Project 1: The Ice-Breaker (4-6 min)

At Toastmasters, speeches are called projects. The first one helps you get comfortable in front of an audience. You'll want to talk about a topic you know well. I spoke about myself. The text follows.

Born At An Early Age (December 9, 2010)

Mr./Madam Toastmaster, fellow members and guests.

Arrival

Crashhhh! The glass bottles shattered as the milkman fell down the stairs. Mental note: don’t melt snow with boiling water. What did we know? We were new to Canada. It was winter in Edmonton. We never saw snow in India. Here it was as high as my chest. Did I mention I was two years old?

We arrived in Canada with only $50 – not much even then. Go back to your own country where you belong. That’s what we were told by the smug Indian community. Total strangers came to our rescue. They donated furniture and clothing to get us settled. Most importantly, they gave me an orange horse with green wheels. How can you forget generosity like that?

After dad graduated from the University of Alberta, we moved to London, Ontario where he taught high school math and physics. That's where I grew up. We escaped from extreme cold but ended up in the snowbelt. Where’s global warming when you need it?

Mission

“I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”

Those words from Abraham Lincoln gave me the courage to fail, and hence to succeed. I was in high school when I made them my lifelong motto.

We all need a hand sometimes. Once, a car broke down on Bathurst south of Eglinton where the road slopes upwards. The driver was pushing his car to the side. I was annoyed at the delay (no, I didn't honk). Dad got out to push. That’s a valuable lesson.

My parents are now retired. They spend a portion of each year in India where they run a free school for two neglected groups: the disabled and impoverished young women.

The Future

How could I make the world better? Strangers in Alberta did. My parents do.

Worries torment us even when we have food, shelter, clothing and money. Why not provide peace of mind?

I’ve devoted my life to life insurance. I became an actuary. As with Toastmasters there are 10 exams but when you finish no one will accuse you of being a Competent Communicator. When I was designing insurance products, top advisors asked for help with their most important clients. In 2005, I became the advisor's advisor. I quickly saw that I could serve the public better by going direct. This year, I started to (gulp) sell life insurance.

“Sell” is the wrong word. I educate and provide the opportunity to buy. This approach suits clients who don't want anyone reading their body language and applying 87 closing techniques.

As part of my mission to spread peace of mind, I started blogging in 2007 and have over 350 posts.

In 2011, I’m educating audiences about life insurance across the GTA. Hence Goodyear Toastmasters. Please critique me so I live up to the light I have and don’t crashhh!

Mr./Madam Toastmaster.

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