Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran


Our Toastmaster for the day was Sharon Patish who did an excellent job as TM.  The theme of the meeting was LISTENING.

The 1st speaker was Jorge de Cardenas who honored us with his Ice Breaker.  He opened by saying he would be sharing 3 things about himself.  1) He had no direction. We learned from Jorge that he was a B student throughout H.S. and only studied once for a test.  He had no direction but fortunately due to an older brother there came a turning point.  One day his brother pointed out that if he did not study he would wind up working for a fast food place.  If he was fine with it then be it, otherwise he needed an education.  As a result, Jorge enrolled in MDC and got all As.  2) Family: when he met his wife Jane he thought she was beautiful.  They started dating but shortly thereafter he was transferred to Venezuela so they broke up.  When he returned, he called her but she was seeing someone else.  Jorge continued to insist and she finally said yes.  He is glad he was so persistent because they have now been happily married for 17 years and have 3 children. 3) Business: Jorge graduated with a degree in Accounting.  He went to work for an Auditor and learned about different industries and how the businesses are run. Jorge was particularly interested in Hedge Funds and saw an opportunity to calculate profit and loss and be transparent for a business that is difficult to understand for most.  He started his own business in the field and today the company has 140 employees and $22 billion in assets under administration.

The 2nd speaker was Jody Johnson who showed us how to get into our flow and create wealth.  Successful entrepeneurs focus where they are strong and unsuccessful entrepeneurs want to do everything on their own.  This is why it is important to know your strengths and weaknesses.  Jody presented the method to determine one’s wealth profile depending on one’s personality.  There are several traits, creator/supporter/deal maker/trader/accumulator/lord/mechanic/.  It is important to know what your strengths are in order to make your business successful but it is also equally important knowing your employees strengths.  Jody gave the example of a client who had the LORD trait.  He had no experience in the business but had the ability to see the company had 21% waste and was able to reduce wasteto 1%.  Jody finished by referring us to the handouts and encouraging us to take the wealth dynamics test.

Jason Hesch was the Table Topics Master who had a unique way for contestants to LISTEN.  Jason had us listen to musical themes and speak about what the melody reminded us.

1)      Nick Zwemer said the theme reminded him of dinosaurs however, it was the Back to the Future theme.

2)      Gonzalo Sanabria had no idea about the theme but said it reminded him of his state of mind in the morning. He has scrambled thoughts and is not always sure whether he should heed his own advice; his mind is always playing tricks on him.

3)      Jane de Cardenas was not sure about the theme but said the song made her bouncy and happy and not grouchy like she feels in the morning

4)      Sharon Patish thought the music was before her time, perhaps from the 40s during WWII.  For a minute she thought it was something about cooking and was hoping they would throw in a recipe.

5)      Alexandre Moreira said the theme reminded him of the 50s, NYC and Frank Sinatra.  He was recently in NYC and was amazed being in Grand Central Station and how pleasures in life can be very small.

6)      Felix Lorenzo congratulated Jason on his idea.  He said he had no idea of the theme but coming from Cuba all you need are 2 hands to make noise.  He listens to all types of music but never misses the opportunity to play salsa then you will see everyone dancing.

7)      Ghislaine Demombynes said it was incredible how music changes your mood.  She always works in silence but this reminds her how positive listening to music can be.

1st Place:  Felix Lorenzo

2nd Place: Alex Moreira

3rd Place:  Nick Zwemer

Master Evaluator:    Lina Draney gave a thorough and positive evaluation of the meeting

Evaluator 1:  Chris Wolfe evaluated Jorge de Cardenas’ Ice Breaker.  Chris liked that the speech was broken into 3 parts and how Jorge explained this from the start.  Good hand gestures, volume and fluctuation, likeable guy.  Improvements:  ums and ahs can be replaced by silence.  Remove hand from pockets.  Do not turn to back wall.  Outstanding Ice Breaker.  Jorge is a diamond in the rough.

Evaluator 2:  Tu Duong evaluated Jody Johnson’s speech.  He liked that she started with a question to the audience.  She has a soft, clear voice and was well prepared.   Jody always brings something new and makes a complex topic simple by giving a clear message.  Improve:  topic too long for such a short meeting.

