Servant leadership in a restaurant

An example of servant leadership happened in a restaurant last night.

My wife and I were enjoying a meal in a local restaurant. We were not enjoying our drinks, because even though we had repeatedly asked for them, the drinks failed to arrive. A waitress, Jade, who was working another table saw that we were having a problem. When we told her she went off to the bar, spoke to the barman and came back immediately with our drinks.

Later when we wanted to pay we could not find out waitress – the same waitress that never managed to find our drinks. So Jade once again came to the rescue and sorted out our bill. At her own initiative she took the drinks off the bill because (as she put it) we shouldn’t have to pay for drinks that took so long to arrive.

Remember that Jade was not our waitress, and was not even working our table. She saw and solved a problem in her workplace. She made a very grumpy customer a lot happier, and she possibly made the difference in us going back there. I asked for her name because we want to make sure that she serves us next time we eat there. Jade was an ambassador and she will go far.

This is a fairly trivial example, but how often does it happen? When last did it happened to you, and what did you do? How did you action impact your business, or the people around you?

Lessons from David Grier

David footer

A few days ago, I listened to David Grier giving a speech. David does crazy runs that make my marathons look like a walk around the block. He ran across the entire Great Wall of China (4200km), across Cuba (1800km), and a bunch of other crazy runs.

He is one of the authors of the Real Meal Revolution!

He is a wonderful man with some great advise. Here are some lessons that I learned from him:

  • You need the self-belief to dig deep
  • No man achieves anything on his own
  • I’m the one that has to change
  • The sun will set in the evening, and rise the next morning, regardless of what you do
  • Its usually not the big things that get you down – it’s an accumulation of little things
  • Nearly everything is not impossible…if you want it enough dig deep enough
  • It’s when you say that you can’t that you can
  • You learn the most when you are struggling
  • Have honesty and appreciation, understanding and acceptance
  • Nobody is going to run your life for you
  • If you can find reason for why you are suffering, you are no longer suffering
  • Where do you fit into your dream?
  • Nobody will effect change for you
  • We need to be the change we want to see
  • We cannot change on our own
  • The ability to change on the way is key to finish a journey.

And finally for race fuel, he recommended Cabanossi sausages from Pick n Pay,, and squashed pork belly (put the fat runoff in a ziplock to suck on, and slice the port to eat)!

Hope that helps – it certainly gives me some perspective!

(photo from David’s website)

You know that you are an “old” Toastmaster when…

A tongue in cheek look at some of the changes in the Toastmasters organisation over the last few years.

You have been a member for more than a few years if:

  1. You achieved a CTM award. Do you remember the Able Toastmaster award?
  2. Your CTM manual had 15 speeches in it
  3. As VP Education, you had to fax programmes to members, and if you were a member the programme was faxed to you by the VPE
  4. You remember carbon-copied area visit reports which needed to be mailed to the district governor
  5. Club and district performance reports were mailed to clubs and district on a quarterly basis. You could not view them online
  6. Membership application forms needed to be mailed or faxed to WHQ
  7. Educational awards needed to be mailed or faxed to WHQ
  8. You were not admitted to a club meeting unless you were wearing a jacket and tie (ok some clubs still enforce this, but very few)
  9. New membership dues was $16, and renewals $18 (or even less)

While this list is in jest, it shows how the organisation has progressed over the last several years, and how it continues to be a dynamic and growing organisation. Now we have:

  1. A very strong communication and leadership track
  2. Programmes are placed on club websites and emailed to members
  3. Area visit reports are electronically processed and automatically emailed to relevant people
  4. All club and district reports (as well as archives) are available online
  5. Most forms can now be processed online, including new membership applications, dues payment and  educational awards
  6. It is far less formal than in the past, and clubs have adapted their formality to suit their markets
  7. We now have a podcast, and online training
  8. Yes dues are now $20 and $27 respectively, but still astonishingly good value

What should be added to the list?

16 Lessons from Dr Ali Backer

Ali Bacher and ,me
Ali Bacher and ,me

Dr Ali Bacher spoke at our Toastmasters conference in May. Here are a few lessons from him.

  1. Return correspondence within 24 hours
  2. Brevity – 2 pages (both speaking and writing)
  3. Workplace structures are meaningless (my version is that titles are meaningless)
  4. Look after quality people that make it happen
  5. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys
  6. Keep your door open
  7. Promote performers
  8. Give responsibility to people you have confidence in
  9. Give small gestures of appreciation
  10. Be honest – never lie
  11. Never break your word
  12. Always settle out of court
  13. Never record your feelings at the time, wait until you have cooled down
  14. To learn respect, set the example
  15. Fly economy class with your staff!
  16. You have a responsibility to transfer your skills
  17. Things don’t just happen; be proactive

Book Review: Everyone Communicates, few connect by John Maxwell

Everyone Communicates, few Connect by John Maxwell

Published by Thomas Nelson

***look below for a free copy – contest closed

Many of us have intentions to read more self-development books, but by the end of the work-day we are simply too tired, so we end up in front of the TV or reading a light novel.

