Embracing Change through Networking!

personal-learning-networkWe interrupt the continuing stories of Pathways and its heroes, to talk about a fundamental approach to embracing change – creating a Personal Learning Network.

Reflections of Past Networks

In my sixteen years of being a Toastmaster I have seen many changes and improvements in the way in which clubs are created and managed, and how the Education program has brought professional development opportunities to thousands of people. As a seasoned  Educator of Adults, I am comfortable with the instructional design of the traditional education program. I like the way in which a Toastmaster can self-pace themselves through the program and build their skills in a supportive environment within a club setting. User choice is built in to a structured process of developing speaking skills and  a Toastmaster can work through the CC manual, building skills in a sequence of steps.

They could also purchase extra Advanced Manuals and begin working on specific speeches whenever they wanted to. For instance, a Toastmaster preparing to give a speech at a wedding, could jump into the Special Occasions manual. I was familiar with all the speeches in Competent Communicator (CC) and Advanced Manuals.

My networks were smaller back then – mostly clubs within my local region and perhaps a District Convention or two. 

My appetite for change was whetted several years ago when we were told by our Ambassadors that the education program was undergoing a revitalization. Great news I thought at the time. However, details of the changes were mostly kept under wraps until the trials were conducted in a few Districts last year. There was no way for me to view any of the projects in detail, but I could see in the promotional pages at Toastmasters International, a few exciting new projects proposed for inclusion. For example, Blogging, Manage Online Meetings and Podcasting. These encouraged me to think that the changed program would be much more 21st Century focussed.

At the time the change began I was not really interested or engaged, until I could view more. What I thirsted for, knowledge of how the online learning component would be displayed, I could not have back then. I needed to wait! Then I realised that I could see some of the new Icebreaker project even without having to login at Toastmasters!

I was encouraged with what I saw here. The learning for a new Toastmaster was well structured and I felt confident that other projects would be similar in tone and design. As I talk to others about joining Toastmasters for the first time and accessing the Pathways experience, I encourage them to view the sample Icebreaker.

Embracing Pathways!

I admit that I was shaken out of my comfort zone when I was first introduced to the Base Camp navigation in the Pathways Experience. I also felt isolated, as I was not part of the group who were ‘making the change’. It felt like the change was being imposed not embedded. My preferred adult learning principles  were challenged when I saw that the Cornerstone On Demand (CSOD) Learning Management System (LMS) was displaying the learning in ‘lock-step instructional’ process and little user choice appeared evident within a Level. With a little help from my networks, I learned more about Base Camp.

According to Don Clark, “… the lock-step process has the learners proceeding at the same pace. It requires fewer instructors and is normally more easily managed than self-paced platforms. One of its main advantages from a learner’s point of view is that it is highly social in nature.”

What to do? “It is what it is! I cannot change it! I need to work with it and embrace the change!” I needed my Networks. I was also keen to explore the last sentence from the quote above: ‘a lock-step instructional model is more social in nature from a learner’s point of view?‘ If that is so, how can we maximise that for our Pathways followers?

My six easy strategies for embracing the change through collaborative learning and networking, follows. I hope that it will inspire you to think outside the square.

Collaborative Learning and Networking Strategies!

  1. Connecting! The most important strategy I took in the early days of becoming a Pathways Guide, was to make a connection with those who had begun their Pathways Experience by joining a club in a District that was already Pathways enabled. There were a few pioneers at the time and I was able to track their progress by observing from afar, asking for a demonstration, and subscribing to their website and blogs. The demonstrations of Base Camp from Julie Kertesz were the gems of enlightenment that I was seeking – I began to follow her blog.

    Early this year, I noticed that many Pathways Pioneers were telling their stories of success and unpacking their challenges in Online Club meetings across the globe, and I wanted to hear more and more! More and more Pathways speeches and projects were being delivered at Online Clubs meetings. Yes, I needed to add more visits to my schedule and to add more connections to appease my thirst for networking.

    Online Toastmasters are learning anew about the value of preparation for the speech and the evaluation process. eg at Ablaze last week, Lessons on Evaluations in Pathways style, provided further examples of collaborative learning.

  2. Social Media! The number of groups and forums opening up in social media expanded in 2018 as more and more Pathways followers and champions began to talk openly about what they were experiencing in Base Camp. The Pathways Guides had their own forums in which they could discuss the nuances of providing meaningful training; and then the Pathways Discussion Forum was born! This one is over 3,500 strong in membership and epitomises the concept of collaborative learning.

    We have seen a growth in the numbers joining this forum as Pathways has rolled out in almost every District across the Globe. The Pathways Discussion Forum is now fulfilling a role as a most effective collaborative learning community.

    For me this was the missing element  – the social collaborative learning that grows organically as learners experience the same project or Path. Now I am experiencing that as I help moderate that busy forum. 

  3. Networking! In the last four months I visited several clubs online to observe the innovative approaches to collaborative experiential learning. Toastmasters Events such as Speech Contests, Webinar Contests and Discussion Panels were most enlightening. At these events I could observe without needing to participate and to reflect on what I was learning from my presence at those events.

    Networking-Your-Most-Important-Career-Activity-300x223I met several new online Toastmasters at these events and connected with them during the meeting and after the event. From our extended conversations I could harvest further wisdom and experience and build that into my plans for further projects. I could sense those who had the same passion for progress and change.
    I extended my Networking activities!