Our President and Toastmaster, Sharon Patish welcomed new members Arlene Amitrigala and Jane de Cardenas.


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

Our Toastmaster of the day was Chris Wolfe, who is outstanding and always leads energy-charged meetings.

Jim Hartnett was the 1st speaker and as our Toastmaster mentioned, needed no introduction particularly because he founded Miracle Mile Toastmasters 55 years ago.  Chris also referred to him as Saint James.

We were entertained by one of Jim’s many “ice-breaker” speeches, mostly for the benefit of our newer members and guests.  Jim told us his family left New York in 1925 settling in Miami and shortly thereafter, they had their first hurricane disaster in 1926.  Jim was the third of 5 siblings (5 boys and 1 girl).  He was born in Miami.  He went to Union College in New York but did not quite make it through his freshman year because the school felt he did not meet their standards so he came back to Miami and attended UM and later UF.  He was drafted to serve in the Korean War; he spent 16 months in Korea and 8 months in South Carolina.  Jim went into the family insurance business and is still active today.  He met his wife, the daughter of a Miami City Commissioners at a dance, dated for 2 years and married.  Jim’s father was Mayor of Coral Gables so Jim often refers to his marriage as a political merger.  The Hartnetts had a boy and a girl and now are the happy grandparents of 4 grandchildren.  When Jim was growing up Coral Gables was a great town.  There was no crime and things were more relaxed.  He recalled the occasion when due to heavy rain the bus he took went off its route to drop him off in front of his house.  Jim was 10 years old when WWII started.  When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor everything changed.  There were rations for food, for gas and coupons were handed out.  People saved everything.  Recycling is not a new concept; back then everything was recycled.  Now you know more about Saint James.

The second Speaker was Nick Zwemer who taught us three lessons you won’t learn in a Scuba Diving School.  He started out his speech by asking the audience to raise their hands if they were Certified Scuba Divers. He told us he was certified at the age of 12 but there weren’t too many certified 12 year olds so he didn’t scuba dive for some time.  He went on to tell us that ordinarily, in a school of scuba they teach the basic safety rules of controlled breathing underwater, always dive with a buddy, etc.  However, there are three important lessons to pay attention to which won’t be taught at any scuba school. 1) Sea turtles are jerks.  They are not the cool, relaxed turtles depicted in the movie Nemo.  If you come across a sea turtle you should stay out of their way. Before knowing this fact, Nick was charged by a sea turtle; this is why they are jerks. 2) Never pee in your wet suit no matter the urgency.   At first you will feel a sense of warmth but wet suits are made to retain water/liquid so you will be swimming in your pee until you remove the suit.  3) Never touch anything under water.  Everything under water stings like jellyfish and some fish are poisonous.

Our Table Topics Master was Leisha John.  Leisha always has fun and challenging questions.

1)      Luisa Herran talked about her two favorite social causes, which are the Guardian Ad-Litem Program and the women’s fellowship ministry at Homestead’s Correctional Institute.  She explained their purpose and why she feels compelled to volunteer.

2)      Dominique Stauffer told us the biggest issues facing America today are children.  We don’t care enough for children particularly in the education area.  This is one of the reasons why we need to import jobs.  Her love for children also led her to the Guardian Ad-Litem program.

3)      Jerry Bailey shared his view on how Toastmasters changes prisoners’ lives.  He has seen men who now have a purpose and better sense of who they are and how they continue to improve.  Not only that, but Jerry himself has grown through the experience.

4)      Arlene Amitirigala told us what she expected to accomplish from   joining Toastmasters.   She said she anticipated exhilarating ideas, interesting topics and people, and learning from the materials.

5)      Sylvia de Pico said that the most important aspect of effective communication is to have a clear mind and have the ability to express yourself.  You have to know your own mind and pull forward the right words.

6)      Alexander Moreira told us he wasn’t sure where he and his family would go if Miami was no longer habitable.  One thing he did know for sure is he would go somewhere higher.  He reminded us of his advice to “sell low, buy high”.

