Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

THE THEME OF OUR MEETING WAS: There was no theme, there was not even a Toastmaster or for that matter an Agenda!

It was getting close to starting time and our President, Sharon Patish was trying to calmly figure out what to do.  Luckily, Chris Nolte volunteered to be Toastmaster for the day.  Also, with great advice from Hector Hernandez and support from Sharon, Chris was able to put together a paperless Agenda.  He commented that Leisha John, our Green Toatmaster would have been proud of us going paperless.  Chris decided that the theme for our meeting would be “IMPROVISING ON THE FLY”, which was quite appropriate.

The meeting turned out to be one of the funniest, most entertaining meetings I have attended and many of the long-standing Toastmaster commented the same.  Toastmasters and guests were bent over with laughter.  We laughed so hard our sides hurt.  It was hilarious, and here is how it started.

The first speaker, Jason Hesch really made us laugh.  His speech was about George W. Bush’s misuse of the English language.  Jason shared infamous Bush quotes and cautioned us not to fall into making the same mistakes.  There were many quotes Jason shared.  For example, Bush said that his opponent McCain had “misunderestimated me” and it’s the reason he won the candidacy for President.  Another example, “Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?”  There were many more and Jason did a fabulous job delivering his message.  You had to be there!

Susan Racher was our second speaker.  The title of her speech was “Out of the Clutter and Out of the Closet of a Dumpster Diva”.  Susan had us laughing from start to end. After 30 years of living in the same home, she decided it needed a facelift. She felt like she was trying out for one of those HOARDER reality shows.  Her aim, besides remodeling, was to simplify her life by losing clutter.  In the process, she found so many things she didn’t know she had, and had no use for.  She broke the process down into 6 steps starting out with the garage then moving into the house 1) where to trash the garbage? There weren’t enough Glad bags to contain all the trash.  She Googled : “dumpsters” and VOILA!  found them in all sizes and colors, 2) sort out, 3) create rules, do not keep what doesn’t give you joy; donate, 4) moved into house. Found gifts from mother-in-law she had never used, 5) protect things you love, label, 6) organize inside closets.  She found the exercise to be the “convergence” of all episodes of her life.  Now she was ready to redecorate.  There were tears of regret or were they mostly tears of relief?

Table Topics are always so entertaining when Paula Hesch is the Table Topics Master.  Paula was very creative, and the theme was Grab Bag.  She had a bag filled with different items, which she had each contestant pull and talk about the item, or sell it or tell a story.  1) Jim Harnett pulled out a magazine, which he tried to sell as a precious document to apply to your home life on how to save your marriage and how to raise children.  The advice from the magazine: don’t marry in the first place and if you don’t like children, don’t have any.  2) Virginia Wolber pulled out a tape measure.  She explained how it was used in decorating just the previous week by her husband when putting up pictures in their new home.  He really made it into a mathematical process.  3) Gonzalo Sanabria pulled out an American classics CD, which reminded him of his college days. When he studied he always listened to classical music and still does.  4) Roxanne Jorge pulled out a bottle of Goo Gone.  She has several of these at home but doesn’t know what the product is used for.  She read the label right there and then and figured out its use. 5) Hector Hernandez pulled out a trophy.  He told us in amazement how he stills wonders how he pulled it off?  How he managed to marry so many times?  The trophy   was for having the most marriages.  1st place went to Hector, 2nd place went to Roxanne, and 3rd place went to Jim.  GREAT TABLE TOPICS!

The Evaluators were Jodi Johnson (1) and Sharon Patish (2).  They both gave great evaluations and their feedback was quite useful.  The speeches were so funny that there was not much to improve.

We wish to welcome our guests back:  Roxanne Jorge, former Toastmaster and possibly rejoining! Dianne Saavedra-Corradi, Yoanny Alvarez, and Claudia Hernandez, guest of Hector Hernandez (no relation).


We were pleased to welcome our Area Director, Geno Jaramillo to the meeting.  Geno had come to install our new officers.  Unfortunately Mike Molina, Educational Vice President, Chris Nolte, Membership Vice President, Luisa Herran, Secretary and Ghislaine Demombynes, Treasurer, were unable to attend.  However we were able to   observe Jim Hartnett, Sergeant at Arms, Nick Zwemer, Vice President Public Relations, and Sharon Patish, President accept their new responsibilities.


