Meet Emi B.
When and why did you join Toastmasters?
My father was a Toastmaster in Hawaii and when I visited him with my infant son back in the late 90’s, I had the opportunity to visit his club with him as he practiced his speech for the Regional International Speech Contest. At the time, I was in a fairly deep depression and was in the process of developing agorapobia. I knew at that first visit that Toastmasters was something I needed. It took a visit by my father for me to finally visit my first club in Arizona and by that time, I had full blown agoraphobia, even having an anxiety attack at church and having to leave the service early. I didn’t join that club first and my father left. Not too long after that, I finally hit bottom and realized it was time for me to do something. I had my husband put me in the car and drive me to another club meeting and as he sat right outside the meeting room with our toddler son, I committed to joining. That was in July of 1999. Today I am a healthy, fully functioning human being, completely cured of my depression and agoraphobia, with a job and who enjoys the company of others.
In your opinion, what makes the Maverick Club special? / Why did you choose to join Maverick Club?
I didn’t just “join” the Maverick Club, I helped to create it. At my last club (which was also my first club), I felt as though I were being held back by some of the other members. I wanted to put a larger emphasis on mentoring and that vision was not shared by the officers there. So a fellow refugee of that club and I started Maverick and together we were able to build into the culture a strong mentoring program right from the beginning, along with an emphasis on having fun and building friendships and camaraderie… the things that make this club special and something I look forward to every single week. On those rare days that I have to miss a meeting, I feel as though I’ve missed a visit with the family.
What has been your most significant accomplishment within the Toastmasters program to date?
I’d like to say that starting Maverick was my most significant accomplishment within the Toastmasters program, but that wouldn’t be true. My most significant accomplishment would be a tie between walking through the door for the first time and signing my name on the application form. To say I was unhealthy at the time would be an understatement but I knew what I needed to do… I needed to join this club.
How has Toastmasters helped you in other areas of life?
Outside of the Toastmasters club, the skills I’ve learned have helped me speak up for myself, nail job interviews, resign from one of those jobs with grace and strength, accept criticism from others, even when they’re presented negatively, without feeling the need to defend myself, and evaluate and incorporate feedback from others.
Who has influenced you the most so far in your Toastmasters journey?
I’ve had many official and unofficial Toastmasters mentors over the years but one of them is fellow Maverick, Liz. She helped guide me through one of the most difficult personal challenges in my life and since then has talked me off many ledges. She continues to challenge me to set higher standards for myself. What more could you ask for from a friend and mentor?