7)      Sharon Patish told us what she has learned from the Presidential debates.  She mentioned how the candidates are pros at speaking spontaneously.  She felt the last debate was congenial.  She encouraged us to listen carefully to what the candidates have to say so we can make the right choices.

8)      Brian McMahon told us his favorite meal was old-fashioned chicken parmesan.  He shared a conversation he had amongst friends where they talked about their choices for a last meal. One friend said surf and turf, another said salmon and steamed vegetables, while Brian would go for old-fashioned chicken parmesan.  He thinks there might be a hint of Italian in him.

9)      Chris Wolfe explained what makes Coral Gables special.  He believes the city maintains high standards, and crime control.  For a while there were home invasions but they were quickly stopped. It’s also special because it is a tightly run community.

The winners of Table Topics:

1st place:  Jerry Bailey

2nd place: Brian McMahon

3rd place: Arlene Amitirigala

The Master Evaluator was Cristian Stenstrom, Evaluator 1 was Chris Nolte, and Evaluator 2 was Ghislaine Demombynes.

Chris Nolte evaluated Jim Hartnett’s speech. Chris like how Jim used verbal history to give us more information from visualizing his description of events.  He was great in the use of pauses/transitions.  However, he could improve in maintaining the sequence of events because he was back and forth, which made it hard to keep up.

Ghislaine Demombyne evaluated Nick Zwemer’s speech. Nick had a great introduction and engaged the audience.  He had vocal variety and subject expertise gave him strength.  Can improve the use of “so” by preparing connectors beforehand.  Conclusion was abrupt, needed a call to action.

We welcomed our guests, Brian McMahon and Paul Massad.   Hope to see you at our next meeting.


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran


Mike Molina was Acting President as well as Toastmaster.  This is just proof that Toastmasters teaches us hands-on how to juggle different responsibilities and wear different hats.  Mike did a superb job as both.

The first speaker was Jerry Bailey and his speech was from the advanced manual project “Speak Off the Cuff”. The title: “Jerry’s Views of things”.  Jerry’s views were on the U.S. Presidential elections which reminded him of Charles Dickens’ opening of A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Being the ever optimist, he was able to convey that although things may not look so good the U.S. is resilient and the current state of affairs have happened before in history and here we are.  To understand the dynamic of the elections we need to view things from a global context and considering that, for the most part, the Republican party is radical.

  • Germany and refugee crisis – Germany can benefit from influx of Syrians who are young and educated while Germany has a declining birth rate
  • Relations with China
  • Obama’s agreement with Iran
  • The Trump factor
  • Russia/Syria

The second speaker was Tu Duong who presented his eighth speech entitled, “Seeing is Believing”.  Tu showed the audience through a series of pictures that what is true for one person is not true for another.  He went on to say that “there is no absolute truth, there is only your perception of truth”.  Each person has a different experience therefore the perception of truth will be different for each person depending on their circumstance.  We don’t need to agree with each other but we do need to recognize where each person is coming from.

Table Topics was led by Jim Hartnett.  These were the responses:

Ghislaine Demombynes did not tell us about herself.  She commented on Tu’s speech and how we are    subject to perception, not absolute truth.  We must have a fresh look on things.

Nick Zwemer completed “I am” by telling us he is working on a Facebook page for Miracle Mile Toastmasters and also a Facebook page for family sustainable culture.

Chris Nolte told us a story about himself.  He said the reason he is here is that he thrives in these meetings and just loves to see so many guests.  He also likes that he is  able to manipulate, in a positive sense, through his speeches.

Chris Wolfe told us what he wanted us to know about him.  He said life is short so we need to make a difference.  His 4 year old son passed on at such an early   time and as a consequence he had a burning desire to serve others.  He founded a speaking club in prison for men to help them transform their lives as they transition out of prison.

George Cardenas told us about how he was born and raised in Miami and how he loves the ocean.  He was born in the perfect place because he gets to enjoy so many water activities.

Mike Molina told us how something funny happened to him on his way to the meeting.  On his way to the meeting a friend called and Mike decided to answer thinking it would be a short call.  What he thought would be short turned out to be lengthy.  It’s funny that the thought of being late for Toastmasters made the call even longer than what it seemed.

