Leadership opportunity – Reviving a dying club

How we managed to revive our club

Taking ownership

Whenever you walk into a situation that is not of your own creation, you have two choices. Start blaming someone or taken ownership of the situation and do something about it. The former is easy to do because it absolves you of responsibility, of the need to actually be accountable. The latter is much harder because you own up to something and become the change agent. The latter is the noble way.

As a Toastmaster, I had seen the value of being a member and I yearned to do more, to create a solid concrete structure that would outlive us all. Toastmasters is an institution and it has survived all these years because members came for meetings, paid their dues and supported each other as they grew in confidence and leadership.

This is the story of Metropolitan Toastmasters Club and its members. This is the story of how we built up our club brick by brick, member by member in 6 months to become the one of the best in Zimbabwe.

Crying out for help
One of the first things I realized when I made the decision to be at the forefront of rebuilding the club was that I was not going to be able to do it alone. I remember being ashamed at ICON because I was reminded with every encounter that I had that Metropolitan Club was “Non Existent”. The club that had helped me with confidence building was dying and everyone seemed to have accepted that fate. This was what was running through my mind when District Director Frank Tsuro asked “Is there a club that needs help?” at the conference. I quickly shot my hand up and before he could even finish speaking I was on my way to the stage. Frank Tsuro then asked the International Director for Region 11, Morag Mathieson to assist and together with DTM Sandra Cooper they walked me through the process of getting the club back to good standing. Upon getting back to Zimbabwe I went on a mission, I called; sent emails and requested meetings with key people that I knew would help me come up with an actionable plan that would help revive the club. I would message Frank Tsuro almost every day, I would call Joel Gombera, Zivai Matondo, Fungai Mtisi and Edmore Gamundani for help with certain information about Toastmasters because I knew that I would be the one who was going to communicate the VISION to prospective members.

Team work
There’s an Africa proverb which says that, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”. This statement rings true as we look back at our journey as a team. Without a strong high performing team, all the planning and help would have come to nothing because we needed a team to execute. Our Team was comprised of 3 old and 4 new members. We attended our first COT as a Team, and the Hall of Fame was the worst part of the day. We did not receive a single award, an ordeal that amazingly helped to bring us together as a Team as we vowed to never let something like this happen again. We were we all going to play our part in not only reviving the club but making it the best. We dedicated the first 3 months to learning about Toastmasters and all its programs, going through the club success plan and understanding each of our roles and how they fed into each other. The next 3 months we focused on membership building (Moved from 3 members to 12 members by June 30) and more learning. By October 1 we had 25 paid up members and to date we are sitting at 32 members. The next 3 months we pushed to get to 10DCP points and renewals. As at this moment we are a speech away from that 10DCP mark and 25 members have paid up their subscriptions. The last 3 months have been termed “Exceeding limits”, where we are aiming for at least half of our members to get triple crowns. Al thus has been possible because of Team work which made the dream work.

The persistence and tenacity to keep going to every scheduled meeting is a huge effort, but it is something that we all committed to do. Our members would attend meetings and participate. They diligently came for every meeting and it contributed to a steady stream of members throughout the year.

The most amazing thing was that our guest numbers continued to increase and because of the Team work displayed by the club officers the conversion rate also increased. I will not lie and say the process was seamless because we faced quite a number of challenges since the club was basically being run by new members but we always reminded ourselves of our main goal (To be one of the best in our Division) and the memories of the endless clapping “for others” at COT kept us going.

Showing up is one thing, but being consistent with showing up is what creates continuous success. Our message at every meeting remained the same and each meeting we would make sure that we were making the right steps towards ensuring the success of not only our club but our members too. We would visit other clubs and imitate some best practises that would assist us with being consistent. We ensured that we created a culture where excellence and being prepared is demonstrated and encouraged.

Maintaining our unique club culture (If it’s not fun, it’s not Toastmasters)
Metropolitan Club is mostly comprised of millennials and because of that our meetings are rarely boring. We have fun, we host social meet ups, we do quiz nights together and we learn together. Because of this, we have brought together a very fun and intelligent group of people together who are focused on becoming the best versions of them and have made a commitment to each other, to progressing and getting better. We have created so many fun ways of learning and achieving our goals in Toastmasters. This, in my opinion, is what has unlocked true value in being a Toastmasters member.

Trish Hakata

President Metropolitan Club