Kristian is an Electrical Contractor and Lighting Designer. He runs his own lighting and design company called Dusk Industries Lighting and Design. He enjoys being self employed, which gives him the freedom to pursue his next career, paid public speaking. He firmly believes in the motto, “earn while you learn”. He is on a quest to make his passions profitable.
In 2015, Kristian and fellow D101 Toastmaster, Krishna Noru, started Vrisa Speech Academy, a public speaking school in the San Jose Evergreen area for youth ranging from 3rd to 12th grades. The Academy focuses on basic speech instruction to competitive debate, prepping students for college and beyond. They currently have 4 instructors and are looking to expand.
1) What got you involved in with Toastmasters?
I started with TI in March of 2006. I was running a local non profit and a mentor of mine suggested I attend a meeting to see if it would help my leadership skills. I tried a 7am meeting and quickly decided that I needed to attend an evening meeting to get the most out of the process. My home club is Bayview Toastmasters, which meets semi-monthly on Wednesdays at 6pm in Monterey.
2) How has Toastmasters changed your life?
I have gained many friends over the 12 years in the organization. How it has most drastically changed my life is the self-confidence I have received from competing and teaching the skillsets I have learned in the process. To see the growth that many new members experience is revitalizing. It keeps me coming back meeting after meeting to learn, grow, and mentor new Toastmasters.
3) Share with us some of your notable accomplishments and challenges in Toastmasters.
I started competing early in my Toastmasters journey. After one year as a member, a mentor in my club encouraged me to compete in the Evaluation Contest. I was hesitant at first, not seeing how competition between members would be healthy. After giving a few contests a try, I realized that the only person we are competing with is ourselves. It is a chance for us to test our learning from our club experience on a larger stage, with more stress and larger audiences. That is really the essence of Toastmasters – expanding our comfort zones. The more we can practice in a safe and supportive environment, the more we can find ourselves and the truths we hold near our hearts.
From that first win at the District-level Evaluation Contest back in 2007, I decided after some soul searching to really challenge myself and the possibilities in Toastmasters. I read through the winners of contests and found that no Toastmaster had won a contest twice. Could I? How preposterous would I be to try, twice? I challenged my self-belief that I could attempt this and continued to work towards a second District win. It occurred in 2013.
What was next? No one had won back-to-back District contests. I succeeded in my final attempt the next year and found that when you put your mind to something, with hard work and great mentorship, you can surprise yourself. I have won the District 4 Evaluation Contest three times and have now retired from competing in that contest to host Evaluation Seminars District-wide, helping our members achieve goals in their Toastmaster’s journey.
4) What is your next goal in Toastmasters?
My next goal is to create an online presence that will help Toastmasters along their journey. I achieved my DTM last year with the final project in my process by organizing the Annual Conference in Monterey; Sail to Success. That was a great experience working with Dave Spence, Francoise Muller, and the wonderful leaders of D101. I am working on how to make my passion for public speaking profitable. How does one take their passion and gifts and expand it to those who can grow from that information and inspiration.
5) Any words of advice and personal thought to others?
What I have learned the most out of the past 12 years and will continue to grow in the next 12 plus years is that we are all learning on this journey of personal growth, leadership, and communication. Some of us are further along the path than others while some are much further than we are. We get a chance to learn in both directions. We can surely learn from those in the organization who have given more speeches or held officer roles we have yet to hold, but we can also learn by looking back and offering mentorship to members who are earlier on their journey. Lend a hand to someone who has yet to experience what you have experienced. Give encouragement to a member who doesn’t see the horizon like you see it. We can learn a great deal by looking towards where we are going and by looking back at where we have come from. Public speaking is a participatory sport, none of us do it alone. Toastmasters are a fun and encouraging group to learn with. This old African Proverb is perfect for our journey as Servant Leaders: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Written by Hanh Chau