    My extended international Personal Learning Network is now something I am most proud of.

  4. International Networking

    I have always been an advocate of the benefits of international networking, and building a Personal Learning Network ever since my early days of participating and presenting in the Learning Revolution activities.

    The Learning Revolution Project holds online and physical learning events, and highlights professional development opportunities from a network of 200 partners in the learning professions.

    I realise once again the benefits of having a Personal Learning Network (PLN) in relation to the wider Connected Educator community. This influenced my plans to create a PLN related to Pathways!

    My connections with Toastmasters in Pathways across the globe has now expanded!

  5. Personalised Learning Network

    My Pathways PLN now includes many thought leaders in Online Toastmasters Education and Pathways. I am proud to call them friends. My recent experiences in the Pathways Support for District U clubs is a direct result of having expanded my connection to Pathways Champions. I now know who to reach out to for specific advice on Pathways, Training, Project Management, easy-Speak, Contests, Judging, and much more.

    My opportunities to learn from my peers has increased exponentially with each new addition to my PLN. There are networks within networks that stretch across the world and I have been privileged to connect with them all.

    Each time I attend a District convention or a Division event, I add one or two more people to my PLN. Each time I attend an online event, be it a Toastmaster meeting or a Toastmaster online education session, I increase my network.

    In fact, my new goal when attending a Toastmaster convention, is to connect with at least one more new person who can join my PLN, and take away at least one more piece of collaborative learning.

  6. How can you build a Personal Learning Network?

    I challenge you to build your own PLN around Pathways to help embrace the change.

    How to Build a PLN – this site will provide the context for the value of a PLN.
    ( I have adjusted Tom Whitby’s list to include more Toastmaster focussed steps)

    Spend 20 minutes a day interacting and collaborating. Here’s how:

    • Start a Twitter account that focuses on following Toastmasters. (#Toastmasters)
    • Build a circle of connected Toastmasters on Google+.
    • Follow Toastmasters blogs (read and comment).
      eg Pathways Experience Blogspot
      the importance of blogging
    • Follow Toastmaster chats that are specific to your own goals.
    • Join and participate in Toastmaster groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
    • Accept invitations to collaborate on Toastmaster projects.
    • Visit Online Clubs and offer to be their General Evaluator.
    • Attend Online Alliance meetings and offer to facilitate or present.
    • Join the Pathways Discussion Forum or Online Toastmaster Resources groups on Facebook.
    • Build in opportunities for connecting with Toastmasters through their favourite communication channel eg MessengerWeChat and WhatsApp.

    I encourage you to go beyond your club, your division, and your District. Create your own Pathways Personal Learning Network (PPLN) for collaborative learning opportunities.

    When you have a PPLN please leave a comment below,  and tell me if I am in it? I can then add you to mine!


Pathways with George #2

Chapter 2: George Chooses a Path

mentor image from pathwaysThis month George is keen to get started in Pathways and he decides to work with his Mentor on a ‘Success Plan’. This process is familiar to him – a strategy he is using as an online learner in other learning management systems. After considering his goals for the short, medium and the long term, he can map them in conjunction with his other studies and his work/life commitments.

The end result of completing this Success Plan will be to scope the type of projects he wants to be involved with in his selected Path.

protege success planHis mentor provides a worksheet for this task, called the Protege Success Plan. In this George focuses on the goals he has for Pathways in his Toastmasters Education journey.

  • His Long Term Goals include reaching Distinguished Toastmaster status by June 2019.
  • His Medium Term Goals include completion of his first Path by October 2018. George plans to focus on the required project at Level 5 during July to September.
  • His Short Term Goals include the completion of Levels 1-4 in his first Path by June 2018.

After sharing these goals with his Mentor, George can now ask for help from his mentor in choosing a Path that will help him achieve them.

Paths and Required Projects

First his mentor provides this useful information about the type of Level 5 projects contained within the 10 Paths, and encourages him to choose a path to suit his goals.

level 5 requirements A

level 5 requirements B

George now believes that the Leadership Development Path will be perfect for him. However he would now like to see what Projects are included in that Path. His mentor provides a copy of the Paths and Projects Catalog so that he can locate the details of Leadership Development.

Later his mentor provides access to a copy of the set of questions to get an idea of what he will need for his self-assessment and suggests that he uses those before Choosing a Path. He is also reminded that he can make a choice from any of the 10 Paths at the end of this Self-Assessment process; he does not have to agree with the choice made for him by the Base Camp system.

Self-Assessment Process

Now it is time for George to choose the path and get down to business in Base Camp.
self assessment page

George logs in to Toastmasters.org and steps through the self-assessment questions.
He finds the process quite straight forward and is comfortable in answering the questions authentically, knowing that he has a choice at the end.

On completion he is pleased and surprised to find that Base Camp has recommended the Leadership Development Path based on the answers to the self-assessment questions.

After selecting that Path, he is pleased to see that he can now proceed to Explore Base Camp from the next popup window that displays for him.

enrolment confirmation pathways

Proceed to Chapter 3: Exploring Base Camp

Mission Impossible #2

Sequel: ‘Game of Pathways Guides

The story continues in G. R. R. Martin style.

