To a new VPE...

May 22, 2020

Dear new Vice President Education of a Toastmasters Club,

It is my honor to welcome you as you follow in my footsteps, in whichever club you may be. I've been at this for eleven months now, with just one more to go. This is a month I should spend reflecting upon how the year went by, and a month I should spend teaching you and your club what to expect. Of course I shall answer your burning questions!

You've seen it online, and in the job description. You'll be in charge of scheduling roles within your meetings, the mentoring program, and of course, the various events your club will be organizing throughout the year (speaking contests, workshops, speech marathons, and more...). There's a big burden on your back to get these working smoothly, but you're here to learn, to fail, and to succeed throughout the year. You'll soon learn that people are here to help, they want to practice, and they'll give you a hand whenever you need it.

If you're like me, you may have made big plans of all the cool things you want to improve or change. Take a deep breath. Pick one, and only one. You may be great at what you do, and your ideas are indeed brilliant. However the things you are about to learn take time. I planned to "fix" mentoring, to update all our templates, to reveal the secrets of Pathways, to hold workshops, to participate in a Youth Leadership Program, to organize contests, to change the meeting formats and to automate some of your job... all the while learning how to lead a team. Don't do the same mistake. Pick one. Pick your poison for you can't drink them all. You will fail to be satisfied by your many achievements. You'll feel like you could have done much more, when you would have done more than enough.

You're here to learn something. Whatever it may be you're in the right spot. Unlike any other roles within the club leadership, the VPE forces you to interact with everyone's needs and desires. It drops you straight into the action and gives you the most engaging view of your club. You get to see where everyone is going, and you feel the rhythm of the club's growth on your skin. This rhythm is what you will eventually embody and understand.

Perhaps unexpectedly, you will learn how much time it takes for your members to grow. It doesn't happen overnight, as they would often hope. Rather it happens naturally and subtly. Encourage it, and do a better job than myself and making them feel successful!

Do what I did right. Keep an open mind, study and learn. People will ask you questions, and all those questions are yours to steal! You may not know what a Triple Crown is, or how someone can become a club coach, or how to train a judge for a contest, yet all those and more will arrive. Sift through some of the pathways projects, reread the constitution and check up with the international forums and facebook groups you are in. This is a year for you to better understand the theory. A year for you to study how other people speak, how they lead. A year for you to understand for you to know how to share that in your club.

I only wish I could give you more advice about how to organize your team, yet I couldn't do that properly. At least find someone to be consistently engaged in the club along with you, and keep them engaged. Get them to help with your day to day act of planning the next meeting and work up from there. If there's one thing that got the better of me was the inability to split projects between my members when I was unsure what those projects would look like... So maybe start small. Maybe just grab a hold of the meetings and get yourself a couple people to help you with the basics and work up from there.

You're going to do great!

Cheers, Cătă.