The winners:

1st place:  Chris Wolfe

2nd place: Chris Nolte

3rd place: George Cardenas

Leisha John evaluated John Bailey’s speech.  She indicated that Jerry established his credibility early on and that he definitely is a great speaker with excellent eye contact.  Suggestions:  He drifted a bit and could have been louder.  He had a great closing.

Chris Wolfe evaluated Tu Duong’s speech.  Chris pointed out that Tu was comfortable with visual aids. His opening was good, he had 3 visual aids.  In the body he used gesture and good voice but a little too fast. Improvement: lack of repetition of the message being conveyed and weak closing, closed a little too fast.  Overall, it was a good speech.

We welcomed our guests and hope they come back soon.

Our guests were Kristin Hebert, Leeza Ovalle, Brian McMahon, Samuel Maya, Alexandra Bellon, and Paul Massad.  We welcome you and hope to see you again on the 15th!


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran


Gonzalo was our Toastmaster who had a great theme: LAUGHTER!  Laughter can lengthen our lives due to the chemical reaction it causes by releasing endorphins, reducing stress and boosting your immune system. Gonzalo did an excellent job as Toastmaster.

The word of the day was HYSTERICAL.

The only speaker for the day was Luisa Herran.  Her speech was entitled “ANGELS AMONG US”.  She shared her encounter with angels.  On one occasion, an angel comforted her in the midst of her anxiety while waiting for a response from a potential employer.  Things seemed to not be going her way.  An angel woke her from her sleep by whispering in her ear: “the job is yours” and sure enough she got the job!  The second time, an angel literally moved her car from a potential horrific accident while she traveled with her two young children.  She is certain she had an angel encounter in both instances because she felt their presence and because she believes in angels.

The Table Topics Master was Nick Zwemer.  He always brings great questions, that are fun and challenging.   Here is a recap:

Dianne Saavedra commented that she can find humor in just about everything and finds it reduces anxiety.  Any adverse situation can be defused with humor.

Tu Dong told us the funniest movie he has ever seen is Coming to America.  As a matter of fact, he finds it so funny he has watched it several times with his wife and children.  Funniest of all are the bloopers at the end of the film.

Jason Hesch finds Jon Stewart and Colbert to be the funniest people on television.  They make you laugh about everything.  Jason finished with a joke: “knock-knock.  Who’s there? To – To who? Not to who –     to whom!

Leisha John said between physical and intellectual humor, she prefers intellectual humor like Louis CK and Colbert.  Lately she has been leaning towards physical comedy because her professor in a Mortuary Director course she’s enrolled in uses it quite a bit.  This obviously defuses the tension of this type of work.

Sharon Patish would not want to have a laugh track or she would be laughing all the time.  This could have been a problem when she had abdominal surgery.  However, she remembered that the first time she laughed after surgery, it was painful.  The pain did subside the more she laughed.

Andres del Corral has found laughter in his wedding planning.  Unlike Nick Zwemer, he is not being involved by his fiancé in the details.  All he knows is that he is going on an African tour for his honeymoon

Christian Strenstrom finds humor in adversity.  He is reminded of the men in prison who use laughter to defuse their angst.  He is also reminded of how his best friend was mourning the death of his father and Chris had him over to reminisce.  They celebrated his friend’s father through laughter.

Jim Harnett shared with Andres the perfect formula for a happy marriage and life without parole.  He said the formula was to say YES to everything.

The winners of the Table Topics segment were:

1st Place: Christian Stenstrom

2nd Place: Leisha John

3rd Place: Jim Harnett

Mike Molina was the Master Evaluator and under him there were two speech evaluators, Dominique Stauffer and Leisha John.  Both ladies are great evaluators and provided important and helpful feedback to Luisa.  Salient points for improvement were:

Be more forceful/don’t start with excuses/more audience involvement/use gestures & modulation/more dramatic closing

Last but not least, we welcomed our previous guests Emy and Anna-Kaye.  Please come back, we enjoy your company.