We have traveled a long way from the shire and we are now in fine company of four teams of Online Pathways Guides (OPGs) gathering in Base Camp; House Blue; House Green; House Orange; and House Yellow. It is time for the Orientation meetings and the start of our networking.

Each of the OPGs has researched their kingdoms assigned to them in District U and each are reaching out to contact the leaders within. They have been sharing on ‘the wall‘ and with each other, their planned journeys towards kingdoms of the known world, and now its time for them to meet each other in the cloud at Zoom.

There is palpable energy in our Zoom rooms when the teams attend en masse. We learn from each other our progress so far, and of the innovative strategies we have created to build relationships of trust with our kingdoms. We are the ‘global ground breakers‘ and we travel where no Pathways Guide has gone before. Exotic lands beckon us towards the people of the kingdoms and we step forward with cultural sensitivity. We are sculpting a new regime with brand new ideas and resources; and we have outgrown our ‘shires’.

Together we face the dragons of time zones, conquering their fire and minimizing their threat. We bring in the wonder of the great ‘Doodle Poll‘; whose fine algorithms enable the OPGs to pick and choose their best times to attend upcoming Guide Support Sessions.  We modify our presentations to suit the people and prepare to be flexible.

Just like the heroes in Game of Thrones we begin as childlike characters, but mature rapidly, experiencing a huge gain in problem-solving abilities along the way.  So far the OPGs have overcome great challenges to reach their kingdoms and a few have begun to make their presentations to the people.

We have the great Wizard, George Marshall, a knowing, mystical mentor/teacher and formidable leader of House Blue, providing the OPGs with advice and help. He continues to liaise with the Guardians at WHQ and bring back ‘the word’.

Three awesome leaders Michelle Alba-Lim of House Green, Carole McCulloch of House Orange and Mark Snow of House Yellow empower their teams as they prepare for their travels. A great deal of negotiation happens behind the scenes and their communication skills have just risen another notch. Emails are sharpened and messages are sent; online communication spaces are explored and invitations are sent.

The scene now shifts to the global locations for the OPGs as they make their personal preparations! They download their resources from ‘the wall’ at the Facebook domain and they keep track of their progress in the Google domain. Cultural diversity; geographical locations; languages and customs, of the kingdoms are now being explored. Their task for April and May is to make contact and prepare the clubs in those kingdoms – the Great Rollout is Coming.

Next the OPGs will schedule a series of Virtual Support Sessions using innovative strategies and ensuring that members of clubs in District U are supported.

Reports of success and challenges, experienced by the OPGs will be shared at Online Alliance meetings scheduled for end of May and June. You can self-select to attend at:
Online Alliance easy-speak site

Stay tuned for another ongoing story as together we learn how to Manage Club Visits Successfully for Toastmasters in the cloud.


Mission Impossible #1

Excerpts from ‘Online Pathways Guides Adventures‘.

The story begins in Tolkien style ….

mission impossible 1Coach Carole lives a simple life with her fellow Pathways Guides in the shire, until the wizard George Marshall arrives and convinces her to join a group of volunteers on a quest to support the clubs of District U. The journey takes them both on a path through the complex world of online toastmasters, swarming with social media friends and virtual dragons. The purpose of the project is to provide support to clubs across the world of Toastmasters who are undistricted; ie they do not have a district team.

Potential challenges are identified and approached with wisdom and integrity. The Training Team at World Headquarters (WHQ) are contacted by the wizard George Marshall and convinced that his merry band of adventurers can achieve their mission. George becomes the Pathways Guide Coordinator, as nominated by WHQ, who are delighted to accept this offer of support. Coach Carole devises a vision and a process, through her High Performance Leadership (HPL) project – a framework for achieving the support mission. Carole informs the Online Alliance community of this project, the formation of the Steering Committee and the selection of a Guidance Committee for the HPL.

Together they will build a collaborative international team of online toastmasters who have the experience of Toastmasters leadership, Pathways education program and being a Pathways Guide and/or Ambassador. Two strong Pathways Champions, Michelle Alba-Lim and Mark Snow, are head hunted to join the merry band and become the Steering Committee. A Technology Guru, Graham Cairns, is added to the team – to ensure that ‘all will be well in the shire’ – Graham is added to the Guidance Committee.

Together they gather a band of fearless adventurers, now known as the Online Pathways Guides (OPGs). They search the shire of online toastmasters and send out their invitations to more than 36  likely candidates. Volunteers from across the shire, put up their hands, eagerly saying ‘pick me’.

From the applicants they select 28 and verify with the Training Team at WHQ. Support from WHQ comes in the form of a Virtual Rollout Kit and their permission for the Steering Committee to schedule and deliver Guide Support Sessions.

Then begins the complex task of assigning them to clubs across the world of Toastmasters Clubs in District U. The challenges of the Time Zone dragons are solved one by one and the teams are ready to go. The OPGs are all happily contacting their assigned clubs and scheduling their virtual club visits.

Now the OPGs are grouped into four collaborative shire teams: Harmony OrangeSerene GreenCool Blue and Mellow Yellow, and their team leaders will provide the support and direction that they need.

The Online Pathways Guides Adventure is about to begin! Carole will tell the story, from the project point of view at the Firebirds Collective on March 25 and April 22.