This book is one of those that you can pick up at the end of the day. It is filled with stories and anecdotes drawn from his own experience and from others; all of which illustrate the points that he is trying to make. The story telling style makes it easy reading; yet still a book of substance. This is typical of what I have come to expect from his other books. At 250 pages it is not a long read, but you can always go back to it again and again.

The main premise of the book is that while we spend a huge amount of time communicating, we are not necessarily making the right effective connections that are crucial to effective communication and leadership.

The book is divided into two main sections; principles and practices. It is self explanatory, but he gives a few simple principles on making better and effective connections, and then shows how to implement them.

The book is aimed at anybody wishing to make better connections; and could be applied in both your personal or business life. He gives simple tips at the end of chapter, divided into three main areas, namely one-on one, a group or an audience.

For the public speakers out there; some great tips (and affirmation of some things you already know), for those of you in corporate business, some tips on working with colleagues, in teams at or in a group environment, such as at meetings. And one-on one communication is important to us all.

An unusual feature of the book is that John Maxwell posted the manuscript of the book on his blog www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com, and he received over 100,000 view over eleven weeks, resulting in over 70 quotes, stories and anecdotes from readers which resulted in over 100 revisions. Every contributor is acknowledged in the book.

I am a fan of John Maxwell, so it is difficult to be unbiased, but as a communicator and public speaker, this is a great book, and it is going to help you to become even better.

It is available from Amazon in hardback for $17.15.

The folks at Thomas Nelson have kindly provided 5 free copies to readers. Leave you name in the comment section below, and I will randomly draw 5 names on 28 July who will each receive a copy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the (signed) review copy.

Podcast: Interview with the Times

I have received a copy of my recent interview with the times. This was recorded at the dinner at the Toastmasters conference in Johannesburg.  I discussed Toastmasters, the importance of communication and leadership skills, and why the Toastmasters programme is so important.

[podcast]https://www.craigstrachan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/CraigStrachanDistrictGovenorIinterview.mp3[/podcast]

Thanks to Ian and Michael Bratt, as well as the Times for the copy.

Toastmasters Induction Speech

On Saturday 4 July, we celebrated our incoming Toastmasters district leaders by holding a gala Induction Dinner.

I was installed as District Governor in a ceremony chaired by Past District Governor, Frances Boshoff, after which I presented my incoming address, where I spoke a little about what Toastmasters means to me, and I presented the district theme – Toastmasters, Growing People.

District Governor
District Governor

The outgoing officers were also released from their duties, allowing them to handover the leadership duties to a new set of officers, and Lois Strachan was installed as the IPDG (Immediate Past District Governor), which means that she will be chairing the PDG advisary committee for the next year.

Anyway, if you missed the dinner, it was a fantastic function, and judging by the noise level, was enjoyed by all. If you didn’t manage to get there, I have a video of my speech, you can watch it below. Anyway, keep talking, and remember that Toastmasters Grow people!

District Governor (gulp)

Growing People

As of two days ago, I am the District Governor for Toastmasters District 74, Southern Africa. Geographically, we are one of the largest districts in the world, covering 9 countries in Southern Africa. I am also the youngest District Governor in D74
ever, but I feel ready for the challenge.

I joined Toastmasters in 2000, with the aim of simply becoming a better public speaker, but it did not take very long to realise that Toastmasters is not just about public speaking. It is about learning to become an effective communicator and leader, and I have been on a remarkable journey
of growth. Through Toastmasters, I have

  • Trained in South Africa
  • Trained in Malawi
  • Trained in Namibia
  • Travelled three times to USA, each time carrying a flag of our District
  • Spoken in the four largest cities in South Africa
  • Opened conferences
  • Emceed meetings, conferences and events
Zimbabwe Zambia
Holding the Zimbabwe and Zambian flags at the International Convention in Calgary, Canada

Now, please don't think that I am bragging, because I am not. I am showing
you this list to demonstrate that I have learned to do things that I would never
been able to do in the past, both through the acquired skills, and through self
confidence that I have developed.

Whenever Toastmasters has provided me with an opportunity, I have grabbed it,
which is why I have got so much out of it.

Our district theme this year is "Toastmasters – Growing People". And the more
that I am involved, the more I realise that the best way to grow is help others
to grow. By giving, you receive back tenfold. So, it is with great excitment, a
little nerviousness, and hugh anticipa……..tion that I look forward to the
next year!