An Early Start to Success: Tips for Achieving Distinguished Club Status

By Juan Carlos Velázquez

The Distinguished Club Program (DCP) is a set of goals Toastmasters International developed to help clubs achieve education, membership and administrative objectives. Crystal City Evening Toastmasters (CCET) met its first goal of becoming a distinguished club very early in the program year. In fact, we were the first club in District 27 to do so and it is the earliest CCET accomplished this goal in the last decade. 

Toastmasters International has found that Distinguished clubs tend to be successful, fun, strong clubs, of which members enjoy being a part. Members of these clubs complete traditional manuals and Pathways levels, while receiving recognition for their achievements. Distinguished clubs continually grow and improve. These are essential steps for achieving a Distinguished club status. We also know that early planning is best. At CCET, the officers mapped out objectives for the club in our Club Success Plan early in the program year. Achievement of these goals is underway.

For example, we have recruited nine new members since July 1 and hope to increase our membership by 5 percent from our base membership last year. We also had an objective of having 100 percent of all active members register for Pathways by the end of the year, supporting our education goals. We currently have 66 percent of our members registered, which is a strong indication that our club is actively engaged in the Pathways journey. By the end of November, we are slated to have five of our six education goals met through the Pathways program.

At CCET we also believe that becoming a Distinguished club means that we lead by example. Our officers were sworn in with the Toastmasters’ Promise in mind. We signed off on the Promise formally through a pledge that we would fulfill our commitment through service to the membership and the District. Within CCET we have three members who serve as Area Directors and they have all eagerly volunteered to support Area and Division contests as well as Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) sessions, in addition to the District 27 Fall Conference. I have the honor of serving as the TLI Dean for District 27 and of having served as a Pathways Guide for Districts 27 and 36. This level of service is leading by example and our members rise to the occasion when we engage them for club meetings and District-wide events.

In addition, we pride ourselves in creating a supportive and welcoming environment where a strong diversity of members feel comfortable taking risks, challenging themselves to grow and sharing their successes with others. The officers are also committed to act within the Toastmasters’ core values of integrity, respect, service and excellence while conducting all Toastmasters activities. Our values serve as a guide to achieving our DCP goals as they serve as another measure of our success.

The success we are experiencing this year as a club starts within our leadership, but is sustained by our members. We have a “can-do” attitude that is making our club thrive. We hope to sustain this level of commitment and success by integrating a new mentor program that will foster future leadership.

In summary, our early success within the DCP is based on three simple tips:

  • Early planning
  • Lead by example
  • Exemplify core values

I am convinced that our success this year will be replicated for next year as we have established a pathway for ongoing growth and results-driven leadership.

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Juan Carlos Velázquez (DTM) is education vice president for Crystal City Evening Toastmasters, which meets at the Aurora Hills Library, 735 18th Street S., Arlington, Va., at 7:15 pm on the first and third Thursday of the month. Velázquez has also served as a Pathways Guide in District 27 and District 36, as well as the Dean of the Toastmasters Leadership Institute in District 27.

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