A short report on how to achieve Cross-Cultural Understanding by being an Online Pathways Guide will be delivered by Carole at the Online Alliance meeting on March 26.

Stay tuned for another ongoing story as together we learn how to Manage Projects Successfully for Toastmasters in the cloud.


Follow the Yellow Brick Road …

Reflections of a Path

250px-Cowardly_lion2Reflections on my journey in the Effective Coaching Path remind me of the experiences of Dorothy in the story of the ‘Wonderful Wizard of OZ’. Looking back and noting my lessons learned, has been an ongoing pursuit for me, as I worked my way through the preparation, the speeches, the feedback, the improvements and the completion of tasks in Base Camp. I am not sure that I have followed the ‘yellow brick road’ exactly as recommended; however I am positive that I have owned the process and learned how to reach my personal goal!

These are my lessons learned!

Lesson 1: Plan Your Path Smartly!

brain for the scarecrowJust like the scarecrow in Dorothy’s journey, I learned that I already had a brain and I just had to think differently. I learned to plan my speeches according to one of the main objectives of the Effective Coaching Path – contribute to the development of others by coaching using effective interpersonal communication.

My journey needed guidance, something or someone, to enable me to plan for my projects in advance and keep me on the Path I had chosen.

I selected a simple tool for forward planning and tracking my achievements – a spreadsheet – my Path Planner. I also selected one or two mentors who would help me when I needed advice or to see what lay ahead of me – Pathways Champions who had the experience and knowledge.

I considered the clubs for whom I could present these speeches and projects over the next two months and approached each club with a request for a speech; – more or less following the project requirements in sequence. I needed to be flexible and to be considerate of the audiences in each club and the time available on their agendas, to match the purpose of my speech. I needed to maintain continuity and consistency!

Lesson 2: Select Electives Courageously!

courageJust like the cowardly lion who was encouraged by Dorothy to join her in the journey to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard for help; I was seeking courage.

Some of the projects in the higher levels of my Path, appeared daunting and challenging at first.  I was unsure of my ability to complete!

They looked very shiny and enticing sitting on the shelf of my Electives library in Base Camp. But once I had opened each curriculum and understood what I had to do, my courage grew. My own small inner voice reminded me to reflect on what I had achieved in the lower level projects and build on that – ‘try again tomorrow’.

I considered the Electives at a deeper level, and chose those that would complement my stories, my networking and help achieve the vision of improvement through positive coaching.

Connect with Storytelling – practice using a story within a speech or giving a speech that is a story. This is how my ongoing story of the Voyage of the Pathways Guide was created.

Write a Compelling Blog – post a minimum of eight blog posts in one month to increase the readership of my blog and entice more followers. This is where my ongoing story of the Voyage of the Pathways developed, and continued for 12 chapters.

Using Descriptive Language – adding colourful language to emphasize interest and impact. My literary research into Fantasy Fiction gave me a new way of telling a story in a speech. This is how my Thursday Next series of speeches were created with more flair and panache.

Make Connections through Networking – develop and practice a personal strategy for building connections through networking. (Note: this one is on the plan for the second Path Strategic Relationships, but one that has importance for me to build in to my Effective Coaching.)

Moderate a Panel Discussion – plan and moderate a 20 – 40 minute panel discussion. This project was most enjoyable and provided lots of lessons along the way. This was where I could focus on contributing to the development of others by coaching using effective interpersonal communication. Yes, it did stretch my communication skills and polished my facilitation skills.
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNjaSX7hFp0

Lesson 3: Complete Your Path with Passion!

heart for the tin man

The most important lesson of all is the passion you bring to the learning journey – from the heart!

For me the journey into a Path in Base Camp was a long awaited adventure, one that I really wanted to do. The anticipation of the rollout of Pathways in my District was the ‘driving force‘ behind that passion. The support that I received along my Path from a vast network of Pathways Champions gave me the ‘fuel’ to last the distance.

My role as a Pathways Guide was to contribute to the development of others – I took that on with a passion! I tracked my own progress and showed others what I had discovered along the way. This enabled me to build a series of resources that will go on to help yet more ‘pathways treaders‘ to achieve success.

My heart was in every project from the first Icebreaker to the High Performance Leadership project.

This is not the end of the Effective Coaching Path for me, yet! The HPL is ongoing for a few more months. However I wanted to ensure that I reflected on my journey here and now.

Reflections are the foundation for embedding your learning in your brain and heart, and provide the courage and conviction to move forward in your personal learning journey!


Chapter 12: Pathways Guide Return Journey

Destination in sight!

dtm castleAll visits completed (well except for one club that folded during the summer break) and 10 out of 15 virtual support sessions done and dusted. Almost across the finish line and I can see the shining banners fluttering in the breeze on the parapets of Castle DTM. They entice me forward now as I move into the final phase of being a Pathways Guide and can almost taste victory on reaching my destination. This has been an extraordinary journey of a Pathways Treader; through the dangerous waters of Information Gap, across the shining Seas of Enlightenment; into the mysterious chambers of Base Camp; collecting the wisdom of the Pathways Pioneers; harvesting the pearls of guidance in the Palace of Zoom; reviewing the writing on the glass walls by Outlanders; and developing a following of Pathways Champions.

… and then the small voice inside my head said, “wait a minute, you’re not quite finished”….

