Thursday, October 20, 2011

Youth Leadership Program at Anjuman School

High Performance Leadership
Leadership Excellence 
October 16th, 2011

This is the speech given at Anjuman School at the valedictory ceremony of the Youth Leadership Program (YLP) conducted there for a period of 8 weeks.

Also read: 

How to organize a Youth Leadership Program (YLP)?
High Performance Leadership - Project Ideas / Requirements

Abdul Kalam once said "The ignited minds of the youth are the most powerful resources on the earth above the earth and under the earth". We, the toastmasters from Division G made an attempt to create a spark in the minds of the youth in Anjuman School, by conducting the Youth Leadership Program.

Youth Leadership Program, shortly called as YLP follows a standard curriculum from Toastmasters International. YLP provides an opportunity for fellow toastmasters to give back to the community. YLP for Anjuman school students was funded and organized by US Consulate.
We had a group of 20 faculties - 15 toastmasters and 5 non-toastmasters. We divided nearly 100 students into 4 different groups. Each classroom had at least 3 toastmasters’ faculties and 1 non-toastmaster faculty.

We conducted the workshop for 6 days during the weekends. We trained the students on 6 different skills:

1.      Prepared speeches
2.      Impromptu speeches
3.      Evaluations
4.      Debates
5.      Listening
6.      Leadership

YLP workshops are similar to what we do in regular toastmasters meeting. The students come and do the various roles and the faculties guide them to effectively do their roles.
Ralph Smedley the founder of toastmasters once said "We learn best in moments of enjoyment". This is true in case of the YouthLeadership Program. The faculty in each class room ensured that there was enthusiasm and excitement throughout the session. The student felt very comfortable in the class rooms which maximized their creativity and learning.  

One thing that amazed me during the whole program is the commitment and sincerity of our toastmasters. I saw the PASSION in them to TEACH. I saw the DESIRE in them to SERVE. I saw the DETERMINATION in them to LEAD. I didn’t have to put any effort in managing them. They were all self-managed and self-motivated. I was just sitting back and enjoying the entire show.
Overall, the program turned out to be a HUGE success. It was the final day. We had a valedictory ceremony. We were all assembled in the auditorium in Anjuman School. The dignitaries were sitting on the dais - US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre, Sr. English Language Fellow Mary Kay Seales from US Consulate, Executive Director of Anjuman Mazharallah  and other executives from Anjuman management. The hall was filled with 100s of students and faculty members. The students came and shared their toastmastering experiences on the stage.

One student came to the stage, stood before the mike and confidently said “Today, I’m able to deliver this speech with confidence, because of toastmasters…  we learned to write a speech … we learned to do impromptu speeches, we learned to work as a team. This is the first time that I’m addressing a gathering of 100s of people… I don’t have any nervousness or fear. I’m thankful to toastmasters and I’m going to miss them”.

A drop of tear popped out from my eye. I realized the impact that we toastmasters can make on the society. I realized how we can put our communication and leadership skills to the best use.

Personally I learned 6 leadership skills during this project –

1.      organizing a project involving various groups
2.      delegation
3.      co-ordination
4.      leadership without authority
5.      leading by example &
6.      service leadership

A candle looses nothing by lighting other candles. We, the toastmasters of Division G learned a lot from Anjuman school students.

We learned to dream BIG,
We learned to LISTEN,
We learned that toastmasters can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the society.
We went there to inspire them, but we came back inspired by them.

We just created a SPARK. But the little candles that we ignited are going to create a forest fire. Imagine a world filled with such ignited minds… look at the difference they can make to their FAMILY, to their SOCIETY, to the COUNTRY and to the WORLD.

I am grateful to Anjuman school students who helped me to discover the LEADER in me.

Also read: Leadership Lessons - What works when you are a Leader

Humorous Manual Project 4 - Keep them Laughing - How to spot a judge in a contest?

