A Meeting filled with information and laughter!

As you know our incredibly cerebral toastmasters cerebrate often.  Today, they demonstrated just how marvelous their cerebrating skills are when answering Table Topics questions, presenting beautiful speeches and particularly when evaluating the meeting

Our first speaker, Daniel Frasson, gave an engaging speech comparing the use of porcelain tiles and hardwood flooring.  Dan explained there are three factors to consider:

  • Design and flexibility
  • The Cost of Ownership
  • Durability

Wood plank tiles have the look and feel of hardwood.  They can be made in a variety of colors, moving more to the grey that is fashionable now.  The cost of hardwood runs about $125 per square foot.  Wood plank tiles, on the other hand, cost about $7.00 per square foot.  Wood looks great, but pets and children can stain and scratch the material.

Be armed with this information if you are planning to redecorate your home.

If you’ve been in the club for any length of time, you know Paula Hesch.  Today we had a re-introduction to Paula, with an Icebreaker.  She asked us if we had ever been advice from our parents that impacted our lives.  Her mother’s counsel was, “to always be independent and be able to support yourself.”

Her parents separated while she was in college.  Her mother went back to school and prepared to pursue better employment.  After college, Paula traveled throughout the world.  She married and moved with her husband to Albany New York.  The big city girl wondered what she was going to do in Albany, a small city, during a recession.  A job and career opportunity,  in her field of interior design, presented itself.  She preferred working in commercial design — not retail, so she entered a 2-year masters program in New York City.  Once a week she’d travel to school in the “Big Apple,” the remainder of the week, she continued to work in Albany.

Paula’s husband’s job took him to the University of Miami School Of Law.   Having a family was also important to Paula, and the couple had two children, Jason and Dana.  She taught at Bauder Fashion, Miami-Dade College and FIU as well as working at some notable interior design firms.  But Paula was looking to move forward.  With her 20-year marriage coming to an end, her children young teenagers, the thought of starting a business seemed a new and exciting challenge with more flexibility in her life.

Today, Paula counts herself as lucky getting her mother’s advice.  She is undoubtedly independent and able to support herself.  She claims her daughter is also an even more independent woman.

Dan Sanchez-Galarraga presented some questions that certainly pushed our contestants to cerebrate during Table Topics.  Our Blue Ribbon Winner was Dwayne Robinson, who when asked, “Who was the biggest influence in your life?” responded that it was his mother.

Our evaluation team led by Cris Stenstrom, along with Felix Lorenzo and Jim Hartnett, gave us all some thoughtful ideas for our future presentations.  Here are a few you may find helpful:

  • To add emphasis, repeat main points.
  • Using pauses will break up multiple facts.
  • When giving an informative speech, try not to pause and look upward.  It appears that you may not have all of the answers.
  • Begin the speech with what you want everyone to hear.  Do not start with something extraneous or immaterial to your talk.

Wonderful meeting.  Hope to see you next week…..

Here’s what you missed July 5, 2018

Seldom have I attended a Toastmasters meeting that was as thoughtful and profound as this meeting.  Our first speaker, Jason Hesch, gave a speech titled, “Is love a right?”  He brought the audience into his speech by requesting we imagine a romantic situation in which we are rebuffed.  Then he asked, “What if this rejection happens over and over again?”  This is an on-going reality for many disabled persons.  Jason’s 9th speech from the manual was provocative, challenging and insightful.

Our second speaker, Felix Lorenzo, began his talk with an admonition,  “Perhaps what I’m about to say is for a different audience.”  Is there Ageism in Miami?  Miami appeals to the young, with its sports facilities, places of entertainment, tourist attractions and beaches.  So much of what is Miami’s allure is paid for in part by taxes.

As his speech progressed, we found ourselves once again, considering life from a different point of view.  Few in the audience are of retirement age.  Yet Felix was speaking of the desperation some older residences contemplate.  Thoughts such as, “shall I pay for medication or food,” or “do I have enough income to sustain me?”  Real estate taxes continue to rise and are more than what some elderly can afford.  The economy and retirement are things we must all consider…regardless of where we are in life.

Our Table Topics master, Sharon Patish brought a lighter side to the meeting.  Our contestants had time to weigh in on their best, and worst vacations, as well as letting us know their preferences on the length of time away, and even where to go on a destination wedding vacation.  Of course, there can only be one Table Topics Winner, and this week, Tara Christou told us about her best vacation, where she and her family were able to view the aurora borealis and even play with reindeer (Santa Claus was not included).

Tu Duong, our Master Evaluator, along with his able team, Dan Sanchez-Galarraga and, Paula Hesch added to our knowledge with some evaluation tips.  Two suggestions are:

  1. Don’t use lengthy notes — outlines are easier to handle.
  2. Particularly, when stating a problem, leave the audience with a call to action.


From the “New Miami,” to learning American Politics, to Living a Dog’s Life….

You missed a great hour if you didn’t make it to our Miracle Mile Toastmasters meeting.  There were 2 marvelous prepared speeches, and innovative Table Topics questions. We learned one of our members won an award at her company’s “boot camp” training, another Award Winning Toastmaster will be off to London to continue her career there, and OMG, if Alex could be anything else it would be a dog???

