokia House (HQ) chartered an in-house Toastmasters Corporate club (#01443831). 40 members joined, I became the Chartering club President. Later that year, Microsoft began acquiring Nokia, layoff process initiated; I took the package and returned back to Taiwan. In 2012, my TM relationship transcended from District 59 back to D67.
Q: What is the one thing you look forward to when you attend the Toastmasters meeting?
For this question I must answer from 3 different stages in time.
In the beginning, I was in search for my better half. My first ever Chinese girlfriend was met at Prestige Toastmasters, she was also the girl that I married having 3 lovely children together. She was also the person I was trying to impress, she was my motivation behind attending Toastmasters.
It was only recently that I got to know that we have so much potentials waiting for discovery. Each TM meeting, I got to know a bit more about myself, about my abilities, my tolerances, and my goals in life. I look forward to each Toastmaster meeting, as I start discovering I have a voice, I have the ability to influence others, and that I can be humorous. Each meeting was another new discovery of SELF.
More recently, the table has finally turned. The joy of self discovery (personal achievements) has been replaced with “seeing others discovering themselves”. When seeing other individuals grow yields more satisfaction, this must be a sign of maturity. At TGIF Christian Bilingual TMC, we encourage every member to be goal oriented, being accountable, and constantly being reminded the reason we joined this club. It is magical seeing members transforming from being lost in life, to finding thy self.
Q: What does achieving DTM award mean to you?
This DTM is just an educational award for the collective achievements I have undergone in the past 23 years.
It was not until I co-charter TGIF with Lester Lin (Founder and Chartering President of TGIF Christian Bilingual TMC #03454147), where I received my calling.
Servant Leadership has a new meaning in biblical definition. I have already planned out my 2nd DTM roadmap, which shall contain whispers of the gospel on subjects such as intimate relationships, health of the mind and body, fellowships, trust and loyalty, just to name a few. Knowing that these subjects can be controversial, this will challenge my efforts in delivering these subjects spoken with His wisdom.
As of this day, I have completed my 2nd competent communication manual, and began my advanced speeches. 6 advanced manuals have been chosen, speeches titles outlined, ready for TME’s introductions
(Spring Conference 2014 – Event CEO)
Q: What you do in your spare time?
I am an advocate of sports and recreations. Taipei city is surrounded by mountains, a heaven for mountain bikers. The island is surrounded by beautiful shore lines, great opportunity for kayaking, scuba diving, and seafood galore.
In the past 3 years, if you’ve been to TM extreme outings / parties, i.e. river tracing, ocean kayaking, beach volleyball, Halloween parties, etc … most likely I was the person behind the scene. I guess I do take my recreational activities very serious!