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.


In honor of our country’s upcoming birthday, Chris Nolte, the Toastmaster of the day chose the theme “Americana.”  Throughout the meeting he told us several interesting facts about the United States.  For instance, did you know that we have more than 600 national parks?  Just when you thought there was no new place to visit,  you find at least 600 vacation choices.

Our first speaker, Lina Draney, asked us, “Have you ever looked at something familiar, but suddenly saw it as if you had never seen it before?”  She described 2 such incidents which took place in her own back yard.  While standing in her garden, she heard an unusual sound and looked to see from where it was coming.  Some blooming flowers had attracted quite a number of bees.  Her immediate alarm dissipated when she realized the bees were not interested in her at all — they were just gathering nectar for honey.  She spied 1 bee sitting atop a flower and realized it was grooming itself.  It actually took an antenna and appeared to be washing its face.   On another occasion, she was watching spiders.  She suddenly noticed that different spiders weave different types of webs.  Some are triangular, others rectangular, yet others combine various shapes.  All are intricate and incredibly strong.  She brought in a plant she’d grown and said until recently she hadn’t noticed it had tiny flowers.  We all took the opportunity to look at the small plant and find it’s delicate little flowers.  Lina maintained, “It’s amazing what we don’t see as we walk through our day.”

Tu Duong asked us, “How many of you have cell phones?”  That brought a 100% affirmative response — everyone did.  His next question, “Do you use it the way you did 10 years ago?”  Another 100% response — NOBODY DID.  So much is different and Tu suggests in the next 10 years we will see even greater change.  Tu believes the Smart Phone will become our health monitoring center.  It will be capable of detecting heart rate, blood pressure, heart valve problems, diabetes. The information can be transmitted directly to your doctor and if you need assistance, your GPS will lead paramedics to your location.  OMG!  Of less importance, but certainly adding ease to the day, your Smart Phone will change the way you shop.  Your wallet and credit cards will no longer be necessary.  Your phone can take a picture of what you want and billing can be completed in the time it takes to click.  In the Virtual Shopping world, imagine seeing s suit you like and then pressing a button to see how it would look on YOU.  What would it look like in a different color?  Just click away.  Hmmm, is the Smart Phone becoming smarter than us?

Andres Del Corral presided over Table Topics.  What interesting Americana questions, and what remarkable responses.  All were splendid, but in voting for the best, our 3rd place runner-up was Maria Larrazabal, 2nd place was Sharon Patish and our WINNER was, our guest, a former Toastmaster, Virginia Jimenez.

Our Master Evaluator Sharon Patish and her team, Jim Hartnett and Luisa Herran gave us some pointers to think about when we next speak.  Here are some examples:

As beginning speakers, we are nervous and our anxiety often gives way to speaking too fast.  Take a deep breath and slow down.

Also pauses aid in showing emphasis.

Use visuals when possible.

Finally, our Grammarian, Ghislaine Demombynes, noted that in the past our first speaker had many “ums and ahs,” but during this speech there were none.  So listen as the Grammarian points these things out — then listen to yourself.

A big welcome to our guests:  Virginia Jimenez, Jason Raskin, Carlo Camargo, Melissa Blundell Osorio and Sylvia do Pico.  We look forward to seeing you again.


Our Toastmaster of the Day, Ghislaine Demombynes, opened the meeting giving us a theme of appreciation.  We are busy with jobs, family, friends and as a result often don’t take time to fully appreciate all these pieces of our lives.


How delightful to welcome a new member and listen to his Icebreaker.  Andres del Corral is a native Floridian, growing up right here in Miami.  As a youngster, he enjoyed watching “20/20″ and thought about becoming a TV Journalist.  His first opportunity came at Gulliver Academy, but he was behind the camera.  Turns out Andres had a fear of public speaking (too bad there wasn’t a Toastmaster’s Club at school).  In college he studied TV production and upon graduation headed out to California to follow his dream.  While at Intermedia Productions, he worked on a film  called,”Fear Factor.”  He asked if we’d seen it and receiving no response said, “That’s OK, no one else did either.”  As often happens, reality can be sobering and Andres missed his tropical Miami.  Oddly his decision to return had a political twist.  He decided if Arnold became “governator,” he was leaving California.  Arnold won.  Andres returned, went back to college receiving his MBA.  Today he is working in Commercial Real Estate and loves it.


Dominique Stauffer recently returned to our Miracle Mile family.  Since we last saw Dominique, she became a member of Guardian ad Litem.  Members of “GAL” are volunteers appointed to represent the interests of minor children in court.  In the United States there are 600,000 children  in need of Court appointed special advocates.  There are 3,000 right here in Miami.  They range in age from babies to teens.  Volunteers facilitate for the well being of children by advocating for, and investigating on behalf of them.  In addition, GAL members go to the homes, speak with teachers, therapists and doctors.  Results show, with these efforts, children do better in school, often spend less time in foster care, and are not as frequently moved from one foster situation to another.  Dominique has found volunteering to be rewarding and the benefits to the children are immeasurable.


Mike Molina once again stepped up to be our Table Topics Master.  How would you have responded?

How is appreciation important to you?  What triggers you into a feeling of appreciation?  Thinking of the public services we receive, which group do you appreciate the most?  What do you appreciate most about your kids?  What is the greatest contribution Toastmasters has made in your life?  What do you think we have in life that we take for granted?  What would you like to be remembered for in the world?

Wow!  It was pretty tough for our contestants, but three people got the most votes.  In third place we had Sharon Patish, in second place we had Chris Nolte and our winner was Chris Wolfe who, as a result of Toastmasters, established “Voices Of Time,” and appreciates how fortunate he is.


Our Master Evaluator, Alex Moreira and his team Jody Johnson and Jim Hartnett left us all with some suggestions on how to improve our speaking skills:

1) Use pictures or other visual objects to draw attention to strong points in your speech.

2)  Watch what you do with your hands — you want movement but too much can be distracting.

3)  When possible, end your speech with a call to action.