Our first speaker, Angela Martinez is a Miami Realtor who spoke about “The New Miami.”  Angela compared the real estate market to the stock market with it’s ups and downs.  “After all, it can’t always be driving upward.”  We’ve certainly seen bumps in the road, but understanding what drives and sustains the market is important.  Some of the statistics she gave were encouraging.  Buying a home can be an excellent investment as a place to live or to rent.  Currently 50% of the homes/condos in Miami are rented.  Miami is the #2 city in the country when looking at population growth.  We have more than 26,000 additional jobs in January 2017, than in January 2016.  Future development looks excellent.  It seems now is an exciting time for the real estate industry.

Our second speaker was Felix Lorenzo.  Coming from Cuba he brings an interesting perspective to his speeches.  He said on his arrival to the United States, folks said he came from a banana country (or republic).  He wasn’t quite sure what that was.  Felix noted that as a young person Communist newspapers were shut down.  Later after regime changes, he noted that many people who worked actively in the former government, found jobs in the new — there was a requirement however — becoming a communist.  Today, Felix is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  Instead he is proudly an Independent.  What he does do is listen to both sides of political discussions and recommends we practice using our listening skills as well.

Table Topics was most enjoyable.  Our speakers were Tu Duong, Alex Moreira, Jerry Bailey, Ghislaine Demombynes, Arlene Amitirigala, Hang Tran and Mike Molina.  It was hard to choose the top three from this group.  In third place was our award-winning Table Topics speaker, Arlene Amitirigala, speaking on WHAT?  She’s moving to London!  Our loss is the UK’s gain.  In second place was Mike Molina who admitted he doesn’t think about others as often as he should.  Our Mike?  Say it isn’t so.  And the winner was Alex Moreira who believes a dogs life isn’t so bad.  His mentor:


Our evaluation team (Chris Mesa, Elena Cobo and Sharon Patish) gave us all something to think about before we deliver another speech.

  • In order to make a point — use examples that are relevant to the audience.
  • If your giving statistics round up your numbers (i.e, more than 20,000 instead of 20,435).
  • Make your ending strong.  Preface it with a comment like, “This I know for sure.”
  • Organize the speech.
  • Where possible use a conversational tone.

Thanks to everyone who made this meeting so much fun.


The theme of the meeting was “Fostering an Entrepreneurial Mindset” appropriately chosen by our Toastmaster of the day, Leisha John.  Leisha brings passion and energy particularly when dealing with environmental issues and a green planet.
Our first speaker, Sharon Patish, told a tale of  “Secrets and Elephants”.  Sharon gave a wonderful speech on a personal and touching subject, which took a great deal of courage and composure.  She shared with us the fact of her adoption as an infant by her biological uncle and his husband.  Her birth mother was too young when she gave birth to Sharon and could not care for her.  Then the idea of adoption came up and  luckily she remained within her biological family circle.  The family kept the adoption a secret although there were telltale signs and it often felt as if there was an elephant in the room.  While Sharon was in her senior year in high school, she was busy with many activities leading to her high school graduation.  During this time, her Aunt Florence (Sharon’s biological mother) had a heart attack landing in the hospital Sharon did not visit and this really hurt Florence.  Eventually they established a relationship.  Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago and Sharon received a letter in the mail with pictures from Tom Wagner.  His mother, Joanne turned out to be one of Sharon’s twin sisters and also Tom Wagner’s mother.  The enormous family secret was out and the elephant in the room is no longer there.
The second speaker was Cristian Stenstrom who delivered a speech giving 4 insights from starting his recent business. He shared a few “kernels” (word of the day) to keep in mind:  1) IDEA – one must have a good idea either for a product that already exist but a better version or new idea (something new and innovative).  2) PICK YOUR PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES WISELY – If you are successful you must deal with these people daily so it better be fun.  3) CHOOSE YOUR INVESTORS WISELY – .Don’t take just any money.  Make sure investor’s ethics are in line with you.  4) BE FOCUSED BUT NOT TOO FOCUSED – be open-minded, live in the present, plan for the future.  In Cristian’s case he and his partner started with  KEYFETCH but a secondary product for pets they introduced in Holland has done so much better.
The Table Topics Master was David Jimenez whose questions fit in with the theme of the meeting.
1) Sylvia do Pico told us she tends to stick with an idea for TOO long and was reminded of her first business venture where she would not let go and it didn’t go too well.
2)  Anna-Kaye Lue shared that she evaluates and comes up with new ideas while in bed.  Later, when the idea takes some shape she transfers  it to whiteboard and expands from there.
3) Susan Racher told us that she will go as far as it takes to be successful without negatively impacting others. Early in her career working for corporate America it was difficult to be successful without stepping on toes but luckily now she works for a philanthropic organization where there is no interference.
4)  Arlene Amitirilaga told us success is everything.  Success can be found in things we learn, people we meet, how actions impact other.  Success is all around us.
5) Jim Harnett shared the difference between owning a business and working for someone else. Owning your own business is a personal obligation and the amount of profit depends   on you.  On the other hand, when working for someone else you are directed as to what you contribute.
6)  Jody Johnson told us her favorite entrepreneur is Sir  Richard Branson because he is fun, admits failure and is committed. Jody also considers all her clients she coaches as her favorite entrepreneurs.
1st place: Jody Johnson
2nd place: Susan Racher
3rd  place: Arlene Amitirilaga
The Master Evaluator was Luisa Herran who gave a review of the meeting commenting how it ran smoothly and commended Evaluator 1  – Jennifer Garcia and Evaluator 2 – Alex Moreira for such great evaluations on Sharon’s and Cristian’s speeches.
Before adjourning, President Sharon Patish welcomed our only guest of the day, Amanda Velazquez.  We hope to see you again!