We spoke with two Toastmasters who started a corporate club. Here are some tips to help you start one, too. Aurigo MasterWords (club # 7219118) who chartered November 19 2018.
Aurigo Software is a global software company headquartered in Austin, that provides capital program and project portfolio management software solutions for large capital infrastructure owners in the public and private sectors (including ports, city governments and state transport departments). (wikipedia). The club is named after Aurigo's best-selling product - Masterworks.
Who decided to start your corporate club and why?
Employee growth is a key value at Aurigo. Aurigo executive team is committed to providing employees opportunities to develop necessary job skills. Since many of the Austin-based employees are customer-facing, Aurigo’s executive team decided to invest in helping employees improve their communication and interpersonal skills. As a result, Aurigo MasterWords corporate club was started with Manish Sharma as the executive sponsor.
What level of knowledge did your company have about TI and how did that play into “selling” them on the idea of a club?
Manish, along with some other members of the executive team, have experience with Toastmasters. He proposed in Fall of 2018 starting a Toastmaster chapter. He positioned the benefits one could expect from actively participating in Toastmasters and how they could impact both the individuals and the company aspirations. He got buy-in from our employees to launch a new chapter.
How long did it take to charter your club, from the moment you first spoke w/someone to you gained TI approval as a new club?
About one month.
What groups within your company became involved to help sell the idea or help promote (HR, Sales, Marketing, etc.)?
Really all of the US-based departments. Product team, Sales & Marketing, Customer Success, and Professional Services all support and encourage participation in the chapter.
Describe the chartering process (be open…”The paperwork is the most difficult part but once you have buy-in from your company it goes rather quickly…”, etc.)
The chartering process was straight forward. Jean Ramsey, District 55 Club Growth Director provided excellent help in making this process easy and seamless for us. She provided necessary insights and helped us in completing paperwork for the chartering process.
What are your goals for your first year?
Our main goal is to see consistent participation by our chapter members (about 30 people currently). We’ve worked hard to help people get comfortable with doing different meeting roles. We also have a strong on-boarding effort of recruiting new hires into Toastmasters. As the comfort with the roles has grown, we are now moving more of the focus at encouraging Pathway progress. By this time next year, I believe that we’ll see both individual and chapter recognition.
What are your expectations from the District and TI?
For me, the expectations have been just to help me, and my chapter members, with easy answers. Some I feel have achieved that, but others have not. I feel the District has provided a better set of resources than the TI site. I really appreciate the District resources for Pathways.
I would like to see the District improve its business meeting. Attending for the first time in April showed me that there is such a heavy emphasis on rules and order that it creates an inefficient business process.
I also understand that officer training used to be less than 4 hours, but now seems wed to that. I can appreciate training of more than just officer-focused duties, but at the same time, I feel that there is a burden of time being imposed on the officers. This tends to cause resistance to attend such training, even if required for recognition.
Finally, what would you say to anyone who is thinking about starting a corporate club but doesn’t know why it would be of benefit?
Consider your main communication challenges—and if you think you have none, then you are in the rare 1% of US companies. How do you want to ensure your messages to your customers are effective and are presented with confidence? How can you build skills in your employee base to respond quickly to impromptu customer questions? The solution is practice, practice, and practice. Toastmasters provides one of the best opportunities for practicing communication skills and building confidence in speaking face-to-face with customers, peers, other team members, and even family and friends. Grow your talented employees through Toastmasters.