ACG Speech #4 - Humorously speaking
Keep them Laughing
October 2nd, 2011

Thanks TMOD for that introduction. I’m glad, you correctly introduced me as the Division Governor. In the club meetings that I attended over the last several months, I’ve been introduced as the Area Governor, District Governor and one TMOD was very close to introducing me as the Tamilnadu Governor. Thank God Dr. Rosaiah didn’t hear that.
TMOD, fellow toastmasters and guests,

We just completed our club and area level contests. I personally had lots of fun attending various contests in our Division. Of all the roles played in a contest, the role of a Judge is very special. While the Judges spot who the winners are, the winners cannot spot who the judges are.

As you may know, judges’ information is typically kept very confidential. These poor souls typically come and go like undercover agents in CIA. When all the 99 other role players receive their certificates at the stage, poor judges aren’t called upon to the stage to receive certificates. Most of the times Judges are given a blank certificate and they have to write their names themselves.  Someone like my wife doesn’t trust those certificates because she can recognize my hand writing J

Typically Judges are invisible… but, some of them are visibly invisible… Hence, there are ways of finding who the judges are … in a contest.  Some of these are my own exaggerations… for the fun of listening.

How do you spot a judge?

Trick #1: You are in a contest. The hall is full and there was absolute silence. A new toastmaster plays the role of a contest master. He is visibly nervous and reads out the rules. After the rules are read, the contest master says “The speaking order has been finalized and I’ll read that out now for the benefit of judges”. “Contestant #1 Sunil Mukundan Contestant #2 Shivakumar Contestant #3 Jeyaganesh … Contestant #4”…  Now, one gentle man slowly rises from his chair, interrupting the contest master "Sir! Can you read it out slowly? It is hard for me to note down the names! “. The whole crowd now knows that he is a judge.

There are other methods too…

How many of you have seen this movie Armageddon?!  My favorite scene in that movie is when Bruce Willis and his crew … all dressed up in orange colored space suit and walking boldly with a helmet in hand to board their space vessel. You may be wondering what does this have to do with spotting a judge. Hold on guys. Typically, in a contest, the briefing of role players and judges happen in the last minute. So, right after the briefing you can see the Chief Judge walking into the hall with his army of judges in slow motion… like how Bruce Willis walks with his crew in the movie Armageddon. Instead of helmet, you can see judging ballots and a pen in the hands of the judges.  It doesn’t just stop there. These folks who are entering together do not sit together. They try to sit in different locations and definitely avoid the contestants who are sitting in the front row. Even my 4 year old daughter can identify them as Judges.

There are other easy ways of spotting who the judges are …

You go to a contest and you see a group of senior toastmasters standing outside the contest venue, as if they are planning for the crackdown of Al-Qaida’s top man - Bin Laden. The Chief Judge giving instructions like President Obama… and all the other judges will be seriously listening to the Chief Judge. When you say “Hi” to any of them, they will not even smile. They’ll look at you as an alien. Despite that, if you stand near them … immediately they’ll say “Hi… Can you please go inside…  You aren’t supposed to stand here”.

In one of the contests, we had a new Chief judge. He was methodically following the rules. He didn’t leave any stone unturned. He took every possible effort to hide the identity of judges.
  • He took the judges to a secret room in the contest venue and briefed them.
  • After the briefing, he asked the judges to leave the room one after the other and NOT as a group.
  • He didn't share the judges list with anyone including the person who writes certificates.
  • The judges were asked to occupy different seats in the hall.
  • They were told to not sit near contestants.
Despite all this extraordinary preparations, the whole crowd knew who the judges were. Guess what?! Why it would be difficult? Only 7 people in the entire audience were having this bright green colored wooden writing pad.

Friends, if you couldn’t spot a judge using any of the techniques that I shared with you… there is one last technique…  If you know that someone has a high probability of becoming a judge… say for example, our monkey Kartik Srinivasan … go to him and ask “Sir! What role are you playing today”. He’ll immediately tell you “I’m not supposed to tell you that”. Hey “HE is a judge!!”