“Whenever I put on my LGET hat, I know that what I’m planning and what I’m hoping to do will shape our district and the experience that our members get.”
Toastmaster elections are coming up, and it made me wonder what being LGET is like. Fortunately for me, my very first Toastmasters mentor was Jenilee Taylor, who happens to be District 10‘s Lt. Governor Education and Training. She was kind enough to take some time to talk with me on the table.
Kim Krajci: We’re talking to Jenilee Grabenhorst Taylor, the LGET of District 10. Hi, Jenilee. It’s good to talk to you again.
Jenilee Taylor: Hi, Kim. It’s been a while.
KK: I know. Hey, you’re Lt. Governor of Education and Training. How’s that feel?
JT: Goodness, how does it feel? That’s a really good question. I take my position as Lt. Governor of Education and Training the same way I look at my fulltime job. When I walk into the door of my hotel, I know that I have the livelihood of 50 of my employees in my hand. What I do on a day to day basis affects them directly. I feel the same way about our district. Whenever I put on my LGET hat, I know that what I’m planning and what I’m hoping to do will shape our district and the experience that our members get.
KK: You were nominated from the floor. Do you think that was different kind of feeling than when you’ve gone through the nominating process?
JT: It is. The fact that someone who is there feels that you’ll do a good job and they’re willing to say that in front of the large room of voting members, takes on a bit of different feeling. I looked at the people at my table when I was nominated and the faces smiling back at me kind of gave me the courage to accept the nomination. Longtime member Frank Hirt, he looked at me and just smiled and said, “We need you.” And how can you say “no” to Frank Hirt?
KK: I don’t know, I’ve never had to say “no” to Frank.
JT: I don’t think anyone has.
KK: You’ve been through your first six months. You’ve had your first conference. You’ve done TLI. What was the biggest challenge so far?
JT: Knowing that not everyone is going to be happy one hundred percent of the time with you.
JT: I know, it’s shocking! I’m not used to that! There will always be something, even if it’s yourself, that you know could have done differently, or you could have done better. And being in a position that you are helping to lead a district of about 100 clubs, there will be some other individuals that will feel the same, that you could have done differently or you could have done a little bit better. So coming to that realization has probably been the most difficult.
KK: You’re on the down stretch. We’re doing nominations now. I’m on the nominating committee. Does it make you think you’ve got a lot to do before you’re done?
KK: Do you have goals you haven’t reached yet?
JT: There are so many things you want to do in the short time you have a position. That’s why, when my home club suggested we go to six month terms for club officers, I panicked. It takes me the first six months to really get into the groove of something, and by that point, you’d be done. So with a full year, you get into your stride and you really work on achieving those goals. I think our main goal for the rest of the year is just helping to make District 10 be Distinguished.
KK: What’s the hardest part of your job?
JT: Not taking myself too seriously. Knowing that it is a growing process and knowing everyone is growing and learning in what they’re doing everyday, and knowing that I am not perfect, is really the most difficult.
KK: What’s the best part of the job?
JT: Getting to see everyone in District 10 achieve their goals, and compete in contests, and seeing that our last conference had one of the highest attendance numbers that I have seen in the entire time I’ve been in Toastmasters.
KK: That’s an amazing success story, that we’ve seen such a big leap. We just had one of our smallest conferences last spring, and now we’ve had a really high one. Picking and planning our conference chairs just a little bit earlier. There are some districts that choose them a year before, just to give them a head start. But with any volunteer organization, sometimes those last minute struggles happen because there are other things that tend to get in the way. Actually, this time we had named Dave Wiley and René Smith as conference chairs before the last conference ended.
KK: Have you seen that be very effective for them?
JT: Yes, they were able to secure a great keynote presenter a lot earlier in the process. Districts can miss out on some of those great speakers if they wait too long to plan the event.
KK: What about locations? Do we get better locations if we book earlier? Or are we more likely to get a location we want?
JT: We are more likely to get a location we like, and sometimes, depending on the location, you even get discounts if you book far enough in advance.
KK: That’s something from the hotel perspective that I hadn’t thought of.
KK: What would you tell someone who is considering being an LGET right now? What would you tell them to get ready for, how would you tell them to prepare themselves. What would you say?
JT: Just jump in. You never know what to expect. Some days I get 50 emails from members, some days I don’t get any. There are no two days that are going to be exactly the same. But you take it as it comes and just know that you’re doing the best you can for the district and I haven’t had a second thought about accepting this position.
Married to Toastmasters
KK: Okay, you’re married to a Toastmaster.
JT: That is the rumor, and you actually broke that news before even some of my family members knew.
KK: District 10, On the Table – Topics for Toastmasters – news-breaking organization. I like it.
JT: It’s all you, Kim. It’s all you.
KK: Please don’t let me make any other announcements earlier than what your family needs to hear.
JT: No, that’s fine.
KK: Oh, that’s good. Does being married to a Toastmaster help you succeed in our program or… Well, Todd’s a really sweet guy. I can’t imagine him doing anything to block your success and I’m sure he’s a great help.
JT: I have been in other relationships while in Toastmasters, and sometimes I got the pouty face or the guilt trip if I was going to contest after contest, or to meetings every week. It definitely helps to have someone supportive, who understands what you’re doing. Maybe not necessarily in Toastmasters too, but to understand what you’re getting out of the organization and what you’re giving as well.
KK: You think he’ll ever run for the Trio?
JT: I… I wouldn’t hold anything past him. I don’t know if it will be in the near future. I think me being in the Trio and him being an area governor, close enough to the same position. I think he’d wait until I was done with some of my leadership goals before he jumped into the Trio.
KK: Jenilee, I have one more question for you. At the next conference, can we have a gala?
JT: You really, really want a gala!
KK: I really, really want a gala!
JT: I will speak to the next LGET and see what I can do for you.
KK: Thank you very much.
JT: Of course.
KK: Jeni, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
JT: I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.
It’s amazing what the inside of this important role looks like to the person holding it. Thanks to Jenilee for opening our eyes a bit to this role.
Maybe you’re a bit less intimidated now and willing to consider taking on a bigger Toastmasters role. It may be too late to be nominated for a Trio or the newly renamed Division Director position, but there are plenty of offices that need willing volunteers to fill. Right now, division governors are looking for people to step up to the renamed Area Director role. This may be the lowest ranked role in the district offices, but don’t think it’s that easy. We’ll be talking to some former and present area governors about their roles in future episodes.
Have you given one of the workshops required for the Advanced Communicator Gold? I’d like to talk to you if you have. You can reach me here at onthetablepodcasts.com.
If you listen to this podcast, would you mind going to iTunes and posting a review? I just found out that another district that has started a podcast. Not that I’m competitive or anything, but I want to move On the Table Podcasts to the top of the list when people are looking for Toastmaster Podcasts. Think of it as giving me an evaluation. I will be grateful for every one.
Our music today, which is not, alas, from a gala, is from Incompetech.com.