Mentor Moments-My Hero


I have always looked at myself as destined to be a leader. As such I pursued courses that would help my leadership and public speaking skills. However, I seemed to be lacking and every time I was given a platform to speak, I would sweat really bad. There is an African proverb that says ‘Every dog has got its day’. This proverb mean that every situation has a turning point. Mine was when I met Robert Bob Salijeni. He used to be the President for Eloquent Toastmasters by then. He introduced me to Toastmasters and carried me through like an eaglet under the eagles nest.

There are a number of strategies that he used when he was mentoring me. Firstly he used word of mouth. He explained to me what Toastmasters was all about and how the club can improve my leadership and communication skills. His love for toastmasters got my attention and soon I wanted to be like him. I felt like we were two people with the same destiny (to become better leaders and speakers) and this helped me to listen to him even more.

The second strategy that he used was experiential (hands on). I remember before I gave my fist speech (Ice Breaker) he told me to prepare the speech by myself. After that he told me to present whilst he was listening and then he gave me feedback. I have learned from Robert that doing all the work for someone you are mentoring can be deadly since the person might not really know how to do the job. This also happened when I became Vice President Membership, he made me sit by my laptop and took me through whatever I was supposed to be learn. Please note that it was not him on the computer but me and he was only guiding.

The third strategy that my mentor used was giving positive feedback. Please note that by this time I was not confident about myself. Instead of pointing out all the wrongs I had done in a speech, he would first highlight the things I had done better and offer areas of improvement. This strategy gave me confidence because I slowly started feeling like I was on the right track. My enthusiasm to speak before an audience increased. I started understanding that nobody was there to judge me, but rather to help me grow.

I have finished my Competent Manual now and I am on the road to making history of becoming a better leader and communicator. I owe it to my mentor Robert Bob Salijeni who took his time to invest in me so that I can also invest in other people. “Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor”-Lailah Gifty Akita.

Andrew Mwase