There are a few more tasks to perform before you can enter those hallowed halls.

Connect at a deeper level!


connectivism quote

A timely networking opportunity arose when my Captain PQD invited our tribe of guides into the palace of Zoom one night to share our journeys. There I met others whose journeys had been different to mine and whose experiences and achievements gave me new perspectives. New insights, new challenges and further connections to those sharing the same learning, reassured me I was not alone. The networking with my peers was what I had missed – this is a new step forward for a connected learning experience.

…  ‘aha’ moment from connectivism – the importance of community building …


Listening to my peers and learning from them, prompted me to revisit the process of providing my support and to try a new approach. Several criteria from those conversations helped me shape the next phase of Supporting the Clubs:

  • The clubs all have different needs and will have different questions.
  • Not all  of the members of those clubs will be ready to leap into the online world of Pathways or into the world of web conferencing.
  • Many clubs are just starting up again after the summer break.
  • Clubs need help in supporting new members who joined after rollout.
  • Many members do not yet have a solid foundation with their Pathways Guide who may only have visited their club once.
  • Some members are only learning about Pathways by hearsay.

I need a new approach – based on ‘How would you like your Support Served‘ in the next two months?

Flexible Personalized approach

personalised pathwaysWhat I am seeking now is a method of Engagement by Design – a process which I have drawn from the e-Learning environment – to ensure that I can motivate one ‘champion’ at a time.

I plan to implement that within a framework of best practice in Adult Education theory by rethinking the pedagogy being used so far – as crucial as identifying the new competencies that the Toastmasters will need to acquire in the Pathways program.

… learn more about preparing learners for new competencies in this article from Cynthia Luna Scott in her paper “The Futures of Learning 3 …”

… check out the latest testimonials from Pathways followers – this Paths of Progress article in the February edition of the Toastmasters Magazine will engage you – learning from others is an important element of personalized learning….

I plan to personalize the learning for those clubs who want more tailored approach. Ask them what will work for them, during March and April, to achieve at least a 20% embedding of Pathways in their club success plan. How can the Pathways Guide support that goal?

And it will be beneficial to provide examples of how they can personalize the learning for each of their members. More emphasis on the ‘train the trainer’ aspect so that the Base Camp Managers can follow through long after the Pathways Treaders have sailed on.

commentCall to Action

Here is where I need your help!

Please leave a comment below with some ideas on personalizing the support for individual clubs and members in ‘on boarding’ into Pathways.

Chapter 11: Champions of Relearning

Learn Unlearn Relearn

future shock relearningAll great campaigns for change involve the slashing and burning of the old and outdated, alongside the introduction and embedding of the new and current. Pathways is no exception.

Legions of Champions now roam the kingdoms of Outland bringing support for the people who fear the change from the old and cannot yet see the benefits of the new. The champions now quench the thirst for answers and bring new wisdom from the chalice of experience.

Education is at the heart of preparing present and future Toastmasters to thrive in the world of Paths, Levels and Projects‘. The champions are the educators!

Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970) posited that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Source: learning re imagined

Relearning Curve

relearningThe process of unlearning and relearning can be strange and awkward. The people of Outland have been comfortable with their ‘traditional’ programs for 90+ years and in the recent past have tolerated and absorbed minor adjustments and changes. They have recognized the need to bring the educational materials into alignment with current professional practice and have welcomed small incremental changes.

Now in this complete restructure, and a new program being implemented around them; bringing a complete change to the way they learn; the fear  of relearning is emerging.

Champions will need all their skills of persuasion to help them relearn together collaboratively. First step is reassure the people that the fundamentals of success in familiar group meetings are still at the forefront of their experiences. Next, encourage them to acknowledge the inevitability of change over the next two years. Finally support them in the transition between the old and the new in a strategic manner. See it as an opportunity not a burden!

An adjustment of attitude is required! Help them to relearn! Help yourself in planning your Path!

What do the experts say about Relearning?

Let’s explore what the Relearning Think Tank experts believe about the process of successful relearning and how we can encourage the Pathways Champions to implement the four essential elements of successful relearning and add some structure to what they are exploring in their chosen Paths! Note the quotes below are from the work of Ashley Spowart, Managing Director of Vanguard Learning, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Ashley Spowart from Vanguard Learning!

Leadership: “The influence of the direct leader on the learner was identified over and over as a critical part of the ability for someone to learn and unlearn“.

The Pathways Champion performs a direct leadership role within their group and their influence as coaches and mentors is powerful – they have generated a relationship of trust through their attitude and support. The champions have a unique opportunity to shape the success of their clubs and their group meetings through direct leadership.

understanding leadership style materialChampions: How will you lead your clubs into the future?

Consider this project as a way of adding a Pathways Framework around what you do.

Required Project:
Understanding your Leadership Style!
Level 1: Effective Coaching Path



Environment – “The organisational attitude towards learning, the physical spaces that are created for learning and the culture of the organisation are all key here”.

The Pathways environment is new and seemingly complex to the uninitiated. Some are yet to be convinced that the change will enhance their enjoyment of the program. However the organisational attitude towards learning remains the same. The vision of Toastmasters – ‘we empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders‘ – empowers them to be world leaders in communication and leadership development.