Our own “Tedster,” Leisha John, presented a challenge, to consider the possibility of expanding our horizons by presenting a topic at Ted Talks.  Sometimes referred to as the “Ultimate Brain Spa,” or “The New Harvard,” Ted gives one the opportunity to stand in the big red dot and espouse an idea.  Founded in 1984, as a one-off event, it is now a global set of conferences, with the slogan, “Ideas worth spreading.”  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design and it is around those three areas the initial discussions revolved, but the focus has now expanded and includes many cultural, scientific and academic topics.  Leisha’s was “White Roofs for Green Schools,” and she happily showed how starting the idea of painting the roof of one school, has taken root and now 75 schools in Dade County have incorporated this trend.  It’s not only a proven financial success, but it has lowered carbon emissions.  How are speakers chosen?  You need to have credentials — have you written a book, is your job a catalyst towards presenting an idea? Do you have a personal connection with the topic?  At the end of your talk, have a call to action.  So, do you have an idea worth spreading?  Organize a speech that is under 18 minutes, then nominate yourself or have someone nominate you.  The nomination forms are available on line.  What’s stopping you?


Paula Hesch is an accomplished designer, a past president of Miracle Mile Toastmasters, and she started our mentorship program…so she is not someone you would think was on her way to prison.  Of course, Paula was going to the Voices of Time Gavel Club, at the Everglades Correctional Institution.  Once each week, the club meets and members of our club attend as leaders or assistants.  Before traveling to the prison you’ll need to give Chris Wolfe (the leader) your driver’s license number, social security number and date of birth.  This starts your Security Clearance.  Once you arrive, the only thing you can bring is your driver’s license, car keys, paper and pen.  You hand over your driver’s license (don’t worry you get it back as you leave) and then just like the airport, take off your shoes, put your keys in a dish and move forward through a metal detector.  When you go to the building where the meeting is held you are handed a panic button (hmm, is that supposed to ease your mind).  As Paula and the others entered the meeting area, 40 men stood and gave them a standing ovation (a sign of gratitude for our assisting their program).  The speeches were incredible — an IceBreaker from a man who has been in prison since 1979.  Another inmate gave his 10th and final speech from the basic manual titled “Crossroads.”  It depicted exactly where he stands today.  Paula found the men motivated, opinionated, focused and knowledgeable.  The meeting ended early and Cristian Stenstrom, said there was time for more Table Topics.  The men were told they could ask Paula questions.  Very good questions were forthcoming, the last was “What will you tell your club about us.”  Paula’s answer to them and to us, “the Voices of Time Gavel Club is well run, interesting and, most of all, enjoyable.

Our time was running out so Hector Hernandez, Table Topics Master had time for only 3 questions.  He queried Tu about whether giving up attachments is helpful to achieving a better life.  Hector then had the misfortune to ask Leisha how he could redeem himself.  Finally he asked Wanda Bee if she thought redemption is overrated.  Leisha won with her answer on how Hector could redeem himself.  Poor Hector.


When developing a speech focus on what your conclusions will be.  It helps tighten the speech.

Have an emotional connection with the audience.

When possible get the audience involved.  Ask questions.


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

Jodi Johnson was Toastmaster for our July 16 meeting.  She ran a wonderful meeting inspiring us with the theme “Taking Action Now”.  Jodi encouraged us to take action today, take action now when we are still on this earth.

We were entertained by the speakers of the day who gave great speeches and inspired us to become more like them, accomplished speakers.

Mike Molina was the first speaker, he completed the Entertainment Series: Speak After Dinner, which calls for casual conversation in a relaxed atmosphere.  He did this quite well because it did feel as if we were having a casual conversation.   A few of the Toastmasters present even made comments and contributed to Mike’s speech, which was the idea.   He shared what has been happening in his life after the purchase of his home and how he and his fiancée finally settled for Miami Shores.  He amused us with stories of the neighbors they have met so far and their colorful personalities. Most importantly, he relayed how the previous owner had been a hoarder.  A relative of the previous owner found a large amount of cash, while Mike found a small sum.   There is word that there has to be a missing platinum ball in the premises so remodeling the place may become quite lucrative.  Mike was funny and witty and kept his audience entertained.

Speaker number two was Jerry Bailey.  His speech was about one of his searching experiences, which he appropriately entitled “5 Take-Aways for Luck”.  We learned that Jerry will never forget a face, but on the other hand has a habit of forgetting and leaving behind his wallet, his keys, or his phone.  However he is lucky to always recover what he leaves behind.   Jerry told us how he lost his passport in Paris during his last trip while the whole time, he had us at the edge of our seats wondering whether he had recovered it or not.  He took us on an adventure from when he first realized his passport was missing to the steps he took.  He retraced his steps to the places he had been like the bank, his apartment: nothing there.  He next filed a police report, and went to the train and metro Lost and Found: nothing there.  As it appeared, it didn’t seem he was going to recover his passport.  The next step was to go to the U.S. Embassy to fill out an application and get a replacement passport.  As usual, he waited until the last minute and when he was about to head out to the Embassy he got a call from the bank.  A cleaning lady had found the passport.  Had he gone to the Embassy earlier, he would have missed the call because no cell phone use is allowed at the Embassy.  What he learned and recommends from his experience: a) don’t put all your eggs in one basket (carry your personal belongings in different places),  b) learn the local customs, c) accept risk , 4) file reports, 5) be moderate in running to embrace timeliness.