The champion’s role is to support and encourage the people to enter the new environment with them and to discover new learning together. Their Club Mission is: ‘We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth‘.

successful collaborationAll can make the transition from the old to the new, knowing that the core values remain the same! Work together to build a collaborative team.

Champions: How will you support a positive learning experience into Pathways learning?

Consider this project as a way of adding a Pathways Framework around what you do.

Required Project: Successful Collaboration
Level 3: Team Collaboration Path


Aptitude – “What are the skills and behaviors needed from the learners in order to be able to learn effectively in the first place“.
Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, Judgement & Decision Making, Design Thinking, Cognitive Flexibility.

Each of our club members have these skills in different quantities and qualities, now is the time to uncover those hidden skills among them.

leading your teamUtilize the strengths of the teams of champions and empower them to build new skills among others.

Champions: What can you do to coach and empower others to lead the way into Pathways?

Consider this project as a way of adding a Pathways Framework around what you do.

Required Project: Leading Your Team
Level 4: Leadership Development Path


Purpose – “Finally but possibly most importantly it was strongly identified that the right mindset was needed to be present within the learner in order for learning and unlearning to occur. This was deemed as purpose!

We know from the promotions and stories of the development of Pathways that it was ‘purpose built. The content was designed with the learner in mind at all stages. The restructure was engineered with the assistance of groups of volunteers from the membership of this large education facility.

Teams of Volunteers: Learning Masters, Ambassadors, Chief Ambassadors and Pathways Guides have been instrumental in introducing and implementing this new education program.  Now it is time for the Pathways Champions to take their rightful place among the volunteers who will be critical in the process of ’embedding Pathways’.

manage changeChampions: Do you have the right mindset to help in the relearning process?

What can you do to prepare your club for change?

Consider this project as a way of adding a Pathways Framework around what you do.

Required Project: Manage Change
Level 4: Dynamic Leadership Path



We learn in moments of enjoyment! Ralph Smedley

Chapter 10: Embedding Pathways 

oath of a pathways warrior imageOath of the Pathways Warriors!

Acclamation for the new way echoes throughout Outland as the warriors step up to take their oath of allegiance! Teams of strong leaders have emerged and their mission is to create legions of Pathways Champions. They will do this through their support for the Base Camp Managers and in particular the VP Education in clubs throughout their areas.

Pathways Champions are the first wave of early adopters who ensure that the ‘change’ is embedded throughout the world of Toastmasters. The embedding of a new program of education usually takes about three years in large educational institutions. In the Pathways rollout, we are now in the second year of the embedding process, since the first District embraced it last year.

In their role as a Pathways Warrior, each is giving a valuable service – their time and their skills – in preparing the champions for their roles. Their vision of achieving The First Wave of Embedding is well under way! The emergence of the Legion of Pathways Champions, is dynamically influencing its progress.

Legion of Pathways Champions

pathways pinThink of this emerging group as the eager followers who have listened to the words of wisdom from the Pathways Warriors (Guides) and the early adopters  (the Base Camp Managers) and embraced the new way on a personal level. BCMs watch closely for the first footers; the ones who select their Paths early. Watch as they spruik among their peers about their latest achievements. Reward them in special ways within your kingdoms.

BCMs take time to encourage and build this legion within your club; they are the ones who will have the most influence on the rest of the members. (They are like the troops in the trenches – their stories of experiences will echo in the halls, and be written on the walls of glass for years to come.) Choose this cascading model of leadership, one that the Toastmasters in Outland are well versed in – the model that we use every year when they elect new club officers – and build your legion of champions.

Support your own legion of pathways champions!

BCMs as your legion emerges, be sure to support them in meaningful ways. Here are a few practical ways you can provide this support:

  • ask the President to include some updates on Pathways in business segment of meetings – special rewards, acknowlegement of progress etc.
  • ask the VPE to provide one-on-one coaching in their initial steps in their Path and encourage the VPE to use in person and online strategies
  • provide the Champions with opportunities to complete their Path related project speeches – enable 50% of speaking time at meetings to Path projects
  • ask the Pathways Champions to give feedback on their progress at meetings
  • suggest that the Champions trial the Pathways Mentoring project with suitable mentors and proteges in their club
  • ask the Secretary to ensure that they keep up-to-date with the VPE about level completions – they could be the one to apply for that award at Club Central
  • ask the VPPR to spruik about the achievements of their pathways champions in their club media spaces and in the District level social media
  • ask for assistants to help the VPE in particular and take care of some of the other VPE tasks to ease their load – a good strategy for Role succession planning
  • include discussions of Pathways in the ongoing Club Success Plan at committee meetings

Supporting the champions is one way a club can enhance their own ability to embed Pathways into their normal activities. Another way to embed is to Forward Plan for Pathways excellence in the DCP award system.

Pathways and the DCP

Help individual members to be aware of the impact of their own achievements in their Path, on the club in general. Explain the Distinguished Club Program and how the Pathways embedding will enhance opportunities to earn points.

Did you know that Two Level completions in any Path will earn the club one DCP point?

Think ahead, say 5-6 months, as to what the club hopes to achieve in their DCP and help the VPE keep track of the likely completions of Level 1’s and 2’s in 2018.

path planner imageHelp individuals with the process of planning their Paths and projects over the next few months. Suggest the use of simple to use planning tools such as a spreadsheet of their own Path showing levels, required projects, chosen electives, dates for delivery of speeches, indication of evaluations received and level completions verified.

Encourage them to notify the VPE in advance of their request for speeches.

Notify the club members of the need for advance requests to suit the meetings scheduled and also when they wish to complete a project outside of a club meeting. Yes there is a process for that in Base Camp – check the resources and advice on that process in Tutorials and Resources library.

What’s In It For Me?

Embedding Pathways into your club through your legion of Pathways Champions, might just help with establishing a strong membership who self-direct their own learning and pre-plan their journeys to benefit themselves in their busy lives.

After all Toastmasters is just one part of our lives, right? Embracing the new way of learning about Toastmasters curriculum through Pathways might just save us a great deal of time.

The enthusiasm of the champions will be infectious! Their tips for success will be sought after! Their own progress will inspire others!

Guides, reassure your Base Camp Managers that eventually their club will be sailing smoothly into Pathways and members will be skillfully and confidently navigating Base Camp. It won’t happen over night! But it will happen with attention to the embedding process and support for their legion of Pathways Champions.

Segue to Chapter 11: Champions of Relearning



Chapter 9: Pearls of Guidance

Base Camp Support

Pathways Guides across the world perform a unique leadership role – they guide their clubs, members and Base Camp managers through the many paths in Base Camp. The prescribed Pathways Guide tasks are as follows:

  1. Deliver the Pathways Learning Experience presentation and rollout kit to each assigned club
  2. Follow up with vice presidents education (VPEs) to ensure they and their club members are comfortable operating in Pathways and Base Camp
  3. Access Base Camp as a member to view all tutorials in the system.
  4. Take the assessment, select a path, login to Base Camp and begin completing your path, as soon as Pathways launches in your district
  5. Collect questions from VPEs and address during your regular virtual support sessions
  6. Attend webinars hosted by World Headquarters, as needed
  7. Provide your VPEs with answers received at World Headquarters webinars

My suggested Pathways Guide tasks are complementary to the list above and take each one to a new level with a new perspective:

  1. Fine tune the Pathways Learning Experience presentation to suit the clubs you are assigned
  2. Provide supportive emails and posts in social media to VPEs and their assistants to keep their skills current
  3. Highlight specific tutorials and reference material and send directly to the Base Camp Managers
  4. Analyse the process of selecting a Path and provide helpful hints on how to select wisely
  5. Include segments of Q&A in each Virtual Support Session – those sent prior to session and new ones after discussion of processes in Base Camp
  6. Access the Master Q&A Log from your Pathways Guide Tasks curriculum frequently – before and after WHQ webinar sessions
  7. Include a segment of FAQ and the WHQ answers in your Virtual Support Sessions.

Scoping the Virtual Support Sessions

Guides are asked to conduct virtual support sessions via a technological platform. It’s possible that your assigned clubs are spread out over a large geographical area, making it difficult for all VPEs to meet at a central location. Hosting your support sessions virtually will maximize attendance and participation.

Guides are now communicating about ‘how’ they plan to scope their virtual support sessions in many social media spaces.

Recently I shared my preferred ‘scope’ with Guides in other Districts and in doing so it helped me consolidate what I had been doing and what I plan to do in the next two months. My plan is to schedule the VSS consistently from week to week. One on a Thursday evening and in the following week, one on a Saturday morning.

My approach was to scope the VSS in three distinct stages:
Stage 1: VSS 1-5 Learning about Base Camp and Paths

In each of these sessions the emphasis is on ‘helping yourself’ as a member new to Pathways.

  • VSS 1: Exploring Base Camp
  • VSS 2: Following your path
  • VSS 3: Its All about Evaluation
  • VSS 4: Completing a Level
  • VSS 5: Deeper Learning in your Path

Stage 2: VSS 6-10 Learning your Role as a Base Camp Manager

In each of these sessions the emphasis is on ‘understanding your role as a BCM’

  • VSS 6: Feedback, Badges & Eportfolios
  • VSS 7: Practical Tips for BCMs
  • VSS 8: Support your members from the Cloud
  • VSS 9: Enthuse Pathways Champions at Club Meetings
  • VSS 10: Coordinating the work of VPE & BCM

Stage 3: VSS 11-15 Learning how to embed Pathways in your Club

In each of these sessions the emphasis is on ’embedding Pathways in your club’ as a VPE

  • VSS 11: How to include Pathways in the Business segment of meetings
  • VSS 12: How to build a team of Club Pathways Champions
  • VSS 13: Implementing the Pathways Mentoring system in your club
  • VSS 14: Implementing Pathways Planners for members
  • VSS 15: Fine Tuning the Completions and Awards

See sample slide decks here:

Structure Within a VSS

Plan to include:

  1. Round Robin introductions
  2. Training Topics or Questions from FAQ
  3. Demonstration and discussion of a process
  4. Optional: Guest presenter (a Pathways Champion)
  5. Q & A and What’s Next?
  • Be early to your online venue and help others become comfortable in the environment with 5 minutes of technical assistance.
  • Ask each attendee to introduce themselves in a round robin style – 1 minute each – and ask them to include their answer to: Where are you up to in Pathways?
  • Provide an overview of the latest FAQ from the WHQ and discussion forums in social media. Ask the attendees to add a question for discussion in the chat panel. Attend to those in the final segment.
  • Demonstrate a live process in Base Camp that illustrates the current FAQ or a topic of interest to the attendees. Discuss the tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way.
  • Invite a guest presenter, a Pathways Champion from your clubs, to give a 5 minute overview of their own progress, within a Path, and in supporting others in their clubs. This enables them to build another skill of speaking to inform, online.
  • Read out the Questions from the Chat Panel and ask for suggestions from the audience or answer yourself. Remind them of the resources they can access from the Tutorials and Resources library in Base Camp.
  • Introduce the next session date and time and ask for specific discussion topics.