Lina Draney had some excellent questions for Table Topics, which were along the line of our theme: “Take Action Now.”  The winners were: 3rd place, Leisha John – 2nd place, Jim Harnett – 1st place, Virginia Wolber.  Congratulations to such eloquent impromptu speakers.

Paula Hesch and Nick Zwemer were the speech evaluators and both gave excellent feedback.  Paula has many years of experience evaluating speeches, her feedback is always valuable.  Nick has been evaluating speeches for less than one year.  In the process , he has become a great evaluator and his feedback is also quite valuable.

It is important to keep in mind to always end your speeches by tying them back to the introduction and keeping the same level of enthusiasm throughout your speech.

Thank you to our returning guests, Anna-Kaye Lue, Sylvia do Pico and our first-time guest, Robert.  We look forward to their next visit.  Sylvia announced she was ready to take the plunge by becoming a new Toastmaster.  Congratulations, we are already looking forward to your “Icebreaker.”


Luisa Herran
Luisa Herran

Our Toastmaster of the day, Tu Duong hosted our July 9 meeting for the first time and did an amazing job!  He used the fable of the rabbit and the turtle as the theme but with a few twists.  He first explained the original moral of the story was: “slow and steady wins the race” and obviously, this occurred due to the rabbit’s overconfident attitude.  However, the Toastmaster took the fable to another level by giving different versions.  This time the rabbit asks the turtle to run another race but this time he does not fall asleep and wins the race.  Moral: “fast and reliable always beats slow and steady”.  But, this is not all.  Tu introduced a third version where the rabbit suggests doing the race again but using a different route.  Off they went. After a few miles they come upon a river and the rabbit cannot swim so the turtle wins the race.  Moral: “In order to achieve your objective you must know your core competencies”.  The different outcomes gave us something to think about.

We had two of our veteran speakers give speeches.  Both speeches were thought-provoking.


This was the title of Andy Newman’s speech and that is exactly how he started, with this question, which immediately engaged the audience. He brought up the fact that Toastmasters are afraid to sell and don’t talk much about their jobs, which is quite accurate.  Andy spoke about one of his business ventures and encouraged us to begin a new journey by identifying a segment of our economy that we aren’t using to its full potential.  This can be a spare bedroom, a vacation home that can generate income.  Why not swap homes with someone across the country or the world?  Take advantage of the economic revolution and live a simpler life.  Instead of owning a timeshare or booking a hotel room, why not experience adventure and a sense of belonging by going the route of AirBNB ?  Andy asked that we join him in this adventure.


was the title of Chris Wolfe’s speech.  Chris owns an insurance company and has been in the business for 41 years.  It was funny that Andy Newman should mention that we never speak about our jobs and Chris decided to speak on the subject.  Chris asked how many of us blame Obamacare for the rise in health insurance premiums.  Answers varied but those that said yes were partly right.  The bottom line, however is that we need to be able to control price of going to the Doctor or to the hospital in order to stabilize premiums.  In addition, we need more doctors, more hospitals; we need tort reform; hospitals need to be more transparent so we can shop around and force premiums to come down.

Jennifer Garcia was our TABLE TOPICS Master who had some very interesting and challenging questions.  Here are the responses from our impromptu speakers.

Jim Harnett told us about the fun he had growing up in Coral Gables and playing with his buddies in the DeSoto Fountain, particularly when they decided to  put bubble soap in the fountain.

Nick Zwemer talked about how he has never felt underestimated, which he attributes to his confident nature.  He attributes this trait to his upbringing and is grateful to his parents for having imparted confidence in him.

Chris Nolte, on the other hand, was underestimated once by his first boss who told him he did not have what it takes to be in sales.  Luckily, Chris did not let that bring him down and today he is very successful in his sales career.

Cristian Stenstrom said that the moral of his story is “enthusiasm” and explained how it has been a constant in his life.

Leisha John and Jodi Johnson were the speech evaluators under the direction of our Master Evaluator,  Ghislaine Demombynes.

Suggestions for improvement:

  • Be mindful of the time so you are not rushing at the end trying to wrap things up quickly and missing out on a powerful closing
  • Make sure that if your speech has a call to action that it is clear

We want to thank our guest for visiting and hope to see you again next week.  Our guests were Andrew Saint Lazare, Melissa Blundell Osorio, Roxanne Jorge (previously a member) and Anna-Kaye Lue.