If you need help in facilitating a virtual session you can find more detailed information here:

Six Critical Success Factors for Running a Successful Virtual Meeting – training with Julia Young

How to Facilitate an Online Meeting – training with Coach Carole

9 Global trends – rethink your webinar program strategy with Roger Courville

Segue to Chapter 10: Embedding Pathways

There are some simple steps you can do now to embed Pathways into your Meetings.  Join me here next week for my thoughts on this strategy.


Chapter 7: Palaces of Zoom

Meetups in the Cloud!

palace of zoom 1The Pathways warriors have sailed the seas of mystery, crossed the information gap and scaled the walls of Base Camp.

They have banded together in their writing on the walls in Outland – bringing wisdom and intrigue to those who follow. And now many are ready to open up their Palaces of Zoom – awe-inspiring communities in the cloud(s) where warriors and Outlanders can meet together in collaborative harmony.

Far away from the bustling crowds of Base Camp, many palaces have been appearing off the port bow of the Pathways Treader. They come in different sizes, shapes and colours. Each one is flying the banners of their own kingdoms and bringing in their eager followers. I must speak with the other warriors about their Palaces, and harvest their wisdom.

How are they enticing, inviting and engaging their people in their palaces?

Collaborating with the Clans!

prawns on barbieIn this Voyage, I have learned many lessons about my role in leading the people of my Kingdoms to Base Camp. The old saying is true ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink’. The biggest lesson yet is about TIMING! There is no point in attempting a journey of this magnitude in the wrong season! Right now it is summer in my Kingdoms and the people are still in holiday mode. Even today they are celebrating their national day with traditional meetups and sharing of food.

The other lesson is one I have learned many times in the past: when leading any community, first gain the trust of the people. Make an effort to create a relationship with leaders of the Kingdoms and to help form them into groups based on suitable criteria; such as geography or existing relationships. Ask them what they fear, what they cherish and what they desire! Give them a reason to network across the boundaries of their clans.

This is not a crusade involving loss of face, limb or life! It is not my job to wield a sword of valour, nor to force compliance. People always have choice!

Some of the clans in my assigned Kingdoms are isolated from other remote clans and are often not ready to collaborate across their boundaries. They have their own cultures and practices; they have shared values and achievements; and they have often needed to compete with other clans for their very existence. A gathering of the clans is called for! I need to unite the clans of Hume, Riverina and Indigo with the clans of inner Melbourne. Yes my Kingdoms assignment has expanded and there are new relationships for me to initiate.

Proclamations across the Kingdoms announce the special events at the Palace!

palace of zoom invite

Getting the word out to the people requires ingenuity and determination! Sending direct messages works best. I needed to reach beyond the walls of Outland and use the traditional methods of communication. Getting them to attend requires inspiration and gentle persuasion!

Often it takes a leap of faith for the followers to venture into these strange realms,  So far the traffic to my palace has been quality not quantity. I needed more ‘scouts’ and ‘champions’ to spread the invite by word of mouth. Once they reach the Palace of Zoom they will be amazed and encouraged by the friendly welcome from the Palace Host(s). They can experience the wonder of ‘spanning the boundaries’ between clans whilst in the cloud. First I have to entice them there!

Best for me to speak with the early adopters (the BCMs) and have them recruit eager followers. Dig down to the basic needs for education about the land of Base Camp and let them make their own decisions. Plan to show them what’s new and exciting; what’s different and challenging; and plan to reassure them of what remains the same.

Other strategies evolve as I consult my mentors!

Exotic Adventures!

rainbow mountain
One of the most magnificent geologic features in the world is the Ausangate Mountain of the Peruvian Andes. The mountain is striped with colors ranging from turquoise to lavender to maroon and gold. … The painted Ausangate mountain is also considered to be holy and believed to be the deity of Cusco by local Peruvians.

Who could resist an opportunity to travel to exotic places? Often such places are not even dreamed about, let alone on their itinerary for travel. Just like the Rainbow Mountains, that I  discovered in my wanderings across the internet deserts.

People have been travelling to this remote part of Outland for a glimpse of a unique geologic phenomena – the natural colored mountains in the kingdom of Peru.

The colours, the majesty and the breathtaking views across this magnificent landscape draw visitors in. I need a ‘Rainbow Mountain’ – a ZoomGate for the people to visit. Something with all the colour and excitement of the new without the need for hard work.

Showcase the Palace of Zoom with its own colour, majesty and community.

Intrepid exploration, a feature on the journey to the Palace of Zoom, will provide the hook to entice the people to the special events (VSS). Some have never ventured outside of their own kingdom before let alone teleported to anything in the cloud. This requires a whole new approach!

Chapter 8: The Hunt for Zoom Gold